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Discovery Divers Red Sea 2009

GingerCherry
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Still being written. More pictures and videos to be added soon.

Organised by Discovery Divers, we had a brilliant week in the Red Sea. Roll on next year!

Thursday 5th February

I finished work on time, and then chatted to Sarah for a bit before cycling home. I'd wanted to put the bike in the kitchen so that we could put all the dike kit in the downstairs hallway, but the bike was very wet, so I left it downstairs. After dancing around the kitchen singing "I'm on holiday", I made myself a cuppa, and went to check my e-mail. After sending the e-mail about Scary's stag do last night, I expected more e-mail, but at least there was one with my insurance information that I'd arranged last night. Arranging insurance about 36 hours before I flew is unheard of, I've never arranged it this far in advance before. This was diving insurance, because I still had my annual travel insurance from Gordy's stag do last year.

Back at home, I started creating a pile of clothes on my bed, while listening to BBCNews24. It all seemed OK, except I didn't have any sun cream in 100ml containers, so I had to put it in my dive crate. It was a good job that I'd bought a new bag last month, because everything that I wanted to take fitted into the bag, and the bag was within the maximum size of hand luggage. I was tempted to put the bag in the hold luggage, but wanted to take my PDA and keyboard on board, and didn't want to have two bags.

At about 20:15, I lay down on the sofa for a quick kip before Dindin and Sam arrived at about half-eight. Wanting to use my "new" bottle opener, we had a beer each before walking up to The India for a curry. The service was as friendly as always, and the food as good as always, but the waiter didn't hear me order a starter. That turned out to be a good thing, because we weren't actually as hungry as we thought we were.

I popped into home on the way to the Toby to collect my iPod Touch and to drop off the curry. We had a quick drink at the Toby while Sam showed us the website of the place we were going diving. Sam had actually had the sense to find out what we were doing in advance, whereas Dindin and I only found out necessary information. Dindin knew to arrive at my house this evening, and I knew to arrive at Gatwick at 07:00 tomorrow. Sam knew lots of stuff.

Back at home, I made us tea (managing to spill boiling water everywhere), and then Dindin fixed my regs before we went to bed.

Friday 6th February

We'd set our alarms for 05:00 to give us plenty of time to shower and drink tea. In a strange role-reversal, Dindin and I both wanted to have showers, and Sam decided not to. The taxi driver turned up at exactly 06:00, just as it started snowing. Just as we packed everything in the boot, I remembered that my heating thermostat was set on 16°C, so I dashed back in to turn it down to a more reasonable 13°C. We had to go via the Nationwide cash machine, so that I could transfer money from my main current account into my Nationwide current account, and we then set off. The rush-hour hadn't started, so it didn't take us too long to get to Gatwick. Dindin got a trolley, as I handed over 62 to the taxi driver, and we then went to find the others.

At the bottom of the trolley route, I saw a woman in a wheelchair and a man with two bags waiting at the bottom. I offered to help, and it turned out that they'd been waiting for somebody to help for 10 minutes. The bloke walked off with the bags, leaving me to push the wheelchair. I was surprised that he trusted a complete stranger to push the wheelchair, but I soon realised why when I started pushing it up the slope. I was knackered by the time I got to the top! We then got onto the travelator, and somebody appeared to help. I was lost for words when the bloke said, "It's OK now, we don't need your help any more". The cheek!

Anyway, Dindin had found out we needed to go to zone J, and I asked the bloke where they were going to. Tenerife with Monarch, he replied, expecting me to tell him what zone. I told him to go to look at the board to find out. They wanted to go to zone K, so I pushed the wheelchair there without complaining, and then went to zone J. There were lots of people with lots of luggage loitering around by the Viking Air check-in desks, so we walked towards them, and found Dave. He had everything under control, but not everybody had arrived yet, including Zoe. I called her, but she didn't answer, so was presumably still driving.

Breakfast PintAfter being told that our luggage allowance was only 20kg, but getting that changed back to the 25kg that we'd been told by Blue o two, we checked in. Unfortunately, Dindin had taken the trolley back, so I had to carry my crate to the over-sized baggage thing. Zoe had turned up by this point, so we waited for her before going through security. In the end, we left her posting a letter while we went to find beer. The Wetherspoons looked too busy to order food, so we had a bite to eat at Pret a Manger (now that I know it's not owned by MacDonald's, it's OK) before going in for a sneaky pint at Wetherspoons. We had to make it a quick pint, because it was getting close to our departure time. We found Sam by the Baileys stand, having had several free shots, so we stopped there on the way to the gate.

