Monday, September 28, 2009

Best Scuba Spot#5

Shark and Yolanda Reef, Egyptian Red Sea

Located at the very Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Shark and Yolanda is one of the most popular dive sites in the area with the day boats from Sharm el Sheikh. Dives generally begin on Shark Reef where you will often see a school of barracuda. From there, continue round on the second reef where you will find the cargo from the wreck of the Yolanda which ran aground during a storm. Since then, the ship itself has slipped off the edge of the reef coming to rest at a depth of around 145m. There is still plenty of its cargo for Scuba divers to view with bath tubs, toilets and basins all over the place as well as plentiful marine life of all shapes and sizes.

This dive is best done as a drift dive starting from Shark Reef and continuing to Yolanda Reef. These are 2 twin mountain-like peaks rising up from a sandy sea bed that is spread out deep below the surface.It’s about 20 to 50 metres down, but the warm water and good visibility make it a comfortable dive. It’s separated from land by a channel so no wonder the Yolanda was wrecked here. Again it’s more suited to advanced divers. Go in the summer months for the most colourful selection of fish.

The other side, facing the west, is much shallower and constitutes part of the plateau that surrounds Yolanda Reef. There are literally thousands of jackfish, batfish and all kinds of sting rays on the densely coralled saddle. Scorpionfish are regularly spotted here, although it is quite a rare sight elsewhere.Finish your dive above the wreckage of the 'Yolanda', a wreck that made this reef its final resting place in the 70's.

Best Scuba Spot #4

Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island

Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the seabed. It is located five degrees north of the equator in the Celebes sea, east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo . It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone.Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin , the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.Beautiful Scuba adventure.

You will never see so many fish in such large groups and in such close a proximity while Scuba diving. Barracuda Point is simply a "must dive". The drop off point for the boats is a sheer wall, however as you head towards the south this curves in over a ledge at around the 22m mark creating a sort of wide step like an underwater runway.More than 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this richest of ecosystems. It is well known for its unusually large numbers of green and hawksbill turtles which gather there to mate and nest and it is not unusual for a diver to see more than 20 turtles on each dive. Another unique feature for Scuba divers visiting here is the turtle tomb, an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles that became disoriented and then drowned.

As you cruise along the wall, keep an eye out for a bumphead parrotfish and turtles in every nook and cranny. Eventually the wall will level out into a sloping plateau, where the barracudas often congregate. Here you can also find Napoleon wrasse and yellow-margin triggerfish. A word of caution though, don't venture too deep to the north of this site as the currents can get very strong and sweep you downwards, out and away from the island.

Best Scuba Spot#3

Blue Corner. Microneisa,Palau

400 miles of limestone coral reefs lifted above sea level and undercut by ocean currents which over time, have notched the bases so that from the air they look like giant green mushrooms, the Republic of Palau is truly nature at her most majestic.This is without doubt the most famous Scuba diving site around Palau and the one that everyone wants to visit. Depths and currents, however, will not make it suitable for everyone.

The reef extends far out into the Pacific at an average depth of only 10m. There are vertical walls on either side that drop to a ledge at 15m and then away into the depths. What makes this site so interesting is the variety of marine life that is attracted here by the currents. When conditions are right, particularly if the current runs from the east and there is an upwelling from below, the sights can be truely spectacular for any Scuba diver.

Palau is rated as one of the world's best Scuba diving destinations by scuba divers. It has unspoiled reefs,caves, and walls with the most amazing array of marine life you can ever imagine.Its three ocean currents bring in plenty of whitetip and grey reef sharks, barracuda, jacks, rays, tuna, snapper, wrasse and bass. A myriad of smaller reef fish inhabit the area as well.

The opportunities for photography are excellent, but keeping oneself still in the current was virtually impossible until dive operators "invented" the reef hook. This allows a Scuba diver to attach their self to the coral - without causing damage to it - and keep both hands free to record the wonders around you.

Best Scuba Spot#2

The Thistlegorm

The Thistlegorm was built by Joseph Thompson & Sons of Sunderland and launched in June 1940. She was 126.5m in length and displaced 4,898 gross tonnes. Powered by a triple-expansion, 3 cylinder steam engine that generated a very comfortable 365 nominal horsepower. She was one of a number of "Thistle" ships owned and operated by the Albyn Line. With her construction being part funded by the British Government, however, she was destined for "War" duties from the moment she was launched.

Despite her designation as an "Armed Freighter" with an additional armoured Gun Deck built over the aft section, an overall shortage of weapons, meant that only an old 4·7" gun and a heavy calibre machine gun - both of WW1 vintage, were all that could be spared for the Thistlegorm. Her maiden voyage was to the USA to collect steel rails and aircraft, her second voyage was to South America for grain and her third was to the West Indies from where she returned with sugar and rum.

It was during the second trip that the Captain decided on some mid-ocean gunnery practise. The traversing mechanism of the 4·7" gun was badly worn and had been replaced with a manual mechanism which meant that a second person had to push the barrel around by hand as it was being fired! After the first shot, the second round jammed in the breech. Such misfires are always dangerous - because an attempt to fire the round has been made and it can, therefore, now explode at any time. A long rope was, therefore tied to the firing mechanism and this led away to a shelter behind the aft mast house. The resultant flash engulfed the entire stern of the ship - with the projectile managing a whole 50m before dropping into the sea. Thus ended all gunnery practise.

Best Scuba Spot#1

The SS Yongala Wreck
Australia’s B
est Wreck Dive

Dive the Yongala Wreck, one of the world’s top dive sites. This famous wreck is located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, just 12 nautical miles away from our baseat Alva Beach in Queensland, Australia.

A short history:

You’d think that with thousands of miles of Coral Reefs, Australia’s coast would be littered with shipwrecks begging for the Scuba diver’s attention. After all, getting wrecked on the reef is a longstanding tradition, starting with the very first English ship to explore the Australian coastline: The Endeavor, led by Captain Cook, struck the Great Barrier Reef just north of Cairns and nearly sank.

While there are wrecks to dive on along the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the most outstanding wreck dives is that of the S.S. Yongala. This steel and timber steamship sank in 1911 during a cyclone about 48 nautical miles from Townsville, taking the lives of all 121 passengers.

The S.S. Yongala; An old wreck in great condition:

The wreck lies in the middle of a flat, sandy shipping channel in about 30m of water and is the only solid structure to he found for miles. Despite this, Scuba divers can still see the rudder, the aft and forward masts, engine and steam rooms, toilets, port-holes and most of the name – Yongala - even after almost 100 years in the water. This historic wreck is a cultural landmark, and is totally protected. Divers are no longer allowed to go into the wreck, as the air bubbles trapped inside would corrode the wreck.