On the 8th of December six of us dared to enter the infamous ‘pot’. Familiar to some, new to others, the chamber still filled us with dread. Relief that we were here voluntarily washed over us as we learned about how and when the chamber is used.
For context, a hyperbaric chamber (a.k.a. the pot) is where a diver goes when he/she has the dreaded DCI, to be recompressed and hopefully sent home in one piece. The chamber is a cylindrical space, just tall enough to stand in, with 8 chairs. For a dry dive, it simulates a dive without actually going anywhere and without any water involved, but your body reacts to pressure the same way as if you were on a dive.
Following the lecture and safety briefing, we changed into scrubs and wiped off our makeup (who knew that powdered makeup can explode when under pressure…?!). We took our seats in the chamber and were sealed in. As the pressure dropped, we needed to equalise almost continually as we ‘descended’ to 40m within a few minutes. We remained at 40m for 10 mins which seemed to whizz by as we laughed hysterically at our squeaky voices and gasped at how the air appeared thicker (kindly demonstrated by a parachuting stick man). We were given a simple 6-question quiz to do, which few of us managed to complete. Was this because we were rushed or because we took so long to complete simple addition? Did we really find it difficult to think of a U.S. state beginning with M and draw a rectangle or were we just caught up in excited debate about whether a rectangle is really just a square? Regardless, I swear I wasn’t narced. I’m always this giggly. I don’t even care about the states in America. I can do maths, I just mistook the minus for a plus…
Whether or not we were narced, the point remains that on a dive it won’t be obvious. You won’t be falling over drunkenly or trying to kiss the fish. But you may be that bit slower, find simple decisions require a little more attention and find that bit of kelp a little more interesting than usual. Being aware of how these subtle changes manifest in you and your buddy could be the difference between life and death, were an emergency to occur. A dry dive is also a great way to familiarise yourself with the chamber should you ever need to go, hopefully making a stressful situation slightly less daunting.
So why not give the chamber a go? Find out how your body and mind feel at 40m and how your buddies react too. It could save your life. It’s also a fun thing to do on a rainy day.
A big thanks to the professional and friendly experts at Whipps Cross dive chamber!
Just over 3 hrs from Penzance, off the Cornish coast by Ferry, lay the Isles of Scilly, a hidden gem of UK Diving, with lots of surprises, colour and amazing wrecks.
10 intrepid divers from BSAC 42 spent a week here diving
under the watchful eye of skipper Dave McBride of Dive Scilly.
The pace of life in the Isles of
Scilly is somewhat different from the mainland and we all soon learned to
adapt. On arrival unlike other locations, where cars cause the traffic jams as
you leave harbour, it was an abundance
of people walking down the middle of the main high street to their chosen
accommodation and for some a rush to the only supermarket on the island, to
stock up on supplies.
The Isles of Scilly is so different from what we are all used to; some places only taking cash, the fish and chip shop only open from 5pm to 7pm and only one cash machine on the island. That said it was a pleasant surprise to fall into a slower pace of life.
Our dives started each day from the harbour quay of Huge
Town on the Isle of St Marys. Here our boat Tiburon and our skipper for the
week Dave, were ready and waiting for us each morning.
Our first dive was the wreck
of the SS Charlotte, she hit the rocks at the mouth of Porth Hellick in thick
fog in 1917, all crew survived. This was
an interesting first dive and gave us an insight as to what to expect for our
weeks diving. Nice clear waters and the opportunity to explore the wreck.
Our second dive was at much shallower
depth, but this was because we were on the look out for the natives of the Isles,
the local seals. They did not disappoint; smiley faces were had by both seals
and divers alike. It was like a game of hide and seek, one minute your thought
the seals had gone into the kelp, to then find they were behind you chewing on
your fins. Everyone as they left the water had beaming smiles of excitement and
stories to tell.
Today was a day of diving 2 very
different wrecks, the Brinkburn and the HMS Colossus.
The Brinkburn like many of the
wrecks in the Scilles hit rocks and sunk to a depth of about 30 metres. Many of
the wrecks in the scillies are a wash with colour with sea anemones. Colours
ranging from deep purples to orange to light pinks. The odd fish was seen,
The second dive of the day was
the HMS Colossus, this was a much older ship and was shipwrecked in 1798.
