November 28, 2011

A thousand and up

I noticed the number of visits reached 1000 recently. I know it's a very small leap for mankind in 3 months... But it's exactly 1000 more visits than a non-existent blog has. I feel the progress and I like it. I regularly use to check the statistics and I'm happy to see visits from distant countries.

So I try to do my best. I rely on the patience and forgiveness of my readers who encounter my English. I learn from every single entry, I try to make as less mistake as I can. In Hungarian I'd be able to write a short blog entry in 15 minutes but in English it takes much more time. Even so I enjoy blogging. I write about my favorite hobby, scuba diving, I can share experiences, adventures, thoughts. I hope there are visitors who find interesting videos, nice photos here or get some information about destinations or wrecks. I encourage everybody to comment: I need feedback about my mistakes and I'd happy to read your thoughts about my entries, adventures or blog design.

Thanks for joining me on this virtual trip to the underwater world!

November 26, 2011

Wreck treks: Tien Hsing

This small wreck isn't famous at all, nobody travels to the Egyptian Red Sea to do some dives at the Tien Hsing. Most of the divers don't know its name, they mention Tienstin or simply call it "the wreck of the Abu Galawa". Me too and I like this.

First of all the history lesson: the Tien Hsing was built in China in 1935 and hit the Abu Galawa reef in 1943. The 35 meters long tugboat's position is special: it starts from the surface and the stern reaches the bottom at 17 meters. The dive site is popular because the divers can't find too much shallow wrecks in the Marsa Alam area.

Basically it's a simple small boat which would look a typical, isn't too exciting watercraft if it would be mooring in a harbor. Under water it became an underwater oasis with splendid life. There are small rooms with glassfish, holes with morays, groupers, pipefish. The divers need to be careful in specific places as in every wreck but it's a nice dive spot even if you never penetrate. There isn't strong currents and it's quite protected, sometimes the liveaboard boats spend the night here and the divers can observe how the wreck's fauna change in the dark. In the ray of light the coral covered wreck becomes a mysterious underwater object with hunting lionfish or sleeping parrotfish.

The article continued here

November 23, 2011

November 22, 2011

Cairo blues

The Tahrir Square, again.

A year ago all the news channels of the world showed exciting pictures: the revolutions of the Arab world could change the life in Northern Africa and in the Middle East. First the Tunisian president fell, later the Egyptian president resigned, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi is dead. There are fights in Yemen, Bahrein and Syria.

For me the greatest surprise was the anger which resulted Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resignation. He ruled his country for decades and we, who visit Egypt regularly, saw his portraits everywhere. In this moment it's hard to decide if he was a cruel dictator or a president who worked for his country's peace and prosperity. As a traveler I appreciated his efforts to maintain peace with Israel and let the tourists visit many of the country's above and under water wonders.

For us it was a cheap world class destination but I confess I didn't think too much about its government. I don't like to talk about politics even in my home country, why should I discuss those affairs in a foreign place where I just dive and relax? But the local people did. And somehow they were able to change the situation. Sadly they aren't happy now, because they aren't satisfied with the new military councils plans. The general elections come but nobody knows if they will postpone presidential elections or not. Those people on the Tahrir Square don't want to see another dictator in the country. The news channels show pictures of fights from Cairo again and I don't know what will happen there in a week, a month, a year...

I think we can't really understand this country which has so long history from the ancient pharaohs. Egypt is a huge country but majority of the land is desert. Imagine an England where only the greater London area is inhabited! Too much people live in the Valley of Nile and many of them poor. They don't feel they are benefiting of the millions of foreigners who arrive to their country and spend a lot of money. They want changes. But nobody knows how to change to keep the income from the tourism and give more of that to the people.

We who traveled there regularly are worrying and waiting. I understand the Egyptians but wouldn't be happy to lose a favorite destination because of emerging aggression and impatience. Sadly I can't do anything. The Egyptian people had to decide and I respect their choice. I wish a better future for them, for the country and for us as well.

November 19, 2011

A pool dive

We spent two hours in a nearby water theme park. This place is certainly more popular amongst children or families than divers. As everywhere in the world the scuba diving is one of the ordinary water-related activities in Hungary too. There is a small dive center, where divers can rent tanks, weights, basic equipments and sometimes they organize try dives. There aren't too much pools in Budapest where they allow diving, this theme park became popular really fast. The divers like it because the water is warm, clear and there are shallow and deep pools as well.

I use to go directly to the deeper pool: in 4 meters depth it's much more fun to practice, it's better to shoot test photos, and so on. This time I met two friends who tried their new equipments before a liveaboard trip in Egypt. It was a good idea: one of them tried a borrowed DIR-system wing which seemed way too big for her, but it can be modified. The regulator leaked, the o-ring of the pressure gauge could be the sinner. Luckily she has a week to make it repaired.

