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EQUALIZER

THE

B E C A U S E N O T A L L D I V E R S W E R E C R E A T E D

E Q U A L

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May-Jun 2011

ISSUE FIVE

· AbuNuhasinSouthWinds · DestinationElQueseir · DiverLevelsExplained · Egypt'sEasyRider · WreckHunting

· RedSeanews&calendar · Reef&wreckbriefings · Photocontestresults · Narcosiscorner · andmore...

Enter our photo contest to win an Aqualung wetsuit

ISSUEFIVE-MAY/JUN2011

THEEQUALIZER

08

CONTENTS

REGULARS

07DiveProfile 08WreckBriefing 10ReefBriefing 12SpeciesFocus 14EndemicSpecies 50PhotographyFocus 54PhotoContest 56NarcosisCorner

18

22 26

NEWS

16RedSeaNews 17RedSeaCalendar 18BusinessNews 20EnvironmentalNews

SELECTED FEATURES

22AbuNuhaswithSouthWind 26ElQueseirDestinationGuide 34EgyptianLife 38SurfaceInterval 48LighthouseFocus

36 50

THE EQUALIZER

May-Jun 2011

MEET THE TEAM

I have worked as a dive guide/instructor for many years and I still love every second of it. I have about 2.500 dives in the Red Sea under my belt and I'm still excited every time I'm about to jump in the water. I'm very interested in marine life and try to learn as much as possible about the species I see. If I can't tell you what it was we saw during our dive, most likely I'll have the book to find out.

AndersJälmsjö

I had always wanted to dive and first got my opportunity on a holiday in Kenya back in 1999. Since those first few breaths underwater, I knew it wouldn't be a one-off. Since living in Egypt, I have worked as a guide and instructor in most areas and have been fortunate enough to see some amazing sights and experience many wonderful dives. There's always something new to look for and somewhere different to dive.

JamesDawson

CONTRIBUTORS

Mark`Crowley'Russell

Crowley - only his mother still uses his real name - is an instructor and dive guide at Sinai Divers in Sharm El Sheikh. After 5 years around the World, he and his guitar have decided to stick around in Sharm and enjoy the Sakara.

DrayvanBeeck

Dray is an award winning photographer and his work has been published in a variety of magazines. He has also released a book about editing underwater images as well as a number of apps for Apple platforms.

[email protected] DistributedbyAziabMediaLtd IssueFive-May/Jun2011

TheEQUALIZER. The views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. Editorial contributions are welcome and should be sent to The EQUALIZER. All due care will be taken with material submitted, but the magazine and publishers cannot be held responsible for loss or damage. The EQUALIZER assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial, graphic or other material. All rights in letters, e-mails and unsolicited and graphic material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes, and material will be subject to The EQUALIZER's unrestricted right to edit and comment editorially. The EQUALIZER is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. The EQUALIZER retains the right to publish your material in all media, including and without limitation, the Internet. Some of the activities covered in this magazine carry a significant risk of injury or death. Undertake them only with proper instruction, training or equipment. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of advice and information given to readers, the writers, editor, publisher and proprietor cannot accept responsibility for any damages or inconvenience that may arise therefrom.

Cover Photo: Giannis D wreck at Abu Nuhas by James Garland

EDITORIAL

Welcome to the fifth issue of THE EQUALIZER. Summer has arrived here in Egypt and with the rise in temperatures, we are also seeing an increase in the visitor numbers coming to spend a relaxing holiday in the Red Sea. In this issue we have some classic dive sites for you to explore from the comfort of your own home, as well as an insight into one of the most famous Red Sea residents - the anemonefish. Crowley also explains one of the systems used by dive centres and guides to ensure that divers can enjoy their diving safely and within their limits. On land, it's like a scene from Easy Rider, as we take a trip from Hurghada to Luxor on a Honda motorbike and we tell you more about the historic town of El Queseir. There are still all your regular favourites as well as we explore Port Said's lighthouse, bring you the latest news, announce our latest photo contest winners and offer some advice for getting around town as well as more besides. As always, if there is anything you would like to see included in The EQUALIZER, please get in touch with us at; [email protected] Anders & James

RED SEA LEGENDS

DIVEPROFILE

DanMehlqvist

Age:36inbody(17mentally) LivesinHurghada Workingasavideographer

When did you start diving? DM: I started diving in Sweden in 2001 Why did you start diving? DM: I had the opportunity to dive while on a university tour of Brazil and as I had always been fascinated by underwater documentaries, I took my courses in Sweden before the trip If you could be a marine species, what would you be? DM: A big shark would be too clichéd and a moray would be too much of a phallic reference. If I had to choose just one, I'd like to be a damselfish. They always seem to have so much personality, What do you think is the biggest threat to the Red Sea? DM: The underwater photographer Who is your dream Buddy, and why? DM: My wife Anna, because if I said anyone else, she would probably kill me! I would also want to take my second wife - my video gear.

How long have you been in the Red What's on your bedside table? Sea? DM: Books. Packs of books DM: I first came to the Red Sea in 2003 after a season in Crete What are you doing in 10 years? DM: I want to stay in the field of underwater Which is your favourite dive site in the video but I would love to be able to travel to Red Sea, and why? the best dive sites in the world producing DM: Chrisoula K at Abu Nuhas is a great films for people to see. It was underwater wreck and a favourite of mine. The shallow documentaries that got me into diving in depths mean you can stay longer and it the first place and it would be fantastic if I has beautiful colours and swim throughs. could be the reason for future generations It's also a particularly photogenic wreck to take up the sport What was your most memorable dive? DM: I have two. The first is an ice dive I made in Sweden where the ice was so clear that even from 20m you could wave at the people on the surface. The other was my first dive at Elphinstone where I spent an hour under the boat at 5m in a horrible current just watching the sharks swimming around us

Dan capturing the underwater world for future generations THE EQUALIZER May-Jun 2011

WRECK BRIEFING - GIANNIS D, Abu Nuhas

Typically the bow and stern are both intact while the hull amidships has collapsed. She was built in Japan in 1969 and named The bow section features old ropes and Shoyo Maru, but in 1983 it was as Giannis nets swinging from the mast extending D she was en route to Jeddah with a cargo out in blue water, covered with soft corals. of wood from Rijeka in Croatia. This is not a dive you make out of historical On April 19th she unexpectedly made interest or to see the spectacular cargo a drastic change of course and headed stacked in the holds. This is an amusement straight for Shaab Abu Nuhas. The captain park for divers. words and illustration by Anders Jälmsjö had been on duty more or less 24-7 since they sailed through the Suez Canal from The stern section lies in an angle that is guaranteed to make you question what is Port Said two days earlier. up and what is down. Easy to penetrate, After having completed the most this section is where you will spend most dangerous and difficult stretch of water in of your dive. the Red Sea the captain left the command to his first officer and headed to his cabin for some well-deserved rest. Shortly afterwards he was woken by the noise of a collision with the reef.

GiannisD,AbuNuhas a.k.a.TheWoodWreck

WRECKBRIEFING

room. Thereafter swim over the wreckage amidships, where you find a section of hold #2 and some of the cargo of wood.

funnel. The bridge and the superstructure make excellent photography with light playing through the waves above. Be aware of currents and swells here and keep an eye on your depth gauge. It's easy to get a yo-yo profile due to the 45° angle of the wreck.

