So, its day 2 of an Advanced Open Water course and having gone on a local boat on day one, its Ras Mohammed National Park for our final couple of dives! My student is an ex-military chap (I do seem to attract them, my husband is ex RAF!) who is keen to get his Advanced PADI Certification so he can go to the Thistlegorm wreck later in the week.
We have settled on which dives to do and as all dives within the national park have to be drift dives (there are no mooring points in order to preserve the reef), that seems a good place to start. Drift diving skills are important here in Sharm as a lot of our boat dives are done in this style to allow us to cover more area and take advantage of the currents. Once someone has completed this dive, we are generally happy that they can complete a dive independently of an instructor (do a safety stop, ascend, call the boat and get back on board) -obviously with a buddy in tow!
The most important thing for me to get across is the college ‘call sign’. Imagine you are the skipper on a busy dive site and you are waiting, along with 10 other boats, for your guests. 6 heads appear next to the reef plate. Who goes to get them? Could you recognise them while they are bobbing around? The solution is easy. It was decided in the early Sharm days between all the dive centres that each one would have its own ‘call sign’ or hand signal. Ours was a standard PADI in water ‘OK’ (hands on head) followed by pointing at our boat with two hands. This allows any of our skippers to instantly know we are his guests. It saves us time floating around (and less sea-sickness) and saves on diesel for the boats in wasted drive-bys. I am still amazed at how many people just sit in the water, having a chat, not making an effort to get picked up. It must drive the skippers mad.Picture posed by model!
Buddy checked and ready to go, a giant stride entry and we are in the beautiful waters of the national park. Descending down, I am reminded that this area never disappoints. The colours of the corals, glistening in the shallows, seem to dance and it’s only then you realise that the movement isn’t the coral, but the fish. All too soon our dive is over and I’m hoping that my student manages to firstly, get us picked up and secondly, by the right boat! On surfacing he does all the right things and soon our boat is steaming its way towards us. Drift dive passed.Our second dive is just as beautiful, with a Napoleon wrasse family swimming past, followed by a school of trevally looking determined…to do what, I’m not sure!
With my day finished, and one happy and Thistlegorm-ready student in tow, we relax at the dive centre, chatting to some guests who are off to Ras Mohammed tomorrow. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that was just a small glint of envy from my “day off tomorrow as wife wants to spend the day on the beach” guest!