This was a 74-gun third rate ship
of the line of the Royal Navy. Now a scheduled, protected wreck, that has been
surveyed & accurately mapped to produce a derailed plan & a trail to
follow. The are Cannons and muskets, ships timbers & metalwork, all to be
seen in situ on this dive.
Plan or not, not all of us saw all
of the detail of this wreck, but we did see 4 crabs.
After the day of diving Victor
went on the hunt for the famous apple strudel, but no luck, Monday it was
closed so another day he would have to wait.
Our evening socialising was a
meal at the Bishop and Wolf pub, this did not disappoint, as they had a full
menu of pizzas, so unlike in Malta, Fiona had a wider choice than the standard
During the evening we found
out that the next days diving was to be cancelled due to incoming inclement weather,
although an initial sigh was had, this soon turned to excitement of being able
to properly rehydrate at the local.
Clive developed some great mountaineering skills that evening to get
back to his chosen seat at the pub. And Victor revealed his porn star name
would be Scrambled Eggs Homemyster. Something he seemed to be proud of!
Rather than be beaten by the weather, we chose to use it to our advantage. Deepti took her Sports Diver written exam and passed with flying colours. Phil went on a bike ride around the island, but with only 9 miles to travel, found it too easy and headed to have local teas shop for Ginger scone cream teas. Victor went for a swim in the freezing cold waters, as Teresa said, “he’s turned in to superman since he started living in Huddersfield”.
Whilst others had a gentle walk
around the island, finding the grave of Sir Harold Wilson and visiting the
barracks, where a brisk wind came howling across the Atlantic Ocean
There was also unconfirmed reports that the shelves in the local Co Op were now full again with food. Victor found the Strudel coffee shop open and indulged in Strudel and Ice cream, when they ran out it was chocolate brownie and ice cream for Fiona.
Excitement was building that evening as it was confirmed the diving was back on for day 4.
Our first dive of the day was Trinity reef. Here we again
saw an abundance of colour and even after the previous days dive visibility was
Our next dive was the wheel wreck although no one really did
seem to find it, right Clive. “What were those funny looking rocks?”
This is the remains of a shipwreck lying in the Crow sound off Little Ganinick. The wreck site consists of a discrete mound of cargo that appears to consist of numerous size iron wheel, clogs clack valves and boiler pipes. Probably mining supplies. But nobody knows for sure.
Finally, the highlight to end the day was another
encounter with the seals. They were out in full force again, Teresa seemed to
be able to have the knack of almost hypnotising them. Almost like a sketch from
Little Britain, “look into my eyes, look into my eyes”.
They really are like playful, inquisitive, nosy, puppies,
the size of sheep!
We reluctantly said our
farewell to the seals. Even as divers headed back to the boat seals heads were
bobbing upon LG feet behind them.
Our evening excursion was to visit one of the smaller islands on the Scillies, St Agnes and to visit the only pub on the Island. This I believe is where Maggie managed to find the ever-lasting bottle of wine, it was only when Clive pointed out that actually no wine was coming out, as it was a screw-top.
On the return leg of the journey on a small boat, a group of travellers were having almost a mini karaoke session, singing their lungs out as they got soaked by the waves crashing against the boat.
A beautiful sunny day and very calm seas today.
2 dives were planned, with 2 wrecks
included, unusually with both on the first dive!
With the wrecks of both the
Plympton and the Hatho . This is a classic Scillies wreck and possibly unique
worldwide as it features 2 wrecks piled one on top of the other. The first sank
in 1909 when she ran aground of the Lethegus reef. 11 years later in exactly
the same spot the Hathor wrecked here after her tow broke some miles offshore
in poor visibility. On this dive Deepti saw a very large crayfish along with numerous
artefacts of the wreck.
The second dive the Inner Gilstone a variety of many rocks
off the island with an abundance of sea life .
This evening was fish and
chips on the Porthcressa beach and an evening slide show with the skipper of
our boat Dave. This was a fascinating evening as it showed us the many colours,
we had seen on our dives but with some really close up video film and photos
Sadly, our last day of diving.
