Log Date: Wednesday, Jul 08, 2015
Entry By: Red Sea Aggressor Crew
Red Sea Aggressor Captains Log for July 8 - 18, 2015
Log Date: Friday, July 17, 2015
Entry By: Ashraf
Water Temperature: 28C / 82F
Water temperature ranged from 76 – 82F. 3mm was sufficient in the north and 1mm worked on the southern dives. Those who were more sensitive to cold had a 5mm throughout the trip.
Air Temperature: 35C/ 100F
Exposure Suit: 3-5 mm
Visibility: 30m / 100 feet
Dive Guides: Nasty, Peter, Ashraf
Chefs: Khaled, Said
Salon Steward: Mido
Seamen/Deckhands: Said, Emad, Ayob, Fahd
Stephen, AG, Gary, Joe, Anne, Kim, Carlito, Mel, Carlos, Maria, Anna Maria, Ziggi, Tom, Mauri, Morten, KC, Mary Beth.
We excitedly welcomed this amazing group of divers and showed them to their cabins. After Ashraf gave the boat briefing the divers headed to the dive deck to start donning their gear and check if there was anything needed specially the SMBs before taking off the next morning. At 7pm dinner was ready. All the divers complemented Khaled for the nice steak he prepared. Later some of the divers decided to take a walk on Port Ghalib marina and some stayed onboard doing more adjustments to their camera’s & strobes. Everyone was excited to take off the next morning and Captain Abdullah sailed with the Aggressor the next morning as soon as we got coastal guard permission.
Day 1 – Thursday July 9, 2015
Captain Abdullah took off with the Red Sea Aggressor to start our “best of the Red Sea itinerary”. We arrived at Ras Toronbi, where we were going to stay for the rest of the day doing three day dives and a night dive. At around 10 am Emad, Fahd, Ayub and Said, our talented crew, were mooring the Aggressor at Ras Toronbi. No later than 10:30 all the divers where in the water checking their gear and fine tuning their strobes and cameras. Taking the reef on our left hand side and within about 25 minutes in the dive AG spotted what appears to be a “sandbar Shark”. We had an exciting discussion later on the boat to decide what kind of shark was it, and later the photo of the shark was posted on the FB page to try getting the divers community to settle the dispute. Also we spotted a giant moray eel, a baby silver moray, lots of sting rays, and four octopuses. Also we spotted some jacks near the reef feeding on the sweepers, bat fish, and a really huge trevally. On this first day Carlito & Mel, the two young men who came aboard as open water divers started their Nitrox and Advance Open Water course. They did a great job in their navigation dive; and later that day Carlito joined in for the night dive with the group and he came back fascinated with having done the dive with his father. In the night dive the divers took many beautiful shots of Spanish Dancer, sea snake, pleurobranch and the two huge warty slugs found towards the end of the dive. An amazing first day and all the divers were happy and excited to get to the next dive site and location.
Day 2 Friday July 10, 2015
After a rather bumpy ride Captain Abdullah moored us to the Little brother where we were going to stay for the rest of the day. Our crew made it possible for all the divers to get in the zodiac in the choppy sea and we did our first dive getting dropped on the eastern side of the reef. The gorgonians that are starting from the top of the reef to the depth of 40 meters were impressive. While swimming, cornets were all over the divers like guardian angels. We also spotted a huge napoleon, and Peter, one of our guides, spotted a big hammerhead shark. While swimming next to this magnificent reef with all the variety of hard and soft corals and the marine life it presents, in the near blue there were lots of tunas, trevallies, and jacks munching on striped fusilier. Also barracudas in their cleaning stations were on diver’s wide angles and they were very photogenic.
The second dive we jumped straight from the boat on the south plateau swam to the reef and descended. Once in the water two big napoleons were swimming calmly next to the reef, plenty of jacks were patrolling, and of course the cornet fish were surrounding us again. Meanwhile Carlito and Mel were very excited to do the first deep dive in their Advanced Open Water course. They enjoyed colorful reef and observed lots of red, black, and one dot snappers.
The third dive the zodiac dropped us on the North plateau and as soon as we got to about 15 meters Anna Maria spotted a big hammerhead shark. We continued on the dive swimming next to the beautiful western wall of the little brother. A lot of beautiful colonies and mixes of hard and soft corals allowed the divers to take plenty of great shots. When we started getting shallower the divers enjoyed the gorgeous over hangs with the sunlight penetrating it and bringing a lot of color to their wide angles. Towards the end of the dive, a fully grown white tip reef shark showed up, and schools of barracudas were right under the boat. After dinner Captain Abdullah moved us to the big brother to spend the night. All the divers were looking forward to diving the next day, and Stephen who has done a lot of wreck diving around the world was eager to take some great photos of the wreck of Numedia.
