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Thread: Deep South Red Sea december tec liveaboard

  1. #1
    Alin Ardelean alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin's Avatar
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    Inspo Classic, Hammer Inspo

    Deep South Red Sea december tec liveaboard

    Hello fellow divers.

    A few days ago I finished a Tec diving liveaboard trip in the Egyptian deep south Red Sea and I thought to put here a few
    lines about it.

    The trip was on the board of MV Tala, and after living and working in Red Sea for almost 9 years, I can say that Tala is probably the best tec diving vessel in Red Sea. There are a few liveaboards offering tec diving services but what makes Tala different the owner, Faisal Khalaf. Faisal is a very keen tec diver himself, explorer, with thousands of tec dives under his belt, he is still very active in the diving field and he doesn't like to spend his time in the office. He knows exactly what a tec diver needs are and his boat meets all the expectations. Tala might not be the prettiest boat in the Red Sea, but for sure it is the most practical.

    On board we were 4 CCR divers, 8 tec OC divers and 3 recreational divers. On the CCR side, Jaap Voets and Jan Dankers were on slightly modified Vision units, diving with 7 liters tanks on them, Randy McNalley on a standard JJ and myself on a heavily modified Classic, with SW electronics. Jaap's unit had an X1 plumbed in and Jan with a VRx for inline deco, both units with solid frames, Jaap's a heavy duty stainless steel one and Jan's unit had an Ali Box. All the rebreathers performed flawlessly, nobody missed a dive during the week.

    We boarded on the 1st of December from the new marina in Hurghada, due to guests flying in from different parts of the world (we all arrived on the boat at different times, the first arriving in the morning around 11 o'clock and the last arrived at about midnight), we couldn't leave the harbor until the 2nd morning, due to local regulations regarding leaving Port after sunset and before sunrise.

    The departure on the 2nd morning was delayed due to the diesel crises in Egypt but after our boat's tanks were filled, we finally left the harbor around 13:00. We headed straight for a nearby dive site for a short check dive, than straight to Safaga for a second dive.

    After the first day's diving we steamed overnight towards Elphinstone Reef, we arrived the following morning for an early dive at the "Arch" on the South Plateau. The technical divers planned 60-75ish meter "acclimatization" dives at the Arch and spent the deco in the company of some friendly oceanic white tip sharks, sometimes too friendly :)

    Just to mention, for those who have never dived the arch on Elphinstone Reef, there is a very weird and odd formation under the Arch named "the sarcophagus" due to it's simetrical shape and seemingly man made structure.

    For the 3rd dive of the day we moved onto a reef called Sha'ab Marsa Alam, in the vicinity of the "harbor" of Marsa Alam.
    At the end of the day we set sail over night to reach our deepest travel point, "Rocky Island". Rocky Island is a deserted island, burned by the powerful sun of Egypt and blown by the cold dry winds in winter. Among the hidden treasures of Rocky Island, on the southern plateau, far away from the reef, starting from about 80 meters, is the infamous wreck of the "SS Maiden",which is without a doubt the most spectacular wreck in Southern Egyptian Red Sea. The Maiden, who measured over 150 meters in length, was a "Steel Screw" Steam Cargo Ship built in 1912 and sank in June 1923. During the early years of WWI, the Maiden was requisitioned for use by the Ministry of War Transport (MOWT) as a troop transport, she carried the Liverpool Scottish Regiment and the Queen's Westminster Rifles infantry battalions from Southampton on 1st November 1914 and delivered them to Le Havre on 3rd November.
    Due to the remote location of Rocky Island along with the depth and position of the wreck on the reef, the resting place of Maiden remained hidden for many years,
    The dive to the Maiden took part in 2 groups. 1st group was the CCR group, Jaap, Jan, Randy and myself. We started our descend at around 8 o'clock in the morning. We made a max depth of 120 - 126 meters and after reaching 25 minutes bottom time we started to ascend.
    Faisal organized support divers, ready with extra gas which wasn't needed, and met us on our way up, during our deco. Support also helped to get rid of the deep bail out stages and the deep scooters and handled us fresh scooters, so we could spend the rest of the dive checking out the coral formations in the shallows, around the Island. Run times for the CCR group varied between 3 and 3.5 hours, after the CCR group surfaced the OC tec group went in,
    The OC group were led by Faisal, Maze and Leigh Cunningham, the rest of the OC trimix divers were Cat Bates, May Jakobsen and Soren Bowadt. All the OC divers used 6 twelve liter bottles, with 12/60 back gas, 21/35 intermediate and n50 and 100% O2 for deco, Go Pro cameras were mounted on Faisal's and Leigh's scooters, max depths varied between 95 and 110 meters for a 25 minute bottom time with about 3 hour run times. Support was organized by Faisal, using Red Sea Explorers staff and two of the normoxic tec divers on the trip (Didier and Dave) to hand spent tanks and monitor divers during deco. All agreed that the dive was everything it had been built up to be "absolutely spectacular".
    The rest of the day was spent on the nearby island of "Zarbagad", called mother island of Rocky Island where we did some shallower
    diving.