LOCATION: On the northern side of Shaab Abu Nuhas - the first of four wrecks from the usual mooring spot in the lagoon DIVESITEDEPTHS: Maximum of 24 metres at the seabed coming as shallow as 5 metres MARINELIFE: The Giannis D is home to a variety of nudibranchs and other macro life while the soft corals at the bow cover the mast and rigging. Dolphins can also often be seen in the area of the wreck CONDITIONS&HAZARDS: The angle of the wreck can be confusing and it's easy to follow a zig-zag dive profile if you're not careful. Take care also of cables and lines around the wreck. The shallower parts can be subject to strong swell in rough seas

Opposite Page: The ship graveyard of Shaab Abu Nuhas showing the Giannis D on the north-west corner Left: The ladder used by the crew to escape the sinking ship Below: The wreck as she looks today

The port side companionway is leaning on the sandy seabed creating a tunnel at the deepest part of the wreck at 24m. As you swim along the starboard side you see the ladder with which the crew Whether you have your boat moored right abandoned the ship. on top of the wreck or you roll in from a zodiac, the most natural dive plan is to The engine room is accessible from either start at the stern section with the engine the stern door or the vents next to the

THE EQUALIZER

May-Jun 2011

REEF BRIEFING - ABU DABAB 2 & 3, Marsa Alam

REEFBRIEFING

text & illustration by Anders Jälmsjö photographs by James Dawson Abu Dabab Etnen (two) is connected to Abu Dabab Talata (three) by a coral garden to the north-east creating a lagoon encircled by the two reefs. Here lays the wreck after HEAVEN ONE, a liveaboard that caught fire and sunk here in 2004. There are different ways to dive these two reefs. Some captains prefer to moor up south-east of Abu Dabab Talata while others put the boat between the two reefs. Either way the preferred dive plan seems to be similar. Take the Zodiac and roll in on top of the sloping hard coral garden on the north

AbuDabab2&3, MarsaAlamarea

side of Etnen. From here you travel around the coral garden while moving increasingly shallower. After a short drift with the reef on your right shoulder you pass over into the lagoon. Remember; this is at a depth of 6 meters and it's very easy to miss the entrance if you're too deep or far out over the coral garden. On the inside you can either go left to explore the wreckage of HEAVEN ONE

or right to start with the caves, swimthroughs and small lagoon in the main part of Etnen. You can either, call it a day here and make your safety stop to take the Zodiac back, or you can continue around Talata if you have enough air. Turn south on the west side after the wreck you immediately go to 5 metres depth. Deeper than this is absolutely dead and it's up here at the top you find entrances to a cave and tunnel system. This is a shallow dive and you should have time and air for it all. Left: The lagoon is home to fascinating coral blocks that are full of life Right: The hard corals cascade down the reef at this picturesque dive site

THE EQUALIZER

May-Jun 2011

MARINE LIFE OF THE RED SEA

words & photographs by James Dawson

RaysoftheRedSea

SPECIESFOCUS

It swims through the plankton blooms with its mouth open and separates its food from the water using filter plates inside the gill slits.

The stingrays have serrated venomous spines along the base of the tail which it can use as a whip to drive the spines into the target. The wound causes excruciating pain and is potentially fatal. Other less extreme symptoms are vomiting, loss of blood pressure, sweating and muscular paralysis. Whilst not common, it is always important to respect these creatures and keep a safe distance. With such a broad range of species present, you are almost certain to see a ray of one form or another on a trip to the Red Sea. Whether you are lucky enough to see a manta is another question though.

Range: Size: Depth:

The ray family shares an evolutionary The manta is also the largest of the ray history with sharks and they have the species and can reach sizes of up to seven metres. The smallest ray found in same cartilaginous skeleton. the Red Sea is the leopard torpedo ray Over millions of years, the rays bodies which is usually around 30cm wide. have become flattened and disc-like while the pectoral fins grew and fused with the All rays mate belly to belly while the male inserts a clasper into the female. The head. young receive their nourishment from the Rays use their flattened pectoral fins with egg yolk and lining before emerging from flapping movements like wings to `fly' the protective case. through the water. Most rays live on the sea floor and forage in the sand or sea Rays are generally timid but have a range of defence mechanisms when they feel grass for food. threatened or to evade predators. They have developed heavy, rounded teeth to help them crush the shells of their The torpedo rays are able to create an prey such as snails, clams or crustaceans. electrical charge using organs located behind the eyes. This can give a powerful The obvious exception is the manta ray, shock that is used to stun prey or deter which is an open ocean species that feeds predators. on plankton.

Hazards:

Throughout Red Sea up to 45cm (Torpedo Ray) up to 6.7m (Manta Ray) varies by species. Stingrays and torpedo rays are usually seen in shallow waters in lagoons or coral reefs, while manta rays and eagle rays tend to favour deeper water around drop offs Torpedo rays can give an electric shock if knelt or stood on and stingrays can inject venom through barbed spines in their tails. Caution should be taken before kneeling on sand to ensure no rays are buried beneath the surface

Above: A manta ray gliding over the reef and posing for a diver Right: The timid black blotched stingray rarely stays for a photo

This page clockwise from top: The torpedo ray can generate an electric shock to stun prey and deter predators, eagle rays can be seen in a variety of Red Sea habitats, the blue spotted ray is a common sight at southern dive sites, the feathertail (or ribbontail) ray makes his escape from a persistent remora May-Jun 2011

THE EQUALIZER

ENDEMICLIFEOF THEREDSEA RedSeaAnemonefish

words & photographs by James Dawson

(Amphiprion bicinctus)

The fish are protected from the stinging cells of the anemone by their mucus, which carries the same chemical signature as the host coral. The larvae acquire this chemical code as they develop and it inhibits the stinging cells of the anemone firing.

Theidealreferencecompanionforanydiver.Afully illustratedfishidentificationmanual

The result of five years of underwater photographyandinformationcollectedby award winning Dutch photographer Dray van Beeck. This app for both iPad and iPhoneisoneofthemostcomprehensive underwaterreferencesavailable. Idealformarinebiologists,diversorsimply ifyouwishtolearnmoreaboutwhatgoes onbeneaththewaves.

Aqua Life Images

All anemonefish are born as males and A favourite among divers and snorkellors, they will change sex when the need this fish is a common sight throughout the arises. The dominant female controls the Red Sea. juveniles' rate of growth and if there is no female, the largest male will change sex There are around 29 recognised species to take on the role. The largest juvenile will of anemone fish worldwide, but the Red then mature and replace the `promoted' Sea is home to just three. Two of which male in the system. are found in the Southern regions around Oman and the Gulf of Aden. Spawning takes place around the full moon and up to 1,500 eggs are laid. The only species found in Egyptian waters These are then cared for by the male and is the Red Sea Anemonefish (Amphiprion guarded vigorously. bicinctus) and can be seen in a wide range of habitats. They rarely swim more than a They will chase off much larger fish if they couple of metres from their host anemone perceive a threat to their young and it is that offers them protection and shelter. not uncommon for them to even have a nibble at a diver that got too close.

Range: Red Sea to Gulf of Aden Size: up to 14cm Depth: 0.5-30m (2-100ft) SimilarSpecies:A. omanensis (Southern Oman only; 15cm), A. sebae (Gulf of Oman to Java and Maldives; 14cm)

Anillustratedguidetothecommonspecies

SharksoftheRedSeaisapocketreference fordiversandunderwaterphotographers, orjustthosewhoarecuriousaboutthese amazingcreatures. ThisappforbothiPadandiPhoneisfully illustrated with photographs from award winning photographers. With this guide you'll learn more about the species of sharkoftenseenintheRedSea.

Sharks of the Red Sea

Developed by

Available from

THE EQUALIZER

May-Jun 2011

** NEWS **

REDSEANEWS

In general the marine life seems to have been happy about fewer tourists and we have received reports of plenty of turtles, eagle rays and dolphins from all over the Red Sea. Easy Divers in Hurghada even made a dive on the classic dive site "Turtle Bay" at the end of March where they come upon one Dolphin, one Eagle Ray and one Whale Shark on the same dive! In Sharm el Sheikh, Crowley tells us that mantas have been spotted close to shore with regular sightings at Ras Umm El Sid and Tower. "The water is full of plankton," he says "so it can't be long until the whale sharks sniff their way back here". One whale shark has allegedly already been spotted in Shark's bay. The plankton bloom seems to be larger and more extensive than last year, which might be a good omen for bigger fish arriving over the next few months. Diving Centre SADKO reports sighting of a marine creature as rare and alluring as the Sailfish! The EQUALIZER has not been able to get confirmation about which dive site they were seen at, but this is spectacular news, which we might be able to credit to the quiet dive sites.

