Egypt - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 95

Sharm El-Sheikh

Sunday 15th June

The intense heat here is sometimes quite oppressive and the only thing that makes it bearable is the air-conditioning. Unfortunately, most locals seem to think that having the air-conditioning on in the car is bad for the engine or the battery and thus they tend not to want to use it (the same applies to their headlights and they reserve the use of these only for flashing other vehicles – especially at night). The dive centre driver is always extremely reluctant to put the air-co. on and even when he does he insists on using the lowest fan setting. Accordingly, I’ve been arriving each morning at the boat dock in a bad mood because I’m hot and stuffy. The fact that he doesn’t speak a word of English makes communicating with him very difficult.

Of the three dives planned for today, our first was a deep dive. We ultimately went to about twenty-nine meters deep and we had to do a mathematical calculation on the slate to show that we were still in control of our faculties and had not succumbed to nitrogen narcosis. After all the anticipation, it was no different to any other dive that we’ve previously done but it’s nice to know that neither of us will have any problems up to the thirty meter depth that we are now certified to dive to.

We went to the Straights of Tiran for our two daylight dives today and we passed a couple of above surface wrecks along the way. Ras Mohammed and the Straights of Tiran are supposed to be the best diving that the Red Sea has to offer. I was certain that we would not be able to top the experience of yesterday’s dive but I’ve said things like this before and, sure enough, today was also no disappointment. The soft coral reefs at the Reef Garden around Jackson Reef were the best we’ve seen. The reef was covered wall to wall with the brightest coloured reefs of all descriptions. This was just the backdrop, however, to the fabulous marine life that we saw. We didn’t see the large shoals of large fish that we saw yesterday, although there were plenty of huge shoals of small fish, but the diversity was much better. The highlight for the dive was a huge turtle that swam by us twice inside fifteen minutes. More Lionfish, Clown fish together with their Sea Anemone Corals, Trumpet Fish, Morey Eels and Stone Fish were all swimming or lying around waiting for us to photograph them.

The second dive was a much shallower dive and much less crowded with corals. The idea was to dive on a sand bed to practice our navigation disciplines. We still saw plenty of new things there also but mostly smaller fish and corals.

Fatigue had set in for Sandy and she wasn’t feeling too good after her navigational skills practice so she ascended a little earlier than myself and the dive master and the two of us finished off by taking in the scenery on the seabed.

After another brilliant day of diving, we navigated back to dock and caught the bus back to the dive centre. Since the boat had docked at Na’ama Bay (closer to the Straights of Tiran than Sharm and thus more convenient), we stopped off on the way back to pick up some KFC. Sandy took a well-deserved nap for an hour or so after getting back to the hotel.

As had become the custom over the past week or so, I partook in a couple of ice creams from the dive centre. I’m up to eleven now 🙂

I’m going to have to give up saying that things will never get better that what we did today or recently since each time I do so, things get better. Such was the case with our last dive in the Advanced Open Water curriculum this evening – the night dive. We boarded the boat again shortly after seven to head to the Temple dive sight. We’ve dived this a couple of times before during daylight but we were anticipating a completely different world under the surface based on what everyone has been telling us. We had to do a navigation discipline but this was quickly dispensed with and the remainder of the dive was spent just looking around on the seabed and in the corals. I eventually surfaced with just fifteen bar of pressure but could have easily stayed down there all night in complete and utter awe of the night-time marine life. As predicted, a completely different compliment of marine life was now out in force and I snapped away with the camera like mad. The nice thing about night dive is not only the thrill of swimming around in near complete darkness with just a torch to light the way. There are so many new things that are otherwise dormant and hidden during the day that the whole landscape takes on a completely different look and feel. Best of all is the fact that the underwater photography is also much better. In the darkness, photographic objects light up better with the camera’s built-in flash. It took a while to get the hang of using the same hand for both the torch and camera but I eventually found a system that I was comfortable with.

After completing the dive, I immediately asked Henk if it would be possible to do another night dive tomorrow. This should not be a problem but we will see tomorrow after our fun day of diving.

Earlier, I had spoken with the dive centre’s affiliated travel agent about our onward travel to Jordan. We are looking into the possibility of a flight there instead of travelling overland. If the price is reasonable (around $100 per person, one-way), then we will probably elect for this option to make up some time. The overland route will be a long and arduous one and it will be directly on the heel of an extremely tiring week of diving so we are hoping that we can get the flight. We should know by tomorrow what days of the week that the flights depart and whether or not it will be cost prohibitive.

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