February, Wednesday
(Weather awful, no chance of diving this week)
Hello, do you have any liveaboard spaces for the start of July
No.
Hello, do you have any liveaboard spaces for the start of July
No.
Hello, do you have any liveaboard spaces for early July
Yes.
How much
A lot.
Hello, do you have any cheap liveaboard spaces for early June
We have Decrepitude II doing the north Red Sea.
Brilliant!

July, Friday
Journey down very quiet. M25 was great, all those shirts and briefcases heading off for another day at work while Im heading off for a week of diving. This time tomorrow there could easily be sharks!

Park car, transfer to terminal, check-in.

No queue! Religions have been started with less justification.

hspace=5 Check-in girl clearly had no idea how much diving equipment weighs, or why some of it needs to be carried in my hand luggage. Finally reached agreement over what was acceptable in my carry-on bag and the charge for excess baggage. May have reacted a little badly, but airport security very understanding.
Had breakfast, then rang bank to arrange loan.
Flight delayed. Passed time by listing sharks it is possible to see. Climbed off airplane into Egyptian heat just an hour late. Tour company rep waiting. Is there a special name for days with two miracles

Rest of party dont look too bad, but half of them are from a Newcastle club and the rest from Birmingham, so Im going to need an interpreter at mealtimes.

Boat looks OK as well, but no air-con in the cabin so a bit sweaty. Still, at least I got a cabin to myself. Time to get some shut-eye.

Saturday
Dreamed of sharks. The best part was when a huge oceanic whitetip started chasing the airline check-in girl. Dream ended badly with shark needing to pay excess pilotfish charges and I was woken by the Newcastle lads arriving back aboard after a night partying in downtown Hurghada. Also found out that my single cabin is really the wheelhouse, so need to move my gear.

hspace=5 Motored out to first dive site. No sharks, but lots of the little gold fish, quite a few of the big yellow fish and a fair sprinkling of the other sort of fish. None of them was mentioned on the Marine Life Identification course I did in the North Sea last year. What a waste of money!

Second dive site a bit like the first. Really colourful and quite warm for the first couple of hours, and I did enjoy bobbing around in the sea before they came to pick me up in the inflatable.

No sharks, fortunately.

Night dive with the Dive Guide. They really know what theyre doing here! Out along this wall we went, trolling along looking at this brightly coloured stuff hanging from the rocks, and the next thing you know we were back at the line from the boat and making our way back aboard without me even having noticed when we turned around.

Sunday
It turns out that we dived around a little patch reef last night, so all we had to do was swim out along the stern line, keep the rock to our left and we would eventually get back to where we started. I know this because I was up early this morning. I was up early because I spent the night on deck, screaming in agony. Why didnt they just tell me its called fire coral for a reason

First dive today wasnt bad, but somebody has damaged the reef very badly by running a ship called the Carsomething into it. It didnt do the ship a lot of good either. It sank.

Second dive today also pretty good, but it was on another wreck that ran into the same reef. Apparently there are at least four ships sunk close together there, which just goes to show how tricky this seafaring business can be. Perhaps they could mark the reef on maps so that people could avoid it.

Night dive a bit dull, even though the Dive Guide said he had selected the site especially for me. As soon as I got in, I noticed that when I looked up from under water I could see the stern light of our boat, which I used as an aid to navigation. The bottom was rocky, with no colourful corals, and no fish.

There was no life at all, in fact, and the light I was looking at was the moon. Nice, relaxing swim back to the boat, though it was quite a long way.

Monday
Very lumpy sea as we headed towards the Thistlegorm. This was the ship Jacques Cousteau used when he made his famous film A Silent World Without Sunshine. Just afterwards he was using it to transport a cargo of motorbikes, armoured cars and wellies when it sank. There is a famous piece of film from years later showing Captain Cousteau throwing a commemorative motorbike overboard at the site of the sinking.

The Dive Guide explained that the wreck is suffering a lot of damage from the amount of traffic on her. Im not quite sure what sort of damage is likely because she has already sunk to the bottom of the sea, which is why they call her a wreck, and is too deep for a boat to run into. On the other hand, if the captains in this area can run into big things they can see, like reefs, I suppose they can easily run into a sunken boat they cant see.

