EVEN TODAY, with all the accumulated wisdom of the years, the Blue Hole in Dahab holds a special place in diving folklore. Part of this is because of the grandeur of the site itself, and part because of the terrible reputation it has developed over the past 30 years or so.
Certainly as many as 40 divers have stepped into the hole to be lost, with some estimating that the number is considerably higher – in the region of 100-plus.
And so our latest project has been to try to tell the real story of the Blue Hole. Why has this site – known as the Tiger’s Veil in Bedouin legend – claimed so many lives The findings have been absolutely fascinating, and contain many lessons for those who seek to go deep on air.
We turned up on site with all the trappings of a major expedition – rebreathers, support divers, bail-out cylinders, a drop-line, and associated paraphernalia.
Legendary underwater cameraman Doug Allan has a splendid expression for all this gear – “klatch”. Try saying it out loud and you’ll find it the perfect expression for lots of dive-kit.
It deserves to enter the lexicon of diving language very soon indeed.

THE AIM FOR ME was to explore the arch at 60m, although certain members of the team would be going considerably deeper. I was surprised how seriously our topside supervisor Kev Gurr was taking my dive, and mentioned this to him in passing.
His reply was fairly unequivocal: “Well, that’s why people get themselves into trouble here. This is a deep dive, with no bottom, and with the arch you have an overhead environment.
“I’ll be taking it very seriously indeed, and suggest we all do the same.”
This conversation, by the way, is why Kev has returned again and again from extraordinarily demanding dive projects throughout the world. He treats every dive, at every site, to every depth, with the same level of respect.
As with any site that has claimed lives, a number of myths and legends have grown up around the Hole, one of which tells of a curse from a Bedouin girl who cast herself into the deep blue because she didn’t want to marry the man her father had lined up for her.
She is now said to lurk in the gloom, luring young men down to their inevitable demise. Strangely enough, this is not a million miles from the truth.
There is indeed something mystical about the Blue Hole and the arch that lures divers, addled by narcosis, ever deeper.
Come to me, it says, and dwell awhile. Come down to me where the air you breathe will become poisonous, where your brain will be fogged, and where the needle on your contents gauge will track your life ebbing away.
The fact that it is generally young men that die in the Hole is no coincidence. It seems to me that of all the most dangerous substances at depth, where oxygen becomes toxic and nitrogen narcotic, testosterone is the most deadly of all.
We had a glorious week exploring both the dive site and the stories that surround it, a journey of discovery for all of us, regardless of age and diving experience.
Suffice it to say that for the right type of diver the Blue Hole is a magical, entirely safe experience. For the wrong type – those fuelled by the macho desire to prove themselves – Mother Nature could not have devised a more perfect trap. Such tales and findings will emerge in the subsequent TV series.

THERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE for this column. As ever in Dahab we were treated with courtesy, humour, and the genuine warmth of an Egyptian welcome.
We have grown up together, the British diving industry and the resorts of the Red Sea. The latter are now facing a genuine crisis, with tourist numbers down by as much as 85%.
The diving remains as good as ever, but many, many dive centres are at breaking point, with most saying they can continue for another year, two at most.
Over many seasons of wonderful holidays and dive trips, we have all got to know Red Sea dive centres and the people who run them. They now need us more than ever.
Should you feel hard-nosed about it, perhaps one way to view it is as a chance to snap up a real bargain in one of the most beautiful dive locations in the world.
Another way to see it is a chance to breathe life back into a location that is close to all our hearts.
This is the place that nurtured and encouraged us as we set out on the road to becoming divers. Now, in what is unequivocally a period of real crisis in the Red Sea diving industry, it is time for us to return the favour.