Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tim's Visit

My nephew, Tim, visited us recently.  We gave him a brief exposure to Holland -- a trip to Delft to see the old churches, town square and eat in a outdoor cafe.  He was also game for cycling into town to help me with grocery shopping.  And we visited the local beach which was uninhabited at the time due to the persistent rain that was falling.

Tim sampling the local kibbeling (fried fish) from a stand in Den Haag
We stopped to see the Queen on the way home from Den Haag.  

But the real purpose of his visit was to scuba dive with us in Egypt.  We all flew to Sharm el Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula.  Our objective for the trip was culture, no historical sites....just diving.  We never left the resort.  We didn't have to worry about rain on this beach -- we didn't see a cloud the entire week.  And the temperatures were above 100 degrees every day.  The water temperature was over 85 so the diving was very comfortable.

At 85 degrees the pool wasn't exactly refreshing but it was better than the outside air.  

This was Tim's first time diving.  He had taken the theory classes on-line in the US so he only had to do  four dives with an instructor to obtain his certification.  He had a great teacher and as expected, Tim passed with flying colors.   His biggest challenge was the 20 minute swim.  He's a great swimmer so technique was not the issue.  The challenge resulted from his eating the hotel breakfast buffet right before the swimming session.

Tim and his instructor, Duncan

I also did some training.  I received my Advanced Scuba certification, so now I'm caught up with Lori, Kate and Grant -- at least as far as certifications go.  My diving skills are not quite on their level yet, but they put up with me.  

So once Tim and I finished our classes, the four of us dove together for the next four days.  Tim got a great introduction to diving.  The Red Sea was gorgeous.  Beautiful coral and lots and lots of fish. Some of the best diving we've ever done.  We also did a shipwreck dive in the SS Thistlegorn.  It was a WWII merchant vessel that was sunk in 1941.  It was carrying motorcycles, trucks, airplane parts and train engines -- and they are all still in the wreck.  It was neat to swim around and see these things in the hold.  We also did a night dive which didn't produce anything spectacular -- some crabs, fish sleeping in the coral, phosphorescent plankton -- but is always interesting.

The trucks on the Thistlegorm were loaded with motorcycles -- and they are in the same position as when the ship sank.  Do a google on Thistlegorm and you'll find some interesting reading.  It was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 50's but he refused to tell people where it was.  It was eventually found again in the 80's.  
We rode in this boat for 1.5 hours each way to reach the wreck.  No shade, but at least it was fast.  
The highlight of the trip was one of our morning dives.  We were all watching a large hawksbill turtle eating coral.  He was quite hungry and was really munching on the coral.  Then the dive instructor starting waving his arms and pointing out towards the sea.  A group of 10 dolphins was swimming by, including a calf riding on his mom's back.  Then another group of divers went by and pointed in a different direction, towards a large tiger shark.  I didn't actually see the shark, but Lori and Grant did.  Those are not usually the types of  sharks you like to see underwater, but he didn't seem too interested in us.  That was a once in a lifetime dive -- so unfortunately Tim's diving has already peaked.

A tiger shark -- not the one we saw -- but as you can see, not a very friendly fish.  
Dolphins -- again, not the ones we saw -- but it gives you an idea of what we did see.  

Our favorite crypt cover in the Oude Kerk in Delft

The Delft town square as viewed from the bell tower of the Nieuwe Kerk.  

The Oude Kerk and canals in Delft

The rocks around the Ras Mohammed diving area near Sharm el Sheikh. 

The diving cousins

Turin Island, across the sea from our resort.  

Tim and Grant went parasailing on the last day. 

The hotel had a funicular to take people up and down the hill to the pools/beach.  It seemed that every time we wanted to go up the hill, it broke.  The standard line was "it will be fixed in 5 minutes".   We usually just walked because 5 minutes was overly optimistic.  One time they got a golf buggy to take us up the hill, but it didn't have the horsepower to get all four of us up.  

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