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Right, now that I’ve got your attention, thought I’d do a bit of a trip report on my pre-Christmas sojourn, ie my first visit to Egypt (hence title). :egypt::egypt:

Originally Liz (my other half) and I had intended to visit  Michael (Scuba 1) in Tenerife, but every single flight was booked up.  So after trawling through the bargain offers on the BSAC Travel club page, we booked with Hayes and Jarvis/Camel Divers - flights, transfers, 7 nights B & B at a 3* resort (Sonesta Club) including a 10 dive package, all for £330 per person.  :deal:

GETTING THERE
One small problem, flying from Gatwick when you live on Tyneside! So we travelled down to a friends in Ealing then up at 5am to check in the next morning - THREE H0URS before flying - sheesh!!. Tickets were there for collection as promised, as there was hardly anyone around the baggage check in was swift , all seemed well...

As the plane took off I thought I heard a strange bump from the back of the plane but as we didn’t spontaneously burst into flames or crash I though nothing more of it. An hour into the flight I was beginning to think , “Ah...one-quarter of the way there now”, when the pilot announced , “Ahem... errr... some of you may have noticed that we are now flying westwards, w-e-l-l it's like this...". :pilot:

Apparently, after we took off  "some rubber was  found on the runway, it’s probably nothing but we’re going  back to get it checked out..." So, an hour back to Gatwick then an eternity (well, three hours) circling.  Someone should have told the Captain to stop digging when he’s in a hole , but no, he came on the tannoy with such a  BS story of why we hadn‘t yet landed. Ironically , this BS seemed to distract the passengers from worrying, we were too busy laughing at the Captain. Until he said "Don’t wory about the fire engines lining the runway, it just a precaution, there’s reallynothing to worry about, REALLY there isn't..." :scared:

A spontaneous round of applause greeted our safe landing, after which our luckless pilot gleefully announced that the tyre had indeed shredded on landing as he had predicted and we would have to stay on the plane while the engineers changed the wheel. The air con vanished when we were stationary so I asked the hostess for two bottle of water "Can you make do with one or there won't be enough for all the passengers?" FFS!!!! so much for the 21st Century. We were promised complimentary drinks for the inconvenience, this turned out to be two miniature cans of Pepsi.

We took off (again!) at about 2pm, by the time we got to Sharm I was NOT in the best fettle.  :furious: Fortunately landing late at night meant there were no other passengers waiting to get visas. THe tour guide took our paperwork from H&J and the hotel hung on to our passports - this made me very uneasy indeed, but I need not have worried.


THE DIVING
THe next morning at 9am Camel Divers jeep picked us up to take us to their place  in Naama bay. :auto:   I was a bit concerned that Liz's Club diver status would mean we would miss out on deeper dives, but again this was not a problem.

Turns out the whole dive package was to be from a hard boat - I had anticipated a mixture of boat and shore diving so was greatly pleased by this. We went off to the "local" reef so our guides could run the few checkout dives and get an idea of the capabilities of the rest of us, this was followed by a dive on Near Garden reef.

THe next day we were off to Ras Mohammed to do Ras Gazahla then Shark & Yolanda (toilets and bathtubs) reefs where large barracuda abounded. THe drop off to 800+ metres looked quite inviting and I found myself fantasising about twin 15s and a big stage full of nitrox...  Later that day we dived Ras um Sid,  then that evening a night dive on Ras Katy - the group  soon broke up so Liz and I pootled around at 16m looking at lots of lionfish and some huge parrotfish, saw a very nice brain coral which had all its tentacles out, would have made a nice photo.

Folowing day was Jackson reef and Woodhouse reefs in the  Straits of Tiran followed by Far garden. Back to Tiran the next day to do Jackson again where we saw two green turtles, then Thomas reef where we encountered a spotted eagle ray, followed by a dive at Ras Bob.

