The Northern Red Sea from Sharm el Sheikh
Thurs 23rd April to Thurs 30th April 2009
(May Day Bank Holiday is the following weekend 2nd to 4th May 2009)
Tony Backhurst Scuba Ltd aboard MY Whirlwind
£805.50 (BS-AC members) + £ 10 visa plus Insurance
Prices exclude insurance but include airport taxes, transfers, meals and all dives and gas.
Email Clive Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone him on 01438 716 411 or 07979 540 839.
Also be sure to visit the Tony Backhurst Scuba website.
Contact Clive in the first instance so that we can make a group booking.
Red Sea Wrecks & Reefs
Departing from Sharm el Sheikh this itinerary takes you to some of the most notorious wrecks that the Red Sea has to offer, along with some world famous reefs and Marine parks this itinerary really is the best of both worlds with a huge amount of variety.
The Sinai Peninsular is an incredibly mountainous region which often seems mirrored underwater with monumental drop off's, vertical walls and canyons.
The area around the Sinai is a major shipping channel and gateway from Europe to Africa. Throughout the years the combination of hundreds of reefs and boats (often driving at night with no GPS) has resulted in a number of shipping accidents, thus creating a tremendous amount of divable wrecks.
The Itinerary is fairly varied and will cover a number of wrecks and reefs - weather plays a large factor in what gets visited when, however the following sites are covered.
WRECKS - The wrecks at Abu Nuhas; Ghiannis D, Carnatic, Chrisoula K, Marcus. The Thistlegorm, Dunraven, Ulysses, The Barge, Rosie Moller (experience required).
REEFS - Straits of Tiran; Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon. Ras Mohammed, Ras Um Sid, Shag Rock and Ras Katty.
This itinerary is suitable for all levels - beginners and experienced alike. All our boats have experienced dive guides who can teach a range of courses including PADI and TDI.
The reef of Abu Nuhas lies 3 hours away due north on the edges of the Suez Canal and over the centuries has claimed the lives of dozens of vessels. There are 4 wrecks which are dived regularly lying against her northerly edge.
The Giannis D
Launched in 1969 as the Shoyo Maru, the Giannis D was built by the Kuryshima Dock Company of Imabari, Japan. In April 1983 on a trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a cargo of teak planks, thinking that there was nothing but the Red Sea to traverse, the captain fell asleep in his cabin after ordering 'full speed ahead'. He had, however, not reckoned on Abu Nuhas and it was not long before he was very rudely awoken by the sound of the ship being driven hard onto the north west corner of the reef. Today she is broken in 3 pieces, the bow by itself, parts of the midships with teak planks scattered around and lastly, the intact stern of the ship which really makes the dive. Full of rooms and passageways that run off at strange angles as she is lying at 45 degrees at the base of the reef. A well mangled prop marks the deepest point at 23 meters.
The Chrisoula K
A 'General Cargo Vessel' of 3,720 tones, the ship was built in the German Baltic port of Lubeck and launched in 1954. Lloyd's List for September 1981 included the following item under "Casualty Report": "Chrisoula K (Greek). Suez, Aug 31 - MV Chrisoula K, ran aground yesterday in the Red Sea, sustaining serious damage but no casualties, shipping sources said today. The vessel hit coral reefs near the Egyptian naval base at Ras Banas. Rescue units from the naval base picked up the 21 member crew unscathed and took them to Suez. The vessel, carrying floor tiles from Italy, was on her way to Jeddah. The seriously damaged vessel was considered a total loss". Just like the Giannis D a few years later, the captain had fallen asleep on a trip to Jeddah after thinking he had cleared any danger after exiting the Suez Canal, only to be rudely awakened as the ship went full steam onto the reef. Today the front half is very broken up and scattered through wave action, as a considerable part of the front end rode up and onto the reef. The stern section is good for penetration but seems a little unstable and with large waves above you, there is a lot of creaking and movement from within.
The Peninsula & Oriental Passenger Steamer "Carnatic" was built by Samuda Bros of London and classified as an 'iron framed planked passenger steamer of 1776 tons'. Her dimensions were 89.8m x 11.6m with a draught of 7.8m. In addition to square-rigged sails, she was powered by a single 4 cylinder compound inverted engine which produced a very handsome 2,442 hp. In September of 1869 she gently struck the reef but did not sink immediately, in fact the captain and the 210 passengers and crew spent the night on board as no one believed that a steel hulled ship, sitting gently on a coral reef, would be in too much trouble. After 36 hours on the reef though, due to the pivoting of the boat with the rise and fall of the waves causing stresses on the keel, she snapped in half with the stern sliding off the reef taking 5 passengers and 26 crew with it. The aft followed shortly afterwards and diving the wreck today you can see that the two halves have seemingly joined up again underwater. She lies on her port side in 30 meters of water. A great wreck with plenty to see including her single prop, masts, square portholes and lots of broken wine bottles in the bottom of the hold in the aft section.
