SAT-INTEL HAD LOCATED THE TARGET five clicks from Sharm el Sheikh. My mission was to penetrate Travco Marina, slip aboard mega-yacht VIP One, rescue the beautiful Russian spy and escape undetected. Better still, grab the blonde, shoot the bad guys and save the planet from annihilation.
My imagination had been running riot from the moment I had stepped aboard VIP One. This had been fuelled by too much sunshine, relaxation, good food and, oh yeah, the real reason I was supposed to be there, the scuba-diving!
Dont they say nice things come in small packages VIP One may not be the biggest, most expensive or most luxurious liveaboard in Egypt, but she does offer her customers a little je ne sais quoi.
The liveaboard, built in 1996, is 30m long with a 7.8m beam. VIP One is perfect for what she does, says Brit Darin Bailey, her Boat Manager for the past four years. Weve made changes over the past four years and shes now running very well.
Accommodating a maximum of only 14 passengers in one master suite, two doubles and four bunk cabins, VIP One is well-suited to smaller groups that dont want to mingle with strangers.
I managed to pick Jamboree Week, sharing with a mishmash of Belgians, Dutch and English, but everyone seemed pretty chilled out. I asked around and there were no complaints about the food, service or cabins. The British contingent was rumbling about doing too many wreck dives (strange) and not enough reefs, but that was about it.
The three-day weather forecast indicated an opportunity to cross to Shaab Abu Nuhas, the graveyard of four superb shipwrecks. So after the Ras Katy warm-up dive it was a matter of battening down the hatches and full steam ahead.
VIP Ones twin 610hp MAN engines provide 11 knots at cruising speed, and the two-hour crossing gave us plenty of time for breakfast, best meal of the day. Pancakes and honey were my favourite, or was it the scrambled eggs on toast Decisions...
The liveaboards range is from Tiran Straits in the north-east to Shaab Abu Nuhas in the south-west, but she normally does the northern wrecks and reefs itinerary, so last December was only the third time that year she had got to Abu Nuhas.
We never do exactly the same route, piped up Hooch, the boats resident dive guide. Tweaks depend on the clientele and their preferences, and a desire to keep away from other boat traffic. Divers can accrue up to 22 dives in a week - four a day, including a night dive.
Ours was one of the last boats to moor at Shaab Abu Nuhas, and Hooch briefed us on the oldest of the wrecks, the Carnatic. The 90m steam sailer was the perfect intro wreck dive, with plenty of easily accessible swim-throughs adorned with brightly coloured soft corals.

I BEGAN AT THE STERN, where the giant prop remains half-buried in the sand, then worked slowly forward.
The iron ships skeletal remains, silhouetted against the blue, reminded me of a towering cathedral. At a depth of only 24m, there is plenty of time to explore the whole wreck.
At the bow, I found a nice shoal of glassfish weaving in and out of the deck supports, and four strange-looking soft corals grouped together.
My mind was starting to wander again. As I sat staring at Hooch over dinner, I could see a distinct resemblance to James Bond villain Oddjob - or was it Ernst Stavro Blofeld
As for a beautiful blonde, well, Nicci, one of the British guests, could have doubled as a Honey Ryder or a Pussy Galore. I could just see myself in a tuxedo, cigar in one hand, vodka Martini in the other, uttering those immortal words: Youre a woman of many parts, Pussy.
But this was a dive-boat, and I had to make do with an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt and a tumblerful of Bombay Sapphire.
At daybreak, we prepared to dive on the popular Giannis D wreck. The 87m cargo vessel must have the most photogenic stern in the world, Jessica Alba apart. The engine-room is really peachy, and a nice set of portholes on the starboard side create an amazing ambient-light photo opportunity.
The bow is well broken up, but there are always giant moray eels and angelfish peering from the holes. By the time we reached the surface, another four boats and 40-odd divers had joined us.
The Marcus, or Tile Wreck, is my favourite. Its nine-cylinder diesel engine is worth a viewing, and the cargo holds are still jam-packed with granite floor tiles. I got Nicci to do a spot of underwater modelling for me, and she even put on some eye make-up. This is the first time I had tried make-up in photographs, and I liked the effect. I was expecting big panda eyes when she took off her mask, but it didnt smudge at all.
We tried to get some close-ups with two anemonefish, but the feisty so-and-sos were having none of it, and kept attacking Niccis second stage.
To round off our day, we dipped onto the 105m-long Kimon M at the other end of the reef.
The hull is broken in several sections, allowing easy access to the cargo holds - basically this is a giant ironclad carcass.
I started at the stern in 27m, had a quick look at the prop and then entered the dark holds. It seemed as though I could swim virtually unhindered, from one end of the wreck to the other.
Slowly ascending all the time, I passed what looked like the engine, and was spat back out on the reef at 10m.

