Closed Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

  1. #1
    RBW Member Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko is a jewel in the rough Mikel-Deko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Basque Country -Sp-
    Posts
    851
    HH Inspiration / Joki

    Dolphin, Megalodon, RGU

    Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Short version;
    Thanks to the uselessness, selfishness, shamelessness, egoism, excuses and lies of Christian Francis owner of the so called Lebanon Divers, he almost ruined our expedition to the HMS Victoria.

    Detailed version:
    Several month of planning, e mailing, confirming and all details agreed upon we arrive at Beirut airport on October 8th around 22.00 hrs.
    At arrival we are surprised to find a taxi waiting for us where our gear hardly fitted, nothing like the bus contracted with a 24 hrs driver at our disposal…
    We get to the hotel and after checking in (no sign of Christian Francis) we head to find him and go for our first Lebanese dinner (agreed upon in advance).
    To our surprise, no dive center, a small flat where Francis seems to live and an even smaller room with the compressor and the gases.
    Anyway we reminded Francis about the dinner and he offered to take us by car saying the bus will be there the day after.

    He took us to a restaurant claiming it serves Lebanese food and that he often goes there, to our surprise the owner says they do not serve Lebanese food… Francis tells him it does not matter he should serve us whatever he has! Thanks God one of the team members Chris Massaad was born in Lebanon and speaks the language so he stepped in and said no, asking Francis not to treat us like idiots on the very first day.
    We ended up eating a sandwich at the hotel.


    October 9th

    No sign of Francis so we headed to his place where he gave us sofnolime and we set up our rebreathers on a terrace and left part of our stuff in his flat

    He assured us that he had the tanks filled and analyzed, so we got them, they were marked as 8/70 which was the gas we had asked for.
    Upon analyzing them ourselves we were surprised to find out different mixes between 5/75 and 10/65….
    We mentioned that to him and we looked surprised saying it was not possible as he had filled them and analyzed them personally. (A LIE!)
    So we asked for an air and an O2 tank to recalibrate our analyzer, we were given an air tank (TAGGED AND CLEARLY MARKED AIR) which had 77% O2 in it…

    With all these problems, the bail out tanks half filled, every tanks with a different mix (onboard and bail out) and many more small details, we finally managed to leave at midday to Tripoli where we were supposed to board our boat for the check dive.

    Upon arriving to Tripoli harbor we were surprised to find out that Francis was going from one fishermen boat to the other asking for prices for taking us out on a dive….
    We asked where was our contracted boat, answer is he waited too long and left with other customers! (A lie as we found out later, there was NEVER a contracted boat!)

    He finally found a boat that would take us out, an excursion boat with a small ladder that wen only a few centimeters below the waterline.

    We had to transfer the gear ourselves onto the boat (nowhere the contracted deck hands to help and by the way still no glimpse of our bus or the support diver) Of course every time we had to move tanks around Francis would go talking on his cell phone until we finished so as not to help move a single tank himself!

    Out we go, stop at the Navy checkpoint at the entrance of the harbor, one hour to clear the papers (all permits were supposed to be ready!) and we set sail.
    We were supposed to do a check dive to see if all our gear is ok after the long trip, we get dumped in the water 30 minutes before sunset 60 meters deep and end up having to do one hour deco at night and get back on a boat with no navigation lights, no search lights and no radio.

    (By the way no O2 resuscitation kit or first aid kit)
    Back to harbor guiding the boat with our dive lights.

    Of course as soon as we started unloading the tanks and gear Francis went talking on his cell phone till we were finished..

    This same evening we insisted with Francis about the bus contracted and he said he had trouble getting it but he would leave us his private car to drive around by ourselves and that next day the bus will be there… (another lie)
    Also he assured us that we would have a proper diving boat next day.

    October 10th
    At 08.00 am we were at Francis apartment analyzing tanks and refilling some ourselves as he was unable to do that overnight and finally after loading the whole gear ourselves (again nobody to help) we drove to Tripoli in his private car and an old jeep he has with a trailer behind it. (we had stopped asking about the bus, it was obvious that he just lied to us all the way)

    The boat waiting for us was the same from the day before, no real dive boat at all available and we soon found out none was ever contracted, another lie all the way…

    Load all tanks, rebreathers and gear only to be stopped again by the navy who wanted to see the permits! Francis could not show them, as apparently he did not have them with him…
    He had to lie his way saying we were only going to dive some shallow waters for some training..and we finally were allowed to go through

    Locating the site was an odyssey by itself,

    Nearing the site Francis’s old hand held GPS batteries died! He had no back up batteries and we had to lend him some form our own.
    It then took him more than one hour running in circles and swearing aboard his semi inflated small dinghy backed up by a poor guy who apparently works for him and who was so ill equipped that both his regulators leaked as soon as the tank was opened.

