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We drove to our next dive site. The Blue Hole is renowned in the diving community as a test for those who like to dive the deepest. For all intents and purposes, it is bottomless. Plaques adorn a nearby point, commemorating the more than 200 divers who have died there, exploring their limits. The dive itself begins at Bells, where we fell through the reef into nothing. After levelling off at 27 metres, we swam along the endless wall, half expecting something to snatch us into the vast depths. As we swam over a ridge, we suddenly found ourselves in the Blue Hole. It is important to keep a close eye on your depth gauge here, as there is nothing on which to get your bearings. Blue everywhere; what floating in space must be like.
Our third dive of the day took us to the Eel Garden. Here, the reef meets the sandy bottom, where sand eels stand and sway like snakes hypnotized by a charmer. They retreat as you approach, and reappear as you swim off. Garden indeed.
The swim back along the reef is magnificent, but against a strong current in the afternoon, it was quite tiring after three dives.
That night, a two hour mini-bus ride found us in Sharm el-Sheik. The Sinai roads have frequent military checkpoints. These checkpoints are manned by the ragtaggiest bunch of soldiers you can hope to see. They have automatic rifles, but their boots are undone, their shirts unbuttoned, and their belts unbuckled. Their job seems to be to hang out, joke around and smoke cigarettes. It hardly seems surprising that Israel has managed to open a couple of pretty big cans of whoop-ass on its southern neighbour.
In Sharm, we boarded a cruiser, scored a cabin to ourselves, and proceeded to round the tip of the Sinai Peninsula into the Gulf of Suez.
After a 7:30 wake-up call, we had a quick bite, suited up and jumped into our first wreck dive. As crossing the Mediterranean during the Second World War was a risky proposition, the SS Thistlegorm went the long way, around South Africas Cape of Good Hope, laden with supplies for British troops in North Africa, only to be sunk by a German long-range bomber as it entered the last stretch of its voyage. It is in excellent shape (considering) and is full of railway cars, jeeps, and motorcycles. Our first dive took us around the wreck (which sits diagonally on the bottom, perfect for a safe dive profile), while our second one brought us inside some of the ships decks and cargo holds.