Daedalus, Rocky, Zabargad on MY Obsession (May 2008)

The first message we received on arrival was that our live-aboard botat Obsession suffered a fire. The boat was in Hurghada for the replacement of one of the engines. So that meant we had to stay overnight in the 4 * Coral Beach Marina Lodge in Port Ghalib. The next day everything went according to plan, the boat was serviceable and was waiting for us in the port of Port Ghalib. We were lucky ….. you never know how things like this end. Swiftly were transferred to the boat with the zodiac, sleeping cabins were divided, boat briefing done, diving gear unpacked and we were ready for departure.

After a few uneventful dives in the vicinity of the port, we started the large crossing to Daedalus reef, the first of the marine parks. It was a bumpy and windy crossing! Of the 20 fellow travelers, only 3 were present at dinner. The rest were scattered around the boat being nauseous. The next morning, we arrived at Daedalus and were again sheltered by the reef. Most divers were therefore in a good mood and felt a lot better than during the crossing. Wake-up was at 6:00 am, and at 6:30 am we were gearing-up for the first dive of the day. The hammerhead sharks were there and we all spotted them. Again and again, they cruised by, beautiful! On subsequent dives later in the day we were unfortunately unable to dive at the same site due to the waves. We still saw tuna and another hammerhead shark.

At we left Daedalus and started our next big crossing to Rocky and Zabargad. It was now Sunday, and at 6:00 it was time to get up again. The boat anchored in the protection of Rocky. Within an hour we boarded the zodiac to be transported to the dive site, passing high waves during the short crossing. 1-2-3 GO! And everyone dropped backwards into the Red Sea. No sharks here, but we spotted a big manta in the depth. We were at a depth of 40 meters and the manta was at least 10-20 meters below us. He did another fly-by and then left. At Rocky we visited a beautiful wall with many soft corals.
After 2 dives at Rocky it was time to leave. Next destination: Zabargad. In Zabargad we could only dive under the protection of the island, the wrecks on the wild side were inaccessible. There were many cracks and caves in the coral wall at Zabargad. All in all it was an easy and relaxed dive with a beautiful underwater landscape. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Rocky and Zabargad after these 2 dives and the journey continued to St. Johns. Here we did our first night dive at “Dangerous Reef”. Nice but not very special.

Monday was spent on the reef complex of St. Johns. On Small Habili we saw gray reef shark. The moray eels were pretty aggressive: 2 of us were even attacked by a moray eel. Later we were able to watch a fight between 2 morays.
A highlight was the dive site St. Johns caves. Specialty is winding through corridors of coral. It is a very shallow dive, with beams of sunlight going all the way to the bottom. 

During the night dive on Sataya some lion fishes accompanied us. They were feeding in the light of our diving lights. It is always a bit tricky, if lion fish feel like hunting too close to your hands

Tuesday we were in the Fury Shoal. We were happy that Abu Galawa Small was on the program with the wreck of the sailboat and the amphitheater. What a beautiful place that is! Here too we were super lucky again, a small manta came by. Afterwards we enjoyed the beautiful coral gardens of “El Saleniate” and ended the day again with a night dive.

The dive trip ended with a few dive sites near Marsa Alam. There we were very lucky again to be able to snorkel with spinner dolphins. They were playing around and we enjoyed some close encounters. All in all, this was perhaps the most special experience of the trip.

For the last night we were stationed close to the airport, in the Reef hotel of Marsa Alam. A relaxing day followed: a stable bed, dry shower floor, dry towels, not to mention the swimming pool, it was time to go home again. We had a great trip.

May 2008

Going South again...... on Miss Nouran (June 2004)

Upon arrival in Marsa Alam, there appeared to be a small problem with route, after about half a day this problem was solved and our trip could start. 

The second day of the trip we reached Elphinstone. Oops: no hammerhead sharks in sight! Although this is the right season, none were to be found. There even was a lot of current, which sharks usually like. We did spot grey reef sharks. And still, Elphinstone is a beautiful place, with or without hammerhead sharks.

We travel on towards St. Johns. We make beautiful dives on St. Johns Habili (big) and see walls with beautiful hard corals, a large hump parrot fish, large napoleons, tuna’s and loads of anthias. On the small Habili St. Johns we finally found what we had come for: a hammerhead shark. Dive sites are now much more crowded since the last time. There was 1 boat with divers who consistently descended to 50-60 meters to see the sharks. Our group are more “conservative” divers, who think 30-35 meters deep enough. So, no more chance to see the big fish, and better to depend on “luck” instead.
After St. Johns, our final visit was to Fury Shoal. Here too the reefs are exceptionally beautiful. For instance dive site “Malahi” or the playground. A beautiful labyrinth of rock and coral, no more than 10 meters deep. It has deteriorated a lot since we were there last time in 2001, but it is still an amazing reef. The same applies to the Abu Galawa wreck and the nearby amphitheater. This is still a memorable dive site.

June 2004

MY Greta: Brothers, Elphinstone, Daedalus (July 2003)

With a large live-aboard boat, like MY Greta, it impossible to approach most reefs, so a smaller boat took us to the dive sites. This took some getting used to, sitting on the side of the boat with 8 people (plus tanks and cameras). Goggles on, regulator in, “one-two-three-GO!” And all divers fell backwards into the water, preferably at the same time.

The Brothers:
The Brothers consist of 2 islands: Big Brother and Little Brother.
Big Brother houses 2 wrecks: Aida (sunk 1956) and Numidia (sunk 1917). Aida starts at a depth of 26 meters. You first reach the broken mid-ship area. Aida is fairly overgrown with soft corals. Due to the depth of the wreck, we only spent a short time there.
Numidia wreck rests in shallower waters, starting at 9 meters. The wreck is around 100 meters long. The deepest point is inaccessible, being more than 90 meters deep. Numidia is in an upright position and covered with soft corals. On the dive site remains of railroad tracks and large wagon wheels can be found. The reef around the Numidia is also amazing, you will find beautiful soft corals. At these dive sites 2 hammerhead sharks were spotted, many gray reef sharks, countless whitetip reef sharks, a thresher shark, and even a manta ray (even though it was not manta-time at all, we were lucky!).

