North & Wrecks, an emotional return!

Read about Tom's return trip to the Northern Red Sea and one of his best underwater experiences ever!

  • Since taking over the reins at Oonasdivers in 2016 I have been overwhelmed by the number of divers travelling to the Red Sea again. Having dived there on and off over the past 16 years since gaining my PADI qualifications I have many fond memories. Initially from the days of Camel, Ocean Village and Red Sea College and then travelling south to Red Sea Diving Safari to experience more remote diving areas.

    Red Sea liveaboards are still just as popular as they have ever been and having not been on one for around 8 years, I thought it was high time I took the plunge again. Armed with my video housing and more luggage than I needed I headed off for my trip with Blue Planet on the North and Wrecks itinerary.

    Arriving in Hurghada, I was reminded of the friendly culture of the locals as they carried all my bags of gear to the boat. We had several fun interactions followed by the habitual “shookran” and a few LE to the guys that helped me as a courteous thank you!

    I was on lucky enough to be on Blue Pearl that had recently refitted and wow, I was amazed at the contemporary style of the saloon and the layout of the dive deck which was just perfect. There was even a decent sized camera table for my huge contraption!

    Having dived over 3200 times I have somewhat of a complex palette when it comes to my diving and I would not normally choose a trip like this as I would generally be heading to places further afield, however this opportunity arose and I found myself looking forward to it immensely.

    Sharm is still closed for UK divers, but on this trip I was going be to be lucky enough to dive Ras Mohammed, Shark and Yolanda reefs, sites normally only dived from Sharm back in the day on day boat diving from the Travco Jetty. This had got me excited as I have dived this site around 30 times over the years and have always loved it.

  • We did our check dives at Giftun Islands and then headed north to Ras Mohammed which did not disappoint. Sharks, barracudas, even a manta, passed us by as we were in the blue between Ras Mohammed and Shark reef. The black corals on the wall as we drifted by reminded me that the reef quality of this site is as good as any in the world. Arriving at the vast expanse covered with broken toilets I was happy to be back to a place I had visited many times before. I am not sure why I like the site so much, maybe as its such a unique wreck site and one of the first I ever dived.

    Next up was the big four. Abu Nuhas has been popular for as long as I have been diving and with the amazing visibility in the Red Sea it offers wreck enthusiasts and wide-angle photographers a backdrop you are unlikely to find in such perfect and consistent conditions. One of my favourite memories are the millions of glassfish that morph around you as you dive between the sunken vessels damaged hull. We also saw much marine life indigenous to the location. As I shot my video I took special care to avoid the stone and scorpion fish camouflaged by the abundance of coral engulfing the wrecks.

    By the time I got to day three I wondered why I did not do this kind of trip every year, not for work, just for a fun with one of my dive buddies! We were now ready for our deep dive of the trip to see the Rosalie Muller. We were going to be at 38m depth and would only see part of her due to her depth. The visibility is known to be limited due to sand deposits on the wreck. The dive was short, deep and as expected with limited visibility. Around 35 minutes door to door, I was glad we did the dive as i was keen to see this wreck as I had not been to this site before so was keen to tick a box on my logbook.

    Following this we headed to the Thistlegorm, by the time we arrived in the afternoon I was keen to jump in. I rounded up a few buddies and we went off to explore the wreck. I have dived this around 15 times so was super keen to see how the wreck was looking as I had heard it had fallen apart over time and I should not expect to see such a great wreck site. In my humble opinion the site is still just as outstanding as it has always been. We circled the site from bottom to top taking in each of the hold areas and then a full survey of the deck. Having Nitrox on-board was very handy as on a dive like this you just don’t want to leave and as the site is between 12 and 30 metres deep the Nitrox really assists with extending the dive time.

  • The following day we dived at 6am and again at 9am. There was only us and one other group for the second dive and it was outstanding. The guides took us to see all the main attractions, the BSA motorcycles and jeeps for transporting the supplies to the troops in second world war. There are so many artefacts to be seen it really does earn the title of being one of the top ten wreck dives in the world. Seeing the polished ends of the shells for the anti-aircraft gun always raises the hairs on my neck as I think about what it must have been like back in the day, when the troops were going about their daily life at war against the enemy. I remember feeling so overcome with emotion and realising how lucky I was to be in there. Such an exciting dive!

    The next morning. I didn’t think anything could really provide me with any more excitement and joy. Well I was wrong! Little did I know the crew had been on the dolphin hotline overnight. We arrived at Shaab El Erg and dropped in. Literally two minutes later a pod of spinner dolphins arrived. They swam with us for around half an hour and this was my closest ever encounter with these creatures. I ran out of tape (yes, I still use tape) in my video camera before I even realised what happened. This was a good thing as it made me forget about my camera and just spend time with the dolphins. Hands down this was one of my best underwater experiences ever!

    To top off an amazing trip we had a huge turkey roast on-board and a few beers with our fellow buddies. Such a great trip, well organised and managed, with so many sites crammed into a week’s diving. I did 19 dives on the trip and felt like I had been on the go non-stop so was looking forward to my next stop at Marsa Shagra (Red Sea Diving Safari) for my inaugural visit and some spectacular house reef diving!

    If you would like more information about this trip and how to book, please call one of our expert team!

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