Egypt 2014 Trip Report

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View from my room

Ten of us met up at Manchester for the annual shore dive trip to Egypt, excellently arranged by Trevor. We were heading off in high spirits to Pharaoh Dive club based as Roots Camp near El Quesir via Manchester and Hurgada.

Everything went well on the journey (though Jethro’s hand luggage was apparently very suspicious!) and we arrived at Roots Camp late evening for a meal and bed.

The next day was sunny (as expected) and incredibly windy (not expected). After sorting the paperwork (everyone except Steve filled it in OK! Steve just signed it and omitted any details but Martina, who is in charge of all things administrative, grabbed him later to get it filled in) we had a relaxing couple of dives on the house reef to check our skills and a relaxing lunch on the beach.

Turtles turtles and more turtles

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Jethro and a 3 flipper turtle

The strong winds meant we were limited in our choice of shore dive sites but this wasn’t a problem as we were in turtle heaven – we saw turtles nearly every day and usually more than one per day.

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Pixie hawkfish – by Ann

Someone tried to tell Ann she would get bored with turtles but she didn’t think so and there was no evidence of this during the trip! Though the pixie hawkfish came a very close second.

We could tell that we were seeing different turtles as at least 3 of them had different levels of damage – missing flippers and damage to their shells.

The Night Dive

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Spanish Dancer – by Ann

We timed the night dive so we had a day’s gap before our early morning start to visit the Salem Express. Descending into the water with torches was wonderful – and we saw some fantastic things including a huge snail (called a Partridge Tun) and a massive Spanish Dancer.

Some of us had a few problems with dive torches not working well (among other problems Tom’s flooded, mine decided it would only work for 20 seconds at a time after 2 minutes) but it was still great with enough working torches to make sure we could all see stuff including a huge free-swimming Moray.

We were all very happy by the time we had our rather late evening meal.

The Salem Express

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Guess Who?

The day trip to the Salem express (a ferry that sank about 20 years ago with the loss of around 1200 lives) and a nearby reef was long but worth it. The wreck has plenty to look at for Ocean divers and if people want depth they can get it.

Our first attempt to get onto the wreck didn’t work!! There were 3 other boats there when we arrived so we couldn’t moor onto the wreck’s buoy. So we were told to jump off the back and hold onto a rope until we were all in place to dive down to the wreck under our boat and the one in front of it. In the process I lost a fin as I had foolishly assumed the people helping had put it on properly. Fortunately after I let go of the rope to retrieve my fin Jethro was able to grab hold of me and pull me back!

Swimming alongside the Salem Express

We attempted to drop down to 5 metres and swim to the wreck. The strong current meant that those of us who tried to move forwards used around 50-60 bar in 5 minutes and we still hadn’t got back to the boat. An interesting experience!!

The guide realised things were not going to work out so we surfaced and grabbed a line from the back of the boat to pull ourselves back in.

Half an hour later the other boats had gone so we had the buoy and wreck to ourselves (and the army guys who were there training as well). The second dive was on a nearby reef with the remains of a day boat close by – of course someone had to sit on the loo!! The rock shapes, tunnel, corals and fish here were really good as well.

Dolphins??

Four of us (Tom, Jethro, Nigel and Alex) went on a zodiac dive and ended up swimming with a pod of over 50 dolphins! At this point the rest of us decide not to believe them whilst wishing we too had gone on the zodiac trip!

Litterpicking

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One of several crocodile fish we saw during the litterpick

For our last dive we did a litter pick at Abu Hamra. Moudi had arranged a litter pick there 3 weeks previously but thought the strong winds and currents could have blown a load more plastic and fishing lines onto that area of reef. Not too much litter, but enough to make the clean worthwhile.

It was a great dive, mainly between 3 and 6 metres and the need to focus on the corals meant we saw loads of other stuff that before we would have missed even though we were diving slowly. Air consumption was of course fantastic so we were able to finish off with a wonderful, warm, 67 minute dive.

We can strongly recommend litterpick dives for future trips!

Next Trip

We can’t wait – looking forward to May next year in Dahab!

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Relaxing on the day boat after our trip
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