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Northern Trip

Best of The Northern Red Sea 

 
M.Y. Juliet departs from Sharm el Sheikh Or Hurghada (Red Sea / Egypt)  weekly throughout the year, covering the Best of The Northern Red Sea
  
Her exciting dive itinerary has plenty of variety. It includes the very best coral reefs and islands between the Tiran and Gubal Straits including Ras Mohamed. Although wreck dives are weather dependent, she usually covers Sha'b Abu Nuhas, famous for wrecks including the Giannis D cargo vessel and the Carnatic, a 100 year old wine wreck, plus the S.S. Thistlegorm in Sha'b Ali. Dives can be made from her tender, ensuring plenty of drift diving. 

She is fully equipped with comprehensive navigation and safety equipment to cruise in comfort in all sea conditions.
 
Ras Mohamed
 
Ras Mohamed, declared a National Park in 1983, lies on the southern most tip of the Sinai and it is one of the best kept National Parks in Egypt. The sea near Sharm El Sheik is full of nutricients and therefore attracts a large amount of big fish. Steep walls covered in coral, going down to depth of 1000 meter, is the nature of diving in Ras Mohamed. It has earned itself a reputation as one of the top diving areas in the world. Sites include:
 
  • Ras Ghozlani - One of the most beautiful dive sites in the area. Having been closed to divers for many years due to the turtle laying beach close by, this site has an extraordinary array of beautiful table corals, glassfish covered pinnacles and an overall stunning landscape. Entry fee: 5 Euro (paid locally).
     

  • Ras Za'atar - Most northern dive of Ras Mohamed National Park, it is the southern entrance to the bay of Mersa Bareika. This is where the steep wall of Ras Mohamed, with caves and overhangs, meets the gentle slope of the bay of Mersa Bareika, and is scattered with colorful coral heads. Head north along the wall amongst big overhangs and dark gullies, the wall is swathed in sea fans, gorgonians and the odd sprig of black coral. Just before the corner look out for the chimney at 15m, home to malabar grouper. Look closer and find the cleaning stations with the wrasse and shrimp in attendance. Don't forget to check out the blue for schools of barracuda and jacks or the odd eagle ray cruising by. Entry fee: 5 Euro (paid locally).
     

  • Jackfish Alley - the largest plateau in Ras Mohamed. Running across this plateau is a secondary or satellite reef which creates the sandy 'alley' through which fast currents are funnelled. In early spring, this is the site of the seasons' first mating fish; crowds of white pointy nosed blue Spangled Emperors congregate here for only a couple of weeks, occasionally giving divers the chance to see glimpses of.black tip sharks! Entry fee: 5 Euro (paid locally).
     

  • Eel Garden - Eel Garden is situated in front of a small beach south of Jackfish Alley and immediately before Sharks Observatory. Eel Garden is well sheltered from the currents but since it is exposed to prevailing winds and waves divers must pay close attention to the condition of the sea. The dive is extremely easy and the route winds through the sandy plateau slightly inclined to the east opposite the beach. On the central part of the sandy ledge there is a small cave out of which appears to flow an impressive V-shaped stream of sand. The middle section of the plateau is populated by a lovely colony of Garden eels. Entry fee: 5 Euro (paid locally).
     

  • Shark Observatory - The site is not aptly named as it is not noted for its shark sightings, however, it is a fantastic dive. Beneath the towering cliffs that continue below the surface to disappear into the deep abyss the wall is covered with soft coral and honeycombed with numerous gullies and canyons that are home to hoards of glass fish and hatchet fish herded by red mouth grouper. An overhang, fringed with sea fans at 10m, is a great place to watch the Trevallies, Jacks and Turtles passing in the blue. At the southern end Anemone city is worth a visit. Entry fee: 5 Euro (paid locally).
     

