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Dive Trip Report: Oman

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Oman

On the first week of February, Twelve divers from Stratford-on-Avon dive club set off for a week on the Saman Explorer diving around the Hallaniyat islands. Two of us had been on this trip a couple of years ago and were impressed with the amount of life in the seas, hence the return trip with friends.

The travelling was effortless; we were picked up on time and arrived at the boat in the afternoon. The boat has had a recent refit and the quality is superb. We all thought it was the best liveaboard we had been on which includes several in the Red Sea and others in the Maldives and Indonesia. The refit had made it more like being in a hotel than a boat. All the cabins are a good size with separate showers rather than wet rooms so the loo rolls don’t get soaking wet. The deluxe cabin is fabulous with a huge bed, TV and lovely mood lighting (I was in two minds whether to stay there and forget the diving!).

The crew were all very helpful. Mustafa, who served the meals, was never without a big beaming smile and the food was of a high standard. It is worth noting that there was no-one who had any sort of stomach problems all week.

Oman

The first day we dived two wrecks near the coast. The visibility was poorer than we had expected but it had been – and still was – very windy, which perhaps stirred up the water. However, the fish life was phenomenal (perhaps due to the large number of plankton in the water).

The next day we went to the islands, where the water was clearer but still with huge numbers of fish. If we had seen them crammed  in an aquarium like that the RSPCA would have got involved! We also noticed that they were much larger than in the Egyptian Red Sea.

We saw many varieties of rays, huge shoals of fusiliers, all sorts of reef fish, huge groupers, and we were even treated to an afternoon of Humpback whales doing a display for us.

Karim is an excellent dive guide; in fact all of the staff on the boat were all very helpful and professional. The dive platform is huge and putting fins on is still easy, even when several people have gathered at the back ready to jump in.

The diving is different from the Egyptian Red Sea with very little hard and soft corals so therefore not so much colour, but the rock formations are lovely and being among so much life was magnificent. Although we didn’t see any sharks, the rays and whales more than made up for that and I found it better than liveaboard diving in the Maldives, mainly because of the sheer volume of life. For me, although it’s a bit more expensive than the Egyptian Red Sea, it’s well worth the extra to experience something totally different.

Hilary and her club booked their trip to Oman with UK-based tour operator Ultimate Diving. to find out more about the dive holidays Ultimate Diving offer visit www.ultimatediving.co.uk.

Hilary Wilson is the Chairman of Stratford upon Avon Sub Aqua Club. She is a Dive Leader who has been diving since 1996, when she was taught by her partner Miles. He always says she was the worst student he ever had, and she’s not sure he isn’t right! They both joined the Club in 2001.

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Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1

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Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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