And Pat nearly missed the boat this morning and had to board as we were pulling
away via a long ladder from the harbour wall. His kit was on the boat, he had
been on the boat, but his Buddy (who shall remain nameless) forgot to mention that
he had nipped to the conveniences …. But
he was spotted & joined us with a beautiful postcard blue sky, flat sea and
with very little wind.
Our first dive of the day was
the MV Cita Wreck , a more modern day wreck as on the morning of the 26th
March 1997 the ship struck rocks just off of St Marys Island. Spilling almost
half it haul of around 200 containers. For the locals on the island it was like
Christmas had come early, containers full of car tyres , golf bags , Ben
Sherman shirts, baby clothes and Irish lucky charms.
This was an interesting dive as much of the wreck is still
intact and even over a short time, many sea creatures have made it their home.
Our final dive was Winglelange
Ledges, an array of rocks and reefs with amazing fields of colour by the carpet
of sea anemones. So many and so many different layers of colour, it was
incredible. Victor managed to spot a beautiful nudibranch ( or slug as they are
also known) so was in his element.
As we headed back to the harbour, we all had smiles on our
faces having had a great week of diving.
A group photo was taken and it was then I spotted my dry suit made me look like a smurf with black shorts on.
It’s that time of year already. The divers of BSAC 42 descended
on Milford Haven again this year for a bank holiday of wrecks, reefs and SMBs.
I had been promised three days of sun, sea and ham sandwiches. I was about to
find out if any of it was true.
Day one and we traipsed our kit down to the marina for the
diving dance. Twelve of us trying to make sure we had everything on the boat and
then shortly before we cast off someone shouted, “where are my fins?”. Today we
were lucky, the fins were soon located. We had everything and I’m still not
quite sure how we managed it. The first dive was on a reef full of crabs and
the odd lobster. I even got to see two crabs either fighting or mating – the
jury’s still out on that one.
Dive one cost a fin (lost by Deepti) and me becoming bitterly
cold in my wetsuit. Dive two was with the Seals! Already happily chilling out
on the coastline, they quickly joined us to see what these graceless noisy
creatures were. They seemed less than impressed with us. We couldn’t match
their speed or agility at all. But, more importantly, where has that bucket
list of mine gone? I’m sure this was on there.
Day two was the wreck day and a total revelation for me. Our Club Dive Officer, Ken, collected the new club dry suits from Hammond’s, a dive suit manufacturer, on the way over to Pembrokeshire. That day I acted guinea pig. The first dive was ‘The Behar’, where we saw the vessel’s cargo of cable spilled out onto the sea floor. After surfacing warm and dry, I’m happy to say that the club Dry suits got a clean bill of health. I recommend them to everyone. The second dive was on ‘The Dakotian’ wreck, a 400ft cargo ship sunk in 1940 by a German mine. Our evening was a little different to how I expected. I had heard that a particular Pembrokeshire Chinese restaurant had become somewhat of a Bermondsey tradition. What can I say other than it was unusual and unlike any Chinese I had ever been in before? It was reminiscent of my grandmother’s living room circa 1973. I am pretty sure the place hasn’t been redecorated since then. Thankfully looks deceived and the food was much better than the wallpaper or carpet.
Day three was an early start. As it was my fault I had an
afternoon train to catch, I won everyone over with bacon sarnies for breakfast.
Dive one today was on a shallow kelp bed with a sunken submarine at one end.
After lunch there was a second dive on The Dakotian. Measuring 400ft long you’ll
never manage to see it all on one dive!
And that was it. We all glumly begun packing up kit and said our tearful farewells. Until next Wednesday at the pool anyway. Based on the tired, salt-covered but still smiling faces I left behind, I think it’s safe to say everyone really enjoyed themselves. I know I did.
The Clubs Christmas get together will be on Wednesday 5th December 2018! So we will NOT be at the pool that night! All back to normal though, for both Wednesday 12th & Wednesday the 19th.
Then … we will also of course NOT be at the pool on Boxing Day. December 26th, nor on Wednesday January 2nd.
