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Freediving, Sailing And Yoga On The Red Sea With Sea To Sky

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freediving

Jeremy from Sea to Sky tells us about his experience on Aziab Yacht

Freediving, sailing, yoga, Red Sea… what a combination!! And combining all.. what an experience.

Even with a Scuba background, as an Instructor and a passionate teacher, never would I have imagined that I would be Freediving off a yacht in the middle of the Red Sea amongst 100’s of dolphins, Corals and a wreck, let alone starting or finishing the day with Yoga.

However, I am delighted I did and even happier to make this trip available to all of our Sea to Sky clients.

The story actually starts for me in Wadi Lahami. I had flown out of Italy, where we live, on the Sunday and arrived in Marsa Alam that evening.

The boat was moored at Hamata Port, not far from Wadi Lahami, so was perfect for me to stay there. It also gave me the excuse to dive the Fury Shoals for a day on the Monday before the transfer on Tuesday morning.

I awoke to a few missed calls from my two guests Sam and Harry. I digress a bit here, as Sam and his brother Harry had booked the trip through us and, as we offer more than a basic buy the trip and see you later type adventure, I made sure I accompanied them to ensure they had the best time.

I had arranged Sam’s hotel in Hurghada and local taxi to collect them from the airport to their hotel.

TOP TIP: buy a Vodaphone Sim card on arrival as this will save you so much aggravation over phone costs and network roaming. €20 will ensure you have enough data to last a week easily, and that’s with everyone hotspotting off you. Oh, and make sure the guys at the Vodaphone stall insert the sim card and activate it for you, as it saves any miscommunication.  

Anyway, back to the story. Sam and Harry made their own way to Hamata, which ended up being to Wadi Lahami as they missed the transfer and jumped into a cab, but arrived safely and all three of us waited for the mini bus to collect us. The other guests meanwhile had all been collected in and around Hurghada and were on their way!

After a hearty breakfast, the mini bus arrived and transferred us to Hamata to meet the other guests and crew.

freediving

We arrived at Hamata at approx 12pm and introduced ourselves to the other guests and immediately started chatting and getting to know each other. The guests were:

  • Nahla (Our freedive instructor and one of the loveliest people you could hope to meet)
  • Sarah (A yoga instructor, but not on this trip, who’s passion is Pizza and Pancakes and her husband – in that order!!)
  • Megan (An awesome French lady whom I’m sure brought her own banana tree with her, as she ate so many)
  • Alex (Our star TV presenter, amazing freediver and all round superstar)
  • Ingrid (Downhill skiing yogi who’s single handedly changed my mind about Yoga)

Oh and Sam and Harry – what can I say about those two!! Sam is a great friend whom I’ve know for many years and one person you can rely on. Harry was just an awesome guy – he had one weakness, and that was Pasta. Good god he can eat, love him!

The boat and crew

The boat is called Roaga and is a 50.5 Cyclades with 4 double cabins and one bunk bed style cabin. Two of the doubles have private bathrooms and the others are shared bathroom.

Downstairs was seating, the Galley and charging area, and upstairs is where we spent all our time, either eating or diving.

freediving

The boat is immaculately kept and looked after by Captain Mohammed Said, who funnily enough I knew from years ago whilst diving elsewhere. Mohammed number 2, who did everything all the time, Abu Selim the Masterchef and who also helped run the boat, and lastly Mahmoud Hassan, our guide and a funny and caring person.

We LOVED the crew and couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people.

Oh and the crew slept either outside on the deck or bench seating or in the galley area. How they do this trip after trip is beyond me, hats off to them.

Day 1

So after arriving on board settling our stuff into the cabins, it was time to depart and head to Om Elsheikh Island, arriving at 12:45pm, to moor up and have an awesome lunch of fresh lentils, cheese filo pastry and fresh salad.

We spent the afternoon chatting and snorkelling and generally getting to know each other better.

