Our dives on the Red Sea
Trip Start Aug 11, 2005
150Trip End May 22, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Dive 1 of 3 - Ras Katy
This was a good first dive for the dive master to check out everyone's experience level, and for those of us who have rented gear, to check out the equipment. New, or out of the ordinary, marine life for Tamalyn & I included one little ray, a baby moray eel, and the just the general amount of various marine life - many little gold fish (the trademark of the Red Sea), a few anemone fish (Nemo for those more familiar with movies then fish) and a few large tunas.
Dive 2 of 3 - Shark Reef & Yolanda Reef
Although we were well briefed before the dive, this was to be our first real drift dive
We saw some barracudas, one small shark, a few Napolean wrasses, and many little gold fish. At the end of the first reef, we came upon the wreck (or what's left of it!) of the Yolanda. This ship was carrying many toilets and bath tubs to England. Strewn about on the ocean floor in about 15 metres of water was dozens of toilets. Some appeared intact, but most were chipped or split in half. While admiring the broken porcelain all around us, Tamalyn noticed two rays swimming by. This is way too cool! As our air consumption was slower than most of the group, the guide left with four divers, leaving us to examine the reef with one other diver, Aino, a Finnish pharmacist
Back on the boat at the end of the dive, Tamalyn was in her glory. She was enjoying this like it was Christmas morning, and we were only at the end of our second dive and the great dive sites were still ahead of us.
Dive 3 of 3 - Dunraven (Lighthouse)
This was a simple reef dive. We jumped off the boat, descended, found the reef at the bow of the boat, kept it on our right for 15 min and returned back with it on our left for 15 minutes. Simple. Despite the cloudy conditions (compared to Bermuda), we were still able to clearly see a lot of sea life. We came across a moray eel, hiding in a piece of the rock. Just as we were watching it, he swam out of his spot and started to swim about. We were all very excited as this is not usual. Most times, if you get to see the head and a bit of the body, you feel fortunate. Later, we came across two moray eels swimming about; I think we must have watched them for at least 5 minutes.
There were also 3 large tunas swimming around
As with the other sites, the coral looks like a child got a hold of a box of pastel chalks and went to town coloring. The coral is generally small in size, quite varied, but other than a few pieces here and there, it is all pastel colors.
It was a simple dive, but we sure did get to see a lot.
Dive 1 of 4 - Dunraven (Wreck)
This was the first time that Tamalyn & I had to get in the water from the zodiac
At first, it was a little nerve wracking, as the zodiac was being bounced around in 4 to 5 metre swells. Tamalyn likened it to being on a roller coaster. When we arrived at our drop off point, the dive master counted down, 3-2-1-go! Backwards we tumbled into the water. "Oh shit!" I thought. My fin has come off of my foot! It was a quick look around to find it before it sank, and then a struggle to get it on. So much for staying calm on this dive! Once the fin was back on, it was time to get under water to get away from the swells.
From about the 5m depth mark, the wreck became clearly visible. It felt like we were back in Bermuda doing a wreck dive with Wayne & Andy, with Gary on the surface. We descended to 29 m, entered the wreck from the stern, and slowly swam up through the inside of the wreck. There were many lionfish in the wreck. We ascended to roughly 18m on the inside of the first part of the wreck
Dive 2 of 4- Small Crack
This dive was our second instance of dealing with a drift dive. The first part of the dive was drifting easily along the outside of a reef at a leisurely pace. Neither Tamalyn nor I had to fin at all, and the reef seemed to just pass on by at a nice slow pace. Along the way, the dive guide, Mohammed, pointed to a seahorse resting on the coral. Aino darted for the seahorse to get a picture of it. Unfortunately, it wasn't moving. After she took a couple of shots, Mohammed reached over, picked it up, bent it a little, and put it in his BCD pocket. He had placed a rubber seahorse on the coral and tricked us into thinking that it was real. Aino was slightly embarrassed and jokingly ticked off.
