Northern Wrecks and Reefs, June 2007

Due to certain circumstances I won't go into.... yet, this trip report is rather brief as I don't have hardly any photographs (and those that I do have are poor quality) and my notes from the week are rather short and abbreviated. I've linked in a website I've found that has maps and other divers reports of the site to make up for my lack of notes.

Getting there...

Booked through Tony Backhurst Scuba Travel. As always, no complaints there at all.

Now as you may have seen on previous trip reports I go into a bit of detail about the flight as all divers are interested in how that goes especially on allowances etc. Currently I am too mad to write about the flight details so will keep that out of here for the mean time... or until I get a response from the airline!

 

The Boat

Was supposed to be on Cyclone but it was still in dry-dock being refurbished. We got a letter about this a few weeks before we travelled informing us that we'd be on Bella 1 instead. Very similar boat to Cyclone apparently. Cabins, located in the bottom of the ship were OK all with en-suit. Next level up was the dinning room and dive deck, up another level was a sun deck and saloon and on top another sun deck with Jacuzzi!

Orange juice, tea, coffee and water were all included and we're freely available. There was also coke, sprite and some diet coke although the ladies did fight over the single bottle put out at meal times ;)

Wine and beer was for sale and an honesty board was used to record what you drank. Being a vodka monster I bought a bottle at Gatwick and used the Sprite onboard. Nice touch was the ice maker in the upper saloon. Nice!

Gear is left in-situ on the dive deck and the cylinders are charge there. They have a membrane Nitrox system and it was about 60 for a week package.

Diving is either off one of the two ribs or directly from the back of the boat. It depends on the site and conditions.

The guides Al and Malene were very helpful, knowledgeable and had timings down to a tee! How the hell we got two dives on the Thistlegorm, in June, with no other divers in the water I do not know!

Day 1 - Dive 1. Ras Katty

Simple check dive on a site with a sandy bottom and several coral blocks. Nothing hugely out of the ordinary, Anenome fish, pipe fish and the usual reef fish such as Parrot and Goat.

Depth - 22m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 1 - Dive 2. Ras Mohammad - Shark And Jolanda Reef

Drift dive along probably two of the most famous reefs in the Red Sea. Saw a HUGE stonefish, octopus, big schools of jacks and surgeon fish as well as the odd nubibranch.

As with any reef named after a species, we didn't see any sharks.

Depth - 26m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 1 - Dive 3. Ras Katty (night)

After the trouble I had on the previous night I skipped the night dive! Was too tired.

Day 2 - Dive 1. Jackson Reef, Straits of Tiran

This site has a stepped wall with a ledge around 30m before it drops away into the deep blue. We saw 4 Napoleon Wrasse, large schools of Goatfish, several moray eels and the Cornetfish were using the divers as cover to hunt. Quite funny to see your buddy finning along with a 2ft long Cornetfish hovering over their head.

Depth - 30m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 2 - Dive 2. Woodhouse Reef, Straits of Tiran

More of a wall dive this one with the odd ledge and coral block. Saw a blue spotted stingray as well as a lot of jacks.

Depth - 28m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 2 - Dive 3. Thomas Reef, Straits of Tiran

Strange current on this one, again its a wall dive but as we drifted along we came to the corner of the reef and it went slack. Moving on around the other side the current started to pick up against us. So we turned around and spent time on the reef corner in the slack. Saw peppered morays, Big Eyes, Porcupine fish and a large puffer.

Depth - 21m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 2 - Dive 4. Temple (night dive)

Large sandy bay with big coral blocks that look like pillars in an ancient temple (hence the names). Saw a few decent sized octopus, banded cleaner shrimp, a MASSIVE cornet fish (mutant) and what I have put in my log as "Lobster thingies". I found 2 of these walking along the sand. They were about a foot long and looked like lobsters without any claws. I know know these to be called Clam Diggers.

Depth - 20m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 3 - Dive 1. The Dunraven

80m ship turned turtle in 30m of water. The ship is almost broken in two and allows decent penetration. A lot of life on the structure including Long Nosed Hawkfish, Box fish, Puffer, Sweetlips and large schools of trevellies.

Depth - 29m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 3 - Dive 2. Giannis D

This wreck lies in two parts with the middle of the ship flattened. The stern including the accommodation block and large A frame are intact as is the bow.

Life was prolific including blue spotted stingrays, scorpion fish and anemone fish.

