Day 19 – Ras Mohammed
Today is not a training day. Today is Ras Mohammed day. That is no ropes, no bouys, no focused training, but it’s all about watching the beautiful life underneath the surface.
I am going to Ras Mohammed with Freedive Dahab’s instructor Hussein, his combo week students and freediver Filippo.
I have been to Ras Mohammed several times, both as a scuba diver, and once before as a freediver, which was back in April, when Julie and I did the combo week. Last time here I didn’t have that many dives, as I was quite new in freediving. I wasn’t that relaxed, and I was mostly snorkling, but I still enjoyed the beauty of Ras Mohammed. It’s absolutely one of my favorite places of the Red Sea….well I love all of the Red Sea, but Ras Mohammed is special and has many amazing dive sites.
We leave Dahab around 7.30 am and hit the road for about 75 minutes. Egypt is so dry, but the landscape of dusty mountains, the blue sky, warming sun, and camels along the road, make the road trip beautiful.
We arrive at Shark Observatory as the first visitors on the spot. First we walk the few hundred meters to the top of Shark Observatory and have a glanze over most of Ras Mohammed. It’s so stunning and the contrast between the beautiful blue water and the colourless land is almost breath taking.
We gear up and hit the water. The sun is already burning hot. At the top of the reefs there’s a hole, which leads 3 meters under the suface and around 15 meters out into the blue at a depth around 9 meters. We all dive through the cave one by one. I go second last with Hussein after me. I remember back in April, when I did the same dive, that I thought it was long and back then I was kind of in a hurry to get into the open and up to the surface. This makes me a bit nervous, but at the same time I think, that I have done 100 meters DYN, so I might be okay with this short dive. I breathe up and dive into the hole and through out the cave. I feel amazing! I’m relaxed, I’m looking around the cave, and as I come out of the cave a small bluespotted stingray swim by me and the sea opens up in front of me. Beutiful!
First we take a short swim to the left of the entrance. The reef wall is high and deep and is packed with life of corals, and endlessly colourfull fishes. Hussein has just made a deeper dive and tells me, there is a big morray eel at around 21 meters in a cave under a ledge, and asks me if I’m up for that dive. Well, Hell yeah! -Even though the depth without a rope frightens me a bit. I do my duck dive and descend into the blue along the reef wall. I pass one ledge and think it must be under the next one keep swimming. After the second ledge, and I still don’t see a morray, I wonder how deep I am. I see the third ledge and when I finally pass it I see a giant of a morray eel in the big cave. Hussein shows up next to me and swim closer to it. It almost looks as thick as Hussein. Not that it says a lot, as Hussein is not one of the biggest guys I know, but the morray eel is definitly big. We ascent together and feel amazing after the dive. Maybe a bit breathless, but still amazing.
We head back towards the entrance and move on towards Yolanda Beach. The life is extraordinary and beautiful. I see a big puffer fish and follow it for a while. It disappear inside a small cave but shows up again a few meters later. I love puffer fishes with there kind of fat bodies and huge eyes. While following this big puffer fish a shoal of small masked puffer fishes pass me. I truly enjoy this.
After some time I realize that I can’t find Hussein near us, and I spot him far ahead from us, trying to get our attention, and get our asses moving. All the divers are near me, and I try to get everyone in Husseins direction a bit faster. We approach Yolanda Beach and our first dive session of the day ends. We have been in the water for maybe 2 or 2.5 hours, and now it’s time for lunch in the shadow.
After lunch and a short break we gear up again and go for the second dive session around Yolanda Reef and Yolanda Wreck. We swim in the shallow water on top of the reef and as soon, as we get into the open water a huge barracuda appears. A beautiful creature, which is also a bit scary.
We snorkle around Yolanda Reef and we see a huge shoal of unicorn fishes at around 15 meters. I have seen many unicorn fish but never so many in one time.
We are getting nearer Yolanda Wreck, which is a wreck spread in pieces on the bottom of the sea, and you find timber and toilets all over the bottom. Also here we find a huge shoal of unicorn fisk and a make some really nice and beautiful dives. I mean, the scenarie is beautiful, I’m not sure how graceful I look…
On our way back to Yolanda Reef I almost swim into a turtle. It’s right in front of me, hanging around on the surface for a minute, before it tries to escape our nosey eyes. So beautiful and cute!
I begin to get tired. We have been in the water for a couple of hours now, so maybe 4-5 hours in total.
We get out of the water, pack our gear in the car and head back to Dahab. Damn I’m tired, or maybe just very relaxed and satisfied. This has been a great day, and I’m really happy I went on the trip, even though I have been to Ras Mohammed several times before. I have been very comfortable and relaxed in my dives, though I found my contractions coming ealier and earlier, as the day went by. But I guess, thats because, I was getting tired from all the swimming and diving.
Back in Dahab I stay in bed for the hole evening, except for the half an hour I go outside to get a pizza. At 9pm I’m sleeping with my computer on.
I wake up this morning and I’m really tired. The 4 hours in the water yesterday has really torn me down. I’m not really up for training today, but at the same time, I have two days left, and I don’t wanna miss a day of diving. At the dive center I talk to Hussein. He tells me to go dive. I have to days left and shouldn’t wanna miss it. Well, he’s right. I pack my gear and we’re off to Blue Hole.
