Water temperature: 75 - 77F / 24 - 25C
Air temperature: 68 - 80F / 20 - 27C. Cosy jumper, trousers, sock/slippers and hat recommended for post-dive/evenings.
Exposure suit: 7mm full length. Hood/rash vest underneath recommended for those that really feel the cold.
Visibility: 65ft / 30m
Cruise Director: Mahmoud
Dive Guides: Mahmoud, Darwish
Salon Steward: Mido
Seamen/Deckhands: Said, Emad, Ayob, Mostafa
Mike, Bob, Lisa, Jeff, Mary, Edmon, Mike King, Kathryn, Anne, Shane, David
Hello and a very Happy New Year once again to all of you! Over in Egypt, our new year has just begun as the Red Sea Aggressor went out for her first charter of 2015 this week. She spent the winter in dry dock in Safaga/Hurghada, Egypt, and it was there that she was repaired, upgraded and made to look very swish indeed. Just some of the changes include installation of the jacuzzi on the sun deck, expansion of the dive deck, and installation of new round portholes in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Take a look at our Facebook page: Red Sea Aggressor, for more photos, updates and info. As were sure you can imagine, we were keen to show her off to our first guests of the year! We were joined by divers all the way from Iowa.
Once everyone had boarded and settled in on Saturday afternoon, we commenced the Welcome Briefing with a nice relaxing drink. Dinner was then served in the beautiful salon - the squishy leather sofas waiting for everyone to get comfortable on afterwards. The night was spent on the dock at Port Ghalib Marina giving guests a chance to stroll round the pretty grounds, and window shop.
We were due to head out for our first day of diving the following morning, but Mother Nature clearly had other ideas! She had created choppy seas and a strong wind, and in order to keep everyone safe, the coast guard denied any boats permission to leave the marina until the weather calmed. As this ended up being later on in the evening, everyone made the most of the new jacuzzi, took another look around the marina, or caught up on sleep! As soon as the coast guard gave us the green light to leave the marina, the engines were fired up much to everyones delight, and we made our way to the open sea heading south down to Sataya.
DAY 1 - Monday 02 March
We woke up moored safely at Shaab Claude in the area of Sataya. This dive site is a cracker and served as a fantastic double dive site on the first day. There is a gorgeous hard coral garden extending all the way out from the reef, under the boat, and beyond. Here divers explored on the check dive while getting back into dive mode. The visibility in The Red Sea is truly fantastic so divers easily spotted the inquisitive Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Moray Eel, and school of Goat Fish. The second dive gave our eager bunch of divers the chance to swim through the stunning caves of Shaab Claude. The Napoleon Wrasse was still making his circles underneath the boat, but inside the caves, Snapper hung perfectly still in their school, their silvery scales catching the light every now and again. Parrot Fish, Bluespotted Rays, and Wart Slugs were seen, too. After a sumptuous lunch, we moved the boat to the south of Sataya reef for the third dive. Schools of Goat Fish, Trigger Fish, Cornet Fish, and Grouper welcomed our divers. We jumped in at the south of Sataya reef but in a slightly different location, where we dived round the towering pinnacles for dive number four. The ubiquitous Anthias move round the pinnacles like a bright orange cloud and Speckled Sandperch pinged away like a spring as we moved overhead. The night dive at Sataya was a lot of fun as the Lion
Fish really love this dive site! Many of them hover over the sand and follow the light of divers torches. Parrot Fish sleep in their mucousy cocoons, Feather Stars uncurl themselves like large pieces of delicate beige lace, Boxer Shrimp stand guard at their front doors, and Bluespotted Rays scoot over the sand.
DAY 2 - Tuesday 03 March
We had travelled south overnight to reach the awesome diving at St Johns. Its safe to say that no one was disappointed as we spent the day diving the glorious walls and plateaus of Gota Soraya and Gota Kebir. On the first and second dive at Gota Soraya, everyone made their giant strides off the back of the boat into the clear blue water that disappears down to the depths. It is when you are swimming over to the wall that you can see how magnificent the soft corals are here. They have grown in a variety of shades and pop against the deep blue. Sharks are often sighted here and today we saw a Grey Reef Shark patrolling the wall. Large Dogtooth Tuna, Butterfly Fish, Angel Fish, Coral Hinds, and Cromis milled about. For the third and fourth dives we were off to Gota Kebir. The south of this dive site has a long plateau that curls right round to the east and west. Theres always plenty of action to be observed! Scribbled into the log books post-dive were the friendly Hawksbill Turtle that swam past us; the Whitetip Reef Shark, Rabbit Fish, Surgeon Fish, Cornet Fish and more. As the first dive here was so good, we jumped back in for more and were rewarded with the sighting of another Whitetip Reef Shark, and THREE Eagle Rays! The latter is not such a common sighting at this particular dive site so everyone was suitably chuffed!
