After driving a gazillion miles from Cairo, it was time to do what we came here to do – diving. Both my brother and I certified scuba divers, so it was mostly just a matter of picking out a reputable company and jumping into the water.
For the majority of you who aren’t scuba divers, here’s what a typical scuba trip entails:
A van from the scuba company generally picks you up at your hotel the morning of – in our case at 8:30AM (some dives further away were as early at 4:30AM!).
From there the van drives you to the scuba center where they outfit you with gear. Gear includes a BC (like a vest that controls your ballast and thus if you go up or down), a wetsuit, fins (or flippers as they might be called), a mask, and a regulator (the hoses). Some folks will bring their own gear, in which case all they need is what’s called ‘tank and weights’ – which themselves aren’t practical to transport via plane. While I do have my own gear, it wasn’t worth hauling it 25,000 miles round trip for just two dives.
After that, the van drives you to the boat, usually at a pier near the main wharf. In some cases, the scuba center is collocated near the pier, making this secondary step simple.
Then ya load up all the junk in the trunk onto the boat. This consists of a number of other divers stuffs, plus a gazillion air and/or nitrox tanks.
Nitrox is typically used on deeper dives, longer or more complex dives, and by folks diving a more significant number of times per day. Regular old air is used the vast majority of the time.
After everything is all loaded up, the boat sets off for a three hour cruise…or a 6-8 hour cruise as was our case – and usually is. In most cases you arrive at your first destination in about an hour or so. The majority of standard day-drive trips are two dives, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Usually at separate and distinctly different dive sites.
Eventually you arrive at the dive site and they go through the dive profile. This includes an overview of all the hand signals to ensure everyone’s working from the same playbook, and then an outline of the dive itself – including max depth/time/air remaining, etc…
Finally, you suit up and and do a buddy check. This is where you check your buddy’s equipment (you always have a dive buddy), and then they check yours.
Then ya dive!
Regrettably, I didn’t bring my deep underwater case with me, so my photos were just limited to about 10-15 feet with my little waterproof digital camera. Given our dive depth was around 60 feet (which is actually fairly shallow), Mr. Camera couldn’t come along for the journey beyond the first few minutes.
After your air reaches a specified amount in the tank, you return towards the surface. At this point you do a 3 minute safety stop 15 feet below the surface. This is to reduce the likelihood of the bends.
Then it’s lunch time!
Now, normally lunch is some sort of sandwich the dive op put together, usually very primitive. But this dive operation went the distance. In the 30+ dives I’ve done, I’ve never seen anything like this.
Here’s my plate of food!
Then you decide you’re still hungry…and get more.
Afterwards you lounge around the deck some waiting for lunch to digest. Usually at this point the boat is going to a different dive site.
Once you arrive at the dive site, you do it all over again.
Then ya head back to the pier and unload everything.
Overall the diving was quite good, especially for what was considered a ‘local’ dive. Regrettably the dive shops in Sharm have a bit of a ‘system’ going where they require you to do a local dive day before you go to the really cool sites (thus earning extra cash for them). While I understand the logic of this from a safety standpoint, most dive shops will allow you to ‘check-out’ within the first few minutes of a dive and then continue on. Kinda a bummer. But we did see some spotted sting rays, lionfish, Nemo, tons of coral, and a number of other interesting things. So overall quite a good day! Tomorrow it’s back to Cairo early in the morning, where we’ll wander around the city during the day, and then catch a redeye flight to…somewhere else.