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An insight into Red Sea Reefs & Wrecks + special offer!

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Report by John Butland – Diverse Travel – on Emperor Superior…

You would think, wouldn’t you, that when you have been to the same location 17 times that your 18th trip there would be pretty much the same as all the previous times. But that’s the beauty of diving such a wonderful location as the Egyptian Red Sea. There’s always something different to see; an animal you got closer to than before, or display behaviour you’ve never seen before. Perhaps it’s just that you are going back to one of your favourite dive locations. This trip on Emperor Superior’s Reefs & Wrecks Itinerary was all of these for me.

Firstly we headed to the famous Abu Nuhas, not for the wrecks to start with but a check dive on the reef. It wasn’t long before we were diving on the lovely Carnatic wreck. It was as beautiful as ever with the sunlight streaming through the ribs of the deck, illuminating the schools of glassfish that congregate up near the bow. A night dive on the reef followed.

The next day was a full on wreck diving day with three to explore. Giannis D, one of the most recognisable wrecks in the Red Sea, with its mast marking your descent to the wreck itself. The Chrisoula K (Tile Wreck) followed also visiting the Kimon M (Lentil Wreck). Then after a change of location we dived the Carnatic, slightly more broken up than on my last trip.

On a night dive on Beacon Rock, I was privileged to see and video a pair of lion fish mating, not a common sight, But I did have the fright of my life when I suddenly saw a huge moray eel about two feet away. Luckily, he wasn’t as surprised as me and swam nonchalantly off.

Emperor’s Reefs & Wrecks itinerary is a great way to reacquaint yourself with the dive sites that would normally be accessible from Sharm El Sheikh, namely Ras Mohamed and Tiran. I, like many, have dived Shark & Yolanda Reefs on numerous occasions but it’s still such an enjoyable dive and always a little bit different. This time there were big schools of unicornfish all around the wreck of the Yolanda; I’ve never seen so many there.

Eventually we arrived at Tiran, a part I was particularly looking forward to, especially when I heard the first dive was on Jackson. I have maintained a love of this place since I first visited in 2002. One of my favourite places in the whole world. The water was so clear and awash with lined butterfly fish, I have never seen so many together anywhere in the world.

A dive on Thomas Reef followed and was almost as enjoyable. Although a strong down current at the end made the safety stop a bit of a challenge, to be honest a timely reminder of the skills you have learned during training and over the years of diving. Well, what can I say about the Thistlegorm that hasn’t been said before, apart from we had two lovely dives, one outside and one inside.

Two dives on the Barge followed, one at night and one the following day. Although a very small and broken wreck it’s absolutely covered in life. Lots of loitering squirrel fish. There were a few of the more unusual carnivores like a pair of crocodile fish and the shaggiest stonefish I have ever seen. Plus, of course, the long-time resident of the boat, a huge moray eel called George. He poses nicely for both photos and video.

No Northern Red Sea liveaboard would be complete without a couple of dives at Dolphin House, one day and one night. Unlike the last time I was there, we didn’t see any dolphins during the dives. But the crew of Emperor Superior are very keen to help their guests get the best experience so kept an eye out. Eventually the cry of ‘dolphins’ went up and we grabbed our masks, snorkels, fins and cameras and dashed to the zodiacs. We weren’t disappointed as we swam with a group of four for almost an hour. A great end to the week.

Many thanks to Emperor Superior, your great guides, chefs and boat crew, plus the other guests on board for making it such a memorable week. My 18th trip to the Red Sea, but definitely not my last.


Want to be there? Special offer:

Emperor Elite, Reefs & Wrecks

24th – 31st Jan 2020

From £1149 per person including:

Flights, 7 nights in shared cabin, 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner, 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park and port fees. Free Nitrox. Return airport transfers. 20kgs baggage allowance. Full ATOL protection.

Not included: Egyptian Visa ($25), equipment rental, 15ltr tanks, crew tips, alcohol other than above. Options for final day (£10 to £45).

For more information visit www.diversetravel.co.uk or call 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk

John, Sales Manager for UK-based tour operator Diverse Travel, learnt to dive in 2002 and was instantly hooked. Most of his travel now revolves around diving having travelled abroad to dive over 40 times since learning including 18 times to the Red Sea. John says that although every dive trip has its special moments, sharks do feature quite highly on his wish list and is lucky enough to have had close encounters with nearly thirty shark species. Diverse Travel has been organising diving holidays for over five years and the team has over 40 years’ combined experience. Diverse Travel offers liveaboards and resort-based holidays in over 20 worldwide destinations. Find out more at www.diversetravel.co.uk.

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Historical Submarine Prototype protected

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The wreck of an early British submarine known as HMS/m D1, which was the forerunner to the Royal Navy’s patrol submarines that boosted Britain’s defensive power during the First World War, has been granted protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The wreck, off the coast of Dartmouth in Devon, was investigated in a project originated by U-boat historian Michael Lowrey, who was writing a book about First World War U boat losses. The wreck was identified by a team of technical divers who are skilled at diving at depths of over 40 metres, led by Steve Mortimer, diving from Wey Chieftain IV. They reported the discovery of HMS/m D1 to Historic England and it has now been protected by scheduling. This means divers can dive the wreck but its contents are protected by law and must remain in situ.