DAY 3 - Wednesday 04 March
St Johns was our location for the third day, but this time we were checking out some different dive sites. The first dive of the day was held at Paradise. This site is a firm favourite and is a great one for a relaxing bimble along with plenty to see. The white sandy bottom is less than 15m/49 ft and medium to huge pinnacles are scattered all around. Napoleon Wrasse, Bluespotted Rays, Picasso Fish, and Moray Eels modelled for the camera. A clump of mesmerising Magnificent Anemone sit at the mouth of a cave which is great fun swimming through and the perfect way to finish the dive. St Johns Caves is a very famous dive site, and we spent the rest of the day here for a further two dives and a night dive. The sunlight penetrates through the cracks in the reef overhead before beaming down on the rubbly floor beneath. Divers weave through passageways looking for Wart Slugs, Pyjama Chromodorids, Lion Fish, Bluespotted Rays, and schools of Ehrenbergs Snapper. The resident Napoleon Wrasse was still there from the previous season (and years before that!) and welcomed us back after our period of absence. The dive site of St Johns Caves actually offer far more than just awesome caves. The dive site spreads over an area where there are also amazing pinnacles and a large, light blue lagoon. We swam round the pinnacles for the third dive and to our surprise, bumped into a Hawksbill Turtle, and a Whitetip Reef Shark! The Feather Stars were out on the night dive, extending up from the tops of pinnacles and coral heads. Shrimp and Crabs scurried about in the coral and rock, and a plethora of small fish and Wrasse looked for somewhere to safely squeeze themselves into for the night! Divers were welcomed back on board with the Red Sea Aggressor triple threat... Hot shower, hot towel, and hot chocolate! The lines were then untied and we started our overnight journey back north ready for Sataya in the morning.
DAY 4 - Thursday 05 March
Gota Sataya is a wonderful, easy way to start the day after rolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of coffee and checking your gear. Its a fairly shallow dive site with lots of small fish, bright white sand, and a whole load of little coral heads which are fun to swim over the tops of. Anemones are dotted about all over the place, and the Clown Fish that live inside them swim right up to your mask. Many people believe that these cute-looking little fish are just being friendly, however, they are fiercely protective of their homes and very territorial, and their swimming up to a divers mask is them telling the diver to go away!!. The second activity of the day was at the famous Sataya Reef. Here our guests had the chance to snorkel with the pod of Whitestriped Dolphins that reside here during the day. The Red Sea Aggressor was the only boat in sight so we alone enjoyed the company of 35 of these curious creatures. This was such a treat for everyone! Happy and smiling after the Dolphins, we admit we were eager to get back into our dive gear and jumped in at Abu Galawa Kebir for the second dive of the day. Here is the wreck of a small tug boat that lies on its starboard side. Inside the wreck was a big Napoleon Wrasse that we had not been expecting to see! There are also hundreds of Glass Fish that move in unison to accommodate the shape of a diver as they fin through the wreck, as well as tiny Cleaner Shrimp that will climb onto your hand in an attempt to give you a bit of a spruce up! The west of Abu Galawa Kebir was a great place for our third dive with small fish and thousands of Anthias everywhere.
DAY 5 - Friday 06 March
After travelling once more overnight, we woke up fresh and raring to go for our last day of diving at Elphinstone. This dive site is known all round the world and really is breathtaking with its colourful walls disappearing into the deep blue, and long plateaus absolutely covered in soft corals. The north plateau was our destination for the first dive and was a pleasure to dive as there was no current at all. This enabled us to weave all the way down the plateau in the early morning light in search for fish big and small. Hundreds of Redtoothed Trigger Fish flitted about, as well as Lion Fish, Pale Damsel Fish and Lyretail Wrasse. We finished off a brilliant week by jumping in over the south plateau and making our way up to the reef wall before following on along the east side of Elphinstone. A Scorpion Fish lay camouflaged on a spot of rock, Bicolour Parrot Fish shot by with a flash of bright blue and green, and a Longnosed Hawkfish tucked itself shyly into a large Gorgonian Fan protruding perpendicular to the wall. We were just able to catch sight of some Great Barracuda hanging in the blue as we made our way back to the boat ladders.
Before long, the bell sounded for lunch and then it was time to crack open a cold beer and enjoy the ride back to Port Ghalib Marina. After hosing down the dive gear and hanging it up to dry under the bright Egyptian sun, all that was left to do was to slip into our gladrags for the cocktail party.
To round off a fabulous week, we also have some awards to give out! We would therefore like to congratulate...
NITROX DIVER: Jeffrey Clayton
AWESOME DIVE GROUP: Dive Iowa
Thank you everyone for a fantastic week here on board the Red Sea Aggressor and for being our first guests of 2015! We hope to see you all again. In the meantime...
Safe Diving Always
Your Red Sea Aggressor Crew