By the Baileys StandWe got to the departure gate in good time, and got on the plane. Our seats were towards the back of the plane, but the luggage racks were already full at the back, so we had to put our bags further forward. After reversing back off the stand, the plane went forwards again, and the captain announced that the fault they thought had been fixed hadn't been fixed. While we were waiting, I got bored, so said, "Right, I'm off for a perve". Dave saw me walking along, so said, "Don't got any further, you're not a mechanic". I replied, "Don't worry, I'm checking out the totty". Ages later, they announced that they needed to get parts for the aircraft, so we'd have to get off. "Beer", I said, and moved forward to get my bag out of the "hat rack". There was a woman at the gate handing out vouchers, but it turned out that they were just to allow us back onto the plane, not to give us free food. Dave said that he'd been told to wait at the departure gate, but we hadn't been told that, so went to the bar again via the Baileys stand. Cael made me laugh by asking when the coffee Baileys had been launched, and the totty told him that it was launched four years ago!

We ordered food and beer at the Wetherspoons, just before Danny told us we could get food vouchers. Oh well, at least we had a few pints. We then went to the departure gate, but Zoe called me on the way there to tell me that the flight had been delayed even more (this time because the previous crew had done too many hours and they needed to find a new crew), and they were at the Baileys stand. Dindin and Danny went to the toilet, leaving me with Claire. Danny popped back a few seconds later, and said to Claire, "don't forget, don't believe a word he says". Dindin was convinced that the girls were at the departure gate, but I convinced him otherwise, and we met them back at the Baileys stand, and then went to spend our vouchers at Pret before going back to the departure gate.

Tea on the PlaneSam on the PlaneThe new crew had more totty on, so there was an advantage in the flight being delayed! There's not much to say about the flight itself, but there was a charge for food and drinks, so we tried not to have tea, but Sam eventually said the T word, so I had to order tea for two quid a cup. Fortunately, it was nice tea, so didn't mind too much. Unfortunately, we then had the taste for more tea. I only had four quid, so tried to persuade the air hostess to give us three cups for four quid, but she wouldn't. Pity I chose the one who's a lesbian! Talking about air hostesses, the blonde one was gorgeous!

Because we landed late, Hurghada airport was almost empty, so it didn't take us long to get through customs, helped by the fact that we had already had our visas paid for. Then we had to collect our kit, refuse to pay the gimmers for standing next to the row of trolleys, buy two crates of beer from the duty free, and then walk to the coach. It was only a short journey to where the boat was moored, and the locals unloaded all the dive kit and brought it onto the boat for us. The boat was pretty amazing. I thought that the boat we had two a few years ago was good, but it doesn't compare with this one. Not only that, but the two dive guides were women, which is always a bonus. One was called Silka, so I had to send a text message to Scary to tell him this. It wasn't the same Silka that he really liked when we went to Sharm a few years ago, but I didn't tell him that!

The boat brief was given to us by DVD, presented by some nice totty, so I paid attention. It seemed that each room had a TV in them. We'd already decided who was sharing with who, so we unpacked our bags. The food was welcome after the long day, and we had no problem sleeping. I was worried about my continued sty, but Zoe gave me much better advice than the two pharmacists that I'd bought Golden Eye from, but, unfortunately, I couldn't act on most of it, but the advice was welcome.

Saturday 7th

We woke up to find that Danny and Cael had had a swimming race around the boat before going to bed last night. There were some pretty sore heads this morning! Fortunately, we had a fairly easy day, which meant that we could have breakfast before diving. We had the choice to dive in buddy pairs, or follow a dive guide. I was feeling quite nervous as I always do on new boats, and I wasn't sure whether I had enough weight. I'd asked Zoe what weight she was using, and took a similar amount. I really should know how much weight I need, but am not used to this single-tank diving. Anyway, I had enough weight to get under the water, so off we went. We'd been told that there was a guaranteed shark, so went off in search of the shark monument. We found the pyramid base, but there was no shark attached to it. We continued our dive until we'd dived for about 30 minutes, and which point I suggested that we turn back. Dindin started pointing in the wrong direction, so I took control, and we went back the way we came.

Space for Dindin to put his version of events:





We got back to the boats, but I was getting really low on air, so, as we got close to our boat, I suggested that we surface before we quite got there. Back on the boat, I looked at my pressure gauge, I then turned off my air, and de-pressurised the set. The needle didn't move once! I had started with only 160bar, and had proved that I have enough weight to dive with an empty cylinder.

