Text & photos by Sarah Woodford
It was the coldest January in Egypt for years but Yves and his Rebreather boys from Belgium, Vince and Ron’s open circuit team from Holland, John from England, myself and Paul Vinten from Tekstreme, Lisa and Dion, the resident dive guides, and Anke from Emperor Fleet managed to brave the elements for Tekstreme’s first Safari of 2007!
It would have been easy to brave anything on Emperor Infinity. She is one of Emperor Fleet’s flagship boats and soon turned out to be rather a cushy number…..cosy duvets in every cabin, fantastic food and plenty of it, surround sound movies every night and a crew of 10 who pandered to our every need. Even filling tanks was made bearable with comfy basket chairs, sea view, drinks on call and music on tap, but someone could have turned the heating on out there…
The first night started with Rebreather divers on one table and Open Circuits on the other at dinner; a bit worrying but thankfully that quickly changed during the week! Day one was grey, cloudy and windy with full moon currents and the tide going out – not the best welcome to Red Sea diving but it gave everyone the chance to get their gear sorted out.
Day two, the sky was blue, the sea was calm, and a sunrise dive on the wreck of the Carnatic reminded everyone why they were here. Afternoon, sunset and sunrise dives on Thistlegorm were even better; great visibility, little current and few bubbles…apart from her foredeck where Vince and Ron’s team were practicing skills and drills!
The good weather continued for a cruise across to Gubal Island where the zodiacs whizzed everyone off to the wreck of the Ulysses. The barge at Gubal has always been one of my favourite night dives in the Red Sea. Not having dived it for four years, I just couldn’t resist…..it was even better than I remembered!
Day Four was one of the highlights…the Wreck of the Rosalie Moller. Tanks had been filled, sofnolime packed, kit thoroughly checked and dive plans scribbled on slates. I woke up in a mild panic at 4am, listening to the wind which had definitely got up overnight. “Paul, what’s plan B?….Rosalie Moller. Paul, what’s plan C?….Rosalie Moller” With other boats, the captains would have shrugged and shaken their heads but I’d forgotten how big the Infinity is and how experienced Captain Achmed. He set off in the dark, cleverly setting a course up to the Ashrafi Islands before spinning the boat in their lee and surfing back down to the wreck. Wake up, we’re at the Rosalie Moller!
Almost no current and some of the best vis I’ve seen on her. We were diving on my personal Holy Grail of Red Sea wrecks. What more can I say. Good dives were had by all and a few of the newbies got first hand experience of managing deco stops with a bunch of other divers on one shotline!
The weather was not as good for the rest of the trip but this didn’t affect the diving. The Ferryboat wrecks of Salem Express and the Al Kafein in Safaga; one upright, one upside down, an early morning Giftun Drift to make a break from all that steel, and a last dive on the newly sunk Hebat Allah finished the week nicely.
Rebreather divers and Open Circuit Tek divers, some experienced, some in training, scuba divers, and Patrice who wasn’t quite sure with his twin 12 air tanks! They had shallow dives, deep dives, trimix dives and repeatedly came up smiling. Congratulations go to those that achieved new certifications during the week. Thanks go to Lisa and Dion and the crew for holding their ship together while being invaded by this confusing bunch of Tek divers. We proved that January diving can be fantastic…fairly good weather, great visibility on a lot of the dives and best of all, having the wrecks almost all to ourselves with hardly any other boats or divers in sight!