Day 2

We spent the day at the island, which was like someone had dropped a desert Island into the middle of the red Sea, it was so beautiful.

Day 2 was the also the start of our introduction to freediving with Nahla. We covered such areas as Recovery breath, breathing as well, dry static exercises and some static in the water. A great experience and I suddenly realised that freediving was going to be a challenge!!! But a good one.

The next challenge was Yoga. We all took the little zodiac to the island at 4pm to start session 1, Vinyasa. Wow is all I have to say, I have never been stretched or put into positions since forever, but a great, great session that was loved by all. Ingrid was very soothing and a great teacher.  After Yoga we departed for Syaal Island, another paradise not far away.

freediving

I wont catalogue what we had for breakfast/lunch/dinner everyday but I can assure you it was fresh, tasted sublime, and we always had too much variety, just exquisite and how chef cooked all that food in the smallest galley in the world is beyond me. We always had fresh dates and fruit and snacks available at all times.

Day 3

Day 3 started with another session of Vinyasa Yoga on the Island at 07:30am, a great way to start the day, and after a great breakfast we had our freediving session. The session included Buoyancy check, how to equalise, duck dive and some line work to 5m. Another great session, fuelling our appetite for more of the same.

This day was also the day we departed for Sataya Reef, home of the dolphins. We left at 3pm and arrived approx 3 hours later, ready and anticipating the following day.

Day 4

The highlight of the trip, Sataya!!!

We arrived at Sataya to be met by hundreds of Dolphins in their natural playground / resting place before their nightly excursions for food. We jumped in at 07:30hrs and stayed with them for just about two hours….the freediving was magical. Just being up close and personal with such creatures was indescribable.

After another amazing breakfast at 10am we had another freedive session with Nahla, covering linework, body position and becoming streamlined in the water – not easy but so satisfying.

freediving

Lunch was at 2.30pm and after a brief rest and sunbathe we were back in before the dolphins went out for the night.

Thanks must go to Mohammed Said for constantly navigating the pinnacles of Sataya and dropping us in on top (not literally of course!) of the dolphin pods. I think this day was the culmination of the all the best days together as in the morning and afternoon we were literally the only divers there and could play and swim with the dolphins without stress.

Day 5

Last day at Sataya……. and, after jumping in at 07:30am, we again swam with the dolphins for a few hours, only coming out for breakfast at 10am.

After breakfast we all either relaxed or played off the boat on floaties – or if you were Sam, Harry and Mahmoud, showing off their athletic somersaults from the boat. I have to mention Megan who’s climbing skills were something to behold.

After lunch we headed to Halawi reef to swim with barracudas, a beautiful turtle and amazing Corals that only the Red Sea can deliver, a lovely change.

We then headed back to Sataya to practice our free immersion to 11m, another great experience.

A few games on the boat were followed by an amazing dinner!!! We gave the chef a night off and cooked up a storm in the galley ourselves, mostly Alex who’s passion for chopping really shone through.

freediving

Day 6

Last but one day…….we left Sataya at 07:15 and sailed to the Abu Galawa wreck arriving at 08:15ish.

The wreck was a beautiful dive and so many hard corals to look at, a wonderful sight. We dived for about one and a half hours and then had breakfast before leaving for our long sail back to Om Elsheikh where I think by then we had all dived out (only Alex went for a dive).

Then the storms hit us. I have worked and been coming to Egypt for over 15 years and have never seen storms like this, just ask Alex. The lightening was a wonderful sight (and at the same time a little bit frightening!).

Day 7

Time to go home. We arrived back at Hamata in the morning after mooring up in the bay overnight, and after banana pancakes made by Sam and Alex, we packed and said our goodbyes. The transport arrived at 10am to take us all to our respective destinations.