After lunch, we got dropped off on the far side of the reef, and then continued our dive from where we got to last time (I think that Dindin's version of this morning's events might have been right!). This time, we went a lot slower, but also spent a fair bit of time at the first pinnacle. We saw a fat Lard Fish on our way back to the boat. We didn't make it all the way back to the boat, so got picked up by a Zodic. Dindin tried getting into the boat still wearing his kit, which made us all smile. I got back on the boat with some air left in my tank, but we still had a dive time longer than 60 minutes. Maybe I'll have to behave better tomorrow.

After a rest, we jumped in for a night dive. I used batteries that I'd fully charged a few days ago, so was sure things would be OK. Dindin's LED torch was much brighter than mine, but I did manage to find an eel poking its head out. Just after that, I realised that my torch wasn't going to last the whole dive, so I just turned it off, and followed Dindin. He spent a lot of time trying to get a Lionfish trying to eat other things, including another Lionfish, but eventually got bored of it. I didn't really like diving without a torch, but I did have a strobe if I needed it, and we always had the light from Dindin's VR3 if need be. Back on the boat, we had a cup of hot chocolate to have before dinner.

After dinner, we watched "Schools Out" on DVD (at least I think that's what it's called, but I can't find in on IMDb). Dindin went to bed half-way through after I said I didn't want any more beer. I felt tired towards the end, so went to bed, only to find out that Zoe had locked the door, and I couldn't wake her up. I tried a few more times, but ended up sleeping in the lounge.

Sunday 8th - Little Brother

At about 04:00, I tried to wake Zoe up again, and managed it this time, so eventually got to sleep in my bed! Strangely, she said that the door wasn't locked, but I certainly couldn't get in.

After two cuppas and a briefing, it was time to go diving. I wanted to go to the feeding station, but Dindin had other ideas, and went in the other direction. After a while, he came around to my way of thinking, but this didn't last for long because the current was too strong. We saw Danny and Claire, and all we could hear was Danny laughing. After that whenever I looked out into the blue, all I could see was Claire's yellow shell. There were lots of friendly twig fish towards the end of the dive, and we were very well behaved (<60mins, >50bar, <40m, and a 3min safety stop).

Folder Towel I can't remember what we had for breakfast, but I had my usual fried eggs, but liked the Spanish omelette that Dindin had ordered, so decided to have that tomorrow. We had another Zodiac dive, and jumped in negatively buoyant, and went straight down. I managed to overtake Dindin behind him, and then hid from him beneath him for about 30 seconds before he eventually saw me. He he. A few minutes later, we saw a herd of about 5 sharks being chased by somebody with a large camera (presumably Sarah). Dindin reckoned that we saw another large shark close up, but I can't remember. My memory is getting worse - am I too young for early-onset Alzheimer's? We saw loads of twig fish and a big ugly bastard fish. We had to finish the dive a bit early because my ear had been giving me jip for the previous 10 minutes and I got fed up with it.

I can't remember what we had for lunch, but I was ready for another dive. Dindin wanted to jump off the back of the boat, but everybody else was going on the Zodiacs, so we went with the flow. Although, after yesterday's dive, he does need practise getting into a Zodiac. The current wasn't as strong as yesterday, so we slowly drifted back to the boat. I spotted an eel and a shark-looking thing on the surface. Having taken my camera casing on the previous dive, I took my camera on this dive, but it kept turning off (including when I spotted the eel). There was no big bastard fish to accompany us to the boat, but it was a top dive (sorry to Zoe for kicking her, but she shouldn't swim so close to my fins!).

After dinner, somebody put on The Assassin Hitman. This had been on in the background earlier on, but I still didn't understand it this time, so just continued updating my trip report, stopping briefly to perve when the totty (Olga Kurylenko took her clothes off. Dave and Cael played trumps, which gave me the idea of Page 3 Trumps.

After the film finished, we called it a night. Zoe had kindly left the door open to make sure that I wouldn't be locked out tonight. Top lass! [10/02/09 10:22 - to be continued, I need to do a "tank check"]

Monday 9th February 2009 - Little Brother and Big Brother

Folded Towel and Clothes We started off diving on Little Brother today, but finished off on Big Brother. It was put to the vote whether to move after the first dive or the second dive. 11/22 voted to stay on Little Brother for the 2nd dive, but only 6/22 voted to move, so only our 3rd dive was on Big Brother.

Anyway, Dindin and I hadn't been deep on the south side of Little Brother, so I suggested that to Dindin, and he agreed. I like this Red Sea diving malarkey:

  1. Drink tea
  2. Listen to briefing.
  3. Drink tea.
  4. Poo
  5. Start kitting up
  6. Get into Zodiac
  7. Jump into water
  8. Find Dindin at 30m
  9. Continue descending to 45m
  10. Finish kitting up

Elka obviously hadn't seen me kitting up, because she put me on Zodiac 1. I don't think I held up the boat too much, but I'm sure she won't be putting me on the first Zodiac again!

