Scuba Scribe - Diving the Red Sea #1

in travel •  9 months ago


This travelogue series will describe some of my most memorable diving experiences. Out of all the places I have dived Egypt ranks among in my top three, along with diverse marine flora and fauna the red sea boasts some of the best wreck diving in the world. My first ever wreck dive was in Egypt (HMS Thistlegorm) and no other wreck has measured up since for sheer atmosphere.

So, lets set the scene for the trip.....

It was a cold January morning as my flight left Heathrow, as the plane crested the clouds my ears popped and I stared longingly through the rain lashed window dreaming of purple polyps dancing in coral forests. It had been over six months since my last dive and my adrenaline was pumping, apprehension tinged with excitement. It's feelings like these that keeps us (as divers) cautious, careful and above all safe. I had booked a last-minute deal with one of the many liveaboard companies operating out of Marsa Alam in Egypt, the itinerary - ‘St johns and the deep south’.

As the plane reached ten thousand feet I noticed a couple sitting across from me flicking through a scuba diving magazine and after some hesitation I decided to take the plunge. In all my time traveling the one rule I try to stick to is – ‘ Always Talk to strangers’. Life is too short after all. I asked them if they were diving or just on holiday and through the course of our conversation learnt that we were on the same boat. Before long a south African guy a couple of seats up from us, overheard the conversation and chipped in that he was also on the St johns trip. Synchronicity at its best! Before long we were all swapping dive stories, comparing qualifications and generally baffling the other passengers with our scuba mania.


I completed fourteen dives on this trip taking my logged dive total to over fifty. The sites ranged from a test dive at Abu Dabbab to an exciting search for hammerheads out in the blue beyond the drop off at Eliphinstone’s northern plateau. The marine life was many and varied at all the sites but I will stick to the most memorable dives of the holiday to prevent this blog from turning into a novella.

St Johns caves

We spent a day at the caves (2 dives) before sailing overnight for Fury shoals. The first dive started with a descent to eleven meters before following the reef wall to find a wide opening into the tunnels beyond. Sunset-crimson bigeye fish rested in the light sway of the current.

As we ventured further in, shafts of sunlight arched from the broken roof of the reef above, creating shimmering shadows and illuminating bigeye's mango colored bellies. These openings are scattered throughout the cave system providing light and an easy path to the surface if the need arises. This site is perfect for the novice diver, providing swimthroughs while allowing a gentle introduction to diving within an enclosed area. As I finned gently onward the roof closed in plunging us into a twilight of turquoise. In this reduced light I noticed the purple tint of the coral walls soft shades, like the flakes of paint on a brush.

I noticed my dive buddy motioning with her hand like a fin above her mask. A small white tip reef shark lay close to the wall of the cave on the sandy bottom sleeping the day away. We moved in slowly, determined not to disturb this peaceful tableau. Buoyancy control was the order of the day here! Luckily I have never had a problem buoyancy when diving in a wet suit and we hung in the sway of the midday current for a minute or two before the sound of our bubbles disturbed the shark who whipped up the sand with its tail as it departed as a present for disturbing its snooze.


We meandered through this cathedral of bone. Corridors like arteries in the reef, delivering water and marine life, like blood to the heart of this symbiotic organism. Finally we emerged in a coral garden at about 6 meters, where I found eight of the fourteen strong group of divers huddled round a small clump of coral. As I moved in closer one of the other divers pointed out what had caught their attention, it took three attempts before I finally spotted two violet tinged semi transparent cleaner shrimp at the base of the coral. The joints of their legs and the shape of their bodies could barely be seen and would have blended perfectly with the sand if it wasn’t for a stronger purple-black pigmentation across the carapace. The shrimp darted in and out of the sheltering overhang as we teased them with our fingers, wiggling them forwards and back in imitation of a fish. These shrimp were not easily intimidated!

The dive ended with a leisurely three-minute safety stop at five meters, playing with clown fish among the groves of stinging anemone.

To be continued……..

If you enjoyed this article please follow @raj808 for the next installment in the series.

All pictures are original property of myself.

© Rowan Joyce 22/08/2013

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excellent story @raj808. I've always wanted to try scuba and you've set the table very nicely with your text.


Thanks @orionsbeltbuckle. All my scuba scribe articles/series are written primarily for this purpose. I wanted to write a kinda creative narrative, without too much technical stuff. So that non-divers could get a picture of what it's like scuba diving and maybe take it up. Glad you enjoyed it m8 😉 🐟🐠


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Hey raj808 great shots and story. I love finding what are obviously real people on steemit. I too am real and not a bot. I have followed and liked you and will continue to as your content comes. Thanks for being real.


Thanks @buttcoins I have also followed you now and look forward to reading some of your posts :) yes I agree that there is far too much automation on steemit. Although I am new on here I'm quite tech savvy so it hasn't taken me too long to work out a few tricks to try to get noticed. I recently recommended steemit to a friends mother and I suspect she has given up already with all this minnows, dolphin Wales business, it can all be a little confusing lol

Excellent post @raj808. I enjoyed your photos and story about your dives. I upvoted and resteemed your post, and followed you. Glad to meet you on Steemit!


Thanks @sallykwitt scuba diving and creative writing are really my passions so I will be posting lots of similar stories along with poems. Nice to meet you too :) I have followed your feed and look forward to checking out your posts


Hi @sallykwitt, part #4 of the Scuba Scribe series is now out all about diving with Seals in the UK, 💦


Hi, @sallykwitt. Just thought I'd let you know that my latest Scuba Scribe post is finally finished. It's all about swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico! Check it out if you get a minute 🙂

Hey @raj808! I found you through a ReSteem of this post by @sallykwitt . We have diving and some other interests in common, and so I have followed you. Keep it up...


Will do @transcript-junky part 2 in the Egypt dive trip series is coming up either today or tomorrow so watch out for that :) thanks for the upvote, I have followed your feed + look forward to reading some of your posts


Hi @transcript-junky, part #4 of the Scuba Scribe series is now out all about diving with Seals in the UK, 💦


Hi, @transcript-junky. Just thought I'd let you know that my latest Scuba Scribe post is finally finished. It's all about swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico! Check it out if you get a minute 🙂

Great write up! I spent a week diving out of hurghada in egypt back in 2004. Great diving but super busy. Have you done any diving on the saudi side of the red sea? The reefs there are much much better, way fewer tourists for obvious reasons :)


Thanks :) We were out of Marsa Alam for this trip and were really lucky cause it was end of the season early December if memory serves me right, so we were the only boat on all the sites we visited. I've heard good things about Hurghada, especially for shore diving. No, unfortunately, I haven't been any further south than St Johns. There were people on the boat on the trip I'm describing in these first 3 scuba scribe posts who had been diving liveaboard in Sudan and they said it was much more pristine.
I'm in love with Egypt waters though, I seem to have extremely good luck in Egypt red sea. I saw some really impressive stuff on my last trip to the red sea, I'm going to do another scuba scribe post soon called the red sea revisited and I don't want to spoil the surprise but I had a very lucky encounter with two large marine species and have some amazing pic's/footage of it. Coming soon for sure ;-) lol


oh that's awesome and so lucky you had the place to yourselves! i look forward to reading this next post of yours :)