While in Dahab, I completed 16 dives for a total of more than 10 hours underwater. It has been a great time and I feel way more confident and comfortable underwater now.
As I had written in my previous post on diving, I had some trouble with buoyancy control and kicking but I completed a class to work on this. Once I had done that and got the chance to practice more on shallower dives, I thought it was time to go for the best dives around Dahab. You can see that as a reward :).
Canyon and Blue Hole
On Sunday, I dove at Canyons and then Blue Hole. They are both 30 meters (90ft) dives. I was actually a bit stressed in the morning of these dives because I had thought about my first and only deep dive I did in Monterrey last year where I had a very bad experience. It was quite cold down at 27m (81ft) and I was stressing a bit looking at my pressure level going down fast. It ended with a case of nitrogen narcosis that caused me to not be able to inflate my BCD properly and start going back up. The dive master had to take charge, inflate my BCD and pull me up.
I did not really enjoy the Canyon dive that much. It is an OK dive but I did not find it that great. To be fair, it might be because of the stress.
On the contrary, I loved the dive at Blue Hole. You get in through a 20 meters deep hole and exit in the deep blue, except for the coral reef behind you, everything around is blue. I have been a fan of the movie “Big Blue” for a long time and always loved the deep blue scene but that was nowhere close to the feeling you get when you are there looking at it. It is like being lost in the dark, it could be quite difficult to know which way is up or down if you did not have the bubbles. It gave me a feeling of vertigo for an instant. The rest of the dive is really nice too as you dive along the reef with around 170 meters of water under you! The exit is done in the place called blue hole that is a circular reef wall that seems bottomless (same kind of depth).
Thistlegorm and Ras Mohammed
Since everything had gone for the best, it was time to go for the classic one day boat dive tour that is offered from Sharm El-Sheik. It consists in 3 deep dives. 2 are made on the wreck of the Thistlegorm and one is the protected natural reserve of Ras Mohammed. This I did on Monday.
I went on the tour with Carolyn (American), Carolina (Argentinian), Gabriela (Argentinian) and Alex (German) that were all staying at the same hotel in Dahab. We were actually not the only one on the boat since we were around 25 divers total.
We left on Sunday evening and got in Sharm El-Sheik around midnight, we then took over the space in front of the captain’s cabin that has foam pads and went to sleep in the very nice sleeping bag that were provided to us. I had a very good night and woke up to a very choppy sea.
The boat arrived soon after breakfast to the wreck site where many boats were already dumping loads of divers. Our dive guide Salaka went first for a solo dive to attach the boat to the wreck at 2 points.
For the story, the Thistlegorm is a British boat that was sank by the Germans during world war two. If you want to know more, go read this. I will then try not to repeat too much of what is there.
After enough surface time for him, we went for our first dive. It was an open water dive around the wreck. The current was very strong close to the surface but it was way better close to the wreck. It was just amazing to swim around the boat checking out the munition shells, the locomotives and everything else. The dives start at around 30 meters and finishes around 14 meters as you go around the boat following the deck. Also, there are many fishes hanging out around the wreck and you can find some very big specimens of fish I used to see in Dahab in what I thought was adult size… but it seems I was mistaken, some there are maybe as big as I am! It was a bit difficult to pay attention to the fishes when you have such an intact boat (except for the fact it is broken in 2 at the back) in front of you :).
The second dive was the best of all, we went inside the wreck to visit the holds that still contain the trucks, jeeps and motorcycles that were freighted in the boat. It was really nice to swim around from one hold to another checking out the different vehicles and finishing in the captain’s cabin. It is a very different kind of dives. Kind of strange to be swimming around something that has been frozen in time 60 years ago. All in all, it was an event less dive except for the fact I almost lost the flashlight I had been given if not for the ceiling of one of the hold stopping it for me. And event less dives are the best in my book so this is not a bad thing ;).
The third dive was way later in the day. The boat left the wreck site and took the direction of Ras Mohammed. We had lunch on board and lingered around in the sun contemplating the blue sea with its accents of green indicating the presence of reefs. That dive was more about the fishes and we were not sorry about that. The highlights were a shark (that I personally did not see so I am suspicious about the whole thing!), a school of large barracuda around 40 meters below us, very big morays, very big angel fishes and a container of toilet supplies! No kidding! It is a very nice dive that just blows away everything you can see in Dahab. It is actually very good that I did not do it earlier or I might have been less excited about diving in Dahab.
The dive went well and it completed the day, we were back in Sharm around 6PM but had to wait 2 more hours before making our way back to Dahab since there is a 600m highest elevation on the road from Sharm to Dahab.
That was a great diving day. The highlight of a great 2 weeks of diving.
And the best is that Gabriela owns an underwater camera and Alex (that is more experienced than the rest of us) took it for each dive and made some great pictures and videos. I have a CD of these pictures and videos and will post the pictures ASAP. The videos will be shown when I come back to those interested.
[Edited on 5/19/2006 to add related pictures]