08 December 2007

17-24 November 2007 – Red Sea, Egypt

Oh what a trip! Six nights on a boat, on the Red Sea scuba diving my little heart out.

I had always wanted to do a ‘live-aboard’ trip but had always ended up doing land-based trips. Not this time. I booked myself on a trip to Egypt through a dive company in the UK (http://www.oonasdivers.com/) and picked a trip around the northern Red Sea. It was definitely the right choice.

I flew into Sharm el Sheikh and immediately joined the boat. We were moored for the night but the next morning we took off. The boat (M.Y. Juliet) was well kitted out…the cabins were pretty good and I got one to myself with bathroom as well. Five cabins all up, with a bigger one on the main deck that costs a bit more. The ‘lounge’ was very comfortable and that’s where we ate as well. As for the main decks, they all had large cushions everywhere so wherever the sun was shining, you could lay out and soak it up.

The other divers consisted of nine people: three Spaniards and the rest from the UK (the five from the UK were from the same dive club). It didn’t matter that I went by myself as we were all there for one thing…diving.

On the Sunday we got up at a leisurely time of 8am and had our first dive at 10am. It was an easy one as everyone was still a bit tired and it was the first dive of the week. The water throughout the time was around 26-27 degrees, and with the sun out I got myself quite a tan. Saying that, it was very windy in some places which bought the temperature down somewhat.

Our days usually began at a 6am wakeup call, a dive at 7am, breakfast at 9am, lazing around until about 10.30am, another dive, lunch, lazing around until about 2pm, our third dive, afternoon tea, and then our last (night) dive around 6pm. The sun set each day about 4.30pm so it was dark by 5.30pm. Dinner was about 8pm and most of us were soundly tucked up in bed by 9.30pm! Scuba diving is exhausting work!

Our local dive guide Wael was experienced and with his knowledge and the captains, we got to see a whole lot of hammerhead sharks, dolphins, turtles, string rays and fish/coral. None of us left disappointed – particularly when we were scuba diving and were visited by a pod of 13-14 dolphins who played around with us for about 5mins. Amazing mammals. And the hammerhead sharks…they kept their distance but still near enough for us to appreciate the size of them (c.2.5 metres)! We also spied a white tip reef shark on the last day.

The highlights of the trip include:
  • Diving with a pod of dolphins
  • Seeing the hammerhead sharks (about 11 in total over the 6 days)
  • Spying the white tip reef shark
  • Coming across a massive turtle (about half my body size) while doing a night dive on the Thistlegorm wreck (which was being chased by about 6 divers with their flashing cameras)
  • Diving on the Thistlegorm wreck was truly fantastic – it was a WWII steam freighter and sank in 1941 with all its cargo…which meant we got to see jeeps, trucks, ammunition, rifles motorcycles and many more things. We got to dive in and around it and because work was being done on it, rumours were around that it was closed. Lucky for us that it was open on the day we visited it and only three other boats in the vicinity. Usually in peak season you could have up to 20 boats parked up!!

I had such a good time and would definitely recommend the boat and doing a live-aboard – it gets you away from the day-trippers and gives you far more flexibility.