OUUEG usually leaves for a week in December for an expedition abroad – preferably somewhere with water slightly warmer than in the UK during winter. In the recent years the club has visited several times the Red Sea in Egypt, the Andaman Sea in Thailand, but we have been to Norway. Expeditions abroad are a lot of fun and the opportunity to log some fantastic diving. They allow you to gain some experience in very different conditions, e.g. diving in a wetsuit as opposed to a drysuit.
Winter 2016 expedition to the Red Sea
This winter OUUEG is visiting the Northern Red Sea again.
Itinerary: Strait of Tiran & North
Dates: 16th – 23rd December 2016
Aboard: M/Y Red Sea Adventurer
At 32 metres long with 12 cabins divided over three decks, M/Y Red Sea Adventurer is an ideal choice for smaller full charter groups. There are eight comfortably appointed twin cabins, two double cabins and two single cabins providing accommodation for 22 guests. All cabins benefit from en-suite facilities, air conditioning and in-cabin entertainment.
The Strait of Tiran & North cruise allows you to take in some of the most iconic wrecks and reefs the Red Sea has to offer as well as the pristine coral reefs of Tiran. The Tiran dive area is found in the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba and is made up of four main reefs that form the top of an underwater bridge. These reefs, named after British cartographers (Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas, Gordon), are world famous for their extraordinary diversity of corals and strong south westerly currents make them home to many large pelagic fish.
Please note the itinerary below is just an example of the route taken and the order and dive sites are not guaranteed. All dives sites are subject to weather conditions and the final route taken is at the absolute discretion of the captain and dive guides.
Day 1 – Start the week with a check dive before heading north for an afternoon and night dive.
Days 2-5 – Spend four days cruising the northern Red Sea. Normally you will have the opportunity to make three day dives and a night dive each day. The exact itinerary and order of dive sites will vary depending on the conditions but you can expect to visit plenty of wrecks including SS Thistlegorm. There is also some fantastic reef diving including the Ras Mohamed and Tiran marine parks, Sha’ab El Erg (famous for dolphin encounters) and the island of Gubal.
Day 6 – Enjoy two relaxed morning dives close to Hurghada allowing you to cruise into harbour in the early afternoon. Take advantage of an evening onshore to purchase souvenirs and enjoy Egypt’s famous hospitality before your journey home the next day.
Also known as the ‘Ships Graveyard’, this reef is dangerously positioned close to the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Suez. This reef has claimed more ships than any other in the area. On the north side are four wrecks laying on a sandy seafloor at the bottom of a steep sloping reef layered with table corals. On the south side is a safe anchorage for liveaboards and two ergs, known as Yellow Fish Reef.
Ras Mohamed Reef
This is a world renowned dive site, situated at the tip of the Sinai. Two small ergs are joined by a vertical wall dropping into the abyss. At Shark Reef the current allows you to drift along the wall, rich with colourful corals. Moving towards Yolanda Reef you reach a plateau scattered with small ergs and coral outcrops. Continuing around the reef you will come upon the scattered remains of the wreck ‘Yolanda’ complete with its cargo of toilets and baths. The whole of this area is big fish territory so keep an eye on the blue!
Jackson Reef – Tiran
This is the most northerly reef and on its northern edge lays the wreck of a freighter serving as a stark warning to ships in the narrow straights. Dives are usually conducted from the moorings on the south side which is sheltered from the main swell and currents. Moving northwards you will come across a forest of spectacular Gorgonia fan coral at about 20 to 30 metres as well as many different kinds of reef fish. 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.
Woodhouse Reef – Tiran
This is the longest reef of the four in the Strait of Tiran. Home to reef sharks and eagle rays, it is dived as a drift dive usually from South to North. Jumping at the southern part of the reef is a wall to about 30m covered with coral from the surface all the way down. There is a canyon going along the reef at about 25m which spreads out into a coral garden with sand alleys.
Thomas Reef – Tiran
This is the smallest reef in the Strait and diving here is governed by the weather as there are extremely strong currents. 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 colourful coral has a fence of Gorgonia fans at the end.
Gordon Reef – Tiran
This is the most southerly reef of the four and has a different topography from the others offering both a shallow plateau area and drop offs. A huge variety of reef fish and big schools of groupers can be seen here and on the sandy bottom at 4 to 5 metres there is an eel garden area along with coral encrusted drums. The top of the reef, with its lighthouse, is also home to the wreck Lovilla which sits almost parallel to the wreck on Jackson Reef.
All dive sites are subject to weather conditions and cannot be guaranteed.
As a member of OUUEG you can participate on this amazing expedition for just £690 per person + £23 VISA.
Please note that this is a very generous 19% discount off the advertised package price.
The OUUEG package includes: Return flights LGW-HRG, transfers from/to airport in Hurghada, 7 nights full board accommodation, tea/coffee/water/soft drinks, snacks, 6 days diving, 12lt cylinder, free Nitrox (if qualified) and weights.
The Birminham Dive Show is coming up and I would expect boats to fill up soon.
Please don’t hesitate and contact Marko via email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone or WhatsApp immediately to safe your spot.
The fine print
The minimum qualification to come along is BSAC Ocean Diver / PADI Open Water or equiv, with 20 logged dives BUT to get the most out of
this itinerary, the trip is ideally suited to those with Sport Diver/PADI rescue diver or equivalent: some dives will be beyond the Ocean Diver / Open Water qualification level and you will have to sit those out (reading a book / potentially sunning yourself on the back deck of a luxury liveaboard, in the Red Sea).
Have a chat with Marko and make sure you are relaxed about this before signing up. If you haven’t dived for a while, we can certainly do a refresher course in the pool and as every liveaboard the trip will start with an easy shallow check-out.
You will need to have proper travel insurance to insure your diving abroad as this is not covered by OUUEG or BSAC.
The full amount is due 90 days prior travelling. Hence, we will have to pay our trips pretty much upon booking. The operator is ATOL insured.