Friday, March 13, 2009

Tauchersymposium Bonn

Today I attended the 9th Bonn Congress on Scuba Medicine (Bonner Tauchersymposium). Incidentally, it was held just two minutes from my temporary home at the university guesthouse. In the morning there was half a dozen lectures on general interest topics such as hypothermia and motion sickness, in the afternoon, there were more topic-specific workshops. Speakers were recruited mainly from academic research centers, the German navy, or rescue organizations. Many of them had previously authored for Divemaster, the only serious scuba magazine on the German market. (Even in an international comparison, this particular magazine ranks high.)
The event was well organized by the Wasserwacht (water rescue) of the local Red Cross. Legions of Wasserwachtler must have spent the entire night, making sandwiches and setting up the venue. Outside the auditorium, there were booths by various vendors of scuba and first-aid equipment. I will not go into too much detail about the specific talks; but this was surely an exceptional event, on the highest level one can imagine. No wonder that many of the participants had happily accepted a six to eight hour commute.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Edersee Kick-Off 2009

I spent Saturday with Horst. In the morning, we installed a new glove system on my brand new Northern Diver dry-suit. Although Horst has tons of experience, and we work together well, the simple installation took almost two hours. The blame for this was equally shared between a poorly designed glove system, and a significantly underspecified installation manual. Finally, the gloves fit, looked good, and we were ready to go.

At three o’clock, we were to dive in Edersee, on the Scheit peninsula, to inspect a 250m stainless steel cable that ties the pontoon of a pier to a concrete block at 25 meters. The dive was rather easy: we were to hold onto the cable and follow it to the other end, check that everything is ok, and return the way we came. Yet, it was my first outdoor dive this year, the first lake dive in two years, and I had almost entirely new gear, including regulators, a dry-suit, and lights. I was mentally prepared for something to go wrong. To make things worse, algae bloom had set in early, and visibility was a whooping 50 centimeters.

Surprisingly enough, the dive went most excellent. The regulators performed fine, the suit held dry, the lamps did not leak, weight (12kg) was perfect, and even the neoprene socks held warm. The whole set-up could not have been any better. You just have to excuse the absence of underwater photos; I could hardly see my own hands.