  • Shark & Jolanda Reefs - Situated right at the tip of the Sinai this site is world renowned. Shark Reef, covered in stunning hard and soft corals, is a vertical wall dropping to charted depths of nearly 800m. Yolanda Reef has a wide plateau with a  coral garden and masses of pinnacles, each one a cleaning station teeming with fish. Between Jolanda reef and the main reef lies the cargo of the wreck of the Yolanda. A 74m long cargo ship, she was transporting bathroom supplies and a BMW to the port of Aqaba when she struck the reef in 1980. She lay on her side until 1987 when she slid into the abyss, during a heavy storm, leaving her cargo behind for divers to explore today.
    Currents can be quite strong here, creating a kind of rollercoaster ride around these reefs in one direction or the other, depending on the prevailing current. Most of the year, divers enjoy looking out for scorpionfish, crocodilefish, groupers, turtles, tuna, huge morays and napoleons that frequent this dive site but in the summer, all focus changes to the water away from the reef where schools of fish collect together for mating; Twin spot (Bohar) Snapper, Red Snapper, batfish, unicornfish, barracudas and more which of course sometimes attracts the predators. Silkies, grey reefs, black tips and even tigers have been seen at this dive site.  

Wreck of the Thistlegorm
 
Thistlegorm
To most divers familiar to the Red Sea, this iconic wreck needs no introduction. It is a must-dive on quite a number of peoples to-do list, and whether you like wreck diving or not, the Thistlegorm is just incredible. Sunk in the same way as the 'Rosalie Moller' - just 48 hours and a few miles apart - The Thistlegorm truly is one of the best dives in the World. The Thistlegorm was carrying cargo for the War Effort in North Egypt, and every dive is a visit to an underwater museum, a place in time where the clocks stopped. Locomotives, various ammunition and Lee Enfield rifles, Bedford trucks, Triumph motorbikes and even airplane wings can still be found in The Thistlegorms cavernous holds.
 
Gubal Straits
 
  • The Alternatives - About 30 minutes north west of Ras Mohamed is a system of flat top ergs, with names like "lonely mushroom", "stingray station" and sometimes known as the "seven pinnacles". Best dive is around the third or fourth erg from the east where the current sweeps through feeding pristine corals with bright vivid colours, however, the visibility can be effected in rough weather.
     

  • Stingray Station - In the north-western part of the Alternatives there is a large roughly quadrangular outcrop known as Stingray Station. It gets its name because many Blue Spotted Stingrays gather here particularly in the spring months. It can be dived both as a mooring dive and as a drift dive and is very popular with snorkellers due to the shelter the reef provides and the shallowness of the surrounding water.
     

  • Small Crack (Small Passage) - Small split in the middle of Shaab Mahmoud’s barrier. The tide empties and fills the inner lagoon twice daily, thus creating strong currents that promote an impressive explosion of life. Brilliant soft corals and resident flashlight fish also make it a premier night dive location - weather permitting.
     

  • Shag Rock - Being so close to its neighbour, the Thistlegorm, this large circular reef is often overlooked. It offers excellent diving on pristine coral from any location on its perimeter. The sheltered southern point is the most dived location offering the opportunity for drifts along the west or east sides. Weather permitting the northern point hosts the wreck of the Kingston ('Sarah H') just below the surface (max. depth 12m). Large schools of yellow goat fish and sweet lips abound here and the area regularly patrolled by grey reef sharks. Weather permitting.
     

  • Lonely Mushroom - A single large circular tower known as the Lonely Mushroom comes up from the sandy seabed and despite its relatively small size offers a great mooring dive for those that want an easy shallow dive and loves macro photography. Nudibranches and small shrimp are in their abundance hiding in amongst the numerous hard and soft corals. But be aware this site can sometimes be very difficult to find!
     