Further along, we came across a pack of garden eels. These eels live solitarily in a vertical tube-like burrow, which is longer than its body so it can rapidly retreat into it completely. The sand grains of the tube's wall are glued together by a secretion from a gland at the tail end of the eel
When the designated spot where we were to turn left and ascend into the lagoon arrived, we gained about 8m. The current was fairly strong heading into the lagoon. We had to fin quite hard into the current just to remain in the same place. In our stationery spot, we saw a moray eel, a couple of batfish, and one small ray. After about 15 minutes of kicking to remain stationary (think of running on a treadmill, working out, but not going anywhere) we decided to head back to the boat. This meant simple stopping our kicking and following the current up into the lagoon even farther. Within minutes, we came across the mooring line that the Orchid was attached to, and we were at the back of the boat. A quick 3 minute safety stop and we were onboard, taking our kits off, and ready for lunch.
Dive 3 of 4 - Shag Rock (Plateau)
This was a nice slow and relaxing dive. We followed Aino and her dive buddy, Giles. Aino and Giles are the only people travelling solo, so on the easy dives, they are buddied together
On the way back, we saw a few large moray eels peeking their heads out from their hidden lairs in the coral. Although these seem quite menacing, if left alone, they are pretty docile.
Dive 4 of 4 - (Sh'ab Alley)
A bit of a downer tonight as I suffered from a bit of swimmer's ear, with some water remaining in inner my ear cavity. Scared that it would flare up into a full blown ear infection, I gave a pass on the dive. Tamalyn, still going on the dive, buddied up with Aino.
Dive 1 of 4 - Shag Rock (Kingston)
Still suffering from the effects of water build-up in the ear, I decided not to dive the two first dives of today
(Tamalyn): We thought that the ride on the zodiac out to the site was a wild ride yesterday. Now I know that it was not so bad. If yesterday's ride was Calaway Park, this was the Mindbender. We got to the site after about a 15 minute ride. As soon as the zodiac stopped, the dive master called out 3, 2, 1. On one, we all leaned back to enter the water and down we went.
We descended to the wreck and then headed off to the deep coral off the stern. It was important to get a max depth of at least 25 metres to be able to dive the rest of the day. On our way to the deepest spot, I looked to my right and OH MY GOODNESS-dolphins! So cool! There were 3 larger ones and a smaller one sticking close to one of the larger ones. They looked at me, smiling (of course). I went nuts. I started banging on my tank to get the attention of the group in front of me. After what felt like an eternity, they looked back and everyone was so excited. We tried to keep our bodies relatively still (as usual so as to not frighten them away). They came a little closer, swam with us for about a minute and then turned away. We did not know that had we started doing somersaults and moving about that they would have started playing with us and performing for us
We continued on, got our max depth and returned to the wreck. The wreck itself was okay. It was upright and had a few cool features. At one point, I looked to my right and there was an eagle ray swimming (or should I say flying) along in the distance. One of my buddies saw it, but the other, with the camera, didn't. We did all get to see the large turtle swimming along. It sure did seem like he/she could have used a back scrub like we used to do at the BDA Aquarium. He/she had big white spots on the shell.
Close to the end of the dive, I noticed that my buddy, Marten, was just hovering and staring at something in the distance. He had spotted a black-tipped shark. COOL! All be it a small shark (less than 5 feet), it was a shark after all.
Dive 2 of 4 - Shag Rock (Plateau)
I again decided to give this dive a pass, and so did Tamalyn
Dive 3 of 4 - The Thistlegorm
What a great dive. I was able to get down, so taking a couple of dives off was a good idea. We descended on a mooring line connecting the bow of the Orchid to the mid section of The Thistlegorm. We went down to 22 metres, and then made our way through the wreck. The Thistlegorm was a WWII ship belonging to England. It was sunk in the Red Sea by a German bomber. It was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1953. For some reason, its location was lost again, and in 1992, to the delight of divers around the world, it was found again. It is one of the world's most famous wreck dives.
