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North or South, newish diver advice

Discussion in 'Red Sea' started by bvbellomo, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. bvbellomo

    bvbellomo Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: United States
    125
    13
    18
    I am getting Nitrox certified soon. Without Nitrox I'd limit a group or a buddy who has Nitrox, something I really want to avoid. Nitrox also gets me Advanced Open Water, which some of the trips require.

    I also plan on "Stress and Rescue", which along with 12 dives, gets me "Master Diver" and the 50 some of the liveaboard need. Depending on my time and budget, that might have to wait until after the Red Sea trip.

    The official language of Egypt is Arabic. I haven't found 1 review, trip report or article on the Internet in Arabic yet, so I assumed everything everywhere would be in English. As a native speaker, I am torn by English taking over the world. It makes traveling a lot easier for me, but we lose culture and intellectual ability.
     
  2. bvbellomo

    bvbellomo Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: United States
    125
    13
    18

    I am leaning towards BDE - although this will be determined by my schedule and what is booked.

    I have nothing against wrecks on a nice reef. But I have a hard time with a wreck as the reason I am going diving, and don't want a crowded or challenging dive that offers nothing other than a wreck. It sounds like this is not the situation in the Red Sea. One of the more remarkable things on my last trip was a brain coral the size of a basketball on a ship that went down only a few years ago - changed my view on fast these can grow.

    I am comfortable and experienced to the 39 meter recreational limit, and no real desire to go deeper.

    I am comfortable with swim throughs wider than my shoulders - just not swimming between sharp rusty metal so narrow I have to turn to fit. If I get a good guide, I trust them not to take me anywhere unsafe.

    I am still confused about why current would be difficult for me. I may not have enough time to hit my 5k goal of 20 minutes before this trip, but a lot of very experienced divers look like they can't run 5k in 30 minutes. I plan on spending of lot of time working on stronger and more efficient finning if I need to get to 50 dives before the trip, but I don't see myself at a disadvantage now. I don't need to be the fastest or strongest in the group - the group (or my buddy) is limited by the slowest guy, as long as that isn't me, I am fine.
     
  3. bvbellomo

    bvbellomo Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: United States
    125
    13
    18
    I contacted EasyJet yesterday about this. They confirmed the schedule isn't published, but would not commit to when it will be published, or even if the route will continue. The current schedule is only Thursday and Saturday (one flight a week to Marsa Alam and Hurghada). A Saturday flight for a liveaboard leaving on Friday is a no-go for a 2 week trip. If I have to fly from Venice on a 2+ stop route on a major airline, it is $300 or more.

    I will check out "diving specials”.
     
  4. scubajasonr

    scubajasonr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: UK
    24
    9
    3
    It isn't swimming into the current that is the problem. Assuming the dive has been planned well then it will normally be a negative entry from a zodiac, then a drift dive with the current, and then picked up by the zodiac, or swim back to the main boat. The issue is that the sites are very isolated and if you end up drifting away from the wall in the blue you can quickly disappear into the ocean. Last time I was there a couple of my friends had an issue on the negative entry, by the time they surfaced the zodiac had gone back to the main boat to get more divers and they had a rather stressful 20 mins drifting on the surface away from the island - luckily another zodiac spotted them. Generally the more experience you have the less likely you are to have issues, but they still can happen. The current just adds to the overall difficulty factor of the dive. I did a liveaboard to the Brothers with a couple where the girl had about 25 dives, her other half was an instructor and the pair of them had no problems on the dives. The liveaboard operator was happy with her dive qualifications.

    Regarding the language you will find all the crew will speak arabic to each other, and they will be more than happy to teach you some words during the trip.

    Totally agree with you comment regarding fitness. Apart from the initial swim test for open water there is no other basic fitness requirement, which I think is crazy.

    Stress and Rescue is well worth doing, and will improve your overall diving and make you a better buddy.
     
  5. bvbellomo

    bvbellomo Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: United States
    125
    13
    18
    We did 1 drift dive - the washing machine. All divers in the water together as fast as possible and negative decent, after a long lecture on the dangers of getting separated. We did not swim against current (that would be crazy) but did have some relatively active swimming perpendicular to the current to get where we wanted to go. By that, I mean more speed and effort than the other dives we did, still only 40% of what I could sustain long term. I just assumed the more challenging dives would be similar, but with stronger current. Or trying to stay in place with a reef hook with very high effort to move around a little to hook into the right spot and to ascend.

