Thursday, 28 May 2009

Check dives – Day 2

A late start with breakfast at 8 am followed by boat briefing and numerous other matters. It is interesting how briefing varies from boat to boat although they are all doing essentially the same thing. On this boat we are not encouraged to hang on to the shot line for safety stops and not to worry too much about getting back on board at 50 bar, less is ok provided we are at the 5m safety stop on no less than 50 bar. If one stands back a bit from the briefing content and considers its content, it would put the non-trained totally off the idea of diving but now we are more experienced, we know when they are joking and when it is serious stuff.

Apparently we have an 80% chance of seeing Oceanic White Tips, Rays and Hammerheads – let us hope we are not in the 20% on this trip. 20 dives are on the schedule although from past experience, we will sit out at least one.

The tone of the boat (and the overall quality of the trip) is set by the dive guides, in this case a couple (Will and Kati) from the Netherlands. Whenever we are on the dive deck putting

Dive Guides Will and Kati

our kit on, we are entertained with Dance tracks (some based on Madonna albums and others sounding from more dubious sources) although if both of them are diving, by the time we come up, the crew have put on some Egyptian pop music. As Dive Guides, they are probably the best we have had and certainly know the geography of the dive sites and their briefings are very good.

Check Dive – Dive 1

I am on 15 ltr steel which means a reduced weight belt of about 7 or 8 Kgms, the purpose of the check dive is to test this (Later in the week I went down to 6 kg as I got better at buoyancy control). Also we will be practicing putting up of Delayed Surface Marker Buoys (DSMBs) since deploying them is an art and it is easier on the seabed than when you are

DIve 1 Gota Marsa Alarm

at 5 m (when it is usually deployed). The check dive itself is at a dive site just outside of Marsa Alam – a useful dive but nothing special in the sea other than two interesting “dive throughs” – these are tunnels through the coral which lead from one side of the reef to the other and often are full of fish and sometimes dappled sunlight coming through holes in the tunnel roof. On one side of the reef is a relatively new wreck.

Dive 2 – Sharb Sharm

Dive 2 Shaab Sharm

During lunch we start to sail two hours south to the site of the next dive. This is to be a rib entry with a negative entry (roll backwards off the side of a zodiac and sink as quickly as possible making for the reef wall). Nothing

Ben in Rib

spectacular seen other than a reasonable number of fish including

Blue Spotted Ray 1

Blue Spotted Ray 2 

Blue Spotted Rays

Fish 4


Fish 6

Orange Spine Unicorn Fish

and also a Moray Eel which Ben spotted first

Ben pointing out location of Moray Eel

Moray Eel

There are numerous Dolphins in the area and whenever they come to the surface, the Egyptian crew start whistling in an imitation of a Dolphin’s call as they swim alongside the boat. They often like to swim just in front of the bow of the boat, playing with us and showing how easy it is to swim fast (if you are a dolphin).

Dolphin under bow of boat

After the second dive, it is quickly up with the anchor and we start sailing south to St John’s at around 10 knots – getting there will take about 12 hours.

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