Day 2 February 7th 2009
The boat (Blue Melody) was moored (lat=27.19550; lon=33.84620) just behind the Marriott Hotel in Hurghada and after our diving qualifications had been checked and we had received the boat safety and dive deck briefings, and we had okayed our equipment and customs had done their paperwork, at 9
am we set off for the check-out dive site. On the way we passed a number of large ships (for Sam) and numerous day boats tied up for the winter.
Unlike some other areas of coastline in the Red Sea, the Hurghada coast leaves much to be desired and shows the usual mixture of completed and half completed hotel sites.
The check out dive was at a place known as the Poseidon Reef at the south-west end of El Erg reef system (lat=27.29560; lon=33.83118). It is the usual practice for the first dive to be a check-out dive when you can check you weights, practise any techniques which you might feel are a bit rusty, get to know your dive buddy (if you have not brought one with you) and satisfy the Dive Guide that you really do know how to dive.
All dives start with a briefing from the Dive Guide during which, the general shape of the dive site is explained, currents are discussed, expected fish mentioned, and the maximum parameters of the dive stated (depth, time, return to surface air volumes etc).
What the above map shows is that this is a simple site, quite shallow and flat with a few Ergs (underwater coral heads) and a reef wall around which there will be some fish.
The check-out dive went smoothly. Because I was using a 15ltr tank (filled with air for the first dive), I compensated for the additional weight over the standard 12.5 litre tank by reducing my weights to 10 kg (five each side). At the end of the dive I purged the tank as much as possible in order to ensure that future nitrox fills were not diluted – 32% was on offer although from experience, we had few hopes of it exceeding 29%. Around the reef we saw large Brain Corals and many Angel Fish.
One of the memories I shall always have of this dive holiday is the Egyptian music which was always loudly playing in the main saloon after each dive. Having had lunch, we moved on to Abu Nuhas for the next dives. Here we were to do a mixture of reef and wreck dives.
Dive two (lat 27.5712 long 33.9258) was supposed to be easy, off the back of the boat, head for the reef and explore. However, having done the “giant stride” off the back of the boat, the visibility was not that good (that is our excuse). So after fining for a while we decided we might be going in the wrong direction and came up for a look around, worked out the correct direction and went down again towards the reef.
We saw lots of Fire Coral (so called because it stings / “burns” if you touch it), and numerous fish
Masked Butterfly Fish (yellow), Schooling Banner Fish (Black striped)
Longnose Parrot Fish?
Ben Diving Fish
Some of the coral growth is extremely large
a Nudibranch, (a type of underwater slug).
Before the evening dive, we received the first of four briefing lectures on Coral, this one was on its origin and the role of algae in coral colour. Future briefings would be on the lifecycle, threats to and future of coral.
Later we did a night dive on the reef. There was cloudy visibility towards the reef but it was very clear around it and there was lots of interesting night life. Most of the daytime fish go to sleep at sunset and a new range come out at night. Diving at night is harder than diving during the day because you have fewer reference points and have to concentrate more on your dive computer for depth readings. In addition, the range and depth of vision you get is limited by the power of your torch. Never-the-less, it is great fun and the additional challenge is usually welcome.