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Not as tall in real life
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<font color='#000080'>20 of us departed from Gatwick airport, flying with Air 2000 (10kg extra luggage allowance and no problems with my pony cylinder)
After collecting our luggage at Hurghada airport (All of which arrived safely) and a fairly easy transfer we arrived at the MY Sea Serpent.

First impressions were extremely favourable.  The boat was fairly new and well appointed with 8 twin cabins below and 2 double cabins on the main deck.  So after being assigned one of the double cabins (Yippee !) the first evening was spent unpacking, putting our kit together and resting with a couple of quiet beers while meeting the crew and our 2 guides for the week, Hany and Wael,.

The boat itself is 34m long and comprises of a very spacious dive platform with 2 RIBs for support.  The main deck area has a kitting up area including nitrox fills, O2 also available and ready for instant use should it be required.  Ally 12’s and Steel 15s are available, 2 toilets with hot showers.and  inside is the spacious dining area with the 2 double cabins at the front of the boat.  

The second level has a large open air lounge area (Covered) with fully stacked fridge (Softdrinks $1, beer $3) and a large open sun deck at the front of the boat.

The third level has a partially covered sun deck with 2 liferafts each capable of supporting 25 people.  

All cabins had ensuite bathrooms with hot showers (2 desalination units onboard), individual air con controls and towels and bathrobes were also supplied !.

Saturday 31st May.  A very civilized start with the boat departing early and the first dive scheduled for 9:30am.  After the initial piss taking from the rest of the mob as I was the only one diving with a pony we started with a uneventful gentle bimble around while people checked their weight and got comfortable in the water (Sorry can’t remember the reef name, but standard red sea wildlife, anemone fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, morays and banner fish).

Dive 2 started well at 14:30 with the usual everything OK to my buddy (The wife) and off we went.  <INCIDENT 1> 10 minutes into the dive at 15m turned to the wife and gave her the OK sign.  Get the OK back, followed by the not OK and pointing at me (I hate it when she does that !!) .   So a quick check around my kit and yep sure enough my inflator inline 2nd stage is blowing bubbles at the low pressure hose connection.  On closer inspection I realize the hose is a bit loose and the ‘O’ ring is protruding.  

The wife gives me the lets go up and abort signal,  hold fire I signaled back.  Quick switch to my pony reg, turn my main cylinder almost fully off,  unscrewed the low pressure hose from the second stage reseat the ‘O’ring, finger tighten it back up and turn the cylinder back on fully.   Jobs a good un lets get on with the dive.  Pretty much the same as the first dive but did include tightening up someones BCD dump valve that was also leaking air mid dive (This seemed to set the scene with my speciality being to resolve minor problems either in water or on the rib)  -  Must add an adjustable spanner to my standard in water kit


Onto the Brothers…

We arrived in the evening only to discover a whale shark swimming in circles within 10 yards of the boat.  A bit dark to actually snorkel and check the little guy out though.  This trip was shaping up as extremely promising.

Sunday 1st June,  Wife having problems with her ears so decides to skip the first dive on Little Brother.  First dive of the day is planned to be a 40m negative entry dive from the rib.  I am paired up with Mr X (Name withheld),  we go through a buddy check and I check he is happy with the plan,  he is a bit nervous but we agree that if he is not happy with the depth then we will ascend and reassess.  Drop in off the rib, video camera in hand,  quick pair up at 5m and down we descend.  At 38m slightly out in the blue a Manta ray appears circling.  A quick mutual OK and I fire the video up.  <INCIDENT 2>.  With less than 5 seconds of video I glance across at my buddy, give him the OK signal, only to get a NOT OK and UP back.  So we ascend to 28m and mutual OK’s are swapped,  we drift at 28m for a minute or so and I detect he is evidently not OK.   This is where it really goes tits up,  I give an OK, he returns a not OK and starts heading for the surface at pace without dumping any air from his jacket.  It was all I could do to grab his legs as he heads for the surface and dump all my air to try to slow us down.  Looking at the profile after the dive we went from 28m to 5m in about 1 minute.  My computer was going ballistic and at 5m I let him go and hang for a good 6 minutes while anxiously watching him on the surface.

When I finally ascended and we are picked up by the rib and he explains that he suddenly had a massive headache come on.  I advised him to skip the next couple of dives, highlighted the fast ascent and told him to monitor for any symptoms of DCI.  (To his credit he did not do any of the deep dives for the rest of the week,  I suspect a bad case of narcosis).  I reported the incident to the dive guide on his return and monitored myself for any symptoms but good or bad judgement aside (No recriminations please) switched to nitrox and continued with the remaining dives of the day.

All the dives over the next 2 days on little brother were very similar (Without the incidence FFFT).  Deep dive in the morning, swim out into the blue check out the hammerheads or threshers that seem to be extremely common on most dives.  Head back to the wall and drift along slowly.  The wall was covered in all manner of coral, Morays, parrot fish, banner fish, butterfly fish, masses of anthias, the occasional humphead or Napoleon wrasse and did I mention the sharks !!!

