Four divers from the Sheephaven SAC explored the Red Sea recently, during a week-long dive holiday.#
The Sheephaven divers were part of a group that explored centuries-old wrecks and another site considered among the world’s best wrecks available to sports divers.
But they were back in time for the club dive the first narrows in Mulroy Bay last weekend, and the Sunday morning snorkel out of Port na Blagh, which gave some trainees their first open-water snorkelling experience in poor weather conditions.
After arriving in Sharm el Shiek, on the eastern side of the Sinai peninsula, the Sheephaven divers took the initial shakedown dives on the Temples, a series of sea coral pinnacles, and from there the proceeded to the Dunraven, a 19th-century steamer that had been rumoured to the treasure ship of Lawrence of Arabia. Apparently this was a story drummed up in the 1970s to attract divers to the Red Sea, just as the sport was becoming established locally.
Near the Dunraven lies one of the newest wrecks available to Red Sea divers, the remains of the Ed Fraser, which sunk at her moorings having first struck the reef that sunk the Dunraven, and subsequently catching fire. This resulted in the unpleasant experience of its dive party surfacing to see their boat slip below the waves.
During the week, the Sheephaven divers conducted a series of three dives on the Thistlegorm, possibly one of the best wrecks available to sports divers worldwide. The large British merchantman was sunk during World War II by German bombers. The Thistlegorm contained war munitions, including trains, gun carriers, armoured cars, desert prepared trucks, motorbikes, aircraft parts and various ordinance, all still in place for divers to observe.
Another famous wreck the Sheephaven party dove to was the Yolanda, which sunk with a cargo that included ceramic toilets. In the past there have many photos of divers posing on the toilets, but apparently the local dive leaders in Egypt no longer permit such behaviour.
In addition to great wreck diving, this region offers outstanding sub-tropical marine life, where divers can get up close to iconic species such as oceanic white tip sharks, moray eels, barracuda, sting rays, turtles and various wrasse species. The region is rich in a variety of corals, as well as various sponges and giant clams.
During last week’s trip the divers enjoyed water temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius, with horizontal visibility of up to 20 metres. This allowed the divers to dive in very light wet suits and T shirts, a far cry from the heavy dry suits needed in Irish waters at present.
Maximum depth achieved was 38 metres in the deep canyon of Thomas Reef, while 55 minutes was the longest dive, which occurred on the Temples.