Well we are back from an Epic Red Sea trip. We achieved the main objective of Diving World Heritage wrecks and outstanding reefs including Ras Muhammad National Marine Park. Life as usual wasn’t without ups and downs so I’ll report for those that haven’t been to get an idea of what it was like.
Pre-Trip the briefings we gave were accurate as was Mary’s briefing but Scubatravel were very tardy in letting us know the flight seats were available so by word of mouth we contacted Easyjet to find that most of the leg room seating had gone but Easy boarders was worth it and the electronic boarding at Gatwick went smoothly. The flights went well-its a long 5 hours- and on arrival we had pre-booked visas but one of the Divers had to point out to the Rep the need to fill in entry cards! Transfers went well in a large coach and in Egypt the fast lane is the one you are in. Got onto the boat and after paperwork a meal and sorting kit out.
Kit: was an issue with my twinset having a loose spindle on day 1 and then coming apart at the end of a dive, cured by the second engineers visit. Many of the manifolds leaked, Mike went through 3 twinsets. Twinset divers have to be able to shut down a free flowing regulator which in Mike Jackson’s case meant an adjustable spanner as the hand wheel had come off!
The Crew: were excellent and helped us in every way from the seamen to the engineers to the catering staff. The boat is 118 feet long with twin engines and props and desalination-the lot. The captain was very skilled and on one occasion an 118′ boat was used to pick up the Divers like XDream. After a few days the crew got used to us, smiles broke out and humour prevailed. The cabins were fine except for the aircon breaking down needing daily visits from the engineers-41 degrees top side at one point and daily strong sunshine. The boat is large and stable and took the sea well with little motion-its big. The boarding ladders needed to have parallel rungs rather than those for big strides in full kit.
The Diving was outstanding with clear water from the Harbour onwards and Deep Blue sea, loads of light to 40m, and white sand vis about 20+metres, 27 degrees in a 3mm wet suit and rash vest, no hood or gloves, and “alien film” night dives with our powerful [chinese] torches, lending to the Sci Fi feel. We dived Heritage wrecks including extensive penetration dives on Thistlegorm, Carnatic, Krysoula K, Ulysses, Giannis D, and wrecks Rosalie Muller, and Kingston. We also dived a variety of reefs-sometimes with challenging currents, including in the Gulf of Aquaba -Tiran -and Ras Muhammad National Park. There were millions of fish and thousands of different species. David Gwyer commented he’d been through training in the murk and cold of Andark Lake and Vobster to end up diving in an awe-inspiring paradise. Lots of pics to come to tell a thousand words. We’d rise at 05:00 dive at 05:30 then breakfast, then morning Dive followed by lunch, then afternoon Dive and “High Tea-chicken nuggets” then evening Dive and Dinner.The Swanwick Divers- were well trained and the twinset and side mount divers were a close knit team. Mike Jackson and Darren Bartlett tried sidemount and were instantly converted. Commercial Diver Dave Rowell and Chris Chamberlaine quietly showed how it should be done. On one occasion a young Italian lady diver came across to Chris on Thistlegorm showed him she had 20bar and had 7 minutes of deco! He escorted her safely to our boat-a tragedy avoided.
Illness: some of our Divers had illness from the start and I got D & V starting on the Monday causing me to bin the Rosalie on the Tuesday the first time I can remember binning a dive for a long time. Most of us got D&V at some point and on Wednesday morning only 50% of the Divers made it to the briefing so it was a major issue. This was despite alcohol hand wash and scrupulous care.
Food: was excellent and of good quality and the staff catered for any food intolerances. The divers ate 3 cooked meals a day and one diver got a birthday cake.
There were often many Divers on the major wrecks but the Captain organised it so we had the best positions, often being the only ones on the wreck -Thistlegorm at 05:30- James Ziemann and I only. I’m not a climate activist but I do get it when I see blanched coral. Luckily we had world class wreck dives and the reefs still abound with colour and life -massive biodiversity.
Last day in the Hotel was great-fresh showers and more good food. The flight back: We went through 6 searches in Hurghada, there is a lot of security and CCTV locally in Town. Contrary to the Reps advice the Airport security did give us a going over and at the 6th search they wanted to see all my Dive Computers, cameras, Torches with the batteries out and electronic devices.
So now we are back after an epic looking at force 5-6 in the Channel this weekend in a dry suit. Better share some pics.
I started diving as a youngster with mask, snorkel and fins in the Solent and trained as a teenager with BSAC. I had a break training to be a Doctor and retrained in the late 1980’s at Andark, initially with BSAC becoming Advanced Diver/Assistant Instructor. I crossed over to TDI to become a Full Trimix Diver [no separation in those days] and SDI/TDI Instructor in Advanced Nitrox/Decompression procedures and Extended Range. I was a PADI Dive Master for 10 years and became a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, working in several Dive Operations. I’m currently an HSE SCUBA and Surface Supplied Diver, PSAI Technical Instructor 111 and BSAC Open Water Instructor. I continue to be a member of the UK Sports Diving Medical Committee. I dive regularly in the UK and I’ve dived worldwide and hope to complete my 2000th Dive this year. I helped to set up Swanwick Divers as the Diving Officer, I’m leading on Open Circuit diving 0-40m and Diver Development. I’m very interested in Maritime Archaeology and my main interest is Twinset wreck Diving. I want to build a leading Diving Club known for being excellent.