Thursday, February 05, 2009

Indoor Diving Siegburg

Today, Victor and I visited Manfred Narres of Dive4Life, who masterminded a new 20m indoor scuba pool in Siegburg, near Bonn. Manfred was kind enough to spend the better part of the day with us, show us the construction sight, and even found time for lunch. The project 9which also comprises a large spa, competitive waterslides, and a hotel) is to finish by September. So we keep the thumbs pressed. Here are some more pics of our visit.

Nemo 33

In between the two das at the BOOT show, we investigated Nemo 33, the currently deepest civilian dive pool on the planet. The four of us, Horst Schmalz, Bernd Ossenbrink, Victor Tsui and me, left Düsseldorf at 9:00 am, and arrived at Nemo in Brussels just before noon. Unfortunately, the last group of divers had just entered, and we had to wait almost a full hour until we were read to go.

Nemo uses non-chlorinated water, and hence does not allow external equipment, other than mask, snorkel, fins and a (compulsory) computer. There is no need for neoprene, as the water is 33 degrees hot. Note, that Nemo enforces a four-star rule; i.e. every buddy team must have a total of four CMAS stars - or equivalent.

Groups are ushered through the diving activity ever full hour. With ten other divers, we first changed in the dressing room. (The lockers are a rip off, as the do not return the 50ct “deposit”.) Next, our group snorkeled and free-dove for 15 minutes in the right side of the pool, which is 10 meters deep. Then, we were given regulators, BCD’s and tanks. Finally, we had 30 minutes to explore the remainder of the facility.

Nemo’s pool is shaped like the letter H. There are two holes (10 and 33 meters), connected by a tunnel (at 10 meters). The tunnel also includes two air-filled chambers, in which divers can “surface”, and have a chat. The 33m hole is rather narrow. Especially in the beginning, when everybody heads down to the full depth, the water in the upper regions becomes extremely turbid, with visibility being as low as one meter. We descended to the bottom, found that there was nothing to do, and spent the rest of the time playing in the tunnels. Finally, an underwater gong calls for a five minute security stop.

Overall, Nemo was better than expected; the hour was good fun. However, that is about it. The simple pool with nothing blue tiles simply does not provide enough entertainment for a second dive. Still, happily saturated with Nitrogen, we ate mussels at the nearby Lunch Garden and then headed back to Germany, for a second day at BOOT.

Nemo sports a bar and Thai restaurant, with direct view in the pool.

Horst. No, its not the magnifying effect of water. He is really this big.

Bernd, Victor and me.

Victor in the cave at 10 meters depth.

Boot 2009

This years BOOT was different from previous shows. First of all, the economic downturn was visible, with fewer visitors, and an overall less hectic and more pleasant atmosphere. Second, I was not just going to be a visitor, but do active business development for Victor.

In two days, we visited many companies, ranging from small mail-order shops for DIY-lamps, to large distributors of general scuba equipment. The general response was most excellent, and we took away some good sales leads. For Victor, I was a good ice-breaker, and managed to land him some good meetings. For me, he was a mayor asset, and helped me get to know people that otherwise would show little interest in me.

Besides doing business, I mainly shopped for scuba books, and looked for dive vacation spots in Germany and nearby countries. In addition, I was going to find a school for a German boat license. I found two books on underwater photography, and only when the salesman flipped open the cover, I realized that I had bought them from the author, highly acclaimed underwater photographer Herbert Frei. My personal highlight of course, was a meeting with Erich Ritter, world-famous behavioral biologist for sharks.

Also, I signed up as assistant instructor with Horst; 2009 is going to be one fat year.

Victor with Michael Finger of Mike-Dive

Me and Erich Ritter of Shark Shool. Me, very happy.

Victor admiring a neoprene wedding dress.