Monday, January 11, 2010

We won the video comp!!!!!

Woohoo! We won the prize of flights for 2 to Lanzarote, accom at the aparthotel paradise island in Playa Blanca and car hire for a week!

Heres the winners page

We leave on Jan 26th for a week, and will be diving from Safari diving again. We've booked a package of 7 dives each. Hope we see some angel sharks this time.
I'm sure there will be another film to follow.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lanzarote film competition

Hi folks,
I currently have one of my youtube movies entered into a competition. The films can show any aspect of holidaying (vacationing) in the Canary Islands, so I entered my scuba film from 2006.

If you like my film, you can vote for it by clicking "votar este video" under the viewing box.

Heres the link

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Marsa Alam video

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Trip report for Marsa Alam

Ok, heres the lowdown on the dive trip we took to avoid all the xmas crap that happens here in the uk. All the things we got right, and some of the things I wish I'd thought of!

Booking -
Just a case of deciding a place to visit, then finding a suitable hotel with good diving locally. We choose Marsa over Sharm to avoid the crowds, I hate dive with millions of others! and also cos we can fly Manchester to Marsa direct.
Googling for flights to get us away over the xmas period lead us to Thomas cook, booked through future travel. Simple.

Getting to airport - with a taxi to Manchester airport from Clitheroe (where we live) costing £70!!! The web really came up with the goods here.
Parking near the airport with Purple parking was smooth and easy.

and with a code from hotukdeals here

Our parking cost us on £17.40 for 8 days!!!!!! BARGAIN!

- the flights and hotel with half board cost us a mere £350 each. So as you'd expect, the flight was pretty crumby.
Bugger-all leg room and millions of chavvy shell-suited punters who've found out that Egypt is even cheaper than Benidorm or Terrormolinos.
For any foreign readers who dont know what a "chav" this photo to be enlightened.

Unfortunately every country has an equivalent, you just dont want to be stuck on the same flight as them. Hopefully none of them will ever take up SCUBA diving

My tip to try and take the edge off the tedious (6 hour) flight -
You can buy those small wine bottles that'll cost you £3 a pop on the plane, 3 for a fiver at the airport (works out pretty much half the stewardesses price). The stewardess, with the obligatory orange make-up, didnt like us drinking them....but we still did.
She gave some crap excuse like "we have to keep tabs on what passengers are drinking" but anyone could have been drinking in the airport bar for hours, so it seems they must be paid on a commission basis.

Extra tip - While your at it....dont forget to get your limit of wine on the way out cos the Gypo wine is expensive and crap.
We took twist cap rather than cork just in case the hotel took offence to our BYO idea.

What I forgot
- To buy a big black toblerone at the duty free!

I love dark chocolate and had to go without for a week!

Arrival at Marsa Alam isnt pretty. Youll be told that you can buy a visa on arrival, but it would be prudent to get it before you go. There are lots of reps trying to sell visas and rip you off and it just caused a big bottle-neck at customs. It would be nicer just to walk straight through.

No heres a big one! - Airport transfers.

Thomas cook wanted £15 (GBP) each for the transfer from airport to hotel. It was impossible to find out the distance from airport to hotel. So here it is for you.

Its only 4 miles!!!

There was a Thomas cook rep at the airport door. This complete twat smugly tells me that, I should of booked the transfer with TC cos a local taxi should, with his plethora of local knowledge cost 20-30 pounds each!!! Egyptian pounds? I said. "No British pounds", says the fat useless git!
I understand that taxi drivers prey on tourists the world over, but it is not the TC reps job to help the driver in this rip-off scam.
We haggled a driver to £10 gbp (total, not each) which is still a rip-off for 4 miles but we had no choice.
Phoning the hotel directly would of worked though, cos at the end of our stay we got transfered on the hotel minibus for 5 euros each.

I really should have nutted that smug rep!

The Hotel - The coral beach diving hotel. I had very few compliants about the hotel. Quiet, nice decor, good food etc etc

Heres Jill outside our room

Very clean and fresh

....and here she is in our room

Very Egyptiany decor, comfy enough beds and a good powerful shower in the clean, new bathroom.
So far so good..... but I did hate the fact that whilst I had come away to avoid xmas in the uk....the hotel had a xmas music cd on repeat most of the time in the pub and restaurant. AAAAAAAaaaaaaarrrrggghhhh!

Egyptian beer (stella or Saquarra)

is about £2 a bottle, so even more reason to BYO wine for post-dive drinks. The hotels idea of entertainment differs somewhat from mine, heres a random pantomime horse annoying punters in the bar!

Dont ask!!

And so on to the diving - We dived with EMPEROR. I dont like to book before I go, in case I dont like the look of the joint, or there is a much better/cheaper dive shop next door.
However, Emperor at the coral beach diving hotel have a monopoly,
so you may as well take advantage of any online advance booking offer.

