sharks bay

Straits of Tiran: A Day on the Boat

Great day out in The Straits of Tiran this week with a combo of divers and snorkelers on the boat, it was comfortable with plenty of room on the dive deck and there were plenty of people to talk to and share some experiences with.  Our guides were Kareem and Ayman leading the divers, Seif was leading the snorkelers, Osman was taking photos and working his magic underwater, while Speed was there to help out and make sure that everything ran smoothly.   We were cruising on Maka with one of my favorite crews led by Captain Ibrahim.   There was a bit of wind as we left Shark’s Bay Marina but the sun promised to warm things up.

Rafah on El Medina

Cruising out of Shark’s Bay, Rafea waves to us from the bow of El Medina in Shark’s Bay, the sister ship to our boat Maka.  He was also heading out to Tiran to guide a group of snorkelers and introduction divers. 

After we boarded the boat we slipped off our footwear as is the custom on all Egyptian boats.  There is nothing like spending the day barefoot and lounging in the sun on the Red Sea.

We gathered on the upper sundeck to relax and meet our fellow passengers.  We met our instructors for the day along with the captain and crew.  The instructors gave us a boat briefing which included our dive and snorkel plan for the day, safety features and rules for the boat.

wreck of the Louilla
The iconic wreck marks Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran

Making our way out to the Strait of Tiran, it only took about 15 minutes before we encountered the southern most reef: Gordon Reef.  You can easily recognize Gordon Reef because of the shipwreck Loullia that run aground in 1981.  The ship was then hit with another vessel in 2000 which separated the bow from the rest of the Loullia.  Gordon Reef is a fabulous dive site but on this day we were headed a little further north to Woodhouse Reef.

Woodhouse Reef, Straits of Tiran, Sharm el Sheikh
Woodhouse Reef, Straits of Tiran, Sharm el Sheikh

Woodhouse Reef is a long and narrow reef with neither a sheltered lagoon or moorings so divers must make a drift dive.  One of the most interesting part of the reef is a canyon that opens out at a depth of about 30 meters.  The marine life is beautiful on Woodhouse with an abundance of corals and one of the best sites for observing sharks and turtles.

After Woodhouse, we headed to Jackson Reef.

Jackson Reef is the northern most reef in Tiran.  The wreck of the Lara, a merchant ship, sank here in 1981.  The remains of the Lara sit above the surface on the northern side of the reef.  Diving takes place on the southern side of the reef where the shallows are cut with sandy splits.  Corals and marine life here are exceptional making Jackson a favorite dive in the Strait of Tiran.

sandy splits
The sandy splits at Jackson Reef

Depending on currents and conditions, the dive can be made as a drift dive to the east or a moored dive to the west where divers make their way along the reef and then turn around and come back to the boat.  There is a splendid large Turbinaria commonly called a Salad or Lettuce Coral in the shallows near the moorings on Jackson.  On this dive we made our way to the west and returned to the boat.

The winds settled down while we moored up on Jackson and the seas were very calm.  We emerged from the dive with lunch waiting for us.  The crew cooked up a huge buffet of rice, fried fish, beef, vegetables, assorted salads, and their famous pasta.  We ate and relaxed while the captain gently moved us to the next and final dive & snorkeling site.  Ras Ghamila is a local dive site meaning it is situated close to the shore.  Situated almost directly opposite Gordon Reef, the reef separates a vast lagoon from the sea.

Ras Ghamila map
Ras Ghamila map

We did the classic drift dive and were rewarded with a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a huge Moray Eel, and one of our eagle eye divers spotted a Stone fish camouflaged on a coral outcrop.  What a great way to finish off the day!

We headed back to Shark’s Bay, said goodbye to instructors and crew and hopped into our transports waiting to take us back to our residence.  Can’t wait to get back out on the boat!

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