    There was no line on the Victoria even we had all along our correspondence with him made it VERY clear that we expect to have a line to go down, so he jumped in the water to put the line and came out at 16.30 hrs…

    We had already spent almost all the day on the boat…

    The run time for the planned dives was around 180 minutes, In Lebanon in October it gets dark at 18.30 hrs, we needed 30 minutes to get geared and ready to dive, you need not be too intelligent to figure out that we would have almost no light during the dive done a large part of our deco time in total darkness. It was simply not safe to go to 120 meters at sunset to get back to a boat that has no lights, no radio and no communication at all…

    We told Francis we find the conditions unsafe for the day and we’d rather come next morning early to dive it, upon hearing this he started insulting us and ended up saying we were no real divers but Pussy divers!!!

    On that note we got back to the harbor in total darkness guiding the boat again with our dive lights..


    October 11th


    At 08.30 we were at Francis’s apartment to get the tanks, and at about 10 after having loaded and unloaded all the equipment again with no help at all and of course Francis talking on his cell hone all the time..
    Again we get stopped by the Navy and again Francis did not have the permits not even a copy with him…(he never had any proper permits!!!)
    4 hours waiting for the navy to clear us, until we finally got the go ahead BUT it was only for Open circuit diving and clearly said no islands and no wrecks!

    So we unloaded the equipment again, loaded it onto the vehicule and back to the hotel!!!
    Another day wasted because of an inept and a liar!

    In the evening (very angry) we met with Francis and told him we shall give him a day to sort out all the permits he needs as he had obviously been lying all the way, the is amazing, he was joking and laughing all the time as if nothing had happened!

    October12th


    Francis gone to Beirut to get his famous permits (was supposed to have them month ago!) and we get a phone call from him in the late afternoon saying he does not have them but that we could go round the Navy checkpoint loading our stuff somewhere else, confronted with the possibility of having to go home without even having had one dive on the Victoria we decided to take our chance and risk it!

    October 13th

    The boat that has been taking us till now refuses to take us out illegally without checking through the navy check point so Francis get’s another boat, even smaller..a fishing boat!

    Usual stuff, us loading the tanks and rebreathers and Francis talking on the phone, , this time we have a guy who is supposed to act as a support diver, single tanks and no tek experience.
    We set sail with a 16 years old skipper (son of the owner of the boat who has a restaurant somewhere) and his 14 years old buddy.

    Halfway to the dive site the inflatable that Francis had been using (not a RIB, an inflatable from the stone age) which was being towed behind fills up with water and almost sinks, Francis and his support diver jumps in the water and starts emptying of water with buckets… another half hour lost and half our bail out tanks almost gone.

    15 minutes before reaching the dive site the engine dies…

    Francis had gone with the inflatable to moor on the line and as we did not appear he came back to check on us, finding out that we were stranded with no engine, he ties his inflatable to the boat and instead of trying to sort the situation he just lies down and set himself to sleep a siesta!!

    The Kid skipper started trying hard to call with his cell phone, coverage was not really good that far from shore (remember no vhf or anything like this, just phones and one old dodgy GPS)
    In the meantime the guy who was supposed to help on the boat was vomiting his guts overboard…

    After an hour drifting we asked Francis to try and tow the boat with his dinghy but he refused, the kid skipper then says that a mechanic is on it’s way in another boat..

    Another hour gone, we get a phone call that the boat with the mechanic onboard is not finding us (remember no gps).
    The skipper asks Francis to go and try to fetch the mechanic with the dinghy, again he refuses, we got really angry and started shouting at him, confronted with the situation he jumps in his dinghy together with the skipper an his friend and go away leaving us on the boat all alone!

    There we were, drifting miles from shore, at the north end f Lebanon almost on the Syrian border,incredible situation!!!

    Finally they showed up again, the mechanic was unable to fix the engine, so we got towed by the mechanic’s boat and started our journey back, we got to the harbor at 23.30 hrs. of course none of the 3 boats (including the dinghy) had any lights or communication and we had to direct them with our diving lights again!