Day 1
Dive site - Marsa Mubarak

Dive 1 - 19.6m for 46 mins
With guide (they made us, for the first dive only). Nice to be back in the Red sea. Medium sized green turtle in the first 5 mins. Round the north corner of the reef and then looped back round over the sea grass to look for Dugongs. No luck.

Dive 2 - 16.3m for 55 mins
No guide and no group for us from now on. We copied the same dive but with a bigger loop and planned more time on the sea grass. Jill alerted me to a Dugong swimming above us at the north corner. We expected to find them in the sea grass not swimming over reef! It was surprisingly fast for its size.

The first thing that struck me about "mubarak" was that I could still see the hotel!!!!! Its only 1.4 miles down the coast. Jill and I had rested for the first day but some of the other divers had keenly gone out diving on day 1.
"Where did you dive yesterday?" I asked them.
"Oh, here"
"What.... on a different buoy?"
"No, exactly here"


So 4 dives in 2 days from the exact same location. We had asked at the dive centre, if they cover a good variety of dive sites. But this was looking like they went to the same place, that was easiest and cheapest for Emperor.
Look at the map, you could drive it in a jeep and shore dive!
This brings me to the next point. We are told to meet on the boat at 8am. Nice start, easy cos we walk straight out from breakfast and on to the boat. Wow! easy!
However, we wondered how, if they leave at 8am and come back at 4pm then how come only 2 dives. 8 hours is a long time to complete 2 dives especially when the dive site is only a mile and a half down the coast!!!
The staff mess about chatting and smoking, while the divers wait until we leave at 9am. I've dived-with and worked-for some of the slickest dive operations in the world, so I dont like my holiday time being wasted like this.

The DM was ok, decent briefings, but nothing at all on safety. The surface intervals were too long 2-3 hour plus!!! While the staff slept and smoked!
Seriously, you could have a 2 dive day and be back at the hotel for midday!

Another shocker for a dive operation claiming to be "voted best in red sea" is that lunch,tea,coffee or water are NOT included!!!! First time I've seen this in my 2500+ dives.
Its not the money issue, but I dont need any more rip-offs in a country full of pit-falls.
I generally don't eat on a diving day but I do like a nice coffee and some water to keep hydrated. Pretty basic expectations when the diving costs 50 euros a day and I could have walked to the dive site!!!!

Day 2
Dive site - Ras el Torfu

Dive 1 - 26.9m for 53 mins
Dive 2 - 21.3m for 60 mins

We were promised a 3 dive day - maybe the DM had seen that his customers were keen. 20 euros extra for the 3rd dive. I took their lunch and drinks package begrudgingly and then we were told that there wasnt time for a 3rd dive as it was a bit choppy!!!

Day 3
Dive site - Marsa Shoni Kebir

Dive 1 - 24.7m for 54 mins
Dive 2 - 17.1m for 61 mins
Dive 3 - 22.1m for 54 mins

Didnt take out the lunch and drink package, only to find that a 3rd dive was possible on this day!

Day 4
Dive site - Marsa Shoni Soreya

Dive 1 - 19.5m for 52 mins
Dive 2 - 17.8m for 62 mins

Day 5 (Xmas day)
Dive site - Back @ Mubarak again!

Dive 1 - 25.4m for 49 mins
Dive 2 - 16.6m for 60 mins

Friday, December 28, 2007

Marsa Alam, Egypt, Xmas 07

Well, we just got back from Egypt, and now into the post holiday blues in rainy Lancashire. It also appears that the computer that I normally use for editing has been unceremoniously dismantled!
So I'll write up a trip report of all the pros and cons and hopefully upload a couple of video grabs of the DUGONG! etc until I can make the full trip movie.
I must start to post the SCUblog more regularly instead of backdating old videos. My birdwatching blog "Twitch with Mitch" is in much better order than this!
That can be a new years resolution.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Diving in Brazil

Heres the video of the 2 dives that we did in Paraty, Brazil, Nov 2006. Its interesting to dive in seldom-dived areas like this. We had no idea what to expect.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Leafy sea dragons, Rapid Bay , South Australia

We filmed this exactly 3 years ago, July 2004. The water temp was shocking cold, so we're both wearing a 6 mm over a 3mm wetsuits. We picked up tanks and weights locally and the shop owner gave us a trolley to transport our gear to the end of the jetty.
I think we found 3 leafies altogether but we were quite apprehensive of the fact that this is Great White country. Many divers have been taken close to this site!!!
There are 2 hooked fish in this video (I managed to free them) and lots of debris from the many fishermen who use the jetty. Jill actually got hooked on her BCD too. Its a shame that these cool seahorses arent in a protected zone.