Can I? Can’t I?

[Start self-pitying geek moaning here]

Eve Fanfest 2007

Tickets are out.

Packages are available.

The temptation is strong.

Very strong.

I’m going to be at work. In Egypt. Without a cheap package way of getting there.

Gutted

I know, I know. It’s sad, it’s geeky, but this is the 3rd year in a row now where I’ll have itched and ached to go to the Fanfest (the first one I would have liked it but never got too caught up on the idea) and it looks like it’ll be the third year in a row where I won’t be able to go because it’s the middle of the season out here for the boat.

Besides that, the logistics / cost of getting there from Cairo would be a bitch.

Of course, the flip side is that there are other folks who it’d be fun to go with who would unlikely be able to make it because of Uni commitments and the like, so I’d be stuck going there on my own, which could mean it would turn out less fun than one would hope.

Still, there’s always the year after… *sigh*

Self-pitying geek moan over with. 😀

Maybe I’ll manage to make it to LugRadio Live 2007 instead – anybody want to join in?

Free Music

A little selection of some pleasant little albums available under Creative Commons licenses on Jamendo.com. Available links under each name.

Stark – Lounge Immersion

Some nice jazzy moments.

Various Artists – Bluebox Sampler, Vol. 1

A cool little mixture of rock tracks, along with some really mellow numbers. Some really nice tracks.

Download Here

All:My:Faults – The Anger Manifest EP

Quite heavily electronic rock-bordering-metal tracks. A good front voice and it all works well together. I like it, but I don’t quite know why yet. I keep thinking it’s because it’s a little bit Rammstein-esque, with a twist.

Download Here

The TenGooz

With presently four available albums for download, there’s not one of them I wouldn’t recommend you have a listen to. Japanese group, but singing in English, all in an upbeat, almost-ska, funky little package with a solid bassline and fun guitar.

Download Here

Piergiorgio Lucidi – JazzMoves

Nice.

Download Here

Goo Goo Cluster – Goo Goo Cluster

Funkier than a funky thing on funky stuff. Try it.

Download Here

Zweeback – Zweeback

Relaxed, and generally just fairly pleasant easy listening. Worth a try.

Download Here

Revolution Void – Increase the Dosage

I downloaded this ages ago but never really listened to it. However, it came on today, and have to admit it’s rather addictive, mainly because it fluctuates in tempo and volume a bit, which is nice. Quite cool background music.

Download Here

Immense. Intense.

It’s been a tough few weeks. Virtually no time between one group of 20 leaving and another group arriving. Early starts every morning. Usually late finishes. A lot of diving. In short, I’m knackered, but it’s been fun and we’ve now got a few days to rest and relax and catch up on what’s gone on.

But I won’t talk about all three weeks, mainly because they’re a blur. Instead, I want to mention the last week’s group we had, which was a group from the UKDivers Web Forum, organised by Dave Willo. It was a great group and a super trip. Really nice people, and very fun to be around and work for.

We also managed to get some super cool dives done as the week went on, which always helps. Clearly, I don’t want to bore folks with all the dives we did, but there are a few that definitely deserve a mention.

Salem Express with Brad Williamson

This was the second dive of the trip, after a quick check dive at Abu Hasshish, and whilst it wasn’t my ‘biggest’ dive on the Salem Express (which is a wreck I don’t particularly get too excited about in general) but it was definitely one of the most fun because of the experience of diving with Brad again. This was fun as Brad was last out with us in September when I conducted the Open Water qualifying dives for him and Di, his mum. Basically, it wasn’t until this dive that I realized just how fun and rewarding it is to be able to just go diving and have fun with someone you (me), personally, I’ve been responsible for training.

Of course, I still have responsibilities and things to worry about not least of which is the fact that Brad’s only 11, but he really is a very competent diver for his age and limited number of dives. Over the course of the week we did a number of dives together and he continues to go from strength to strength, diving wrecks, swimthroughs, and even going scootering with us. Super cool.

Having the chance to dive with him again and to see someone you’ve trained getting such enjoyment from the activity is immensely rewarding, and made it one of the coolest 12 metre dives I think I’ve done so far.

Sha’ab Sharm with Dave Williamson

Day 2, first dive of the day, with Dave, Brad’s dad.

Now, I’ve dived a fair amount with Dave in the past already, and he did Tech 1 with AG at the same time as me, albeit within a different team, so it’s always good to go for a dive with him. This dive though was one to remember.