Small Brother Small Brother Dindin reckoned he saw quite a few sharks, but I can't remember seeing any (maybe I didn't actually see any), but I do remember seeing another Big Ugly Bastard Fish towards the end of the dive. We had to finish the dive early when I got to 50bar.

Before the next dive, Danny showed me where he and Claire had seen sharks on the previous dive, so I showed it to Dindin. We swam past the area, but didn't see any sharks. We continued on the north side and saw about 5 divers coming towards us. I thought it would make a nice picture, so took one. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the lens cap off! When Dave swam past, he suggested to Dindin that we tows me, so Dindin handed me the clip on the end of the reel, and towed me back to Dave. Although amusing, it was unfortunately in the wrong direction, and he didn't offer to pull me back again!

We got close to the end of the island, but Dindin found it hard going, so decided to turn back because he knew I was unlikely to make it, so we drifted back the way we'd come. Unfortunately, we still didn't see any sharks.

After lunch, we moved to Big Brother, which pleased me because we got to dive a wreck (Numidia). I was also pleased to see that I'd been moved from Zodiac 1 to Zodiac 3, but Dindin pointed out that what I thought was a 3 written over a 1 was actually a B, which was left over from the previous dive, when Dindin and I had gone off the back of the boat. Oh well, I still had to get kitted up quickly! Anyway, I got onto the Zodiac OK. As soon as we got to the wreck, I realised that we had to go inside. I still hadn't put new batteries inside my torch, but there was enough ambient light, so it wasn't a problem. Inside, we saw a "Weird Growey Thing", and saw Sam and Zoe outside. After the wreck, we swam back along the island, closely followed by Sam and Zoe. This time I kicked Sam. Ooops! We'd been talking about white balance, so I took a picture of my hand with each of the 4 white balance settings. I then looked up, and couldn't see Dindin. I saw the entrance to a cave, so I went in there, correctly assuming that he had gone in there too. When we got to the end of our dive, Dindin put up the SMB, and I told Sam that they could use Dindin's SMB too.

Cael Eating Dessert Cael Eating Dessert After not eating his desertdessert last night, Cael got given the entire left-overs from last night to eat tonight. He decided that it was an Ireland vs. Egypt match, and wasn't going to give in, so finished the lot. Dave also did a good job eating all the desert he was given, but the crew took things a bit too far by giving Cael a glass of water with salt in it, which he drank quickly once he'd finished eating. We all moved out of his way pretty quickly, because he looked quite ill.

Dindin and I had been rationing our beer, but we realised today that we might have overdone the rationing (especially since we'll be going out in Hurghada on Thursday night), so got through a few more tonight (including giving two to Danny and two to Claire), so we wouldn't end up leaving any un-drunk.

Danny spent some time telling us about rebreathers (interrupted occasionally by Claire to tell us the official line that Danny had ignored). I still don't think I'll be buying a rebreather soon, but it was very interesting, and certainly worth a few beers. I don't know what film had been showing in the living room, but it seemed to have lots of shooting, and not many women, so I don't think we missed much. As with last night, Zoe had kindly left the door open. She's a top lass!

Tuesday 10th February 2009 - Big Brother

During the day yesterday, the bracket that holds my cylinder in place on the bench came off, but one of the crew fixed it. Every time the boat rolled during the night, I had visions of my cylinder ending up on the floor. Fortunately, it was still on the bench when we got up in the morning, so the guvna had obviously fixed it OK. It was still quite choppy, so it was more difficult getting into the Zodiacs than it was before. We still managed it, and got taken over to the far side of Big Brother. There was the potential to do the other fairly deep wreck later on in the day, so, on the way out, I said to Dindin, "We need to go deep early doors, so that we can still go deep on the wreck later".

We jumped in, but I still had some air in my jacket, so didn't go down as quickly as I had hoped to. I opened my eyes to see the Zodiac's propeller close to my head. I started dumping air, which was a good idea, because the propeller started turning, making me dump using two dumps. Anyway, we got down to 53.4m and swam along for a minute or two before Dindin sensibly suggested we swim shallower. A few minutes later, he was paying more attention to his VR3 than to where he was going, and almost swam straight into some enormous fan coral. Dindin reckoned that he saw a shark, but I definitely couldn't see it. I'm beginning to think that he's making it up. Back on the boat, Dindin told me to say that we'd been to 40m. Since I can't lie, I said that he had to give the information for both of us.