We swam along inside the first and second level from the mid section to the bow. We didn't see much in terms of marine life other than plenty of squirrel fish hiding inside the wreck, but we did see many cars and motorbikes which were part of The Thistlegorm's cargo. Once at the bow, looking over the edge, the dive guide noticed a very beautiful and colourful nubiworm. We swam back to the mid section, where we went thru the captain's quarters, swimming by his toilet and his bath tub
Dive 4 of 4 - The Thistlegorm (Night Dive)
This was a good night dive. Our group was a group of five, Dave, a PADI instructor who is one of the other clients on the boat, Mark & Sarah, a couple from just north of London, and Tamalyn & I. The wreck looked a little more ominous in the dark. We didn't see many new kinds of marine life. The usual squirrel fish and a few wrasses were out and about. We should have seen a couple of Moray eels, but they must have been scared of us. We did see one medium sized grouper on the left side of the wreck, a few batfish on the ascent, and Dave & I saw one large tuna just as we were arriving at our safety stop. Our torches (flashlights) were not too bad, but not great either. Dave has a very strong light that he uses with his underwater video camera. This provided a good beam for everyone to use as a point of reference. Our total bottom time was about 30 minutes from our entry. While we were all taking off our equipment, Tita, the main server on the Orchid, came around and handed each of the night divers a warm cup of hot chocolate. All in all, a good dive
Dive 1 of 4 - The Thistlegorm
Today's first dive, our last on The Thistlegorm, again saw us in the water around 7:30am. We were in our usual group of Mark & Sarah, Aino & Giles, Tamalyn & I, following Muhammad. We went a little deeper into the wreck today, as this was our first dive which afforded us the luxury of getting deeper. Our maximum depth was 28.2 metres, and our total time in the water was 37 minutes. Tamalyn took a little extra time to equalize, so we were at the back of the pack. Once at the bottom, we circled the stern of the wreck, an area that we hadn't been to on either of our two previous dives on The Thistlegorm. We circled the stern and headed back to the mid-section up the right side. Arriving back at the mid-section, we entered the wreck on the third level. Once we made our way through a couple of the hallways, we came across a holding pen full of calf-length rubber boots. The next pen over contained a few trucks which were each carrying three motorcycles. Other than a few broken windows and plenty of coral build up, the vehicles looked in decent shape considering they had been under water for over 50 years.
We circled back to where we entered the third level, but this time we were exiting on the second level. Our remaining bottom time was dwindling as per our dive computer, so we headed for the mooring line. We ascended the line slowly, enjoying the large batfish that gathered around the line. We took a longer safety stop, as we had been down pretty close to our maximum limits, waiting four minutes at five metres. Shortly after taking our kits off, we sat down to a hot breakfast of fresh crepes, eggs, and yogurt. A cup of hot tea finished off the delightful meal.
Dive 2 of 4 -Shark Reef & Yolanda Reef
Our second dive of the day sees us return to the site of our second dive of the week. Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef form a pair of side by side reefs that make up one of the many dive sites in the Ras Mohammed. They are situated at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Our dive plan is the same as our first dive on this site. Jump in next to Shark Reef, dive to 30 metres, and follow the current with the reef on our right. We should float past Shark Reef, onto Yolanda Reef, and finally over the sunken ship Yolanda, which was carrying many toilets and bath tubs.
On our initial descent to 30 metres, luck was not on our side today as we would not see any sharks. We did see many tuna fish, and a humongous school of barracudas. There must have been over two hundred barracudas, all swimming harmoniously. Normally, this would have been a sign that a shark was near, but not today. Darn.
We swam along Shark Reef, slowly ascending to a shallower depth. We did see a couple of large fan corals. They must have been about three metres across. As we moved along from Shark Reef to Yolanda Reef, we could see that we were leaving the blue water behind us and entering the green and more colourful water. The reef's colour became more and more pronounced, with yellows and greens and pinks standing out.
Swimming by the many broken toilets on the sea floor, we were now nearing the end of the planned route. We saw a couple of sting rays hiding under the sand. Once the photographers in our group approached the rays, they would then start to move away, starting a quick game of cat and mouse. A little further along, we came up to the same large moray eel that we had seen earlier in the week. This time, it was a little more awake and it came out of its den by a about fifty centimetres.
As we swam up to five metres of depth, we came across a couple of pufferfish. While we didn't stay around these pufferfish too long, Aino & Giles played with them a little bit. After the dive, Aino would tell us that they seemed to pose for the camera that she had with her. Unfortunately for us, we were not there to see it.
It was time for our standard three minute safety stop. Mohammed, our dive guide, and Mark & Sarah surfaced at the same time as we did. Because we were five, rather than jump into the zodiac, they brought the Orchid around and we climbed aboard. Another successful dive completed, and the troubles with my ears are behind me. Our maximum depth for this dive was 28.7 metres, and we were in the water for 48 minutes.
