Blue O Two – M/Y Blue Fin – Straits of Tiran Liveaboard
Gatwick – Hurghada (Jan 2019)
This was my first liveaboard. I’m padi aow with only 32 dives logged. After weeks of research Blue O Two were the company we wanted to travel with. I wanted warmer than uk water, plenty to see and a bit of sunshine. Budget wasn’t millions so Egypt was an obvious choice.
Booked online, package included flights. Pre-arranged to do the padi Nitrox course at the beginning of the week which meant we could dive nitrox for the rest of the week.
Here’s a review of our trip. Hopefully you’ll find my musings useful.
• UK transport and Flight from Gatwick
National Express from Cardiff at stupid oclock in the morning. Cheap and suprisingly comfortable. Driver got utterly lost on a diversion off the motorway, at one point we were turning around in an ASDA carpark! Other than that it was a painless easy journey to the airport.
Pay for the upgrade to Gatwick Premium security, worth every penny, we sailed straight through.
Flight was ok, only 5 hours, cup of tea and a snack (pay on the plane). Read of a book and a snooze and we were there!
• Arrival at airport
Visa/passport control was super quick and easy thanks to the BlueOTwo rep. Met by Blue O Two guide outside the airport, where we jumped on a little minibus to transfer to the harbour.
• Arrival at boat
We were the last to board, along with another couple. The rest of the divers were all from one dive club, kind of cool as they already knew each other so we all gelled pretty quickly.
Our luggage was placed on the dive deck by the crew, while we were ushered inside for a welcome talk by one of the guides.
At this point you take off your shoes and won’t put them back on for the whole week! I took along a pair of flipflops but didn’t use them. We were told the plan for our first night and check dive tomorrow. After being directed to our cabin we were left to unpack and settle in. I thought i had packed light but will be saving another couple of kilo on my next trip. A number of things i didnt wear or need. Unpack into your cabin then take your luggage back out to the dive deck, unpack dive kit and set that up. Our luggage was then whisked away for storage (i guess at the harbour as they werent needed on the boat). Each diver has his/her cylinder/number. Your name is put on the board alongside the cylinder number. Setup kit, BCD is attached to cylinder, check regs etc, fins and other bits stored under the bench in a crate and you’re all set. They refil the cylinders in-situ so once your kit is setup, there’s not need to faff with it.
Other half had a power inflator malfunction. The crew sorted out a replacement bcd for him to borrow for the duration of the trip. He also borrowed a wetsuit. I had taken my own but tried on one of theirs purely for curiosity. It was a mens fit = aweful fit on my lady curves haha. So glad i took my own along.
I kept a dry-bag in my crate for transporting wet stuff to and from my cabin.
• MY Blue Fin the boat
Boat was surprisingly spacious considering the number of people aboard. Once unpacked and set up we were keen to explore.
Top of the boat was the flight deck, a proper suntrap but a bit drafty!
Sundeck, a number of lounge type furniture for chilling out between dives and in the evenings. Shaded areas too. Ideal for changing into your wetsuit, plenty of space instead of tackling each others elbows on the dive deck. A couple of cabins forward of the sundeck area.
Dive deck, bit where all the dive kit is stored on benches, wetsuit rails etc. Also main entrance into the saloon and below deck to cabins.
Our cabin was on the dive deck level, forward of the saloon and galley (kitchen). Majority of the cabins were on the next deck down, accessed via stairs int he saloon. Double bed, bucket loads of storage in built in wardrobes, large flatscreen tv (ours didn’t work but honestly we were too tired to telly watching anyway!). Aircon was amazing, expected to be too hot but was perfect.
Impressive water pressure in the shower, made it super easy to have a speedy shower and wash long hair after a dive. Conscious of not using too much fresh water. Surprisingly spacious. Genius layout making the whole thing a wetroom. I took a couple of 3M sticky back hooks. Great for hanging bits on.
• Galley & Food
How, How on earth do they turn out not only super tasty nutritious food, but loads of it, from such a tiny space?! Food was fantastic, plenty of it, many may options with every meal. Eggs were ordered the night before fried, scrambled, poached, Spanish omlette, cheese omlette etc. Soft drinks available all day. Water fountain in saloon for filling drinking water bottles.