Dindin didn't want to dive the wreck, but eventually came around to my way of thinking. It was "touch and go" whether we'd get to dive the Aida, but fourfive of us (John, Dave, Cael, Dindin and me) got into a Zodiac and were taken over there. Cael wanted to join Dindin and me, even though he had only been to 35m on his previous dive. It was quite choppy on the way out, and when I got bounced what felt like ½m out of the boat, I decided it was time to hold on! Anyway, we were dropped in, and met up on the way down to the wreck. Immediately, I went inside, closely followed by Dindin and Cael. About 23 of the way along, I saw that we were at 48m. I considered turning back, but decided to go to the end at 53m. I'm glad that Dindin decided to do the wreck, because it was a cracking dive. As we came out of the wreck, I was surprised that we hadn't bumped into Dave and John.

Not much exciting happened on the rest of the dive, and the visibility wasn't the best ever. I had no idea how, but I managed to bend my Prodigy, so put it into our cabin to recover. It turns out that the loop on John's rebreather flooded and his bail-out failed, which explains why we didn't see them on the wreck.

After doing two 50m dives, Dindin and I decided to sit out the next dive, as did Cael who looked knackered. It seemed that we'd almost broken him! Dindin and I sat in on the next briefing, even though we weren't diving. Danny told us that we'd never be allowed to dive on the JEL with twin-12s again, after "going to 60m on single-12s".

Dinner was, as usual, really good, but it had the added advantage of a wedding cake for Jeff and Bee, and a birthday cake for Claire. I really shouldn't have eaten the cake, because I felt quite full afterwards.

The plan had been to go to Elphinstone for the next day, but the weather wasn't going to be kind to us, so we voted to head back towards Hugharda overnight. We had been warned it was going to be a bumpy crossing, but I don't think anybody appreciated how bumpy it was going to be (I know I certainly didn't). I settled down with a beer to continue writing up my trip report, but after the first wave, I realised that this was a bad idea. I lay down in my bed for a bit, but didn't feel too good, so went upstairs for some fresh air. This didn't help, and I threw up a bit later. Thanks to everybody who looked after me when I was feeling rough.

I ended up sleeping on the deck for a few hours, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, I felt much better, and the sea was calmer, so I decided to risk going back to the cabin, because I was scared that I might wake up in the sun. The other advantage of sleeping in my cabin was that I wouldn't be made ill by the smell of cigarette smoke. Leaving Cael sleeping, I went downstairs, and felt fine.

Wednesday 11th February 2009 - El Ariesa

We got woken up at 06:00, and I was feeling pretty good considering. I was also surprised that I wasn't dehydrated, but was concerned that I only had time for one cuppa before we dived. My Prodigy was still bent, so I left it in our cabin, but I lent my camera to Dindin to give him something to do while he was waiting for me to catch up. Anyway, we had a quick brief about the El Ariesa (it had to be quick because Elka had only dived it once, and Silka had never dived it), and then got ready. I wanted to take things slowly, so Dindin and I were the last in (it was a good job I actually listened to this brief, because I had to correct Dindin!).

Folded Towels Anyway, it was a cracking wreck. I found a swim-through straight away, but Dindin didn't see it. I went into it, and hid from him, and he didn't even notice. [11/2/09 11:43 - Correction, he saw my bubbles all the time]. I lost Dindin when we got to the twirley end, but saw him waiving at me, so followed him for a bit before I realised that I was following two divers, so went back and found Dindin again. I had to wait ages while he took a picture of the propeller - I bet it didn't need to take ages, he was just getting his own back for the amount of time he's had to wait for me this week. [13/2/09 10:58 - Correction, he just didn't know how to turn the flash off]

We found a swim-through. I went inside, but Dindin pulled me back, and tied on a line. Unfortunately, I kicked up a lot of silt when I turned around to swim back, so we didn't go back in. We found another swim-through, so Dindin tied on the line again, and we found that the swim-through was shorter than ½m! A few minutes later, we found a quality swim-through. With about 15 minutes of decompression stops to do, going inside the wreck wasn't the most sensible idea ever, but we did it anyway. We then had to do Dindin's deep stops, which involved another small swim-through. By this time, I had over 20 minutes of decompression stops to do, and only about 50 bar of air. I didn't want to clock up more stops, so asked Dindin to send up the delayed SMB and up we went. We were passed by the guys on rebreathers who had fewer stops to do than us, and eventually surfaced after doing an extra five minutes to be on the safe side. I always use lots of air on ascents, so ended up with about 10 bar left when we got back on the boat. Because we'd stayed within the depth and time limits that we'd been told, I told Silka our details.