** CALENDAR **

REDSEACALENDAR: What to look for in the coming months

Jellyfish

This is the time of year when the jellyfish fill the waters. They don't sting but they do provide a great food source for many of the other reef inhabitants. You'll often see a school of butterflyfish feasting on a lone jellyfish and also, if you look closely, you may even see juvenile fry taking shelter within the jellyfish.

Photo:JamesDawson

WhaleSharks

As the water warms up, the Red Sea plays host to a plankton bloom. These tiny creatures are the main food source for the largest shark species on the planet and whale sharks can be seen in the summer months. Despite their size, there is still a lot of luck involved in sighting one. Stay alert and you may be lucky enough to enjoy these gentle giants.

Photo:DrayvanBeeck

Loud bangs were heard during late March by divers all along the Sharm coastline. The sounds were recorded and found to be repeated regularly every 15 seconds. The Ras Mohammed National Park authorities confirmed that they are caused by seismic waves used for oil or natural gas prospecting measuring missions and surveillance operations. It has been confirmed that present oil surveillance operations in the region are being conducted in areas of the northern Saudi Arabian Red Sea. Similar sounds were reported from divers further south at dive sites as far out as Brother Islands, which indicates a presence of similar surveys as far south as El Queseir. It seems like the Red Sea Octopus are ahead of schedule and Szilard Bardocz Instructor from Emperor Divers has already seen them mating on El Fanadir which is an event that normally takes place in May-June. Perhaps it's just a few lovesick couples that can't wait. During the last few weeks in March, the Egyptian Navy successfully detained three Egyptian fishing trawlers caught fishing illegally in the Red Sea. The boats were trawling near coral reefs as well as at known dive sites. This is a direct violation of the Hurghada Declaration of 2010 that declared the Red Sea as a no-catch zone.

HammerheadSharks

The summer months at Daedalus and around the islands of Tiran are the best time to see the unmistakable hammerhead shark. One technique is to stay at around 25m and scan the blue water. Don't stray too far from the reef and try to stay calm and quiet. These timid sharks are easily scared away and they will see you long before you see them.

Photo:DrayvanBeeck

ForevenmorenewsandupdatesaboutallthingsRedSea-visit

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May-Jun 2011

** NEWS **

BUSINESSNEWS

On Thursday, the 17th of March, HEPCA organized a Crown of Thorns survey and clean up at Carless Reef to the north of Hurghada with scientists and volunteer divers. This mission came about as a result of recent reports of a Crown of Thorns outbreak at the reef. After initial surveys at and around the reef, it was discovered that a spot outbreak (i. e. limited to a specific location) was in progress at the reef. More than one hundred individual crown of thorns seastars were gathered by the volunteers. It was discovered that they were all close to maturity which means that the outbreak would have spread dramatically in the coming months and years had they not been collected.

Image Credit: Natalia Pryanishnikova

The HEPCA mooring team reports that in April maintenance and installations of 14 moorings at 6 reefs in Wadi Gamal and Marsa Alam plus 16 moorings at 9 dive sites in El Queseir. Egypt's interim cabinet decided on April 17th to cancel daylight saving time. A poll on the government website showed that 80% of participants preferred not to change the time. Ahmed al-Semman, media adviser for Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said that daylight saving time brought no economic benefit and added that it also disturbs schedules of arrivals and departures at the airport. Egypt was scheduled to change its clocks on the last Friday of April. There has been some confusion as to what will happen with the Chamber of Diving and Water Sports after the revolution and according to their own newsletter this is what's going on. The Minister of Tourism has dissolved the board of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) and the five boards of Tourism Chambers. The Minister, Mr. Mouneir Fakhri Abdel Nour appointed new boards for the five chambers and the ETF. The current CDWS board members that will run the organizations for two months until elections are held are: Chairman Mr. Hesham Gabr Vice chairman Mr. Zeyad M. El Bassel Treasurer Mr. Omar Adly Abdel Aziz Board member Mr. Hamed Salaheldin Abdalla Board member Mr. Zoheir Khair El Din

ForevenmorenewsandupdatesaboutallthingsRedSea-visit

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May-Jun 2011

EARTH DAY 2011

EgyptTakesPartin thisGlobalEvent

by James Dawson Earth Day was held all over the world on 22nd April with groups and individuals from different walks of life pulling together to offer their support. In Egypt there were clean ups organised by dive centres, hotels and environmental bodies. The EQUALIZER magazine joined one of these clean ups organised by HEPCA to collect rubbish that is washed ashore on Abu Monkar Island near Hurghada. Volunteers gathered at the marina in Hurghada and were taken to the island by WATERTAXI who volunteered their services for the cause. It was an exhilarating ride as we sped over the water in the speedboat taxi to the island. Abu Monkar Island is between the shore and the Giftun Islands and as with any land mass in the sea, it acts like a magnet for any rubbish that drifts on the currents. The main culprits were plastic bags and bottles that gather in the bushes on the island. local community. Around 450 volunteers throughout the Red Sea collected almost 500 full bags of rubbish from the clean up locations removing tons of refuse from the sea. To learn more about Earth Day Network visit www.earthday.org to see how you can help. For more information about the work of HEPCA visit; www.hepca.com

Above: The Abu Monkar Island clean up event This global event encourages people was organised by HEPCA with the help of local companies. Below: A selection of the volunteers to think green and do their bit for the and the rubbish that was collected

THE EQUALIZER

Image Credits: HEPCA

May-Jun 2011

WHEN THE (SOUTH) WIND BLOWS

The most commonly dived is the Giannis D. This is due to the position of the wrecks on the Northern reef wall and the prevailing winds coming from the North. When the wind and waves rise, it can be words by James Dawson difficult to dive the wrecks at all, but the photos by Dray van Beeck Giannis D is the closest to the sheltered lagoon used to moor and therefore the Abu Nuhas is one of the must see sites one least affected by weather conditions. on any Northern Red Sea live aboard itinerary. It has become famous as a ship's Next in line is the Carnatic which also graveyard due to the wrecks gathered sees a high volume of dive traffic and if you along the Northern face of the reef. were to visit by daily boat from Hurghada or El Gouna, then these are the two most The story of how these ships came to be likely to be dived. there is often the same - after navigating the treacherous and challenging Gulf of The third wreck is the Chrisoula K and Suez, the captain will take a well deserved offers great swim throughs and penetration break and hand over control to the first opportunities as well as healthy corals and mate. They then relax and steer into abundant marine life. The position of the almost the first reef they can find. tile wreck, as it is also known, means it is dived less frequently and the marine life Abu Nuhas is situated to the South of is under less pressure than the previous the gulf and has taken at least four ships two. where the crew let their guard down once they were in `safe waters'. There are Finally we come to the fourth and furthest some that will tell you seven wrecks lie on wreck from the lagoon - the Kimon M. She the seabed here, but there are four within is often called the lentil wreck due to her recreational dive limits and available to cargo of bagged lentils that she sank with all. and is the least visited of the four.

The locations of the four wrecks at Abu Nuhas reef which has the reputation of a ship`s graveyard

DivingAbuNuhas, ButJustaLittle BitDifferent

We headed inside the hull and explored the interior as we moved up toward the bow and the shallower parts of the ship. The wreck is very broken up and means that it's not a straight forward route through the inside but if you don't mind squeezing through some gaps, it's a fascinating area to explore. There are parts of the engine that can be identified but predominantly, you find yourself weaving between indistinguishable heaps of twisted metal. By the time we exited the wreck in the shallows, we made our way back toward the line and on to the surface.

This is primarily due to the position on the reef which calls for very calm conditions and favourable winds to allow access, but it is also a less attractive wreck for many. I finally had the opportunity to decide for myself when waves, winds and route all converged to make the Kimon M accessible. Due to the slight South wind in the morning we moored on the Northern side of Abu Nuhas which allowed us to follow the line straight down to the wreck. First impressions were good as the stern section loomed up from below and I was able to make out the railings and then the propeller and rudder below. There are plenty of colourful soft corals growing over the wreck which inject a burst of colour and break up the muted colours of the wreck itself.

