Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Successful Diving Trip

Well, we are back from our intrepid explorations of the depths of the Red Sea.

The diving was amazing but alas not the relaxing holiday I was expecting. My God we were put through a punishing schedule comprising of diving, then eating then diving then eating then diving (little bit of sleep) then more diving.

A typical day on our liveaboard went like this:

5.00 am – woken rudely by the guide shouting ‘briefing’. Get cup of tea, listen to briefing, kit up.
6.00 – dive #1
7.00 – return from dive, get dried and changed, marvel at the strange underwater wonders of the planet.
8.00 – breakfast
9.00 – briefing and kit up
10.00 – dive #2
11.00 - return from dive, get dried and changed, marvel at more underwater wonders.
12.00 – large lunch
1.00pm – briefing and kit up
2.00 – dive # 3
3.00 - return, get dried and changed, more marvelling, and discussion of crustacean behaviour (or similar dive related topic)
4.00 – tea and cake, rare chance for a sit down, possible window of opportunity for nap
5.30 – brifing and kit up
6.30 – Dive #4 (night dive in dark)
7.30 – return, discussion on why Nick got attacked by a squid.
8.00 – dinner
9.00 – movie
9.10 – go to bed exhausted.

Forget trying to have decent hair – it never dried between dips and got progressively more knotty and strawlike as the week went on.

We dived some great sites, and a good mixture of coral reefs and wrecks. The first wreck we dived was this:

The Ghiannis D. We were told the history of these ships but I’ve forgotten now.

The next wreck we dived was this:

The Carnatic, which was a cool ship from the 1870s that looked a bit like a Spanish galleon.

We dived a brilliant site of a wreck called the Yolanda, which sank carrying a full cargo of toilets, bidets and bath tubs. That was a surreal dive, especially when a huge moray eel poked its head of a coral encrusted bog.

We did 4 dives on the famous Thistlegorm, a British transporter ship form the Second world war. It was bombed while carrying a full cargo that included jeeps, tanks, motorbikes, trains aeroplanes, fenders, ammunition, guns, and loads more stuff. It’s really spooky and a bit James Bondy, especially when diving it at night in the pitch black.

You can go inside the cargo holds and see all the bikes lined up, and the jeeps still with the glass in the windows. Nick dived on the wreck 3 years ago and says that it is deteriorating very quickly now, mainly due to the fact that 2000 divers visit it every month. The oxygen in the air bubbles we breath out collects inside, causing it to rust really fast.

It also doesn’t help when, as we saw, unscrupulous diving companies do not take care of the wreck. A dive boat had tied itself onto the main mast of the wreck, which was swaying about dangerously. Our guide went up to tell them to change their line, which they did, but tied onto another vulnerable part of the wreck which promptly pulled off. It makes it very dangerous and I was quite nervous about going inside the ship in case anything fell on me.

Besides all the wrecks we also dived some beautiful coral reefs, which I love. The vast quantity of life down there is staggering. It is so interesting to see the very basis of evolution: animals that are barely more than plants, and plants that are virtually animals. It’s bizarre to watch creatures like crinoids that have no brain, or nervous system, and look like delicate ferns, waft their tentacles in the water, and then bring their catch down to their mouths in the middle.

One of my favourite creatures is the giant clam, enormous pornographic looking bivalves, which purse their luscious lips when you swim by, and if you keep still, open up again. I’m always on the hunt for these brightly coloured beauties.

My absolute favourite is the Nudibranch. These are brightly coloured sea slugs, and they have their gills exposed on their back like little pom poms. (hence the name nudibranch: nudi as in naked, branc as in gills) There are 100s of different types and colours but I only saw 2 types: the yellow and black stripy one and a cool purple and orange one that looks like a jester.

Other things seen underwater were the usual coral reef suspects: angel fish, butterfly fish, moray eels, trigger fish, bat fish, barracuda, glass fish, tuna, snappers etc etc. No sharks or turtles on this trip unfortunately, despite my constant peering into the blue hopefully. (The Maldives was much better for turtles and sharks.)

The other divers on the boat with us (20 in total) were great and we all got on very well. The boat was superb and the crew were brilliant. The down side was my seasickness in the first half of the week. During the roughest crossing I was puking for Britain and Nick was nowhere to be seen. A nice Egyptian crewman brought me tissues, water and cushions. Nick was oblivious to my plight as he was having a nap on the fly deck.

I got my revenge by puking on his shoulder the next day whilst being hauled into the inflatable rib they collect you in after a dive. I was always fine under the water (no waves you see) but as soon as I ascended back to the surface my queasiness came back and I lost all my lunches for the first 3 days in those damned little boats. Take my advice – stugeron is the best.

All in all we had an excellent trip and we will find it hard to go back to diving from day boats after the liveaboard experience. It’s much less hassle as your kit stays out and ready all week, you tanks are magically refilled after every dive, and you rack up many more dives in a week. I did 17 and Nick did 20, bringing our total number of logged dives up to 47 and 70 odd respectively.

If you are considering learning to scuba dive I cannot recommend it enough. It’s fabulous, and if you respect it it’s fairly safe these days too. I would also highly recommend Emperor divers as a company to go with.


Blogger Tracy said...

Sounds Like you had a fantastic time. I am somewhat green - but not, like you with seasickness...oh no for me it's jealousy!!! Sorry you were poorly -but very glad you enjoyed it.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Christian Briddon said...

That looks fantastic. I quite fancy going diving but I'm not sure how I would look in a wetsuit!! :-)

You never mentioned in your post whether or not you found Nemo?

8:35 AM  
Blogger rach said...

oh yes, we found loads of nemos. They are very cute, and live in monogamous pairs, 2 fish to an anenome, sometimes with a baby or 2.

They are very posessive of their anenome and think nothing of trying to scare you off, even though you are massive compared to them. They come right up to your face, and sometimes will try and bite you.

10:18 AM  

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