At the end of the second post, we had caught the dive company's shuttle to our first day of diving! The reason we had come to Sharm El Sheikh at all was to go SCUBA diving in the Red Sea. A gentleman that we met at Disneyland Paris had told us that one of the most amazing places to dive in the world was Sharm El Sheikh, and from that point Austin had been doing a ton of research about it and had "liked" Emperor Divers on Facebook.
Then, one day while surfing Facebook, Austin saw that they were having a buy one get one free dive trip sale, which is an incredible deal! Without much hesitation, he booked a five-day, ten-dive package (and thus got one free), so we built our vacation around diving with Emperor!
Saturday 30 June 2012
Our first day of diving went fairly well. We were on the boat called the Delphinus, and our guides were Elise and Saad with Jonathan teaching an AOWD class.
We did what they call "local" dives. Our first dive site was called Ras Katy (which is so cool!). I went through my air really fast and that dive was only about 35 minutes for us. The boat was doing three dives, but our package only covered two (the third would have been an extra 20€ per person), so we skipped the second dive which was on a site called Temple and snorkeled instead.
There was a Swedish family on the boat whose six-year-old came along for the ride. His parents took turns watching him and alternated so they both got to dive throughout the day. The mother, Susanna, and the little boy, Kasper, were on the boat while we were as well as a family from the Netherlands. We snorkeled for about 30 minutes and ate our sack lunches that the hotel had packed for us.
When the rest of the crew came in, they ate their lunch and we waited while they completed their surface interval. Then we moved on to our final dive site of the day, Ras Umm Sid. R.U.S. was a gentle drift dive and we saw some really fun fish against a coral reef wall. Lion fish, angel fish, zebra fish, sergeant fish, parrot fish, the huge schools of these tiny little silvery/turquoise fish and lots of fish that look like gold fish. Austin also saw a big Moray eel and a huge manta ray. Air consumption went much better that time, and my dive was exactly 45 minutes.
Following that third and final dive, we packed up our gear into the crates provided by Emperor and labeled with our names while the boat chugged back to Naama Bay.
Since we were to be diving on the same boat, the Delphinus, the next day, all of our gear remained on board and we just took the small backpack back to the center with us. Back at the dive center we waited for about half an hour for the transfers to start back to the hotels.
On the dock in Naama Bay!
Susanna was an underwater photographer, and in the bus on the way back she mentioned that they may have gotten some good pictures of us! She gave us her husband's business card so that we could get in touch via e-mail. I'm really excited to see how they turned out!
We got a new key when we reached reception, requested a lunch box for the next day and tried to explain that we wanted more food. The man at reception recommended that we speak to guest relations, and the petite, blonde Russian woman who worked in guest relations told us that we needed to speak with the head of food and beverage, but he wasn't in yet.
At that point, we went back to the room, Austin showered and we went back to the restaurant for dinner. After dinner we met with the head of F&B and he was incredibly accommodating. He basically let us special order whatever we wanted and arranged to meet with us every evening after dinner to make sure the lunches were sufficient! Pretty amazing! With that sorted, we retired to our room (by way of the bar where we watched the bar tender make a fake beer for a little girl by creatively mixing several different sodas together). I showered and we washed out our salty swimming clothes and we went to bed around 21:00.
Our comfortable room!
Saturday morning, June 30th, we were up, packed and ready to go, and eating breakfast by 7:00! We refilled waters, grabbed our sack lunches (which one of the kitchen workers, Mohammed, proudly told us he had made personally at 6:00 :D) and waited for the bus to pick us up in front of the hotel.
While we were waiting, two other similar buses came to retrieve other people from our hotel. The first was obviously not going diving, and when I asked the driver of the second if we were on his list, he said, "I have one Russian, ma'am. You are English."
We had a pretty good chuckle over that, at which point I began exercising my Russian vocabulary to Austin. Many of the guards were apparently on break at the same time, and one of them came over and greeted us in Russian. Eventually we got around to the point that we are from Germany*. Obviously, the only topic of conversation to have with a German is EuroCup football. Around that point, the Emperor bus arrived and we were on our way back to the Dive center.
Being our second day, we knew the drill and checked in with our boat crew. We were on the Delphinus again but our guides had switched to Kirstie, and Jonathan had a couple of AOWD details to finish up, but he kind of doubled as the second guide.
Our first dive of the day was on a site called Ras Burg. It was a full drift dive with a fairly swift current. We popped into the water, our group was led by Kirstie and we went in first. We made our descent (no ear problems at all! Praise the Lord!) and the very first thing we saw was a huge manta ray - like he was our welcoming committee :) We saw a lot more of those tiny silver fish in the big schools (which I did learn the name of today and then promptly forgot again), and some large parrot fish. The dive was next to a coral wall that dropped down 800 meters! There were also some bat fish, but I didn't see them.
lion fish, angel fish, zebra fish, sergeant fish, parrot fish, fusiliers, anthias, moray eel, manta ray(from top to bottom, left to right)
We managed a 41 minute dive despite me sucking down air like someone three times my size, but we were the first divers back to the boat. We switched our kit while the deck was empty and headed upstairs to await the rest of the group. They came in and we had a significant surface interval (close to two hours). Lots of chatting and napping in the sunshine. Austin and I had lunch part one. About an hour into the interval the boat crew served everyone else their lunch, we napped a little more and them we got briefed on the second dive.
Our second and final dive of the day was on a site called Shark & Yolanda. We were with Jonathan's group for that dive, and jumped in second. The current was considerable, but we tucked in tight next to the reef wall and dropped down with the Shark reef on our right side. We descended into a HUGE school of medium-sized silver fish (snappers I think) and made our way along the reef wall at about 15m depth. We saw a lot of butterfly fish and the fish that look like goldfish and one big moray eel on that wall. When we got to the saddle, Jonathan tried to fin around and up it, but the current was too strong. After a couple of minutes, he turned us around and we headed to the back side of Shark which was a fairly shallow (about 8m) coral garden. We saw a TON of unicorn fish an a couple of big stone fish. When we got around the far side of Yolanda we met up with the first group an saw a bit of the wreck for which the reef is named. We didn't get to see very much of it before we were being led around the front of Yolanda reef. Another big school of snappers, lots of butterfly fish and our second big moray eel, and by that time I was out of air. I go through air considerably more quickly than Austin does, and that really frustrates him because it shortens his dives even though he isn't out of air.
Now we're headed back to the Naama Bay Marina. Tomorrow we're going to be diving Tiran. Looking forward to showers and dinner :)
They're fusiliers! The ones we've seen have been the Lunar fusiliers (silver with the blue/turquoise sheen) the Suez fusiliers have a darker blue stripe between their dorsal fin and their tail. Interesting fact about the fusiliers: they always point into the current!
I hope you enjoyed this installment in the Sharm El Sheikh series! I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like, what you'd like to see more of, and what you're seeing too much of in these posts! Please let me know in the comments!
*NOTE: At this time, we were living in Germany. It was also not a super-safe time to be an American in Egypt (the week after we were there an American man was kidnapped). The dive company listed us as "British" on all of their paperwork, and it was safer for us to be identified as either British or German in all public situations. Thankfully most people who do not speak English as their primary language don't immediately recognize the difference in accent between American English speakers and others.