Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Flying to Marsa Alarm and the Miss Nouran – Day 1

Getting to the airport from the hotel and then through security was very easy, one hour from hotel to airside. However having got airside, the screens said our flight was delayed by 1 hr 45 mins to 12 noon – rather a nuisance since although it does not affect the diving, it gives us less time to settle in on the boat, have a beer, do the paperwork required of divers and relax before the required early bed – required because diving always means an early morning wake-up. Hanging around at airports is always boring, no mater where or what the reason.

We eventually took off at 12:45, the cause of the delay apparently being various plane breakdowns across the fleet all occurring at the same time. A coach met us at the airport and we then drove south through a dark desert (with the occasional desert fox seen by the road side) for about 70 kms towards Marsa Alam.

Actually getting on to the boat (the Miss Nouran) was a most peculiar event. The coach suddenly turned off the main road into the desert along a track – this led towards the sea and eventually a flotilla of dive boats. This

Harbour at Marsa Alam

was not to be a dockside departure but getting straight into a zodiac which drew up on the “beach” and a zoom out to the boat. It did not work out as simple as that though, because the outboard on the zodiac dug itself into the sand with the weight of passengers and general Egyptian excitement continued for some while whilst passengers got out (to lighten the load) and the zodiac was pushed off into the sea (to some ironic cheers).

The general theory was that the harbour at Marsa Alam had been under construction for many years because someone had arranged for the harbour and development closer to the airport (Port Ghalib) to be given priority – hence the totally unfinished nature of this “harbour”. Ironically, coaches could not bring divers to most of the dive boats at the harbour in Port Ghalib (which was finished) because the bridges leading to the quayside were too hump backed for them to drive over – so divers are taken out to their boat by zodiacs. We think we are staying at a hotel there on our last night.

Having arrived on board, it was form filling, some initial briefing, dinner, equipment set up and testing and then bed in our cabin which is at the front of the boat on the main deck..

Cabin on arrival

The cabin steward seems to have a qualification in duvet folding because every day, the duvets are folded into the shape of a different sea creature. Here we have a sea snake and a Sea Serpent behind it (our boat belongs to the Sea Serpent fleet).

Duvets as Rays

and here we have the duvet shaped as a ray.

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