Red Sea holiday 2010

Chris and I have just returned from a one week liveaboard trip on Hurricane. My half of this trip was courtesy of Scuba Travel who donated the prize for last year’s British Society of Underwater Photography ‘Splash-in’ competition. A big thank you to them, it was a wonderful prize.

This was a wreck and reef tour, starting and ending in Sharm El Sheik. Our itinerary covered many of the classic sites in the northern Red Sea, with a good mix of scenic and metal. Chris and I have dived this area many times before, but for me, this trip reminded me once again how good Red Sea diving can be.

Photographically I decided to concentrate on a couple of lenses that I don’t use very often – the wide angle 12-24mm zoom, and macro 105mm lens. It was good fun trying to get to grips with them again. You can see my gallery of images here.

Here’s a whistle-stop, logbook-style tour of our holiday…
Usual scrum at Sharm airport but finally arrived at the boat. Roomy, comfortable vessel (once we’d turned down the air con!), excellent dive guides (thank you Reda and Sameh), very nice crowd of people – just what you need for a great trip.

Day 1
Check out dive on the Alternatives, followed by very choppy crossing to Abu Nuhas that caused the worst bout of seasickness I’ve had in years. Still feeling a shadow of my former self, did an afternoon dive on the spectacular Carnatic (pictured) – probably one of my favourite wrecks in terms of light and atmosphere. The third dive was the Chrisoula K (or tile wreck), but not a patch on the Carnatic.

Day 2
Giannis D – another wonderful wreck, a real classic, particularly when you stand back from the stern. Next stop the wreck of the Ulysses, which was a first for me. It’s a little like the Carnatic with open lattice-work, and very atmospheric. We saw two huge Cobia (shark-like fish) which I’d never seen before. Luckily my mobile marine identification facility (aka Chris) was there to tell me what they were. Afternoon dive on Bluff point and enjoyable night dive at the same location focusing on a small sunken barge. Apparently there was a fierce storm during the night which I managed to sleep through (thank goodness!).

Day 3
Another drift dive on Gobal Island returning to the boat at Bluff Point. Here we were joined by a pod of dolphins who stayed and played with us for ten wonderful, glorious minutes. I had completely the wrong lens on my camera of course, but I was just happy to enjoy the experience. How do you follow this? Pretty impossible, but the next two dives were still good – the wrecks of the Kingston and Thistlegorm.

Day 4
Early morning dive on the Thistlegorm. Chris and I were first in the wreck and did a tour of the holds in gin-clear vis. I’m not a wreck fan, but just loved this dive, soaking up the history of its WWII cargo of trucks, bikes and army supplies. Next we moved on to Small Crack (Sha’ab Mahmoud), which is great for fish life and those lovely dappled rays of light you get on shallow reefs. The good old Dunraven was our afternoon dive, followed by a night dive under the boat at Beacon rock, with the biggest basketstars I’ve ever seen and tiny spider crabs hiding in the corals.

Day 5
My favourite – Shark and Yolanda reef. In my opinion, Red Sea diving doesn’t get any better than this (does this sound like Masterchef?). Spectacular corals, great fish life – particularly the shoals of butterfly fish on top of the reef) - plenty of morays and blue spotted rays. We followed this with another classic, Jackfish alley, with it’s atmospheric caves and colourful pinnacles smothered in glass fish and dendronepthya. Next we headed up to Tiran to dive Thomas Reef, followed by an unremarkable night dive on Gordon Reef.

Day 6
We squeezed in dives on Jackson and Woodhouse Reefs before heading back to Sharm and taking a close up view of a huge cruise liner that had crashed into the jetty during the storm.

Once again, thank you to Scuba Travel and to everyone on Hurricane for a very enjoyable holiday.