A very early start on Saturday 23rd March 2013 for 15 of the girls from Headington School in Oxford, who are being accompanied by three of their lucky teachers on a diving safari to the Egyptian Red Sea.
Through driving wind, snow and sleet the girls arrived at the airport on time and checked-in their bags and diving kit.
Despite awful weather conditions the plane only departed a few minutes late and the 5 hour flight meant the girls could catch up on watching some films and reading books.
On arrival at Sharm el Sheikh airport we got our passports stamped, collected our luggage and our coach took us the 20 minute drive to the international port where our home for the week, Snefro Love, awaited our berth.
We were greeted by the crew of the boat and our guides for the week, Alex and Bassim. After some light refreshments we received our boat briefing, a tour of the dive boat and had a nice dinner before sitting out on deck and heading to bed.
On Sunday morning we were awoken at 7am for our first dive briefing. The girls set up their equipment, completed their buddy checks and made their first of many giant stride entries in to the crystal clear blue waters of the Red Sea. Our dive site of the day was Temple, aptly named for the coral pinnacles under the waves that resemble temple pillars. For the majority of the group this was their first of four qualifying dives. The group was split between the three instructors and my group made a controlled descent down the bow line at the front of the dive boat. On arriving at the sandy bottom we slowly made our way around the corals where we encountered some bright colourful marine life including golden antheas, black and white banner fish, navy blue trigger fish, yellow butterfly fish and everyones favourite ‘Nemo’ the clownfish. For me the highlight was an illusive stonefish which are pretty tricky to spot and mustn’t be touched as they are considered one of the most poisonous fish species in the world.
After 40 minutes we slowly ascended to the surface and swam the short distance back to the boat. A hearty breakfast including eggs, sausages, pancakes, croissants and toast was had followed by an hour to let it digest.
We then had our briefing for the second dive which entailed a number of skills that count towards the open water certification; mask clearing, fin pivots, alternate air source use and another tour of the reef to explore the pinnacles and pretty corals.
Then after making our 3-minute safety stop we once again ascended in to the bright sunshine and were helped back on to the boat by the crew.
After lunch and some quality tanning time in the beautiful 30 degree sunshine the girls once again donned their wetsuits and made their way in to their dive kit fir their third and final dive of the day. This time we completed more skills including some compass work, more fin pivots and more mask clearing which still allowed us plenty of time to meander around the reefs looking for more unusual creatures.
A few surface skills such as cramp removal and tired diver tows and we made our way back to the boat for dinner.
This allowed enough time to watch a Harry Potter film before heading to bed, the girls were shattered, including Maya and Eve who were aptly named the ‘Chuckle Sisters’.
This morning we awoke at a new dive site called ‘Marsa Breika’ in the Ras Mohammad national marine park.
This allowed the girls to complete their fourth and final dive which means that I am pleased to announce they have all safely completed their PADI Open Water course and are qualified to dive to 18m anywhere around the world.
We made 2 further dives around the in the same area where we saw lots of clownfish, puffer fish and some blue spotted stingrays sleeping under the table corals. On the third dive we went entered a large underwater canyon at 18m deep and followed its path up to around 6m. This made an excellent photo opportunity where there were several siting’s of Gangham Style and other dances that I’m not familiar with.
After the third of the day our boat made its way to the other side of Ras Mohammad to Stingray Station where we are to spend the evening. On the way we encountered a pod of 30+ dolphins that rode the bow of the boat for a good 10-15 minutes. The shrieks and screams from the girls have left a whistling sound in my ears which I hope will be gone by the morning.
For some of the group, they are going to start their Advanced open water course which will see them qualify to 30m.
I look forward to writing the next instalment of the blog and hope you enjoy reading about your daughters underwater adventures?