Dahab - Day 2 

Dahab, Egypt

The Iberotel Hotel is located on Dahab bay, south of the city of Dahab. It's the last in a string of hotels on this stretch of beach, all of them offering some kind of windsurfing experience. And there are a lot of windsurfers here. As my windsurf instructor pointed out, all of the other windsurfing spots in Europe are closed for the season so the options are limited for Europeans wishing to winsurf at this time of year and they all come here.

Separating the bay from the Red Sea is a spit of sand that curls around it to form a lagoon. Across the bay from the Iberhotel is the sandy point of land and just beyond it is the dive spot which is called Babyfish. It is possible to walk there by following the beach in the direction of the lagoon and crossing the lagoon at its shallow entry point to the other side. The walk takes about 30 minutes.

I got up early today in order to have a look at the coral reef there called Babyfish before I had to be back at the hotel to check in for my windsurfing lesson. It took me about 30 minutes to reach it. I was able to swim around the reef in the early morning and was completely alone. Later in the day the windsurfers would round the point to take advantage of the increasing wind.

I was able to identify 28 difference species of animal life, so not bad for a start. Here's the list :

1) Anthias
2) A small peacock grouper (Cephalopholis argus)
3) Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)
4) Pennant\Banner fish (Heniochus sp.)
5) Crown Butterflyfish (Chaetodon paucifasciatus)
6) Half-and-half Chromis (Chromis dimidiata)
7) Banded Dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus)
8) Sergeant Major (Abudefduf saxatilis)
9) Bluegreen Chromis (Chromis coerulea)
10) Twobar anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus)
11) Forsskol's Goatfish (Parupeneus forsskali)
12) Lionfish a.k.a. Turkeyfish (Pterois sp.)
13) Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus)
14) Pipefish (Corythoichthys sp.)
15) Hawkfish
16) Bluetail trunkfish (Ostracion cyanurus)
17) Masked Puffer (Arothron diadematus)
18) Siphon sponge (Siphonochalina siphonella)
19) Soft coral (Lithophyton arboreum)
20) Cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii)
21) Squirrelfish (Adioryx sp.) - red fish with horizontal white bands
22) Lunar Fusilier (Caesio lunaris)
23) Spotted sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma)
24) Threadfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga)
25) Striped Butterflyfish a.k.a. Red Sea raccoon butterflyfish(Chaetodon fasciatus)
26) Exquisite Butterflyfish (Chaetodon austriacus)
27) Thornback Trunkfish (Tetrosomus gibbosus)
28) Goggle-Eye (Priacanthus hamrur)
29) Electric ray (Torpedo sinuspersici) - while beginning windsurfing I must have stepped on a small one and felt the shock of electrocution. I saw it swim away.

The last few times I have been at the Red Sea I have brought along a light wet suit. I did bring it along on this trip but left it in the hotel room today. Instead, I was wearing a Lycra full sleeve shirt made for the water. The water is warm enough so that it's not a shock when entering, but after an hour or so I started to feel chilly. I made a mental note to try using the wet suit next time.

I felt a bit uneasy as I started swimming around, even after remembering how to handle the mask and tube. The slight chill to water keeps you swimming to keep warm and the waves and current keep you moving or else you need to fight against them. Once in a while the tube dips below the surface and you get a mouthful of water. All of this disturbs your ability to observe the natural world below. On the other hand, the fact of being so close is much more engaging than looking at fish and coral in a glass tank. The constant movement means always being presented with something new to see.

My second day of windsurfing was a test of limits. There was a good breeze blowing. I had decided to increase the size of my sail from 5.0 to 5.5 and reduce the size of the board from 180 to 160. Yesterday, I had difficulties using the harness lines so I was sure to request 30 inch harness lines this time. But I struggled with the board and sail combination when tacking. The reduced stability of the board and the increased weight of the sail meant I was frequently falling into the water when turning.

I started wondering how much body weight plays a role in windsurfing. Light boards are highly prized in windsurfing because they can skim (plane) across the water and provide more thrills. But the lighter the board, the less stable it is in the water with more weight, it becomes even less stable. When I arrived in Dahab I must have been around 93 kilos. But in observing others, I did see some heavy people managing quite well so it can't be an insurmountable obstacle.
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