Winter Warmer in The Red SEA

When the European summertime comes to an end and Christmas would be fast approaching take a final chance to escape to the warmer waters of the Red Sea for some scuba diving action.

In November 2015, Emperor Divers will be offering back to back trips to visit the northern wrecks and reefs of the Red Sea and have very kindly offered Tekstreme the opportunity to invite trained decompression divers to join the boat. Tekstreme will provide a guide for divers wishing to enjoy a safari trip made up of non-deco dives and deco dives.

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These trips are also the perfect opportunity for divers onboard the boat who currently do not have any decompression qualification to take the first level decompression course and maximize their times diving on some of the most amazing wrecks that the area has on offer. The SSI Extended Range Nitrox (SSI XR Nitrox) course enables you to continue to use your current scuba diving equipment whilst you learn the basics of decompression diving. You will be trained to dive to 40m utilizing eanx gases up to pure oxygen for decompression. You can do home study for the short course before hand, at your convenience, leaving the most enjoyable part of the course, the diving, to when you are on the boat with us.

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The Safari route

The Wrecks and reefs trip is the best of both worlds, where you visit famous wrecks in the northern Red Sea along with some stunning reef diving. This trip is not about depth, but it’s about having the time to explore the wrecks and reefs in all their glory within the 30 – 45m range.

Abu Nuhas has four well-known wrecks: Ghiannis D, Carnatic, Chrisoula and Kimon M. All wrecks offering spectacular dives and plenty of fish life, and how about to try diving all four wrecks in one dive!

Night dives can be superb as Gubal Island offers protected anchoring for the night. A small wreck at 8-10 metres makes for a spectacular night dive with lionfish, scorpion fish and its resident giant moray eel as well as the wreck of the Ulysses.

The wreck of the Rosalie Moller is a perfect example of where having some decompression training can transform a dive. Imagine not being stuck to having only 20 minutes on the wreck before decompression but to be trained to happily have 40 minutes instead! Now we are talking! Next onto the Kingston lying at Shag Rock; the Carina lying close to Sha’ab Ali and the Dunraven at Beacon Rock in Ras Mohamed National Park.

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Last but not least lets not forget the most famous wreck in the Red Sea, the Thistlegorm, at Sha’ab Ali.

The SS Thistlegorm was sunk in 1941 after being bombed by the German Luftwaffe while on a mission to deliver a cargo of ammunition and other war materials to the British troops in North Africa. The Rosalie Moller, carrying a cargo of coal, suffered the same fate just two days later. Many divers have yet to explore the wreck and the surrounding debris field in all its glory again because the computer says “no”! This does not have to be the way. During your SSI XR training you will learn how to combine the best eanx gas for deeper exploration, in combination with an efficient decompression gas to enable you to be the first in the water and for sure the last out the water!

Whilst in Ras Mohamed, you may have the chance to do a dive at Shark Reef; a sheer wall falling into the blue. From here the boat heads back towards Hurghada.

In between wreck dives you will also visit the reefs of the Straits of Gubal, Gulf of Suez and those to the north of Hurghada. A variety of deep walls and hard coral gardens with an abundance of reef fish make them well worth a visit.

All wrecks are subject to divers’ experience and weather conditions.

 

The Dates

November 20th – 27th 2015

November 27th – 4th December 2015

The Price

As a special winter deal Emperor Divers are offering either of these trips above for 899 euros.

This price includes:

Airport transfers

7 nights accommodation

Marine park fees

Fuel Surcharges

All food and soft drinks on the boat

Technical dive guide

This price does not include:

Technical diving supplies:

Twin set hire or CCR tank hire = 60 euros for the week

2 x Deco tank hire / bailout tank hire = 30 euros for the week

CCR oxygen gas fills = 5 euros per fill / top up

Eanx gases up to 39% = 5 euros per fill / top up

Eanx gases between 40% – 79% = 8 euros

Eanx gases 80% – 100% = 12 euros

Sofnolime = 11 euros per kg

Notes

Please note that this trip is not a specific technical safari. It is a traditional wrecks and reefs safari with the option to make some decompression dives or join the entry level SSI XR nitrox course with one of the Tekstreme team. Tekstreme will guarantee their normal high level of service with regards to:

Custom gas mixtures to 200bar

Technical guide(s) available for all dives

Safety procedures and dive awareness

Detailed dive site briefings from a decompression perspective

Emergency oxygen and additional emergency drop down gases

There are no minimum requirements in terms of how many divers would like to make decompression dives. One of our guides will be there even if there is only one person who would like to make decompression dives! There does not get better service than that!

