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A short fat well off crap cave diver. Likes wrecks
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<font color='#000F22'>The plane was at a fairly civilised 9.45am and it was only 10mins late taking off RESULT

Andrew got the biggest dive bag in the world through check in weighing about 1/4 of a ton and I got away with my small piece of hand luggage containing four regulator sets and a custom divers torch and weighing in at a miserly 21kg. Main luggage was spot on 50kg max allowance for the wife & I.

TIP: present them with ten passport and ticket sets and 25 pieces of luggage at once and they panic.

So high on having got away with about a ton of excess baggage we set off for sun, sand and my first ever shore based trip to the Red Sea.

Arrived at Sharm having dodged the scud missials and the usual battle of the bags ensued where people pick them up and put them down again and ask fro a tip  :evil:  but it was presently warm and the coach driver wasn't the usual suicide jockey so not too bad.

40 mins later we arrive at the Ocean Club hotel and we are chilling out in a beduine style area on cushions and rugs around an open fire sipping 'Stella' or Sukura beer and just chillin.

One of the group asked me if I thought her 3mm shorty would be OK for the weeks diving and I said 'Yes'. As long as you wear it over a 5mm base layer.

She concluded I was pissed and went to bed (she found out the harsh truth later)

Meet next day was 8.00am and the usual form-filling cert showing cattle market and it's off to the boat.

Delphenious was the boat and she was fine (as long as you had no prior knowledge of marine construction)  and off we go to Middle / Far Garden for our first dive.

Me and the missis

http://www.pilotdivers.com/Gallery/redsea/pages/P1010035.htm

Andy has ordered a manifold twin set and is a bit surprised when it turns out to be twin 15's. There then follows the daily ritual of setting up and stripping down the set. I am on twin 12's this pisses off the dive guides who hark on about charging me extra for the additional tanks and saying things like hasten your buddy got an octo?

I smiled sweetly and said no redundant air no dive and they left shaking their heads.

I then told them I had an EPLB with me and they managed not to laugh. Which was odd as over the next few days they recounted numerous stories of lost at sea divers in the red sea???

Mind you Andrew said If I switched it on I would probably get hit by a cruse misile so it wasn't a very good idea.

We all got in for the first dive and Ling was my dive buddy. She hadnt dives since January and took a while to sort her self out but she was fine. Andrew went in with his partner Lizzy and had a rough time with a very nervous newbey so all in all the check dive was a bit of a blur BUT we did see a turtle, which is always good. My wife tried to grab it which was not so good and resulted in a major bollocking from the guides.

Dive two was Andrew and me coz Lizzy had had enough and Ling was seriously seasick.

Great dive. Andrew is a great dive buddy and I just felt so chilled and relaxed in his company I could soak up all aspects of the dive.

Got some good footage on the Video including a BIG free swimming Moray eel but the red filter was too strong and it was all a bit tooo red in the end. Never mind.

Serious swell made the trip home and getting off the boat a bit of a laugh back at the key and ling was a very funny shade of green.

Day two

The wind was howling and it was raining I kid you not.

Just about every one called the dive except Andrew and Me.

Off we go and on to the boat. By which time Alex had joined us for no better reason than he's nuts. The sea didnt look too bad on the way out. In fact less of a swell than Monday but in the distance was a big sand storm and all the boats turned for home.

Its too rough to dive said the dive guide: Andrew looked at me and I looked at Andrew and we unanimously said BOLLOX we want to dive. The dive guide was obviously in a good mood having found a beautiful blond Russian girl of about 19 years of age sunbathing nude on the top deck  :p after some serious 'youve been out of England too long pall' type heckling he relented and off we went back to Middle Garden for a great little dive. Big smiles all round and head for home.

Day 3

Jackson Reef
Camilla
Ras Katty (Night Dive)

Camilla was a nice dive and one I hadnt done before. A well broken up wreck but covered in life and with good surrounding reef. Worth a visit.

A three dive day, thats more like it: Night dive was +$20 and was pants apart from watching the Lionfish hunt. Always a pleasure.

Day 4 Video jammed so obviously going to be a good day: And yes we were surrounded by about 100 spinner dolphins on the way out and some big blotchy dolphins came right up to the boat on the way back

Pic of large blotchey dolphin

http://www.pilotdivers.com/Gallery/redsea/pages/P1010057.htm

Shark Reef and Yolanda
Dunraven
Ghazlani  

OK 6am start for the Dunraven and a $30 supplement.

Shark Reef and Yolanda on the way out broke up the trip and was my favourite dive of the trip. BIG Napoleon wrasse more blue spotted rays than you could count and puffer fish in packs of four. Lovely Lovely coral shear drop off's and bright sunny shallow areas and even a few bits of wreckage to look at. Some strong currents to deal with but a fantastic dive.