With just a further Heads up about our 2019 Annual General Meeting currently pencilled in for Wednesday 6th February 2019. When the pool will also be closed. More information about the Venue and Agenda for this meeting will be sent out in due course!
So the kit rinsing & drying has started in earnest …. after a weekend diving in Swanage.
For those few of you who missed it, the Club had a packed few days in Dorset.
On Saturday we managed 2 dives under the Pier. 1 to the Fleur de Lys. 1 to the Betsy Anna & 1 to the Kyarra!
Sunday’s original plan was a bit curtailed by the wind, but we still managed 1 dive under the Pier & trip out to the Fleur de Lys & barge.
All in all, 11 Club members carried out 46 dives between them! With a cumulative total of over 27 hours spent underwater!
Ocean Diver trainees Maliha & Chryssa were able to do all 4 of their Open Water dives. With over 120 minutes underwater each.
Expertly carrying out all the required skills, whilst surrounded by thousands of fish of all shapes & sizes. Fitting in: Dives in protective clothing, shore dive, boat dive, Nitrox 32, Which means that Maliha is now fully qualified, congratulations!
& Chryssa just has her exam to do, well done to you both.
The weekend was busy with lots to do on a pretty tight schedule & it wouldn’t have been possible without the help from Club Instructors & Senior Divers: Bruce, Sally, Chris, Maggie, Steve & Our friendly ringer Instructor Big John!
All ably assisted by Jason, Dave & Tara & Ross back in London sorting out everybody’s kit for the trip!
A huge BSAC 42 “thank you” to you all. Much appreciated.
The diving was good, but the chat n banter & the food were all excellent as well …. oh yes & so was the tea, coffee & the beer. Don’t forget the beer!
It was a good weekend, when lots got done. Members got Qualified & everybody had some pleasant dives!
If you didn’t make it this year??????
Look out for Swanage on the 2019 Dive List & put your name down !!!!!!
For a mid summer dive trip this year 6 members of BSAC 42 chose to visit the Mediterranean island of Malta. A place long steeped in history, a site of importance to any Empire wishing to lay claim to ‘control of the Mediterranean Sea’ Malta has been fought over, besieged, conquered, re-conquered & occupied for thousands of years, by at least 11 different Countries & Empires!
From the Phoenicians to Britain during the Cold War, Malta has been a naval base of critical importance. So although we had no ideas about capturing anything more than some hours underwater & a suntan …… it was with great anticipation that we jumped on an Air Malta flight at Gatwick to make our short 3 hour flight to the sun!
Sally had arranged everything for us, all we had to do was to turn up with our dive kit, some tee shirts & a valid passport, on time to check in! Literally everything else was laid on for us! Teresa, Ian, Paul, Fiona & myself all had a completely relaxed trip due to Sally’s preparation & efforts.
We based ourselves in the coastal resort of Bugibba using Dive Deep Blue Malta as our guides. They are a well organised & efficient set up. With their guidance, we elected to dive twice each day, at a start time of our choosing! All we had to do, was select our tanks & weights, jump in their wagon & off we went! It really was that simple!
Day 1. We chose to dive the Tugboat Rozi a lovely little wreck sitting in 35m of lovely clear, warm water. It was a great scenic dive. With Ian taking the opportunity to finish of the very last of his Sports Diver qualification skills! Second dive was along the reef next to the wreck. Lots to see & plenty of time to see it!
Day 2. Was a very chilled out day. Leisurely late start kicking off with a dive on the Al Faroud. A 100m long oil tanker sunk deliberately in 36m. As we had come to expect the water was warm & clear. Visibility was comfortably in excess of 30m & it was so warm that there was no need for hoods nor gloves! Wreck was teeming with fish & we had the whole thing to ourselves. On our second dive Paul & Fiona elected to re-visit the wreck as there was still an awful lot left to see, while the rest of us explored the reef, arches & wall adjacent to it. We had Nudibranchs, octopus, fish, fish & more fish! Beautiful! Our late start now making sense ….. as we chilled in a sea front restaurant, letting the stunning sunset unfold before, us ahead of an eagerly anticipated night dive! Dive 3. Was brilliant, a gentle hour bumbling along, mooching amongst the night time critters, trying & mostly succeeding, in NOT shining our torches in our Buddy’s eyes! A very nice way to end a very good day!