Contact us for reservations or more information.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Manager

info@tekstremediving.com

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Tekstreme “The Tour”.

Did you know, that one of the most common questions that I get asked when guests are enquiring to me about Tekstreme and wanting to do some diving with us is, “Are Tekstreme located in other countries?” To date, I have had to reply that the answer is no.

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Tekstreme have, since establishment, concentrated their time offering technical services throughout Egypt. As a technical company we are one of the largest in Egypt with operations, through the facilities of Emperor Divers, in Sharm El Shiekh, El Gouna and Marsa Alam plus offering multiple specific technical safaris throughout the year. I guess personally for me, before taking Tekstreme to other destinations I want to be sure that we have the right attitude, approach, business plan, commitment, audience and of course the desire. Right now I believe we can easily tick all of those boxes. However, these things are not to be rushed. Much research needs to be done on destinations, availability, profitability, demand etc etc. We see in our industry too many technical operations opening up around the world yet one year later they close their doors. As a reputable technical diving company we need to ensure that if we take on such a project outside of Egypt that our customers can be assured that we will be there to stay.

Tekstreme Wings

Now don’t get too excited, this blog is not Tekstreme announcing a new location, not quite yet, but what we are doing in the meantime is to take Tekstreme “On Tour”. Beginning in 2016 we are going to be offering technical diving trips to multiple other locations outside of Egypt. This way, our customers who want to have the benefit of diving multiple locations, but staying with Tekstreme are going to be very happy. Tekstreme will be organising diving trips including accommodation in various European destinations to begin with, before expanding to worldwide destinations. We will only be using the facilities of highly reputable dive centres in each location who we know will maintain high standards that our customers demand. On each trip one of our highly trained technical team members will be there with our customers to ensure that our high standards are kept and of course to offer technical courses on each trip.

For each trip, we are keeping them quite exclusive, small groups only. We plan to take a maximum of around 8 – 10 divers on each trip. For us, it has always been about quality, not quantity and this philosophy will not change. We want to have a more intimate group of divers that we can care for on a personal level, rather than a conveyer belt of divers!

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For us, these are really exciting times and we cant wait to take kick start Tekstreme “The Tour”, we hope that we are going to see many of our technical diver friends come and join us and make this the best technical tour ever.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager

info@tekstremediving.com

Tekstreme Party Night

The 1st of October proved to be a memorable day and even more of a memorable night. Why was it so significant? Well, it marked the day where Cat Parfitt and Bence Szentklaray took over Tekstreme Diving. What began as just an idea to have a few celebratory drinks together turned into a much larger Tekstreme party night!

The “Friends Bar”, a recent addition to the new marina in Hurghada, was decked out Techy style with tanks, equipment and helium balloons inviting everybody in. Even the drinks took on the theme with specialized Tekstreme cocktails and shots.

Cat says, “It was a great pleasure to see our guests, all of our friends and colleagues from many businesses in the local Hurghada area coming to support our new adventure. We are very grateful to everybody for all of your help and support”.

To see for yourself the party night, check out the latest photo additions on the Tekstreme Facebook Group.

time for speeches

Deeper into Hurghada

Words & photos by Paul Vinten

No matter what your sport, equipment and technology advances in leaps and bounds enabling participants to continually push back the boundaries which previously held them in check.
The world of scuba diving is certainly no stranger to improving technology and better safety standards, particularly in the field of technical diving. With divers being able to explore further and find ‘new’ sites and wrecks, there is obviously a need for more dive destinations to accommodate these ‘tekkies’.

Giftun archway 45m There are now more and more technical divers, many of whom are seeing the advantages of combining their sport with a holiday to foreign climes. The thought of being guaranteed 20 metres visibility at a depth of 100m without the need for a torch, followed by the long decompression phase of the dive being carried out on stunning coral reefs is enticing more and more technical divers overseas.
The Egyptian Red Sea is already one of the top dive destinations in the world, so why not for the technical divers as well?

The Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab on the Sinai peninsular will probably already be known to a majority of deeper divers, with famous sites such as the Blue Hole, and the canyon at Thomas Reef in the Straits of Tiran. However, what about the larger area of Hurghada on the mainland part of Egypt? Always known for its shallow coral gardens, and the wrecks at Abu Nuhas reef, what does it have to offer those divers who want to explore a bit deeper and get away from the recreational divers?

The Reefs

In addition to the multitude of shallower sites, Hurghada has a number of wall dives for those people who wish to go beyond the normal recreational limits. The main thing to be careful of on any reef dive before jumping into the abyss is that the reef life you want to see does actually continue down to the depth at which you are planning the bottom phase of your dive. A number of beautiful reefs in many destinations turn into sandy slopes or dead, rocky walls beyond about 45m, so be sure to get an experienced trimix dive guide to explain the topography at depth. Unless you are on a training dive, or just ‘trying to get numbers on your dive computer’ you stand to waste a lot of money on a meaningless deep dive.

Giftun Drift On Small Giftun Island is the well-known dive called ‘Giftun Drift’. This is where technical diving pioneer Rob Palmer made his last dive, failing to return from the depths.
It is a stunning wall with a small plateau from 16-25m, before dropping down to about 60m. The corals here extend right down to the bottom where they then continue down the steep slope to the ‘black canyon’ which drops off to over 200m.
Massive gardens of gorgonian fans exist from the main wall at 30m down to about 60m in places, while huge great purple soft corals and smaller green soft corals are also prolific here between the depths of 60-85m. Quite often, larger fish will be hanging down here in the corals, keeping out the way of the divers up at the top of the wall. Big coral grouper, black-spotted stingrays nearly 2 metres across and big sharks are not uncommon sightings in the depths at this site.
Just opposite the corner of the main reef down the wall at a depth of 40-45m is a picturesque archway in a part of the reef which sticks out into the water. Swimming thorough this arch is a pleasant way to complete the deeper stops as you come back up the wall, with small red fan corals adorning the walls on both sides.

Grey reef shark at Erg Somaya Just north of Giftun Drift is another site called Erg Somaya which, again, has beautiful corals on the wall right down to 55 metres. It is here, though that the wall becomes a sandy slope heading deeper, so this is a site really only suitable for deep air dives. In addition to the corals the wall is also riddled with various caves & overhangs from 27 metres down to the sandy bottom.
Erg Somaya is often dived from the two mooring lines which exist here, giving the technical diver chance to decompress in comfort on the small plateau and around the two large pinnacles next to the lines.

Three hours south of Hurghada by boat begins the diving area of Safaga, probably best known for the wreck of the Salem Express. However, some truly amazing wall dives exist here for the technical diver who wishes to have a break from staring at rusty metal!
Panorama reef is a large circular reef with vertical, coral encrusted walls dropping into the deep. It is here that in 2003 three divers conducted what was then the deepest ever open water dive on closed circuit rebreathers. Grey reef sharks are regular visitors to the deeper parts of this reef, while large soft corals and gorgonian fans harbour the smaller marine life.
Abu Kefan is another wall dive worth going a bit deeper on, but the currents here can sometimes prove to be too much for a safe technical dive to be undertaken here.

The wrecks

The majority of technical divers, especially the Brits, prefer diving on wrecks, and Hurghada has more of these to offer than either Sharm el Sheikh or Dahab.

The newest wreck in the area is Egypt’s first ever artificial wreck reef which was purposely sunk to provide a new dive site in the area and to try to alleviate pressure on some of the existing sites in the area. Following cooperation between the Red Sea Association and the Egyptian Navy, a ship was bought, towed out, and then sunk, but accidentally in the wrong place! Rather than sinking it in 30 metres to provide a site for all levels of divers unforeseen circumstances resulted in the vessel ending up on the sea bed at 46 metres – great shallow dive for tekkies!!
The ship, Hebat Allah, had been sitting on the main reef outside the port of Hurghada for a number of years after breaking its moorings and drifting there in rough seas. A 51 metre long, 300 ton freighter with a beam of 8 metres, it was small enough to be re-floated off the reef and then sunk again. It now rests between the sites of Giftun Island and Gota Abu Ramada on a level seabed.
Being completely intact and upright, it makes for a great dive, and with the interior of the wreck being roped, complete with exit arrows, before it’s sinking, it is perfect for a safe penetration and for training dives.
The top of the stern mast goes up to 27 metres, with the main bridge at 36 metres, and the deck level lying at 40 metres.
With a maximum depth of 46 metres by the propeller, this wreck is perfect for those technical divers who have not yet got the experience to progress to deeper sites, and is an ideal site to test new kit or practice skills and drills on.
After just over six months on the seabed the wreck is already teeming with life – shoals of fusiliers can be found over the stern section, while large hard corals have already grow on the railings. This is an ecosystem in the making and will only get better!

