Dive in to Sharm’s winter warm waters
If you are a regular diver in your home country, you will know and understand how much preparation goes into kitting up when diving in the winter months. Even if you have not pushed yourself to the extreme limits of ice diving, the waters of a cold quarry can be just as chilling. To get any type of bottom time you need to don a dry suit, plus an under suit, gloves, hood and with it a whole load of extra weight.
So when you open up the Red Sea Diving College newsletter and are teased with amazing diving offers in the Red Sea, it is extremely tempting to sign up for a week of SCUBA diving in the sun. Yes in comparison it is warm in January; the water temperatures are around 24 degrees and the air temperatures hover around 20 degrees during the day. However any diver, who is familiar with diving in the Red Sea in winter, will wisely know that you have to consider the wind chill factor. With this in mind here is a little guide to help you get the most out of your diving holiday in Sharm and have plenty of warm bottom time to see all the amazing underwater life, which hands down beats any murky quarry dive in winter.
Do You Need a Wetsuit ?
100% Yes, you do. If you just hop in for a swim, you will probably be quite comfortable in the Red Sea in winter, but diving is a whole different situation as you are immersed for longer periods of time. When you are in water cooler than 32 degrees (90f) the water will draw heat away from your body. During summer when the water temps are around 27 degrees (82) the heat loss will be so gradual that you hardly notice it.
However after an hour which would be the optimum time for a Red Sea dive, you will (without the correct protection) start to feel cold. Loosing heat equals to loosing energy, so even if you don’t think you feel cold you might start to feel tired.
You will probably notice that your Dive guide is wrapped up warmer than you. They might appear to be geared up in a similar kit up to your home diving. This is because gradual heat loss is likely to accumulate over several days. On your fourth day of SCUBA diving your core temperature will be lower than on your first diving day. Our dive guides understand this as they are in the water for consecutive days. So this is why on the fourth or fifth day of your holiday you may start to feel tired, not cold. We don’t want you to miss a day of the fun so take our tips onboard.
What’s the best suit for the Red Sea?
The golden rule of any wetsuit is to make sure it fits correctly. Every diver will remember this from their PADI Open Water course. A 5mm two piece suit is ideal for Sharm winter diving. If you only have a one piece then consider putting a shorty over the top for the second dive. You will want to minimize flushing and to achieve this make sure the suit and seals around the neck, wrists and ankles are fairly tight. 5mm semi-dry suit is excellent for this.
Your Mother probably always told you to wrap up warm in winter and layer your clothes. This is true for diving. Invest in thinner neoprene rash vest and wear it under your main suit; 1mm titanium vest or similar works well. Better still invest in a rash vest with a fitted hood, which stops any water flushing down the back of your neck.
In any situation on land or underwater, we lose more heat from our head than anywhere else on our body – so a hood is a great bit of kit to have when diving in Sharm in winter.
How to keep your core temps up
As we mentioned before, you will probably not realize that your body is losing heat underwater, but when you surface that pesky Red Sea wind will be there to greet you. Most divers mention the chill factor of the wind, but it is very easy to manage. Make sure that you bring a towel to dry yourself with and something warm to wear. It might seem strange to bring a fleece when there are sunbathers on the beach, but trust us you will be happy to have one after the dive. A fleece is idea as the fabric is lightweight and dries very quickly if it gets wet. For that post dive chill, take advantage of the Sharm el Sheikh sun. It shines 364 days of the year and will quickly warm you up.
As soon as you are out and de-kitted, get dry, dressed and then get yourself a hot drink. All of the Red Sea Diving College boats have tea and coffee making facilities in the saloon. Once you are sorted then hang your suit up to get it dry. In Sharm we are always blessed with sunshine, so it is easy to dry your suit. It is so much nicer and more comfortable to dive in a dry wetsuit for the second dive of the day. If your boots are still wet and cold then a little trick is to douse them in hot water before diving to warm them up, equally a pair of thin neoprene socks worn under the wetsuit booties gives an extra layer.
With these little top tips from our Red Sea College Dive team we are sure that you will have a great winter dive holiday in Sharm el Sheikh. The fish life and coral gardens offer a kaleidoscope of colours especially in the shallows where the water temperatures are warm. Our dive boats offer comfortable saloons and spacious sun decks and there is always a hot buffet meal available and plenty of tea and coffee. So come and join us – it sure beats a cold murky quarry.