Day 3. We asked the dive guides to take us to what they would call the Signature Dives on the Island! So, no pressure there then! Did they disappoint? Not in the least! First dive was on Patrol Boat P29. Deliberately sunk in 33m of water about 200m out from shore. This wreck is a classic. Upright on a sandy bottom, intact, safe to enter & a very very nice dive! Pretty much a perfect wreck dive. Our second & final dive included a visit to the Sunken Madonna then a mooch along the reef & up over the shallows! Brilliant. A fantastic way to end the underwater phase of the trip!
The diving was all made very easy by our Guides. They knew what they were doing, excellent dive skills, great local knowledge & always made us feel like friends! If you are thinking of visiting Malta? then Dive Deep Blue Malta should be first on your list of partners to use.
Although this was not primarily a ‘Training’ holiday. We still achieved some notable goals over the trip: Ian Qualified as a Sports Diver. He smoothly eased into some depth progression over 30m, did his first night dive & managed to stretch his air to allow his first ever 60 minute dive! So thank you to everybody who made these milestones possible!
Our last day on the Island was officially for ‘Off gassing’ & kit drying, but Sally is never one to sit still, when there is 2,000 years of history to explore on our doorstep ……. so she arranged a private guided walking tour of Valetta, with a local guide/history teacher Mario! It was superb ….. his love & in depth knowledge of his home town shone through, with every step there were sights & stories & facts & marvels …… he made the place live! A very fitting end to a wonderful trip.
But what about the non diving stuff I hear you ask ….. well …. did we have a good time OUT of the water? Yes indeed we did. The group was excellent, we ate in a different place every night, with somebody new tasked with finding a restaurant each evening! This was not really that hard as it sounds as there were literally hundreds to choose from. Food & drink is cheaper than in London & the climate conducive to Al Fresco dining. In Bugibba everything is within walking distance & the streets are safe & the atmosphere friendly!
The only slightly unusual things that happened are more down to us, than the island. Firstly. The weather was hot, nudging 30 degrees! then it warmed up ….. & the next day got a bit warmer again! Except … when we asked Teresa to just quickly confirm tomorrows weather please, from the BBC, on her phone! Only for her to tell us all that its all changed & we can now expect 17 Degrees & heavy showers! ‘What!’ we all cried …. with not a coat or waterproof hat amongst us! ‘Oh yes’ she says ‘looks like its all changing!’ ……… ‘how disappointing!’ ‘Are you sure?’ we asked……….. ‘oh yes! its the BBC.’ We are told, with us all looking very sad, until we managed to look at her phone ourselves … to find out that Teresa had read out….. & believed…. the weather forecast for Anglesey in North Wales!!!!! I will admit that our reactions were just a tad influenced by maybe just a couple of beers ….. but everyone in the Hotel bar looked our way as we all collectively fell off our chairs laughing! Good times. Secondly, Fiona (our superb trip photographer) is vegetarian. Which is no problem at all on Malta, but not straight forward. The only impact on the group was that we gave Fi first glance at any potential restaurant’s menu, just to confirm there was something on there that caught her eye! Some we bypassed, but not many. Except ….. & this caused many a smile between us all (including Fi herself) that whatever vegetarian option where on ANY of the menus ….. after much umm-ing & arr-ing ….. Fiona ALWAYS ordered a mushroom pizza! every time! so surveying the menu wasn’t really that critical … it would seem! Although we all conceded that they do make VERY nice pizzas on Malta!
So in summary: Is Malta a good place to go diving? Yes. Is it easy to get too? Yes. Easy to eat & drink & enjoy yourself? Yes.
But most importantly: Is BSAC 42 & in particular, Fiona, Teresa, Sally, Ian & Paul great people to go away with? Yes ….. completely & utterly they are! & would you go again?