    During the night we set sail towards "Fury Shoals" where all 14 scooters were called upon for monkey diving in the amazing maze of Claudio reef and other reefs nearby. After the last dive of the day, we started to head towards "Brothers Islands". On the Brothers, we were delighted with a 50 meter dive before breakfast, in the company of a few thresher sharks on the South Plateau of Big Brother, then in the afternoon, deep wreck diving on the North of Big Brother. Most of the tec divers started the 2nd dive on the wreck of Aida, then scootering to Numidia on the Northern plateau. Myself, Jaap, Randy, Soren and May had the bonus of seeing another Thresher Shark at the bottom of the Numidia on the Plateau before ascending up the wreck, along with grey reef sharks, during deco. Another great day of deep wreck, marine life and reef diving.

    After spending the day at the Brothers Islands, we headed towards Safaga where we dived the wreck of the Salem Express the following morning, an awesome site to see, but quite a sobering dive, baring in mind the circumstances of it's sinking. The rest of the day was spent at "Panorama Reef" where myself, Leigh and Gunn decided to scooter from the boat on the mooring around the reef and back to the boat, a number of hours later we arrived back at Tala for a late lunch;) After Panorama we headed back towards the marina in Hurghada, arriving back in Port around 6pm. As another bonus, for guests who were not flying out the following morning, we went back out the following day for another day of Monkey diving on ?? in Hurghada. It was an amazing week, in the company of great people on a great boat.

    We would like to thank Faisal and his staff for organizing diving logistics, especially the tec side, baring in mind we were 10 technical divers with more than 50 scuba cylinders and 4 rebreathers in over 100 meters during the same morning with no logistical issues at all, the organization speaks for itself!! On top of that we didn't see any gas storage bottles, which had been stored down bellow and gas fed with the help of boosters and a maze of pipes to cylinders on the back deck. The crew was amazing, working non-stop, serving us breakfast, lunch and dinner at different times for different groups with different culinary tastes.
    Many thanks again to Faisal and his crew for providing all the logistics, entertainment and doing their best to ensure that everybody was having a great time, whatever you were doing, OC rec diver, normoxic gas qualified or full trimix, everyone felt at home. It was a great week in the company of you all, Jaap Voets (ccr trimix), May Jakobsen (trimix oc diver), Jan Dankers (ccr trimix), Cath Bates (trimix oc diver), Randy McNalley (trimix ccr), Soren Bowadt (oc trimix diver), Didier Lautru (oc normoxic trimix diver), Henriette (rec diver), Kirsty Stenhouse (normoxic trimix oc), Dirk and Nanette (both finishing during the week their oc normoxic trimix course), Line Baro and Gunn Brumoen (both rec divers). Thank you all for having the pleasure to dive with you and we look forward to the next trip on Tala.

    For other amazing underwater pictures, check Cave Alliance - Banding Together as ONE Voice, the website of Jaap Voets ☺

    Safe diving to all.

    All the best

    Alin Ardelean & Leigh Cunningham

    P.S. I was trying to insert the images within the text but I am a bit of a turnip and couldn't figure out how to do that, that's why all the pics are at the end.
    Attached Images
    Last edited by alin; 21st December 2012 at 13:01.

  2. #2
    Alin Ardelean alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin has a spectacular aura about alin's Avatar
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    Bastardized SW Inspo

    Inspo Classic, Hammer Inspo

    Re: Deep South Red Sea december tec liveaboard

    The website of Jaap Voets it's h2olic dot net. I have wrote it wrong first time and after it was removed and replaced by another add, one from a company, I can't edit the post.

  3. #3
    Scuba Nerd voets has a spectacular aura about voets has a spectacular aura about voets has a spectacular aura about voets has a spectacular aura about voets has a spectacular aura about voets has a spectacular aura about voets's Avatar
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    Ray, RG-UF/M , FGT I/D

    Re: Deep South Red Sea december tec liveaboard

    great report Alin !
    It was a fun week for sure with lots of great diving.

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