The final day of diving we were up at 4am to go to the Thistlegorm. We got to the site around 9.30, no one else had located the wreck but our dive guide had a GPS (ner-ney-ney-ner-ner :tongue2:   ). He briefed us: "Get ready now,  as soon as I've attached the mooring line we're going straight in!". The other boats saw him mooring up out boat and descended like flies, but we got in the water first and had the wreck entirely to ourselves! :biggrin: Having done only British wrecks before,  I wasn't used to being able to see the whole of a wreck at once, very, very cool. After an hours surface interval we were back in - again, no other divers around as they were still off-gassing. This time we went through the cargo hold. I thought to myself "No way would I want to take a bunch of tourist divers on a wreck penetration!" Kudos to our dive guide for having big cajones!

On the way back we stopped off at "The Lonely Mushroom" reef where the guides stayed on board and let us do our own thing. There was a curious mix of cold and warm currents there, it was the only time I felt any cold (used a 5mm shortie).

Due to the flight times we could have squeezed in another days diving but decided to opt for a trip to see the Bedouins and a camel ride in the desert, followed by an al fresco meal under the stars - the first time I've seen the Milky Way whilst on land.  On the day of flying we did a spot of snorkelling in Naama bay, :snorkel:  still an amazing amount of wildlife to be seen right up close to the beaches.

And that was it - my first holiday abroad for many years was over :bncry:  but we'll be having more of that for sure :biggrin:
Chee-az
Steve


(Edited by Steve W at 4:40 pm on Jan. 10, 2003)
 

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Nice report Stevey lad, sounds like some cracking diving... although I bet it didn't comare to our penetration of Capenwrays Cessna last Saturday eh ;)
 

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I can't believe they fit two people into one of those things, and as for those folk who use one of those planes to join the mile high club...how? must be contortionists!
Chee-az
Steve
 

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Hey mate I've done it in a Daf 33 (remember them?? the car driven by a rubber band) after that I reckon anything is possible
 

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Respect ! you must be one of those contorshinists I was talking about
Yeah I remember those Dafs, a continuously variable transmission, quite ahead of its time and very under-rated
Chee-az
Steve
 

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come on Dave, enlighten me.  A Daf 33?  tell us all about them/it...
 

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Daf 33's were someones idea of a joke.... they contained an air cooled twin cylinder engine that would of had great difficulty raising a model aeroplane from the ground, a gear stick that you pushed forward to go forward and pulled it back to go erm.. back... you would then floor the throttle and it would rev for about two minutes before the rubber band (I kid you not) finally bit and the whole contraption started to roll.... once rolling you prayed for a clear road... preferably downhill as the loss of speed and the embarassment as the wagon you'd just passed came back past you again was too much too bear.

My mams Daf 33 was my salvation though as it allowed me as a very horny teenager to get to my girlfriends house ten miles away ..... I used to hitchhike there before that... (That right...hitchhike!! twenty miles round trip... yup I was very horny)

Here's a link for ya Andy so you can see just how desperate I was... BTW she later upgraded to a...... Daf 44.. whoop.... ee....

http://www.geocities.com/dafownersclub/daf1/DAF_33__44x.html
 

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</span>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from Dave Williamson on 8:47 pm on Jan. 10, 2003
(That right...hitchhike!! twenty miles round trip... yup I was very horny)
<span =''>

This puts me in mind of a quote from a film.."..you want the truth?  You can't handle to the truth!".  

#### Right!

Sentances like that and an over-active imaginative are not a good mix.

Anyway Steve, nice report.  I've yet to get out there meself and am bloody determinded to do it this year.
 

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Yes Stevie,

Your night-light attracting the circling hordes of Lionfish!! They're crafty bastards: they lie in wait for your torch beam to high-light smaller fish and then BANG!! Gottcha.

I remember being surrounded by about 12 of the buggers on a night dive at Ras Katy. Tanner-half-a-Crown moment I can tell ya. They make brilliant photies when set against the back-drop of a coral bloc/coloumn at night too. They come along in packs of six or seven......all of them in bandanas, tattoos and riding Harleys!!