    We were more than 5 hours adrift…

    October 14th
    Last evening we had contacted somebody who has a dive center in Beirut and asked them for the possibility of hiring their boat, quite reluctantly they agreed after being offered 1000 USD.
    8.30 the boat was at the marina of the hotel where we were staying and in half an hour we set sail to dive the Victoria.
    While we were loading the tanks and rebreathers Francis appeared and started telling the guys of the boat to be careful with us lying about the facts and obviously trying to save his ass.

    Anyway this day we did dive the HMS Victoria!

    Once back on land Francis appeared and did not even have the decency of asking us how things went, we just gave him the rebreather tanks for topping up and went to our hotel having contracted the same boat for the next day.

    A few hours later we went to his apartment to check on the tanks, he was very nice to us and asked about the dive, we asked him to make sure the tanks were ready for net morning and he assured us they would.

    October 15th

    After breakfast we went to Francis place to get the tanks, to our surprise it was all locked and he was not there! We asked at the reception of the hotel and they told us we have an envelope there, upon opening it we were surprised to find a hand written note from Francis where he was asking us for several thousand Euros IN CASH BEFORE we go diving, the person who was to pay the least was to pay 1000 Euros and all others about 1500 each..
    He has gone hiding, hid the tanks and
    Confronted with this situation and the impossibility to talk to him personally we packed our things, paid the hotel bill and left for Beirut.

    Several things that belonged to us stayed in his apartment and were never returned to us.

    This is our story and odyssey with this liar, miserable, uneducated person who almost managed to ruin our expedition to the HMS Victoria.

    Mikel Zabaleta
    Dani Arceniaga
    Christian Massaad
    Jon Gillespie
    Sabine Kerkau

  2. #2
    Dark, cold and wet. DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ is a glorious beacon of light DwayneJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    1,460
    rEvo III Mini rMS

    rEvo III Standard hCCR

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Thank you so much for sharing and so sorry to hear.

    Dwayne

  3. #3
    RBW Member Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Cork Ireland
    Posts
    663
    Waiting for my Next

    Megalodon 2.7

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Mikel,

    So very sorry to hear this.

    Words can not discribe how angry i feel from just reading Your report,
    You would think that he would be totally Professinol with all, and to be so lucky to have such a Beautifull Wreck at his disposal

    Its very hard to hear that after your planning for several months, cost which must be HUGE, getting there and then to put up with that Shit, well lets hope others will not get stung..

    Hope Your next Adventure goes well

    Best,

  4. #4
    Silent diver
    Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci is a jewel in the rough Aldo Ferrucci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    France Italy
    Posts
    985
    Meg,JJ-CCR,Inspiration,Prism2

    Ouroboros, Sentinel, Kiss,rEvo

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Hi guys,
    I thought that my first trip on the Andrea Doria and the trip to Tunisia were the disastrous experiences possible, but after reading all the posts I realize that what you have spent has been even more terrible.
    Thank you for sharing your experience, I hope it can help to prevent other divers to pass the same mishaps

    Best

    Aldo
    Aldo Ferrucci
    Trimix and Rebreather IT
    Technical CCR/OC Training for Diver and Instructor in Italian - French - English in Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland,Spain, Red Sea and beyond
    Megalodon/Copis - Inspiration/Evolution - JJ-CCR - Poseidon Discovery MKVI - Instructor Trainer and Dealer

    www.aldoferrucci.com FB Aldo Ferrucci
    I like bubbles only in my glass of Champagne

  5. #5
    Down to no good kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter has a reputation beyond repute kwinter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NJ - USA
    Posts
    2,327
    JJ, Flex

    rEvo III, Optima, GEM

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikel-Deko  View Original Post
    Thanks to the uselessness, selfishness, shamelessness, egoism, excuses and lies of Christian Francis owner of the so called Lebanon Divers, he almost ruined our expedition to the HMS Victoria.
    What do you mean "almost?"

  6. #6
    RBW Member Chris M. is an unknown quantity at this point Chris M.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Lanzarote
    Posts
    48
    Meg APD JJ KISS Liberty

    Inspo, CCR 2OOO, KISS

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Quote Originally Posted by kwinter  View Original Post
    What do you mean "almost?"
    Almost means that we as a team managed to get one dive at least which is much more than most Lebanese divers can say, this guy beside being what he is, has done his utmost to prevent his fellow countrymen from diving the wreck while he has taken so many artifacts from it for his own benefit!

