A Red Sea Virgin

My first diving liveaboard

Up to now most of my diving experiences have been in fairly (very !) cold and murky UK dive centres with the occasional dive in the warmer waters of the Med whilst on holiday. However this year I decided to go on one of the liveaboard trips that Scubascene organise every year. I opted for the Red Sea trip in June as I was promised clear warm water with lots to see. I was also told that I would be living life by the bell !!

So on 31st May 13 divers from Scubascene arrived in the Red Sea port of Haghada, laden down with kit including all the shiny new toys they wanted to try out and boarded the Blue Fin along with 6 other divers – strangely enough 4 of which were also from the South West.

First thing to do was to find a place on the dive deck and set up your kit. One advantage of being on a liveaboard is that you don’t have to move your kit around – once it is set up it stays that way throughout the trip and the crew come along a refill your cylinder between dives. We then had a safety briefing on the boat’s procedures and layout before having an evening meal in the salon.

The following morning we had a check dive to sort out weighting and make adjustments to equipment and then we were off. We had up to 4 dives a day, starting with an early morning pre breakfast dive and ending with a night dive. The diving was rarely on the same site and was a variety of reefs and wrecks. There was a stunning array of aquatic life to see and a wide range of wrecks to dive on including some that you could go into if that is your thing. There was the option of doing deeper dives but also plenty to see at shallower depths.

The water was, as promised, crystal clear and warm even at 20 plus metres – though surprisingly some members of the group still felt the need to wear extra layers. There was never any pressure to do all of the dives or do anything that you felt uncomfortable with on a dive. It was always possible to find a buddy that wanted to do the same type of dive as you.

A great aspect of a week on a liveboard is that everything is geared solely towards the diving and it gives you a great chance to develop your diving skills in nice clear warm water, to try out any new kit that you have and to change the way that you have your kit set up so that you can optimise your trim and buoyancy as well as to ask lots of questions about diving from a range of people who are all willing to share their knowledge and experiences. The crew were always on hand to help you get into your kit and into the water and there again to help you out of the water and out of your kit. It could not have been easier.

Some members of the group used the trip as a means completing some of their spec packages such as deep or wreck diving. The conditions or environment could not have been better for these specs. I wish all those years ago I had had the foresight to complete those specs abroad rather than in the cold murky depths of Vobster.

If you were considering a trip on a liveaboard then all I can say as a newbie to this type of holiday is that you will not regret it. It is a chance to dive with like minded people doing something that is enjoyable and gives you the chance to see things that only a few people will see except on the TV and your diving will improve considerably over the course of the week.

So what does living by the bell mean ? Well the bell rings to wake you up, to summon you for a dive briefing, to tell you it’s time to eat and sometimes just because the bell is there. I still miss the routine of the bell.

There are some downsides though. When on deck between dives you have to learn to sleep with one eye open or the chances are you are going to wake up with bright pink nail polish on either your fingers or toes, the shirts Ian got us to wear were of questionable taste but most importantly do not leave your dive buddies waiting for you to get ready when they are fully kitted up and waiting in 40 degree heat or all you will hear for the rest of the week is – “Darren, Darren are you ready yet ? Darren !! “

Don’t hesitate any longer – book that trip – I am sure you will not regret it.