It’s exactly two months to the day that 26 of us were boarding a couple of jet planes on our way to a week of luxury courtesy of Blue O Two.
I couldn’t believe it was a whole 5 years since I’d been on a liveaboard holiday with Blue O Two and that time I went on my own. This time I was running the trip and we’d filled the entire boat. The difference was amazing. It felt like being on holiday with an extended family, albeit one with a rubber fetish!
Alex and I were chauffeur driven in style to the airport by Steve Barham and we treated ourselves to Valet parking. It made such a nice change than travelling by train weighed down by dive bags.
Unfortunately that’s where the luxuries ended. Alex told me that the check-in staff never bother weighing hand luggage and so we’d filled every spare inch of our bags. That was a mistake, on check in they weighed our hand luggage and they were both 5 kg overweight. Our main bags were ok but didn’t really have any spare space or weight allowance to put an extra 5kg of stuff in.
What ensued is funny in hindsight but rather stressful when experiencing it. The check-in lady sternly told us that we had to repack our bags until they were the right weight. The bags were already on the conveyor belt and she delighted in telling us that we had to crawl under the desk and onto the conveyor belt to retrieve them. Well, Alex charged onto that belt like a bull in heat! I was worried he was going to hurt himself. He dragged the bags out and we then spent 20 mins tying undersuits around our waists, putting on extra layers and filling our pockets. We tried explaining that we were the trip organisers and had other people’s dive equipment so we would be over our allowance whereas they would be under theirs and so it would all even out. Of course she just ignored us. We finally managed to meet her strict requirements and consoled ourselves with a huge Jamie Oliver breakfast. This restaurant is quickly becoming the Huggins of Malta for DLL trips.
We arrived in Hurghada and made the quick 15 min transfer to our home for the week, Blue Horizon. It’s such a beautiful yacht with a sun deck, the sky lounge, dining room and even a Jacuzzi (which unfortunately was broken).
We all quickly made ourselves at home and settled into boat life easily. Boat life consists of living by a bell. You’re told that when the bell rings you feel your hair, if it’s wet it’s time to eat, if it’s dry it’s time to dive! Dimitris decided to give himself more hair so he could really tell what was going on!
We had the best check out dive ever as we saw dolphins! Well I say we, everyone other than my group (consisting of Dev, Chantal and Rachel) saw dolphins. Sadly we think that Dev’s squeaky reg, which sounded a bit like Darth Vader on helium, scared them away!
It was so nice being back in tropical warm waters and it was especially warm for me as I’d been lent a Whites drysuit to use for the trip. I must say they are a joy to dive in and a pleasure to travel with as they weigh so little (ok ok, White’s plug over)!
The crew were lots of fun and amazingly helpful as always. Our dive guides were Mustafa and Leo. Rather unbelievably Alex recognised Leo as one of his Open Water instructors from many years ago in Thailand!
Alex and David were kept very busy instructing Dev, Kristine and Michael on their Tec courses. We would often seem them huddled in various corners of the boat talking all things tec. Alistair was also kept busy teaching various rec courses for Steve Connor. Steve is one of the happiest and most enthusiastic students an instructor could wish for! They would also often be found in the sky lounge talking about diving. The rest of us slept and did a bit of diving, but mainly slept!
Meal times are the time when everybody meets up again. I’d recently turned veggie, not for any moral reasons really, just because I wanted to. The first night was chicken soup. I asked if there was a veggie alternative and to my amusement my bowl was taken over to the chicken soup, the ladle was carefully skimmed over the surface and the resulting fluid was deemed vegetarian as the chicken pieces were at the bottom! I know any true veggie would probably be horrified but I thought it was funny, and it tasted lovely!
So on to the diving. Well what can I say…it was the Red Sea and it was lovely. Some people saw dolphins and turtles but sadly I didn’t (I’m still blaming Dev’s regs for this)! We mainly did wreck dives but then the wind picked up and we weren’t able to get down to the Brothers. We had to stay on Panorama Reef for a few dives, which was a lovely reef but we were all a bit disappointed not be moving further south.
