Traveling to the Red Sea to dive in its colorful reefs and famous shipwrecks was a dream come true. This posts are about a full week on a Emperor Dviers liveaboard with my great diving partner Juanchi Dibbern, Sergio Massaro, the people of the C.E.B. and many new friends.
Where is my luggage????
We arrived in Hurghada, on the west coast of the Red Sea on an Egyptair flight from Cairo. In the airplane, a small Embraer 170, it could be noticed that the majority of the passengers were divers that same night would embark to do different itineraries by the Red Sea. Arriving at Hurghada airport an unpleasant surprise awaited us. Egyptair had left in Cairo the luggage of at least 15 divers, including mine of course.
After making the claim and with the promise that my equipment would arrive on the next 5:30 am flight (the boat staff would pick it up), we went directly to the marina where we embarked on the Emperor Superior, our home for the next week. Apparently this happens quite often because the Embraer is a relatively small aircraft for the heavy and bulky luggage of so many divers.
Being 1am we were assigned a Cabin and went to sleep.
Sunday – Beginning the liveaboard in the Red Sea
Preparing the equipment
At 6 in the morning I woke up and ran out of bed to find out if my suitcase had arrived, which awaited me immaculate on the aft deck. As the ship sailed from the harbor, I quickly assembled my dive and photography equipment (the rest of the divers had already done so the night before) and went to have breakfast.
The Emperor Superior belongs to the Emperor Divers fleet (Web and Facebook) and has capacity for 25 passengers, 11 crew and 2 guides. At the stern, there are numbered areas for each diver to keep their equipment. Each diver is assigned a single tank for the entire trip. During surface times, they are all filled with Air or Nitrox (air enriched with oxygen) without the need to take the BCD out of the tank. In our group we all had Nitrox certification, which is highly recommended for a trip like this in which so many consecutive dives are made and it is necessary to increase the no decompression limits.
After breakfast, we all met in the main lounge and Ana and Sergio, our Spanish dive guides, made their presentation (I recommend visiting their Facebook here). The first day we would do three dives (2 during the day and 1 at night). We were explained that since the places we would visit could have strong currents, it was mandatory to carry a marking buoy (also known as sausage) in case we moved away from the main group or if we wanted to get to the surface without the guide. For this reason, the first dive would be a “calibration” dive, being a good opportunity to practice how to launch the buoy. Also, some dives would be jumping from the boat and in others we would have to do it from a zodiac (the boat carries 2). The same applied to the return of the dives.
Already on the stern deck, we measured the percentage of oxygen in our tanks, set up the computers, and got into the water for our first dive into the Red Sea.
Poseidon´s garden – Sha´ab el Erg:
A masked buttlerflyfish couple
As anticipated by the guides, it was a simple and suitable place for a calibration dive. There are two underwater islets with a reef in regular conditions with a maximum depth of 15 meters. The visibility was excellent.
Under the inverted hull of the Dunraven shipwreck
After a few hours of navigation to the north we approached the Sinai peninsula to dive in the first shipwreck of the trip. The Dunraven was an English ship that sank in 1876 with a cargo of cotton and spices coming from India. It is about 80 meters long and its hull is totally inverted. We went down to the stern of the shipwreck where we penetrated through an opening at 29 meters deep and started ascending in the inside. The space is quite wide up to the middle of the ship, where the hull is broken. In its interior it is possible to see the old boilers of the ship.
The Dunraven shipwreck
We stayed close to the Dunraven to do the night dive. The dive was a round trip along the wall near the lighthouse that marks the reef. It was striking to see large numbers of lion fish, which hunt staying behind the beam of the flash lights waiting for some dazzled prey. We also saw a huge giant moray eel.
The intimidating giant moray eel from another angle.
During the night the ship sailed to the Strait of Tiran, near Sham el Sheik. It was a busy night (and my stomach felt it). Already at 6 in the morning we were up for a light breakfast with dramamine and the briefing before the first dive.
Routine in a liveaboad
The Emperor Superior’s meal plan is all inclusive. All the drinks are included except the alcoholic ones for which you have to pay at the end of the week. The routine of a day is more or less the following:
- Light breakfast (coffee or fruit)
- 1st dive
- Full breakfast (Coffee, juice, yogurt, toasts, eggs, pancakes, etc.…)
- 2nd dive
- Lunch (Soup, salads, Buffet with several hot dish options and dessert)
- 3rd dive
- Snack in the upper deck of the ship (pizza, sandwiches, canapés, etc.)
- 4th dive (night dive)
- Dinner (similar to lunch)
- Chat in the upper deck while watching photos of the day and falling asleep.
At leisure between dives (which is not very much), there are places to sunbathe, watch a movie on DVD or read. In my case, I used my free time to complete the logbook, download photos and charge batteries. The rest time… well I slep for a while. Something to keep in mind is that the boat has wifi but it only works (very slow) when a port is near. There is also no cellular signal so it is a good place to enjoy a full disconnection from the outside world.
Returning to the dives, on Monday we started with:
Jackson Reef is the first north of a set of reefs lined up in the Straits of Tiran. Above the reef is the Lara, a dismantled freighter. The site was very beautiful with abundant groups of gorgonians.
Thomas Reef is further south on the same line as Jackson reef. It was drift dive surrounding the reef. Very nice dive. At one point the depth increases and you can see how a canyon opens underneath you. This obviously must be avoided.
A parrot fish sleeping in its bubble of saliva.
Gordon Reef is the last of the reefs to the south. We did the third dive and the night dive. It was very interesting to see a titan crossbow fish (Titan Triggerfish) resting among the rocks. Also a parrot fish sleeping in its bubble of saliva.
It was a very good day of diving. This time we spent the night in Gordon reef and at dawn we moved to the end of the Sinai peninsula, to the Ras Muhammad Park and after that in the afternoon to the Thiestlegorm.
Soon a post comes out with the second part of this liveaboard. You can read the whole story of the trip to the Red Sea by clicking here!
The beautiful colors of the Red Sea