Daedalus:
Like the Brothers, Daedalus is a reef in the open ocean, miles away from the coast. Here we had a chance to see a school of hammerhead sharks. On this dive we had to swim a bit into the blue, up to the point where the shore was only barely visible. On this dive we spotted a few hammerhead sharks. At Daedalus, there is much more to see than just the hammerheads. So, if you miss them, you can always make a beautiful reef dive and see beautiful hard and soft corals with anemones, large tuna, and all the beautiful reef fish that go with it. 

Elphinstone:
Elphinstone can be reached in about 2 hours from Marsa Alam. Because the weather was very calm, we expected that it would be very busy with day-boats. However, this was not the case, so we were lucky. At one of the corners of Elphinstone reef, above the 40-meter plateau, all our groups spotted schools of hammerhead sharks. It is a wonderful sight to see around 15 hammerhead sharks swimming beneath you.

Safaga:
Far too soon the last day arrived with another 2 dives in Safaga. The dive guide had selected 2 excellent dive sites for us: Abu Kifan and Salem Express wreck.
Abu Kifan is a wall dive. It is a good dive site, but noticeably less pristine than dive sites in the south. At Safaga you see a lot more dead coral on the reefs and the wall. Yet we had a great dive. There found 2 turtles, again the reef fish and so on.
The Salem Express is a 115 meters long ferry boat that sunk on December 16, 1991. At the time the boat was full of visitors to Mecca. Most people died in the disaster. A dive to the Salem Express is therefore a dive on to monument. The wreck is on its starboard side. 

July 2003

Deep South on Coral Queen (March 2001)

The Coral Queen is a live aboard boat! We were pleasantly surprised by the boat: shiny copper, beautiful wood, clean, good cabins, porthole, private shower and toilet. Simply amazing! Tip: close portholes in the cabin while sailing, otherwise you risk getting a “solid” splash of water while sleeping (21 degrees) during the night …. that wakes you up. 
The food! Again, fantastic. Luxury breakfasts, lunches and dinners. And not to mention all snacks in between. But ….., diving was the reason we were on Coral Queen. The program featured St. Johns and the Fury Shoal.

The south is famous for its sharks. Large numbers of Gray reef sharks cruised by every morning, we also saw several white tips. As usual, almost all wer spotted during the first dive of the day, at 6:00 in the morning.

Other memorable dives: the “Maze”. “Maze” is a fairly small reef, about 100-200 meters square. It harbors shallow corridors (no more than 15 meters deep) winding through the dive site. At the end of the dive we were instructed to swim towards the surface and to the boundary of the maze. The zodiac then picked you up and brought you back to the boat.

Another very special dive was “Amphitheater”. First, we passed a beautifully overgrown wreck of a sailboat. Then, after passing a corridor, the amphitheater can be entered. The diameter was approximately 50 meters. The depth is approximately 20 meters. Crystal clear water. Along the walls corals grew abundantly, fish were everywhere, giant clams, nudibranchs, and so on.

All in all, we’re looking back on a great holiday. With a lot of variety underwater: colorful soft corals, beautiful hard coral formations, lots of fish – large and small, sharks, moray eels, blue spotted rays, flatworms, jellyfish, too much to mention here.

March 2001

El Gouna - Dawar El Omda (September 1998)

El Gouna is a resort that is approximately 5 years old. It is located 20 km north of Hurghada. It looked great in the brochures! The complex consists of a kind of village that is built around various landscaped lagoons. The entire village is built according to traditional Egyptian architecture: with domes and balconies.  All in all, there is only one drawback to El Gouna: there is not much activity going on! There were shops, but no customers; there were restaurants, we were usually the only guests; there were bars, again empty; streets: empty. However, this did not really bother us, we are here to dive!

TGI diving school strictly adheres to the Padi guidelines. We were not allowed to dive longer than 60 minutes and no deeper than 40 meters. An octopus is required. We received a full 15 liter (!) tank every dive. An hour is usually enough for us, normally we start to get cold after around 60 minutes. So, the strict guidelines were no problem for us. With our dive master, a Brazilian guy, we got on very well. Guides that take it slow, are always to our liking. We had plenty of time to look around. It was also no problem that we wanted to split from the group when it became a bit too crowded to our liking, as long as we told him so in advance.

Diving in Egypt is always a whole-day affair. At noon anchoring is done in a quiet lagoon and a meal is served on the boat. Stomach problems are more or less standard in Egypt and this time was no exception. Pop in an Imodium, and you will make it through the day.
The diving was as expected. Stone- and scorpion fish; Lion fish; of course, the blue-spotted ray; clown fish, moray eels, napoleon fish, beautiful butterfly fish; pennant fish; angel fish; and so on, one even more beautiful and special than the other. The small stuff is always nice to see: pipefishes, slugs, jellyfish, sometimes shrimp, and small fish. The corals and gorgons are beautifully colored in Egypt: red, purple, orange.
There was one dive that definitely jumped out. We were slowly making a circle around a small reef. And suddenly there was a dolphin! He was swimming upside down, while “attacking” a piece of coral, tail slapping with huge blows. The smiling mouth, the dots on his stomach, simply beautiful. After a breath of breath at the surface, he swam passed us, again, and then again! When we thought the spectacle was over, there was one last time, but now with another smaller dolphin, probably the wife, and a juvenile. 

September 1998