Dunraven is the Dunraven. Never thought much of it as a wreck dive but for the wreck novice its OK with a nice easy through rout penetration. Unfortunately every one stuck close to the dive guide who was a man on a mission to get three dives in so it was a bit of a high speed tour. I hung back as much as my wife would allow and poked around a bit and found some nice fish hidden away. The guide said torch not required ????? Rubbish. Take a torch (a good one) and have a good look under and behind stuff there,s lots to see.

Ghazlani

Was OK nothing much to get excited over.

Day4

Thistlegourm  (Around)
Thistlegourm   (Through)

Now were cooking on gas :)

OK a $60 supplement but hey it's the Thistlegourm.

5am up for 5.45 go and three and a half hours out. As per usual 8 boats on site and that was a quiet day. Last time I dived the Thistlegorme (Blue Thistle) I was in total ore of the wreck and I remembered it as being massive. This time I was a bit more battle hardened and I saw the wreck from a totally different perspective.  

First: It's actually quite small. You fin swim the length and breadth of it in one 45min dive. BUT its so beautiful that doesnt matter. There is loads of stuff to investigate and the fish and coral life is prolific. We started at the stern section by the debris field and the stern AA gun

Gun pic

http://www.pilotdivers.com/Gallery/redsea/pages/P1010067A1.htm

Bow pic

http://www.pilotdivers.com/Gallery/redsea/pages/P1010068A.htm

Then we headed up starboard side walkway past the railway engines to the Bow over the gear system for retrieving the anchor

http://www.pilotdivers.com/Gallery/redsea/pages/P1010073A.htm

Viz was about 15m and the current was strong so the turn back from the bow past the captains cabin was blessed relief for my dodgy left knee and we cruised back to the shot. Ling got decidedly edgy when we lost the pack (we were last) and I took her into the blue over the debris field. It mad me realise this is NOT a newbe dive. I am surprised more accidents dont occur on this wreck. Leaving the aft deck and sailing out into the blue holding my hand Lings eyes were slightly larger than usual but this move was necessary to avoid slipping into deco. The alternative is to drop back down to 27m on the debris field and crawl along the bottom.

Just a few seconds into the blue the group and the shot came into view and ling relaxed and I put ling on the shot with the dive guide and slipped off with another diver for a mooch around the stern on our own.    

Ling thought it was OK????? Just OK?????

Dive two: Penetration :p

Now this is what the TG is all about: Our guide was brilliant it was a fantastic tour of the holds and cabins with all the usual motorbikes, welly boots, ammo, trucks etc. It was fantastic
Again they said no need for a torch RUBBISH take a torch it is dark in there and to see everything you need a good torch.

I got some pics but havent posted them yet so I might add these later.

Much to my relief Ling thought the internal tour was fantastic. I followed her and noted that she forgot completely to monitor her air supply throughout the dive. I also know that ling will get about 45mins out of a 12 at that depth and the dive lasted ohhhh 45mins. So when we exited the wreck and finally headed back for the shot I had the long hose in my hand and sure enough Ling checked her gauge and was on 40bar. She turned round wide eyed again to find me holding up the reg and we finned back to the shot comfortably on the long hose and my twin set. Much to the annoyance of the dive guides it would turn out as we were supposed to tell them when we hit 100 bar. Ho Hum.

I have a sneaky suspicion that Ling wasnt the only diver to return from that dive with 40bar or less.

Last Day

Woodhouse
Jacksons
Camilla

Woodhouse and Jacksons are great dives but the other 200 divers got in the way a bit so these dives wont go down in my top ten list but Camilla was lovely.

The guide was by now happy to let us go off and do our own thing so thats what we did. Camilla is a beautiful sandy coral garden with some of the best small panicles I have ever seen. I loved this dive and it was a great way to finish the week.

Laugh of the week was bumping into my TDI Advanced Nitrox instructor acting as an assistant guide on the Thistle gourm trip. He who took a bit of a slating from me on this very site.
He is a nice bloke actually and he confessed that I was his first ever TDI AN student. So I let him off totally.

Summery

I had mixed feelings about the week; despite the reservations of some we basically eat drank slept and dived. All of which could have been achieved on a livaboard with more and better diving thrown in.

Its not that the sites were different its all about timing. The Liveaboard get there at different times to the day boats and I dont remember any diver soup problems on my livaboard trip.

Also the day boats have to be back in port by 5.00pm so its all a bit rushed. The livaboards were far more relaxed and we got twilight dives in which were great for the bigger fish. Even the Thistlegourm was quiet when we got there because we arrived about two hours before the day boats.

The biggest difference was cost.

With all the add ons food etc of the land based gig it was about 50% more expensive than the Livaboard option.

Having said that my wife wouldnt do a livaboard so that's that. The hotel was great and I strongly recommend it. It's not on the beech but there is a free bus service to town and beech if that's your thing. The food in the hotel was OK and the beer was cheep. Ocean Collage dive centre were great and it all went according to plan and special thanks to Douzer our guide who was a great bloke.

