As we all mingled at Gatwick North Terminal, there were some looking forward to a relaxing week, and others anticipating the challenge of new experiences and courses.
Arriving late in the evening, November 7th, at Marina Lodge, Port Ghalib, Marsa Alam, it was wonderful to be met by Mostafa Allam, who has become one of our favourite dive guides, having looked after us and guided us on previous Scuba Trust holidays in his work with Extra Divers. It took a while for all of us to get settled into our rooms, but everyone was anticipating a great day’s diving in the morning with Mostafa and his friends.
The next day, once we’d all sorted out our dive gear and completed the necessary paper work, we set off for our first day’s diving. The Red Sea never disappoints. Excellent visibility, beautiful corals, fascinating fish and an opportunity to gently remind ourselves of old skills and introduce ourselves to new ones.
Daria and Jackie knew at some stage they would have to face challenging scenarios to complete their Rescue Diver courses. Their teamwork throughout the whole week proved the value of the course in developing skills, confidence and knowledge, and we’re all so proud of their achievements!
Dee and Simon were guided through the diving experiences they needed to complete their Advanced Open Water courses, and managed to add their Nitrox course to their log books too!
Ably supported by his trusty helpers, Glyn enjoyed a couple of excellent dives until a nasty encounter with a mask squeeze left him looking as if he was getting in the mood for Halloween a little early – or doing a poor impression of a masked puffer fish. Unfortunately, this meant a trip to the hospital and no more diving, but Glyn continued to join us on the boat each day.
Turtles, blue-spotted stingrays, moray eels and so many more of the inhabitants of the reefs around Marsa Alam delighted us each day, and it was at the end of another beautiful dive at Marsa Al Shounni that Daria and Jackie sprang into action to rescue a drunken diver, who strongly resembled Ron, bringing him safely to the surface to dive another day. In the process, Daria was so focused on his rescue, she lost her own BCD. Thankfully one of the guides was able to retrieve it, but it was an impressive sacrifice. We’re so proud of their achievements, and they make the team even stronger!
The opportunity to dive Elphinstone came at the end of the holiday and it lived up to its reputation as one of the region’s most memorable dive sites. Of course, this meant there were lots of other dive boats there too. The currents surrounding Elphinstone and its geographic location make the corals and sea life a big attraction. And then there are the sharks…. Some of our group had closer encounters than others. Donna decided that she would let Chris have a slightly closer encounter than her, and kindly swam behind him. This was obviously so he could get a better view of the six-foot oceanic white tip that came towards them. It’s what dive buddies are for, after all!
As well as new experiences, old traditions are important too. The final day at Port Ghalib was marked by a very moving memorial service in honor of King Willie. He was Alan Kenny’s pet fly. Willie was a good honest friend for a few hours, and passed away with great dignity. As ‘Fly me to the Moon’ was sung, and a small obelisk and flowers placed in the hotel garden, I’m sure we left an impression on our fellow holidaymakers. We British have so many strange customs, after all.
All too soon, another Scuba Trust holiday drew to an end, and we head for home, buoyed up by the memories and achievements, spirits recharged by the fun and the friendship. Thank you to all those who organised and assisted and to the wonderful guides and boat crew. Our special good wishes to Mostafa as he prepares for a whole new chapter of his life with his wife here in the UK. We look forward to seeing much more of you in future years.
And we must not forget the beautiful Red Sea…thank you for sharing your treasure with us once again. Until the next time.
Suzanne Harper ‘The Tea Lady’