Travel report live aboard Red Sea 2013 with the MY Independence II

(Best of North, Brothers, Daedalus, Elphinstone)


Also this year we did it again, this time on the 12-day tour starting in Hurghada. We have been flown once again with Condor, but this airline has now apparently developed to a "low-cost airline" for the middle-range flights. Even soft drinks with extra charge, the obligatory sandwiches, no entertainment ("Is not offered on this route"), seats not adjustable, at least not in our row. For 600 Euro plus 100 Euro for diving equipment we could not appreciate the price-performance ratio. However, on time both on the return flight and the baggage always received. After landing in Hurghada, the usual hustle and bustle of the arrival hall, about 1,000 people want simultaneously to enter through the bottleneck of the few immigration counters. All postings in the hall regarding the filling of the entry-forms are in Russian language only, which puzzles someone a bit!

Eventually we managed it and our pickup brought us quickly to the marina, where the crew and some guests were already waiting for us. This time we had our cabin (no.1) on the lower deck. Shortly afterwards the briefings with Melissa and Daniel followed, doing the paperwork, unpacking, setting-up and the first dinner on board. A total of 17 divers had signed up for this tour.


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The tour started the next morning exceptionally early at 9 clock with light waves. Our first goal should be a check dive at Shaab el Erg, as always, quite uneventful, but good for the check-dive. This was followed by the trip to Abu Nuhas, where several ships are sunk in the last 130 years. We dived here the MV Carnatic (wine- and bottlesfreight), the MV Chrisoula K (ceramics- and tilesfreight), and the MV Giannis D (wood).

On this tour for us the MV Rosalie Moller was an absolute highlight. The British bulk freighter was sunk in 1941 by German bombers and is well preserved to about 50m depth on sandy ground. However, the main deck is at 35m and there was a strong current, so the dives were quite challenging. Sometimes there is magnificent vegetation, for example on the mast, as well as many schools of glassfish and batfish.

The last dive-spot on this part of the tour should be the probably most famous shipwreck in the northern Red Sea, the SS THISTLEGORM. The approximately 125m long British military freighter was hit by a German bomber and sank on the spot. In particular, the front part and a large part of the cargo is still in good condition. To visit are railroad cars, motorcycles and trucks, flatbed trucks, tanks and so on. The SS Thistlegorm has become a very impressive biotope, but the pleasure at the same time was somewhat limited by the presence of very many divers.

A great experience was the night dive at this wreck (The 800. dive of Roland!), there were not so many bubbles, but surprisingly a lot of fish and other living things.


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On the 4th day of diving there was a reunion with Ras Mohammad, the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The peninsula has been declared a National Park in 1989, so vessels may not anchor there, for example. In the summer you can find there sometimes huge schools of snappers, surgeonfish, batfish and barracudas. We have dived Jolanda Reef and Shark Reef, the former freight of MV Jolanda (bathtubs and toilet bowls) is still there.

Then we went on a long journey south, our next goal should be the Brother Islands, a relatively calm crossing of about 12 hours waiting for us. The next morning the early morning dive at the little brother where we were at anchor was not quite as early as usual. Here again the not shy flute fish waiting in close proximity, countless cleaning stations and beautiful intact gorgonians. Also the second dive at Little Brother brought a small sensation: The first Manta in the Red Sea for us ever circled our group for approximately 15 minutes over and over again. You find a video in our video section Here. In the late afternoon, one of the real highlights of the entire tour: We decided not to go with the Zodiac to the north, but to jump from the boat into the water and luck was with us. At about 20m of depth quite comfortably swam a thresher shark, although then moved quickly over, but came back again, because other divers in that direction.

For the next morning the following entry in the logbook: barracudas, moray eels, jellyfish and too many divers! It was therefore decided by the group to change to the Big Brother, where we did two more dives, the last on the wreck of the MV Numidia.

After dinner we went to the next major stage of the Tour, the trip to Daedalus Reef. This reef we dived in the last 4 years a few times, where we have really experienced great dives, unfortunately the oceanic white tip shark (longimanus) is no longer on site.

But this year there were extraordinary encounters which have delighted the heart of us divers: The Hammerhead school is still to be found in the north of the island (although because of the water temperatures always in 30-40 m depth!). We had the pleasure even 2 times, the second time very exclusively only for us, since only two ships anchored at Daedalus reef. Moreover, with only one exception we encountered mantas, as an exceptional amount of plankton was present around the island. We were able to identify at least three Mantas of different sizes, including a minor, who inspired us with artistic interludes about half an hour, although more and more divers showed up at this location. He also was not impressed by a really pushy photographer who positioned an actioncam on a pole in front of his nose. Sometimes you wonder if this mass tourism harms the animals under water or not.

After the last long crossing back towards the coast on day 11, there was the last two dives at the legendary Elphinstone Reef. We never have experienced this dive site with so little surf and so few dive boats, there was significantly more life under water! We saw two hammerhead sharks, but relatively far below us, two Napoleons Wrasses and much reef fish. Somewhen even the beautiful final dive ended.

In the early afternoon we went back to Port Ghalib, the deco-beer was taken at a restaurant at the marina that evening.

Conclusion: An extremely successful tour, which probably is difficult to beat. An excellent crew on a beautiful safari ship, a flexible top-kitchen, dedicated guides, encounters with sharks, mantas & Co, night dive at the Thistlegorm. A special thanks to the good-humored guests, Melissa and Daniel as the guides and the entire crew of the MY Independence II.

Blue Water Safaris: "We'll be back, maybe then there is even a reasonable flight to Marsa Alam again."


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