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Dive Review of M/Y Suzanna of BlueOTwo/M/Y Suzanna in
Red Sea/Sudan

M/Y Suzanna of BlueOTwo/M/Y Suzanna, May, 2013,

by Mel Cundiff, CO, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 7029.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Southern Red Sea Diving, May 2013

Diving the southern Red Sea in May (5/20-26/2013) was booked through BlueOTwo in London on the M/Y Suzanna out of Port Sudan. This was a comfortable dive boat (36x8 m) with lots of common space, 10 spacious cabins and 10 crew. However, one of the two on-board generators was not functioning properly, so cabin air conditioning was shut down during daytime hours but was kept operational in the common closed areas. All of our diving was done on seamounts beyond the view of any shorelines. (No, we didnít encounter any Somalian pirates.) Visibility ranged between 50í and 70í, averaging 62í for the trip. The air temperatures were in the 90s(°F) and the water was consistently 87°F. The dive deck was on two levels with plenty of room for gearing up, and Nitrox was available but not used because of the deep dives.

The boat catered to European clients with three-a-day dives; evenings were reserved for libations and relaxation. Our two dive masters, one an Italian and one a local Sudanese, could remember Americans being on the boat only one other time. Besides our six Americans, there were seven Italians, two Austrians and one German. Our typical dives were in pursuit of deep-water sharks with Europeans divers going to 40-60 meters to photograph them. Our first dive briefing dealt with how to communicate to the dive masters the depth ceilings and decompression times we had accumulated. Everyone went into deco, with the Italians doing so multiple times a day. It was common for dive computers to be locked out during the over-limit violations. While the boat had 80 cubic-feet aluminum tanks available, we were encouraged to use, at an added cost, the larger 90 cubic-feet steel tanks.

By naively following the dive master early on, I, too, went into deco and needed the larger tank to maintain the one-hour dive time. The extent of deco diving for one of the Italians who violated his computer limits resulted in visible and physiological symptoms of decompression sickness. He exhibited shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and a reddening of the skin on the upper right quadrant of his body. He was administered oxygen for about three hours and most of his symptoms subsided. The nearest recompression chamber was in Saudi Arabia which provided both a major physical and political barrier to our being able to use to it.

The type of diving our group typically does is shallow Ė above 100 feet Ė and next to the reef, searching for the diverse critters we find there. Before this trip we had never needed the high-capacity tanks. Night dives have always been our favorite, and in booking this boat I was told that we could do a night dive any time four of us wished to do it. This didnít happen, and it was only with determined insistence that we managed two night dives. The head dive master said they donít do night dives in the southern Red Sea! Even though we moved significant distances during the night to get to the southern part of Sudan, there would have been time for dives every night.

Dive briefings were in English and Italian, and after the second day were not at regular times in that we had journeyed south into uncharted waters for the crew. In booking the boat I had specifically requested diving as far south as we could, so our diving itinerary took us about 200 miles south of Port Sudan near the border of Eritrea. These southern exploratory dives were a trade-off from the reefs of central and northern Sudan. I had heard that the southern reefs on the Red Sea had a greater biological diversity than those in the north, thus my reason for requesting this southern route.

The more relaxed European-style of diving didnít suit me. I dived every one of the 18 dives available to me on the boat with several being repeat sites. Other boats I have been on offered four to five regularly scheduled dives a day including one night dive. In my later years it has been easier to rationalize missing a dive now and then, but that is my option. Being interested in, and teaching about, the diversity of critters on a reef, I have come to rely on a dive masterís younger and experienced eyes to help me locate critters. On this boat with the emphasis on sharks this didnít happen. By resisting the deeper dives and hugging the reefs I still managed to see five species of sharks, but they werenít up close and personal. In my less than expert opinion, I feel the coral reef diversity of the southern Sudan was no greater than than of the northern Red Sea. Of significance here would be a list of common reef critters we didnít see or that were quite rare. Benthic reef fish species diversity was noticeably low.

While titan triggers are found throughout the Indo Pacific and are always aggressive, I wonder if they arenít extra aggressive in the Red Sea. I had an encounter with one in the northern Red Sea in 1991, and on this trip one was obsessed with getting my attention. I always keep an eye on them when they are nesting, but must have accidently crossed some invisible line. She bit my fins 3-4 times, and not being satisfied with the results as I kicked her away, she blindsided me with an aggressive bite to my left elbow, drawing blood and leaving a scar. My nearby buddies were amused and disappointed that they didnít get it on video!

For all the perks of a large spacious comfortable live aboard boat, it was far from the most comfortable boat to dive from, especially for someone not in top physical shape. Our two zodiacs didnít have ladders, and some divers found it uncomfortable to be pulled onto the boat after a dive. The stern part of the lower dive deck on the mother ship was high off the water, and a diver carrying a 90 cubic-foot steel tank needed to take one step down a ladder, step onto the gunnel of the zodiac and then take a long step onto the floor. Three divers with their tanks on fell into the zodiacs; fortunately, they were not hurt. Later in the trip, the tanks were offered to divers after they had accessed the zodiacs. There were minimal camera rinse tanks available, but with few large cameras aboard this was not a problem. It would have been nice to have a coupe of fresh-water showers on the stern deck to rinse off after the dives and to have at least one change of clean towels during the week.

Then there was the food. I am sure a vegetarian would have appreciated the three or four ways one could serve chopped fresh cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes, but it got old for me very quickly. Food was plentiful but not particularly tasty or variable. We could get cold or hot breakfasts with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, crepes or toast with a variety of juices and instant coffee. Dinner started with a soup, followed by chicken, beef or fish with shrimp, and sashimi on one occasion. Scalloped and mashed potatoes were among the more tasty dishes, and deserts were mostly of a jelled variety or cake once or twice. Lunches were so exciting I have already forgotten what they were! All soft drinks were provided, with beers and wine available for an additional charge. Pizza was a common mid-afternoon snack.

The last afternoon we were given an optional tour through many of the local shops and markets of Port Sudan for a chance to purchase souvenirs. And for our last evening on the boat (and for a small extra charge) we were all served a traditional fancy ceremonial roasted-goat dinner.

We were all told from the beginning that a required standard tip of 40£ would be added to our bill at the end. This seemed smaller than we were used to, but after all our accounts were settled, we were told that none of this tip went to the crew. This procedure was misleading.

As part of our dive trip we always add on a side trip; this one started with a direct flight on Emirates Air from San Francisco to Dubai for three days of guided tours of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Not having been there before, it was very interesting to see how the very wealthy people in the world live. The unique architecture of the buildings was breath taking. We went to the top of the worldís tallest building, snow-skied indoors while outside temperatures were above 100°F, photographed a large hotel where the cheapest room was $1200 US per night, and toured a newly built mosque that cost $1.8 billion US. Only the Grand Mosque in Mecca and one in Indonesia are larger. On the wild side we saw free-roaming camels on the open range that would be equivalent to the wild mustangs in a few of our western states.

Mel Cundiff, Broomfield, CO 7/í13
Cundiff@Colorado.EDU
Websites M/Y Suzanna of BlueOTwo   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving The major and best coral reefs all over the world.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 86-88°F / 30-31°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50-70 Ft/ 15-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dives no longer than 60 minutes.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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