One of the reasons I found myself technical diving in Dahab was the result of reading the following excellent article by Jonas on what technical diving means for him:
I shall never forget the experience of my deep adventure dive as part of my advanced open water…a deep reef at 30m, not yet visible from the surface meaning the initial descent was into the blue. Surrounded by penetrating beams of sunlight I dropped seemingly into the oceanic abyss and as the blue morphed into reef beneath me, a sense of discovering untouched places filled me from within. That feeling of discovery persists still with each dive that begins with a similar descent, of which there is no shortage here in Dahab!
On the East coast of the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, Dahab is a relaxed Bedouin town with diving a first-class citizen. Open sea and some decent winds mean that kite and wind surfing are sibling water sports but are certainly babies of the family. The shore lines the Gulf of Aqaba, a body of water stretching from the main mass of the Red Sea some 160km north separating Egypt from Saudi Arabia and briefly touching Israel and Jordon at its tip. The Gulf is 24km at its widest point and nearly 2km deep in parts!
The generally narrow nature of the Gulf ensures Saudi Arabia is commonly visible across the water making for breath-taking sunrises, at times you could be excused for believing it a large lake. Behind Dahab the South Sinai mountains rise quickly in a variety of hues indicative of the mix of rock types with rich mineral veins and some of the oldest rock in Earth’s history. From a distance, the coast of Saudi Arabia looks remarkably similar, obvious when you realise they were once as one, approximately 40 million years ago before Africa and Arabia began to drift apart and create the chasm-like Gulf of Aqaba in between.
This dramatic event was perhaps one of nature’s greatest gifts to technical divers by sculpting a stunning underwater landscape as easily accessed as stepping from the shore. This accessibility means that Dahab’s charming and relaxed vibe permeates our daily diving as well. No boat schedule dictates our logistics, no off-shore currents control our entry times. We dive when we are ready to dive, when we have finished a thorough briefing and enjoyed a coffee, tea or banana shake with it. On the surface one minute and at 100m almost no time later, and the depth continues far beyond!
Technical diving is a means to an end and at its inception that end was largely driven from a desire to explore caves and wrecks. With neither present in Dahab’s popular waters, I am often asked what the point is for diving deep? Are we just number chasers, doing it because we can? I couldn’t disagree more and indeed on my first 100m dive, one of my dive computers clocked only 99.1m, the extra 0.9 was not something that bothered me greatly. However, the journey down there while short was spectacular. To be falling into the blue, in that same way I experienced on my first adventure deep dive, for 5 minutes was exhilarating.
But it isn’t for the mild adrenaline hit either; it’s for the visuals you are witness to on the way down, at the bottom and equally on the way up. Dahab’s diving fame is helped in no small part by the Blue Hole, formerly a large cave whose ceiling collapsed and subsequent rising sea levels created one of the most infamous dive sites in the world. Floating within this calm column of water is enjoyable in itself but traversing through the 30m long arch that connects this former-cave to the open ocean is inspiring. At 55m below the surface and extending down to 100m at its bottom, its scale is hard to appreciate second-hand. The humbling enormity of the Himalayan mountain ranges is similarly achieved by the topography of this dive site.
For me I believe this is the primary joy I get from diving here. Being the subject of a scene where nature makes you feel so small gives me a great sense of mental clarity and the Blue Hole is just the start. The towering wall at neighbour dive site Bells, the deep Canyon pathways of Abu Helal and Abu Talha, the myriad other smaller canyons carved into the coral and rock that hug so close to land. Collectively these provide for stunning beauty while simultaneously giving perfect conditions to train other would-be marine explorers in the proper techniques and procedures required to explore them.
Just as Jonas recalled himself as a boy, peering into a lake and wondering what was there, I find myself similarly captivated with the incomparable blue that is found in the depths off the shore and I look forward to many more enjoyable hours finding out what lies beyond
Adam Miller – Technical Instructor & Operational Manager TBI