Over the night the wind had picked up so we were dropping in by Zodiac whilst the boat stayed tied up in the sheltered part of the reef. There was very little current to worry about so we pretty much could go where we liked. We headed out over the plateau and as soon as we got to it we were greeted by a White Tip Reef Shark – not exactly a rare sighting but still, always cool to see. Next to it was a small school of Barracuda. So far so good for 10 minutes in. We played around on the plateau for a bit longer, all the time hearing dolphins in the water somewhere, but without seeing them. Eventually I switched off to the noises and resigned myself to not seeing any as we pottered around on the plateau in around 30m of water for a bit longer, whilst the rest of our group moved on. After about 20 minutes we decided to leave and headed back off in the direction of the boat. I turned around have one last check of the plateau behind us when I spotted what I thought at first was a Manta Ray, although checking later it turned out to be a Devil Ray, which I haven’t seen before. It didn’t stay with us too long, just drifted past us and headed across the plateau. After appreciating it for a little while we carried on up the reef, finishing the stops before swimming off into the blue a little way to finish the dive under the boat.

At this point I hear the dolphins again. Loud. I signal to Dave and he returns that he hears them as well. I look around for about a minute and then I spot them swim past us, right below us, and then off under the boat and away. A nice way to end an incredible dive.

Sha’ab Maksour – ‘The Crack’ with Phil Osborn and Andrew Buglass

Day 3, second dive. Myself, Phil, and Andrew are taking the scooters out to dive the crack at the tip of the Northern Plateau at Sha’ab Maksour, to a maximum depth of 60m. Backgas is 18/45, carrying one Deco Bottle of EANx50. Planned bottom time 15 minutes, with 25 minutes of Deco for an average depth of 51m.

The zodiac ride out there was a bit of fun, with some big waves to handle, along with keeping the deco bottles and scooters comfortable. However, once we hit the water everything was good.

We tidied things off just below the surface due to the swell, and after a few minutes started our scooter descent down to the crack which, having looked at it from the 30m mark on my first dive an hour earlier looked, to use a favourite expression, the balls. What this dive is, basically, is where a huge piece of reef at the end of the plateau has ‘broken off’, leaving a divide in the reef and providing swimthrough opportunities and general diving enjoyment. I’ve tried to dive this particular dive one year ago with Hassan Adly, but with not knowing the site, we believed it to be further to the East and so we missed it. I won’t be doing that again…

As we hit the 30m mark the crack appeared right below us. I signalled to descend and hit the trigger on the scooter to propel myself right down into the gap in the reef, turning level again around 51m and scootering out of the bottom of the main break at a maximum depth of 55m. A few more loops around and general fun making around there and we were done. We headed off to the West (more sheltered) side of the plateau and scootered along the wall whilst moving slowly through our deep stops until the gas switch, at which point we packed the scooters away and decided to stage switch / shoot bags / deco without the scooters, due to personal comfort levels, which was cool. We started to move slowly with the current heading down along the reef whilst moving through the 21 – 9m stops. However, after 9 we found ourselves heading into a ‘white zone’ caused by the waves. It was still a fairly calm section but it meant visibility got reduced to nearly nothing. I opted to signal we should scooter out from under this section at 9m and then resume our 6m stops after we were out of it. This was agreed upon and we started to head off.

A minute or two later, and just out of the white zone we were greeted by a spectacular site: 9 Devil Rays swimming together right below us by what seemed like only a few metres. I couldn’t believe it and frantically signalled to the rest of the team. We all came off the trigger and watched the Rays cruise on past us and back up the reef, at which point we continued our scootering and headed up to 6m for the final part of the stops. A few minutes later whilst looking back to see how we were doing I saw the Rays again coming back past us and in the direction we were heading.

I couldn’t believe it.

This time I decided to stay on the trigger and just cruised along right above the group of rays completely and utterly awestruck. As they eventually turned back from where they came we all came off the trigger, shook our heads, and finished the remaining few minutes of Deco. I don’t know about the others, but I personally couldn’t wait to break the surface and start laughing / talking about the experience. A great feeling.

Surprisingly enough, the zodiac ride back to the boat and the subsequent dives were flooded with happy feelings. Immense.

 

And there we have it, a quick selection of some super dives, for a few different reasons.

Other than that, the week was fun on board as well, with plenty of jokes, parties, dancing, and general merriment, all of which meant that today, after about 3 nights with only a few hours sleep, meant that I slept like a sleepy thing, but that’s always the way when things suddenly halt instantly and you realise you don’t have to rush around doing things any more. Maybe now I can finally catch up on reading Roon’s bits and bobs, as well as seeing if I can crack on through The Idiot but Dostoyevsky that I’ve just recently started.

Hopefully I’ll also get the chance to add some more pictures from the last couple of weeks, so check out the Gallery to see if I managed to do that yet..!

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet, yeh. Maybe I’ll manage to head back down to Tundoba over the next few days (after checking emails and posting this stuff) and get some more dives in.