Lake Galder, The Netherlands
On 23rd and 24th September 2023 the annual helmet diving weekend of the Historical Diving Society the Netherlands took place. As usual, the diving location was Lake Galder, situated near Breda in the southern part of The Netherlands.
The first guests arrived on Friday morning and received a warm welcome. They had a private tour at one of our members’ diving lockers where some equipment of the HDS.nl is stored. Later that day, most of the participants met at a hotel near the diving location. As always, it was great to meet and talk about our mutual hobby and the importance of keeping the helmet diving history alive. This also meets the objectives of our HDS: to meet other members, exchange information, and dive with each other’s equipment.
On Saturday morning all the participants, coming from England, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, came to the diving location at Lake Galder which has easy access and quite good visibility (varying from 4 to 7 metres). We dropped the diving equipment and catering items at the dive site, parked our cars and started setting up our diving stations. And last but not least, Frank’s camper and our catering tent were set up and soon, the smell of fresh coffee went through the air, a well known sign that the briefing was about to start, followed by making the dive planning.
Before we started diving, we took the time to admire the available equipment: a tinned ex Royal Navy Siebe Gorman 6 bolt helmet with a 3-cylinder diving pump, 2 Dräger rebreather sets: DM20 and a DM40, 2 Dräger DM 220 diving sets, a Dräger 3 bolt air helmet with the lever pump, a complete Russian diving set, also with lever pump and a very nice Miller Dunn style three helmet, including the 2-cylinder Miller Dunn diving pump. This promised to be a very nice weekend!
The diving started and it might be clear that everybody enjoyed diving with this variety of hard hat equipment. It was great to see that all the participants were helping each other and took turns on operating the pumps, handling the hoses and taking care of the communication. Despite a small leak in one of our suits all went well despite the rainy conditions, 13 dives were made with a variety of crew members for each diving station: five for the Siebe Gorman and Dräger air hat, three for the DM220, three for the DM20 or DM40 and two for the Miller Dunn. The last helmet was really great. Because it’s a shallow water hat, the participant could, with minimal help, grab the helmet and join the helmet diver who was already in the water. A special moment of the day (and weekend) were the dives with the Dräger rebreathers DM20 and DM40. To see one of these in use is rare but if you see two of them, diving simultaneously, is a very special occasion. Everybody loved it.
On Saturday night we enjoyed a great meal, had some drinks and of course exchanged a lot of information. This is a very important part of our meeting. The stories of great helmet diving adventures and memories grew by the minute!
The second day was brilliant – a lot of sun and more participants. One of the invited guests was Patrick Kranenbroek, a reporter of the well known Dutch and Belgium diving magazine called Duiken. He interviewed our secretary Andre Merks and was offered a dive in the Siebe hat. Needless to say that Patrick loved to join us and really liked the dive in the Siebe gear. The report of his dive and the interview will be published in Duiken around December 2023.
With enough hands on deck, we were able to use two diving stations; one for the SG and one for the Dräger rebreather equipment. This was very handy and made it possible to have two divers in the water simultaneously. All the dives were carried out with one or two safety divers. Frank took his new underwater camera and drone with him and took very nice pictures. As usual, he will make a very nice video about our diving adventures.
It was an immensely successful diving weekend with lots of equipment and a lot of dives. A special thank you to Thomas and Frank for their task as safety divers and taking underwater and drone pictures. We hope to see even more participants next year! For more photos, please take a look at the Facebook page: Historical Diving Society the Netherlands or the website www.theHDS.nl