Wrecks and getting wrecked!

This year’s club holiday to the Red Sea

Looking out on Yorlanda Reef (Photo: Paul Sutton)

Saturday, 10th of June. check-in early and straight to the Gatwick bar as usual, with all the usual suspects in attendance. Nice to see some old faces including Ted and Paul Sutton, Pete and Mark R., plus two new boys ミ Kevin Keepin and Alex Morris. Keeping up the tradition of Kingston & Elmbridge annual pilgrimage to the Red Sea by being first in the bar, almost. Very busy in the bar due to the forthcoming first England football match – bad timing by us as we took off exactly at kick-off time – and almost on time.

More drinking on the five hour flight, soft drinks only of course, and lots of banter and mickey taking, especially directed at JR and his surgical stocking.

In Egypt, straight to the boat, M V WHIRLWIND (after getting through all the egyptian red tape) which is a brand new livaboard – only three weeks old. Shoes off on embarcation and a much needed welcoming meal of lasagne washed down with a few more drinks. Get all our kit and clothes sorted ready for early morning start the next day.

Cabins are all very well equipped and spacious, even the ones down below in the bilges to which Paul E and myself were relegated this year, due to Mr. Rapley thinking that he was stitched up last year.

All cabins are en-suite, with power charging points and air conditioning – much needed.

First morning. Usual try-out dive on Muppet Reef (which turned out to be a very good drift dive with a turtle to accompany us) with the Dunraven wreck in the afternoon, still able to get inside her but broken up towards the bow section. Also, a night dive on the Dunraven – a very good opening day for this holiday.

Lion Fish (Photo: Paul Sutton)

Second day. One of my personal favourites; Yolanda reef finishing off with a slight drift over the “toilet wreck” which always has a abundance of sea-life in the shallows. Ideal for a long safety stop. Later that day (after a very lively crossing) we drop anchor and tie up in lee of Abu Nahus reef ready to dive Giannis D, Carnatic and Chrisoula K – wrecks which all sit on this reef. Weather is very windy and so we are unable to do all wrecks immediately. We had to find another Muppet Reef to circle several times, whilst being serviced by Zodiacs (inflatables).

Very lively party games in the evenings to keep us occupied (as the DVD will prove when the fully censored version is finally shown down the club) all backed up by a very well stocked bar.

A couple of excellent night dives on “The Barge” with the biggest Moray I’ve ever seen in residence, and more sea-life in a small area than you can imagine. “Like swimming in a aquarium” as many people remarked ミ Gren still very busy filming holiday DVD along with Steve and Marlen (dive guides) sometimes not knowing which is my best side.

Half way through the week. Where has it gone? MV Whirlwind moved off to another part of the Gubal Straits to do the Rosalie Moller, the deepest of the usual divable wrecks. It lies in 42 metres with the top at about 35 metres and is almost completely intact. We dived this twice that day with another trip back to the Barge for a night dive. Diving days don’t come much better than that.

Weather deteriorating so it’s a dive round Shag Rock in the early morning, then a very choppy crossing over to the highlight of the week – The Thistlegorm.

Even after many dives on her, she still has many wonders and areas to explore. An Excellent night dive around the stern section with its four-inch gun and shells, then it’s back to try to find the correct shot to our dive boat, otherwise it’s the wooden spoon for me.

Can’t believe it but it’s the last days diving. Pre-breakfast dive, again on the thistlegorm, down inside the holds with the lorries, bikes, wellies, etc. Then back to finish the holiday off at Yolanda Reef with all it’s toilets, baths and washbasins – plus every kind of fish you could imagine including crocodile fish, parrot fish, pipe-fish, lion fish, scorpion fish, barracudas, puffer fish and lots more.

The week goes so quickly with it’s a never ending round of dive briefing, diving, eating, sleeping. 19 dives in all, including 5 night dives (late on the sauce), and each year seems to get better.

So many other things happened in the week aboard the livaboard it’s hard to recollect them but there was diving from the top deck (which was pretty high up). Lots of sunbathing, a trip to a remote rock in 100 degree (must be mad), watching DVD films on the plasma screen, a (small) amount of drinking and the usual large amount of mickey taking (some not repeatable; including the roaming fleece which was observed moving around unaccompanied at several points of the boat and which went into hiding for the last few days for it’s own safety).

Then onto the Eden Rock Hotel for chill-out time by the pool in 42 degrees centigrade. Then dinner and a night out in Sharm at the The Camel Bar, which is always lively and full of charming young divers. Everybody’s up for a few drinks. A legal apple shisha was smoked and there was lots of talk of the previous weeks diving. The usual suspects were out ’till the small hours until finally giving in to fatique and alcohol abuse.

Next day spent by the pool for more chilling-out and the making-up of some lost drinking time. Even at this late stage the fleece was still being sought by the dark side, even to the extent that my shoes and T-shirt were taken as hostages. The ransom? The whereabouts of the fleece. But I didn’t squeal even with several alcoholic bribes offered. And thankfully the hostages were retrieved without (almost any) opposition from the dark side. Although one innocent bystander was caught in the crossfire when Paul E, Paul S, Mark E and myself burst into his room S.A.S-style to retrieve my clothing. We had got the wrong room! Which I’m reliably informed by our local club bobby, happens in real situations all the time.

We did finally got the right room and I sat on Bret until we found the T-shirt and shoes. Very funny afterwards, but not for the poor bloke trying to sleep on his bed.

Needless to say the pranks went on all day, with towels and shoes going into the pool. Some of us escaped to the Hard Rock Cafテゥ for lunch (and a few more drinks) and a little shopping when we brought JR his own shish so he can have another legal smoke anytime he wants ミ Thanks again to john for organising another brilliant holiday.

Finally coach pick at 7pm to go to Sharm airport for more Egyptian red tape. Mr Eyden again causing chaos with small metal brim in his hat setting off the security machines several times until he was down to his swimming trunks. Then one of his shoes went “mysteriously” missing while travelling through the x-ray machine – causing a international incident with the guards climbing under and through the machine until the shoe was found down the front of a policeman’s trousers – lucky it wasn’t the fleece! Then into the bar for more much needed refreshments to wait for our plane, which thankfully was on time as most people were pretty tired by then.

Wish I could sleep on planes ミ Great week, great crowd. Roll-on Medas.