April 30, 2014

Red Sea

The Cotton’s visit the Red Sea 2014.

The trip started 2 days before we left the UK with an email upgrading us from a floating hotel to a very spacious gin palace. We arrived tired after the fun of a delayed flight from Gatwick. On arrival we 5 Cotton’s were joined by the other 2 guests on-board. Fantastic, 7 guests looked after by 11 staff, can it get better!? Well actually, Yes is the answer!!

MV ”Blue Fin” sailed the following morning at a sensible time, a short safety briefing followed, then a dive brief and check dive on the Poseidon Reef, off Sha’ab El Erg. Water was very pleasant at 23oC similar to NK but warmer and missing the plasters! We all really enjoyed it especially the boys, having not dived abroad before, so much life everywhere, from Giant Moray Eels, Parrot & Masked Puffer fish to Cornet, Angel & Butterfly fish living amongst the huge array of Corals, and such visibility.

We sailed from Poseidon to Sha’ab Abu Nuhas and dived on the Giannis D an enormous, magnificent cargo ship that managed to hit the reef, at full speed, on a flat calm sunny day, quite an achievement, thanks Skipper! The ship is broken but recognisable; the engine room is huge and open enough for entering. The vessel can be circumnavigated in one dive and as expected there was a mass of life, including Crocodile fish, Blue Spotted Stingrays and a large shoal of Glassfish inside. We followed this with a nice night dive on the reef. It’s surprising how Lionfish have the urge to follow very closely on night dives, sometimes very surprising!

The following day started the regular cycle of diving for the week, woken at 06:00 with a cup of tea, briefing at 06:30, dive, breakfast, and chill. Repeat cycle every 4 hours until bed time or until knackered!

Another 18 dives later and the cycle was complete; in that time we dived some of the most picturesque and well known wrecks of the Red Sea including the Carnatic, the grandfather ship wreck of the Red Sea with its ornate bow and elegant counter stern, the Dunraven an upside down wreck, with its boiler above your head, then of course, the Thistlegorm. It remains a magnet for both liveaboards and day boats alike, plenty of other divers with us but none too close or in the way. The ship’s cargo is incredible; planes, armoured carriers, lorries, motorcycles and even a pair of trains, all destined for the Eighth Army, Desert Rats, but unfortunately never arrived.

We also dived along some, but not all, of the fantastic reefs available including Jolanda with the cargo of toilets but no seats. Jackson with a massive Fantail Ray and a large Hawksbill Turtle, Gordon with a lesser spotted Fiona and not forgetting Thomas, the current was a bit lively there!

On the slow sail back to Hurghada from the Straits of Tiran we popped in to Gubal Island and the barge, the barge was ok but the life on and around it was terrific, Peppered Moray Eels, Scorpion fish and the strange looking Arabian Picasso Triggerfish, we even had a very close encounter with a pair of Hawksbill Turtles, one was quite happy with being the film star.

We followed this with a stop off at Dolphin House and saw something extra special, the clue is in the name. Charlie and Rew dived with a pod of 11 very friendly Dolphins, including a baby. Rob and I joined them on a snorkel. We spent half an hour with them before they got bored and swam off, only to return later during our night dive, although I didn’t see them on that dive either!

The variety of life during the trip was truly staggering, virtually every dive we saw something new, different and exciting. Ranging from Napoleon wrasse, Porcupinefish, Barracuda and Stonefish to Pyjama slugs, Spanish dancers, Clam digger lobsters and Schultz’s pipefish.

This trip was the most relaxing holiday we have ever had. Superb!

Tony Cotton