For me it was one of the typical pool practice dives, I refreshed some basic skills and attached a new harness to my travel wing. And I made my usual underwater panorama photos: the clear water let me to shoot them. Nothing special happened but it was nice to be under water for a while. After the session we had a nice discussion, the divers easily find the common topics. I needed this relaxing Saturday pool dive simply because I'm tired and I don't know when can I travel somewhere...

November 16, 2011

What's in a profile?

I never missed the download feature from my dive computer. My Suuntos weren't downloadable and I didn't buy download cable to my Oceanic. But when I bought a Sub Gear XP10 and I read the manual I noticed I can download the profiles by IrDA. This infrared communication adapter is cheap and some older laptops have a built-in one. As I kept my old-school computers I found one which had this.

Since then I use to download my dives regularly. I add the additional information to the dive log software but I confess I still haven't found the reasons why do I really need this feature. This entry won't answer this question but at least I found a place where I can use them: this blog. I'd like to insert two dive profiles and tell about them. The first one shows a fairly typical dive in the Adriatic: it's quite deep. I don't dive for the computer but I'm proud to see this profile: not too much bottom time, gradual ascending, aren't any too fast swims up or down.... It's OK.

What this profile tell us about the Adriatic? Because of the industrial fishing in the shallow areas there are much less fish. The cat sharks and the lobsters live below 30 meters, the purple or yellow sea fans as well. Most of the divers plan to go deep in the beginning to find something special. The slow ascending is not only safer but let us to light into the holes and find the hiding animals. Many of these dives are wall dives so everybody has to be careful and maintain the neutral buoyancy. Because of the maximum depth I like to spend more time in the shallows, not only the 3 minutes long safety stop. The dive boat won't abandon us, the divers slowly get out of the water to the RIB, so instead of waiting in the surface I like to stay between 3-5 meters. Have a look at the temperature chart: in the summer close to the surface you'd think a shorty is enough but it drops very fast. At the deepest point it was as low as 15 Celsius degrees- those who like it hot wouldn't enjoy diving.

The other profile would be familiar for those who often dive in tropical seas. This was a dive in the Egyptian Red Sea where water temperature difference wasn't an issue. But I use to wear a thin overall even in warm water because we spend more time in the bottom: this dive was more than 70 minutes long. I prefer those dive sites where the reef starts at the surface, even the safety stop is fun in the coral garden. Instead of going up and down often I use to spend more time at specific points. For a few minutes I'm just watching the fish, trying to find critters. If I take my camera I try to shoot some photos. I don't need to hurry, in this depth I don't use much air. There are dozens of these shallow places in Egypt where you don't fight against the current, you can easily navigate back to the boat while you're wondering the splendid underwater world. Maybe these spots won't appear in the Top 10 guides but for me it can be the dive of my life - at least until it lasts.

I take my time. I don't swim too much: there is life everywhere, the Red Sea is beautiful. If it's possible I don't join the dive guides but dive with my buddy. I really love this relaxing way of being under water. I never miss offshore reefs where the chance of shark encounters are higher. If an animal wants to meet it'll find me and pose for a photo. That is why this is dive profile is much less exciting. I can download it to show and explain but I think the profiles don't tell too much about our favorite dives...

November 13, 2011

The deepest

Belgium is famous of its charming towns (for example Liege, Bruges, Leuven), good beers (my favorites: Hoegarden, Bellevue kriek, Duvel, Leffe) and political chaos. The capital is the administrative center of the European Union and it is a fairly typical place in the country. First of all, it has a French (Bruxelles) and Flemish (Brussels) name but dozens of other nations has representatives here: the EU officials came from the 27 member countries and there are many immigrants. The city with its historical buildings is always full of tourists and there are districts which more similar to an Egyptian town than a European with Arabic shops and restaurants. A long weekend in Bruxelles offers mixed adventures for the traveler except diving- at least most of the visitors don't think about diving in such a landlocked town.

But they make a mistake when skip the googling of "dive" and "Bruxelles" words. One of the suburbs hides a dull grey building where they made the deepest recreational diving pool. The Nemo33 is 33 meters deep and its water is around 30 Celsius degrees warm. You may think to travel to a distant country and do a pool dive there isn't a good idea but in my opinion it's a nice program. Everything is well organized: the price of a dive is 22 euros and the full kit hire (except computer) is included. You can bring your mask and computer, and choose a BC, a regulator, a pair of fins from the selection of the Nemo33. There are plenty of them in every size. What to do in the pool? There are deeper and shallower parts, you can swim around, touch the bottom at 33 meters, practice, anything you'd do in a pool. However it's more exciting, I felt the depth more than in open water. This part is narrow, the surface seems only a small circle if you glance above. I didn't spend too much time in the bottom. The descending and ascending near the long ladder was like a long meditation. After the dive we use to have a good meal in the restaurant of the Nemo33- the food is awesome. There are windows in the pool where you can watch the divers while you are eating or having a beer.

