Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Point, Big Sea Yol & Sha’ab el Erg

Day 6 Wednesday February 11th

Four dives were planned for today but as it turned out, I would only be able to do three of them. Having recovered from the Barge currents and the Thistlegorm swell, the pre breakfast dive (14) at The Point was to be a fast drift along a reef wall. This means that there is a current flowing and you get into a position where it sweeps you

Gubal Island

along  past what you want to see (the reef wall) and a rib picks you up when you come to the surface. On the dive plan above, The Point is on the right of the plan. So we exited the boat from the dive platform, finned north to the wall and let the current take us east. Our plan was to do a reverse just as we got to the Point, partly because to go any further meant heading into strange current areas and partly because we wanted not to have to rely on a Rib pickup.

The fish were amazing, Stonefish (very poisonous), Sea Urchins (painful); Lion Fish (poisonous), Giant Morays, Masked Puffer Fish; a large Parrott fish; Shrimp Goby and Partner Shrimp trails in the sand, Fang Blennys and the current was nice and strong with an easy reverse for a rib pickup as soon as the SMB was raised.

After breakfast we set sail for Big Sea Yol (lat 27.55772 long 33.88298) for

Big Sea Yol

another Reef Dive (15). In the picture above, the reef is the lighter blue areas of sea and one dives in the darker blue bits but as close to the reef as possible. Like many chunks of rock in the Red Sea, this one has an automatic lighthouse on it. As soon as we got there, a turtle was spotted off the bow

Turtle at Big Sea Yol

mooching around and eating whatever it could find. The dive plan was to go off the back of

Big Sea Yol Dive Plan

the boat, get to the wall and drift with the current, trying to do a reverse back to the boat, and if not, surfacing for a Rib pickup.

The visibility was superb and there were more fish and spectacular coral than anyone could want.

Paul Big Sea Yol 1
Coral 5
Fish 12
Common Bigeye
Fish 14
Sea Snake
Black Spotted Moray
Fish 10
Clown Fish
Fish 15
Moses Sole
Fish 13
Speckled Sand Perch
Coral 6
Salad Coral
Fish 11
Clown Fish (aka Anemone Fish)

All was going swimmingly until I suddenly found myself ascending to the surface out of control – one of my weights had fallen out of the jacket again. “Out of Control” means that I could not stop myself going up from the sea bed from just over 10 metres to the surface even though I did everything we had learnt in training - dump all of the air in your BCD and breath out as you rise. Having got to the surface, I put up my SMB to indicate I needed picking up and also checked underwater to see what Ben was doing. He had correctly deduced what had happened but was coming up the correct way – slowly with a 3 minute safety stop at 5 metres depth.

Once back on the ship we decided that the reason one of my weights had fallen out was because of the way my weights were configured – solving that problem was quite simple (and it never occurred again). The penalty for me was that because I had not stopped at 5 metres depth for 3 minutes to do a safety stop (to ensure any Nitrogen in my body created as a result of diving at depth had escaped), I should sit out the next dive so that if there were any, it could escape naturally. This extreme caution was probably slightly over the top (particularly because I was using 29% Nitrox) but safety rules are there to be followed, not broken. Ben also chose to sit it out to keep me company (one of the unwritten duties of a buddy).

For the dive I had to miss (a rubbish clean up dive) and the night dive (16), we moved to Sha’ab el Erg. The night dive was a

Sha'ab El Erg Dive Plan

relatively boring dive in that all of the interesting fish had gone to sleep and few night fish had come out. There were also quite a large number of divers down and the 50 minute dive got a bit crowded.

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