No risk, no world record – A 20 km dive through the Baltic Sea
© Wolfgang Kulow
zur deutschen Version
Scuba diving through the Fehmarnbelt
The Baltic Sea is almost as smooth as a mirror, the temperatures are just below 20°C (68°F) and a light breeze blows. The conditions are ideal for the realization of my dream: I want to dive through the Fehmarnbelt – a 20 km (12.4 miles) long waterway between the Danish island of Lolland and Fehmarn Island in Germany.
I started to dream about this project about 10 years ago. But the technology had not yet been ready. I was already top motivated and enthusiastic back then, but without the right equipment there was no point in trying. Sometimes I have challenged entire companies to find technical solutions for my projects. Now, the equipment finally exists and I can start this dream project.
High goals, high requirements
My dream is not only to scuba dive through the belt, I also want to be faster than the fastest swimmer so far. A few years ago, I swam through the Fehmarnbelt once. But some swimmers have been quicker and set impressive records. It has always been in the back of my mind that if I dive through the belt, I’d like to be faster than the fastest swimmer. The latest record is 4 hours 53 minutes.
I had almost given up this dream. But now I have found a high-tech underwater scooter, the Seabob. With this scooter I will be able dive quite speedily. In addition, I of course need a big ship with an excellent crew. Everything just has to fit together. You need capable people, a team that is really enthusiastic about the project and performs at its best. You need a good rapport with the coast guards, so they do not pull you out of the water for safety reasons. You need nature to play along, because you cannot accomplish the project with a strong current or high waves. There are so many aspects that have to work out, some of them even a matter of luck, in order for you have a chance to accomplish such a goal.
Here we go!
This time I am lucky. Everything around me works on a world-class level – both technology as well as nature. So we start. While I am scuba diving, I hold on to the scooter and pulls me. I dive about 5 meters under water. The water quality allows me to only see about 6 meters far. Therefore, I have to look out for buoys with yellow neon bands which my accompanying boat drags along. I have to pay attention all the time to not lose the right track.
During the dive, I have to go back up several times because the scooter’s battery has capacity of one hour. After one hour, the compressed air cylinder also has only one third left. So as soon as the battery power of the Seabob is in the lower range, I go up. While I remain in the water, I immediately receive a new Seabob from the boat. It is let into the water with a crane. Of course, we also exchange the compressed air cylinder. The cylinder can be exchanged through a quick-snap system and the hoses are separated with bayonet locks so that everything happens very quickly. And then it goes on again.
Risks are part of the game
For this project, I need crew with very strong nerves on the boat. Sometimes critical situations arise. At one point, there are two container ships coming our way from the left and a coaster boat from the right. We are right in the middle. If your head is on the surface of the water, the ships look three times their size. I can only think "Oh-oh!" Once it gets really tight. I want to start discussing with the crew, but there is no point. Ultimately, it is the sole responsibility of the captain and two crew members to manage the situation. It does not pay to try to manage as well from the water. I have to rely on the crew, submerge again and hope that everything goes well. It is a bit like in a Formula One race: Whether the team properly retightens the screws when changing tires is no longer in the driver's power.
The dream comes true!
In the end everything goes well. I finish the route in 4 hours and 9 minutes. I have set a new world record! It is the fastest underwater crossing of Fehmarnbelt ever. It is a great feeling that all the preparation and the effort have paid off!
Afterwards, the captain says to me, "At one point, it was a bit precarious." The situation has been tight, but it all worked out well in the end. If the captain had lost his nerves, or had not been the right guy, he would have stopped and we would not have made the record timing. It would have been over 5 hours easily. Success always depends on many factors: yourself, nature and a good team around you.
The company Cayago under the guidance of diving professional Ronny Roskosch has supported my record dive very actively with the Seabob F5 S. This scooter has been around for a bit longer, but it is constantly improved. It’s a real high-end product, used on the large, expensive yachts as a fun item. Now, the company wants to expand into the dive market. Therefore, my project was also a good opportunity for them. My story is great marketing for the product. At the same time, I know well that I could not have achieved this timing without the Seabob F5 S. I have already tried other scooters in a lake. They are not as technically advanced and not as powerful.
It feels great to have a dream and be able to realize it.
I am already excited about what comes next. Maybe an adventure on land or in a colder region. Let's see – I will keep you posted. See you soon!
Some pictures of Wolfgang's diving world record:
(1) Still dry. - We will start in a minute.
© Wolfgang Kulow
(2) I made it! With the world record certificate.
© Wolfgang Kulow
(3) A success for the entire outstanding team!
© Wolfgang Kulow