Baltictech 2011


Day 1

Quarter to 10:00 am, one of the organisers of Baltictech 2011 conference officially opened the conference.In the course of the meeting the most attention was devoted to technical issues, so that the whole event would proceed as smoothly as possible.

The opening was ended by the memorial of Witek Śmiłowski and Robert Klein, who unfortunately are not with us anymore and who very strongly contributed to the development of the present form of the conference.


10: 00 am JP Imbert on microbubbles

The host of this lecture, JP Imbert, devoted many years of his life to the issues related to improvement in diving safety. His presentation that day was concerned with introduction of microbubbles to the body. Within 50 min. the experienced diver and scientist presented his vision of what influences the emergence of microbubbles, the road they travel in our body and the effects the may cause. As it turns out microbubbles can be found in our organism already before diving. Their presence can be influenced even by our warm-up or exercises performed before diving. Thanks to the presentation he had prepared, he very clearly presented the issues related to the subject. They included the road bubbles ravel in our body from the lungs to the heart and further to the brain, the impact of the environment and changes in pressure after being submerged in water.

Next JP Imbert told about various kinds of occurring symptoms according to the type of diving and its course as well as discussed the options of safe decompression. In in the final stage of the lecture he devoted his time for individual conditions of each of us, such as: age, sex and lifestyle. Divers who enjoy being active in technical diving could have been interested in final decompression models he discussed with a great deal of humour. The very interesting lecture, even for laypeople as well as the casual form and the host's personality made the discussed issues seem very clear.


11: 00 am Trip to the Orda Cave, an incredible cave in the Ural Mountains

The lecture hosted by our guests from beyond the eastern border was commenced by Bogdana Vashchenko, who introduced the attendees in the main issues of the project and the first observations of the exploration crew. She drew the attention to a vast uniqueness and lack of external interference in the environment of the Orda Cave.

The opportunity to learn something about this wonderful site directly from the people conducting research there, was a special and a unique occasion. Additionally, an exhibition of beautiful pictures from the Orda Cave Awareness Project was organised for the people visiting the conference in the main hall of the Hotel Gdynia.

Another person from the group acquainting the guests with the projects carried out in Russia was an extremely experienced diver Igor Galaida, who had ventured 980 m down the Uralian cave, but had also taken part in many other explorations and focused his lecture on them.

He devoted the first part of his lecture to the Blue Lake. It is a peculiar lake the diameter of which does not exceed 120m, while its depth reaches more than 200m. An interesting thing was a film shot in 2008 during the record-breaking diving down to 180m in the abovementioned reservoir. The decompression Igor and his buddy had to withstand lasted for 6h.

In further part he focused on the topic of "Russian Underwater Heritage", the main issues of which are the shipwrecks of the Baltic Sea resting on the Russian side. Interesting pictures and materials perfectly complemented Igor's tales. Especially that we still know little about the shipwrecks submerged in that area. You will find more information on the research on

The final part of the lectures held by the Russian group was hosted by Sergei Gorpinyuk. It was concerned with chiefly technical aspects of diving. Harsh conditions prevailing in the areas they examine (Lake Beloye, Orda Cave) cause that it is incredibly important to prepare proper equipment, which will manage at bloodcurdlingly low temperatures. With a great deal of ease an humour as well as in a very accessible and understandable manner Sergei described the nuances technical in the course of daily exploration of the sites visited by the group.

At the same time in the room workshop room Łukasz Piórewicz presented the gathered people the topic entitled "Baltic Sea for beginners".


12: 00 am Tino Balestra – PFO does this apply to me?

From the very beginning the host focused the attendees' attention. He established a great relationship with the audience and casually and jokingly moved on to subsequent issues of a very serious subject.

While mentioning subsequent causes of accidents he made the gathered aware that minimisation of risk is not simple and obvious. Thanks to multiple multimedia aids used by Tino allowed the attendees to become acquainted with subsequent medical cases and the course of PFO.

The thing he turned the attention of the audience to was the fact that even activities seemingly not posing a threat may lead to serious consequences, if we fail to observe proper procedures.

In the other room Jill Heinerth gave her first lecture of this year's Baltictech. She shared her experience in CCRs. An interesting topic, however, moving from theory to practice in it is a great step, still possible only for a small group of divers.


1:00 pm Krzysztof Wnorowski and Tomasz Stachura, Łukasz Piórewicz - memories from the Wiatrem Gnane (Spurred by the Wind) expedition

The final meeting with the participants of the conference before the lunch break was associated with one of the successes of the Polish diving of the recent years most heavily featured in the media: Finding, survey and extraction of cannons in the Słupsk Bank.