We made two dives on the wreck, but it didnt change much between the two. It wasnt what I was expecting, either. If the Dive Guide hadnt told me it was a big ship I would have said it was the remains of a railway locomotive.

On the second dive, my buddy and I got quite low on air, so we used what my old instructor called the Ballistic Ascent Technique. What you do is to get a firm hold of the wreck as close to the bottom as possible, drop your weightbelt and fully inflate your BC. Then you let go, kick hard from the bottom and fin as fast as you can to the surface.

This can be made competitive, the winner being the one who gets furthest out of the water. I won easily, because my buddy did a safety stop and you cant get the momentum from 6m.

Bummer! The Dive Guide wont let me do the night dive.

Tuesday
First dive today was on a reef called Cormorant Rock. It isnt really called Cormorant Rock but I dont like the word they use instead. Its a very nice reef. I spent a lot of time really shallow here, because my compass let me down and I went around the north side when everybody else went around the south side.

I told the Dive Guide how nice it was and he said hes going to do the next dive with me, because I seem to be seeing so many unusual things. I think this goes to show that even the most seasoned guide can learn something new from an experienced British diver.

Did the afternoon dive on the wreck of a barge in the middle of a broad bay. It was flattened and not very exciting, but at least it was a lot bigger than the Thistlegorm and it was shaped like a boat.

I dont think I want to dive with the Dive Guide again, though. He kept banging his cylinder with a piece of metal and tugging at my fins to slow down. If he cant keep up, he really should do more exercise.

Night dive on the barge very memorable. That eel thing was huge! Wetsuit rinsed out a treat.

Wednesday
Poor start to the day. We were at a site called Shabby Erg, which is a horseshoe-shaped reef in the middle of the open sea. The boat anchored in the middle while we went round to the outer wall in the inflatable. I asked the guide if we might see sharks and he said that people did sometimes see them, although it wasnt very likely.

Almost as soon as we dropped into the water we were deafened by a series of high-pitched clicks and squeaks and whistles, and about 20 dolphins turned up. No chance of seeing sharks with them getting in the way, so I came up.

Tummy starting to play up a bit, must be the water.

Afternoon and night spent feeding the fish. Didnt dive.

Thursday
Feeling better, which is good because the Dive Guide says were going to dive Shabby Hum Gummer, which is quite good for sharks if you go deep enough off the southern tip.

Not a good dive. I think the Dive Guide was suffering from nitrogen narcosis. As soon as we got to 60m he was grabbing at my kit and pointing upwards. Good thing I was able to inflate his jacket and send him to the surface, otherwise we would both have had problems. Youd think hed know he couldnt take that sort of depth and say so before he went into the water, wouldnt you

Anyway, I was able to go all the way to the bottom to look for sharks, although there werent any. And my depth-gauge needle has bent. Fortunately I had my computer on, otherwise I wouldnt have had a record for my logbook. Not that there was a lot to record, just that blasted mermaid riding the translucent dolphin.

hspace=5 I think that mermaid has a real problem. I only ever see her on the really deep dives, and they can be dangerous without the proper training and a lot of experience.

Still no sharks and just the one dive left.

The Dive Guide is so determined Im going to see a shark this time that hes picked a site specially and is going to tie his wrist to mine so that he can point it out when we see it!

Brilliant dive! We saw a shark! Not just any old shark, either, but a baby thresher shark in the very earliest phase, when they still live in anemones. I only saw it because the Dive Guide pointed it out to me and told me later what it was! Im going to look it up in a fish book as soon as I get home!

Friday
I can't believe the week is over and Im on my way home. The Dive Guide was so sorry to see me go. He actually came to the airport and waited until I got on the aeroplane, and waved me off. Maybe I overdid the tip a little but, wow, that shark was worth the whole trip and it was thanks to him that I saw it.

I can't wait until next year.

October, Thursday
(Weather poor, not diving this weekend)
It was a clownfish.