Kimo, Zico And Me, Going Tec In The Red Sea
Diver|November 2017

Through good times and bad, JAMES L’ESTRANGE has retained his faith in the power and poetry of diving from Sharm and the Gulf of Aqaba, and he makes an annual pilgrimage to Egypt. This August he decided that going tec would help him get fitter, too

James L'estrange

I GOT THE DIVING BUG about 10 years ago, and did an Open Water course in Tenerife. Then I discovered Sharm el Sheikh,“Playground of the Pharaohs”, nestled against the desolate Sinai mountains that pass through various hues of purples and pinks as you watch them through the day from the deck of a dive-boat chugging up the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Red Sea is ancient and special, and offers some of the best diving in the world. Supposed to have got its name from a red tide of plankton, it has hosted the likes of Jacques Cousteau, who discovered the Thistlegorm, offers reefs like Shark and Yolanda, Thomas Canyon and of course the infamous Blue Hole in Dahab, where a Siren is said to live. She is a jilted and jealous Bedouin lover said to have lured many divers to their death.

Sharm has had a bad rap and a lot of bad luck, with one calamity following another since 2005 – bombings, shark attacks, kidnappings and the Russian airliner terror attack of two years ago, which devastated tourism.

And yet I still feel safer in Sharm than I do in the centre of my hometown of London.

Over the years, I’ve kept visiting Sharm and doing various PADI courses. Pirates Dive Club is always my home for the 14 or so days I spend there every August.

I trained up to Master Scuba Diver with exceptional instructors such as Kamel Mohammed Kamel, or Kimo.

He subsequently moved on from Pirates, started his own club, Eagle Divers, and became a technical-diving instructor.

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