The next dive was on Panorama Reef and the two after that would be on Gota Abu Ramada. Sticking to my plan to do no more than 3 dives per day, I had to miss out on one of the dives, Elke said that the Panorama Reef was similar to the Brothers, so I decided that the second dive was the one to miss out. Dindin changed his mind at the last minute, and dived with Sam and Zoe, so I leant him my camera to take with him. He got very trigger happy, and almost filled the memory card, so his first job before we dived again was to delete some pictures from the card.

The third dive (Gota Abu Ramada = The Seven Corals) was, unsurprisingly, a dive around seven coral pinnacles. After Dave renumbered them when Elke was downstairs, we had a quick dive brief, and then jumped in off the back of the boat. Elke had suggested two different ways of diving them, but Dindin suggested a third way, so we did that. We saw a free-swimming conga and another lard fish. Because we had my camera with us, we could take a picture to find out what it is. We also saw a scabby old fish, and I took a video of a lionfish. We came round one of the pinnacles, and I quickly spotted some totty. I got excited for a while, but then realised that it was Sam and Zoe. Not that that was a disappointment, of course, it's just that I thought I'd spotted new totty.

We cut the dive short, because we were going to try diving on rebreathers, and had to leave enough air for whoever was taking us in to use. Dave took me for my try-dive. The descent was OK, but I was a right twat with my buoyancy once we'd got to the bottom - I just couldn't get the hang of it. I hadn't realised how much I must rely on breathing in and out to control my buoyancy. Rebreathers are definitely the way forward, but it will take a lot of practise before I feel comfortable using one. Dave was running low on air (about 20 bar, so more than I had half-way through this morning's deco stop), so he asked me to fin quickly. I did my best, but kept on forgetting. My ascent was pretty pants, but holding my depth while swimming at 6m under the boat was OK. Being a useless gimmer, I managed to spit out my mouthpiece on the ascent, but managed to grab it in time, so it didn't flood Dave's rebreather.

Doing the rebreather dives had delayed the night dives, which annoyed the chef a bit, so we limited the night dive to 45m 45 minutes. Having replaced the rechargeable batteries with the standard ones I'd bought in Gatwick before we flew out on Friday, I could see much more on this dive. We saw a free-swimming conga, I found a snorkel for Sam, and we tried to get a lionfish to eat a blue spotted thing. We then came across six divers all shining their torches on one thing. It was as if they were trying to fry the free-swimming conga. Some of the others saw a turtle, and some idiot from another boat punched it.

During and after dinner, we finished off our Grolsh, so Jacko kindly gave us some of his. The JD and Baileys put in another appearance, but Dindin and I stayed on the beer. Five things spring to mind about this evening:

I had considered offering Silke a bit of Dickson Love Train action, but she was smoking this evening, so I decided against it.

Thursday 12th February 2009 - Abu Hashish

Having learnt from Elke's mistake of putting me on Zodiac 1, Silka put me on Zodiac 4. This gave me plenty of time to kit up. Somehow, I was even slower than normal, and was still not in my wetsuit when Elke said "Zodiac 4 is coming back", then, looking at me, saying "Oh no. Is that you?". I got kitted up fairly quickly, and didn't actually delay things. It (Abu Hashish) wasn't the most interesting or exciting dive ever, but we did see a dead moray eel (although others saw it moving) and two lumps of coral that Silka reckoned looked like breasts. I wasn't convinced, but they still made me smile. I got bored after about 35 minutes, so I suggested to Dindin that we surface. He surprised me by agreeing straight away - it turned out that he had a headache, so wasn't really enjoying the dive. After charging the battery in my camera, I deleted the video of the lionfish, so that Dindin could take some more pictures.

Folded Towels Breakfast and tea didn't make Dindin's headache disappear, so he decided not to dive. Cael was looking for a buddy, so I dived with him. I reminded him that I take ages kitting up, but decided it would be funny to get kitted up before him. I therefore hid his weight-belt, but it turned out that he was already wearing his weight-belt, and it was Sam's that I'd hidden. Sorry Sam! I actually made it into the water first, because Cael had problems with his mask at the last minute. Anyway, Cael was very well trained, and led me around the various corals to the sea grass where I found a weight to give to Blue O2. I suggested boarding the other boat because there was totty on board, but we didn't actually carry out my suggestion. After about 35 minutes, I told Cael that I wanted some tea, so he navigated us back to the boat, attacking Jacko on the way.

