My dad taught me and my sisters how to scuba dive when we were kids. We hired the equipment and went in the pool with tanks, mask and snorkel and sat at the bottom like the Man from Atlantis.
Unfortunately, my first attempt diving in the sea wasnt great. I was in South Africa and it was just after a storm so the water was rather murky and the visibility was low. Added to that I was still recovering after a tummy bug. I was 14 and was teamed up with this gorgeous South African "Hunk" so was dead nervous. But my ears wouldnt pop so I had to surface.
Years later in 1995 I did my Padi in North Wales. Yes it was freezing, and no i didnt see the bus at the bottom of the 20 metre lake because it was too damn cold for me to notice anything!
And then I went to the Red Sea with my family and discovered the best kind of diving - in warm waters full of fish. We were on board the Live-aboard boat VIP One with the unforgettable Mohammed (who i renamed Mohammerhead). I will never forget to this day his early morning cry of "BRIEFING"...
Over the next few years we went back to other live-aboards off Dahab - part of the Eygyptian Sinai penninsula.
Ahmed was our leader for several trips - he became part of our famiy.
The diving in the Red Sea is the best (although I dont have much to compare it to). The coral, fish and abundance of life there is just incredible. But even there, progress and increased tourism, hotels and divers, have had a negative impact on the corals and the whole ecosystem. Last time I was there was 2 years ago and I had noticed a big drop in diversity and coral quality. It's worrying.
I would love to visit some of the other great dive areas round the world - Australia's Barrier Reef, the Indian Seychelles, Florida keys, Madagascar...
It would be great to organise a trip for next year (2010) Anyone up for it? Contact me!