    What is the difference between a rib and a zodiac? We had something similar, but only for emergencies.

    I got separated once on a different dive. Everyone descended quickly in about 10 feet of visibility on the surface (much better at the bottom). I had a brief issue clearing my ear, and a few seconds later, my buddy was out of sight and I couldn't find him. I surfaced, swam back to the boat (the current took me about 200 meters), then went down and found everyone. Not something I'd want to repeat, but no real danger. Worst case scenario, I quickly disappear into the ocean, do a safety stop, surface, swim to the boat and abort my dive. Not good, but not something I'd plan my whole trip around avoiding an otherwise great dive site for.

    Visibility is a far bigger issue than current in this scenario, and I don't want to blame someone else for my mistake, but this is easily preventable if both buddies are serious about not going too far apart. I've found some very experienced divers won't hesitate to get well out of sight from their buddies and effectively solo dive. As a newbie, I won't tell them they are wrong, but would hope my buddy is more disciplined on a challenging site.
     
  6. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    8,303
    6,032
    113
    Rib is actually RHIB, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. "Zodiac" is often used (incorrectly) to specifically mean no rigid hull or used more generically to mean both kinds; the company makes both kinds of boats.
     
  7. scubajasonr

    scubajasonr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: UK
    24
    9
    3
    In Egypt they mean one and the same, with them locally being referred to as zodiacs. Generally take 8-10 divers plus a driver. All the liveaboards will use two of them. On most of these routes you will use zodiacs/ribs for a lot of the dives - often zodiac drop off and swim back to the boat or vice versa.

    Compared to a site called 'Washing Machine' the currents at BDE are all all fairly predictable and go in a straight line, with the occasional gentle down current where the current washes over the reef.

    Viz is nearly always good, which can lead to it's own problems. Divers can get along way apart but still be in visual contact - which is fine until something goes wrong!
     
  8. nippurmagnum

    nippurmagnum Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Washington DC metro
    224
    209
    43
    Current can be very challenging in all kinds of surprising ways. You may, for instance, lose a fin while kicking against current, and because your fin is positively buoyant (who knew?), you have to scramble to retrieve it, only to find that the current is even stronger closer to the surface, and it has pulled you away from the group. You finally retrieve your fin, you manage to put it on, but in all the chaos you’ve lost control of your buoyancy, and you’re now rising to the surface fast. You fumble for your inflator hose but can’t find it, and now you’re at the surface, in a ripping current, alone. Happened to a fellow diver in a recent Red Sea liveaboard trip (northern route, at Brothers). The diver was picked up by a zodiac, but couldn’t rejoin her group for the dive.

    Btw, on the very next dive, off the same boat, I lost a fin myself in strong current. I grabbed the fin quickly and vented air from my BCD, and dragged myself across the rocky bottom, hand over hand over, until I rejoined the group. Glad I was able to do that, because I had a pretty close encounter with a thresher shark as soon as I rejoined the group.

    My point being, managing strong current is about more than just being fit and kicking hard. Buoyancy control, familiarity with gear, situational awareness, and experience with task overload is just as important.
     
  9. nippurmagnum

    nippurmagnum Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Washington DC metro
    224
    209
    43
  10. Tribal

    Tribal Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Belgium
    160
    151
    43
    In 2017 I did do south/st. Johns. My gf and i did dive for 6 months when we did the LOB like 50 dives in total when it started.
    The dives where easy, shallow (apart from some wonderful drop offs) and no current. A lot of beautiful reefs and coral gardens.

    In 2018 we did do the north reef and wrecks route. For me it was great because of all the wrecks. A lot of time the reefs aren’t that great when there is a wreck. On some of them there is no reef at all. If you go for fish and corals I wouldn’t advice this route.

    In 2019 we did do BDE, lots of sharks, even some weird attacking behaviour why we left after 2 dives on Daedelus instead of 5/6. We did see a lot of longimanus, a few grey ones and even 2 mantas. On this route there was a lot more current many of the dives are waiting in the blue for sharks. Some nice reefs but you spend less time searching macro stuff in favour of the big stuff :)

    For 2020 we go back to the south.
     

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