The article continued here

November 12, 2011

News 44-45/2011

I confess I'm disappointed when I read news about wreck looters, and sadly they're everywhere: even in Finland.

Many people dislike the idea of artificial reefs. I don't know if it's a good way to reduce the stress on coral reefs or we just create an underwater backyard. Recently the Vandenberg wreck won a conservation award.

I wish I had the chance to travel to Queensland to see the annual coral spawning. Sadly I can't do it but many tourists can, this year a lot of them arrives to the Great Barrier Reef to see it.

I regularly join underwater cleanup days, great to see how much garbage we bring to the surface- and disappointing to realize the people dumped them into the water. And many other divers join conservation project around the world! It was very interesting to read an article about scuba diving priests of the Philippines who works for the sea.

Michael K. Williams says no to the chumming: the actor liked the diving with great whites but the the way of attracting them.

November 10, 2011


It's all about floating. You don't even have to move just stay somewhere between the surface and the seabed. When you're near a 700 meters deep wall in the big blue you feel how small are you. There are several other divers but basically you're alone with your dive equipment. But your perfect, timeless freedom lasts only for an hour. And anything can happen. Sometimes a predator appears. Or the current drags you to the unknown. A diver is so vulnerable: limited air supply, inefficient moves. We need even a mask to see what's around us. We shouldn't go there. Being under water is dangerous and frightening and crazy. It's simply unbelievable.

Being under water is happiness.

November 9, 2011

My grey-blue suit

I was so proud with my first wetsuit! It was a thick 7 mm Sporasub. I bought it in Italy because it was an outlet product, a real bargain. In those years the Farmer John and hooded jacket combination was outdated but I was really happy with it. There was the 5 mm version as well but I thought someday I'd dive in cold waters so chose the thick one. When I tried I didn't know how tight should it be. I felt I moved like the Robocop.

A few weeks later I had the chance to use it under water. It was comfortable and warm. When I was a beginner I dived ice cold Austrian lakes and the warm Red Sea either in that suit. However I realized it's necessary to have more kind of suits. Later I bought a 5 mm overall, a shorty, a drysuit... And I used the good old grey and blue Sporasub less and less. It was still in my closet but I decided to sell it.

I checked the small tears and the worn-out parts. It wasn't in perfect condition but I thought it would be good for a beginner. So I posted an ad with a really low price. I got the first letter from an instructor who wanted to cut costs of the course with this old suit. I didn't sell it to him. Later a real beginner wrote to me and she became the new owner of the Sporasub suit. I sold many old stuffs for a few bucks for beginners since then. I know they don't have too much money to spend on a complete equipment because I didn't have neither. I hope that old-fashioned neoprene suit kept warm a keen diver who was able to enjoy being under water. Is it still in use nowadays? Maybe someday I'll meet down there with it and it's happy owner...

November 7, 2011

Remembering the first

After several lake dives I had the chance to do my first saltwater dive in 2001. I was quite excited and it's still a nice memory but the most important experience was to realize how different can be the reality from the expectations.

We traveled to Rhodes and saw many wonderful places above water but my main goal was to organize THE dive. I browsed some websites but they weren't too informative. We went to the harbor and booked the daytrip. The boat seemed quite large, we thought it would be very comfortable. Next day we arrived early and enjoyed sunbathing on the huge upper deck. In a few minutes more guests arrived. Later came another group. And again. The big boat became full of divers and first time intro makers soon, it wasn't easy to find a place amongst the dozens of tourists.

The boat ride was short. Later I discovered in those years in Rhodes there was only one bay where they allowed scuba diving. So there were another boats full of divers near Kalithea. The place of preparing looked like a dive equipment store, there were piles of tanks and fins, people walked around, divers jumped into the water while others came back. It meant we didn't have the chance to see too much animals in this crowded spot. But the water was nice warm, a shorty was enough so I tried to enjoy the first salt water dive. And it was really nice! There were shallow caverns, I tried to swim carefully, later we swam into a larger hole where we were able to surface.

Between the dives my girlfriend had her first intro dives. I just looked the chaotic way as they organized the first time scuba adventures of the tourists. It was really surprising to see this kind of operation. We certified divers got the briefing but there wasn't real buddy system, we simply followed the leader. We did the same during the second dive: I saw only "exciting" field of grass until the guide found an octopus, it the was the first one I've ever seen under water. Something to remember.

What else? Well, a traveling diver needs more information. It's essential to learn about the dive spots- in the whole island of Rhodes there was only one which resulted the daytrip was my first and last one during the holiday. Whatever the dive center's homepage says try to find reports from the past customers. A huge boat is nice but if it's overcrowded your trip will be anything but comfortable.

