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FOUND & DIVED!!

4.45pm on Tuesday

2nd June 2015

Link to Trip Report

 

Dive the Domiat on future Suez Wreck Safaris

 

This is a Deep Air Dive and requires the requisite training - Pharaoh will provide a purpose designed course including diving with redundancy, accelerated decompression and advanced Nitrox

Trip Blog - In Search of the domiat

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Friday 29th May

 

We have assembled a great mix of 15 divers from Belgium, Germany and the UK, all set on having a great safari week. Peter Collings and Steve are on board to provide the guiding and host the trip and welcome the team on board.

 

The weather has been superb up to now but the forecast is not so good, strong winds for the next few days. We will see what the morning brings.

 

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Saturday 30th May

 

Coastguard paper work signed off and we are sailing at 8.30am, heading to El Mina and the Minesweeper for the check-out dive. In the protected waters around Hurghada it’s a comfortable trip and easy conditions. We are first there and have the wreck to ourselves for a little while, then the day boats arrive and the entertainment – apart from chasing their guide, what divers in pool fins and shorties are doing on a 30m wreck, for a 15 min dive I am clueless! Still we all have a leisurely meander around picking up the trawler too, then back to the boat.

 

The weather is turning very windy so plan A is amended to plan B and off to the Patrol Boat next, 45 mins later we are tied up on our own with not another boat to be seen. Waiting a suitable period for a surface interval, the 3 groups drop back in for another nice dive on the remnants of the patrol boat at 15 to 35m, followed by a tour of the reef with its numerous resident Morays free swimming around us. Lots to see on the reef its full of life and we took it all in as reefs aren’t really on the agenda for the rest of the week.

 

Windy as it is we need to head north if we are to reach our furthest point of Zafrana, we head to Gubul for an overnight safe haven where we can wait out the wind. We arrived late afternoon with just enough time to drop in on the superb wreck of the Ulysses, the wreck is over 150 years old so the marine life is well established, inside and close by its teeming with glassfish, hatchets, sergeant majors and many others, all darting for cover as the light fades and the jacks start the evening hunt. Another excellent dive with lots to talk about at the end of the first day.

 

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Sunday 31st May

 

No sign of the wind abating, so its going to be the Rosalie Moller but there 3 other safari boats with the same idea. We let them all race around to the wreck while we enjoy a lay in and breakfast before setting off too. As planned all but 1 have dived and left, they were having a surface interval so we have the wreck to ourselves. Rosie is a deep dive with 30m to the deck, so a detailed briefing ensued and the teams were prepared for the dive. It didn’t fail to impress again, the crows nest adorned with drooping soft corals, the mystical bow emerging through the low light and around the deck structures the fish life was abundant.

 

With no chance to head north yet, we opted for a second dive on the Rosie Moller, this time completely alone as the other boat had completed their second dive and left.

 

Considering the available options as the wind was hemming down any progress to Zafrana we head for a bumpy crossing to Shaab Ali and the world famous Thistlegorm. What a good decision, the weather had kept away the masses and we were 1 of 3 boats, the other 2 had already dived and were off gassing. Simply an amazing time to dive on the Thistlegorm, drop in when the sun is going down and come out in the dark, night dive the Thistlegorm. Down the line and into the coal hold to start the tour, the water was gin clear. We are welcomed in by a 10cm nudibranch black, with green and orange decoration, we then saw several more on the tour. The hatchet fish swishing and swooping around, the fading light providing a ambient glow and the glory of the holds of the Thistlegorm…… magical. After 40 minutes touring through the holds we pop up at the bow to be greeted by a massive school of giant batfish and jacks. Awesome dive!

 

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Monday 1st June

 

The weather is not abating, so we are on plan J, that includes crossing fingers while we dive the Thistlegorm 2 more times. Its now too late to make it to Zafrana and the Turkia which is disappointing. However we have other wrecks to dive and we can still head north to Gharib.

 

The daylight on the Thistlegorm reveals a lot more treasures, the first dive of the day is focused on the stern, a slow meander round taking in the view of the stern itself away from the wreck, the universal gun carrier, the guns themselves, racks of ordinance, the 21’’ shells and the rear quarters. Then it was back to the main holds for another look around in the light of day.

 

Dive 3 on the Thistlegorm, not even close to seeing all of her yet. We start in the debris field on the starboard side, the picturesque bogie from one of the tenders is the first feature to stand proud, then on to the front section of one of the steam engines, before heading back to the holds and protection from the raging current. Up through the accommodation along the holds past the light pundits we head to the bow. Up and around the forward quarters and then head into the raging current to watch the massing fish life hovering at the bow. The jacks are darting around and the density of the fish meant you can’t even see the wreck in places. Up a little more and it’s a quick drift back to the line and up to the Sea King.