Boat Yoga

So apart from the Vinyasa sessions on the islands we had Yin Yoga every evening on the boat. This, speaking as an expert of course(!!!), is a more relaxed Yoga, holding postures for a few minutes. An ideal Yoga for the limited space on a yacht and with the combination of the relaxed postures, boat sways and Ingrid’s voice, most evenings I left my body and landed I don’t know where – loved it.

Well that’s it for the blog, I think I have covered everything on what was a trip of a lifetime. I have made many friends, and unlike a lot of trips, we will stay in touch and we will meet up again.

Big thanks go to Omar and Yousra for running a professional and slick operation, the crew who I cant praise enough and to each and everyone of you, Sarah, Megan, Ingrid, Sam, Harry, Nahla and of course Alex.

If anyone is thinking of Booking I am more than happy to talk through with you every aspect, so rest assured you can be prepared and a little better informed of the magical experience you WILL have.

freediving

The Highlight

I think the highlight for me was Sarah – I have never witnessed such joy on someone’s face whilst swimming with dolphins!

Aziab SeaFaris and Sea to Sky

I have known Omar and Yousra, the owners of Aziab SeaFaris for a couple of years now. Filomena had met Yousra and Omar 5 years ago at Wadi Lahami in Southern Egypt. My first impressions of Omar was what a chilled out and gentle soul he was, very articulate and above all, professional. When we were looking at add an Egyptian based diving, sailing and yoga experience together, we approached Omar to ask if we could collaborate / partner with them, as experts in the region, and we were delighted when he said yes.

Please get in touch to find out more about this fabulous experience.

Join Sea to Sky and embark on new diving adventures! Visit www.myseatosky.co.uk for more information.

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Mamma Mia! Diving Skopelos (Part 1)

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If you have a dream of a sunny holiday spot with great diving, take a chance on Skopelos!

A small island in the Sporades of the Northern Aegean Sea, Skopelos is a quintessential Greek island, with warm mediterranean climate, friendly locals, delicious cuisine and clear turquoise blue waters. It is such a stunning location that many of the scenes from the movie “Mamma Mia!” were filmed on and around the island.

The diving here is excellent, with good visibility and warm summer water temperatures making for relaxed diving conditions with plenty to see.  Skopelos has something for everyone and is a perfect location if you are holidaying with non-divers, want a mix of diving and land based activities or simply to spend some time relaxing in the sun.  The island has a wealth of diversions: picture perfect beaches, a thriving and picturesque harbour town, great food, boat trips, and beautiful resorts with well-stocked pool bars and sun loungers for topping up the tan in style.  

Having read about the beautiful diving available Mike and I were excited to experience it for ourselves. During our stay we dived with Skopelos Dive Center at their West coast Panormos base. On arrival we were greeted by Lina and Tasos, who provided our equipment and briefed us on the day’s dive plan.  The first dive was to be at the Gallery and the second at Dasia Lift.  Eager to get in the water, we were soon kitted up and on the boat heading out to our first dive.

The island of Skopelos is blessed with some incredible topography.  We marveled at the views of nearby Dasia Island where the dive sites were located; the bright green pine forests covering white limestone and dolomite rocks along the coastline contrasted nicely with the clear azure waters below.  As we would find on our dives, the many sea caves along the shore made for great swimthroughs and caverns to explore on dives and the bright white rocks reflected the sunlight for beautifully lit and colourful seascapes in the shallows.

Our dive at the Gallery began on a sloping wall with multiple pinnacles, the first of which had a huge and completely beautiful Hypselodoris elegans nudibranch.  Following the wall deeper we came to a cavern filled with sponges, tunicates, corals and cardinal fish.  Working shallower and enjoying the light reflecting off the pale rocks and deep blue of the deeper water we came to the Gallery’s namesake passage at a very shallow 1.5 meters.  A tunnel in the rock created this wonderful feature, while light played through the shallows illuminating the benthic life as our group swam through.

