The following rules apply to recreational diving in Egypt: •Carrying and using spearguns is strictly prohibited. • The use of gloves is permitted. However, it is forbidden to touch corals or fish
with gloves. Carrying a diving knife is permitted. However, they can only be used for their
the actual purpose of cutting ropes or of being used as a signalling device. •The consumption of alcohol is prohibited before dives. Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages can, of course, be consumed on board, but be aware that from that moment on, for the rest of the day, no further dives are allowed.
The guides on the ships are responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules, and every diver should follow them for his or her own safety.
Depth Limits by Law
The depth limits for diving have been matched to the global standards of WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council).
The depth limit is established by the diver’s current training level (18 m, 30 m or 40 m) with a maximum of 40 m. When using Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN): maximum oxygen partial pressure 1.4 bar (p02) and/or a maximum depth of 40 m.
Below we will describe diving tips and techniques that are useful when diving from a liveaboard. Although these skills are sometimes taught in diving courses, it is impossible to prepare divers in training for all the specific situations in which they may find themselves. We know from experience that getting some additional information in advance can be useful in eliminating potential problems.
Entries and Exits
Entering the Water from a RIB
Although entering the water from a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with a backward roll is not difficult, a lot can go wrong. First of all, all divers should enter the water at the same time to avoid injuring each other, since they may land on another diver. To avoid this, one of the divers or the RIB driver should count down to the drop. When the space is cramped because of the number of divers in the RIB, one can at first send every second diver into the water, and then after a short while the others.
Although this kind of entry is called a backward roll, its name should not be taken literally, since you could risk coming too close to the RIB’s propeller if you were to make a full roll into the water. It is much safer to drop into the water on your back, then stretch your body once you are underwater and quickly swim away from the RIB on your back with a few quick fin kicks while keeping the bottom of the boat insight. Remember that the RIB driver may have to start the RIB’s engine at any time during adverse conditions to avoid being swept onto the reef by the waves.
Entry with Negative Buoyancy
Whether you enter the water from a RIB or liveaboard, it is unpleasant and sometimes even dangerous to wait to descend with the rest of the divers at the surface in rough seas. An entry technique known as “entry with negative buoyancy” is used in this situation. You jump into the water with your BCD completely deflated and descend immediately. The diving group then reunite at a depth of five metres, where high waves have no impact, and then continue their descent. It goes without saying that the pre-dive buddy check plays an even more important role than usual in this situation. Furthermore, attempting this entry with an empty tank or a closed tank valve will certainly lead to a breathless dive.
As easy as surfacing at the end of a dive may seem, there are a lot of hazards involved that can be avoided through some simple procedures.
Always Surface with a Buoy (It saves lives)
It is important that at least one diver in the group releases a surface marker buoy (SMB) at a depth of five metres. It keeps the RIB drivers from accidentally speeding over the divers’ heads. Serious accidents do happen from time to time, simply because this simple rule is ignored.
Releasing an SMB (Surface Marker Buoy)
I- Preparation: Never attach the buoy to your body. Keep the reel on your little finger and unroll the buoy. and unroll the buoy.
2- Open the bottom of the buoy while keeping the reel on your little finger. Make sure that the lines do not get caught.
3- Now sensitivity is required: with the octopus, carefully release as much air into the buoy as necessary to make the SMB float upright.
4 -Keep the buoy and octopus as low as possible. Now press the purge button fully and keep it pressed. Do not let go of the buoy yet.
5- Let you follow the buoy as it ascends while holding down the purge button it
to fill it with sufficient air-only release it at the last moment. The reel will spin around your little finger as the buoy rises. Should the line or reel get caught onto something, simply let it go as a precaution.
Safety Stop at the Reef
The safety stop should always be carried out and completed close to the reef prior to ascending to the surface. This will prevent you from being swept too far away by possible currents in the open water.
Usually, the boat traffic is busy around the reef and the moorings. When ascending, make sure that the surface is free of boats.
Diving Away from the Reef During High Waves
If you want to get picked up by a RIB when the sea is rough, you should dive away from the reef before surfacing (after completing the safety stop and releasing the SMB). Through this, the RIB will not risk being pushed onto the reef by the waves while the divers are climbing aboard. Starting the engine would also be extremely dangerous for the divers who are still in the water next to the RIB.