Dive 3 of 4 - Thomas Reef
This was a very good and relaxing drift dive on Thomas Reef. We jumped in and followed the reef wall at a depth of about 17 metres. The drift was moving along nice and slowly. It actually felt like we were on a long walk, but without having to exert ourselves to walk. We saw a very well camouflaged scorpionfish. Tamalyn though that I had picked it out, but I was pointing to a parrotfish that had about 20 cm's of a fishing line hanging out of its mouth. Tamalyn turned to where I was pointing, and she became ecstatic. She called everyone, Aino & Giles, Mark & Sarah, over and I began to wonder what the fuss was all about. She pointed out the scorpionfish, and I have to admit, I didn't know what it was at first. Shortly after that, we came across a fairly big turtle swimming just below us. Giles pointed it out. The turtle was just slowly going about its business. Just as the turtle was leaving, Aino & Tamalyn both saw a small moray eel at the same time. It was only about 30 cm long. It actually looked quite cute as it was darting in and out of the coral. It actually looked like it was following us along the reef.
That was about it for out of the ordinary marine life. Again, we saw many red sea goldfish, a few anemone fish, some tuna, and one barracuda. We circled the reef, and started our safety stop at the fifty minute mark. After our standard three minutes at 5 metres, we jumped on the zodiac. As it was quite the distance to get back to the zodiac, rather than bring one group of 6 to the Orchid and return for the next group of 6, Mohamed decided to take all 12 of us on the zodiac at once. It was pretty packed in that little dinghy. A safe return to the Orchid found us enjoying tea, cookies and custard a few minutes after getting out of our dive gear. Our maximum depth on this dive was 17.8 metres, and we were in the water for 55 minutes.
Dive 4 of 4 -
Tonight's night dive was pretty easy and straightforward. The Orchid was moored on a shallow lagoon. The maximum depth around the boat was about 8 metres, which is a good depth given that we had already done three dives today. Our plan was to jump in and follow one of the mooring lines to the marker, swim out for 15 minutes along the reef, and then back track along our path back to the boat.
We couldn't quite get to the marker, so we just followed the reef. I was surprised at the number of sea urchins that we saw. There must have been one every couple of metres. We saw a flounder camouflaged in the sand, quite a few trumpet fish, and a fair sized lion fish. Tamalyn & I both hid our flashlights, and rubbed our hands together trying to get the phosphorescents to appear, but only a few were visible. At one point, Tamalyn got caught up in a fishing line that must have been left in the water by a boat that had been on this site earlier. As our maximum depth reached during this dive was only 6.8 metres, and for the most part, we were at 5 metres, a safety stop was not deemed necessary. After 30 minutes or so in the water, we surfaced at the back of the orchid and the hot chocolates were waiting. Today was the first day that both Tamalyn & I completed all four dives this week. It will also be the last as we have three dives planned for tomorrow and only two on Saturday, our last day on the Orchid. The week is flying by.
Dive 1 of 3 -Jackson Reef
In the dive briefing, we were given the choice of whether to dive around the ship in the lagoon, or alternatively, to go outside of the reef on the southern side of Jackson Reef with hopes of seeing hammerhead sharks. Unanimously, the group chose to go and look for hammerheads. Mohammed, the dive guide, briefed us on where we were to be dropped off, where we were to follow the current, and where we were to end up. Off to the back of the boat to get kitted up.
As we were kitting up, two zodiacs from two other dive boats were returning with divers who had completed their dives. Both parties were making either hammerhead signals or shark signals. Great! At least the sharks were awake!
Following a short zodiac ride out to the drop off point, we counted down, 3-2-1-go! We all feel back into the water off the zodiac. We descended to our target depth of 30 metres. We were instructed not to descend below 35 metres, leaving us a 5 metre buffer in case we saw something interesting below us. Once at our target depth, we started to follow the current, keeping the reef on our left. Where or where can that little shark be? Drifting along with the current, we came across another huge fan coral. The world's largest fan corals must be in the Red Sea. This one must have been two and half metres across. Hang on, forget the fan coral, where are the hammerheads? Looking out to the open blue water to the right, our eyes were peeled. Surely they must be out there?