Woodhouse and Jackson Reefs though, eh? Top kit. Indeed the whole Tiran Straits are some of the best diving in the Northern Red Sea. All that up-welling of nutrients because of the 'squeeze' of the narrow channel (nearly 2km deep on the one side!)

And those wrecks (now dismantled to bits, yet still recognisable as the outline and deck-space of a ship) sitting proud of the water on top of the reef itself! Due to....err.....'apparent navigational error'...(ahem)....

Gotta laugh though. Apparently the crew refused to leave the ship when she foundered; after all, she was their home and they had no where else to go! So they remained there (even after the skipper had gone foxtrot) and sent the ship's tender to the port to get regular supplies - after they'd worn out their welcome by scrounging from other passing ships.

Then, after a while, they found out that if you stay with a ship for three years (after she'd wrecked), you have every right to claim salvage on her!! So they DID! And lo and behold, they stayed there until they were allowed to cut her up and sell her for scrap! Is it any wonder there are so many good sea-shanties with true stories like this to go around?? Points out of ten for perseverance, what?

Any way, we (this young filly from Oxford and I) jumped in whilst on our SI to snorkle with the attendant dolphins......until the DMs came to the starboard side screaming at us to get back on the boat as Tiger Sharks came form the deep to take the dolphins. Not quite sure that I believed them, but it seemed a reasonable enough request at the time.

This is where I nearly knifed my 1st Italian diver. We were on the drop-off of Jackson Reef and this tw*t was 'hanging onto the reef with his gloves on'. Trashing the coral is not some thing you wanna do when you're diving with me (there was negliable current, his buoyancy was to rat-shit); I signalled for him to let go the coral - he declined; I asked him again, he declined; I went to remove his hand, he went to block my hand; I drew my knife and pointed at this BC. He surfaced.

Alas, I can't report that we're currently in the habit of exchanging Christmas cards on an annual basis.

I won't tell you about the German diver I nearly strangled with is own alternate hose at 24 metres in South Africa for 'standing upright on the coral'. Fiona still rebukes me for that one. Call me 'sensitive', or something.

Top report mate. Can picture every site you mention. Happy Daze. Never let anyone tell you that the Red Sea (ANY part of it) is passed its sell-by date. I used to think that, and am quite happy to report that when ever I go back I am warmly proved wrong.

Troop Gig to Sharm, anyone? Liveaboard to the Brothers and Elphinstone? Fury Shoal?? The Sudan?? There's gotta be a gig in here somewhere dudes.

(Edited by Bren Tierney at 3:20 am on Jan. 11, 2003)
 

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Good suggestion Bren, I'll be going back sometime in the future for sure and it's be good to go with a bunch of others.
Tim, I can highly recommend it, and not just for divers - it's practical for a family trip too,  there's plenty of stuff to be seen just off the beach for the missus and the wee ones - I'd definately go with a last minute bargain again
Chee-az
Steve
 

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Hey, I was on that plane too.  Nightmare.  Actually we were also on the Camel pick - up the next day (John & Bob) :)

Anyway, just a couple of things to add to that comprehensive report.  My buddy had just done his OW so I wanted to take it pretty easy for the first week (If seventeen dives in six days is easy).  As mentioned, OW qualification isn't a barrier to 30m dives with Camel.  I actually did the Thistlegorm penetration in August with 30 dives on an OW ticket, although I've since done my advanced.  

We did the Thistlegorm in the second week we were there.
There were only three boats on the site.  The reason, as it turned out was that the conditions were pretty marginal.  Strong currents running over the wreck.

We descended a line and drifted over the wreck before turning to descend inside.  This is where the problems began.  My buddy isn't that fit and had problems finning against the current.  By the time we got into the hold ready for the penetration, he was out of breath.  The guide had already entered with four divers and I thought that my bud just didn't want to go inside.  Anyway, when I got up close, he waved his hand at me and all this green stuff was floating out of it!  Turns out he had put his hand on the lip of the hold and sliced his finger.  Green blood - weird.

I aborted the dive just as the guide came back looking for us.  