Clockwise from left: Taking care inside the wreck to avoid the many cables and pipes littered throughout the interior, the vast propellor of the Kimon M, divers exploring the stern section of the wreck, soft corals add bursts of colour to the decaying metal THE EQUALIZER May-Jun 2011

The Kimon M is not the most attractive wreck at Abu Nuhas, but it does have a certain quality to it. This is partly because it is dived so infrequently and also due to the way that the wreck is collapsing in on itself. There's the sensation of visiting a wreck that is less well known, with a violent history below the waves that is evident in the state of the metal. You need good conditions, but if the opportunity arises, it is worth seizing. The weather continued to favour us for the rest of the day with a slight breeze blowing from the South that was due to stay for the night. This allowed us to moor above the Giannis D for the night and offered the opportunity of a night dive from the platform.

A night dive changes the appearance and feel of even the most familiar dive sites but this is particularly true of wrecks. The extreme angle of the stern section adds to the sense of unfamiliarity and can even make you wonder which way is up. The Giannis D is a well documented wreck but it is unusual to be able to dive it at night. Swimming along the structure I looked up and saw the other diver's torchlights playing over the outline. With their intense beams of light, divers will tend to take on an other Worldly appearance as they explore the nocturnal scene, but when sections of a wreck you know well are silhouetted by their lights, it adds a truly alien feel.

Hidden within the darker recesses of the dive we were able to make out flashlight fish darting to and fro in the pitch black. Identifiable by their green luminescent glow we could see them clearly in the dark, but as soon as we tried to get closer and illuminate them with our torches, they disappeared in the light. All too soon, it was time to make our way back up the wreck and toward the boat. Abu Nuhas is well known and widely dived, but thanks to our good fortune I have been able to make two dives that offered a fresh perspective of this Red Sea classic and see these famous wrecks in a whole new light.

The Giannis D has a completely different atmosphere when dived after the sun sets

THE EQUALIZER

May-Jun 2011

DESTINATION GUIDE - EL QUESEIR

words and photos by Anders Jälmsjö If you travel approximately 85 km south of Safaga you will reach El Queseir, almost a spitting image of the northern neighbour town but with less inhabitants and even more traditional Egyptian appeal. El Queseir is a quiet place that appears almost unchanged by tourism, despite the presence of several resorts on its outskirts. The town maintains its charisma and the local people are friendly and happy to help with directions - not that it's necessary, as you'll soon find your way around. The main reference points are two roundabouts, one in the north (1) and one in the south(2). The one in the south is located near a petrol station/garage and the Sea Princess Hotel where taxis drop and wait for passengers. Walking north from here, the street to the right leads to a small harbour(3) and dry dock. From here you can leisurely walk along the beach and reach a mosque dating back to the thirteenth century. There are a few restaurants with nice sea views along this stretch and a beautiful boulevard along the beach. If you get tired from walking around you can stop for refreshments in one of many cafés on the beach. Some of them even have a pool table. At the end of this street you reach the northern reference point and turn left. Alongside this street most of the towns shops and bazaars are located so if you feel up for some haggling you're in for a treat. Spices, belly dancing outfits, water pipes, Egyptian cotton and much more is to be bargained for. Of course you

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ASliceofEgypt WithouttheCrowds

on the map). When you have bargained alleyways connecting the two main streets for the price and are happy with the result where you find architecture that is slightly you can treat yourself with some fresh different to other places in Egypt. fruit from the stand next door. Diving around El Queseir is mainly All over El Queseir you see fruit and done as shore dives along the side of vegetable stalls. They are joined by other the fringing reef. This fringing reef - that vendors on Fridays, when Ma'aza- and actually frames almost the whole length Ababda bedouin flock into town for the of the Egyptian Red Sea coast ­ is here weekly market. This is also when the town and there interrupted by small V-shaped fills up with trucks loaded with camels. "cut outs" called Halk, Malag, Marsa or El Queseir is a well known for its camel Sharm depending on size and shape. markets. These are normally formed by fresh water washed out into the sea via a Wadi which is a valley leading rain water from the mountains. This disturbs the build up of the reef over periods of time creating sometimes rather dramatic underwater landscapes. have to get yourself a little something, a souvenir from this little idyllic place. Why not a beautifully crafted chess board or backgammon game, a shisha or a colourful galabaya? There are plenty of little shops along the main road and if you wander off the beaten track into the narrow alleyways you will find even more genuine Egyptian vendors. The traffic going though El Queseir is routed in a one-way circle fashion and you can walk up and down in the area encircled by the streets (marked yellow It's difficult to settle on how many dive sites there are around El Queseir given the fact that you could stop your car and jump in at any point along the coast. However, most dives are made where there is some special feature on the site like a Halk or Malag or maybe some caves or pinnacles - or maybe just easy to park the car. A popular estimation is that there are around 40 dive sites that can be visited within daily excursion range. The typical shore dive in El Queseir looks similar on most sites. You can reach the maximum allowed depth of 40 meters along a sandy bottom regardless of if you start your dive from the land or boat. The sandy bottom progressively shallows out the closer you get back towards the shore. Big hard coral blocks in wonderful condition go well with every under water photographers dream and you can easily spend 15-20 minutes at the same spot without getting bored.

May-Jun 2011

Clockwise From Top Left: El Queseir is easy to explore with the main features close together, camels being brought to market, fresh fruit and vegetables are a common sight at market stalls

If you're interested in history you should visit the old fort(4) built by Mohammed Ali. Within its walls you can see a watchtower and an execution chamber. The town's tourist information is located here as well. It was originally a training camp for some of the 20,000 Sudanese warriors that were recruited by the Pasha and trained by European mercenaries with the goal of forming a modern army. The fort is located 200m uphill from the southern reference point. El Queseir is jam packed with photo opportunities for someone with a flair for picture composition. Especially photogenic are the beautiful little

Beautiful soft corals and a variety of marine life make every dive unique. Common encounters are Turtles, large Rays and schools of Reef Squids. On the sandy bottom you find a lot of macro life like Gobies with partner shrimps, Red Sea Walkman and Moses Sole. In patches of sea grass look for Razorfish and nudibranchs, even the Robust Ghost Pipefish is often spotted.

House reefs are often limited to a certain amount of divers at the same time for conservation purposes. Some dive centres arrange full day trips with two dives on the traditional type of Red Sea full day boat but depending on what dive sites are on the menu for the day, you then might have to go to Marsa Ghaleb to embark. The same goes for special trips like Elphinstone. Make sure you understand the price structure and be aware of any extra charges on the price list such as minibus rides or special trips like Elphinstone. There will probably also be a reef tax per day. You may also be asked to purchase a member card for DECO International which helps to support the survival of the local decompression chamber about 3040 minutes away from El Queseir. If you want a flavour of diving in Egypt without the crowds, then El Queseir could be just what you're looking for.

To discover the beautiful branches of the cave systems close to the shore most dive centres offer guided dives. The caves are open to the surface and small holes bring sunbeams into the underwater world. These mainly shallow dives are very photogenic as the light conditions are spectacular offering an opportunity to get some not so typical underwater pictures. The majority of the dive centres offer inexpensive, or even free diving on Left: Large rays and schools of squid are often their house reef and organise one-tank sighted near El Queseir excursions with either Zodiac or minibus. Above: The topography of many dive sites

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"I'M A 5TH LEVEL DIVER - DAMMIT!"