Boat staff were superb. They made the trip even better than it already was. From obvious things like helping to kit up before a dive and giving a hand onboard afterward, fishing me out of the drink and into the rib etc. Above and beyond was hanging up my wetsuit after a dive (intercepting me enroute to the rail) and handing me a hot chocolate/tea after a dive on the dive deck (soooo welcome!). They keep everything spick and span inside too, giving cabins the once over every day. Comunal areas are kept spotless too. A great bunch, always up for a laugh and on hand to help out if needed.
Dive guides were great. Both had plenty of top tips for diving and the sites we visited. Great instruction for the Padi Nitrox course and spur of the moment Peak Performance Buoyancy. By the end of the trip i was super confident in the water and keen to cary on diving back in the uk. Every dive we were offered Guided or UnGuided, quite a few of us were keen to be Guided while others had done these sites before and just got on with it themselves. Guides were happy to come along, didn’t seem bored with it yet.
The dives were fantastic. A handful of wrecks including the Dunraven, Kingston, Thistlegorm. We had all the dive sites to ourselves. Apparently this is unheard of on the Thistlegorm in particular. We did three dives on that particular wreck, one a night dive. Three night dives in total. One drift dive was like floating in space. The current picked up to an impressive flow. We found ourselves shooting along a wall, then around a corner into an eddy, fantastic fun! I had one zodiac recovery dive, most dives we returned to the Blue Fin, but one was a dsmb up to the zodiac. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. Such a majestic exit and entry to the boat. Again staff were on hand to help out.
Highlight was without a doubt the dolphins. We did three dives at Dolphin house. On the last dive at that site three dolphins showed up and stayed to play with us for a while. Just brilliant!!
• Last night, day at hotel and return flight
The last night is spent in the harbour, the morning (and for us a chunk of the afternoon) was spent at the Mariott Hotel. We had full use of the pool etc. Lunch on poolside was reasonably priced and tasty. A welcome relaxing day lounging in the sunshine with a beer or two before an easy transfer minibus to the airport.
Security at the airport was…thorough. Many passport and bag checks, one right at the gate which made for a rushed boarding. But hey, we were all safe and got away ok.
• Kit used, water temp average 22′
Fourth Element Proteus 5mm wetsuit
Fourth Element thermal drybase top
Oceanic Neo Classic 5mm wetsuit boots with Waterproof thinsulate socks for comfort
3mm hood once, but was plenty warm enough with just a headwrap
Zealge Zena BCD with Atomic S1 integrated Octo/Inflator
Cressi XS Compact Mc9 Regs
Oceanic OCi with transmitter
Mares Avanti Quattro fins
Northern Diver four window mask
Light & Motion Sola 800 torch (superb for night dives & wrecks)
Tovatec compac dive torch (great little pocket torch for poking about at short notice)
DSMB & finger reel
Ezycut and shears
Gopro hero 3 on a bob handle
Personalised save a dive kit
Giant clothes pegs – ideal for hanging towel or in my case rashvest and swimwear on the handrail.
Drybag – small drybag for transporting wet rashvest to and from shower out to deck without dripping all over the beautiful (dry) flooring below deck.
Camera even if it’s just a gopro or similar.
Dive+ App – check out the pics below. The app sorts out the colour of images adding red, making the images less blue foggy.
Long hair – Stream2Sea shampoo and leave in conditioner, i found braided pigtails to be the easiest to deal with. Quick rinse between dives and a wash at the end of each day. I wore a headwrap headband underwater to control the whispy bits.
Ladies, get yourselves a mooncup!
Sea sickness – I don’t normally suffer but figured it would ruin the trip if i fell ill. After a bit of research on facebook, other divers recommended Kwells (fast acting melt in mouth tablets) and Scopolamine Patches. Day three we had a lumping journey over night, i woke up feeling like death, applied a patch went back to bed. Woke up feeling right as rain. The patches last 72 hours, my first fell off towards the end of its third day, the following two patches didnt stick as well. Don’t apply to the same patch of skin as the first. Side effects included slightly blurred vision and a dry mouth, other than that it was a trouble free way of not being seasick. Others on the boat weren’t so lucky. I have to pay for the meds, private prescription from my gp made it half retail price. GP had never heard of the patches but it really was a game changer for me.
Ears – With a history of dodgy ears (a long and wet career in the outdoors), I also took along some antibiotic ear drops and Swim-eze. Day four my ears were objecting to three/four dives a day. The ear drops saved the day and more importantly my dives/ears!
I also found this blog super useful before travelling (Liveaboard Tips and Tricks).