  • Wreck of the Kingston - Shag Rock is situated about a mile south of Sha'ab Ali and 6 miles away from the wreck of the Thistlegorm. On the northern side of the reef lies a wreck which for a long time had been falsely called Sara H, an imaginary name that in reality does not apply to any ship. The wreck in fact was the British cargo vessel Kingston built in 1871 in Sunderland by Oswald Shipbuilding Co. which ran aground on the 22nd February 1881 whilst en-route to Aden, located in Southern Yemen with its cargo of coal. 78m long, 10m wide and 1449 tons this wreck lies in water of 4m down to 15m. The wreck is easily accessible and offers spectacular opportunities for photographers. There is an abundance of soft and hard corals and numerous and varied reef fauna. Divers need to be aware that this wreck should only be dived when conditions are good as strong currents are possible

 

Rosalie Moller

 

Rosalie Moller

Built in Glasgow in 1910, this 108.2m long vessel started life carrying cargo around Europe, before being re-registered in China in 1931. In 1938 the Rosalie Moller was requisitioned by the Royal Navy, transporting 'Best Welsh Coal' to a variety of UK Naval Ports. After joining the War effort - and a full overhaul - in July 1941 'The Rosie' set sail for Alexandria laden with 4680 tons of coal. A collision in the Suez Canal meant that she was unable to pass through, and was directed to 'Safe Anchorage H' until the way was cleared. On 5th October 1941, German Intelligence had reports of the Queen Mary being sighted in this area, and dispatched 2 Heinkel HE111's on a search and destroy mission. The Queen Mary was never found, but the merchant ship 'SS Thistlegorm' was, and was bombed and sunk on October 6th. The explosion from the Thistlegorm was so massive, that it lit up the night sky, exposing 'Rosie' in Anchorage H. 48hrs later on 7th October, the same fate was delivered to Rosalie Moller.

Today the Rosalie Moller sits upright on the seabed with the main deck at 30-32 meters. Apart from a hole in the port side near the stern, where the bomb exploded, the only other major damage is the collapsed funnel and the stern mast, which was broken off more recently due to dive boats tying onto it. The wreck is home to large groupers and lion fish and a huge number of glass fish. Large tuna and jack fish patrol the wreck in search of smaller fish.

 

Abu Nuhas

 

About 2 1/2 hours cruising time from Hurghada lies the reef of Abu Nuhas - "The father of bad luck", so called because of the number of ships that have hit this reef over the years. The reef is to the north of Shaidwan Island, close to the main shipping channel from Suez and usually partially submerged making it dangerous for shipping.

Among the many ships that have hit the north side of the reef, 4 remain as diveable wrecks for recreational divers. Starting from the north they are:

  • Kimon M - known as the "lentil wreck", the ship now lies against the reef with the bows pointing up the reef. The wreck starts at around 10 meters with a maximum depth of around 25 meters at the stern.
     

  • Marcus - the "tile wreck", referred to in some guides as the Chrisoula K, another tile carrying ship, which is now believed to lie further from the reef in 65 meters. The bow of the Marcus is in 5 meters with the broken off stern in around 26 meters. This is a very easy wreck for the novice wreck diver due to the shallow area at the bow and the gently increasing depth down to the stern. The cargo of floor tiles can be seen clearly in the open holds.
     

  • Carnatic - the "wine ship", which hit the reef and sank in 1869 on her way from Suez to India with a cargo of port wine and gold and silver bullion. The wreck is broken in 2 pieces and lies on its side on the reef with a depth range of 12 to 24 meters. The wreck is known for its huge bronze propeller and the beautiful corals that cover it after over 140 years on the sea bed.
     

  • Ghiannis D - the "wooden ship," which was carrying a cargo of timber bound for Saudi Arabia. Stranded on the reef, the ship broke its back during a storm and sank in two pieces. The stern section has twin masts that reach up to 5 meters from the surface with the stern at 24 meters. The engine room can be visited by suitably qualified divers.

    In addition to the wrecks it is also possible to dive on the other side of the reef at a site known as Paradise, which has a plateau with a huge coral garden and a drop off into deeper water