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Diving YOLANDA (by Gennady Fursov, TDI Instructor # 3809)

Yolanda is a legendary wreck. Two world’s dive records were set up here. In 2005.Leigh Cunningham and Mark Andrews dived to 205 meters - the world’s deepest wreck dive. In 2007 Nina Preisner established the analogous record among the women - 158 meters. I was lucky to be a support diver of Nina. That made me to have the idea to establish a new record of Russia - 210 meters in Yolanda. My idea was supported by Dima Podolsky - my friend and partner, TDI Advanced Trimix Diver. As soon as my friends and dive buddies from Crimea got to know about this project we found the support team – Evgeny Gasishvili, Vladimir Petrov, Alexander Kuzmenko, Dmitri Shutchenko. Oksana Istratova joined us as well before the very beginning of the project.. That was our Dream Team.
The start was assigned on the 1st of December 2007 due to the most favourable tides forecast. First three days of our project were dedicated to training. 4th of December we planned a 170 meters dive to the rostrum, and after a day break - the deepest dive to the stern. Some details:
1.12.07 – Bottom Mix – air
          Planned Depth – 70 meters
          Deco Gases - EANx50 and oxygen
We entered the water on our first day a bit far from the reef than needed, but it turned out to be even useful – it was a perfect training dive in the “deep blue”. The test for nitrogen narcosis resistance as well as the moral training for diving with no visual references of lines or reefs and the manipulation with a large quantity of equipment was passed successfully.


2.12.07 – Bottom mix – Tx 12/50
          Run Gas Tx 20/30
          Deco gases – EAN x50 +O2.
Planned depth – 100 meters. We dive along the reef wall. Dive Entrance point is coordinated by Nil Black, an English diver who was diving Yolanda with Nina Preisner. He was the one to get the GPS coordinates of the reef even before the record dive of Nina. The day passed successfully, it was a very interesting dive of Advanced Trimix level.

03.12.07 – Bottom Mix – Tx 10/60
           Run gas – Tx 12/55 and Tx 20/30
           Deco gases – EANx50, EANx70 and O2.
Planned depth – 170 meters.  We already know that the reef wall is too sloping. So we decided to use a guide line in order not to use extra gas and have extra deco stops. The guide line was made out of a concrete block found in one of the construction areas of Sharm :-) we tied 200 meters rope and an empty plastic jerrycan and threw our handmade guideline above the wreck according to the GPS coordinates. So we are ready to begin the descend. On 100 meters we stoped and exchanged the signals. OK? OK!! Everything is fine, but nothing is seen – just “the blue” -  the depth is 144 meters. A bit deeper I finally see the wreck. Yolanda!!! The wreck sank in 1981, and for 5 years was lying on 20 meters but slid into deeper waters because of a storm in 1985. It currently sits in water ranging from 145m to 180m, and perhaps even deeper. On 171 meters we were approximately in the middle of the ship’s hull. But, time is critical at such depth so we began the ascend. 
The next day is a day off. I mean we don’t dive. After a good night’s sleep we met at OceanTec to analyze the gases for tomorrow and prepare the equipment.


6.12.07 - Day X.
          Bottom mix – Tx 7/70
          Run Gas – Tx 10/60, Tx 16/45 and Tx 25/25
          Deco gases – EANx40, EANx 70 and O2.
Planned depth – 210 meters. We are on time. The equipment is ready, tanks are marked. The weather is not holding out for us – very windy and wavy. We enter the water. The buoy was just nearby and the next moment is it gone by the flow. To swim in full equipment with eight tanks is impossible. So we take the towing rope discarded from the ship. Our captain did not consider us the reason to sail slowly so we are literally washed off from the rope! Next turn,. Finally we are in place. Safety divers wish us luck and we begin to descend. The way is well known up to 170 meters. Dmitry tries to switch on the torch, but it does not work.  He has to use the spare one. Our goal is deeper. As we leveled we could see that the ship was perched on a ledge. Beyond this, a wall descended into the Abyss. Suddenly I heard a loud bang. The depth is around 185 meters. I gave the sign to ascend thinking that it was my pressure gauge. But the manometer is fine. Dmitry’s lamp Tek Tight is burst (maximum depth of which is supposed to be 300 meters). We continue the descend.
202 meters, time to ascend. We both ascend following the decompression schedule precisely. I deployed the SMB at 50. At 40 we were joined by our safety diver Dima Shutchenko. We are having deco stop for 3 long hours, by the end of which our ship cut off the buoy by the screw and half an hour we simply drift in the blue above the abyss under the supervision of Oksana. Our support team found us by the yellow SMB. Life is getting better :-)

Unfortunately, not everything went as desired. during the ascend i got quite a serious DCS of inner ear. Upon surfacing and getting to the harbour i had to take 5 sessions in the decochamber. At the moment i have fully recovered and dived to 70 and 100 meters plus had cave courses in Thailand.

This is our first independent project. All the participants from Russia and Ukraine came to Sharm El Sheikh specially to take part in this project. I would like to thank all the guys for their help and support and hope that this was just the beginning! :-)
My buddy –Dima Podolskiy (Moscow, Russia)
My “personal support” Oksana Istratova (Moscow-Sharm)
Support Team – Evgeny Gasishvili (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Sasha Kuzmenko ( Krivoy Rog, Ukraine)
Vladimir Petrov (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Dima Shutchenko (Moscow, Russia)

A special appreciation goes to Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Adel from the decochamber for the medical support.

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Year 2007 News & Events

Diving YOLANDA (by Gennady Fursov, TDI Instructor # 3809)
Be A Diver Campaign
SDI/TDI/ERDI Unleashes their Seminar Schedule for DEMA 2007
Red Sea Cave Project
Chamber of diving tourism and watersports
International Festival De Plongee Tech
Cave Expedition Thailand
2006 TDI/SDI Instructor and Facilities Awards
Instructor Trainer Workshop - Hurghada - June 2007
TDI/SDI/ERDI Middle East
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