The Orton's on the Nile - 2005

Adam Cousteau

Adam Cousteau

Adam was quite excited about his trip out as it included free lunch and drinks. My guess was they would all be warm before the day was out and that the swimming round the reefs might be hard work. Not quite too his taste was an early start, but he got up and took pleasure in waking Luke up before he left.

We had a leisurely cake and tea breakfast and went back out to the beach. Annette had a cunning plan of her own to look at the fish and corals. Not too bad though as Annette’s love of swimming in the sea is only second to her lover of flying, but she did want to get a closer look at the reefs so we booked up a trip on the glass bottomed boat. Finest boat out, hand built by Achmed’s grandmother, very good price for English people, love English people. Is no problem – you don’t even need ticket, just say I sent you. And your name is my good man? Is no problem everybody knows me!

As we were assured the boat was almost ready to sail, we toddled off down to the dock to the least dilapidated looking boat to have a look at the reefs. There were more people on the Mary Celeste than on board the boat when we turned up so we settled down for a long wait. Noticed there was a large air bubble in glass bottom of boat. No actually it is water coming in through a large crack. Wanting to reassure Annette I pointed this out to her and we used the time to practice filming fish.

Although we had not moved an inch (other than downwards) there were plenty of fish coming right under the bottom of the boat and the time passed quickly enough. Then the crew finally arrived (sadly no parrot or wooden leg) and asked for the tickets. Told them about their well known cousin that had told us to come aboard and one of them shrugged and sauntered across to the kiosk where Achmed was busy trying to convince more tourists they needed to sail on a leaky boat. A couple of hand waves and shrugs later and we were bon fide customers.

Eventually three of four other couples arrived and they untied the boat (had me worried thought it was only the string keeping us afloat) and started up the motor. To my surprise it was quite smooth, there was no cloud of poisonous diesel fumes and we moved slowly out into the bay. Quick toot on horn – flipper disappears out of sight bottom right edge of boat. No blood or sharks so must have missed propellers.

Most of the water had leaked back out as the bow rose a little and with great skill they would cut the motor to a trickle and glide over reef after reef full of exotic fish of all shapes and sizes. The fish appeared used to this and took no notice apart from the boldest who swam right up to the glass. This we later found out was because the party trick was to park up over the biggest reef so you could have a dip while one Egyptian swam under the boat sprinkling chapatti crumbs everywhere causing a feeding frenzy.

Luke went over the side, but I warned him to watch out for strong currents and not go too far. Rather expected him to ask how you could tell a strong currant from a weak one, but he seamed to catch my drift. Most people were back on board within 15 minutes – I was right, they said there was a strong pull out of the bay towards the open waters of the Red Sea.

There we stayed enjoying the view until two other leaky glass boats crunched along side us and the cabin boy decided it was time to take us back in.

Meanwhile Adam was having similar experiences but, further out and with more time for the swimming and trying out his underwater photography. If you look at the pictures he presents as part of our holiday snaps you will be convinced he is the next Jacques Cousteau, but in actual fact all he got was silvery blurs and out of focus blobs. Apparently non of them would stay still long enough for him to get a close up so he downloaded some sharper images from the internet.

They all had a splendid time, but once again said it was hard work because it was so easy to get swept away from the boat if you did not watch the currents. I think the leaky glass was the better option especially as Adam said there were times when there were more divers than fish over some of the reefs.

All this we would learn over tea and our trip to Old Town Sharm.22:05 02/08/2006

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Copyright 2005 D.J.Orton and A.G.Morris