Climbing Aboard an RIB
If you either do not want to or are unable to reach
do not want to or are unable to reach the liveaboard at the end of a dive, the RIB will pick you up and bring you back to the boat. Once the marker buoy has been released and the group has surfaced, all divers should get into the RIB as quickly as possible.
During high waves, divers should approach the RIB from its windward side. was to climb aboard on its leeward side, there is a risk that the wind and waves would push the RIB on top of the divers.
Hold onto the side of the RIB with one hand and pass the driver any fragile equipment, such as your camera or dive light. Take off your weight belt and then your scuba gear and hand both to the driver. He will be pleased if you assist him in pulling the heavy equipment aboard. Finally, first lower and then pull yourself into the RIB with a few strong fin kicks.
Entry from a Liveaboard
If the dive site is directly below the liveaboard, an appropriate entry technique would be the so-called giant stride. As its name suggests, you make a big step forward from the edge of the platform and let yourself plunge into the water. Under no circumstances should you jump into the water, since you might slip. Hold both your regulator and mask firmly with one hand, while holding your octopus, camera and other equipment to your chest with your other arm. Make sure that the water is free and that you do not jump onto another diver. Once in the water, give the OK sign the crew member monitoring the entrances on the diving platform.
Climbing Aboard a Liveaboard
Each diving platform has one or more ladders to help divers climb aboard. Though it seldom happens, divers may lose their footing when climbing aboard and fall back into the water. Therefore, the other divers should always keep a distance from the ladder while waiting for their turn.
During high waves, climbing aboard becomes somewhat more complicated. Observe the rhythm of the waves while underwater and make sure not to hold onto the ladder for too long. When the boat tilts downwards, quickly step onto the ladder with the next wave and let yourself get lifted along with the ladder, Then quickly climb it and make room for the next diver. You can keep your fins on or take them off at the bottom of the ladder. Do not pass them to the people on board during high seas, but rather keep them close to your body with their fin straps around your wrists to keep your hands free. This ensures that you have them at hand in case you fall into the water and get swept away.
Boarding an RIB from a Liveaboard
You will need a bit of practice when there are waves around. The waves push the RIB and the boat about the higher the waves, the more difficult it becomes to board the RIB. There are two possibilities: either you climb down to the RIB with your back to the diving platform (facing the RIB) and then board it with the help of the RIB driver, or you climb down the
ladder backwards (facing the liveaboard) and then board the RIB. It is up to you which method you choose. Regardless of which, do not simultaneously stand with one foot on the RIB and one on the ladder, or keep holding onto the ladder. Let go of the ladder the moment your foot stands on the RIB-if not, the rocking RIB might move away under your feet leaving you stretched with all your heavy equipment between the ladder and the RIB. There is also a high risk that you would end up wedged between the RIB and the liveaboard-a truly dangerous situation.
Special Diving Environments and Procedures
Each diving environment usually requires appropriate diving techniques, and most diving schools offer specialized training for them. Though we cannot, of course, convey all the knowledge learnt in several-day courses here, we here briefly summarize the most important considerations regarding the various diving environments that you will encounter on liveaboard tours.
Steep Reef Walls
Many dives in the Red Sea take place at steep reef walls. Pay increased attention to your depth gauge there, otherwise, you may quickly end up diving deeper than originally planned. Also do not stray too far from the wall. Furthermore, additional equipment such as cameras and dive lights should always be secured and attached to your body. Losing hold of them at reef walls usually means that they are lost forever.
If there is a strong current, be sure to heed the following guidelines: All divers in the group should enter the water simultaneously, if possible. Descend immediately, regroup at a depth of five meters and then continue your dive while staying together (the entry with negative buoyancy, see p. 17). Always stay close together as a group underwater and do not swim away from the reef. Also do not attempt to dive against the current. You might consider already releasing the surface marker buoy during the dive so that the RIB driver does not lose contact with the group. This is particularly important when the current, and thus the dive, flows in a different direction than expected.
All shipwrecks sooner or later fall apart, depending on the materials-steel vessels are inherently more resistant to decay than wooden vessels. In the case of the latter, the amount of time that it can withstand the elements depends on the type of wood. Remarkably, the wood quality of older vessels is superior to newer ones. There are ships from the 18th Century (such as the Carnatic), which are still worth seeing, while only parts of the planking remain of some ships of recent construction that have recently sunk. In a few years time, they will probably be completely lost.