RatingaDiver's LevelforSafety

by Crowley Did you ever play Dungeons and Dragons ­ or any of the myriad spin-off games that these days exist in console format? When you acquired enough experience points for your Magic-User to advance to the next level? When you had to kill enough monsters, cast enough spells, collect enough gold or ­ in the case of later incarnations, shoot enough gangstas in Grand Theft Auto to be allowed to do new things; meet new people; go new places. here that bears a resemblance. Acquire more dives, learn more skills, perfect certain techniques, and you can progress to the next level and enter previously unavailable dive sites. Some centres grade their divers from level 1 to 5, others only 1 to 3. Some divers, it has to be said, earn a rather rudimentary grading of "Yes" or "No. No way, never, are you getting in the water with me ever again!" To some extent, the level system is a simple code by which operations managers, counter staff and interchangeable dive guides can inform each other of a diver's general ability without having to resort to detailed discussion, and a diver's "level" reflects not only their experience and ability but also their attitude and approach to diving. A typical example of the level system might be: Level 1: Entry-level certified with little underwater experience ­ or possibly more experienced but not comfortable in the water displaying buoyancy problems, Image Credit: Game Spy high air consumption, poor buddy contact or inability to communicate Diving in Sharm has a rather analogous such basic information as "I have very system of levels where dive guides, little air remaining." playing the role of DM (that's Dungeon Master, to the uninitiated), determine Level 2: Competent and confident and the fate of your holiday adventure based can dive in locations that might be more on a whimsical series of dice throws. Or challenging in terms of sea conditions gangsta slayings. without putting themselves or the rest of the group (or their dive guide!) in danger, Well, not really, that would be silly, but but might be prone to the occasional there is a levelling system for divers in wobble. operation at many of the dive centres over

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What does it mean for the diver? However the system works, the diver that is not so comfortable in the water is not going to enjoy themselves in the variable and sometimes strong currents at certain locations in the Red Sea, where some presence of mind is a prerequisite for participation. Moreover, a diver's lack of experience may in some way predispose the rest of the group to unnecessary dangers, such

Far Left: Warlocks and elves battle for supremacy Left: The all important dive guide clipboard Above: In a strong current, you need to make sure you retain contact with the mooring line to reach the dive site safely May-Jun 2011

Image Credit: James Dawson

Level3: Has excellent buoyancy control, as being pushed off into the blue by a good dive skills, and can be taken strong current, or making an unplanned anywhere. ascent into an area where other boats are passing by. Level 4: Experienced divers displaying excellent dive management and protocol One other aspect of the level system as well as control; can be allowed to dive is for a certain type of diver with some independently in certain areas experience who thinks that local regulations for some reason do not Level 5: A level 4 diver with lots of apply to them, causing inconvenience at experience in the region: former staff, long best and potentially serious problems at time repeat customers; those that can be worst: swimming away from the group in trusted to dive anywhere without the need a strong current, ignoring dive computers for supervision. resulting in unplanned 20 minute deco stops, deliberately ascending in the blue, The system varies between centres. My lying in the coral to take that all important current centre uses only three levels. In clownfish photo ­ this diver, regardless some centres you must have a certain of experience, cannot be trusted to dive number or dives or a particular certification responsibly, and goes back down to a (such as Advanced Open Water, for level 1. deeper dives) to level up, but these vary between dive centres.

It's a system designed to work for the benefit of all parties concerned, although inevitably, there are disappointments along the way. I recently had to refuse a customer permission to dive on the wreck of the Thistlegorm; I didn't think it was safe for him to dive there even with a private guide. To be honest, I didn't think it was safe for him to leave his hotel in the morning without supervision. Of course, this gentleman was disappointed, but he would have hurt himself if he'd gone there; he would have had ­ maximum ­ 20 minutes underwater (45 is the norm), most of which would have been spent on the mooring line, annoyed all the other divers in the group and paid a lot of money for an unpleasant experience.

Image Credit: James Dawson

As it happens, I ended up guiding on the Thistlegorm the next day. The current was howling, the visibility was poor, and there were a bunch of muppets on the wreck getting in the way of everybody else and really struggling, it seemed, to end their lives there. It was simply not safe to take him there, sorry about that. At a high volume dive centre, the whole enterprise is essential for overall safety and enjoyment. From the moment the paperwork is completed, through the check dive and beyond, divers are assessed and evaluated along the way. Some might be advised to take further training before diving again; some might be asked if they would like to dive as an independent buddy team without a guide. Yes, sometimes as guides we don't get it right every time but it's not always easy to predict what a diver will do given a particular set of circumstances. Fortunately, there is a way out of the level trap for the diver, which is to accept what is usually sound advice from their guides and instructors and learn from it. Many dive guides in the Red Sea are also experienced instructors and will help divers overcome their problems, work with their buoyancy and air consumption issues and ease them into a better dive experience by not plunging them directly into troubled waters which might put them off diving for life.

Image Credit: Anton Roberts

yourself up with your own fireballs, and in the real world where you can't pay a mystical cleric to bring you back to life, you can't be a 5th level diver unless you can show your DM (that's Dive Master, to the uninitiated) that you can dive in a safe and responsible manner. Preferably without fireballs.

comfortable environment, maybe take a day or two to get back into the diving routine, then head to the more challenging sites afterwards. It's responsible and safe diving practice for those that get to dive only a few weeks of the year. Yes, some people don't believe the rules apply to them, but then it doesn't matter how many dives they have. You can't be a 5th level wizard if you keep blowing

Image Credit: Game Spy

Some divers simply accept that the check dive and level process happens, others don't like it at all, but I have to say that Above: The Thistlegorm can be prone to strong most divers appreciate the fact they currents and poor visibility get to check their weighting in an easy, Opposite: Buoyancy is a vital skill to master

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THE FINE ART OF PREPARING A SHISHA

EnsuringtheBestResultFromYourWaterpipe

If you've ever smoked a shisha or waterpipe in Egypt, you'll know that it is a large part of the culture. Coffee shops, restaurants and bars all offer a taste of Egypt in the form of a shisha pipe. There are many flavours of tobacco to choose from, but the process for preparing a pipe is just as crucial for the flavour. Here is a step by step guide to getting it right; 1: The component parts of a shisha pipe. Start by putting clean water in the bowl, or if you're feeling adventurous, you could try flavours such as cola or orange juice. 2: Prepare your tobacco in the tobacco bowl. If you don't want to use tobacco, you can always use molasses 3: Cover the tobacco bowl with foil to protect the contents from contact with the coals which will rest on top 4: Pierce holes in the foil to allow the heat and air to flow over the tobacco and into the water in the base then put the tobacco bowl on the grommet and place on the top of the shisha 5: Light the coals or add your lit coals to the foil. (If you've recently had a barbecue, the hot embers will work perfectly) 6: Inhale through the pipe and savour the taste of the Near East

WARNING: Smoking is hazardous to your health and can cause illness or death

EGYPTIANLIFE

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May-Jun 2011

VISITORADVICE Taxi!

by Anders Jälmsjö

GETTING AROUND IN TOWN

usual to tip, but if the driver is not good, there is a meter he cannot argue with and a tip is not expected. Hailingataxi Most locations in Egypt are packed with taxis so you will not have a problem finding one. They are also normally painted in a noticeable way. If you're coming out from your hotel you will most likely find them lined up ready for business and in the streets you just need to wave one in to the curb. Ifyoudon'tfeelsafe If the driver is driving in a way you don't like you simply tell him to slow down. If he doesn't, tell him to stop the car and then get out. Chances are that there is another right behind you. All taxis can be identified by a number on the driver's license and a number displayed on the windshield or dashboard. If something goes wrong you can take the car number and report it to the police. Ifyoudon'twantataxi You will probably be approached by taxi drivers even when you just go for a stroll. They might slow down next to you, beep their horn and call "Taxi?" or "Where you go?" through the window. It's OK to ignore them. You don't have to say "No thank you" every time. All this being said, you should not worry about getting into a taxi in Egypt. Most drivers are nice, honest and friendly but chances are that you might do up to ten different journeys in different taxis so you might need to use some of these pointers on one of them. Your holiday should be memorable and in an Egyptian taxi you may get a great story for the campfire when you get back home.

May-Jun 2011

Most people that have visited Egypt will have stories to tell about taxi rides. In general taxi drivers are friendly and safe but there are exceptions and here are some hints as to how to deal with different situations.