Day 3 Saturday July 11, 2015
Another day with choppy waves and quit strong winds at big brother, but definitely not the worst we have seen. The first dive we did from the boat giant striding to the south plateau. Current was strong coming from the north-west, we had to use the surface line to get closer and use the shelter of the reef. As soon as we started descending there was a white tip reef shark at a depth of about 25 meters, it was such a nice way to start a dive. Taking the reef to our left we continued swimming next to the beautiful wall with magnificent variety of soft and hard corals; we observed schools of red & black snappers, barracudas in cleaning stations, and AG got a nice moray on her wide angle. Once we made the turn to start the eastern wall of the big reef we spotted a gray reef shark. After about a 100 meters on the eastern wall we turned around and started swimming back towards the boat and while everybody was busy taking photos on the wall Ashraf stayed close enough to watch the group, but kept an eye out in the blue and soon spotted a big hammerhead swimming slowly not too far in the blue. Knocking a couple of times on his tank Ashraf grabbed everybody’s attention and all the divers were able to see the shark and a few nice photos were taken.
The following dives in the day were on the western side of the island. We first did the wreck of Numedia, this beautiful historic ship that was claimed by the reef since it sunk in 1901. Then swimming on this amazing wall with plenty of marine life, we spotted a turtle, big napoleon, and plenty of jacks & tunas munching on the fusilies. In the last dive AG and Tom got dropped on the wreck of Aida and once in the water spotted a white tip reef shark and they were bragging about it all night. Stephen, Anne and Joe were enjoying the last bit of light on the shallow part of the reef. Ashraf & Anne stayed in the water for 65 minutes and they were playing with a couple of scorpion fish trying to get a good shot of them. Once the zodiac brought us back to the Aggressor Captain Abdullah has already started his engines to sail us to our next dive site and location. We had dinner while on the move and soon everybody got to bed to get the rest they needed for more diving the next morning.
Day 4 Sunday July 12, 2015
Just in time Captain Abdullah was mooring the Aggressor to Daedalus reef. At 5 am coffee was being made and intercontinental breakfast was being served. The first thing everybody was talking about in the morning was the calm sea. After a couple of days of choppy waves in the Brothers the divers were at ease to know that getting in and out of the zodiac is going to be a lot smoother. The first dive the zodiac dropped us on the northern tip of the reef. A typical dive in Daedalus and the main goal is clear, hammerheads; lots of hammerheads. After spending about 20 minutes in the blue with nothing showing up we decided to come back to the reef and continue our dive on the eastern wall. Divers took a lot of photos and spotted a lot of big tunas, jacks, and barracudas in the near blue. On the way back we got picked up by the zodiac and when we arrived the crew knew that the hammerheads didn’t show up just by the look in the diver’s faces.
Once again trying to get these hammerheads on our cameras, the second dive we did at the north eastern tip of the reef and we were rewarded of sighting a school of 17 hammerhead sharks. After this fascinating encounter we continued swimming on the eastern wall admiring the beautiful reef and taking more photos on our wide angles.
The third and fourth dive we did on the western wall and as soon as the zodiac dropped us off, KC & Kim spotted a huge school of hammerheads and KC lost count and was confident that there was at least 25 of them. After that we continued swimming on the reef and soon we arrived at Anemone city. The divers took all the time they needed to take plenty of magnificent shots and enjoy the reef while sun rays were bringing all the beautiful colors. In the last dive the divers were dropped on the Anemone city again, and again the hammerheads were there and this time very close. Mauri, Morten, Gary and AG encountered the school that was swimming about only 2 meters away. They were very lucky and of course took some extra ordinary shots. Back on the boat and after this beautiful day Mel & Carlito were excitedly talking about their first time seeing a shark; and all the divers congratulated them. Everybody was grateful for this phenomenal day diving, and awaiting for more diving the next morning.
Day 5 Monday July 13, 2015
In the morning the first comment from the divers was how beautiful the view of Rocky Island was. There, we planned the first two dives of our day. The first dive the zodiac dropped us on the north western side of the island and we swam with a slight current towards the north eastern tip. The reef formation was very interesting with a lot of cracks and chimney like formation. In the first few minutes of the dive we spotted a huge green turtle swimming in the near blue and another one close to the reef. KC got some nice shots of both. Three big moray eels and two huge napoleons were also spotted on the reef, and although we didn’t see sharks as we were expecting, there were a lot of big tunas and jacks passing quite close while the divers swam next to the reef. We did a safety stop on the north eastern tip where we spotted lion fish, scorpion and Carlito spotted a huge sea cucumber. We did the next dive on the southern side. We spotted another huge turtle, napoleons, many moray eels, lots of sting rays, and schools of red & black snappers as well as sweet lips.
For the rest of the diving our captain moved us to Zabarghad Island. Another great view it was. There, we did two more dives in the day and a night dive. In the day we explored the reef moving from west to east and were rewarded with even more huge turtles, morays, and plenty of all different kinds of snappers, unicorn and parrot. Between these two dives our captain got us permission to step on the island. We played an American football game and we also saw the trails of turtles when they come on the island to lay their eggs.
