Leaving for a new experience : Lebanon diving
I wake up at 7.30am because of the wind that’s blowing like a storm. Outside it’s raining and the temperature is around 20°C. We’re in Croatia in mid-July. Lying down I start to make a list of all the dive equipment that I’ll need to take to Lebanon. With my buddy Andres Kron, owner of the tech diving center ‘Kron Diving’, we will go to visit the diving community of Beirut, teach some cave and instructor tech-dive courses and promote the rEvo rebreather with a trial day. Andreas was able to pack the unit in a small bag, but with the rest of diving equipment we will have something like 50kg worth of bags!
Preparation for the Diving training trip
I slowly wake up and move to the dive center to see if everything is ok and at what time we’ll need to leave. It takes 6 hours to reach Dubrovnik by car where we then have a direct flight to Beirut. We will stop to sleep somewhere close to the airport in order to be in time for checking in all bags (and probably fight over the excess baggage weight).
Amazingly everything goes super smoothly and at the check in desk they tell us ‘you can check in whatever you want!’. We are even able to get two Emergency Exit seats! After a three-hour flight I see the skyline of Beirut from the window and I’m excited to be visiting a new country and to make new friends! Ellie, the Mares and rEvo distributor for Lebanon, is waiting for us at the exit and we move downtown for a quick dinner and to discuss the schedule for the next few days. The city has a vibrant nightlife and is far from the image that most of us have of this country which has had many difficult moments and is dealing with an enormous quantity of different ethnic and religious groups. We crash in bed at 2am, happy to be here and to start our experience.
Diving Training starts
The day starts with theory: decompression strategies, skills, suggestions about equipment configuration and a draft schedule which will be changed several times during the week due to the sea conditions without disturbing the group of enthusiastic students who demonstrate great flexibility. Every night we are taken to a different place to have dinner and we taste the incredible Lebanese cuisine. Everybody is super friendly and we feel treated like kings. We do one entire day in the pool working on XR tech skills and we prepare for the dives.
The first one will be on a interesting wreck 30 minutes away from the beautiful city of Byblos, famous for being the oldest city in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is incredible to know that the first inhabitants established a village here around 5000BC. The city was later rebuilt by crusaders and each stone is thousands of years old.
The Batroun Shipwreck lays in clear water and is 60m long. The current is strong, but on the bottom the structure of the wreck protects us and we are able to spend almost 35 minutes diving it entirely. Lots of puffer fishes, a stingray and a huge grouper welcome us.
The structure is interesting and big bags of cement which the ship was carrying are still visible. Decompression takes 45 minutes before we are able to reach the surface and on board we are all happy to have shared these moments together.
A second dive is done simulating emergency skills, decompression and problems that students might face on a Deep Dive course. Everyone in the group responds correctly and they show their ability and responsiveness. Of course we also test them with a written exam and a theory assignment and they all perform well!
rEvo rebreather presentation : new way of diving
Then comes the rEvo rebreather presentation day and the classroom quickly becomes full of dive center owners and divers from all around Lebanon. Andreas spends 2 hours explaining how the rEvo is built, its functionality and why and how it is different from any other rebreather on the market.
The slim profile allows perfect trim and it offers easy breathing. The electronic, unique cannister design with scrubber control patented system another feature that makes the rEvo one of the best rebreathers available, and after a long session of questions all the attendants are invited to try it in the pool. It’s a real success and we end up with a big order of units the next day!
Advanced Wreck diving program
The next day we start the Advanced Wreck program playing with blind masks and reels in the diving center before performing a dive at the AliceB shipwreck at 35m. Everybody is performing the skills explained in the class and the practical session. Even this part is done and we have time for some other skill sessions in the open water.
The week is finished and we all meet in the evening to have one last drink together, share our contacts and establish the next meeting for September where we will start the rEvo rebreather user course. It’s an emotional moment and we feel like a family here!
Flying back with a new diving experience
The flight back is slightly delayed but we are really happy about the week and the job done.
Lebanon is a really nice dive destination and we wonder why not many divers know about it. You can dive great wrecks here and the people are warm and always ready to help.
Once again it was a great and unforgettable experience!
Andreas drives back to Rab and I stay overnight in Dubrovnik because tomorrow I’ll take the ferry to Bari, Italy, to do an instructor exam with 5 candidates. I love doing instructor exams, even after 16 years, because I feel I’m helping the candidates reach their dream of passing on their passion to someone else. They have invested money, time and enthusiasm and I always get the impression that they are the kind of ’pure spirits’ that I love to meet in the diving environment. I try to explain to them that they should always follow their dreams because it’s the only way that it makes sense to live your life!
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