In any case, always consider carefully whether and where you want to penetrate a sunken ship. Wrecks that are officially open for diving are regularly checked making the risk of a collapse extremely low. Nevertheless, the risk is always present. Ships are simply not designed to rest on their side or with their keel up
Caves and Caverns
The South and Deep South have reefs with beautiful caverns and cave systems. While caves do not allow a direct ascent to the surface, caverns always have small or large openings to the reef flat through which light may penetrate, so you will not feel anxious. In an emergency, they also allow an ascent straight to the surface. Note that some of the passageways do not reach far into the reef, but are very spacious, while others can be very narrow and highly branched.
As wonderful as diving in caves or caverns is, you must take increased stress into account. Divers who easily feel anxious or even claustrophobic should avoid them. Particularly in large cavern systems, there is a danger of getting lost. In many cases, it can be very difficult to find your way through the labyrinthine passageways with their many branches. In our dive site maps, you will always find tips and recommendations for diving in the caves and caverns of the respective reefs. It is safest to simply take part in a guided dive, and if at all, only explore unknown passages with sufficient experience.
Navigation and Orientation
Underwater orientation is no problem at the majority of dive sites, but there are some reefs where you have to dive over a featureless sandy seabed, where you can easily lose your orientation (Abu Basala, Shalaniat). In such cases, it is essential to carry a compass. Underwater navigation is also much easier if you observe the reef formation prior to diving while still on board the boat and memorize the dive route with the help of the corresponding map of this guide.
Finding Your Liveaboard
There are often several boats moored around a reef. In order to easily get to your boat when you return from the dive, note the following two tips:
First of all, it helps to memorize the shape of the boat’s hull. The distinctions lie
in the shape of its bow and stern, its overall length, the design of its propeller
and its colouring. • Second, memorize the look of its ladders. Does it have one or two? How far apart are they, and what are their rungs like?
No vessel looks like another from below-there will always be some detail that will help you distinguish your own boat from the others.
If its hull is not visible from the reef, you can also use the colour and position of the anchor ropes as a reference—just memorize the look of the ropes before diving. Of course, there is nothing wrong if you quickly surface for orientation but do so only with caution and with a surface marker buoy to avoid being hit by a RIB or another boat.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
In our experience, we divers are nature-loving people who enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of underwater landscapes. However, in doing so, we are unfortunately also responsible for some of the negative effects on the coral reefs. Not only do global warming, sea pollution and overfishing severely threaten marine ecosystems, if we divers then also dive carelessly and thoughtlessly on top of that, but the reefs also have no chance. On some reefs, the corals have already died, and only a few fish swim about in search of scarce food. Anyone who has dived at such a devastating reef knows that diving there is about as interesting as watching television during a power outage. Most divers believe, in good conscience, that they protect the underwater landscape in an exemplary manner, and that they never accidentally touch the reef. Unfortunately, the facts prove different underwater.
Let us try a thought experiment:
Studies have shown that divers diving directly from a boat inadvertently come in contact with corals 0.05 times per minute on average (a study by C.M. Roberts). Underwater photographers even have an average of 0.3 contacts per minute. If we put these two groups in relation to each other with a total of 20% photographers and 80% divers without cameras, and if we assume that an average dive lasts 45 minutes, it results in 4.5 contacts per diver and dive. If every touch caused by hands, fins or equipment destroys only 3 g of organisms and calcium carbonate coral skeletons, we get a total of 13.5 g of destroyed organic material—which might not yet sound like much.
Let us continue the thought experiment:
From May to October about 50 liveaboards constantly sail through the Southern Red Sea, each with an average of 20 divers on board, who make an average of three dives per day. In a single week with five days of diving, we get a total of 15,000 dives, and for the entire main season of six months, we get 90,000 dives. Thus 1,215 tons of corals are destroyed only by the guests of these 50 boats. Furthermore, this calculation does not even account for the dives carried out from daily boats or from the shore.
As you can see from this example, the large number of diverse causes enormous damage to underwater landscapes making it all the more important to start with oneself when it comes to protecting the reef. It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that it really depends on each individual whether there will be beautiful reefs to dive at ten years from now.
The most important preventive measure against the accidental
destruction of corals is good control of one’s buoyancy. Although the great emphasis is usually placed on mastering buoyancy during training, one often comes across divers with poor buoyancy skills. Apart from resulting in high consumption of air, diving without neutral buoyancy is incredibly stressful and therefore not recommended. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, divers with cameras cause much more damage, since many hold onto the reef while taking pictures or bump their camera against the corals while diving. Every diver should be able to take photos without touching the reef.