 

The news is good, the forecast is for calmer weather tomorrow, so we set sail to Ras Shukier our next staging post. 8 o’clock we arrive at tie up on the Laura Security. Time for a quick night dive while chef prepares the dinner. The wreck is awash sitting in 6 to 8m of water but for night dives she is fabulous, like an aquarium for critters. Kenny spotted 50 plus nudibranchs which made him very happy as that’s his passion.

 

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Tuesday 2nd June

 

What does the morning bring, better weather oh yes, but also hassle from the port authority, although we have all the write permissions and papers, we are not allowed to dive and get moved on. So Ras Gharib is calling and 90 minutes later we are tied to the Aboudy and starting an 80 minute dive on her.

 

Not a massive wreck but full of interest and life, the hatchet fish here make it difficult to see where you are going at time. And if the dive wasn’t good enough already, towards the end of the dive we are joined by a small pod of dolphins.

 

The plan now is to have a look for the Domiat, so it’s a 40 minute sail to the researched co-ordinates, followed by a run around in the zodiac with the side scan looking at the bottom profile. 50 …50 ….50 ….. 50…40! We found something! The shot line was dropped, Peter and the captain kitted up to verify what we had found. Mooring rope in hand they dropped below the water and we wait. 18 minutes later, two ecstatic divers emerge from the depths beaming ear to ear ….. ‘it’s the Domiat!’

 

Mission accomplished now we all want to see her but the light is fading. A plan is hatched 5 groups of 3 or 4, at 10 minute intervals with 10 minute bottom time should get everyone in and out of the water to see her before the sun goes completely and without having massive congestion on the line with the safety stops.

 

Germans are first in, the reward for being first to the briefing, then the Belgium’s and then the tardy Brits [they may be quicker to the briefing next time]. The first group are back before the last go in and everyone comes back with the most enormous smiles.

 

The wreck itself was instantly recognisable as the line was at mid ships and the lattice aside the mast tower is plain to see, even so Peter checked the prop configuration and the unique details of a river cruiser, there is no doubt.

 

Around the wreck….. wow! A swirling school of large barracuda open up to let us through then continued to circle around us, the groupers were monsters, soft corals swayed in forest proportions, I don’t think the fishermen know about this wreck yet.

 

Back on board and heading back to the Aboudy for a night dive, dinner and overnight mooring, the plans are being made for the next day, but its all weather dependant, we wait fingers crossed again for a calm day.

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Wednesday 3rd June

 

A bumpy night gave fair warning to the morning weather and we awoke early and headed back out to the Domiat, it was to be a wasted journey as a look at the site meant it would be very foolhardy to attempt this kind of dive in these conditions. She will remain asleep until the 12th June when we return.

 

So back to the Bahr to moor up and then the choice of the Bahr or the Scalaria. Half the group opt for each wreck followed by a second dive on the opposite wreck. Both nice dives but still a sense of disappointment is felt as we were unable to return to the Domiat. Late lunch and heading south for Abu Nuhas for a night dive. 6 hours of sailing and we are tied up, chef prepares dinner and the team goes diving.

 

Pharaoh Sea King Club Safari

In Search of the Domiat

Thursday 4th June

 

It’s the last days diving and we want to get 3 in so it’s up and out to the wrecks for 7am. The wind is strong and the decision to dive is borderline. 2 groups opt to dive the Giannis D for a tour of the engine room while the others prefer the stunning scenery of the Carnatic. Great dives but a little lumpy for the zodiac pick up which took a bit of thought and effort.

 

Breakfast and we are heading back to Hurghada, no point to stop on route the wind is blowing and the best sites will be blown out, so it’s the Minesweeper at El Mina. It’s a little busier this time however not on the trawler wreck next to the Minesweeper.

 

Now we are on plan W and its decided to head back to Roots for lunch and get the last dive on the house reef at Abu Sauatir. It’s a bit of a rush to organise the transfers and pack but by 2pm everything is on the road, 3.30pm its burger and chips on the beach and 4.30 we are diving Abu Sauatir. That’s got to be a first – dive Abu Nuhas in the morning and El Quseir in the afternoon. Nice gentle way to finish the trip.

 

The last night is now at Roots so everyone gets to relax on the beach and around the pool rather than in the noisy harbour in Hurgahda. Good decision 

 

It has been a great week despite the weather, we have dived a dozen different wrecks, and found an absolute gem in the Domiat! The group has been amazing, all good divers, all taking great care of each other, all understanding the weather is unpredictable ….. it has been a pleasure to host and guide for Peter and me.

 

Thanks for the memories

 

Wli, Robert, Felix, Holger, Nicolas, Werner, Nic, Kenny, Matt, Richard, Ross, Rowan, Richard, Dennis and Peter, we hope to see you on another trip soon.

 

 

 

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