All the dive sites in this area were a very short boat ride from the dock so travel times to and from the dives was a matter of minutes.  After a break back on land with a frappe from the resort bar, we headed out for the second dive at Dasia Lift. The wall here featured a cavern and tunnel swim through rising from 10m to 5m.  Once again my eye was caught by some nudibranchs (Hypseldoris coelestis and Flabellina affinis) as well as several large groupers lurking in the deeper waters.  Having enjoyed the wall at around 20m we worked our way up to 10m and to the entrance to the Lift where we stopped to appreciate a huge sea slug which posed graciously for a few photos. 

The Lift was a fun swim through with windows of light illuminating sponges and a rather grumpy looking scorpionfish.  Emerging at 5m the light in the shallows was nothing short of breathtaking.  The combination of sun streaming down on the white rocks and beautiful blue hue of the sea made the light dance, creating underwater rainbows.  All divers surfaced wishing the safety stop could lasted just a little longer.

That evening, having worked up an appetite diving, we had one of our best meals of the trip, the traditional specialty of giouvetsi; served beside the bobbing boats in the old port it was nothing short of stupendous.  Despite our discovery of a microbrewery taproom, it was an early night as the next day’s dive was to the famous Christoforos wreck!

As a destination, Skopelos really has everything you could ask for both for a diving holiday and a fun summer vacation.  Look for our next blog “Mamma Mia! Diving Skopelos (Part 2)” for details on our trip to the Christoforos wreck!

Thanks to:

Municipality of Skopelos (https://skopelos.com/

Skopelos Dive Center  (https://sporadesdiving.gr/)

Ionia Hotel (https://www.ioniahotel.gr/en)

Dolphin of Skopelos (https://dolphinofskopelos.com/)

Ta Kymata restaurant (@takymata)

The Muses restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/TheMussesMousses/)

Aktaiov resturant (https://skopelos.com/listings/aktaion-taverna/)

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Invitation from The Ocean Cleanup for San Francisco port call

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the ocean cleanup

6 years ago, The Ocean Cleanup set sail for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with one goal: to develop the technology to be able to relegate the patch to the history books. On 6 September 2024, The Ocean Cleanup fleet returns to San Francisco bringing with it System 03 to announce the next phase of the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and to offer you a chance to view our cleanup system up-close and personal.
We look forward to seeing you there.

To confirm your presence, please RSVP to press@theoceancleanup.com

PROGRAM

Join The Ocean Cleanup as our two iconic ships and the extraction System 03 return to San Francisco, 6 years and over 100 extractions after we set sail, to create and validate the technology needed to rid the oceans of plastic.
Our founder and CEO, Boyan Slat, will announce the next steps for the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Giving you a chance to view our cleanup system and the plastic extracted.
Hear important news on what’s next in the mission of The Ocean Cleanup as it seeks to make its mission of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic an achievable and realistic goal.
Interviews and vessel tours are available on request.

PRACTICALITIES 

Date: September 6, 2024
Press conference: 12 pm (noon)
Location: The Exploratorium (Google Maps)
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, CA
Parking: Visit The Exploratorium’s website for details.
RSVP: press@theoceancleanup.com
Video & photo material from several viewing spots around the bay

We look forward to seeing you there!

ABOUT THE OCEAN CLEANUP
The Ocean Cleanup is an international non-profit that develops and scales technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. They aim to achieve this goal through a dual strategy: intercepting in rivers to stop the flow and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean. For the latter, The Ocean Cleanup develops and deploys large-scale systems to efficiently concentrate the plastic for periodic removal. This plastic is tracked and traced to certify claims of origin when recycling it into new products. To curb the tide via rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has developed Interceptor™ Solutions to halt and extract riverine plastic before it reaches the ocean. As of June 2024, the non-profit has collected over 12 million kilograms (26.4 million pounds) of plastic from aquatic ecosystems around the world. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs a broadly multi-disciplined team of approximately 140. The foundation is headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and opened its first regional office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2023.

Find out more about The Ocean Cleanup at www.theoceancleanup.com.

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