Day 5. Today is the last full day of diving and the water is flat calm and the reef invisible. It is easy to see how so many boats have come to rest here. As it’s so calm there is no breeze so at 6.30 am it is already warm and humid.The boat begins to move and the plan is revealed. We are diving the Carnatic which is a luxury steam passenger vessel built in the 1860’s able to carry up to 250 people. She was carrying a cargo of cotton, port, copper ingots, £40,000 in gold coins and 37 passengers when she hit the reef in September 1869. Only £32,000 of the coins are reported as recovered so we are excited with the possibility of finding the remaining £8,000 and booking another week on the MV Blue Horizon!
We moor up over the Carnatic and jump directly from the boat – bliss, no ribs!
The wreck is very colourful and covered in life. We visit the stern first which sits at 28 metres and then work our way along to the bow taking in the masts on the way. Just as we get ready to ascend to our safety stop we spot a Cute Risbecia nudibranch waving around in the water.
Once breakfast is complete the boat unties and relocates to above the Chrisoula K. For our second dive we have the option to swim to the Kimon M wreck which is a 7 min swim (this is the wreck that has its bow sitting above the surface on the reef) or redo the Chrisoula K. My buddy doesn’t fancy either option so I join another group heading for the Kimon M. It is also known as the Lentil wreck due to her cargo of lentils. She was built in 1952 with a gross tonnage of 3,714 – Wow that’s a lot of lentils! She sank in December 1978 and her stern sits in 27 metres of water with her bow rusting above the surface.
Buddy checks complete we jump and start our swim from the Chrisoula to the Kimon M (or Keema Naan as our guide calls it!) it’s a bit of a swim but finally we see bubbles and the dark shape of the wreck emerges. For a wreck that is not dived very often it’s certainly very busy! There is a group sporting retro dive kit and I am half expecting Jacques Costeau himself to swim past at any moment.
The stern is very intact and the prop and rudder look like they could still work. The current is variable so we stay close to the structure to avoid being swept away. We are mindful of the swim back so gradually shallow out and make our way to the reef edge so we can navigate back to the boat, take in the views and make our safety stop on the way. The reef is full of life and colour and would make a very nice dive in itself. Perfect.
We set sail again after lunch and the journey continues south. We stop at a reef called Siyul Kebir and this will be our next attempt at Nav course dive 1.
The boat is moored to the reef and the line serves as a reference to and from the reef to make sure everyone can find it. We descend and find a sandy space at about 23 metres. My buddy navigates a square and six sided shape in record speed and I manage my square on the second attempt. The six sided shape presents more problems too but I eventually make it back. We head off for the rest of the dive and the reef is a little dull. Lots of broken corals and not a huge amount of life. As we shallow up ready for our safety stop the reef is a lot healthier and we see the eggs of a Spanish Dancer.
Once back on board we hear about the acrobatic dive entry of one of the group and the sighting of an actual Spanish Dancer very near to where we saw the just the eggs. D’oh!
We set sail again and the bright lights of Hurghada are visible….. Booo!
We moor up at Poseidon ready for our night dive. Our last night dive and a a good turn out of divers. We jump and follow the mooring line to just in front of the reef and pick over the coral blocks. We see lots of different types of star fish, sea urchins and hermit crabs.
Our buddy starts furiously waving his torch to attract our attention and shines his beam at a free swimming flat worm! Cool!
Out of the corner of my eye I see some coral move…. On closer inspection it has legs….. I beckon my buddies to have a look, slightly nervous that it may be a false alarm, at the Coral Spider crab.
We meander back and see several PJ slugs no bigger than your little finger nail and more hermit crabs scurrying about.
Safely back on board we see the usual suspects getting a taxi ride back…… There were no other boats for them to visit so they just decided on the scenic route home.
Dinner is a Turkey extravaganza! Quite how they manage to cook all this food while on the move and performing six other jobs as well I’ll never know. We have been fed within inches of our lives all week , people have been shedding kilos from their weight belts due to the kilos being added else where!
There is a democratic vote over dinner to decide on what we shall do on our final day…… There will be two dives and will it be reef, reef or reef, wreck??? The wreck will be the El Mina….. the vote determines reef, reef!
Day 6. We are treated to a lay in until 7am but the engines have been running since 6am motoring to the first dive site. The crew are busy preparing the boat which reinforces the ‘end of holiday’ feeling.
Our first dive is at Carlos Reef. It’s not usually dived by Safari boats and the captain has had to be persuaded to allow us to stop.
We jump in the water at 7.56 and are greeted with a riot of colour. Hard and soft coral cover the sea bed and there are Antheas, Parrot fish, Angel fish and all sorts of colour aquatic life. I unwittingly get too close to an Anemone and am attacked by 2 feisty fish swimming at my mask trying to scare me away! I watch for a moment and then let them get on with what ever Anemone fish do all day……
After 57 mins we surface at the boat ladders grinning from ear to ear…. A gorgeous reef and one worth remembering as a stunning last day location. It is so nice that we beg the guides to allow us to stay for our second and final dive too…… We don’t want to dive a mediocre reef next to the petrol station as our last memory of our holiday. The guides are persuaded and the captain also agrees. We have to agree to be in the water by 10.30, so a quick turn around, but it’s a worthwhile compromise.
We are in the water by 10.57 (close!) and enjoy another stunning 60 minute dive. Definitely the nicest way to finish a holiday apart from maybe having dolphins, manta rays and sharks doing a fly past on your final safety stop! Maybe next time……
The boat is returning to port via the petrol station and the concrete hotels are visble all along the coast line. I always hate this bit of the holiday….
The dive deck is crowded with people waiting to wash their kit and hang it out to dry before being thrown, squeezed and crammed in to suitcases that seem to have shrunk.
The shopping delivery of Blue O Two merchandise is due soon and we will be leaving our fellow travellers for a night at the Marriott. We have enjoyed the week, the amazing crew, the diving and the company have all been excellent but we are looking forward to a hotel room, a lay in and breakfast in bed on our last day!
We will be reunited around the pool again tomorrow as we spend our last day off gassing at the Marriot ready for the journey home.
Thanks OV for organising another fantastic club holiday. Only 12 months until we do it all again! Deep, Deep South – bringing it on!
Those keen to get away before that there is a trip planned for 20th October 2014!