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SCUBA-L  December 1999, Week 3

SCUBA-L December 1999, Week 3

Subject:

Trip Report - Sharm-El-Sheikh

From:

Huw Porter <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scuba diving discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 14 Dec 1999 08:07:58 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (81 lines)

Just back from a week in Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea -
 
Sharm is growing like mould along the coast, and is now an 80 percent
non-diving generic holiday resort, mainly patronised by Italians, Germans
and Russians, and isn't even remotely like real Egypt.  But the contrast
between the stark grandeur of the Sinai desert inland, and the lush
explosion of life just under the surface is still stunning! :-)
 
We payed less for; flights from London, transfers, seven nights in four star
hotel Kharamana AND ten dives over five days, booked as a package in London
than FIVE days at the official hotel room rate!  I belive budget
accommodation does exist in Sharm, but with package deals this good, why
slum it? :-)
 
I dived with Divers International who were fine - friendly and professional.
The only minor criticism is the rental kit (BCD, Reg/Oct/SPG) was pretty
shabby, and the reg free flowed at the surface while waiting to descend
several times, wasting that precious gas.  It worked OK under water though,
so I didn't bother to change it.
 
The dive guides were very friendly, didn't attemt to fiddle with kit at any
stage ;-), didn't check computers and were tolerant of wandering off to
explore, so long as you were with your buddy.  Briefings usually included
warnings that max depth for recreational diving in the Red Sea was 30m, but
on a couple of occasions I followed the guide down below 35m, so I guess
enforcement of this primarily depends on how comfortable they were with your
diving.
 
The dive guides optimistically drew sharks or mantas on every site diagram,
but even though a couple of people reported seeing a couple of white tip
reef sharks the week before, they weren't coming out to play this week! :-(
 
One afternoon we were all lined up ready to start striding in, and the dive
was pulled - President Mubarak was in Sharm for a diving holiday this week,
and had chosen this site for his afternoon dive, so we were told to hop it
and had to find an alternative site! :-)
 
One evening my right calf ached noticably (that is, more than the rest of me
:-)).  I consulted the 'computer between my ears' which told me I'd come
nowhere near an NDL at any stage and had done slow ascents and generous
safety stops on every dive, the only risk factor had been finning into a
moderate current for much of the previous dive, so decided it was muscular.
But this begs a serious question:  how on earth do you self diagnose a mild
DCS hit when you ache *all over*?
 
Standout dive of the week:  Jackfish Alley in Ras Mohammed National Park
(max depth 20.4m, 52 min, viz more than 30M).
Described as a drift dive, though if there was any current it was slightly
against us.  Jumped into the blue, then over to the vertical reef wall at
about five metres, where there was a very short and open swim through,
exiting at about 10 metres.  Inside, a Lionfish hovered in the sunbeams over
the sandy bottom, watching the procession of lumbering bubble blowers over
his head with something like ennui. :-)
 
Then following the wall round and down to about 20m, past several
magnificent Gorgonians to a second - and much more constricted - swim
through, which I declined to do, and was compensated with a couple of large
barracuda which patrolled back and forth several times while I hovered
outside waiting for the rest of the group to go through.
 
The wall had flattened out to a vast sandy arena, out of which rose several
magnificent coral towers swarming with those tiny red and blue fish which
never seem to feature on fish tables despite surely being the most numerous
fish on the reef! :-)  There were also parrotfish, small grouper, lots of
pairs of butterflyfish and an alarming number of blue triggerfish which
thankfully completely ignored us! :-)
 
At this point, an enormous Napoleon Wrasse attached itself to the group and
tagged companionably along for the rest of the dive.  Finally we ended up
swimming along a sandy road at about 15m, dotted with blue spotted rays,
with a magnificent hard coral garden on one side, and a lush sloping wall
perfect for a leisurely safety stop on the other.
 
All in all a blissful first week's diving in tropical water! :-)
 
Huw
 
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