The world famous Thistlegorm wreck sunk in 1941 in the area of Sha'ab Ali in the Gulf of Suez. She was packed to the gunwales with a cargo of supplies destined for the British Army based in Alexandria, however she was bombed by the Germans on her way to port. She is in good condition where much of the cargo still remains. Time seems to have stood still for this impressive wreck. BSA Motorcycles, jeeps, trucks, rolling stock, areoplane parts, stacks of rifles, radio equipment and a plentiful supply of wellington boots are still in pristine conditions. Located at 30m and 400 ft long she requires several dives to experience the monumental ship. The Thistlegorm is heaven for wreck enthusiasts with so much to see and so much history attached to the ship. Along with the beauty of the wreck, it is also one of the most underrated fish dives in the area, attracting schooling barracuda and providing a hunting ground for giant tuna and snapper. An excellent ship wreck that is a must see in the Red Sea. The Thistlegorm requires some level of experience beyond open water training.
Ras Mohammed peninsula separates the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. Currents flow out of both gulfs and bathe Ras Mohammed in rich nutrients, which assures plentiful and varied marine life. At Shark Reef and Yolanda wreck, many fish species can be found: groupers, barracuda, batfish, Napoleon wrasses, blue-spot stingrays and a special treat, crocodile fish! It is also known to attract some of the bigger fish that come to the Sharm region, Black tip oceanic sharks, the occasional manta and at some time of years Tiger sharks have been spotted. Yolanda sank with a cargo of bathtubs and toilets. It's an amusing and memorable site to see groupers swimming around a huge mountain of toilets at the bottom of the sea.
The Straits of Tiran
The Straits of Tiran rank among the finest attractions of the Red Sea thanks to their crucial historical and geographical importance, their distinctive topography and, of course, their first-rate diving sites. The straits are formed by the island of Tiran to the east, and the Sinai coastline to the west.
The confluence of deep waters, continental plate, and narrow passage creates a bottleneck through which a strong, dense flow of plankton is funneled to the coral reefs associated with these mountain peaks.
A food chain is set in motion which links the plankton, coral organisms and reef fish to the ever ravenous sharks which find easy pickings here. Indeed, this is one spot where it is still possible to encounter sharks on virtually every dive.
The most southerly reef of the four has a different topography from the others. This site has both a shallow plateau area and drop offs, and can be done as a mooring or a drift dive. On the northern edge of the reef is the remains of the wreck Lovilla which has been on top of the reef for a long time. It only remains there by habit as most of the hull has corroded away .
The current on the south edge of Gordon is rarely strong but be aware for it as it can cut across the plateau.
The boats moor up on the southern plateau in about 8m of water. The dives are usually conducted from the mooring and heading in a easterly direction to the drop off which starts at about 16m (worth keeping an eye out into the blue here!).
From the drop off heading North following the edge is a small garden eel area along with coral encrusted drums. At the turn round point of the dive plan you ascend to about 8m and follow the reef back to the boat on the plateau area.
If this is done as a drift dive the boat drops you at the mooring and will pick up on the northern edge. This follows the same area as a mooring dive but then continues along the drop off which turns more into a plateau as it reaches the corner. This is a regular for the sharks and can be a very high speed drift.
This is the smallest reef in the Straits, but also one of the most popular. The dive is governed by the weather conditions as the western side is often impossible to pick divers up from. The dive is done as a drift dive with potentially strong currents on the southern and northern ends of the reef. The ends are vertical walls with a large plateau at about 25m on the south eastern side.
This plateau often has sleeping sharks on the sand patches and the coral has a fence of Gorgonia fans at the end. After the Gorgonia fans the reef returns to a wall before coming to the corner of the reef, watch the currents. If conditions allow it is possible to go round to the other side of the reef, which is a wall disappearing into the deep.
This is the longest reef of the four in the Straits of Tiran and is dived as a drift dive usually from South to North.
At the southern part of the reef is a wall to about 30m. It is worth looking on to the sand patches below to try and spot sleeping sharks. The coral covers all the way from the surface down the wall which becomes more of a slope as the dive progresses. Half way through the dive there is a canyon going along the reef at about 25m which spreads out into a coral garden with sand alleys. This is usually where the current starts to pick up.
If the conditions on the west side of the reef are rough the dive has to be ended at the end of the coral garden, which is usually reached after about 50 minutes.
If weather conditions allow it is sometimes possible to continue the dive beyond this point. Where the reef leaves the surface and funnels down towards Jackson Reef. This area is referred to as the washing machine due to the very strong currents going in all directions.
This is the most northerly reef in the Straits of Tiran. The dives are usually conducted from the moorings on the south side which is sheltered from the main swell and currents. The boats moor up in a lull spot of the current where the wall is around 40m.
After descending down the wall to your planned depth the dive is to the south western corner, keeping the reef on the right. Towards the corner the reef levels out to a gentle slope from about 6m with the corals in this area being some of the best in the area. It is around here that the current can pick up.
On the way back, which is done in shallow water, there are many inlets into the reef which are full of soft corals, making an excellent place to conduct the safety stop.
This site can also be done as a drift dive heading from the mooring towards the East with the reef on the left where it is mostly wall diving with excellent corals. This can get to be a high speed drift!