26th to 28th May Bank Holiday weekend 2018
As I was gently “volun-told” to report on this trip by Clive… I will start this story with a thank-you note to Sally for organising this fantastic trip. Everything was perfectly organised up to the smallest detail. Even the weather! And the flat calm sea!!
Sally chose to dive with Brian Dilly’s family run operation divein2pembrokeshire. Over all 3 days the boat and crew were excellent as usual. With the excellent local knowledge, terrible jokes, supply of hot drinks and packed lunches, all most welcome!
Details of Brian’s operation can be found here: Dive-in2-pembrokeshire.com
26/05/2018. Day 1:
Well, here we go. As all journeys start with a single step we met at Milford Haven Harbour at 9am. To be fair all of us looked a little bit knackered due to the horrible traffic jam the day before (not everybody has a comfortable Jaguar to hit the road…) but the nice Welsh sunshine, beautiful scenery and the expectations of some great dives ahead soon cheered us up.
We loaded the boat at a the very easy pontoon, with free parking right next door.
Once on the boat we started pairing up buddies: Sally with Iria, Clive with Ian and Ken with myself. We soon made friends with the other divers on-board, friends of Brian’s, from Cardiff Dive Club. The spacious boat making everything very easy and relaxed!
Brian and his skipper took us to the Skomer reserve, not far from Milford Haven, and we dived in two different locations: High Point and the Dakotian. Note that this area is protected and must not be touched so result at the end of the day was Lobsters 1 – Jose 0. (Little did I know that this was going to be a reoccurring shoreline.) Viability was 8 or more meters and the sea was flat calm.
27/05/2018 Day 2:
On this day we had the pleasure to incorporate Theresa to the team and we met again at the same location to start the trip. It was probably one of the nicest days Welsh shores have ever seen in decades!
Only downside was Clive was still a little bit disappointed because of Liverpool very predictably losing its final against Real Madrid. Although having a world class Welshman (Gareth Bale) scoring twice for Real, was a small consolation.
Hen and Chicks
Hen and Chicks is a great site and ideal for the novice diver, the depth going to only 10 metres (33 feet). Its composed of pinnacles and you will also find lots of candy stripe flat worm, sea hares, pipefish, nudibranchs and seals. At the end of the dive I performed my very famous ascent I call myself “Fins up balloon” mmmm Jose 0 dry suit 1!
Stack Rocks as the name suggests is composed of rocks. This site is very much like Hen and chicks and very popular. There’s plenty of marine life including dogfish, cuckoo wrasse, pollack and butterfish. Velvet crabs, edible crabs, different kinds of lobsters and hermit crabs are also present. Colourful plumose anemones, jewel anemones, peacock worms and dahlia anemones are abundant. Seals are often spotted here.
On this dive Sally showed us that dry suits don’t keep you always “dry”. Oppps!
Ken and I were trying to catch a lobster and a spider crab for five minutes but turns out, as lazy as they look, they are smarter than we thought! and bigger than Ken’s goody bag! Lobsters 2 – Jose 0. Today the visibility dropped to only 6m, but we did our best and struggled through.
Fortunately for us there was an Iranian peer diver, nice guy and much more experienced in the art of crabbing than us and he shared 2 spider crabs with Iria and I 😊.
With a little bit of Galician culinary magic (by phone, from Iria’s mum) …. They were delicious!
Ken and I saw the cutest little octopus ever just before deploying the SMB. He didn’t know it was dangerous to be around when I was trying to sort the SMB out. But I’m sure I only stepped on him a little.
Day 3: Skokholm
In solidarity with the lobsters, we as a team, adopted a uniform tan “red like a lobster” to enjoy our last dive in Pembrokeshire. Although it wasn’t our first option we ended up diving next too Skokholm. We had to give up two locations firstly because of the strong tide and then because of some fog.
Skokholm Island Seal Bay has plenty of seals and is sheltered from the westerlies. It’s a shallow site not exceeding 10 metres (33 feet). There are so many wrecks here to choose from, about 500. Sea was flat calm and we had visibility of nearly 10m.
Locations chosen by Brian were Crab rock and Dead man’s bay.
