Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Last Day Diving – Day 7

Although it is the last day in the water and after this it means our holiday is effectively over, most people are somewhat relieved that this morning is the last time the cabin door will be banged on at 6 am and we will hear the words “Dive Briefing” summoning us upstairs. 19 dives in a week takes it out of you physically but neither of us would change the week in any way – diving is addictive.

Dive 18 -  Sha’ab Sharm

Dive Plan Sha'ab Sharm

Straight forward off the rear of the boat, fin north at depth, reverse at some large Gorgonian coral and back at a shallower depth. We have learnt that following a dive guide usually means you see more and also if there is the potential for tricky conditions (current in this case on the northern edge where we are intending to turn around), it is reassuring to have someone more experienced with you. So we follow dive guide Kati.

Hungry Moray

a hungry Moray Eel which noticed breakfast (me) nearby


a nudibranch (type of underwater sea slug)

Fish 1

Picasso Trigger Fish

Fish 2

Unicorn fish

It was a pleasant early morning dive and just before it ended, we say the most enormous Napoleon Fish below us, at least two metres long. It was of a size that we had read about but did not really believe existed.

Dive 19 – Sha’ab Marsa Alam

Three hours sailing north to our final dive of the day at the same site as the checkout dive. There is rarely a problem in visiting a dive site twice because the fish are usually different and you can just dive at a different depth and have a totally different dive. As is usually the case, we chose to do the last dive as a “buddy pair” and simply follow a dive plan which would enable us to gently see the dive sight for as long as possible.

Shaab Marsa Alam Dive Plan 

The plan was to jump off the back of the boat, head west exploring the coral blocks, around the large Gota (a very big block but not big enough to be called a reef), explore the wreck and back to the boat for the last time (remembering that we are the third boat on the reef).

This was to be a perfect final dive, lots of interesting fish, an interesting wreck and at the end, the most beautiful coral block surrounded by small fish.

Fish burrowing

a Snapper which seemed to be burrowing a hole in the sand as I passed over

Trigger Fish

Banner fish always seem to hang around in pairs

Fish 3

Picasso Trigger Fish

Fish 4

Threadfin Butterfly Fish

Fish 5

a mystery fish

Fish around coral block

a general assortment of fish around a coral block

This short video gives an impression of what it is like to hang around a coral block with thousands of fish just swimming around you 

The wreck was that of a fishing boat which being mainly made of wood, was too dangerous to enter.

Wreck Deck

The ship’s barbecue

Wreck Barbecue

Tips are an important way of life out here and on the final day there was the usual “two envelope” collection for the Dive Guides and for the Captain and Crew. I was told by the group that “you are obviously experienced in making speeches” so I had to present the envelopes. We suspect that the contents are really their wages for the week and therefore the giving is relatively generous.

Back on Dry Land

After a period of intensive diving, one always spends 24 hours “not diving” before you fly back in order to allow all of the nitrogen which remains in your body from repeated dives to completely escape.

We are staying at the Hotel Marina Lodge in Port Ghalib which is close to the airport. It is rather a nice hotel in the middle of a building site.

Hotel Marina Lodge 1

Apparently the master plan is that over the next few years, more development will take place on each of the islands in the picture. It will be quite massive when finished. The hotel is full of divers, some like us staying only one night and others living in the hotel and going out on day boats to the various sites around the area.

Hotel Marina Lodge 2

Unfortunately the open air disco is just below our room but luckily we are so tired that we quickly fall asleep despite the very loud dance music.

During the night my dive computer (a gismo all divers wear when diving in order to monitor and manage dive safety) switches off its “no fly warning” meaning that we are now safe to fly back and we are degassed.

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