Adventure: Red Sea Diving Trip Report
This was my second trip to the Egyptian Red Sea on a diving adventure. Last year I did the Southern Itinerary, the lesser known region of the Red Sea. This year I did the Northern Itinerary and let me tell you, its was a lot better than last years’ trip. The truly enjoyable thing about Red Sea diving, especially from a livaboard is effortlessness with which you dive. You wake up in the morning, have a quick coffee or snack and fall into the water. You get out and have breakfast, wait an hour and dive again. There’s also an afternoon dive and most evenings a night dive. Completely effortless and utterly enjoyable. Another important aspect of Red Sea diving is the way they dive – its quite unique. The dive master will conduct a briefing as is the norm. He will give you various options of how the dive the site – often going in completely different directions. You and your buddy pick which one you like best and off you go – all by yourself. Most often you don’t even end your dive at the ship. When you deem it time to end you dive you merely inflate your SMB and a duck fetch you.
This trip was organised again by All About Scuba, the same outfit as last year. There were even some of the other guests which came along again. We were in the same ship with the same crew and dive master, Sven, our German dive master extraordinaire. Having been on the ship the previous year meant that I went into relaxation mode straight away. Unfortunately my sister was not able to join me and I ended up with another fellow that I did not know. An experienced diver by all accounts – it took very little time and effort for the two of us to adapt to our respective diving styles.
There were many notable stories to the trip. One stood out as being especially noteworthy and it relates to our experience on the wreck of the Thistlegorm. We were going to do four dives on this world famous wreck. This first of these dives were a night dive as we arrived late afternoon at the site. We were not suppose to penetrate the wreck and my new dive buddy was clearly someone that kept strictly to the rule. Nothing wrong with that, and I was prepared to follow the rules, provided that it did not come too badly in the way of my fun. As luck would have it, shortly into our dive one of the dive masters did dive into the wreck – and when he saw me called me in as well to have a look at some small creature. I felt that gave me permission and I promptly followed this DM to see the little critter. My buddy on the other hand did not see the need to follow.
Upon my return to where my buddy was hanging out he suddenly gave me an emergency signal. Keep in mind that by now its pitch dark, and there’s twenty divers on the wreck with flash lights flashing everywhere. For split second I was not 100% sure that in fact he was in trouble and then I realised that other divers were trying to get my attention as well. The fact that the poor man was hanging with both hand onto the wreck ass floating upwards should also have been a clue. He clipped his weight belt on the wreck – it snapped off and it fell away into the depths of the wreck which left him completely positively buoyant. We were quite deep at that stage and it could have been a real problem. I grabbed a hold of him, deflated my BCD to compensate and we started our accent to the surface – fairly routine. The funny thing was that a lot of the other divers witnessed this event and sheer panic set in amongst some of them. The organiser of the trip only got mixed messages underwater and though we both drowned.
Back on deck I delivered my buddy to safety and he promptly delivery copious amounts of alcohol for both of us. He clearly had fright and had no intention of diving again the next day first thing. He was also determined that he would not drink alone and so he poured and poured drink after drink. Around 1 or 2 o’clock the next morning I was desperate to get into bed but my buddy and one other had different ideas. I got my escape to go and ‘fetch more ice’ for the drinks and went off to bed. Nasty but necessary.
I have this bad habit of not being able to sleep in when I have had too much to drink and I was stumbling to the kitchen in search of coffee just after five o’clock the next day. Three divers were already kitting up – two rebreather divers and one open air diver with a camera going with. The idea was that the rebreathers would dive for at least an hour longer that the open air divers of the rest of the group, and they wanted to get onto the wreck early so that they can fall into everyone else’s schedule from the second dive onwards. Another little benefit of this was that the wreck would be pristine since 200 divers have not been kicking up silt yet. One of the guys recalled that I had a big nice camera and promptly demanded that I join them – partially intoxicated or not. Being a fool and definitely not a clever man I decided to go with.
This dive on the Thistlegorm still forms one of my top 10 diving moments ever. It was truly spectacular. See the video I made from the experience below. Another aspect of this dive which I will never forget is the extent to which I concentrated on air consumption to try and keep up with the rebreathers. Me and the other open air did truly well – we finished a mere 8 minutes after the rebreathers! Admittedly the rebreathers did dive quite a bit deeper that I did. Also, this was one of three dives in my life where I have sucked the tank completely dry. I can honestly say that there was no more than three breaths left when I popped my head out of the water. Every so often one has to take a little risk in the pursuit of the perfect dive! Here’s a short video I made from our dive on the Thistlegorm – I think anyone will agree that this was a truly spectacular diving moment.
Here are selected pictures from the trip.