My first challenge when asked to write this article by Dave and Andrea was the title. Finally after much sole searching, I came up with the only thing that really qualified: "my first time"
Everything about the holiday was a first for me.....
Up until two months before the trip I hadn't even had a Try Dive and to be honest I wasn't really interested in diving at all. Gary, Sam and Tom had been diving for years' and I firmly believed that this was how it would stay, me waving them off on any weekends away or holidays and I would be left alone in peace - deep joy!
Gary arranged the holiday for us as a family and I was more than happy to be the only "non diving companion" the thought of sunning myself on the decks sounded great. All that changed however, with some gentle persuasion from Derek, Denise and Gary.
The obvious journey, from the Try Dive were the Open Water and EFR Courses' which I managed to complete without too much trauma.
I was now preparing for Egypt as a DIVER..... coupled with the belief that I was about to see some pretty spectacular sights, lets be fair, anything has to be better than the Lake at Wraysbury!!
Red Sea here we come.....
As a novice the first thing I fell for at Gatwick Airport was Derek asking if anyone had any space in their hand luggage - big mistake on my part as I ended up with his battery for his "light sabre " which weighed more than a small child! Thank you Robin for eventually coming to my rescue!
This was my first time in Egypt , we landed at Marsa Alam airport and I had my first glimpse at the desert scenery: very beige and. very hot. Thank goodness for the colours underwater! We took the coach to the port where our boat, The Blue Seas, was moored, (or as Derek would say - parked), very conveniently right next to TGI's. Great cocktails by the way.....
Gary and I had kindly been nominated to stay in the 'Honeymoon Suite' another first for me, the one draw back though; our headboard was the emergency exit for the downstairs cabins!! Mercifully we did not get subjected to 16 people running into our room in the middle of the night!
We met the Crew and our two Dive Guides, Nina and Ashraf, who accompanied us on most of the dives. They explained the itinerary for the duration of the trip, which included a 6 and half hour journey out to sea. Oh was I glad I took my sea sickness tablets but there were a few who didn't and lived to regret it - but all recovered after a quick trip to the boats medicine cupboard!
Let the Diving commence.....
We had our first dive at Abu Masra Tronbi to get used to the equipment and buoyancy. The dive was along a reef wall and what a fantastic sight..... the colours of the coral and fish were amazing!! I felt like I was in a tropical fish tank, so lucky and privileged to see such magnificent life under the Sea!!
The added bonus for me was to be able to dive with Gary and our boys - again for me a first as I had never dived with them before.
Let's not forget that this was Tom's very first experience of diving abroad and he had a blast! He was also doing the Deep Dive Course, as were several others, which Derek and Denise were facilitating.
Day two and we moved onto the The Brothers for two days.....
I had heard so much about this popular dive site from everyone which, I understood was notorious for its strong currents, but the likelihood of seeing white tip sharks and other fantastic marine life was a big plus!! We were also told by Nina that there was a 'shop' on the Island where we could purchase T-shirts. Funnily enough Derek did not believe this and proceeded to tell everyone that it was untrue..... back to this later.....
As a novice I wasn't expecting to dive The Brothers, so you can imagine my surprise when Nina said she would take me out on my own for a shallow dive (15 mtrs) when the others returned from their adventure! I saw my first Moray Eel which she was trying to entice out of his hole!! I was very excited to see my first Wrasse - it was huge with lips like Angelina Jolie, once again the colours of the coral and fish were a delight.
For reasons that will be obvious to all that were watching, I will not mention my first attempt at getting on the Rib after we surfaced!!
I felt thoroughly spoilt as Ashraf again took me on my own for my second dive on the Brothers. On this dive I saw my first Shark and Barracuda and weirdly enough I wasn't too afraid (if you believe that you'll believe anything). The current was fairly strong on this dive and sad to say the gorgeous Ashraf had to hold my hand to pull us along the bottom (ahh..... sorry Vikki) - another great dive over.
We set off in the ribs at sun set for our visit to the Lighthouse and. oh yes Derek.to buy some T-Shirts from the 'shop'. We were welcomed by the lighthouse keepers who spend two months at a time on the Island . The braver soles ventured to the top of the lighthouse. We were given tea and "hubbly bubbly" much to Sam, Tom's and Robin's delight!
We brought our 'unique' Brothers T-shirts and then departed. The best part of this trip however, was that Derek had to admit..... yes folks..... he had to admit..... He was WRONG!!! as, there was a 'shop' on the Island .
Day 4 and off to Abu Dabbab Dahra and my first night dive.....
I was looking forward to my first night dive and strangely enough I wasn't a bit nervous. The great thing for me was that I was surrounded by experts (including my dear patient 'buddy', Gary) at last count there were 4 Dive Instructors , 4 Dive Masters and 3 trainee DM's, including Jason (known as Russ to Gary), I tried in vane to get Jay to complete his swim test whilst we were there!! I thought it would give him more stamina if he had to complete the task with the sharks.....
The other real 'comfort' for me, apart from having our own torches; Derek was there with his 'light sabre' courtesy of Robin and me carrying the battery for him! I was really surprised at the excellent viz (hey I know some dive talk!). Although slightly eerie, I am glad I did the night dive as you see a very different view of the marine life.
Apologies to all those present for shaking my torch at every single thing - just an excited beginner!!
Relaxing and timeout.....
Between dives we ate, slept, sunbathed, wrote in our log books and just relaxed and exchanged stories of what we had seen on the previous dive or missed in some cases.. oh yes and tried unsuccessfully to avoid Denise "The Video Queen" with that camera!! I apologise to all in advance, who see the fruits of her cinematography which may include some very undesirable shots of me!!
I had managed to 'clock up' 15 dives whilst we were there and I have to say I am totally hooked..... I was obviously very lucky to be in the Red Sea for my first ever diving experience!
I saw some breathtaking sea life, my first wreck dive and on the very last dive I had my first meeting with Giant Turtles and a huge first encounter with a Dugong. Denise informed me that people have dived for years and have never seen this wonderful sea cow! Did I feel guilty? No chance.....
The whole experience from the diving to sitting at the bow of the boat (having a "Leonardo and Kate" moment), the brilliantly prepared food, fantastic crew who were always there to lend a helping hand, the comfortable cabin and not forgetting my other diving companions, all of whom made this first trip an experience of a lifetime, a big thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement.
The above article was written by Julie Wilson a recently qualifed diver on her first ever dive trip
If you would like to see the pictures please follow this link