How do you organise a highly successful diving holiday for a bunch of demanding club divers ? Well you don’t, you join a trip that has already been organised !
At three o’clock in the morning I stood staring at an expectant sky studded with stars, bright and iridescent, an intensity that relayed the anticipation that the morning held. Black coffee, aromatic and bitter highlighting the instant. There is no traffic at this time of day so when an engine sounded, deep and muffled, amplified by the cold shortly followed by the arc of headlamps swinging into the cul-de-sac the holiday, for me, had begun.
Colin and Jim were waiting, the doors to the service bay open spilling a pool of warmth on the forecourt. With everyone present and correct, the luggage loaded we boarded and quietness descended as we left Colin to his task and drifted off to an intermittent sleep disturbed by hills and bends as we motored South. A short early morning stop at Killington services and on to Manchester airport where we bayed farewell to Jim and wished him well on his long solo home. (right that’s enough of that – Ed)
The airport was comparatively quiet and we were through checkin and passport control before we knew it and having breakfasted walked the duty free and settled waiting for the flight to board which we did without fuss. Three hours later and not without a little discomfort we took off after an engineer has fixed a problem with the wing ! Takeoff, food, drink, boredom, landing and nearly 6 hrs later we were there, the heat of Egypt greeting us as we transferred to Hurghada air conditioned airport and the joys of a bureaucratic system that probably owes more than a little to Empire.
Once outside our Regal dive company rep found us and walked us to the bus that would transfer us to the boat. Bags were tossed onto the roof, tips given and we settled down as best we could for another journey in the dark, watching sand, illuminated by the headlights, pass us by. A stop at a small kahwas, a welcomed break and we had the opportunity to try the local coffee which was superb but unfortunately kept me awake for the rest of the trip to Marsa Abu Dahab near Marsa Ghaleb. An hour later and nearly 22 hrs since leaving home we were standing on the dock in front of MY Infintity, a truly welcomed sight. We loaded our bags. Then off with the shoes to congregate in the saloon to meet our dive guides Paul and Ahmed and complete admin before a nightcap and much needed sleep. We had arrived and so have David who had traveled via Gatwick and arrived about a quarter bottle of rum before hand.
The following morning the hook to get us up was that we could not depart until the Port authority had physically seen us and checked us off against the boats manifesto, so 10 rather bleary eyed travelers from Scotland and another crew for various parts of England mustered in the saloon to be eyeballed by an Egyptian official and then we were off.
Motoring south we took in the two reef systems of Ras Shona and Sharb Marsa Alam falling into the routine of dive briefing and dive effortlessly. The further south we motored the bluer the water became and by the time we got to the St John’s shoal, the furthest south we could go, the water was crystal clear and deep deep blue with visibility too great to accurately estimate.
The boat stayed in the St John’s area for two days where we enjoyed the delights of corals and fish , walls and caves, night dives and pinnacles and even a small wreck, before starting to motor northwards to Mekawa Island and Fury’s shoal. Fury’s shoal provided some interesting diving and we spent two days enjoying excellent drop offs and the special Red Sea life including turtles as well as an adventure snorkeling with a large pod of dolphin. But two days was all we could spend and we motored north again towards Marsa Alam where more reefs provided excellent sport.
The last days diving was on Elphinstone, a reef between Marsa Ghaleb and Marsa Alam which had fantastic drop offs enjoyed while drifting along a vertical wall. This was a terrific experience and we did both sides of the reef just to make sure ! Some lucky party members reported sharks and barracudas, but most of us had to settle of a conveyor belt of life with an 80m drop into the blue below our feet. An awesome dive !
That was it, the boat motored North overnight and arrived at Hurghada which saved us the bus trip from Marsa Alam and we spent a hour walking around Hurghada before decamping into the Marriott to savor the pool, bar and air conditioning prior to another marathon journey back to Perth.
Thanks are due to the organiser of this trip, it would not have happened without all the hard work that was put in but we must not forget both Colin and Jim’s effort in the minibus which made the airport transfer so easy. A very enjoyable trip thanks all.