When we moved onto Big Brother the diving just got better.  With 2 wrecks, the Aida 2 and the Numidia the oportunities looked extremely promising.  Our first dive we dropped onto the Aida 2,  The ship hit the island and the stern broke off and slid down the reef with the wreck starting at 30m and continues down to 60m.  So into the water down to 25m and the site of the wreck was truly a photographic dream,  time for that later,  out into the blue and time to get up close and personal with a pair of Hammerheads.  Camera on the nearest one, eye to the viewpiece and zoom out, zoom out – hmmm no more zoom… glance over the top camera…  SHIT…  he turned away within 4 metres and I was worried about pissing in my wetsuit


Back to the Aida 2 and drop down to check her out,  awesome wreck with some wide openings and abundant with life, large stonefish amongst other.  I think a few of us probably pushed deeper than we should
but what a great wreck.  

The Numidia was to turn out to be even better.  Starting at 16m and going down to 80+m.  A british supply vessel carrying railway parts.  Many large wheels are still to be found on the wreck and a typical dive would start with a trip into the blue, check out the hammerheads that were fairly relaxed about a “up close and personal experience” or the occasional thresher shark (Decidedly more shy).  Back to the wreck,  check it out with maybe the occasional brief entry into a hold and then back to the wall for a drift along to either a pickup from a rib or a return to the Sea Serpent.  Plenty of opportunity for DSMB deployment (getting to be quite a wiz with a spool from 10m).

All too soon it was time to head back to Safaga, mainly due to the 1.5m swells that had built up.  Hey we still dived off the rib in it but decided to head back in the afternoon rather than try for traveling at night and the subsequent lack of sleep that would have followed.

A fairly uneventful night dive was followed by much high jinks and party games that culminated in all of us getting physically thrown off the second deck, only for us to return to dish out sweet revenge on the guides, the boat boys, the captain and even the chef !!

Much merriment, good humour and all in all a top crew.

2 dives the following day at Anemone city on Panorama reef.  What a great end to the trip.  After all the high buzz excitement of the Hammerheads,  it was great to have a couple of nice easy dives swimming through masses of anthias, watching a Moray out in the open, a couple of blue spotted rays and a turtle had the good grace to swim directly towards me, passing within 1ft underneath me.  Anemone fish !!,  too many to count, masses of anemones clustered together with anemone fish darting in and out quicker than you could count.

Finally back to port.

My score summary would have to be. (1 to 5)

Boat - 4+ (Should be 5, but I can’t put 5 for everything. Can I ?)
Crew - 5 (Good humoured, helpful, friendly and always, always smiling and keeping us amused)
Food - 5 (Top chef,  none of the usual red sea belly and dealt with all vegi and special food requirements.  Also cooked up a massive turkey, slap up buffet and huge cake on the last night.)
Dive Guides - 5  (Hany and Wael were top guys,  only divemasters but if the group does not need the requirements of instructor courses you could not ask for more.  Always safety conscious but acceptant of peoples experience and always good humoured and entertaining)

Would I do it again ?  Like a shot.  I have done the usual liveaboards before,  where the boat moves from site to site but if you have done some of the other Southern sites like Elphinstone etc...  you can do a lot worse than just head for the brothers and stay there for 4 or 5 days.

Daz
 

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Thanks for a nice report, Daz. Glad you had a good trip. Next time, I'll go for the Brothers 100% if I can find a trip where the boat stays there.
 

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Hi Daz,

On the same boat a year ago with AlexK, it still remains the best dive boat I have been on, comfy, unlimited supply of beer, and the most powerful engines I have ever had the misfortune lying awake all night listening too, guess you didn't have the cabin right at the back.

Glad Hany is still there, top geeza

Andrew
 

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Ha!!

Hamerheads, Threshers, decent wrecks, top liveabaord, top nose-bag, superb crew and a squadron of quality sea-life?!

Sounds absolutely shite mate!!  


Just a reminder that I do hate you Daz; I think I made that clear, right??  
 


Seriously old boy, top report of what was so obviously a trip to remember! I've not done the Southern Itinerary yet, but after listening to you, Gulli and others, I can't wait to get on a liveaboard and do the Brothers, Fury Shoal, Elphinstone, St John's et al.

After reading that report, somehow "see you in Anglesey" loses its ring!


Take it easy mate.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Hi Daz

Enjoyed you report, also been to the brothers great wrecks, we wanted to see hammerheads and didn't - were very disappointed.

Who did you book with ? does Sea Serpent have a website ?

Cheers
 

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Not as tall in real life
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<font color='#000080'>Thanks all,  It really was a fantastic trip and any of the "incidences" are not looked on as negative to the trip but really were treated as useful learning experiences


It can be booked through Regal diving at :-

http://www.regal-diving.co.uk/webdiver/liveroffers.php3
http://www.divingworld.co.uk/specialoffersweb.htm

For more indepth info on the boat :-

http://www.seaserpentfleet.com/boats.htm

Daz,

P.S  Yep I know you hate me Bren but I will just console myself with that really great Hammerhead footage  
 

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Hey Daz,  nice report - makes me wish I was there.  Actually I wish I was there 24/7 - this year, this year, this year - I will go to the ball!

If you're going to Anglesey, any chance we can get to see the vids?  Can you whack em onto a cd-rom?
 

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Not as tall in real life
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<font color='#000080'>Tim,  I will try to knock some of the good stuff off before Anglesey.

I could throw it on CDROM but the quality goes to shite...  It won't be anything special,  but I'll try to throw a quick edit together and bring my camera with me so you can check it out on the viewfinder..

If you are really interested,  I'll also throw one off to VHS so you can check it out on the big screen when you get home.

Daz
 
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