Appeared in DIVER February 2007

OUT OF NOWHERE AT LITTLE BROTHER
Divernet
What do you do when the currents are running riot Try something new in the blue and go with the flow, says Dave Smith. Pictures by Veruschka Matchett

IN LINE WITH OUR PLEDGE to redefine Red Sea diving, the Red Sea Explorers team has introduced a landmark technique for diving the Brothers Islands.
On 19 July last year, at around 6am, a team of six DIR (Doing It Right) divers woke up to find that divers on neighbouring boats were unwilling to dive at the planned time because of a ripping current, stronger than many of us had seen before.
Our group, after reviewing the necessary support requirements with the surface team, decided to go ahead anyway, and enjoyed a stunning dive on the Numidia, a wreck lying vertically along the north wall of the reef.
We encountered downcurrents, upcurrents and all sorts of currents until we found ourselves in the sheltered south side of the reef, having been accompanied on the dive by schools of tuna, barracuda and a grey reef shark.
It was evident that any further dives would be limited by the fact that the current would push us back to the sheltered area within 10 minutes of hitting the water.
Was it worth another dive Yes. But not just on Big Brother.
As we sat down to eat breakfast and discuss the options for the next dive, one of the crew-members took a swim, betting that he would be able to swim back to the boat against the current.
The Zodiac had to collect him after he found himself unable to reach the boat after five minutes of hard swimming.
It was then that somebody joked that such a current would make it possible to reach Little Brother in a single dive.
Several pairs of eyes looked up from their breakfasts. What asked the joker. Are you guys up for it
A discussion of how such a dive could be performed safely and successfully was soon underway. It covered the importance of team awareness and positioning (already a solid factor among the team), surface-support procedures and estimated current directions and required compass bearings.
This drift dive would take place above more than 500m of blue water in an attempt to hit a target 150m long by 100m wide that lay a mile away, in waters inhabited by a host of curious
sea creatures.

TANKS WERE FILLED AND TEAM ROLES FINALISED until at around 10.30 the six of us hit the water and descended just west of Big Brother.
We wanted to catch the south current, not the east current we had encountered on the previous dive.
This put us in a perfect position to drop down to the wreck of the Aida II to a maximum planned depth of 36m, although we had only a brief glimpse of it as it passed below us at speed.
As soon as we passed the wreck, we began our ascent to around 21m, where the delayed SMB was deployed. We took our compass bearing and waited for surface-support to appear above.
We then arranged ourselves in single file, an arms length apart or closer.
Surface-support in place, we set off past the outlying lines of our liveaboard, mv Tala, and found ourselves alone in the blue. No reference, no little fishes - nothing but a compass heading, an SMB and faith in the plan.
After a 35-minute drift, swimming at an average depth of 18m and following the preset compass heading to account for the effect of the current, we spotted the first signs of life.
Small fish began to reappear, followed by a sailfish, a few sharks and a small school of tuna. Suddenly the reef loomed, hazy before our eyes.
Exclamations could be heard through divers regulators as we fast approached Little Brothers north plateau.
It took the team fewer than six minutes to whip across the plateau and around the west side, down into the sheltered area of the southern corner.
Once there, and trapped either side by the current, we began minimum deco and congratulating ourselves on an exhilarating dive.
After a total run time of 62 minutes, the last pair surfaced with the SMB and passed their equipment up into the Zodiac. People on the one other boat on the site, the my Miss Nouran, offered soft drinks and congratulations after their initial disbelief at what we had done.
Twenty minutes later, after a relaxed ride back, we re-boarded Tala with huge grins on our faces.


Red
Red Sea Explorers divers get back aboard the Talas Zodiac after a dive
Divernet
The
The Big Brother-Little Brother DIR challenge dive gets underway.
Divernet