Two participants representing that day a numerous group of technical divers from the Tricity, taking part in the Wiatrem Gnane (Driven by the Wind) expedition, explained the attendees the details of the whole project. We had been posting much information on the current basis on Divers24, but this time everyone had an opportunity to learn in person how the organisational details of this huge project had looked like. Standing on the side we are not always aware of the necessary staff of people, months of research and preparation which must precede such a large mission.

At the same time lectures were being given by Dorota Łeweć and Nick Toussaint. The author of the book "Nurkowanie Kobiet" (Women Diving) focused her speech on the aspects of psychophysical and medical aspects of diving of the fairer sex. On the other hand, the world-famous diver presented the principles of diving with oxygen decompression rebreathers.


4:00 pm Richard Lundgren – Mars the Magnificent

We were already after the lunch break. We were waiting for the lectures of this year's king of hunting for the Baltic shipwrecks – Richard Lundgren. In the meantime, Rosemary Lunn encouraged the conventioneers to visit the Eurotek 2012 conference.

It was Richard's second visit to the Baltictech. In the past we had an opportunity to see him during the second edition in 2008.

He began his lectures by referring to the historical outline of the Baltic Sea and its trade routes and the animosities between the Scandinavian nations, in particular between Denmark and Sweden. Then, having outlined the situation among the two hostile nations, he moved on to present in detail the clash in which the Mars was sunk by the combined forces of Denmark and Lübeck.

Finding the wreck of the Mars was the fulfilment of the dream the explorer first had 20 years before. Today he is very happy that no one has been able to discourage him from the search - despite the fact that over the years there have been plenty of opinions calling him a madman and a lunatic.

The following part of the lecture involved demonstration of the technical capabilities at the disposal of Richard and his companions that day and presentation of their motivation, determination as well as reaching to the sources when he had still worked with Mel Fisher, the discovered of the Spanish galleon Atocha.

The conventioneers had an opportunity to watch unique footage shot by the explorers when diving down to the Mars shipwreck.


5:00 pm Krzysztof Starnawski – diving in side mount configuration

During the workshops the main character of the dualrebreather project, Krzysztof Starnawski, presented the gathered participants the advantages and the nuances concerning diving in the side mount configuration.

It would have been difficult to cast this role with someone who would have enjoyed greater respect and regard than ours explorer of Mexican caves.

Those who had decided to devote their time to this meeting could listen to many interesting arguments concerning the use new hardware configuration in different types of diving. Clearly outlined differences and changes introduced by the side configuration in our method of diving were the leitmotif of the lecture.

The difference and new possibilities provided by the side mount make it an interesting direction that can be taken in diving.


6:00 pm Jill Heinerth – Discovering the unknown

An extremely interesting meeting with a unique person who learned about diving almost in each aspect. Jill had a real treat for all who had decided attend the last lecture of that day. A story about the most unusual and exciting diving expeditions she took part in and her view on the production of footage from those trips.

Among the discussed trips there were diving expeditions in harsh circumpolar areas, where the temperature was - 1.8°C and cave diving inside an iceberg.

Jill also raised a subject extremely close to her heart, which is water. She talked about love and respect to it and how we should instil those values in future generations. This is because proper education of our children is the surest way to take care of the things we value the most.

In the end she summed up the first day of the conference, which resulted in multiple interesting lectures.


Before the organisers moved on to the highly anticipated moment, which was the prize lottery, a few words had been devoted to the tragically deceased Robert Klein, who had been actively involved in organising all past editions of the Baltictech from the very beginning. His memory was honoured with a minute of silence.

When the lottery began, the whole room became lively. Everybody impatiently awaited who would win this year's prizes and the list of those was really impressive.

Among them diving underwear, iPods, flashlights, scuba sets, computers, wings, international trips, a Sweet Deco rebreather, a Mps C2 Case booster and the main prize - a Suex Xjoy 14 diving scooter!

As every year, the atmosphere was amazing. The lottery served as a perfect introduction to the later diving party. It got the participants into a proper mood and made their faces smile.


Day 2

10:00 am Hallvard Opheim – Recent projects - diving down to the Blücher and the Elisabeth Bornhofen

A very interesting presentation of two diving projects was hosted by Hallvard Opheim invited from Norway. The diving expeditions to the shipwrecks of the Elizabeth Bornhofen and the Blücher he described made a significant impression on the participants. In both cases a very well outlined brief history of the subject supported by archive materials was instrumental in building the atmosphere and the attendees' idea of the sunk vessels of the circumstances of their sinking.

The subsequent stage in both cases was a quite detailed presentation of logistics of the diving, the used hardware as well as the description in the difficulties the divers had had to face. Very substantive information allowed the attendees to put themselves in the situation of the participants of both projects very well.