On the latter we enjoyed a nice drift dive. I felt like Nemo’s father swimming in the Eastern Australian Current (EAC)!!! Surfacing amongst the Puffins and Guillemots with several inquisitive seals giving us the eye!
After this roller coaster dive we went back to the boat and headed back to Milford Haven to pack our things ☹.
It’s always sad when coming back to the Big Smoke again but we were so lucky to enjoy such a good weather and company that I’m sure it was a pleasant trip back to London for all of us!
Club trip to Marsa Shagra in Marsa Alam Egypt.
Jae, Jane, Maggie and I headed off to Gatwick for a flight to Marsa Alam very early on Thursday 29th March 2018.
Marsa Shagra is an eco-village right on the coast 30 min. drive south of Marsa Alam. The accommodation is spread over a large area and consists of Bedouin tents, chalets and deluxe chalets. We plumped for the deluxe chalets. Marsa shagra predominantly caters for divers and snorkelers. You can do as much diving as you like on the house reef which you can access by the shore or pop into a rib which will drop you off further out on north or south reef and pick you up or alternatively you can swim back in by shore. My navigation skills are very suspect, but it is hard to get lost so long as you stick to the rule of keeping reef on your left or right depending on which reef you are on and which direction you are going in.
The first few days Jane, Maggie and I explored the house reef while Jae was completing a PADI open water course. We saw a dolphin swimming close by and 2 large turtles on the first dive, so we were off to a great start. The coral is in a much better condition than the reefs nearer to Hurgarda and Sharm, with unusual formations and colours. The topography in some areas was stunning. There was also a wider variety fish life. I saw turtles almost every day, blue spotted rays swimming around, crocodile fish, and the usual clown fish, different varieties of trigger fish (Picasso was my favourite), grouper and many more.
On day 3 some of us went on the rib to the ‘Long Canyon’ which was about a 20min. chug out. This dive started off with a vibrant red anemone (not in cavern) and then a discovery of a very long cavern which took at least 15 min. to go through and was a sheer delight. It became narrow in a few places however there were plenty of openings to bring in light and it was a shallow 8m – 10m dive.
There was a lot of activity in the house reef when we returned as there had been a pod of dolphins in the bay all morning. I quickly took off my dive kit once back at base and grabbed my snorkel heading back to the rib. I instructed the skipper to take me to the dolphins as didn’t want to waste any time swimming out to them. He kindly obliged and I timed my jump into the water as they were swimming towards the rib. There were about 20 dolphins enjoying playing with the snorkelers (unfortunately I couldn’t duck dive as was too buoyant with my wet suit on). It was a real treat and they kept swimming back every 2-3 min.
There are daily trips (20.min rib) to Elphinstone which is a very famous reef for shark spotting. It is a more adventurous dive with a 200m drop off and sometimes there are currents on this dive. Within a few minutes I saw a reef shark and also saw a very pretty scorpion fish on the reef. Manta rays were spotted a few days earlier but not today.
During the week we booked trips to other reefs along the shore that are accessible by bus. Marsa Egla was our hope to see a dugong which were spotted the week before but was not to be on our dive. However, saw a very large turtle eating the grass until he noticed he was surrounded and quickly headed off to the surface.
Towards the end of the trip we were keen to stick to the house reef as really appreciated how good it was. Jae saw a moray on her night dive and I spotted a crocodile fish. The last dive was further out on the south reef. We didn’t see any turtles or dolphins (although Jane saw a moray eel) but is was just a beautifully scenic dive with such a variety of coral. Jae had made great progress in her diving during the week and had mastered perfect buoyancy on her 3 min. stop at 5m which was a perfect ending to the trip.
Overall, I found it to be a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday and I preferred it to a liveaboard. The staff were friendly and accommodating and quickly learnt our names and preferences, including Maggie’s penchant for red wine. There were divers of all nationalities who were all relaxed and friendly which all added to a very pleasant week of diving.
Do you have a disability and want to learn to dive…
…then get in contact with us…Bermondsey BSAC can help.
As long as you can swim and you’re not afraid of water then disability need not be a barrier to going diving. We just need your help to work out how to adapt.
Email or call the club for a confidential discussion.