Whatshouldtheridecost? Always check with your tour guide or someone else you trust how much you should pay for a certain trip. It might be that they give you a price that is slightly higher than what the Egyptians would pay for the same ride but this is normally to make it easier for you when dealing with the driver. Official prices are in place and taxis are fitted with meters that should be used. Make it a rule to ask the driver if his meter is working or not. If he says "No" close the door and take the next. When you arrive at your destination you should pay the fare with small notes since the driver is not likely to have change. This price is for the car - NOT per person and is in Egyptian Pounds ­ NOT Euro or Dollar. If you are happy with the driver then it's

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Jaws(8.3/10 IMDB Rating) The daddy of all water based horror films. This classic is the story of a great white shark that targets a small town island resort in the tourist rush. Peter Benchley, by James Dawson who wrote the original book, became a conservationist and worked to protect With all the amazing creatures that can sharks. be found underwater, it's no surprise that the marine world is a favourite with film- TheAbyss(7.6/10 IMDB Rating) makers. The water is an alien home for An American submarine encounters an us and it's sure to increase the tension or alien species and sinks. The team sent to heighten the action for any story. investigate soon discover that they may not be alone at the bottom of the sea. There have been many films made that are either set underwater or involve diving FindingNemo(8.2/10 IMDB Rating) as a key component to the plot. Some Disney capture the beauty and have made it into cinematic history and mannerisms of a variety of sea life in this are well established classics whereas children's favourite. The story of a father some have been less well remembered. searching for his son after he is taken from the reef by a dentist on a dive trip. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here (in no particular order), are some MenofHonour(6.8/10 IMDB Rating) of the greats and a couple of the not so The story of Carl Brashear fighting to be greats from the years; the first African American US Navy diver in a climate of racism and resentment. TheBigBlue(7.4/10 IMDB Rating) A French classic set in the world of competitive free diving and the lives of two old friends. Some spectacular underwater footage and a haunting soundtrack set this film apart. IntoTheBlue(5.7/10 IMDB Rating) A treasure hunting action film with ancient gold and a plane wreck full of drugs. A true popcorn film where the storyline creaks as much as the wrecks. OpenWater(5.9/10 IMDB Rating) A film based on the true story of two divers left behind by their dive boat. Be more afraid of having to watch this film than behind left behind at a dive site though.

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SomeClassic (AndNotSoClassic) DivingFilms

DIVING ON THE SILVER SCREEN

FromTheRedSea totheNile

words by Anders Jälmsjö photos by Kimmo Hagman Me and two old colleagues from a dive centre in Hurghada meet up for a little adventure. We've been talking about it for some time and now it's finally going to happen. We're going on a road trip, riding through Egypt from the Red Sea to the Nile. Hurghada ­ Luxor ­ Hurghada. I'm meeting Kimmo at his garage, which at first looks less than impressive. It's just a roll-up door in a long line, but when he opens it up and the light leaks inside and falls on the contents I realise this is a treasure chamber. There are three brand new KTM 530 EXC bikes with liquid cooled 4-stroke engines, one Harley Davidson Fatboy, one Yamaha V-Max 1200 and two Honda Steed 600. All squeezed in between shelves with helmet and off-road paddings, spare tires, cans with oil and tool boxes. "This one is yours" Kimmo says and points at one of the Steeds. "I'll take the other Honda" he continues "Should look cool on the road". We start up the engines and the sound of two V-twins is like music to my ears. When we were talking about this trip a few days ago I had been thinking of what to wear and Kimmo had suggested a hooded sweatshirt and some sort of wind breaker. As we roll out on the street I appreciate the advice. Even if we are in Egypt and the sun is shining, it's only the beginning of April and still early morning. It's a bit nippy to be honest and I'm happy I took the wind jacket.

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HURGHADA TO LUXOR AND BACK

First stop is the petrol station where we fill up the tanks. "Normally we would make it to Qena on a full tank" Kimmo explains "but we'll be riding with Ibi and he's paranoid over his bike's fuel consumption". Ibi is an old friend who both Kimmo and I used to work with in the dive centre. We're supposed to meet up with him just south of Hurghada and there he is on his Honda Steed 750 when we arrive. The first thing he says is that he wants to stop in Safaga for fuel and that he has two bottles of spare petrol in his bag. Kimmo glances at me and I see what he meant by paranoid. From Hurghada to Safaga is about 60 kilometres and the next filling station after that will be 80 kilometres later. Fair enough, we'll stop in Safaga. landscape opens up on one side and the azure blue sea on the other. The view is spectacular and I feel the absolutely dry air mixed with tiny grains of sand in my face, fantastic feeling. We fill up the tanks in Safaga and press on towards Luxor. At the check point exiting Safaga the army waves us to the side for inspections. "Where you go?" The recruits try to look serious but it won't hold for long. After we tell them we are on a trip to Luxor they loosen up and seem more interested in the bikes and us then in national security. "Where you from?" I tell them I'm from Sweden, Kimmo from Finland and Ibi from Egypt. "How much CC this bike?" It's a 600 I reply. "Ah... Honda very good ­ My family in Luxor". With big smiles they wave us through without even asking for passports or licences.

surrounding us. The traffic is smooth and easy but there are some heavy vehicles struggling on the up-hill road but for the most part the path is free. Here and there along the road we pass small medic/ ambulance stations. Even if you're in the middle of the desert it would never take longer then twenty minutes for an emergency response unit to reach you, I have been to Luxor before but with cars even if you might be two hours from the and busses and I'm looking forward to the nearest town. next stretch of road. It's one of those you always think "Ahhh... Imagine riding here About 80 kilometres west of Safaga on a motor bike". We are passing over and almost exactly half way from Luxor the mountain ridge that divides the coast there is a petrol station and a few cafes and the Nile valley and the road zigzags scattered around a large parking area. on its way up hill to its highest point This place has grown up to supply tourists around 600 metres above sea level. The with everything they may need while the colours are amazing with the sand almost bus drivers are stretching their legs and white, the sky bright blue and the rock formations in various tones of terracotta. Kimmo has brought a helmet-cam, which he is operating with one hand getting amazing shots of the bikes cruising along. This area is very photogenic and I think full of potential cover-shots for National Geographic just waiting to be captured. We cruise through the mountains and reach the highest point where the landscape flattens out and the road gets straighter. Since we are in no hurry at all we are able to really appreciate the nature

The roads are fairly new here in relatively good condition and for the most part it's motorway style double lane, no meeting traffic and smooth riding. The desert

Clockwise from left: Topping up the tanks for the journey, pausing in the mountains and chatting with the locals at a popular rest stop May-Jun 2011

having a cup of tea and a cigarette. Today it is empty because of the lack of tourists earlier in the year. As we park our bikes outside, the locals come running keen on some human contact and again we answer the same questions. "Where you from?" "Where you go?" "How much CC this bike?" and of course all the guys have family in Luxor. We have a cup of coffee and fill the tanks at a cost of 1.75 Egyptian pounds per litre (about 20 Euro Cents). The sun is at this moment right above us and it's starting to get warmer. Ibi wants to stop somewhere along the next leg of the trip to hide his spare petrol in a strategic location for the ride back. He calculates the amount of fuel he will have on the way back and the spot where he should put his hidden stash as we press on. The next hour or so the road is in a slightly worse condition. The tarmac is cracked but it really affects neither our comfort nor safety and we keep the same speed. Ibi finds the perfect spot for his fuel depot under a bridge where we stretch our legs.

kilometres we are completely encircled by lush greenery. Trees with beautiful flowers spread a pleasant fragrance and the ground is covered by grass instead of sand. Here is also where human habitation starts again and we pass through a few small villages before rolling in to the city of Qena. We stop for lunch at a place Ibi has been before and can recommend. We feast on a traditional assortment of grilled meat, rise, salad, tahena sauce, bread and drinks and the check ends up at 60 Egyptian pounds, around 7.50 Euro for three people.

foreigners riding these bikes and again we answer the same questions. "Where you from?" "Where you go?" "How much CC this bike?" and of course they all have family in Luxor. "I feel like a famous movie star!" Ibi says. None of us is used to getting this much attention. We ride out of Qena along one of the bi-floods to the Nile. This portion of the trip goes through the heart of Egyptian agriculture where sugar cane fields wrap the road in green. The traffic is getting slightly denser and it's an interesting mix of minibuses, mopeds, old cars and brand spanking new Mercedes next to donkey cars. About 40 kilometres before Luxor we turn off the main road to another route that takes us through small villages where we would not have been allowed before the revolution.

experience Egypt from the back of a motorbike and this is indeed the best place to do so. At one point the road is blocked by a small train loading sugar cane and we have to wait until they are done. Meanwhile we wait with some workers gnawing on the sweet canes. Eventually the train leaves and we can move on.