Phenomenal photo and video materials had been made and skillfully edited for both wrecks, which allowed the participants of the lecture to find themselves on the bottom of Norwegian fiords and take delight in the view of the majestic wrecks as well as the local fauna and flora.


11:00 am

Phill Short, visiting for the second time the Baltictech, started his lecture by introducing the characteristics of rebreathers as well as their use and training with them. Then, he made a distinction between closed circulations dedicated to technical and recreational diving.

First, he classified what we consider technical diving and then he specified the basic threats faced by a technical diver.

After a preliminary analysis of technical diving he moved on to closed circulations for recreational divers. Just like in the case of technical diving, he characterised this type of diving as well as divers regarded as recreational ones. He explained the differences in training and the training program and then he moved on to the hazards faced by a sports diver using a rebreather resulting mostly from insufficient training.

The following part of the lecture was concerned with the methods of reduction of the risks associated with using closed circulations. He stressed the advantage of the display located in front of the diving mask in reducing the possibility of oxygen poisoning and presented interesting solutions provided by this option.

In the end she Phill presented the assumptions and the objectives for the nearest future in the field of rebreathers.


12:00 am Nick Toussaint – Planning long diving using a rebreather

At first, Nick raised the subject of the number of accidents in technical diving, which had doubled over the most recent year as well as explained the purpose of the prepared presentation, remarking that this was his personal point of view on safety.

The subsequent point was introduction to distant exploration in cave diving. He precisely described the threat faced by those who decide to be active in this type of diving. Nick emphasised how important was being in proper physical and mental fitness. According to him endurance, concentration and a proper lifestyle are key factors, but one's wellbeing on a particular day is also extremely important. It is important to be able to objectively assess one's own capabilities and form.

Then, he devoted much attention to planning diving expeditions, which sometimes can take several weeks and even months. According to Nick we should always assume the worst possible scenario in respect of consumed gases, since there are many situations in which we will have to, e.g. share gas, begin consume it more, or simply lose it in some other way. Proper prevention with regard to the limits will minimise the danger.

In the final part of his lecture he focused on the logistics of diving and transportation of our equipment under water using a scooter and the methods of dealing with his its malfunctions. He also did not ignore the aspect of proper securing of diving trips in terms of informing the right people, checking the rescue structure in the area and the ability to use it.


1:00 pm J P Imbert – Deep diving for practitioners and dreamers

That day's presentation prepared by JP Imbert was concerned with the history and the development of deep diving. During the one-hour lecture we reached back to the very beginning of deep diving, tracing subsequent attempts in such countries as Norway, Switzerland or Brazil.

Subsequent attempts, development and improvement of equipment, preparation of new solutions and gas mixes as well as hundreds of hours of research and experiments devoted to allow people to dive deeper and deeper. JP had perfectly researched and elaborated on the issues, creating a nearly comprehensive encyclopaedia of this field of diving enhanced by many photographs of divers, the equipment, the entire infrastructure as well as diagrams of the devices used over the years.

The whole lecture was summed up by a part on technical diving we know today and its pioneers as well as their development. JP Imbert also analysed many projects he had taken part in, which had been very interesting due to their pioneering achievements and first results of research on the behaviour of the human organism when crossing subsequent barriers.

In the workshop room Krzysztof Wnorowski and Tomasz Stachura described how to use electricity under water. The technological progress in this field had given rise to many questions, which the lecturers tried to address. They presented their opinion on the benefits that could be achieved in various types of diving using state-of-the-art equipment based on electric systems.


2:00 pm

Dr. Hac from the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk was the penultimate speaker of this year's Baltictech. One of the most informed people in the subject of wrecks lingering on the bottom of the Baltic Sea hosted a presentation concerning hazards and contamination in the vicinity of sunk vessels.

In front of the gathered audience the experienced researcher elaborated on the purpose, the methods and the results of the research carried out on behalf of the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk. He informed which kind of threats are posed to the environment by shipwrecks and described their possible consequences.

At the same time in the other room Wojciech Jechna and Dimitris Stavrakakis told about their experiences with PFO. Their presentation included the details of the treatment, its course and their own feelings on the matter. There was a moment to ask questions for everyone who was worried or bothered by, or interested in the subject of PFO.


15:00 pm Rick Staton – Latest projects Pozo Azul – Spain

The substantive part of the conference was closed by Ricka Staton's lecture concerning the exploration of the Spainish Pozo Azul cave. It is not completely flooded, so the explorers travelled through some of the chambers under water and some on the surface. In total they managed to venture 3.5km inside it. The cave has been penetrated since the 1970s.

As the epilogue of this year's meeting, everyone willing could take part in a tour combined with visiting the hyperbaric chamber in the Institute of Hyperbarism and Tropical Medicne in Gdynia.

Source: Divers24

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