The Red Sea is Awesome !
If you are a diver and you have dived the Red Sea especially on a livaboard
I think you would find it hard to disagree with how truly amazing this location is!
I’ve had the good fortune when diving here to dive both from shore and boat, for me I prefer the boat diving, mainly because you can get to more of the isolated sites and spend real diving time to enjoy what each location has to offer.
After a 4 dive day, spending the evening under the stars, relaxing & getting ready for the next day,
for me it's hard to beat this as a dive experience.
The Red Sea was the first place where I felt that I dived properly after completing my Divemaster course. When I’ve finally get rid of this tropical bug I will be looking at going again. I can still remember my first trip well and look back at it fondly and I'm still in regular contact with some of the people I met on that trip.
Speaking of which here’s a small shout out to my friend Dave to wish him a speedy recovery while he recovers from prostate cancer surgery. When he’s well I hope we can meet on the Red Sea in celebration of him getting the all clear.
My first liveaboard
Back to my first Livaboard adventure. I received an email and it had a link for a discounted dive trip with a company called blueotwo and in my usual travel manner I thought sod it lets see what liveaboard diving is all about.
By complete accident it turned out to be a trip with a fella called Monty Halls, nice chap but I didn’t know who the hell he was to be honest; the discount was enough of a reason for me to go!
I contacted blueotwo before I booked which is wise when diving with a disability. I wanted to know more about the boat so I could assess if it was going to be doable and if they would accept a qualified disabled diver on their more challenging itineraries. They were extremely helpful and said basically they would do whatever it takes to ensure I have a safe and enjoyable dive experience.
blueotwo took care of everything, all I had to do was turn up at the airport and enjoy the ride.
On a side note speaking of airports I found it essential that I informe airlines about my requirements for making such trips for several reasons. One being sometimes I do get injuries and although I can still walk if I must it’s better that I use a wheelchair at the airport. Another reason is that due to the medical equipment that I need to take with me on such trips this pushes me over the standard luggage limits. The last issue is my seating location on the plane, as I need to have my right shoulder aisle side so I can keep my leg relatively straight, this prevents me not getting sore behind the knee on the flight.
blueotwo were great they made sure these needs were met and no request was to small throughout my entire trip, but they also respected that I did not want to be baby sat, as some firms do this, which I find rather annoying even insulting in some cases.
Egypt for the first time
So there I was in Egypt for my first time, we were met by a staff member of blueotwo with the required paper work and visa’s, this allowed me to pass through immigration without having to spend an hour standing in the queues, next we met outside to get the transfer to the pier.
The first time you see these boats and see the quality of them you would be hard pressed not to be impressed by them, especially Blue Horizon which is my favourite boat of their fleet. Once everybody was on board, introductions are made and a DVD is played to familiarise you with the operating features of the boat, diver safety and anything else you can think of.
It may be worth noting that its normal for no foot wear to be worn on the boats but they do make exceptions for people like myself, then its paper work time, an evening meal, a few beers, and in my case an attempt to sleep, then the wait for the boat to get the all clear from the coast guard before departure.
The dive Guide's we had for this trip were excellent, such as Karen and Dray a South African and Dutch married couple who have travelled the world and dived it. They have years of experience under their belts, I could not have asked for better. Karen was initially a bit of a mother hen at first, Dray was more like “just let him get on with it” as I did explain that if I needed assistance I would ask and I do ask when I need it as there are no hero medals for stupidity! It was the perfect balance and after a couple of dives and a few minor difficulties which we worked out it was all good.
Peoples instinct to be helpful
One thing I soon realised was that peoples instinct to be helpful, which is understandable can sometimes be counterproductive, one example of this was when boarding the Zodiacs. People would offer their hands to help as they would do any diver but I generally find this less helpful than people may think.
The reason being is that people easily misinterpret my movements because I don’t move like an able bodied person and they have a habit when offering me a hand they pull me in the wrong direction making me lose my balance.
This happened a couple of times and was a concern to me, Karen wanted me to gear up on the Zodiac but I found when doing this it was a right pain. Trying to balance and get my gear on in a small Zodiac full of divers was not easy.
The solution was quite simple, I asked the guides and other divers not to offer me their hands but rather a solid shoulder for me to put my hands on and transfer my weight at my discretion to the point that I always warn them that they will feel my full weight for a couple of seconds as I board the Zodiacs.
This method works well as it allowed me to have more control of my movements and something solid to steady myself should my balance become a little precarious, so that little problem was now solved!
A little dive faux pas
I think it’s worth pointing out a small dive faux pas I had on this trip just to show how on the ball these guides are when it comes to customer safety. The highlight of the trip was the brother islands but they can be a little extreme and due to the currents being thermal it can be rather unpredictable, there’s a good photo with sideways bubbles which shows this, I will try and dig out and post it.
Anyhow I was a little over weighted and to be honest it was due to lack of experience diving in such conditions and things were a little on the rough side. We were doing negative entries from the Zodiacs which I managed, but while descending I was equalising to hard and my mask just flooded with blood and snot, I could not see a thing. As I was clearing my mask and trying to sort myself out I was descending very quickly as I was over weighted, as my mask cleared I realised this and started to fin like a madman to stop my descent.
I stopped my descent I looked around and there was Dray in front of me indicating for me to inflate my BCD, which I immediately did until my buoyancy was back under control, thanks for that Mr Dray! As I finally started to relax I knew I was in safe hands despite my limited experience at the time.
It was quite funny as later that evening Dray asked me what happened and I explained, he said fair enough it happens and in typical dry Dutch humour he said well you answered my question of how well you can fin!
As you were going like the clappers when I got to you, we laughed and all was good and I had no other incidents.
An a amazing first liveabord trip
This dive trip was very memorable; I have a DVD made by Karen somewhere, which I will put some snippets of on the site at a later date. There were loads of sharks, threshers’, white tips oceanic's and tons of marine life that I had never seen before.
There is plenty of other information on the net for what you will see in the Red Sea so I won’t waffle on about how brilliant the diving is as there would be little point with all the other information available.
I met people on this trip who have become lifelong friends; we have met on several occasions. I could not have asked for a better introduction into the world of liveaboard diving and it would be fair to say blueotwo certainly set the bar high for livaboard standards.
While diving with blueotwo I used these dive trips to test most of my prototype dive legs out before I went off on one of my bigger dive wanders. I have found this to be essential to avoid prosthetic failures.
I’ve done about 15 liveabord trips to date of which 7 or 8 have been with blueotwo I started with these guys and have dived on three of their fleet, all of which have different qualities but blue horizon the one pictured above is my personal favourite!
The next trip can’t come soon enough.