It was a very nice relaxing end to brilliant week's diving. The dives that I did were:
07/02/2009
607 - Gota Abu Ramada (12.2m, 68mins)
608 - Gota Abu Ramada (14.3m, 69mins, 24°C)
609 - Gota Abu Ramada (11.9m, 35mins, 20°C)
08/02/2009
610 - Little Brother (38.4m, 55mins, 22°C)
611 - Little Brother (39.9m, 44mins, 23°C)
612 - Little Brother (26.5m, 59mins, 22°C)
09/02/2009
613 - Little Brother (41.2m, 48mins, 22°C)
614 - Little Brother (37.5m, 51mins, 23°C)
615 - Numidia; Big Brother (34.5m, 57mins, 23°C)
10/02/2009
616 - Big Brother (53.4m, 32mins, 22°C)
617 - Aida; Big Brother (53.0m, 53mins, 23°C)
11/02/2009
618 - El Ariesa (35.1m, 64mins, 20°C)
619 - The Seven Corals (22.9m, 45mins, 25°C)
620 - The Seven Corals (12.5m, Q5mins, 21°C)
621 - The Seven Corals (23.2m, 43mins, 18°C)
12/02/2009
622 - Abu Hashish (16.5m, 38mins, 19°C)
623 - Abu Hashish (10.3m, 42mins, 23°C).

We had a fairly calm journey back to Hurgardah, and I even ventured upstairs for the journey (although I obviously stayed out of the sun). Back at the harbour, I sorted out my dive kit, and then went for a quick kip before we went for a wander to find a cash machine. Sam woke me up, and I put on the sun cream that Bird ordered for me a few months ago and a bandanna. Outside, I realised that it was getting dark, so there was no need to worry. The first cash machine that we came across didn't accept my card, but the second one did. Fortunately, I'd asked Tommy what the exchange rate is, so we knew roughly how much money we needed to get out.

We'd seen signs for the Hard Rock Café, so went to have a pint there, but couldn't find it, so headed back to the boat. Blue O2 had booked us two minibuses to take us to The Lodge, where we would be eating tonight. Elke had told us that we should pay LE30 for each bus, and that a taxi back should cost LE15. We gave the money to Cael who we knew would love being hassled by the taxi driver! I'm not sure exactly what happened in the front, but Cael ended up chatting to the waiter on the phone so that he could give directions to the taxi driver. The taxi driver asked for more money, but Cael just said "Blue O2 said 30", and he stopped complaining.

Dave in Short Trousers Dave and Val We walked past a place called Papas, which apparently is a favourite with divers, and went to The Lodge, where we'd booked a BBQ. The food was really good, and it was nice to get back on the Sakara again. Thanks to Danny and Dave for paying for the wine. My outstanding memory of the meal was Dave and Val continuing their argument about trouser size, and going into the toilets to swap trousers. In all their excitement, they forgot to lock the door. If only I'd taken a picture of the look on the face of the bloke who opened the door to go to the toilet and saw two men with no trousers on! Anyway, Val walked out, and looked fairly normal. Dave then walked out with a good few inches of his lower leg showing!

When we'd finished our beers, Dindin, Val, and I went to Papas, and continued on the Sakara. It was a nice bar, but the only thing that I don't like about Egypt is the fact that people are allowed to smoke in public areas. The others joined us once they'd finished the wine, and a band started up soon afterwards. The music was my kind of music, with a bit of Guns 'n' Roses action. The smoke was beginning to get to me, so when Sam said that they were tired, I was up for calling it a night. As soon as we stepped outside, plenty of taxi drivers started offering us a lift. While I asked the security guard which one to use, Dindin found one. He agreed on a price between LE15 and LE20, depending on how good the music was. I wasn't convinced initially, but once I put a different CD on, things seemed better. Despite him spelling Phil Collins with two Ls in Phil, I still paid him LE20. I was a bit worried about walking back onto the boat along the gang plank, but it wasn't a problem. We must have been tired, because we didn't make a cuppa before going to sleep.

Friday 13th February

I always hate the day after the diving trip has finished. There's no diving to look forward to, and I just want to get home. Fortunately, as part of the diving package, Blue o two had included 4 "day rooms" at the Marriott for us to use before we were collected at 16:00. Breakfast was supposed to be served at 08:00. I woke up at 07:00, and considered making myself a cuppa, but went back to sleep instead. I woke up again at about 07:30, and heard the clinking of a tea spoon. I soon headed upstairs, and found Danny making tea. It wasn't the best cuppa ever because the urn hadn't boiled yet, but it did the job.