OUR WRECK BONANZA JUST KEPT ON GOING. The next day we dived on the Dunraven, and even heard the ghost whispers from inside. The propeller was a mass of dazzling soft corals in hues of pink, orange and purple.
This was followed by the relatively shallow, broken remains of the Carina and the Kingston. As we rolled back from the RIB, more than a dozen dolphins appeared from the blue. They stayed with us for about five minutes, ducking and diving and coming in really close.
Making eye contact with dolphins is quite freaky. I was sure they could look right into my soul, and hope they found some good left in there somewhere.
Later in the afternoon, I had to make a difficult decision - snorkel with dolphins, or eat pizza VIPs pizza is really hot!
Movies, backgammon and a game or two of Scrabble seemed to make up the entertainment schedule for most evenings. But playing Scrabble with Oddjob and Pussy Galore had its drawbacks - I hadnt realised that there were so many two-letter words in the dictionary - but it kept us entertained for hours. Plethora and kangaroo were the words of the week.
Our final wreck stop was to dive the world-famous Thistlegorm. The 126m WW2 freighter was sunk by Stuka dive-bombers on 6 October, 1941 while packed with trucks, motorbikes, Lee-Enfield rifles, artillery shells and locomotives. Hooch had planned for us to do three dives, including one at night, and we were the first divers down the mooring line and into no 2 hold, though this didnt last for long.
As I was staring at the BSA motorcycles, a long line of divers swam by in single file. I was glad to be diving in a small group, and luckily for Hooch we were all reasonably experienced, and didnt need guiding.
Ive dived on the wreck more than 300 times but I still find new stuff, he said. One of his memories was of seeing dolphins while tying on the bowline at five in the morning.

ON OUR LAST DAY, black storm-clouds gathered, followed by torrential rain, thunder and lightning. And I hadnt expected to see a rainbow in Egypt.
We slowly worked our way back to Ras Mohamed Marine Park. I have a big soft spot for Shark and Yolanda Reefs, where the corals and marine life look spectacular during summer.
We started our dive at Anemone City, then crossed to Shark Reef. I wanted to catch the anemones closed up, showing the red outer casing, but it was too early in the evening. However, some giant sea-fans and a shy Napoleon wrasse kept us occupied for the rest of the dive.
At 6am on Saturday, Hooch knocked on my cabin door for the last time. We would be heading back to Travco after a final dive on Shark and Yolanda, which meant finishing on a high, with big grouper, turtles, barracuda, morays and a nice shoal of grunts.
And at Ras Katy we gathered for our farewell Bond barbecue. Jochen, from Red Sea Diving College, really did look the part. Natalie and Nicci also scrubbed up quite nicely as 007s femme fatales.
But lurking somewhere in the shadows was Hooch aka OddJob, waiting to wade in on the action!
A good liveaboard is mainly down to the crew and these guys are really proud to work on VIP One, Hooch said of the eight men who were constantly cleaning the boat, attending to us, or picking up Niccis discarded kit (what is it with Bond Girls Do they all have this prima donna attitude).
They had made me feel like a VIP all week, so I was more than happy to leave a big wedge of EGP in the tip-box.

VIP One went out in a dramatic blaze worthy of a Bond film climax, but was that the last of her To find out, or for other Red Sea liveaboard options, go to