The swell at the site was substantial and ascending on the shot was tricky especially with the twisted metal around to turn you into a shish kebab.

Depth - 21m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 3 - Dive 3. Giannis D

After the problematic ascent on the previous dive and the relatively poor quality hire kit I had, I decided to skip this one.

Day 3 - Dive 4. The Barge (Night Dive)

Located at Bluff Point this unknown wreck is a good sheltered dive. The wreck itself is a shell so easy to diving around the outside before going in and circling around inside. Life included lots of Travellies, a huge giant moray, Nubibranch a lot of fat lionfish and a blue spotted stingray.

Depth - 15m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 4 - Dive 1. Rosalea Moller

This is a deep wreck and you need to plan it as such. I stuck(ish) to 30m but was just skimming the deck. The wreck itself is huge and very much intact. We dropped down on the stern and followed the deck up to the collapsed funnel. However by that time, 15 minutes into the dive we had hardly any no stop time left. Lots of life including huge shoals of glassfish. Nice wreck, but a shot dive.

Depth - 31m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 4 - Dive 2. Rosalea Moller

Another one I skipped due to being tired from the poor quality hire kit I had.

Day 4 - Dive 3. The Barge

The weather had picked up and it was decided that the sheltered barge was the best bet. We'd already had a diver on O2 following dive 2 so a safe option was chosen. Saw a number of crocodile fish, giant moray, scorpion fish, a lot of lion fish and several moon wrasse.

Depth - 14m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 4 - Dive 4. The Barge (Night Dive)

Same dive again. This time found a baby moray and several peppered morays.

Depth - 14m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 5 - Dive 1. The Ulysses

I really like this wreck. Its a very old one (120 years since it sank) and all the wood has rotten away leaving a fantastic skeleton. There are a number of nice easy swim through's and penetration is easy. After completing the wreck you can drift off onto the reef she hit and finish off with a scenic drift dive. Some lovely large table corals along the reef.

Depth - 28m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 5 - Dive 2. The Kingston

This is a combination wreck and reef dive. The Kingston is a very photogenic wreck and is pretty much intact. One finished with the wreck you can drift around onto the reef which again is a very scenic dive. As this was the dive before the THistlegorm we had to get some depth. The propeller of the Kingston is actually only about 14m deep.

Depth - 26m

Temperature - 24 degrees

Day 5 - Dive 3. The SS Thistlegorm. Bow section (accommodation and holds 1 & 2)

So here I was. The most famous wreck in the world. What a fantastic dive. It's all true, just drop down into the hold. No overhead environment here, and look on the floor at the Enfield Rifles scattered about, look to the sides and see the Bedford trucks and BMA motorcycles.

On top huge batfish swarm about, crocodile fish rest on the deck and the anenome fish come to intercept you if you come too close to their home.

In hold 2. You can see the old Enfield Rifles in the bottom and the various trucks along the side.

Day 5 - Dive 4. The SS Thistlegorm. Night Dive.

Again a skipped one as I was too tired and wanted to save myself for the deep dive first thing in the morning.

Day 6 - Dive 1. The SS Thistlegorm. Stern section (holds 3 &4)

Hold 3 is where the German bomb hit and exploded the munitions the Thistlegorm was carrying. The deck plating here is pealed over like a tin of sardines by the force of the blast. The actual hold area is flattened but there is still a lot of things to see from the tanks to the boxes of artillery shells. Just off the port side is one of the locomotives which was blown off the deck by the force of the explostion.

One of the tanks.

 

The Deck Gun on the Stern

Photos:-

  

Day 6 - Dive 2. Ras Mohammed - Shark And Jolanda Reef

Last dive *sniff*. Very scenic diving and saw Dave the turtle. However the currents were quite strong and it was a bit of a swim around. We did see the toilets from the wreck of the Jolonda but couldn't get much further due to the current. Lots of life but also lots of divers.

Simple dive past of Shark Reef

Dave the Turtle. Was hit by a propeller and rescued by a local dive centre. They rescued him and repaired his shell. He doesn't move a lot these days but I watched him eating so he's not doing too badly.

The scenery around Jondela Reef.

 

Eden Rock Hotel

The last night and day was spent at the Eden Rock Hotel. very nice little hotel over looking Nama Bay. View from the pool was superb over looking the mountains of the Sinai.

 

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