The reef of Shaabruhr Umm Gamar to the north of Hurghada is home to at least three wrecks. With the patrol boat wreck at the south tip, familiar to daily divers, being little more than an engine block and some metal, only two of these wrecks are of any real interest to deeper divers.

The wreck of the liveaboard vessel Colona IV lies at the base of the eastern reef wall about half way along the reef. It hit the north of the reef and then drifted before coming to rest at a depth of 65 metres on its starboard side. Being a liveaboard boat, it is not overly large and is therefore easily explored in the short bottom time offered by these dives. Following this, the diver can gently ascend back up the reef wall taking in the multitude of coral life – much of it endemic to the area, while drifting back to the boats moored up at the south tip.

Currently the deepest dived wreck in the Hurghada area is that of the Gulf Fleet cable laying vessel which is just at the north-east tip of Shaabruhr Umm Gamar. Little is known about when or how this 60 metre long vessel came to be here, but it lies upright and intact at a maximum depth of 108 metres, making it a dive only for experienced trimix divers.
Being at the base of the reef wall it is easy to descend down on to and then the first destination is usually to swim under the hull at 105 metres where the ship came to rest up against a large rocky outcrop. Coming up on to bridge area at 95 metres it is then possible to conduct some penetration here, although obviously not forgetting the depth you are at!
Once you have finished exploring the main superstructure, you can then swim back up the large, flat deck area to the foredeck cranes at the shallowest point of 86 metres on the wreck. It is here that large shoals of sweeper and fusiliers can be found amongst the huge soft corals which have taken up residence on these prominent features.
Once you have all-too-quickly run out of bottom time, it is easy to simply follow the reef wall back up to begin decompressing at leisure. If the current is helping you along, it is often possible to see the wreck of Colona IV at your deeper stops before coming back up to south plateau where the boat will have a deco trapeze waiting for you. Or you could just hang around on the reef and look at all the fishes!

Inside Rosalie Moller Rosalie Moller deck

Just north of Hurghada at the Island of Gobal lies a wreck which is already becoming a very popular dive site for the safari boats. The Rosalie Moller was casualty of the second world war, and whose fate ties in very closely with that of the world famous Thistlegorm. Two days after the sinking of the Thistlegorm, with the Germans realising they had just discovered the main anchorage sites for the allied shipping heading up the Red Sea, a series of bombing raids were launched over the Gulf of Suez. On the morning of October 8th, 1941, the 112 meter long coal-carrying Rosalie Moller was hit by one of the bombs dropped by a Heinkel as it attacked the area. Two of the crew were killed by the explosion which cracked the starboard side of the hull aft of the bridge, and the ship went straight down, kept upright by the weight of the water-logged cargo.
It now rests at a maximum depth of 48 metres on the seabed, with the decks at 36 metres and the two masts rising up to 18 metres. While recreational divers visit the site on single 12 litre tanks, the safest and by far the most rewarding way to dive the Rosalie Moller is to make a full technical dive out of it. This gives you plenty of time on the wreck to explore and appreciate its attractions, while giving you the safety of redundancy and bailout options should something happen.
The marine life is simply amazing on the Rosalie Moller, with the sheer density of the shoals of glassfish making it difficult to see the wreck in places.
Huge lionfish and grouper can be found hanging around the decks and there are some beautiful soft corals and anemones adorning some of the structures.
This wreck can be visited from Hurghada, or on a mini or full safari heading north.

Semi-closed rebreather diver So Hurghada is a great dive destination not only for recreational divers, but also for all those technical divers who want to get away from the UK for a few dives. Alternatively it’s handy if you want to earn a few extra brownie points by taking your other halves for a nice sun-bathing holiday while you sneak off into the deep!
With several dive centres in Hurghada now having full technical diving facilities for both open circuit and CCR divers, it’s possible to go out there knowing you’ll be able to dive to the full extent of your experience and qualifications. Also for those recreational divers who wish to ‘extend the range’ of their diving, all technical dive courses are on offer from advanced nitrox right up to mixed gas closed circuit rebreather instructor.
It should also be noted that with the main office of TDI (Technical Diving International) Middle East and Russia being located in the main tourist area of Hurghada, all the TDI materials and various diving ‘gadgets’ and kit are easily available to divers coming from abroad.