We arrive in Luxor passing the Karnak Temple and find our accommodation right across the street from the Luxor Temple and town square. Ibi had booked his hotel separately and he continues to find it while we check in. After a shower and a short rest in the room we call Ibi to see how he's doing. "Not too bad!" is the reply. It turns out that the hotel he booked is temporarily closed for renovation so he's been upgraded to the famous Winter Palace! With luck like that maybe he should have gone to Las Vegas but now This choice of road slows us down and we're in Luxor so we decide to take the lengthens our journey by about an hour, bikes out for some sightseeing. We ride but we are in no hurry. We are here to the bikes up the east side of the Nile to

At this point the landscape changes again Returning to the bikes we find a group and we start to see some greenery around of people hanging around waiting for the us. Small bushes and trees are scattered From left to right: Cruising past the Nile, over the sandy, rocky terrain, which must mean that we are getting closer to the life- enjoying a hearty lunch, taking the back roads giving water of the river Nile. In only a few and riding alongside the locals, the iconic luxury

of the Winter Palace in Luxor THE EQUALIZER May-Jun 2011

the bridge taking us over the river. From the west bank we have a stunning view of the east bank with the temples, the Nile Cruisers and Ibi's luxury hotel. Our first historical stop is the Colossus of Memnon where normally hundreds of people from dozens of buses mix with local vendors. Today it's only us and the vendors so we have to say "no thank you" many times. We continue to Hatchepsut's Temple where we meet some local bikers wearing traditional galabayas riding Chinese No-Name bikes. We answer the questions again; "Where you from?" "Where you go?" "How much CC this bike?" "Ah, very good Honda" and of course they all have family in Hurghada. One of them offers to swap his bike with Kimmo's Honda Steed if Kimmo would give him 10.000 Egyptian pounds in between!

The smell is the typical big-city morningsmell. I love it. It's 6:30 and Kimmo is already up. He's shooting away with his camera from the balcony wearing only his undies. We have breakfast on the 6th floor balcony and check out the roof terrace before calling Ibi to see if he's up. We're an hour and half too early but Ibi is ready and we take the bikes out for a spin. We visit the Colossus of Memnon and Hatchepsut's temple again in the morning light. Ibi has never been inside so he stays while I and Kimmo take a look at the Valley of the Kings, have a cup of coffee in a coffee shop and get some fruit for the way back to Hurghada. The street is packed with school kids and they all want to practice their English "Where you from?" "Where you go?" "How much CC this bike?" "Ah, very good Honda" and of course they all have family in Hurghada.

traffic we reach Qena in almost exactly an hour where we fill up the tanks before heading back out into the dessert. With the sun on our backs the ride is gorgeous through the beautiful rugged landscape even if the wind from the north is a bit gusty. Ibi finds his fuel depot and empties the 3 litres into his tank, we stop for some refreshments in the road house café saying hello to the guys in the souvenir stands and we are again back at the curvy stretch of road leading back towards the coast. This time it's downhill which makes it even more fun to ride and more beautiful. As the Red Sea is coming back into view behind the mountains I find myself gasping for air thinking how extremely lucky I am to live in this gorgeous country and for getting the chance to go on this road trip. The closer we get to Hurghada the more I want to turn around and go on riding the bike and when we finally pull up at Kimmo's garage the only thing we both can say is "Lets do this again". An old Egyptian man steps up to us and asks "Where you from?" "Where you go?" "How much CC this bike?" and of course he's got family in Luxor.

With the light slowly fading as the sun falls behind the horizon, we head back over the bridge to the east side for some Chinese food, a shisha in Ibi's hotel and an early night. The plan is to meet at 9 o'clock the next morning for some more cruising and sightseeing.

In the afternoon, we start our journey back to Hurghada. This time we take the big road directly from Luxor all the way up to Qena. The traffic is a bit heavier and there are a few situations that most people would probably call scary. You learn the Egyptian way of using the horn instead of rear view mirrors when you live in Egypt I wake up from the sounds of the Luxor and for me this is the normal procedure. If morning. Clip-clop of horse and carriages, everybody applies the same system it sort mopeds and car horns, voices and shouts. of works even if it's not ideal. Despite the

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From left to right: Visiting the historic sights of Luxor, cruising home with the sun on your back May-Jun 2011

HurghadaMarina's`WeLoveEgypt'Festival

by Anders Jälmsjö Throughout the last weekend of March most people in and around Hurghada, at one point or another, visited the event "We Love Egypt" in the Hurghada Marina Boulevard. All nationalities, ages, and types came together to show the world that we all love this fantastic country and that Egypt after the revolution is prepared to welcome back tourists. There were several bands playing live music and DJ's entertaining from two stages day and night. The streets bubbled with entertainers like jugglers and men balancing on stilts. There was a magician puzzling onlookers and even a fire show to light up the night. of Put-The-Tale-On-The-Camel plus a painting competition with the obvious theme "I Love Egypt". Children's dance groups were also performing traditional Egyptian dances.

EGYPT'S CELEBRATIONS

Many of the local businesses participated with stands along the marina showing their products and positive attitude. To celebrate the nice weather and to show support Hurghada Motor Bikers drove through the crowds to the deafening but lovely sound of V-twin engines. All in all it was a very festive weekend with massive media coverage. Hopefully the message got out to the world and we will see you out here soon. For the kids there was face-painting and cartoon characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse walking around. They could play the traditional Egyptian game

THE EQUALIZER Left: The day was an event for all the family and everyone came out to show their support Above: Musical entertainment ranged from traditional Egyptian through to Reggae tunes May-Jun 2011

LIGHTHOUSES OF THE RED SEA

also makes it a monument for modern building techniques. The installation of the by Anders Jälmsjö bulb required them to use the revolutionary new technique of reinforcement in the After Vasco Da Gama rounded Africa in concrete. 1498 many dreamed of making the trip shorter. In 1854, Mohamed Said Pasha It was the distance to the nearest stone ruled Egypt and he was a friend of the quarry and the costs of transportation that French engineer Ferdinand De Lesseps. led François Coignet to look into using De Lesseps persuaded Said Pasha that concrete as a building material. a canal between the Mediterranean and Red Sea would not only be a lucrative The tower standing today replaced the business but also make him a hero in the temporary wooden lighthouse erected eyes of the world. at the start of the building of the Canal. It was constructed in 1869 by the French The Suez Canal Company was established architecture François Coignet and began and De Lesseps got a contract for 99 operating one week before the opening of years allowing France control of the canal. the Suez Canal. Due to the costs involved, the canal was a partnership between Egyptian, French In 1890 the lighthouse had a new feature and British Governments with the profits - a black ball on a pole at the top, which being shared. dropped at midday to tell the citizens of Port Said the time. In 1955 the lighthouse On 25th of April 1859 the opening of Port Said changed from using gas ceremony was made in a place called to electricity. It flashes every twenty El Farama today known as Port Said to seconds and is visible for 20 nautical declare the digging start of The Suez miles. In January 2011 the lighthouse of Canal project. So now there was a need Port Said has been officially registered as for a lighthouse... a monument. The lighthouse of Port Said is a 56 metres high black and white octagonal tower. It is not only guidance for navigators passing through the Suez Canal but also an important historic symbol of the progress of architecture during the nineteenth century. It is believed to be the first building in the world constructed from reinforced concrete which Above: The Port Said lighthouse was a revolutionary structure in

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PORTSAID

PHOTOGRAPHY FOCUS

words and photos by Dray van Beeck Having a diver in your photos will add a bit to the reality you see underwater and it can also give an idea of scale. If your buddy does not want to model than you can still use other divers around you. Select the scenery you want to shoot. Make sure all your settings are ok and then wait for one or more divers to appear. Check out the way they move and breathe.