Multi-beam image of the newly- protected prototype of the D-Class submarine which was deliberately sunk off the coast of Dartmouth, Devon in 1918 and used as a target to test submarine detection equipment. Copyright Wessex Archaeology

HMS/m D1 was built by shipbuilding company Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria and was the secret prototype for the D-class, the Royal Navy’s first diesel powered submarine. Launched in 1908 and commissioned in September 1909, the D-class was a significant development on the C-class submarine, being larger and more powerful.

At the start of the First World War, HMS/m D1 was assigned to protecting the coast of Dover from enemy invasion before carrying out patrols outside of English territorial waters to monitor German shipping movements. In September 1917, HMS/m D1 joined the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla and a year later it was relegated to training duties. In October 1918, HMS/m D1 was decommissioned and scuttled- deliberately sunk. The submarine was used as a training target off the Devon coast for Royal Navy training exercises involving the detection of enemy submarines. The wreck sits upright and largely intact on the seabed.

Multi-beam image of the newly- protected prototype of the D-Class submarine. Copyright Wessex Archaeology

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “The D-class submarine was superior to the C-class, with innovations that became integral parts of future Royal Navy submarines. These included diesel propulsion, twin propellers and a wireless telegraphy system which allowed the submarine to transmit and receive signals. This is a fascinating survival which deserves protection as an important part of our seafaring history.”

Lead Diver Steve Mortimer said: “Every diver dreams of identifying a historically important wreck.  Expecting to find the remains of a German U-boat, we were thrilled to discover a ground-breaking British submarine instead.  It’s tremendous that D1 is now protected but divers can still visit.”

Eight D-class submarines were built. HMS/m D2, HMS/m D3 and HMS/m D6 were sunk outside English territorial waters, while HMS/m D4, HMS/m D7 and HMS/m D8 were sold and scrapped in 1919. The wreck of HMS/m D5 is located off Lowestoft. Suffolk, and is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

For more information, please visit www.historicengland.org.uk

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News

Tried & Tested: INON UWL 95- C24 Wide Angle Wet Lens

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The INON UWL 95- C24 is the latest wide angle wet lens released by INON and has been designed for compact cameras with zoom lenses that are 24mm at the wide end. The UWL-95 C24 has a maximum angle of view of 95° underwater. This can be increased up to 141° with the optional Dome Lens.

The lens has a versatile M67 screw mount and M52 screw mount, the M52 fitting is already built in. Because the M67 rings are screwed to the lens over this, they can’t come loose like a step up rings. Totally renewed optical design effectively suppresses flare/ghost even in backlit condition to provide sharp and high quality image.

Test Conditions

  • Location: Capernwray Quarry, UK
  • Visibility: 2-3m
  • Temperature: 9 degrees C
  • No of Dives: 1
  • Equipment Used: Canon S110 in Recsea housing
  • Test Equipment: INON UWL 95- C24 with Dome Lens Unit 111A and 67mm thread.
  • RRP of lens and accessories used: £667.98

Review

This was an eagerly awaited new product from INON – a wide angle wet lens that can be used with hugely popular compact cameras such as the Olympus Tough and the Sony RX100 range. Testing new equipment in less than ideal conditions is always a challenge, but it is also a bonus, as for many, these will be the conditions they will experience too. Testing a new lens on an unfamiliar camera system also makes this process harder, as you need time to adjust to the new system, even though that is not what you are testing. My first impressions of this lens, before getting it underwater, was that it is very well made.

As we descended I started to unscrew the lens to ensure that any air trapped between camera housing and lens was released. As long as you do not undo all the way this works perfectly, however with thick gloves, in cold water, I would not want to have to attach the lens onto the camera using the 67mm thread very often as it feels a little fiddly.

Using the UWL-95 C24 can dramatically reduce minimum focusing distance needed between photographer and subject. As the visibility on the testing day was only 2-3m this was very good news indeed and the lens focused on subjects that were virtually touching the lens. Be careful not to get too close to anything that might scratch the lens! The lens, with the additional dome gave a really wide field of view, perfect for wreck, diver, scenic and large marine life shots.

Whilst the lens feels quite heavy on the front of a small camera out of the water, I did not notice it at all on the dive which is great, as some big lenses can require floats or very strong wrists to make them workable. This is a simple grab and go lens that does not need any additional kit or know-how to use. Alas, due to my buddy having a catastrophic dry suit flood, I only got a single dive to try it out, but was impressed with it nonetheless.

Fortunately I am taking the lens up to Scotland to try out on my Olympus TG5 whilst snorkeling and wild swimming – so watch out for more about this lens next month.

For more information visit the INON website by clicking here.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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