All the way to Blue Hole I’m thinking about how tired I am, and that I actually don’t wanna dive. But I guess I should just get the best out of it, and don’t expect any brilliant dives today.
I dive with Ben today, and I begin with a few FIM warm up dives, and afterwards I do CWT. I turn around at 26 meters at the first one and at the next two dives I turn around at 30-32 meters. I’m exhausted. My legs are tired, my body is tired, and I don’t really feel like diving. At the same time I’m doing safety for Ben, which also tiring me down. I tell Ben, that I don’t really wanna do much more diving, but I need to do my requirements for level 3.
Ben has a few more dives, training FIM with noseclip. At the end I do my first requirement, mask of at 20 meters and ascending without it and afterwards rescue from 20 meters. The rescue makes me a bit nerveus, as when I did it on my level 2 course, I felt it very heavy to ascent with an other person. I guess, I just really have to make some strong kicks then. I make myself ready for descending. Give Ben an OK sign and we both descend to 20 meters, where I grap Ben by the chin and the back of his head and start kicking strongly. After doing the surface procedure, Ben tells me that my kicks were good, and we had a good speed. No need to be nervous.
We are both fine with today’s training and swim to shore for some lunch. My appetite is, not good these days, so I barely eat my lunch. I guess the heat and diving is making me eat less. Well, I only have one day left, so I won’t loose too much weight.
Back in Dahab I finish my exam for level 3 with Hussein…and I am no a level 3 diver! Wohooo!!
So, today is my last day in Dahab. Yesterday my training wasn’t good, so today I really wanna make up for it. I am going to Blue Hole with Ben, Linda and Sofia, and I’ll be sharing the bouy with Ben.
At Blue Hole Ben and I go straight to the water and set up our bouy. As usual I begin with a couple of FIM warm up dives. I feel very relaxed and comfortable. Ben is practicing his FIM and we do safety for each other. After 3 FIM dives I move on to CWT. I feel relaxed during my breathe up and start descending. My depth alarm goes off at 15 meters and I make a few more kicks and begin my freefall. My equalization and mouthfill is kind of working. At 30 meters my alarm goes off again. I’m still falling, but I begin to sturggle with the equalization, and I turn around. 34.5 meters.
I feel quite confident about my dives today, and now I really wanna make a new PB. 40 meters would be amazing to reach, but I don’t expect it…only hoping! I take 3-4 minuets to really realax and do my breathe up, then do my duck dive and start descending. Again, my alarm goes off at 15 meters, start freefalling, and do my mouthfill. I hear my ears equalizing with a constant preassure and then my alarm goes off again. Now I’m at 30 meters. I feel relaxed, close my eyes one in a while, and I feel that I have been falling for a while now. My alarm should go off at 39 meters, but now I begin struggling with the equalization again, and add just a few more seconds of falling, and then I have to turn around. Ben meets me at around 15 meters. On the surface I look at my computer. 37.8 meters. That’s a PB! Yayy. Ben congratulates me and Linda come over and asks me how it went. I really wants to tell her, that I reached 40 meters, but it was “only” 37.8. But she’s happy for me and congratulate me.
Before my next dive Ben askes me when I begin my freefall and how long time my dive is. Well, I got to 37.8 meters, I began my freefall at around 17 meters and my dive time was 1m31s. In my dive profile I can see that my speed is slowing down a bit after my freefall. Maybe with 10-20cm per second. He tells me, that I can wait with freefalling till maybe 20 meters, so that I get more speed.
I would really love to reach the round 40 meters, but I feel that I’m getting a bit exhausted now. But I want to make just one more attempt to reach it. I prepare my next dive and start descending. My alarm goes off at the 15 meters and I keep an eye on the rope to see, when I reach 20 meters. Then I start freefalling. I hear my alarm at 30 meters and I continue falling but then my equalization doesn’t work, and I have to turn around. I reached 35.1 meters.
Even though I wasn’t able to get to 40 meters this time, I’am quite happy with my progress in freediving. I began 3 weeks ago with 21.8 meters and I have increased my depth with 16 meters. It may not sound as much, when you think about 16 meters from the surface and into the depth, but when you are already at around 20 meters and want to go deeper, 16 meters is a lot. Well, for me anyway. Equalizing is getting more and more difficult, and most of my dives have ended, because I couldn’t keep equalizing.
I spend my afternoon in the sun to get the last bit of tanning before leaving Dahab. Afterwards I meet up with Caleb, Enrique and Filippo for a beer, or three, and some dinner. I haven’t gotten much alcohol on this trip, mostly because I’ve been wanting to do well in freediving, but also not to fall asleep too early at night. But tonight I’m having a few beers, just to make me tipsy enough to fall asleep on the plane, as I’m really afraid of flying.
The night goes well in great company of the guys, and I win in the card game Uno. Thanks guys for a lovely ending of an amazing journey through freediving.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Freedive Dahab for an amazing time and some great dives, and thanks for all the feedback and criticism. Also a big thanks to my new friends for making this holiday one of the best ever, and thank you Filippo for the top image of this post and Linda, Freedive Dahab for allowing me to use your pictures on my blog and facebook page.