I’d kindly been lent a great underwater camera by the lovely people at Ocean Leisure. When Alex picked it up for me before the trip he had been given strict instructions on how to use it. Unfortunately he only remembered half way through the week to mention the one button I had to push to set my white balance. My photos drastically improved after that and I had a lot of fun remembering what I’d been taught on my underwater photography course five years ago.
There are a couple of dives that I remember very well. The first one was a night dive with Dev. It was about 10 metres deep and there was a lot of life on the boat. Everybody with a torch got followed by Common Lion fish. They use the torch beam to show them where their next meal is. Now I don’t mind this, but they really have no sense of personal space at all and it’s quite eerie at night so Dev and I got very freaked out by how close they were to us. Even when we covered our torch beams they stayed with us like faithful dogs with their masters. It was quite unnerving how large they were and we spent quite a lot of the dive trying to get away from them. It was soon time to think about getting back to the boat and that’s when we realised we both thought the other person was leading. Whoops! We had totally lost the group and in the end we decided to send up an SMB and get picked up by the zodiac. Not our finest navigational work but on the plus side we had a lovely view of the stars on the way back!
The other memorable dive was the Fancy Dress dive. We did this on the last dive of the holiday. The theme was the alphabet as there were 26 of us, so we had one letter each. Some people had been very secretive about their costumes and when we finally saw them arrive on the dive deck we knew why, they were hilarious! We had a cheerleader, a quack, a zebra, a hippy and a pirate to name a few. I went as Venus and Alex went as King Kong. He did the whole dive in a gorilla mask! The two stand out costumes belonged to Carl and Chantal. Chantal came as a banana and it was the funniest thing to watch her swimming underwater with bubbles coming out the top of the banana!
Carl came as an Ostrich and there are really no words to describe how funny it was. It looked like Carl was riding the Ostrich, and the Ostrich even had its own mask. Carl’s fake legs were floating above his head! See for yourself in the following video:
We spent the evenings relaxing in the Sky Lounge. There had been a lot of time spent before the trip planning which science fiction films we were going to watch (yes we are geeks). Sadly it didn’t work out as we’d forgotten one remote control and we needed just one cable (that’s the extent of my technical knowledge) to play the films. I’m not sure Steve B is ever going to get over being defeated by technology!
With no films to watch we did lots of sleeping, reading, playing cards and sunbathing! It was one of those holidays that you just relax instantly. It was a great break and despite the wind at the end everybody had a great time.
We spent the last night out in Hurghada and it was the usual debauchery. We played the Pyramid of Death (Steve and Chris’s favourite drinking game) and Fives (that was the drinking game we lost Alex to). We were then treated to an awesome live rock band in the pub and that’s when I carefully replaced Alex’s bottle of beer in his hand with water, in a very Derren Brown stealth-like manner! He thanked me for it in the morning. Scott and Steve B then risked their lives by being pinged skyward in a contraption held together with gaffa tape (which we only realised after seeing the following photo).
Luckily they lived and then the last few standing were ushered into a club by Dean, where somehow he’d managed to wangle free entry for us all. I think that’s where a few of us called it a night and ran the usual taxi gauntlet back to the hotel. I believe a few hardy individuals managed to stay out till the very early hours!
The next day was spent recovering from our hangovers. On the flight home I was reacquainted with the game Temple Run (thanks James) and have been addicted ever since.
I really enjoyed this trip but was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any sharks. To remedy this, we’ve booked another week in August which is the prime season both for the weather and for the sharks, so hopefully we’re going to see Oceanic Whitetips and maybe even Hammerheads! It would be amazing to fill the boat again so if you fancy coming along then check out the details below. And for those film buffs among you, Steve B has already booked onto this trip, and I bet he’s already packed that missing cable!