Autumn delights

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There is a definite chill in the air – winter is definitely knocking on the door here.  The disturbing thing is that the temperature has already dropped to what is a pretty bloody freezing temperature for me already, and it is only going to get worse!  It’s only October!!!  Scary.

It hasn’t helped the I have just spent a week diving in the Red Sea in gorgeous blue sky days and temperatures of around 32-35C every day.  We had some amazing conditions and saw hammerheads, oceanic white tips and even a dugong.

I also had a couple of trips to Germany during September – a trip to Berlin and then my first Oktoberfest!  I went to Berlin with my mate Rob to visit Simone.  We all volunteered together at ARCAS in Guatemala, and both Rob and I lost our respective World Cup bets with Simone (Germany trounced both England Australia…boo) so we flew to Berlin to buy her beers.

Simone was a great host and tour guide, and took us around the sites of Potsdam, Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Gallery, the Brandenburg Gate and the Bundestag.

Oktoberfest was a fun few days of excessive volumes of beer and pork.  The beer tents were enormous, the beer was free flowing, the music was fun (albeit a bit repetitive!), although after a few days I was so blocked up from the diet of meat and potatoes and I went hunting for a Chinese restaurant where I could be guaranteed a serving of vegetables!

I’ve just started a new job with a wine company, so it’s nice to be earning money again.  I even get free wine!

Now to work out what to do and where to go for Christmas holidays!

Dive 259: Marsa Shouna, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 00:57:00
Max depth: 22.3 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 15 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval: 02:50:00
Mix: EAN 32

We saw a dugong!!!

We were in the second zodiac and there were already squeals from the snorkellers on the day boats of “DUGONG!!!” so we dropped in and descended beside the first group. I was about 5 metres away from it and could see clouds of sand coming up as it munched on the sea grass.

All of a sudden, the number of divers must’ve got too much and it took off to the surface with a couple of remoras attached. It was just so beautiful and graceful despite its huge bulk. We tried to swim after it but it was too fast (it was swimming so effortlessly that it looked like it was swimming slowly!). We swam around the sea grass patches hoping to see it again but no such luck. However we managed to see a few spotted sea snakes (brown with yellow spots), a couple of juvenile soles, juvenile goatfish, and some large rays.

Dive 258: Marsa Shouna, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 01:15:00
Max depth: 19.8 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 15 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval: 15:30:00
Mix: EAN 32

A really cool relaxing dive alongside the reef of Marsa Shouna.

It was pretty shallow with mostly hard corals but of fish life – schools of silvery striped mackerel swimming around with their mouths open to feed. Also saw a couple of huge hawksbills turtles, lots of pipefish, blue spotted rays, goat fish, anthias, remoras (strange looking things), butterfly fish, crocodile fish, toadfish, lion fish and a huge starry puffer.

Dive 257: Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 01:08:00
Max depth: 19.2 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval: 03:12:00
Mix: EAN 32

A really nice relaxing dive along the western wall of Elphinstone. We dropped in on the northwestern side of the reef and drifted along with the current along the wall. The current was quite strong at the start of the dive but it slackened by the time we got to the souther plateau.

Along the way I saw a blue spotted ray, a large spotted moray eel, pretty blue triggerfish, millions of anthias (it was like swimming through an aquarium!), napoleon wrasse, and schools of black snapper.

We all did our safety stop under the boat (there was no current by now) hoping for an oceanic but no such luck!

Dive 256: Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 00:59:00
Max depth: 33.5 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval: 02:53:00
Mix: EAN 30

A fairly uneventful dive but still nice to enjoy the reef. Saw a spotted moray, an octopus, some tuna, and beautiful blue triggerfish.

We sat out at the tip of the plateau in about 30 metres to spot sharks but, nothing! Then at the end of the dive we swam way out into the blue and hovered at around 5 metres to find some oceanic white tips but unfortunately didn’t spot anything.

Dive 255: Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 01:00:00
Max depth: 23.2 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval: 14:41:00
Mix: EAN 25

There was a strong current alongside the reef so we dropped in on the north western point, swam over the northern point and then drifted along with the current south along the eastern side.

A really relaxing dive. No big stuff but saw schools of black snapper, fusiliers, anthias, lion fish, pipe fish, little moray eel and just nice to check out the beautiful reefs.

Dive 254: Daedalus Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 00:52:00
Max depth: 32.0 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval 03:00:00
Mix: EAN 28

Our last dive at Daedalus was amazing – A SCHOOL OF HAMMERHEADS!!! I counted 12 of them!

We started swimming along the western wall stopping to admire Anemone City, a massive patch of anemones and various types of anemone fish at around 8 metres. We swam along a little further and then I saw Fiona pointing downward. I peered down into the murky depths and after a little while, a dozen hammerheads came into view swimming towards our group!!

We sank down to around 30 metres and they circled around us a couple of times then swam off into the blue. After a couple of minutes they circled back, did a few laps around us and past us, and then occasional one would break off and swim towards someone. At one point, one of them was about 5 metres away from me! They are just such beautiful and graceful creatures.

Our whole group was just mesmerised as they swam with us for about 10 minutes. Thanks to my 32% mix I still had plenty of NDL left! The rest of the dive we were just on a high and we couldn’t stop gushing about the experience back on the zodiac and then back on the Sea Serpent.

AMAZING! One of my top 3 dives ever!

Dive 253: Daedalus Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 01:00:00
Max depth: 31.4 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval 03:17:00
Mix: EAN 32

We dropped down onto the western wall and drifted with the current towards the southern plateau. We stayed down at around 30 metres, constantly staring out into the blue but couldn’t see anything big.

There was nothing exciting on the plateau either. The dive was really relaxing and quite comical looking at the cornet fishes using everyone for their stealth attacks. Also schools of bluefin trevally.

Decided to forgo the wetsuit on this dive since I was getting grazed knuckles from pulling on my wetsuit (which by the way I think has shrunk since last time, especially around the tummy!!!). I went for the long sleeve thermo top and hood and was OK!

Dive 252: Daedalus Reef, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 01:03:00
Max depth: 31.5 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval 15:41:00
Mix: EAN 31

We dropped off the north eastern corner of the reef and swam off into the blue to look for the big stuff. It was noticeably colder down here at 27 C! Unfortunately we didn’t see anything other than a school of barracuda, so we swam back to the reef.

Just as we got back someone pointed down and there was a lone hammerhead swimming by!! Awesome! We swam back along the wall and admired some huge expanses of hard corals, loads of colourful fish, cornet fish, triggerfish, black snapper, sweetlips, and then at about metres we saw a turtle feeding.

Great dive!

Dive 251: Little Brother, Red Sea (Egypt)

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Dive time: 00:53:00
Max depth: 35.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 25 metres
Buddy: John North
Surface interval 02:59:00
Mix: EAN 25

HAMMERHEADS!!! All that staring out into the blue finally paid off!

I was down at around 30 metres on the northern plateau, a bit away from the group and the reef. I thought I saw a grey reef shark beyond the visibility but couldn’t quite make it out. As I swam back towards the reef, Fiona the DM pointed down and there were 3 hammerheads swimming beneath us! I could barely contain my excitement, especially when one (a juvenile) swam away from the other 2 and circled back towards me before turning away.

AMAZING! I couldn’t help but do a little dance at John I was that excited!

Also saw a barracuda, black snapper and a cute little network pipefish.

Such an awesome dive – my first hammerheads!!!