Monday, 9 February 2009

Ras Mohammed National Park

Day 4 Monday February 9th

For most people on a live aboard, life is (unsurprisingly) focused solely on diving, food, sleep. A beer is only allowed when you have finished diving for the day and on many evenings we were too tired even for that.

The schedule for a typical day is:

6 am Wake-up Call
6.15 am Tank and gear check
6.30 am Briefing
7 am First Dive
8.30 am Breakfast
11 am Briefing and tank check
11.30 am Second Dive
1.30 pm Lunch
4 pm Briefing and tank check
4.30 pm Third Dive
7 pm Briefing and tank check
8.30 pm Supper
Drink and Bed

During any gaps, you might write up your log book, read or snooze or repair any gear that is misbehaving. Hence the need for great varieties of clothes is small since most of the day is spent in trunks, shorts or dive gear.

There are times when getting up and going for an early morning dive makes you question your sanity. Your trunks are often cold and damp, the wetsuit certainly is and the water looks rather uninviting. But as soon as you get underwater, you remember why you are slightly mad and the buzz in the air when everyone is back on the dive deck is clear evidence of mad divers enjoying themselves.

Early in the morning we made our way to Ras Mohammed National Park to dive Shark and Yolanda Reefs followed by Nemo City. Divers think of the park as an underwater park but it includes nearby land and beach areas and the animals on them.

Ras Mohamed Dive Plan

Last time we were here, we penguined off the end of the Boat at Shark Reef and then the current took us towards Nemo City (so called because of the numerous anemones on the reef at that point) and away from the dive hot spot near Yolanda Reef. Today the current was going the other way so we were hoping of getting to the Yolanda wreck site. Penguining off a boat means the boat reverses close to the reef and then slowly moves away from it. All of the divers are lined up on the dive deck as it moves away from the reef and they then enter the water as quickly as possible as soon as a clear spot appears beneath them - just like penguins going into the water off an ice flow.

Napoleon 1 

Napoleon 2

Napoleon and other fish abounded

Fish 4

Yellow-bar Angelfish

Blue Spotted Ray

A blue spotted ray

Coral 3

There were lots of small fish (Lyretail Anthias) living amongst the anemones

The reef is named after the ship which hit it. The Jolanda was on a voyage from Piraeus to Aqaba with a general cargo including toilets, wash basins, bath tubs, a BMW 320 motor car (apparently belonging to the captain), aluminium, plastic sheeting and several containers of general goods.

Yolanda Toilets 1

During a bad storm on April 1st 1981 the ship got caught on one of the southern reef mounts at the tip of the Ras Mohamed peninsula. After 4 days aground she rolled over onto her port side, her bow awash, and with her stern hanging over the abyss. The wreck remained in that position for several years, slowly toppling over until it was totally upside down. Then one day in 1985 the hawse wire holding it snapped and a great wreck was lost as it slid down the reef leaving behind only evidence of its cargo; baths, toilets and a car.

Yolanda Toilets 2

For divers, evidence of getting to and touching the toilets is one of the required pictures and experiences of diving in the Red Sea.

The next dive was towards Nemo City, again plenty of fish includingFish 6

a Titan Trigger Fish

Fish camoflaged

Some fish are very well camouflaged with their surroundings (a Speckled Sandperch),

Fish 7

others are much brighter (Red Sea Bannerfish).

Fish 5


Fish 8

There were Wrasse and many large table corals.

Paul over a table coral

plus other corals

Coral Cucumber

We put up our SMBs before the Rib return. The amusing thing for us about the return was that the rib boy seemed determined to leave no-one behind for the second rib so we returned with 12 divers and their equipment plus the rib boy in a relatively small rib (rather too low in the water).

Off to Beacon Rock (lat 27.70503 long 34.12964) for Dive 9 (our first clean up dive) and Dive 10 - a night dive.

Beacon Rock Dive Plan

Beacon Rock is located on the south side of the Ras Muhamed Peninsula and is within the boundaries of Ras Muhamed National Park. In this area is the wreck of the Dunraven (we dived it last year), which was a steam freighter from the first part of the century. It is also said to have been a spy ship for T.E. Lawrence.

Ben collecting rubbish

Too many dive boats toss their rubbish over the side and hence the popular dive sites land up with a lot of debris lying over the coral and sand. The objective of our first dive was to pick up as much rubbish as possible provided it had not yet become encrusted with coral. Ben carried the sack (the hard job since it meant constant buoyancy adjustments) and I picked up from the sea bed.

Rubbish Collection

Our haul contributed to 4 crates of bottles, cans, metres of fishing line, lots of glass, numerous items of plastic and a large mooring rope.

Coral lecture three concentrated on threats to coral ecology – some human others marine.

During the night dive, we were followed by a Lion Fish - they have learnt that their dinner is attracted by our dive torches and therefore follow divers rather too closely and then try to grab dinner from within the torch beam. So Ben turned his torch off so that the Lion fish would go over to another pair of divers with a tourch! We also saw some big Jacks and rather nice Feather Star Anemones which closed up when a light beam was shone on them.

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