Pat Dunbar, adventurer and Chartered client, continues the account of her Egyptian scuba diving adventure … and shares the life lessons she took away with her.
I had never dived on a shipwreck so it was both exhilarating and frightening.
With the help of my experienced dive buddy, I found myself swimming past, and marveling at, the most incredible underwater images.
Because of the abundance of life, it is impossible to remember everything you see: glass fish, scorpion fish, lion fish and the deadly stone fish in the sand, shoals of little Goldies swirling around the divers, clown fish in the anemones, exquisite emperor fish … just too many to list. The world under the sea is an alien, fascinating place, dangerous and thrilling with the unexpected around every coral outcrop.
On two occasions, I actually penetrated the wrecks.
By our last dive around the Pinnacles (two towers of coral-covered rocks), I was confident enough to penetrate the cave with the help of dive master, Sameh.
Each wreck revealed different sights, especially those with their cargo on display: piles of porcelain toilets scattered on the seabed, boxes of Italian tiles, a cargo of wine bottles, sadly all broken, and clear views of the remains of the winches, masts, funnels and even the captain’s bath tub.
As I am not qualified for Nitrox diving, I stayed at an average depth of 25m which gave me plenty of opportunity to see and experience so much more than I had ever seen before. My average bottom time was 55 minutes with my longest dive being 74 minutes and the deepest dive at 28.5 m.
On days that I did not dive, I snorkeled and really enjoyed taking my time observing the sea creatures as they went about their daily business, feeding, protecting their territories and generally doing what fish do. Deep underwater, colours disappear, the first being red, and this I discovered during one dive when I cut my hand and was quite amused to see that my blood was green … definitely an alien world.
The boat’s tiny galley produced the most amazing array and quantity of food and we were fed really well with a variety of freshly baked snacks delivered to us on the top deck every afternoon after the dive. The top deck was one of the few places where we could find a breeze which countered the intense heat of plus 40ºC and where we spent most of our free time. Fortunately, the lounge/dining room and cabins were airconditioned most of the time.
Roast Turkey was on the menu one evening and a fellow diver, Peter, celebrated his birthday with an Egyptian style birthday cake specially requested by his wife, Silvia.
Writing this article on my scuba diving trip has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much I have learned, besides how to dive. Diving has become a metaphor for aspects of my life:
- Challenging situations: I have had to overcome many emotions – fear, slight claustrophobia, a sense of inadequacy, and disbelief – by realizing that I actually had the courage to push myself out of my comfort zone.
- Trust in others: I realised just how much trust I had to put in the professionalism and experience of others, in this case, the dive master and my dive buddy.
- Confidence boost: The recognition that I could cope and was able to breathe meant I came home with my confidence boosted. I felt 10 years younger; my mind was clear and I was proud of myself.
- Learning: Retirement has brought so many chances to learn new skills, meet interesting people and has opened up so many new avenues to pursue.
- Gratitude: I am so grateful that my husband, Ian, has encouraged me to do as much as I can, while I can, even if he is unable to go with me. I was immensely privileged to be able to experience this and other trips.
(Thank you to Kerri Keet for the use of her photographs.)
If you missed the first half of Pat’s adventure, you can find it on our Retire Successfully website: click here.