We always remember our "firsts": the first breath under water, the first saltwater dive, the first octopus and so on. The difference between our first experiences can be decisive. I liked the first dive in the sea, but I didn't like the way as the dive center worked. I think I was lucky: although there were problems basically I enjoyed being under water. I learned what do I want to do and how do I want to organize it. I drew a lesson from a single day. Fairly typical in the life of the beginner diver, am I right?

November 5, 2011


A walk along the riverside of the Danube (Budapest)

November 3, 2011

An artificial buddy

And a forum topic, again. An excited diver shared his experience about his "malfunctioning" Suunto dive computer. He added some photos as well and the other readers suggested to check the manual: it was a simple deco stop. He didn't understand his own instrument's signals. If a diver is lucky he or she can miss the decompression stops because these modern computer doesn't allow diving on the real limits. But a guy mentioned a story where the dive master trainee ran out of the water showing the computer which became "crazy". Yes, she missed the deco stops. There are beginner divers who don't know much about their computers but a DM shouldn't be that lame. (It sounds like if you couldn't understand the signs of your buddy and instead of using your head you pull out her or him from the water...)

Sometimes it seems the only solution is simple: let the computer dive on his own while we humans would stay on the safe deck. Let's make it clear: the computer is a sophisticated instrument which helps us to dive safer. But it doesn't decide instead of us. If somebody ascends fast or misses a deco stop the computer will sign and it won't get the bends but the diver. In my opinion those agencies who don't teach using a dive computer even during the beginner course should change their approach. I kindly ask who saw any freshly certified diver to calculate with the dive tables? Since most of us prefer liveaboards and unlimited shore dive resorts all around the world using a traditional dive table is nonsense. In my opinion a dive course needs to educate about real life situations. If the instructor knows all of his students will buy a computer soon he should explain the basics of the computer diving. Some people responds there are "Diving with computer" courses but I confess I'm sick of "perfect giant stride", "mastering mask clearing" or similar useless certifications. A diver with an OW card should be able to dive in normal environments and use the essential equipments- safely!

Even better if he understands their working a bit. If they would learn a bit about the different algorithms they wouldn't prefer a dive computer because it's more liberal. I think all the computers are safe but there must be a reason why all of them started to become more conservative. It's easy to find out. Just look around on a dive a boat: older people or very young children, many overweighted and unfit women and men go under water regularly. The more conservative algorithm is the better. Maybe the bottom time at 30 meters will be 1 minute less? Who cares? If I check the air consumptions I see many divers shouldn't dive deeper than 15 meters with a single tank. I don't understand those who love liberal computers so much: why don't they dive without any instruments? They didn't use any in the past and they didn't get the bends regularly. For me safety can't be compared to a bit more bottom time. I'm old enough to find interesting things in shallow water. The proud smile of the divers who can surface minutes before me because of their liberal computers doesn't annoy me. Not our computers will need a treatment in the chamber but us. If we did the same profile my extra 2-3 minutes of decompression does matter whatever the other computers show!

The first dive computer, the Deco Brain changed the way we dive but it seems nowadays it doesn't only help us. The diver who has a computer but don't know how does it work won't enjoy the improved safety. Just remember the story above about the diver who jumped out the water skipping the decompression stop! Another common mistake is the blind faith: it's possible to do decompression dives with the computer, enjoying the more bottom time with the more liberal computer but don't forget, all manuals say sometimes the diver has the bends even if they follow the orders of the instrument. Not the computer should decide about the way you dive: be more conservative, be safe diver on your own. So treat your computer as a reliable buddy who you trust- not as a guiding light or a passport to push the limits.

November 2, 2011

Tangerine Dream

This German band released dozens of albums since its 1967 formation. The Tangerine Dream is the band which wrote many well known songs which later appeared in ads, movies, documentaries but only the minority of the people knew who is the performer. In this entry I collected some of  theirclassical and/or sea related works.

November 1, 2011

Interesting news from week 43/2011

An American diver was attacked in Australia, near Rottnest Island. The government made a controversial decision when let the fishermen to catch all the white sharks in the area. It seems there is a shark panic, two sightings was enough to talk about safety again.

The Japanese whalers suspended their hunt last year earlier than they planned. The Sea Shepherd celebrated the victory but it seems the Japanese don't give, they spend even more money on whale hunt.

A man found an underwater camera which traveled hundreds of miles in the sea. Now he try to find its owner- check out the photos which can help.

Sometimes we feel we know nearly all secrets which lie in the shallows but it seems divers find always new wrecks in different areas. In Panama they hope to find the remains of Francis Drake's ship, while a diver documented three wrecks in Lake Michigan.

In the Ukrainian Black Sea divers do real underwater art: they paint in the deep.