I didn't start packing my clothes away, because Zoe was still asleep, so drank my tea, continued writing my trip report, and finished packing my dive kit. Without the German efficiency of Silka and Elke to speed things up, breakfast was a little bit late, but we weren't in any hurry. After breakfast, FiFi came to tell us what the plan for the day was. We all finished packing, left our kit on the back of the boat, and then waited for FiFi to collect us. I was worried about being in the sun, but found some shade to wait in. We were given keys to the four rooms and took our bags up to the room. By the time I got to the room, Sean and Tommy had taken up residence on the bed, and turned the TV on. Jacko and Sarah went downstairs to continue sunbathing. Sam popped round to tell me they were going to sit by the pool, so I just had a quick shower, drank the bottle of water that I'd taken from the boat, and continued writing my trip report. I considered writing it by the pool so that I could perve at the totty while writing it, but decided that it was too hot outside, so stayed in the room.

Sleeping Beauties I was ready to go out, so put on my gilet, and went to find Sam and Dindin by the pool (Din had borrowed my dive logs, so that he could get his up-to-date from the last few years). I probably looked like a right idiot wearing a gilet and walking around the pool, but I didn't really care. At about half-one, Sam, Dindin, and I had an ice-cream and beer by the pool while Zoe showered, and then went to have a bite to eat in the restaurant opposite the hotel. The restaurant had a WiFi network, so I wished that I'd brought my iPod. The Marriott had a WiFi network, but it cost extra, so I wasn't going to use that. Anyway, the lunch did the job, so we hopefully wouldn't have to pay for food on the plane. By the time Dindin and I had had another pint, it was time to collect our bags from the room, and wait for the coach. The plane had landed on time, so should take off on time too. The coach driver didn't seem as mad as the taxi drivers last night, which was probably a good thing. The Egyptian security initially looked good, but actually ended up being fairly slack. I didn't pay much attention during check-in, but apparently they didn't pay much attention to the weights of the bags (which pleased the rebreather divers).

We had time for a quick drink before it was time to get on the plane. The plane was only a few tens of metres away from the departure gate, but we still had to get on a bus to drive us to the plane. For a while, the two seats next to me were empty, but that changed when a family arrived. Quite a few families arrived after that, including one where the father thought it was funny that his horrible baby was screaming and annoying people. Anyway, it wasn't too bad, because the woman who sat next to me was totty. There was no point in talking to her, because she was with her husband, so I just went to sleep after the security brief. I woke up about half-an-hour later with her legs either side of me. If only her husband wasn't on the row behind me.

When the drinks came round, the totty air hostess tried to charge me for water, but soon changed her mind when I reminded her that it had to be provided free of charge. [13/2/09 18:15 GMT - To be continued, I need to go to sleep. Maybe the totty will straggle me again later!]

It was actually a fairly pleasant flight. The horrible kids soon stopped making a noise, and I needed a bit of time to myself, and I got that on the flight. There was no more straggling, because I'd told her that I didn't mind her waking me up to get past. After sleeping for a bit, I finished writing up my trip report, and brought my blog up to date. When the totty came round offering drinks again, my willpower failed, and I bought a cuppa and a Mars bar. I didn't pay much attention to the film that was showing during the flight, but it was called How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, and it seemed worth watching in the future. [13/2/09 21:31 GMT - We'll be starting our decent in ten minutes. Freezing fog is forecast].

We didn't have to wait that long for our bags to turn up, and, with the flight arriving early, I reckoned that we might make it to The India in time for a curry, so we said our goodbyes and went to find our taxi. When we got to the end of the travelator, Zoe put her bags on the trolley, and the girls went into M&S. I was about to complain to Dindin, but he pointed out that Sam was getting milk, so that seemed OK. We then continued walking to the car park, but Zoe seemed to want to carry all her bags instead of putting them on one of our trolleys. It took us a while to find the taxi, but we met up with him eventually. It was 22:50, and he reckoned it would take less than an hour to get to Langley. This sounded good, until I called up The India, and found out that it closes at 23:30, not midnight. Oh well, at least we had some milk for tea when we got back.

Thanks everybody for a brilliant week.

Update (22/02/09): Last night, I was determined that I'd find out the name of the film that we watched on Saturday, so started searching using Bloke in pub. I wasn't sure what I'd find by typing in "running naked through streets frank", but I found out that the film's called Old School.

Update (04/10/09): Pictures added.

Update (18/07/10 20:53): At some point during the trip, Dindin found a CD DVD marked "Drillbit Taylor". Not wanting to watch a porno staring Gordy, we decided not to watch it. I've just looked at tonight's TV listings, and found that Drillbit Taylor is on Film 4 at 21:00.

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