Final day of diving, heading to Ras Mohammed. It's a slow start getting down to the boat and loading, so we're a little behind once we get underway. And a pause to watch dolphins doesn't help the schedule.

Finally, dive one on Jackfish Alley. My favorite sighting is a diver with a scooter, tank dangling from his front and very little else. Very lazy diving. I approve.

Dive two on Shark/Yolanda Reefs is a bit currenty, sometimes with us and sometimes exhaustingly against us. The water at the entry is so full of divers that I'm starting to feel blinded by bubbles. As the dive goes on, I have to stay alert to keep with the right set of divers.

Yolanda Reef is named after a wreck which went down carrying a cargo of toilets. Cue photographic hilarity.

The end of the dive takes in a small cave before we surface.

There's a dive three, but we don't join in because we're flying tomorrow - we're still just about the right side of the recommended degassing time. From the boat's point of view, the end of the dive is chaotic with four different groups popping up and having to wait while boats mill about and collect their respective parties.

Posted Mon Oct 25 00:00:00 2010 Tags: Egypt

Day two, featuring a trip out to Tiran. The Straits of Tiran are the narrowest part of the Gulf of Aqaba, with a series of reefs running down the middle. The northernmost is Gordon reef, which is the site of our first dive, a drift. It's nicely relaxed.

The second dive is on the southernmost reef, Jackson Reef. It features another long drift followed by a track back closer to the reef where the current is weaker. Finds include a couple of blue-spotted rays, attended by goat fish.

And finally, a night dive from the beach. I decide to give my camera a miss for this one, to give me one fewer thing to worry about. Naturally, the creatures take the opportunity to come out of the woodwork. We get a conger eel, a snake eel and an absolutely enormous moray. The lionfish are out and about, and make a habit of sneaking up behind me and scaring the crap out of me. There are a good selection of nudibranchs, and a couple of starfish, including a crown of thorns which I've never seen before. Really good dive. No photos.

Posted Sun Oct 24 00:00:00 2010 Tags: Egypt

It's been a few weeks since I had a holiday, so clearly it's time for the next one. I'm in Sharm el Sheikh thanks to the agreeably competent Saudi budget airline NAS Air. That meant a 5am kick-off yesterday, finally landing here shortly after 8, to discover the Novotel is less competent, and failed to send a taxi. Our newly arranged transport to the hotel stretches the definition of limo service to breaking point and beyond, and is notable largely for its demonstration of how much luggage you can fit on the roof of a Nova using only string and hope.

So today there's a 7:45 pickup for the dive centre, where we sort out hire kit. Then a bus down to the chaotic Naama Bay jetty where a stream of boats are jostling for position to tie up, take on tanks and punters, and get underway for today's destination. Our boat is the Kastan Sea, which is agreeably functional.

Because it's our first day, we're taken to "local sites" so the centre can evaluate our experience. The first is Ras Bob (famously used as the location for a building society advert in 1996). There's stunning visibility even just off the shore - up to 20m. Relatively shallow, with a crinky fringing reef featuring a short cave swimthrough. I end the dive after some malevolent reeflife stings the crap out of my leg.

Second is Ras Nasrani, just up the coast. It's equally nice if a little bit currenty. The water temperature here is about 29 degrees, so still no need for me to invest in a wetsuit.

Posted Sat Oct 23 00:00:00 2010 Tags: Egypt