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Hi Andy:
 
I'm so bored at work today that I'm answering your letters as they appear in
my box...thus is the nature of the news business.  It's deader than
Churchill until the sh*t hits the fan.
 
(snip)
> >>Did you cross the arch (57M) in the Blue Hole to the open sea?
>
> >We were going to, but two divers had died the day before doing the exact
> >same thing, so we decided to drop those plans (I was diving with a _very_
> >experienced instructor-friend who advised against it, who was I to
>argue?).
> >Including those two divers, 5 other had died in the last 2 months, so I
> >wouldn't advise it.  I'm not sure, even now a year later, that I would
>trust
> >my skills to do such a dive, very dangerous and the arch is very hard to
> >find, thus gobbling up your air.  Not worth the risk at that point.
> >Regards
> >Kat.
>
>I'm not familiar with this site, what exactly is the 'arch' ?
 
Ahh.  Well, the arch is fairly legendary in the Dahab area.  It's a part of
what's called the Blue Hole, and the site is about 2 km or so North (?) of
Dahab.  You enter the Blue Hole through a chimney that goes down to about 35
meters, where you exit onto a wall where you see nothing but blue all around
you except for the wall behind you. It's spectacular actually.  The chimney
is just that, a long tube along the wall that you descend head first, as you
have to move your kit quite quickly to stop it from snagging on the coral
that surrounds you on 3 sides, the fourth is the open sea that you really
don't notice as you're going down.  When people come out of the chimney they
generally follow the wall doing a multi-level dive, and then come up over a
coral lip into the Blue Hole itself, which is just that, a massive hole, I'm
guessing about 75 meters across, which has some nice coral and fish life.
 
Now, the arch that Kuty was talking about is BELOW the exit of the chimney I
believe.  It's a sort of coral bridge/cavern that is suppose to lead out
into the open sea and it's suppose to be breath-taking (no pun intended).
You can't see it from the exit of the chimney at all, so people go down and
search for it, spend too much time down there and suffocate or else get the
bends on the way up - needless to say, Dahab is not equipped with a chamber,
so if they get it badly their chances of living decrease significantly on
the way to Sharm or Hurghada where the chambers are.
 
As I said, when I was there, some commercial divers were being brought in to
try and find the bodies of the dead divers who people imagined were floating
near the arch.  There was a story going around that a local Egyptian was
able to descend to that level with nothing but a tank of air and come up
again without any affect on his system (this could be complete bull, I don't
know).  The story goes that he had gone down and seen about 5 or 6 bodies
just hanging out down there in a sort of pocket that sucked them in (for
lord knows how long, as it's *very* expensive to get commercial divers in
that area of the world).  Infact, as you walk the 25 meters or so to the
entrance of the chimney, you have to walk through memorial plaques to dead
divers.  Spooky.  However, if you are a diver who knows your limits and
dives within them, the Blue Hole is a very safe dive and can be dived by
almost any level of diver as long as they don't get vertigo!
 
That, IMHO, is how I understand it.  Although I have dived Dahab quite
extensively I, in no way, consider myself an expert.
 
Regards,
Kat.
 
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