UsingaModel inYourPhotos

Talk before you go in the water about what you expect and agree on specific signals you can use under the water to position your model and communicate easily. Again, you first select your scene and make the camera ready for the shot. Now you only have to position your buddy in a pleasing position (I'm talking about diving guys).

This can be a close-up or a full body diver in a wide-angle scene. Adding a torch and asking them to shine this from afar towards you can add a nice accent to the photo. When close-up a torch can light a subject. Ideally they will be nicely positioned in Again try to shoot the photos without any profile with the legs next to each other bubbles from the buddy visible. and preferably without bubbles. Also a model in your photo gives a better However if your buddy is willing to pose chance to get a cover shot on one of the for you, you will have more possibilities. dive magazines. Overall dive magazines You can position them in the scene the show a close-up of a marine animal with a diver close by. exact way you want. The important thing is to have everything work together. The animal has to cooperate the same as your model. The positions and composition have to work and it goes without saying that the image settings must be technically correct. or a mask so you can see what is going on with your camera. So on your next underwater shoot why not try to get some different shots with a model.

Left: A model can add detail to an otherwise plain scene Above: Shining a torch will create a focal point for the viewer Opposite page (clockwise from left): Models will offer a sense of scale for other subjects in the photo, Using a diver to show interaction with marine life makes an image more attractive to dive magazines for cover shots, Have fun with your model and enjoy yourselves, Great underwater people photos can be taken without dive gear in the shallows THE EQUALIZER

This asks for a lot of patience from the Good luck and Happy bubbles. photographer as well as from the model. Do one dive and after that do some fun More tips and advice dives...just to appease your buddy. can be found in this You don't have to be on tropical locations new guide. Available to get some nice shots. If there is a as an app for both swimming pool near your home you could iPhone and iPad. take some great shots there. You don't even need to use scuba gear Click here for details in a pool since breath holding could work. However you will need swimming goggles

May-Jun 2011

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER - Paul `Duxy' Duxfield

This month's featured photographer is Paul Duxfield. Duxy worked in Sharm for many years before returning to the UK to work with Cameras Underwater in London. He is a regular sight at dive shows where he speaks on the broad topic of digital cameras and the myriad accessories now available and he has also featured in a range of magazines offering advice to get the best results from underwater photography.

THE EQUALIZER

All Photos: Paul Duxfield

May-Jun 2011

PHOTO CONTEST

The winners of the latest EQUALIZER photo contest are;

COMPETITIONRULES

If you fancy yourself as a budding Alex Mustard or simply have a photograph that you think can cut the mustard, why not share it with us? Each issue we will choose three underwater photographs to be published in THE EQUALIZER, with the best of the three receiving a special prize. So if you've ever wanted to see your favourite image in a magazine - this is your chance. Please read the guidelines below before sending your files to ensure that they meet the requirements. Yourfilemustbesavedasajpegand beamaximumof250kbinsize. Theimageitselfshouldbeaminimum of500pixelsalongthelongestedge. Please rename the file so that it is your name (i.e. JamesDawson.jpg) and include in the body of your e-mail any details you would like to add.

FIRSTPLACE - FREDRIK JOHANSSON SECONDPLACE - PAUL COLLEY THIRDPLACE-ALEX ZENI

Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to everyone who took the time to send in their photographs. The quality was very high but after a lot of deliberation, the judges all agreed on the final three. To enter, see the details opposite.

FIRST PLACE - Fredrik Johansson (Sweden)

Then simply e-mail your images to us at

[email protected]

Our panel of judges will then select the top images each issue to be published in the magazine. So don't be shy. Send your favourites to us now and you could see your work in the next issue of the magazine. Checklist · Image must have been taken underwater · Lessthan250kb · Atleast500pixelsonlongestside · yourname.jpg

May-Jun 2011

2nd Place - Paul Colley (UK)

THE EQUALIZER

3rd Place - Alex Zeni (Guadeloupe)

NARCOSIS CORNER with Michael Onkers

A light-hearted look at a project to find a lost wreck in the Red Sea by Michael Onkers

You know how it is when you're sat in a bar talking to fellow divers. Everyone's got a story of their special dives and the conversations can run long into the night. As the drinks flow, it seems that the stories become that bit more heroic and the dives that bit more daring. My recent adventure started just like that. I was enjoying a couple of small Sherries with some friends after a hard day at work, when the story of a mystery wreck came up. I sat enthralled as my friend told the tale of this ship that was known more in legend than fact. I was immediately hooked and got it in my head that I was going to be the one to find this treasure of the deep. The next morning, after taking a couple of headache tablets, I called my old friend Skip McGraw and arranged to meet up. Skip had travelled the world looking for lost ships and what he didn't know about wreck hunting, wasn't worth knowing. We planned our strategy for the expedition over a couple more small Sherries and then started the arduous job of researching the ship. We pored over dozens of books, many maps and hundreds of web pages but clues were few and far between. We could find a brief reference here and a rumoured sighting there but eventually we had enough information to start the search. The libraries gave us as much detail as we were likely to find in books so then we had to plan for the hunt on the open seas. Skip has thousands of dives under

THE EQUALIZER

SEARCHINGFORANCIENTMYSTERIES

over the side and followed the line of the marker buoy down to start our search. Diving in a buddy team would keep us safe but slow the search, so Skip and I had decided that we would take the controversial decision of doing two search patterns at once. Sticking to the plan we worked out on the boat, when we reached the bottom of the line, Skip went left and I turned right. The conditions were on our side and visibility was good as we began to scour the seabed for any clues. The dive seemed to go on for ever and my patience was wearing thin, but eventually (after 15 minutes to be precise) I saw a shadow in the distance. It turned out that it was Skip (since he had forgotten his compass) so we paired up and carried on. A few minutes later, we saw another shadow and we both felt the excitement grow. We had no margin for error at this depth (around 8m) and we worked as a team to control our breathing and maintain our composure as we swam on. The shadow started to take on a recognisable shape as we got closer. We approached from the stern and the first thing we saw was the single propeller and could make out a name... `Yamaha 25'. We knew we had succeeded and as we drifted down the port side, we could clearly make out the name on the bow `Pharaoh's Revenge Glass Bottom Boat'. Flushed with success we knew that we had answered one of the great mysteries of the sea.

his belt searching the seas for ships that have met their fate and I knew that I could trust him with the logistics. We gathered our equipment together and after one final check of the maps, we set off for our epic voyage. We were going to use sophisticated new technologies to help us find the wreck and some of the most modern equipment money can buy. But in the end, we were still going to have to rely on our own experience, skills and hope for a little luck as well. Before sunrise, we were at the jetty and loaded up MY Sea Shanty, the boat that would be our home for the expedition. We spread out the charts, marked our search quadrants and cast off into the rolling seas. Hours passed with no luck. The sonar, radar, depth finders and the bloke at the front of the boat looking in the water all came back negative. Just as we were starting to get a little disheartened and feeling that the true story of this ship had sunk with her, we saw a blip on the screen. Suddenly there was a wave of optimism spreading across the decks. We marked the location, threw out some marker buoys and moored up so we could make our final preparations. Skip decided that because this was an initial dive to check the signal from the electronics we would take regular old air to give us more flexibility on depth for our search. As we kitted up I could feel my heart fluttering and the excitement was so intense I could taste it. We slipped

Happy Diving

M

nkers ike O

May-Jun 2011

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