In mid-1992 during my second term in Sharm el-Sheikh, I decided to start a new drift from the Woodhouse Reef in the Strait of Tiran to the south of Jackson Reef, through the corridor between them hoping to set a new drift dive in this area, I took the opportunity that the boat “Sea Star 1” was carrying out a trip to Jackson Reef, so I took Mark, one of our British guides, we prepared and agreed with boat captain to drop us in the northern third of the Woodhouse Reef and complete his trip to the Jackson and we’ll join him there after the completion of our dive.
We start the dive beside the reef, and at depth of 35 meters we found a cave, we decided to explore it, we found it divided into two tubes north and south along the reef, we quickly explored them and it appeared to us then that both of them with different length and with dead end, so we went back and then we crossed the corridor until we finished south of the Jackson, we completed the diving with satisfaction, the corridor between the two reef distinguished by the forests of the fire coral I did not see alike.
In the next days Mark became a scourge on the rest of the divers in the center that he dived with the “Manager”, so I had to promise them that I would take them one by one when a similar opportunity arose.
To the Cave Again
Days later, the same boat was heading back to the Jackson Reef, the turn to come with me to the reef was on, Simon one of the coaches from South Africa, and she asked me to take her friend, a German Instructor called “Alex” and working in one of the other diving centers in Sharm, the diving coach on the boat was captain Aziza Omar, we’ve been dropped the the same place, and the plan was to implement the same scenario and each of us holds a cylinder of air capacity of 12 liters and does have any dive computer.
As before we entered the cave and then the southern tube, Simon first reached the dead end and turned to me and indicated the signal OK with the flash light, I replied the same signal, unaware of what she meant, then she disappears from my sight and then Alex did,
I dived behind them, but in a narrow corridor behind what I thought was dead ended, both coaches were following each if there is a magnet that attracts them, I understood that when Simon indicated OK, she asked me, did I enter the cave?
This narrow tube becomes deeper and darker as we penetrate it, when it got wider I took the opportunity to lead the team and going deeper, after a short time, this tube ended at a depth of about 80 meters in what looked like a large room, I quickly went down to its bottom and recorded the depth meter 87 meters, I turned back to the tube and I told the coaches that follow me, during the return journey we were at 60 meters depth, Alex who was in the front she got confused because she saw that the tube breaks into two branches and did not know which one should we take, I pointed to them to stay and I rushed into the upper branch, and I was blocked, I quickly dived back we took the other tube.
After a long time we began to see the light of the exit and It was the first miracle, we didn’t run out of air, we looked quickly at the air gauge in the cylinders after the exit, I had about 35 bars and with them about 40 and 45 bars, of course the plan has been changed completely and we ascended on the same reef “Woodhouse” without moving a muscle while we almost breathe the air, we decided to make random deco stops we did not have the slightest idea about the time required deco, we did not plan for this depth and there is no computer to guide us, so the plan had become the consumption of 15 bar of the cylinder at a depth of 6 meters and the last 15 bar at a depth of 3 meters, believe it or not in such cases, 15 bar of a 12 liter cylinder at a depth of 3 meters can suffice for half an hour when you enter in a state of freezing!
I began to feel heavy air and I realized it was time to go up, I started to go to the surface, leaving the two girls with what remained of the air, and I took off my fins and put them in my hands and stood on the reef preparing to wave them to any passing boat, the second miracle happened, the Sea Star boat that planned to be at the Jackson Reef, I found it passing in front of me.
Once I saw them I started to wave hysterically, and Aziza was on the side of the boat looking at me with astonishment, while telling the boat captain to go towards me and I pointed out that we need cylinders with octupus regulators, which was prepared in one minute.
I dived with Simone in random deco stops, and then Alex followed us we started from 12 meters up to 3 meters, we took our time, me and Simon finished first, and we left the water while Aziza jumped to the water to support Alex, I don’t remember what are the circumstances that Sea Star not at the Jackson as planned, I think Aziza Omar can explain this confusion.
The Red Wire
I think that I was the first who enter this “pit”, no one described it to me,
I then dived in it three times all in the year 92, one of them with Abdul Majid Sharif “Gedo”, the other with Mahmoud Hilmi, and the last with my brother Dr. Wael Nasif, of course, the plan, strategy and equipment for diving in the three dives were quite different from the first time, I remember that in one of these dives, I have installed a red nylon rope along the tube from the entrance to the deep room to help those who dive in to get to the way, especially when you go out, I found this wire during recovery at Salem Express, then I kept it.
White Lady Cave
I didn’t got the chance to repeat this dive until today, and I did not talk about it so much as, but from weeks ago while I was chatting friends in Marsa Shagara, one of them, “Salim Kafafi” told me about a cave called “White Lady” discovered in Woodhouse a few years ago, then he showed me one of its videos on YouTube, I can not tell you how excited I was to see it or how pleased I felt when I saw the red rope still standing in the video all the way to the entrance to the room.
It is natural that those who dive in it now are technical divers with sufficient background and skill in cave diving, and they are using gas mixtures and sophisticated equipment, which makes me reassured that I will not hear that harm had occurred to anyone in it.
But on the other hand that made me realize how primitive we were at that time and how we introduced ourselves and our loved ones to many of the dangers.