Ascended a line to the safety stop and hung on, buffeted by the current for a pretty uncomfortable three minutes.

Surfaced and dragged ourselves along the side of the boat on another line, getting bashed into the side of the boat.  The boat turned out to be the wrong one (our line had actually snapped)

We then had to swim back to our boat and get back on in fairly difficult conditions.

When I requested a first aid kit, the crew said something about the dive guide so we made the best of tissue to staunch the blood that was making a mess of the dive deck.

The guide returned after the dive and it soon became apparent that he had 'forgotten the first aid kit, sorry'!!!

This, I have to say is unforgiveable.

Anyway, the wound didn't look too bad so I did the second dive without my buddy.  Nice dive.

When we returned to Sharm, we stopped at the dive doctors where five stitches were applied and a strong lecture on diving with diabetes.  Apparently the doc in Sharm reckons this is a contra - indication whereas our specialists in Portsmouth don't.  The dive guide also got a talking to for not calling out the rescue chopper!  

Obviously, there was a big ruck when Camel management found out about the first aid kit (although they didn't have the courtesy to talk to us about it).  For the rest of the week, the first aid kits were conspicuous by there presence...

Actually, on a previous dive (without me), my buddy ended up in the blue off a Tiran reef due to the same problem of finning against a strong current and the inattention of the guide.  You would have thought they would have noted this for future reference.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this is that dive guides are pretty variable in quality, even at the more respected centres.  The reasons for diving within our limits also became a little more clear to me.

Having said all that, the diving was great although not quite as good as in August.  We also saw three white tip sharks (something to cross of in the I-spy book of sealife).
My buddy got in something like 27 dives and his skills got a lot better.  He also came back with a resolution to get fitter ;-)  




 
 

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A lesson for us all there John - don't assume that the DMs on your boat are going to be the latest in 'Having My Shit Together'!

Indeed, don't feel embarrassed when getting onto a dive boat - ANYWHERE!! Ask to see the DAN O2 and First Aid boxes, ask to see the spare O2 cylinders, and after you've had your dive briefing (and before you get into the water), EXPECT to see the DM enter the water alone (as you lot are getting kitted up) to check the current so he/she can call the dive or resposition the boat to drop you in at a different/more appropriate spot (if current too strong or going in a given direction that required for the dive).

This is a practise that I became accustomed to when I lived and worked in Maldives - weight-belt, mask, snorkel and fins on, jump in and chek the current (not hard - the fishes always have the face into a current to airiate their gills!). Once established, position the boat accordingly so that all divers can enter the water and drift the maxium distance - given their air - without having to fin like a mad-thing INTO the current, which just frustrates a diver, tires them and can lead to a panic if a diver is struggling and is unfit. We all know what can happen if a diver begins to chug his/her air through a reg!

If this practise is not readily obvious and deployed on your dive boat, tell the DM that he/she/ WILL start the practise as at the next dive - or else!!

Glad you both enjoyed the gig and glad to see you both arrived back safe.
 

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John, pardon my sieve like brain but I'm really crap with rembering names; IIRC that would make you the younger guy with the ponytail who's been to Sharm several times before, and Bob (he said Robert at the time) is the older yorkshireman who only recently qualified? In which case we were on several of the days out together on "the Wasser", n'est pas? I was the Geordie guy with the girlfriend who hardly ever spoke.
Which dive guide forgot the 1st aid kit? was that Andrew? if so shame on him! I thought he really had his shit together

Green blood....? so Bob was in fact a Vulcan not a Yorkshireman
Anyhoo, glad to see you've found our little corner of the internet, get yourself over to the planned trips section and get along to a "YD troop gig"
Chee-az
Steve
 

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Yeah, that was us.
The guide in question was Nasser, the Egyptian guy.  Don't think he will ever do that again...
I think a group trip to Sharm would be fun - I'm actually planning to go back, probably early August.  The guides are a lot happier then and there are more women in fewer clothes ;-)

Cheers,

:-J

(Edited by John Nortcliff at 3:57 pm on Jan. 27, 2003)
 
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