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Auntie Toomer


Paul Toomer

As with any Tech dive, all discussions leading to the actual dive start in a pub somewhere. And this was no exception.

I was teaching an IDC (Instructor Development Course) in Sharm and my off day (when my candidates would be at the IE) was due in a few days time. My friends Doozer (Paul Close), Leigh Cunningham, Jim Dowling and Jimmy Jewel had invited me to Papa's Bar for a quiet drink when it was suggested that I use my off time to go on the best tech dive in Sharm, the newly discovered caves at Ras Mohammed.
London School Of Diving
Cave Diver Now I have been cave diving for quite some time and the thought of a deep cave with a limited amount of penetration in crystal clear water made my heart skip a beat. This dive was putting everything I have been learning over the last twelve years to the test. Cave and Trimix.

As with any properly planned dive, we decided to do the shallower cave and get comfortable there before progressing on to the deeper ones. By shallow, I mean entering the cave at 63m. My God, when did that qualify as shallow?

I've got to say that us divers don't half big up our dive sites and when Doozer said the system was called the "Reapers Lair" I nearly died laughing!
"Take a guess what the deep portion is called?" Jim asked
"Let me guess, something like Satan's Scrotum?"
" No, no, nothing like that. It's called the TEMPLE of DOOM!"
Now anyone who knows me can only imagine the huge grin on my face at this point.
Map of Reaper's Lair So it was on. Reapers Lair in two days time.

First port of call was my mates Toby Truelove (yes that is his name) and Ricky Browne, both tech instructors for Technical Red Sea, an awesome Tech Company in Sharm.

Because I was on an IDC and had no tech kit, it was up to Toby and Ricky to kit me up with the state of the art equipment this dive would need. And state of the art it was. An identical rig to my own was provided in about 5 minutes. Awesome service.

Then Doozer and I planned the dive and all contingencies and Chad Clark'e' from Ocean Tec provided all the gasses we required.

And so the day came. There were three dive teams and we were all met by Chad at Travco Jetty, who double checked that his team had given us the perfect mixes for our dives. Then it was out to Ras Mo.

Upon arrival, we put Jim and Jimmy in the water first. Their task was the most crucial to the day. Find the entrance and put up a marker buoy for all the guys that would be penetrating the caves. Without this marker, too much time would be lost and a penetration would become impossible. After about twenty minutes a beautiful red SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) hit the surface.

Then Leigh and his team mate hit the water.

Now it was time for Doozer and I to get ready. Man, I was focussed and before I knew it, we had done our predive planning (gear and gas matching, profile and limitations), were dropped next to the SMB and were on our way to the entrance.

Oh my God. What a wonderful site lay before me. I entered first following the permanent line that links the cave to the open ocean. 63m. My light illuminated a beautiful chamber that disappeared into the distance. It's quite a silty cave so we had to keep ourselves within contact of the line but high enough off the bottom so as not to disturb the fine sand that lay on the coral floor.
Travelling Diver
We passed a warning sign advising non-trained cave divers to go no further and then I noticed the line drop into the floor of the cave. We were leaving the cavern (light) zone. Now this tickled me, a cavern zone at 70m! I followed the line through a beautiful arch made by falling debris and entered the 'Temple of Doom'. My computer was now going through 80m and approaching our max planned depth of 90m.

I couldn't believe I was here. It was like being on the moon. Doozer and I exchanged OK signals, gas and time were good. We then began to explore this wonderful chamber. Breath-taking are the only words that don't include expletives that can convey how beautiful it was in there. As we moved into the back of the chamber there was another small tunnel heading up to God knows where. I pushed my light into the tunnel to see if I could enter it, but with all the kit I had on, it was impossible.

Before I knew it, I was nearing my maximum time for the dive and we had reached our turn time. The exit, in fact was the most exciting part of the dive, watching Doozer move through the arch and seeing what both of our lights displayed was wonderful, fissures, crags and old coral structures everywhere.

Entering the cavern zone we were able to chill for a few moments and take in the glory of the light coming through the entrance. For me, looking through this window is always one of the highlights to any cave dive.

Then it was up time and we swam into the blue to begin our decompression schedule to the surface.

What a day and what a wonderful dive. One I shall definitely revisit.

Next time I am planning to do several dives which will culminate with the deep cave system, which starts at about 90m and goes to around 130m or so.

I would like to thank everyone mentioned in this article for making this dive possible. I must stress that this is a serious dive, but with the right training and experience, diving these places becomes ever more possible.

Nearest recompression chamber
Hyperbaric Medical Centre, Travco, Sharm El Sheikh
Tel: +20 (69) 660 922 3

You can email Auntie Toomer with any of your dive queries and you might also like to check out The Diving Matrix.

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