About the author

Paul Vinten has been working in the Red Sea since 1998, both in Sharm & Hurghada. After spending nearly six years on safari boats, he is now the manager of Tekstreme Diving in Hurghada, being their in-house TDI Instructor Trainer.

New life in the depths of Hurghada

Words & photos by Paul Vinten

Hebat Allah Back in August of 2004, the Red Sea Association for Diving & Watersports managed a project to remove and re-sink the wreck of the Hebat Allah which had been sitting on the reef outside Hurghada for a number of years.
The idea was to create a new artificial wreck reef at depths suitable to all levels of divers to both alleviate the pressure which is steadily increasing around the sites of Hurghada and also to provide a new attraction to both marine life and divers alike. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances the wreck was sunk at a location other to that which had been surveyed and planned, and as a result it ended up at a depth which is unsuitable for normal recreational dive limits.

HOWEVER, what has been created is a new attraction to visiting technical divers which will hopefully increase the number of visiting ‘tekkies’, and the wreck also provides a perfect training site for any number of technical courses which are on offer at a growing number of the Hurghada dive centres.

The Hebat Allah is a 51m long, 300 ton freighter now lying at a maximum depth of 46 metres, and with the top of the masts reaching up to a minimum depth on the wreck of 27 metres It offers a superb new dive site to those with the correct qualifications or under training.

Hebat Allah bow Hebat Allah bridge Megalodon diver on Hebat Allah

Penetration through the superstructure is possible with the intact nature of the wreck providing a very safe environment, also helped by the fact that the interior was laid out with line and exit arrows prior to it’s sinking. It provides a great exploration dive, and a good opportunity to practice those advanced wreck skills & drills.
Doorways are present at the rear of the stern superstructure and also in the front of the bridge at the mid level of the aft hold. Once inside, all the levels can be accessed via stairways inside, so eliminating the need to make multiple entries and exits.
A single door in the forecastle at the bow gives divers another point of easy penetration.
A fine layer of algae has covered the wreck both inside and out, and diver’s bubbles rapidly dislodge rust from the ceiling inside, therefore care must be taken with the fin kicks and buoyancy to minimise the reduction in visibility which will inevitably occur inside the wreck.

Hebat Allah wreck One part of the project did go exactly according to plan – that of providing a new artificial home to the numerous varieties of Red Sea marine life, much of which is endemic to the region. Already, large hard corals have taken up residence on some of the railings of the wreck, while encrusting corals are slowly covering other parts of the wreck. Coral grouper can be found lurking around inside the superstructure and under the bow, lionfish are sitting on the deck and masts and big shoals of fusiliers are often hanging around either the bow mast or along side the stern section. A giant moray has also taken up residence in the top of the funnel! In less than a year it has changed from a lump of metal into a very dynamic marine ecosystem which will continue to grow and develop.
Due to its relatively shallow depths (in technical diving terms!), it is possible to take a very leisurely tour of the wreck and really appreciate the ability of nature to adapt and prosper in almost any environment.

It is now the responsibility of visiting technical divers to maintain and protect this site in order to allow the life to prosper and give us what will certainly become one of the best sites in the daily diving region of Hurghada. Due to the comparatively low number of deeper divers in the area, no damage should result from the infrequent visits to the site, and a true survey of ecosystem development can be undertaken and witnessed by all those lucky enough to dive this site.

Diver on Hebat Allah In order to dive the wreck safely, a shot line has been fixed to the stern of the wreck to which one boat at a time may tie on to and more permanent moorings are being planned for the future. In addition to this, diver descent lines on a thinner rope have been placed at both the stern and bow of the wreck giving divers an option for a safe ascent reference should they be unable to return to the anchor line. A decompression trapeze is an added comfort to divers which should be provided by the boat as they come back up due to the current which is usually present near the surface in this open location.

The RSDASS has worked hard to provide this new attraction to Hurghada, and it is now up to the local dive centres and divers to act responsibly in order to maintain strict safety standards for the divers, and also to protect a brand new ecosystem which will flourish in the years to come.