Mel and Carlito who skipped the second dive in Zabarghad, took the Nitrox exam and became certified Nitrox and Advanced Open Water divers. In the night dive Joe had an amazing shot of a parrot fish while in the process of creating its night shell. Also Tom had a beautiful shot of a yellow box fish. Moray eels were also spotted in the dive as well as a walking starfish. AG had a couple of free swimming eels and also a beautiful comet longfin. After dinner the engines started and Captain Abdullah took us crossing to St. Johns area taking a south western direction
Day 6 Tuesday July 14, 2015
Hibili means not fully grown; and that’s what we call a reef when it is starting at about 4 to 5 meters below surface. Habili Jaafar is where Captain Abdullah moored the Aggressor on our sixth day. The divers jumped from the boat to enjoy this beautiful reef and all the soft & hard corals and the marine life it presents. There was no current so we were able to do at least two rounds around the cone shaped reef and were rewarded with giant tuna fish, jacks, and barracudas. Also there was a huge school of blue spine unicorn fish. Close to the reef the divers spotted scorpions, moray eels, lots of one dot snappers, blackspotted sweetlips, octopus, plenty of parrot fish and of courses the never-ending anthias, sweepers, and glass fish. The second dive we also did at this Habili after the divers requested to dive the site once more. This time the divers went in the water with sharpened macro angels and got amazing shots of octopuses, eels, angel and butterfly fish. The third dive we did in the famously known St. Johns Caves. A better description would be fissures and not caves, because the light penetrates the reef from everywhere. Before we enter inside this beautiful reef two huge napoleons came swimming right in the middle of the divers, and they were posing for the divers to take the best shots. After the dive Captain Abdullah took us to the next site Abu Ishara, where we did the 4th dive and the night as well. Three pinnacles amazingly rich with healthy corals and plenty of marine life. We were very happy to see a white tip reef shark in the dive and plenty of parrots, snappers, goat fish and some tunas and jacks as well. The night dive was spectacular. We spotted lots of photogenic shrimps and crabs, white ribbon eel, porson’s hat sea urchin, and AG got attacked by a unicorn fish while trying to take a photo of a boxer shrimp.
Day 7 Wednesday July 15, 2015
Moving on towards the north, our first location and dive site for the day was Satayah. We did a first dive that is highlighted with a very cool turtle swimming in the blue. After breakfast we went for an amazing snorkel with spinner dolphins. A lot of amazing photos and videos of the dolphins were taken, and all divers left the water with a grin from ear to ear. Next Captain Abdullah took us to Malahi, or the Play Ground, where we did the third dive of the day. This amazing reef is formed by huge dense pinnacles. It offered photographers a lot of beautiful shots on their macro angles. The third and the night dive we did at Shaab Claudio. Going through the fissure of this reef again was an amazing opportunity for the photographers. We swam all the way to the north western tip of the reef to visit the anemone city. Mel & Ashraf made it all the way around the reef from the north side and were rewarded with morays, scorpion, napoleon and plenty of snappers red and black. In the night dive there were lots of octopuses, a spanish dancer, lots of shrimps and crabs and we also visited the closed anemone.
Day 8 Thursday July 16, 2015
Wadi El Gemal means the Canyon of Camels. This was where Captain Abdulla took us for our early morning dive in a site called El Farsha or The Patch. This coral garden at a depth of about 20 meters with no nearby reef around was encrusted and offered an amazing variety of corals and marine life. We were facing a bit of strong current but were able to hide in coral blocks and continue our swim. We observed in the dive schools of red tooth trigger fish, Jelly fish in the water column and plenty of snappers and sweet lips. The second dive Captain Abdullah dropped the divers on the eastern side of Shaab Sharm. The slight current made it very easy for the divers to drift next to the reef and at the same time stop or turn around if they wanted to photograph corals or fish. The reef is beautiful and rich with an amazing variety of hard & soft corals. We were rewarded with a huge napoleon, white anemone, a huge moray eel, scorpions, tunas, and barracudas, plenty of red snappers and schools of goat fish. Two white tip reef sharks were also spotted and Carlos got attacked by a titan trigger fish.
The last dive we did in Habili Ghadir. The site offers a very healthy reef that is very productive and compresses plenty of small and medium marine life. We started the dive south of the habili moving towards the north swimming in the picturesque swim-throughs. There were a lot of big trevallies, and jacks in the near blue. On the reef we spotted plenty of scorpion fish, parrots, sting rays, lion fish, and also moray eels swimming freely in the water. We swam all the way back to the boat that was moored on the north eastern side of the reef after doing our safety stop on the northern tip of this beautiful habili.
Day 9 Friday July 17, 2015
The last day of our trip we dived the Elphinstone reef. This is a huge healthy reef with a lot of current. And that means plenty of marine life from small to medium and large size fish. We did two dives on this reef; the first on the southern plateau and the second we did the north. We spotted a big hammerhead and a white tip reef shark. Also we spotted turtle, napoleon, and plenty of moray eels. On the safety stop of the second dive Anne had a school of huge bottle nose dolphins come to her and she almost touched one of them. The dolphins kept swimming around the divers while getting picked up by the zodiac and kept following them all the way back to the boat as if they knew it was time to say good bye.
Amazing 9 days diving with this nice group. Thanks to everyone for getting aboard the Red Sea Aggressor and sharing their experience with us.