What about a nice Reef(er)? – The Red Sea, Pt. 2

The Posh Place
So, we were fully booked in, posh room sorted – all those good things. Now it was time for some diving. It was the usual affair of registering with the dive centre and getting signed up for proper scuba.

Our PADI cert cards were handed over and credentials checked. I am so pleased those things aren’t linked to police records.




I always make a point of always bringing my log book with me (which I continue to fill in) just in case they need proof of my diving within the last 6 months. I’ve yet to be asked for it, ever, but I know the time i don’t bring it with me will be the holiday I get hit with a scuba review. I don’t like paying for things I don’t need.

A lovely Italian lady met us and quickly explained the rules of the road, or sea rather, how the diving worked and set us up almost immediately with a guided dive that morning. This was pure Italian efficiency; there was no messing about with this girl. We signed up for a 10 dive package which was very reasonably priced (air only) and got our kit sorted.

Our gear was stored on site in a box with our name on it, suits were hung outside when wet, or in the box when dry. It was a great system – post dive you just hung your suit out to dry and the staff brought it in that evening and safely locked it away. When we signed up for a boat dive our box was taken by the dive centre and met you on board – no lifting of gear, my favourite.

Our dive that morning was a guided dive off the house reef. It really was a ‘house reef’ at only a 50m walk down to the shore. Our guide was Mohammad. This was Mohammed 1. I soon learned Mohammad is a very popular name in Egypt so an accompanying number helped Kerri and I stop our brains from exploding. The original Mohammad was the one we met in The Maldives, he was simply called Mohammad.

A map of the reef was secured on the wall of the dive shop with all the routes shown and Mohammed 1 briefed us on the dive we would be doing that morning. Once we were happy he continued to explain the set up - get your wing together, don it, then carry regs, mask, fins and stuff down to the shore.

At the shore a small cylinder station was situated. Our cylinders were waiting on a very convenient kitting up area with seating in a semi circle to allow multiple divers to don gear without falling over the top of each other. A fresh water shower was in the middle for rinsing yourself fully kitted after the dive.

There were also ‘hand me that please – I can’t reach it’ guys on hand to aid with the kitting up process. As Kerri and I usually dive only as a pair, we’re not used to help and I found it a little disconcerting having someone keep handing me my kit. I quickly became accustomed to it and have since considered employing a minion of my own to accompany me on all dives. Then I remembered I have wife-buddy.

The Blue Brick Roads
Once kitted and buddy checks done it was time to hit the water. Another clever, yet kind of frightening, thing met us next. Rather than fighting waves and swell to get into deeper water there was a levitating pontoon. This was just pure weird; lots of square, blue floating ‘tiles’ led us out, like a yellow brick road, only blue. We carefully followed the blue brick road to a larger pier area with another kitting up seating area. This was great; somewhere to sit and put my fins on.




Or so I thought.


This was a bit ruined by the tourist people. It was obvious that this area was for divers. I was wrong. In fact it closely resembled somewhere for fat, red, holiday people in ill fitting bathing suits to sit and sweat in the sun, very sexy. I half expected them to move over a little, at least, when a 5ft 2ins female scuba diver waddled over to don her fins.

No.

In fact wife-buddy received a look of:


"You don’t really expect me to move my huge, fat ass out of your way do you? - Thank God."


The helper guys gently manoeuvred the red, fat people out of the way, amazingly without offending them, got our fins secured and we finally completed one of our trade mark giant strides from the pier.

The dive was great. The house reef was, as promised, fantastic. The visibility was easily 20m and the two of us were guided at a pleasant pace by Mohammad 1. The variation of marine life was staggering and the sheer quantity of fish simply overwhelming. I knew the Red Sea was renowned for good diving but this was something else.

Wife-Buddy


As expected, our guide knew exactly where to point out the cool fishies and once he had worked out how competent divers we were, he upped the game a little with some challenging swim throughs. Great fun all round. 50 bar finished the dive for us and we surfaced from the 5m deep sandy area arriving all of about 2m from the pier – top marks for navigation M1.

I Are Diver


Getting out was straight forward as well. There was a steel ladder firmly fixed to the pier thing and some of the ‘hand me stuff’ guys were waiting for us. Fins were given up; then we hauled ourselves onto the ladder with the guys taking the strain off by grabbing our valves and aiding the final heave onto the pier. Then it was an escorted walk down the floaty walkway thing, which was a great comfort as it did tend to move around a little and could put a lesser footed person off balance and into the drink.

We sat down at the kitting up area again, doffed our BCD’s and within minutes our cylinders were being changed over in preparation for the afternoon dive. All we had to carry back up to the shop was our fins and anything we didn’t want to leave behind. What a great system. All I needed at that stage was one of them to bring me a cheese and ham toastie.

The afternoon dive was pretty much the same affair, although we took a different route around the reef which ended up being a completely different dive. For some reason my SAC rate was a bit poor and near the end of the dive Mohammed 1 sent me packing with 40bar. He then buddied up with Kerri and they played buoyancy games for a further 10mins. I made it my mission to improve my breathing on future dives, it didn’t really work. Wife-buddy on the other hand was doing really well and even pegged the guide once. It must be all the talking practice she does, builds good lungs.

Fish the size of a door


One piece of advice I would like to give is that after the first dive I wish I had rinsed my kit better. It was boiling in Egypt and kit dried out in no time. Without a really good rinse the salt was quickly glistening on my wing. When I came down to do my second dive it was rock solid and had salt crystals all over it. I also ended up having problems with my inflator sticking later in the week, again most likely caused by not rinsing thoroughly enough. There were plenty of opportunities to rinse my kit; I just didn’t pay enough attention to detail when doing so.

When I did have a problem with my wing it was all hands on at Sinai Dive Club. Upon returning to the shop Mohammad 1 was right onto it and another young fellow followed with WD40 quickly lubing all the working parts. Next dive all was well with the world. The following day Kerri had a similar problem, a thorough rinse seemed to cure it on that occasion.

All that aside, the house reef diving was excellent and proved to be a favourite for both of us. It was so easy, great diving and we continued to enjoy a further 5 dives on the reef that week.

Butterfly Fish


Ride a white swan
In between dives we were happy enough to waddle around the complex, get some lunch and then back to the room for a bit of a snooze, once we moved the towel creatures off the bed of course.










Next it was to the ships.

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Safe diving buddy.