The MV Legends Dive Party in the Red Sea
Last week saw a group of Donegal divers travel to Egypt for a week of diving in the Red Sea, courtesy of Tekdeep and their live-aboard MV Legend.
In Dublin airport the Donegal dive party met up with divers from Cavan, Mayo and Monaghan, where they flew out to Ataturk airport, Istanbul on-board Turkish Airlines. After an extended stopover they continued on to Hurgada, Egypt to board the Tekdeep MV Legends, their home for the next week, where they joined other divers from the UK and Germany.
The Turkish Airline flight out was a big step up from previous flight operators in the past: The airplane was comfortable, the food was good and included in the price, and everything happened on time.
The MV Legend is a 28m, 20-berth dive live-aboard, which recently had its cabins and lounge refurbished. As would be normally expected, air fills and weights were included in the price, but what Tekdeep specialise in is closed-circuit dive system, in this case Revo Rebreathers, which catered for some of this dive party’s needs.
The trip started from Hurgada and went north to the location of iconic wreck sites of the Red Sea. Over the next seven days, 23 dives were conducted, which included four days of four dives, two days of three dives and one dive on the final day.
The first dive sites were in sight of the southern tip of Sinai and included Guta Abu Kamada, Little Griffin, Erg Somia and Sharb El Erg reefs, while the first wrecks included the Ghiannis D, Chrisila K and Carnatic all on Abu na Hab – which literally translates into Father of all Misfortune.
From there the divers were taken to the ultimate wreck dive site, the Thistlegorm at Sha’abAli Lighthouse, and after a dart across the Suez the next dive was on the Rosaline Muller near Gobla Island.
After that, the dive party moved to the Ulysses at Gobal Segir and then around the corner to the Barge, then before the six-hour passage back to Hurgada began there was a reef dive at Umm Gamar Island.
At the half way point on the return journey there was an overnight at Fanous West lighthouse with a dive in Dolphin Bay and the next morning the last dive for the trip was on the El Miniya minesweeper sunk in 1970 during the Six-Day War outside the Hurgada marina.
As anyone who has ever dived the northern Red Sea will testify, the water at 26 degrees Celsius is warm and clear, the reefs and marine life are outstanding, the coral life is healthy and the fish life is both diverse and abundant.
The divers were treated to observations of lion fish, snake eels, giant moray eels, a range of wrasse, parrot fish, jacks, barracudas, nemos - otherwise known as clownfish - glassfish and Anthias but the iconic observation was a Red Sea green turtle sleeping in the hold of the Thistlegorm.
While the Thistlegorm and Rosaline Muller are two of the best wreck dives available to recreational divers and the Carnatic and Ulysses are the oldest, the 58m El Miniya is the most recent.
The Egyptian minesweeper was built in Russia to a British design and in 1970, when the Israeli Air Force attacked Hurgada, the captain and crew put up a heroic fight against a Phantom F4 and Mirage III, until she eventually went down fighting, still on her moorings.
Today she lies in 28 metres on her port side, with her guns and tow array still in place. The location made a fitting last dive before the visitors put back into Hurgada and began sorting out their kit before the trip back home.
While the good weather over the week allowed the divers to access all the available dive sites, the courteous and professional leadership by the dive guides Gigi and Alex, real names Anze Petric and Ahmed Abdl Hamid, respectively, made the trip.
Over the week there were six night dives. The deepest dive of the trip was on the Rosaline Muller, at around 35 metres, while the longest was over 60 minutes at Umm Gamar Island.
The Egyptian boat crew of eight included the captain, mechanic and crew, who were always on hand to help the divers, but the most important man on board was the chef, who kept everyone well fed and happy.
The dive party left Hurgada airport very early on Sunday morning and began the long trek home, first to Istanbul and the vast shopping mall of Ataturk Airport, and then across Europe to Dublin Airport for the late afternoon, followed by a relatively simple drive back home.
After a week diving with Tekdeep on board the MV Legend, it is fair to say that the Red Sea is open for business and the flight from Dublin to Hurgada via Istanbul was better than previous trips through Heathrow.
As always it is all about the journey and not just the destination, and this trip is definitely to be recommended.