Today we have a large group who are staying in Sharm for a conference and the company have arranged for them all to go snorkelling for a day. It turns out they are all doctors, so should we have any coral scrapes or stubbed toes today, the instructors can sit back and relax!! Once the paperwork is all filled in (badly, of course!) we gather together our 25 guests and head to the boat. We’ve given them their own boat as it’s hard enough to co-ordinate 25 snorkellers without adding divers to the mix. Luckily, I’m not the only guide on, so the 3 of us will share the duties today.
Snorkelling in the Red Sea is a strange one sometimes. People who declare they can’t swim can often quite happily bob on the surface with the help of a life jacket and the salt in the Red Sea; it’s just getting them in the water initially. A quick survey of the group identifies a few of these snorkelling virgins, and we decide it’s wise to dedicate one of us to that small group. The rest seem pretty confident and dying to jump in. Explaining that they really should wait until the boat has stopped, we start kitting people out. There are fins and masks flying around, as people suddenly forget what shoes size they are and a desperate hunt starts for a pair of fins to fit a gentleman who really shouldn’t need them with size 14 feet! As the experienced group hit the water, it appears I have been left with the newbies. After explaining the concept of a mask (to see underwater!), snorkel (to breathe while you are watching) and the lack of fins (we don’t need to cover much ground, just getting in will be enough) we get in, very slowly! After 5 minutes of persuading them that the ladder is not their only life source, we venture to the reef and, well, just float for a while. Forgetting that people can hear them through the snorkels, I am bombarded the snippets of surprise and amazement, as screams, shouts and frantic pointing starts. And carries on, and on, and on. Realising the rest of the group is already on the boat, and waiting to move to the next site, I start trying to herd my 3 together. And I was never meant to be a shepherd. I’ll get two together, find the third, bring him back and then the other two have split up and gone in opposite directions. Luckily it summer, so one of my lovely colleagues is more than happy to jump in and help me (If it was winter, they would have stood on the back deck with a coffee in hand, laughing).
The rest of the day flies by and the guests are all blown away with their experience today. Some are already working out if they could get a dive in before they leave. It always makes me smile, the knowledge that if they are this excited about snorkelling, their minds will be blown when they submerge and become part of the sea. I just hope I get to be there when it happens!