Unfortunately, today was not to be our day. As we ascended past 20 metres up to 10 metres, we soon came to face the reality that we were not going to see any hammerheads this morning. Up to this point, the dive was quite boring, with very little marine life. Deep blues and purples, with very little colour, caused be our significant depth. The wave length of light particles is reduced, meaning that bright colours are non-existent.
Mohammed guided us up to the left, into the lagoon. This is where things started to pick up. First, we crossed a fire coral garden. It looked like a huge field of fire coral. Buoyancy control was very important here, as we were in 4 metres of water. We couldn't ascend too much, as we had not had our safety stop. We couldn't descend down to touch the fire coral, as we would feel that strong burning sensation which gives rise to the name fire coral!
Off to the right, I noticed a large turtle eating away at the soft coral outside of the fire coral field. I turned to get everyone's attention (Mohammed, Giles, Mark, Sarah and Tamalyn) and then returned to admire the turtle. The turtle was just slightly smaller than the ones at the aquarium in Bermuda that Tamalyn, Graham, Lynn, Mark and others used to volunteer to clean on Sunday mornings. On his way to the turtle, Mohammed noticed a large moray eel sticking its head out to see what was going on. He called everyone's attention to the eel. He then pointed the direction to the boat, where we were to finish our dive. Mark and Sarah then noticed a second turtle off to the right. Wow, what was looking like a pretty bleak dive a few minutes ago was now turning into a good dive.
Mark & Sarah and Mohammed & Giles then headed off to the boat. Tamalyn & I made our way slowly. Just below us, about 3 metres from the boat, we noticed a medium sized black fish. The fish opened its mouth, and out swam two other much smaller fish. Either these two small fish didn't meet with the larger fish's taste requirements, or they were the Red Sea's local dental hygienist's! Either way, this surprising occurrence repeated itself a few times leading us to believe that the smaller fish were not breakfast for the larger fish.
We boarded our boat, having reached a maximum depth of 31.7 metres, and being in the water a total of 45 minutes. What started out this morning as a very promising dive ended up being just another regular dive in the Red Sea. Only four more dives to go. Hopefully the sharks haven't left the area permanently.
Dive 2 of 3 - Woodhouse Reef
The second dive today was very much like the first, a fairly deep dive along a wall, with a slight current pushing us along towards our target. Just as the first dive, nothing out of the ordinary was seen in the first three quarters of our dive. Although it was a different dive site, the reef was pretty much exactly like this morning's first dive, a lot of blues and purples at 25 metres, with pastels, pinks, blues, yellows & greens, appearing at 12 to 15 metres. About 45 minutes into our dive, Giles started pointing frantically out away from the reef wall. My first thought was "Yes, a shark!" Unfortunately, I didn't see a hammerhead shark. But when Tamalyn also got excited, I knew something was up. Then all of a sudden, there it was... a fairly large eagle ray. Its distinctive long tail and the head sticking out of the body cavity (unlike other stingrays where the head is part of the body cavity) ensured that this was definitely an eagle ray.
At least we were able to see something new on this dive. We continued along the reef wall, heading towards our target sand bottom area. We arrived at the sand bottom area a couple of minutes after waving good-bye to the eagle ray. As we were settling in to explore around the sand bottom, a second eagle ray "flew" beside us against the current. I say "flew" because the eagle ray's sides look like the wings of an eagle gently flying along in a small breeze. Do you think that's why it is called an eagle ray?
A slow ascent to 5 metres for our standard 3 minute safety stop, and then it was on to the surface to be picked up by our trusty zodiac. We were in the water for exactly 60 minutes, and our maximum depth was 258 metres. Another successful dive in the books. Only three dives to go.
Dive 3 of 3 -Jackson Reef
The dive plan for this dive was to jump out of the back of the Orchid, swim under it to a depth of 25 metres, to the end of the reef, and swim back on the plateau. Mohammed warned us about the current at the end of the reef. He likened it to a Genie tempting divers. If you stray a little to far into the current, it would suck you out into the channel.
