The bell rings for breakfast and we are all still beaming from the amazing Thistlegorm experience. Waleed shouts his usual words, scrambled, poach-ed, om-a-let and we are refuelled with eggs and toast ready for our next dive.
Next up is the Kingston which was built in 1871 as a general cargo ship with a tonnage of 1,449. She sank in 1881 with a cargo of coal. After a short cruise we arrive and moor up to the reef. Dolphins are playing/hunting in the shallows – would we be lucky?!
It’s a long, bumpy rib ride to the wreck so the shout of “ready, 1, 2, 3 go!” is very welcome. Sitting in 14m of water the wreck is beautiful and joyfully easy. The light is amazing so hopefully the photos will be good. The wreck is smothered in hard and soft corals and it is covered with fish life. There is a gentle surge in the shallower parts of the wreck and we are gently rocked whilst admiring the beautiful colours.
Once the wreck exploration is complete we continue on to the reef and gently meander back. There is a loose plan to drift back to the boat but there is not enough current so taxi transfers will have to be requested. With this decided we enjoy the surge and the views and take a leisurely safety stop on the reef.
With everyone back we start the crossing to Gubal Island.
This allows everyone time to catch up on snoozing and photo post production activities. There is another boat already at Gubal Island moored directly over the barge which will block most of the natural light on the wreck of The Barge!
As a last minute decision we are instructed that this will be our nav course dive 1.
We plan to navigate using natural features to the wreck and then measure our fin kick cycles over a given length. We head off in the direction of the barge but our instructor is distracted by an octopus sighting.
Naturaly as naughty students we quickly get bored of waiting around and start to explore the area not realising we are gently difting in the wrong direction! By the time our instructor rejoins us we are totally off track and it takes another 10 mins until we find the wreck!
As always the barge is teaming with life both aquatic and human! The next boat is full of divers with cameras that resemble alien space craft and buoyancy skills worse than your worst open water student.
We spot a scorpionfish the size of a Jack Russell, PJ slugs and giant morays. As we navigate back we see a line of squid hanging under the boat and as we get too close they squirt and jet off in the water. Cool….
Will there be calamari for tea?!
The night dive will also be on the barge so the waiting game begins to see which boat will jump first…. This will also be night dive 2 of our course. The bell rings for briefing time just as the other boat are jumping…… Hopefully their air consumption is as bad as their bouyancy skills and they will be out before we get to the wreck.
I take a bearing from the back of the boat to the bow of the one moored next door which is conveniently parked over the wreck. The plan is to navigate to the wreck, see how busy it is and then explore the area between the two boats.
We descend and I orientate us in the direction of the wreck. After a few minutes I am shocked and relieved to see the ribs of the wreck and the alien space craft circling. I signal to the buddy group once round the wreck and then head back. Big ok’s all round and we head off. There are lots of banded shrimps wandering around, various eels, rays, nudis, scorpion fish and a variety of crabs big and small. We look in disbelief at the idiots holding or kneeling on the corals to get a precious picture. Various hand signals are used to describe their behaviour which results in me flooding my mask with laughter! Circuit complete I signal the return trip and start the successful bimble back to the boat……. This nav lark isn’t all that tricky after all!
Day 4 has snuck up on us. The week is going very quickly……
Our first dive is to be the Rosalie Möller which was a 3,963 ton ship built in 1910. She sank on 8th October 1941 whilst at safe harbour 2 days after the Thistlegorm. Its decks sit at 35 metres so we have an air top up to bring the mix down to 26% to enable us to make the dive. What an amazing wreck……
The boat is circled in millions of glass fish and the shoal expands and contracts as divers shine their torches at them and swim through the clouds. The mast is at an angle and covered in life. The hold is a big black expanse below us filled with thousands more glass fish….. The students on the deep dive course have a lovely location for their skills and drills… Beats 40 metres in Vobster any day!
Our no deco time and air goes quickly so we are back on the line after 25 mins ready to make our ascent and safety stop.
Once the egg eating ritual is complete we cross back to Gubal Island ready for our next dive on The Ulysses. As we cruise along a friendly pod of dolphins plays next to the boat for a good 20 mins forming the morning’s entertainment.
The boat moors up at Gubal Island once again but nearer to Bluff Point this time and the bell goes for the dive briefing. The Ulysses wreck is a 1,948 ton steamship built in 1871 and sank in 1887. It sounds a lovely wreck but a long rib ride puts us off so we opt for the lazy dive on the reef and a bimble to the barge. Two fellow lazy passengers choose to join us and we jump in the water after zodiac 1 and 2 depart. We cross to the barge and we are the only ones there.
What a contrast to yesterday! We find two octopus going about their routine completely unphased by our cameras allowing us get really close. Lovely!
As we surface after 65 minutes the first zodiac is just getting back and excited, happy divers are noisily unloaded on to the dive platform. The Ulysses was apparently a fantastic dive and the reef was worth a look too.
We journey back to Abu Nuhas for the afternoon dive. We are once again heading south. Always a sad turning point in the week as you know you are heading back to Hurghada and the end of the holiday.
The briefing bell rings and we are going to be diving the Chrisoula K – The Tile wreck. She was a 3,700 ton general cargo motor vessel which ran aground in May 1978 carrying a cargo of Italian granite tiles. She crashed in to the reef and the bow sits at 3 metres and is covered in coral and fish life. We are dropped off from the zodiac and can immediately see the wreck and the open cargo hold full of tiles. The stern sits at about 23 metres and the wreck is easy to navigate round shallowing up at the end of the dive. As it is so shallow the life and colour is amazing – very photographic! A group of very happy divers heave themselves in to the rib at the end of a lovely dive.
The night dive is to be on the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef. This is to be dive 3 of our night diver course where we have to sit on a sandy bottom with no torch light for 3 mins! That should be interesting….. With 15 other divers in the water with lights ranging from gentle strobes to some that could light the Albert Hall it would be tough to find a dark spot!
We jump in the water and head in the opposite direction to the rest and find a quiet sandy bottom at about 22 metres, settle down and cover our lights. Three minutes is actually quite a long time. Our eyes adjust and there are a few curious fish wondering what these 3 weird creatures are doing. Exercise successfully completed we head back towards the reef. There is not a huge amount to see but we do come across a peppered moray and a cuttlefish.
The dive is coming to an end and we are at the mooring line ready for our safety stop. Our instructor thinks its a good drill to deploy our SMBs in the dark while holding a torch so we do as indicated. Once our SMBs are up we recheck our depth and reorientate to the boat……
Who’s moved the boat?!
In the space of a few moments the current has picked up and we have been carried down stream of our boat. The line looks like Christmas tree lights in the distance as divers with torches hold on to it. We start our swim whilst towing an SMB and maintaining our safety stop – sheesh!
We swim for what seems hours hauling our SMBs behind until I am broken and signal to surface. The boat is still some distance away but we have been spotted struggling in the water and people watch on. This definitely works up the appetite!
Finally we make it aboard to hear that 2 of our group have had another excursion to a neighbouring boat to check out the facilities and grab a taxi ride home!
We will all sleep well tonight…….