Camel Dive Club & Hotel recently had the marvelous experience of sending a representative; yours truly, to DIVE 2018 at Birmingham NEC over the rather chilly weekend of 27 and 28 October 2018. Even though there are still no direct flights from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh, it was definitely not a waste of time attending. The Experience Egypt stand, where Camel Dive Club & Hotel co exhibited was busy from the minute we opened with many of the British public asking similar questions.
Based on this, I figured that many more of you might have heard incorrect information about one of the top dive destinations in the world. Therefore, here I go, trying to debunk the common rumours.
- Sharm el Sheikh Airport is CLOSED! – UNTRUE
Sharm el Sheikh Airport is open for business as usual and has never been closed. With over 51 airlines flying in everyday from all over the world, including direct flights from (in no particular order): Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Switzerland, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Latvia, Giorgia, Armenia, Lithuania, Belorussia, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. It is definitely not closed.
2. Sharm el Sheikh must be a ghost town. – UNTRUE
With currently over 45,000 people arriving in Sharm el Sheikh every week, I am not sure where we would hide all these people for Sharm to give the impression of a ghost town. I won’t lie to you, it has been a tough few years for this charming town but it is definitely on the up. November even saw Sharm hosting the World Youth Forum for the second year running. This event brought thousands of youths and world leaders from around the globe, representing over 60 delegations.
The only ghostly events occurring recently have been the local Halloween celebrations, including the annual party at the historic Camel Bar located in the heart of Na’ama Bay.
- It is difficult to reach Sharm el Sheikh from the UK – UNTRUE
It is true that there are still no direct flights from the UK to Sharm. But with so many other options in the form of Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines (via Istanbul) from many UK airports, Egypt Air (via Cairo) from Heathrow and a variety of other routes direct from European Airports, there is no excuse not to visit the tranquil and safe resort.
My personal preferred method is with Egypt Air who Camel Dive Club & Hotel used to send me to the show. I left Sharm el Sheikh at 05:30 in the morning and arrived in Heathrow at 13:00 lunchtime. For the return, I decided to take the red eye flight so that I could sleep on the plane. I left Heathrow at 22:30 that enabled me to land in Sharm in time for a late breakfast at 08:45. There were brief stopovers in Cairo on each trip, which I gratefully used to stretch my legs and grab a quick coffee, to ensure I arrived refreshed at each destination.
Additionally with 2 bags of 23 kilograms and 8 kilograms of hand luggage, my extra Christmas supplies were not limited so your dive equipment wouldn’t be either.
- There are no British divers visiting Sharm el Sheikh – UNTRUE
The number of British divers we have embraced diving with us during 2018 at Camel Dive Club & Hotel this year has increased by 32%. This is thanks to many loyal, repeat guests but also new divers who had decided to take the opportunity to visit the legendary Sharm dive sites after hearing about the amazing sightings that have been experienced in 2018.
- The Diving must be brilliant now – TRUE
Ok this was a red herring, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to share with you that 2018 has been one of the best years of diving that has been experienced in the last twenty or so years according to long term residents, instructors, return divers and me!
The Sharm diving public has dived with schools of dolphin, whale sharks, mantas, turtles, sailfish as well as a whole range of different sharks in addition to the usual Red Sea suspects. All of these encounters have been framed with the stunning Red Sea hard and soft corals that are currently blooming.
So before you strike Sharm off your list of your dive destination for 2019, remember not to believe everything you hear. Come and visit us now in Sharm el Sheikh, where the summer never ends.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
For more information please about Camel Dive Club & hotel, please visit the website by clicking here.
British freediver sets new national record with 112m dive
British freediver Gary McGrath has set a new national record at the prestigious Vertical Blue freediving competition in the Bahamas.
Using only a monofin for propulsion, Gary swam down a measured rope to a depth of 112m (367ft), returning to the surface to receive a white card from the AIDA International judges to validate his dive.
Gary, 41, held his breath for three minutes and 13 seconds to complete the dive.
Freedivers descend underwater on a single breath of air and the atmospheric pressure on their bodies increases as they go deeper.
At 112m deep the pressure is 12 times greater than the surface, meaning the air in Gary’s lungs would have shrunk to less than a twelfth of its original volume – around the size of a golf ball.
Freedivers train to cope with the physiological strains placed on their bodies by their sport, and Gary uses his background of yoga and meditation to help his physical and mental preparation for deep dives.
He has also had to overcome physical challenges after contracting Covid last year during preparations for a previous national record attempt.
Gary said: ‘Diving below 100m is a totally unique environment, it’s my therapy.
‘This year has been extremely challenging for my mental health and freediving has helped me overcome that for sure.
‘At depth I have complete isolation from the everyday world we live in. Down there it’s just me and nature. It’s that escape that all freedivers crave.
‘There are moments of extreme mental clarity and purity that I can only achieve when underwater. The flow state that a deep dive allows me to experience is unique and addictive.’
Gary, originally from Twickenham, began freediving in 2006 and has been competing since 2008.
A former tree surgeon, he became a professional freedive instructor in 2014, and he and his partner Lynne Paddon run Yoga and Freedive Retreats in Ibiza.
Remarkably, he completed his 112m national record dive on Tuesday (August 9) despite being forced to compete wearing a borrowed monofin which was a size too small for his feet.
His entire kit bag containing his monofin, bifins and two wetsuits was lost by an airline as he travelled to the competition.
Despite his careful preparation, Gary said he suffered nerves on the morning of his national record dive, and relied on a phone call to his partner Lynne, who helped him focus on breathing techniques and visualisation to calm his nerves.
Speaking immediately after his dive, he said: ‘That was all for Lynne – this whole week has been about her. I could not do it without her. I hope that everyone finds someone they can click with, it’s the most magical thing in the world.’
Gary also thanked supporters who helped him to crowdfund to raise the money needed for him to travel to the Bahamas and compete.
Vertical Blue is considered one of the most elite events on the freediving calendar and has been dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Freediving’.
Owned and run by world record freediver William Trubridge, the event takes place in a 202m (663ft) deep sinkhole known as Dean’s Blue Hole, off the coast of Long Island.
The previous British national record of 111m was set by Michael Board in 2018, also at a Vertical Blue competition.
All Photographs courtesy of Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)
Film Review: Thirteen Lives
Ron Howard’s recreation of the 2018 rescue of a Thai junior football team is impressive. Even though we know what happens in the end the tension and drama played out is palpable.
On 23 June 2018, 12 members of a Thai junior football team, the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped deep in the Tham Luang cave system by rising flood water. The film details the incredible international rescue efforts that ensue. And Ron Howard has judged the tone perfectly. There is no Hollywood glitz and glamour and the two leading actors: Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen, who play John Volanthen and Rick Stanton respectively, capture the intensity of the situation perfectly.
The diving scenes are claustrophobic in the extreme. Although I suspect that the visibility was even worse than the film depicts as you have to be able to see something in the dramatization! All the way through the film I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary feat these divers pulled off. The skill and bravery required still impresses after watching films, hearing them speak in public and reading about the rescue.
I loved that, whilst the divers took centre stage in the film, the heroic rescue efforts of the water engineer and his team was also given the attention they deserve, as well as the incredible Thai Navy Seals and the thousands of people that flocked to the region to help.
Thirteen Lives is a must watch movie about an incredible cave rescue. It’s sober tone hits the mark. The cinematography is skilled and creates an impressively tense experience. It is available on Amazon Prime right now.
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