A personal account of the Red Sea Diving Trip 2019
Monday morning, 6am. A knock at the door. Wide awake in an instant. The heavy footsteps recede down the corridor. I’m tired, but have no will to return to sleep. My heart beats loudly in my chest.
Five minutes later, the knock again, louder this time. As I stare at it, the door opens. A face, silhouetted as the bright lights of the corridor attempt to penetrate the darkness of the cabin. A voice addresses me directly:
‘Sir, would you like your coffee now?’
So begins another day aboard the Melody, our luxurious yacht for the Red Sea Diving Trip. As I rise up the stairs to the outside deck, the brightness of the morning sun shakes off the last vestiges of sleep. Some pupils are already up – it is slightly after 6.15, now – relaxing on the loungers, surveying the water, chatting about the day ahead. After a quick pastry and a hot drink we get kitted up for the morning dive. Then, in our diving groups, we step off the boat into the cool, clear depths of the sea. At once, a riot of colour explodes in front of us: fish, corals, eels, rays. It is a magical feeling, to be floating weightlessly and without effort among such profusion and variety of life. As we descend, the colours become more muted, but the detail of the structures stands out more. Following our guides, we get to observe everything up close and in its own habitat. At first, it requires effort to breathe underwater, to stay level, to follow the group. But soon these things become natural, and I find myself held in an unparalleled intensity of peace and focus. By the time we are out of air, we are back beneath the boat. On first popping out of the water, the upper world seems astonishingly hot, noisy and intense. But a quick rinse off and towel dry quickly puts us into a state of relaxation again.
We repeated the above 19 times on our trip: 16 times during the day and three times at night. Every dive, however, was different: sometimes we saw shipwrecks, sometimes the purple-spotted stingray or the fearsome lionfish, on one occasion dolphins. Time in between dives was spent eating, reading, resting, sunbathing – and talking. With no wifi on the open sea we had to talk to each other, and we had all seen such amazing things that the conversation flowed.
The return to land was a shock. No early-morning wake-up call, no shared breakfast, no relaxing on the top deck, no glorious view across the majestic blue-green sea, not even any deadly puns from Mr Hooker. I can't wait to go back.