The crowd I went with were such a great bunch though, so sod the expense put me down for next year  

Thanks for the invite Andrew

ATB

Mark Chase
 

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<font color='#000080'>Top report Mark.

Daz
 

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Nice Mark, I was getting there, bet you've never heard me say that before!!!!!!!

Couple of addendums;

The dive we did in the sand storm, second day made me re-evaluate the gardens, if you get left alone to do this site at your own pace, what I considered to be a poor site is infact quite pretty, not much by the way of fish, but the coral is spectacular in places, I will find a way to get the pictures posted later. Got to add the nice thing about diving with Mark (aside from his ability to terrify the odd Blue Spotted Ray) is he just potters along at exactly the same pace as me without any of the you OK me OK nuts every two nano seconds, cool buddy I say .


Kormorant - Jackson Reef - Straights of Tiran

I'm sorry, this is a fantastic site, not easy to get a dive there as the current is usually too strong, the wreck is a bit flattened out but oh the hard corals, if you swim off down the slope a bit it gets better and better, there is a very tempting drop off at the end, but Lizzy was with me so I couldn't go there - next time eh!

Dunraven, nearly didn't bother to do this dive, been there a few times and thought it was boring. Have to say next time I am there I am going to wave bye, bye to the guide and spend some time in the wreck, lots of interesting nooks and crannies thet I did not get time to see, Jelous of Mark I was, I was right behind the guide and each time I started to move off the prescribed path I got a little glare and a nudge, I want to be at the back.

Now this is where I give Marks ego a bit of uplift.

HELL DIVE - Ras Ghizlani.

Nice site, BAH, next time I will get to see it.

Since I had done two 30M dives, and since Lizzy was coming in on this one (her 11th dive, 3rd in three years) I set a max depth of 15M. Had a real nightmare with my left ear, it just would not clear, so I just worked my way in slowly, down a bit, up a bit down a bit more etc.

As I am doing this I am watching Lizzy just drop away from me, she is aiming towards a certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless (he knows who he is). Now at this point I have got to about 10M, Lizzy is with 'X' about 15M below me, bang goes my 15M limit and I am still fighting the ear, off they go, in the wrong direction, bugger all I can do, except sit there and rant. Out of the blue comes Mark and Ling, now whilst talking about this later, Mark had seen me raise my arms to the heavens, and big cloud of bubbles escape as I shout and swear at the idiots below me, I see Mark swim up, raise his hand in a police type manner to say stop, do they, do they heck, they just swim past him. Mark god bless his cottons, gets hold of Lizzy's arm and guides her back to me. 1 beer in debt, off Lizzy and I go, and end up having a pretty nice dive,


THANKS MARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew
 

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Thanks for the report Mark - spurs me on to complete my report of the trip on the Royal Emperor the week after yours.

Coming soon - how not to penetrate a wreck, how to bend a VR3, exploding HP guages, and more!  


Regards

Robert

P.S. When was your last trip to the Moldavia, any ideas of current water temp? - we're off at the end of the month.
 

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A short fat well off crap cave diver. Likes wrecks
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<font color='#000F22'>Thanks for that Andrew  


Robert

Can I come?


The Moll trop on the 8th was cancled due to an outbreak of flu and four divers droping out but the last dive was February water temperature at depth was 9 C and air temp 14. Vis was worse than December & January down to about 10- 15m from a good 20-25 on December 28th. Water temp in december was 11 air 13

Mind you I use a Vytec so minus 1 deg C for the Sunto Feel Good factor  


ATB

Mark Chase
 

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Mol, someone say Mol.

Me oh please me too, this is becoming the Holy Grail for me.

Andrew
 

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from Lizzy.

Hello to Ling Lang Long and Marv Mark.  I am talking novice re:MYSELF……….very sceptical about whole trip to shaky shaky but have to say was one of the BEST hols I have had..bearing in mind I am the grand old age of 33………..met a fantasic bunch of people…..of course most from the Midlands..we r lovely people..and re-gained my confidence in the deep blue sea.  Wish one day I could be as confident and relaxed as you and Andrew….I saw another life ..peaceful and calm.oh yeah and I’m talking about my partner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THANK-U BOTH and DOOZA for making me laugh and giving me the confidence to dive into the water x x


Andrew
 

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Hi Mark and Andy,
The trip to the Moldavia is being run to finish off our trimix course on 30th April/1st May and I think it'll probably be full but I'll check with Jack to see if there are any spaces.
I've organised another trip on the weekend of 20/21 September to do the Moldavia and the Basil (loads of brass nose cones!) which might have some spaces, but as it's a club trip I can't advertise it yet.
How about putting together a trip for a bit later this year - May/June?

Robert
 
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