Giles, Aino, Tamalyn & I jumped in as we planned to go the four of us again. Joss and Martin were directly behind us. As we were going along, Tamalyn noticed a clam. I turned to look at, but I couldn't find it. Tamalyn made a motion to me that the current was stronger than we expected it this earlier in the dive. To our right, Aino had already turned to head up to the plateau. I took my cue from Joss who started kicking against the current. As I turned to kick, I accidentally kicked Joss. Stopping from kicking for a second until Joss & I could get some distance between us, I really noticed the current. To our left, Tamalyn was struggling as a result of her cracked fin. Giles reached out to hold on to her. In a heartbeat, the four of us were being out into the channel.
Joss, being the most experienced diver of the four of us, took charge. She signalled for us to stop fighting the current. She had Tamalyn, Giles and I hold onto each other so that we wouldn't get separated. She was in the process of taking out her SMB ( ). She had us ascend as a group, even delaying for a few minutes at the 5 metre mark. As we surfaced, it became apparent that in a matter of a few minutes, we had drifted over a kilometre aware from our intended dive location and the Orchid.
We inflated our BCD's as much as we could, so we could be more buoyant and more recognizable from the Orchid. Joss even had a whistle that she blew, but unfortunately, it wasn't loud enough for the crew of the Orchid to hear us. It took about five minutes, but finally, we noticed some movement on the Orchid. The crew were preparing the zodiac to come and pick us up. We would be saved! The only concern at that point was the safety of Joss' dive buddy, Martin, and Giles' dive buddy, Aino.
As we approached the Orchid, Mohammed surfaced to inform us that both Aino and Martin were in the water just below the Orchid. Earlier under the water, he had noticed the four of us slip out into the current, and he instructed Aino and Martin to buddy up. He then surfaced to instruct the crew to take the zodiac to come and get us.
Our dive details were a maximum depth of 25.0 metres, but a total time of only 15 minutes in the water! It was a short dive, but it was a great lesson learned by both Tamalyn & me. Never panic, stick together, and be as visible as possible on the surface. Only two dives to go.
Dive 1 of 2 - Ras Ghazlani
This was a very easy dive to start our last day in the water. We saw the regular pastel coloured reefs, and the much of the same marine life. We were supposed to see a large ray that lived on this reef, but it must have slept in this morning. We jumped off the back of the Orchid in our regular foursome, Aino, Giles, Tamalyn & me, but we this time we were joined by Alan as his regular dive partner, Jonathan, had ear troubles this morning. We drifted casually along the reef to our target at the end of the reef, where we backtracked slightly to return to the zodiac. Our bottom time for this dive was 53 minutes, and we had a maximum depth of 21.8 metres. Only one to go, sniff, sniff.
Dive 2 of 2 - The Temple
Our final dive of the week was at The Temple, a reef just of shore at Sharm El Sheikh, on a few minutes from the Travco Jetty where we were to dock to end the week. Not to sound boring, but the reef life was exactly the same as the last dive, but we did get to a small swim thru. We both thought that this swim thru brought back memories of diving on South Shore in Bermuda at either Hangover Hole or the Marie Celeste. We many anemone fish, even a few who dared to venture a couple of metres from the safety of their sea anemone home. We also saw a very well camouflaged scorpionfish of which Aino was able to take a very good picture. Towards the end of our dive, Giles noticed two very large boxfish resting on the ocean floor in about 10 metres of water directly under the Orchid. We managed to keep pretty shallow for our last dive, only getting down to 18.3 metres. Our last three dives were progressively shallower by design making it safe for those of us who would be flying away from either Sharm El Sheikh or Cairo Sunday night. 51 minutes after jumping into the ocean at The Temple, not only was our dive over, but our week of diving in the Red Sea was over.
Final Dive Trip Thoughts
· How lucky we were. Everyone on the boat was so friendly and really genuine. We feel really lucky to have met you all: Aino (Nokia), Giles (Samsung), Jonathon (should have been nicknamed Giggle Pus), Allan (part of the Special Forces), Jos (Sweetheart), Martin (Alex), Mark (Torch man), Sarah (too sweet for a nickname), Paul (Camera Guy) and Chloe (again, too sweet for a nickname). Thanks to all of you, we never once felt like Outsiders.
· What a great crew. Serious when need be and full of giggles when we could! The "air crew" were excellent...never had to wait for a zipper to be zipped up or down for that matter.
· What a beautiful week of diving. Only disappointment was Gerald missing the dolphins and all of us missing hammerheads.
· Great weather, none of us suffered from motion sickness from overly rough seas.