    Anyway I will be writing a full report about how it all came together as I am the one who has tried to organize the expedition and has been dealing with this individual for the last 6 month before.

    Chris

  7. #7
    RBW Member Valery is on a distinguished road Valery is on a distinguished road Valery's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Lebanon
    Posts
    64

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Hi Chris I'm sorry your trip was a fiasco, i can't imagine how frustrating that was. The only mistake you made was not getting in contact with other people here they would have certainly told you that it was mission impossible.

    It was nice meeting you in Lebanon (I'm still trying to get an authorization for the dive of my dream).


    Regards,

    Valéry
    Last edited by Valery; 31st October 2011 at 07:36.

  8. #8
    Wael AL-Jareh Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3 is a jewel in the rough Brainx3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    International Waters
    Posts
    680
    Inspiration Vision with BOB

    Ray, Evolution, Insp. Classic

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    That's really sad. According to different diving sources in Lebanon, no one has a permit to dive the HMS Victoria. I'm not sure what kind of a permit this guy claimed to have. Did Chris have a look on the papers he had with him on the boat?

  9. #9
    RBW Member Chris M. is an unknown quantity at this point Chris M.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Lanzarote
    Posts
    48
    Meg APD JJ KISS Liberty

    Inspo, CCR 2OOO, KISS

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Quote Originally Posted by Brainx3  View Original Post
    That's really sad. According to different diving sources in Lebanon, no one has a permit to dive the HMS Victoria. I'm not sure what kind of a permit this guy claimed to have. Did Chris have a look on the papers he had with him on the boat?
    When I was in Lebanon end of June trying to explain to him how to run an operation, how to blend gases etc. he showed me two papers;
    one from the British military attache authorizing him to take divers on the wreck and one from the ministry of education.
    It turns out none of them has jurisprudence on the wreck and Francis knew that very well but he used them papers to trick us into it.

    Anyway it was not a question of permits really, it STARTED wrong.

    Anybody who does anything with this individual is in for a bad surprise, as mentioned I will post a report about how it came together and the several month negotiations with the guy, we had clarified every single small point and he had confirmed everything..a couple of weeks before we travelled to Lebanon i started having a funny feeling since he stopped wanting to confirm things by mail and insisted on me calling him to talk over the details, this is when the red light went on. But I thought it would be minor things, turned out he had a plan, Rip us off at the lowest cost for him.
    Bear in mind we had contracted an all inclusive package with him for a weeks diving with 5 dives on the Victoria, hotels transfers, helpers, tanks, gases, bus at our disposal with driver, and all the small things you need to make the expedition of your lifetime come true.
    He was charging s 2950 euros per person! (based on a double room with single supplement!!! on top.
    so you immagine we were expecting some service...
    I have all the correspondence to back up what I am saying and his answers confirming things (that were never there)
    There is much more...I even went to Lebanon end of June, taught him how to blend and fill trimix as he had ZERO idea... but this in my report to come
    Chris

  10. #10
    RBW Member Chris M. is an unknown quantity at this point Chris M.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Lanzarote
    Posts
    48
    Meg APD JJ KISS Liberty

    Inspo, CCR 2OOO, KISS

    Re: Nightmare in the HMS Victoria

    Quote Originally Posted by Valéry  View Original Post
    Hi Chris I'm sorry your trip was a fiasco, i can't imagine how frustrating that was. The only mistake you made was not getting in contact with other people here they would have certainly told you that it was mission impossible.

    It was nice meeting you in Lebanon (I'm still trying to get an authorization for the dive of my dream).


    Regards,

    Valéry
    Hi Valery,
    it was also nice meeting you.
    How could we have known before, we had some warning from a couple of dive centers but I honestly thought it was common jealousy, only after what happened and after talking to every dive center in Lebanon we fully understood who this individual is and how bad his reputation is.
    I can confirm that not ONE SINGLE dive center in Lebanon spoke good about him to say the least..
    He has made enemies all over and lost his prestige so the only thing he has left is to cheat on toursits and get some money out of them.
    Thanks God I am Lebanese born and understand the language, this helped quite a bit as we would have gotten ourselves into some nasty situations.
    One example;
    The Navy commander saying ' you are clear to dive but not on islands or wrecks' and Francis answering 'of course we will not do that we will just take water samples from somewhere'.
    He clearly had not prepared the trip, not contacted the relevant authorities and had no valid permits...

    Sad.

    Chris

Closed Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts