My diary from A season on a boat called Fraser in the middle of the Red Sea…The time of my life!!

The Time of my life started after having a bad break up with my long term boyfriend who was also my coworker on safaris. While still contemplating what to do with my life,  I was sent on a safari on Frazer. Coming from the largest newest en prettiest boat Frazer was supposed to be a downgrade because now I wasn’t a couple anymore and wouldn’t be able to provide the same service, it was even against company policy to hire singles long term. Anyway here is the moment it all started.

I was sitting or laying at the bow of the boat (my office) on the bit sticking out over the water. I had my I pod in my ears listening to emotional break up music. It was my first safari on my own an I had no idea if I could and wanted to do this job by myself. Would I be able to handle the all men Egyptian crew? Would I be able to handle the 18 guests? Would I physically be able to do all the current checks and everything that came with it. Was I good enough? I had no plan B for my life in case we would break up so my head was full of questions. Not knowing the answer to any of these questions I decided to let faith decide. As I layed back I told myself that if dolphins came today I would stay and give it a go. If no dolphins would come I would go back to Belgium and leave the life I  once loved so much behind.

Soon after while still having my eyes closed I jumped up as soon as my guest and crew started shouting like maniacs. I opened my eyes and as far as I could see there were dolphins. In front, on the sides and on the back all the way to the horizon. It was so intense that I burst out in tears. Because I was supposed to be the cool diving instructor I did my best to hide it until someone shouted. It’s ok to cry even the guide is crying. I looked up and half of the boat was in tears. I couldn’t believe it!! This was the most intense thing I have ever witnessed and it even got a bit weird. However this was the start to a great safari and to a life on Frazer.

19th August 2007

I Just got back from Marsa Ghalib.. Did a safari with all Spanish guests to the brothers and also ended up in Deadalus. Deadalus wasn’t on the planning to start of with but it was an adventurous week. The diving in Deadalus like always was fantastic!!! Hammerheads on every dive, to an extend that I had to push myself to finally look at the beauty of the wall. For me however the best part of the trip was that I finally got to see a manta!!!!!! And not just one but two!!!  They passed by on the east wall, one at first then the other.. The second one decided to turn back and put up a little display for us, so beautiful and so graceful. I couldn’t have been happier. Sadly enough I didn’t take the camera with me so there is no photographic proof. I was guiding quit a few people so than its better to leave it on the surface. You never know when you need those two hands.. After Deadalus we made our way to Brothers a bit different then usual as we were traveling in the opposite direction.  It turned out that even f for most of my crew it was the first time to make the travel that way (south to north). Soon enough we all understood why this was never done.. The travel was mad as we were continuously crashing into waves for 12 hours straight. On top it took as over and hour to get the boat moored up upon arrival as the currents and wind were going crazy down at the Brothers. The boat was moving so badly that even some of the crew got seasick. God knows how but I managed to stay fine..I mad a sport of trying to catch coke cans that continuously roled over the sundeck as they kept falling out of the fridges.

The diving itself at Brothers was mad.. The currents where way too strong to be fun.. but we all handeled it in the end. Didn’t see anything spectacular except for a pretty reef that was flying by. After two sleepless days at Brothers we made our way to Elphinstone to finish our last day there. The travel to Elphinstone was the first night for many of us without hanging overboard.. And so the crew and the guest celebrated. A good party it was. While the boat was moving the crew sang their arabic songs with me joining in for the odd tune.. The spanish eagerly demonstrated their singing skills.  We ended up dancing until we moored up at Nabaa Reef to sleep there for the night. Tensions released after a strenuous adventurous week. After diving Elphinstone the guest left the boat and I stayed with the crew in Port Ghalib.. This week we all got quite close since my arabic is much better then my Spanish wich is zero so I ended up spending quit a bit of time with my crew speaking and learning even more Arabic.   I love my crew from Fraser!!! They hardly slept all week and didn’t complain once, unlike me who didn’t sleep either but they sure got to hear it. We always seem to think that crew are uneducated. But now that I’m finally starting to actually understand them. They might not have a clue about some things. But they know the sea better then anyone and I am learning a lot from them on a daily base. I thank them for taking good care of us this week in hard conditions.. I am not religious but I thanked god a few times this week for giving me such a trustworthy crew. The moment before sending up my SMB I would get nervous but the second it reached the surface there would always be a zodiac beside it and I would feel safe.  Without that and them this week wouldn’t have had a happy ending.

After the guest left we stayed a night in Ghalib to leave in the morning. Normally the boat and crew travel back alone. But this week I travelled with them to Hurghada. We left at 10 in the morning and we had 12 hours of traveling in front of us.. At first I wasn’t completely sure It was a good idea. But in the end it was probably the best part of the trip. We had dolphins around the boat 3 times and the last time was picture perfect as dolphins where leaping out of the water in the sunset rays. As usual I was to late to get the camera so you have to take my word for it. About two hours in to our travels we had a whale shark swimming next to the boat. Yes a whales shark!!  Again no pictures as I was to busy being over excited. Also it was the crew driving the boat and not the captain who gave them shit when he woke up for not turning back. Im sure that I will regret not having jumped in while I had the boat to myself.  But at the time everything was perfect!  Me on the bow of my favorite boat, I pod playing,  enjoying the wind and waves. It was the perfect way of unwinding after a strenuous week. I fell asleep on the deck where I now have my own space. Forget about beds, they are completely overrated. There is nothing more perfect then to sleep outside underneath the stars. Around midnight the captain woke me up to say that we had arrived in Safaga. Sleepy me fell for his old mans jokes only to realise shortly after that we were in Hurghada. I did think those other boats looked a lot like our fleet..mmmm.  We had some dinner and went to bed again to be woken up by the sunrays on my face a only a few hours later.

I might have stayed in work environment a few days longer but it beats staying at home and watching telly any day !!! Many great fishy memories and no pictures to show for it.. But who cares I had it and will probably have it again soon!! That’s why I love this job! I might have no personal life and I probably wont spend the rest of my life out at sea but at the moment I love it so much. So until my biological clock starts ticking and until I will ever feel the need to settle down I will just keep filling my head with these fantastic experiences and memories.

I now just got home in Hurghada and will be here for a week or longer. No clue what I will do yet. Except maybe going to the camp in Marsa Alam, and to Wadi Gemal to practice my camel riding skills.. For the rest I will let you know… Our home for the next three months. Fraser…

22nd august 2007

My last day at home.. Like a manic person im trying to prepare for the next few months. I will be out at sea for a while. And I’m wondering or at the end of it all im going to be turned into “bush woman”. Every week I look less and less like a girl and every week more and more I lose my manners. What does this shiny thing in my hand do again, whats it called f… ? What do you mean no feet on the table.? Being the only single girl in the company now has been quite an adventure over last few months.. The line to draw is very thin. How am I friendly but keep a distance and keep respect all at the same time? That is probably to most difficult and the most important one.  Somehow I’ve managed so far but I have to admit that I am very happy to hear that im getting reinforcement soon.. I will be part of the only all girls diving team on a live aboard in the Red Sea.. It’s still all in the making but hopefully from next week on Ania and I will show those macho men that two girls can do the job.. We might not have the physical power but we have our smiles that makes our crew use their physical powers for us. Last week I asked some of my crew who they would want on the boat together with me if they had a choice. Their answer another girl and yes Ania. When I told them yesterday that there is a good chance that this is what is going to happen. They got out the tablers and started dancing and cheering that they were going to work on the only girly boat in the Red Sea. After all that they did look a little bit concerned. You saw it in their eyes, they couldn’t hide it. They are probably thinking cool,  but will we be able to handle it? And they are probably also wondering how they should explain that back home. Bless them in the end they are so sweet and innocent. Anyhow more than ever I’m looking forward to the next season. Just need to get things organised and need to make sure im not forgetting anything this time. I will keep you all posted on our fishies sightings because yes for 5 euros for half an hour I can use the internet from the hotel in Ghalib.

Wish us luck and see you soon!!!

29th september 2007

A quick hello from the very expensive internet in Ghalib.. The A team or the girly team have happily survived the first month together. Life is no more than: sea, wind, waves and diving. I’m still in love with my boat and we did have some interesting trips in the meantime. Some better than others of course. Sadly enough the shark sightings have gone down as to almost zero. But the wind is blowing and the water is getting colder so who knows.. Hopefully soon we will be posting sharky pictures again.. I wish I could write more but you have to forgive me as the sea is calling.

3rd October 2007

Halfway trough my high season.. Sort of lost count on how many weeks I have been out at sea. Ania has joined me about 5 weeks ago. And we had some interesting safaris. Some of the groups we had are as always difficult to let go, but then we had some very strange ones as well. For the first time and hopefully last time I couldn’t wait for a group to get off the boat. Up until last week we had lots of wind. One week almost continuously 20 knots. This made diving and traveling quite an adventure. But thanks to our fantastic captain and great crew we were 1 of the 3 boats out of 11 boats that were ment to travel south that actually made it. The sad thing is that the guest didn’t realise what a big deal it was to travel and dive in those conditions. And no matter how hard the crew, captain and us worked to make it happen, we just weren’t able to please them.

We had spent our first 4 weeks down in the south mostly St johns Rocky and Zabargad. The diving was nice as always but no special sightings except for humphead parrotfish at Marsa Mubarak. Last week things did change again. We had a trip to Brothers and Deadalus and I think the shark season has kicked off again. Thank god!! At the Brothers the oceanics are circling the boats again. Not entirely sure or the next story has anything to do with it as other boats are still so careless and keep throwing stuff in the water. On our first night I was talking to one of my crew about why the sharks are disappearing. It seemed like mr oceanic at that moment was trying to prove a point.  He came up and took a big bite in a black garbadge bag dumped by another boat. We can only hope that this mr oceanic has a good digestive system. To continue… At Small Brother the Grey Reefs were circling underneath the boats and joined us for our safety stops and  for some reason these where also more curious than usual. The diving on Deadalus (still my absolute favorite reef ) was amazing like always. Hammerheads in the north, Oceanic’s underneath the boats in the south and a beautiful wall to finish of your dives. Honestly what more do you need?

During the nights however the oceanic’s where displaying quite an aggressive behavior. There where about 4 of them and one (the biggest) had black markings on its back, he was very aggressive and kept bumping our zodiac for no reason. We had a hard time on this trip to convince the guest that snorkeling with these oceanic’s is not such a great idea. When I forbid them to do so they looked at me like a was being an overprotective mum. I tried to explain that they have tasted snorkelers here before but that still didn’t do the trick. They stayed out the water but they sobbed. As soon we came in to mobile connection range we got the news that someone had been attacked just the day before we arrived at Deadalus.  And so the guest did thank me in the end. These animals are not aggressive towards us naturally but because certain boats keep throwing bait in the water things get unpredictable.

We did do one little rescue on this trip, a pigeon ended up on Fraser at Deadalus , being completely overexerted. One of my crew took her in his care, we fed her and gave her water. For two days she traveled with us and slept in the bridge . When we arrived back to shore she spread her wings and flew away in full strength. oooooooh!!

8th October 2007

Another week is coming to an end. This week we did Rocky, Zabargad and St Johns. Again the wind has not been in our favor but the water is still 28 down there so that makes up for a lot . The downside to the hot water is that there were no sharks yet. My sighting for this week was a Sea Hare on a night dive in Umm Aruk. Lots of Nudibranchs everywhere, I might even say that they seem to prefer the little bit colder water as well. The strangest thing is going on with moray eals all over the Red Sea though. My colluege Helen has some video footage of 4 morays up north going for a large parrotfish at the same time and this week we had a moray nibbling the fins of one of our guest. On top we had one missing half of its face and banging a rock during a night dive and also a napoleon and a group of bluefin trevallys hunting down a moray. They look a lot more restless and very odd indeed.

You definatly feel its change of season. Lots of fishies mating and lots of changes to be seen. This week I worked with Helen while Ania has been fixing stuff for us back in Hurghada. So we kept the girly boat going. The physical power is getting a little bit less as we are waking up every morning at 4 o clock to be in the water at the break of dawn. But we are also going to bed late in the evenings as we still have a night dive to do and guests to entertain. Sometimes we do overnight traveling and we hardly get sleep at all. I think its safe to say that there is no other job in the world that could make me do this and still have me waking up with a smile.  I do have my moments especially when really tired but I still love it so much.  There is nothing that beats the feeling of freedom when you are sitting on the bow with the seabreeze and the sun on your face. When you are really lucky some dolphins join in. My only reality at the moment is the sea, the fish my boat and my crew. And as they would say over here only god knows what will happen after I am finished with my next 2 upcoming months of work. It makes me sad to think of it as the basic life that I’m living now is very addictive. I haven’t watched the news for almost six months now and don’t have a clue what’s going on in the rest of the world and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest bit.  The only politics I have to worry about is the one on the boat and to be honest here on Fraser there is no such thing. I have worked on this boat and with this crew for more than 4 months now. Every day more and more they become like family. The whole no respect for female’s thing is just blabla. If you respect them they will respect you. Give and take that’s what it’s all about. Ania is coming back from Hurghada the day after tomorrow with my new regs and new hard drive. Both my regulator and my laptop have not been handling the sea as well as I have.  Will let you know how the rest of my on sea journeys will go, it could be that by then I will have gills.

15th October 2007

Another week spent in St Johns. This week we had Belgians. That for me was a very interesting trip as it was the first time to do briefings in my mother language.  This sounds a lot easier then it actually was as  I’m not sure how Belgian I still am after all this time. I still like frietjes met stoofvlees but I don’t know how much that makes you Belgian. Anyhow it was nice to have a week full of nostalgia of a former life. It did make me miss my family and friends a bit more then I usually do but however much I miss people Im still not ready and don’t think I ever will to leave this life behind. The diving this week in st johns has been nice again. The grey reefs are back from the depths at Habili Ali and after a week of break the strong south east currents are back as well. It has been for almost 2 months now that it has been this crazy. (normaly currents come from the north) I cant remember it being like this last year and have no idea what is causing it. The nightdives have been very entertaining both in Dangerous and in Shaab Marsa Alam. Baitballs constisting of tiny little fish underneath the boats being attacked by fuseliers and trevallys Next week we got Belgians again so who knows maybe by the the end of that week I will master the Dutch language again.

19th October 2007

Halfway through the week with my new group of Belgians. It was A pleasant surprise to find out that my new guest are from my home village Kapellen. For some reason the first days were more relaxing and went smoother then ever. The first overnight travel was very entertaining. For the first time since my stay in Egypt I saw lightning causing both me and Ania to act like storm chasers upon the flydeck and enjoying the spectacle with a glass of sakarra. To our surprise the storm followed us and water came falling down from the sky. I think this might be what they call rain?! Waking up early morning at Deadalus was very exciting as the Oceanics were surounding the boat as usual but to make it more dramatic they were lit up by the lightning.  As soon as the sun came up everything changed back to normal and Deadalus showed it’s natural and tranquil beauty. The hammerheads were still waiting for us up in the North on the first dive. On the second dive of the day we did the south plateau weedier we where greeted by 4 oceanics upon entering the water. They were as curious as ever if not more. My pictures of them would have come out better if I actually pressed the shutter but I think I was in Awe.  Luckely enough my guest did press the shutter and I now have a cracking shot of me and my new friend.

anneke met haai

23rd October 2007

The Belgian week has come to an end and what a week it turned out to be again. The rest of the week the wind picked up a little bit. Not realy anything more then usual but enough to make half of the boat sick. You could say that we ran a hospital ship. Lots of tears throughout the week as well, good and bad. When we came in to phone connection it was time for us diveguides to have tears rolling as we got the news that I had to move to another boat.  It could be only for a week but it could be longer meaning this would be the end of my time on Frazer. It must be hard to understand for a landperson but when you have been living out at sea for months and when you have been sharing every second of the day with the same people, it is a really big deal. Let me try and explain to you what it is like for us.

You leave your home and friends for high season and you know your going to be away for a while. You know you will have poor or no phone reception most of the time and an internet connection can only happen once a week if you are lucky enough that it works. The first few weeks you look at it like its just a job and you know that your real life is somewhere else. Without realizing it a big change happens and suddenly life out at sea becomes your only reality.  Slowly everything away from the sea starts turning in to a distant memory. You call family and friends on a weekly base but you find less and less to talk about. The outside world starts to fade away. You forget about things like war and money and whatever else that go’s on in the world. You stop combing your hair, you start sleeping on engines and on ropes or whatever else is empty and you come to a point where you can predict wind and currents by the smell of the ocean. You are happy tired an You are looking forward to a week off and at the same time you are scared because you don’t have a clue what you have to do with yourself on land. The boat becomes your home and the crew becomes your  family. Because you rely on both with your life during times when nature shows you who is boss I think you get even closer then with anyone else. At the end this is all what matter and it is all you have..

Now this is sort of what happened to us. I have been on Fraser for 5 months now and the last 3 months in one go. On those last few months Ania has joined me and as humans have a tendency to do: We are never happy with what you have as you always want what you dont. For us that struggle was with time off. We knew high season was going to last another one and a half month and we sort of avoided the subject what will we do when it all stops?  Where will we go what the hell will we do next in our lives? We decided to only think about that and making any big life decisions when the time came and that was supposed to be almost two months from now and thats where you find comfort in. The suddenly out of nowhere you get a phone call saying it is all over. Without preparation without proper goodbyes the thing that is your reality will stop now the people you call family will no longer be there and the boat that keeps you safe won’t be your home anymore.. Neither of us were ready for this.. Not me not Ania and not the crew.. We were ready to keep living in our perfect little exhausting bubble for another two months.. It can’t be over.. What now????All these realisations and emotions turned into tears.. We cried the crew cried and even our experienced captain Salah was upset. We weren’t ready for this.. We weren’t ready to stop being safe and loved and to stop doing what we do with such passion. In our simple world this was about as bad as it would get even the music that we had danced and sang to over the last months couldn’t give us comfort.

The next day we got another phone call stating that  I didn’t have to leave. We can stay in our little Fraser world for another month or so after all. We know that soon our dreamlife will stop but at least not now. And at least we can sort our heads out before we have to go back to land. At the moment I really cant imagine being without Ania and my boys. Some moments I hate them but if Im honest I love them like family. After some tears of joy everything has gone back to normal and we are all pretending that our little emotional thing didn’t happen. We have an image to keep up as strong seawoman and seaman. However much time we all have left together I will enjoy it double and no matter what happens I will always carry these few months with me in my heart As the best time of my life so far.

written by Ania: And so as mine,,, and I can not write on this strangest computer of yours-soooo! Get yourself a new one!!! It took me ages to write this… so I lost my all emotional speech now and stop smelling your t-shirts! Wash them

28th October 2007

On our way to Deadalus again. We just spent two days in Brothers and we were not the only ones. We arrived in brothers after dark and as usual were greeted by our friends the oceanics. One of them was particulary big. Our first night sleep went quite smooth and the days diving that followed was great. We dived the south plateau as a first dive and where accompanied thoughout the dive by a few threshers. The first Thresher was on the plateau itself and then we were greeted head on by another two at the east wall. These normally shy creatures were more curious then I have ever seen them and I got to get a really good look into their big eyes. Ofcourse those eyes told me they love me.

1st November 2007

Between Safaris again and as you see I finally managed to get on the internet. More will follow later…miss me!

Upon arriving at  Deadalus we were greeted by our friends the oceanics who were waiting for us underneath the boats. For two mornings we tried to find the Hammerheads but those one have gone down in the depths to about 50 – 60 meters. When diving on the south plateau we had an exiting dive again with the oceanics. One of them came up to my divers looked like it was going to grab the fin and then twitched away. They are really not scared of us in the slightest. Again a very nice week on my boat..

8th November 2007

Our trip started of with Brothers, over the 2 days the currents at brothers have been as crazy as ever and changing directions in just minutes. To start of on Big Brother they weren’t that strong and coming from the west. The surface conditions were great so we got to dive the Numidia and while drifting back on the west we had a manta on the Aida. The Manta was far away but it was definitely there, no argue.  Same like last week we were one of many boats,  I think about 15 or so spread out over both Islands. Fraser was again one of the only two boats who managed to keep the mooring throughout both nights on Big Brother. All other boats were on engines the whole nights so yay for Captain Salah.  Our last day in Brothers we spent on small brother. The currents decided to mix everything up even more and we ended up with currents from the East on our first dive. We jump in at the current split on the east wall drifted with the current around the north plateau and finished our dive halfway on the west wall. It was definitely a first timer for me to Dive the Brothers this way but no regrets.  The usual residents passed by. One of them a  Hammerhead (not sure or it was a great on or scalloped however it was very big) . Halfway through the dive one grey reef in particular who was very big, came to say hello on the north tip. On the second dive the current had slightly changed to a more SE direction. So on this dive we drifted north on the west wall. By this time the guest had covered every inch of reef under water and we thank the weird currents for that. However unpredictable currents isn’t all good of course. While the guest were in the water the current decided to have and abrupt change again. Lucky for them, they didn’t feel to much of it as it was on the end of their dive.  The boats did feel the change and they felt it big! It was absolute madness and chaos.  Several boats almost crashing in to each other while divers were getting on to them. Crew and captains shouting and running in different directions and lots and lots of ropes getting entangled. Only Fraser managed to stay on its original mooring while all the other boats had to go on standby so there was no stress on our boat. Thank you again for my captain and crew!!!  On the last dive of the day I went to check the current for a third time to witness things I have never seen before on a current check. Absolute madness down there, fishies were swimming in circles every few meters meaning at those spots the currents came from everywhere (washing machines) On top of it the main current was going from south to north  and it was as strong as I’ve ever seen it.  This made it quite tricky for our dive plan but in currents like this the only way to dive it is with the current and get out somewhere sheltered. I checked the current at all possible entry and exit points and there was no way to swim to the split point at the south of the reef even when it was only 5 meters away from the boat but the current was just to strong. To drop them by boat with a negative entry wasn’t a plan either as we would have to do different groups and they would be spat out at different times at the end of the reef. We needed one group of divers that we could follow during the complete dive with a zodiac above them because the currents could take them away for Miles in minutes at the end of the dive on the North.To start the dive the divers pulled themselves to the split point only 5 meters away from the boat. Still getting there was tricky and some got out again an aborted the dive as soon as they felt the current pulling them. I had told them in the briefing that this dive should only be done by people that are absolutely sure they could handle it. The less experienced used their brain and stayed out as  it wasn’t a competition.. Once they got down we stayed above the divers with our zodiac following their bubbles. They drifted north in less then 15 minutes, to give you an idea how fast that is. We had to crack the engine up to keep up with them.  As briefed they send there SMB’s up as soon as they came close to the north tip. There was to way going around it as the current was to strong pushing north on the east wall as well. The only thing to do was stay close and try to make the drifting north to a minimum. Far away from the reef they came up with us next to them. Every body excited about what they saw in their 20 mins dive sharks and more sharks. Thank god we had experienced divers this week and only ten. With more people this dive would have been impossible to make. It was an adrenaline rush for them as well as for me watching them from the surface. After this we left Brothers ready for the security of Deadalus. On Deadalus we still had another 8 boats joining us. As usual we did the first dive on the North Tip where I had been checking the currents at 5.15 waiting in the zodiac for the fish to wake up and the sun to come out so I could see something. Back on the boat as soon as I had the board in my hand to do the briefing one of the heaven boats already started going out without current check ofcourse. Half of the time it is not needed in the north. But I don’t want to be that diveguide who didn’t check the current just on the one day that things go mad. I rather play sure and look stupid but know what Im briefing my guest on. In the end it was just us and two other boats who decided to go for it so it wasn’t that crowded. As we jumed we were greeted by a very curious oceanic at about ten meters. The oceanic went down with my divers or the divers went down with the oceanic im not sure. I just know that at 35m they were all one big bunch oceanic cirlcling one by one over and over again and he was very close. I started swimming back towards the reef trying to get them with me. But everyone probably knows how hard it is to get divers away from shark even when he is to close. Anyhow it was my first time to see one at such depth. Any other time I have only seen him in the shallows. Toward the end of the dive we still had single hammerhead but I was already hanging on my SMB. The second and 3rd dive we did from the boat oceanics all around.

In the evening we had our BBQ. We heard some splashing next to the boat to our amazement there were Dolphins they were hunting soon they were joined by 4 oceanics they were all going for the kill. I don’t know who was looking more scary from up here the dolphins or the oceanics. It looked like they were all working together circling the fish and then the dolphins went for them with a speed that is indescribable. I think its one of the most amazing things I have seen so far out at sea. Beats national geographic any day. It lasted until a zodiac came from the lighthouse to scare a fishing boat away. What were they thinking throwing their nets out to catch something big. Its so sad Deadfalls is supposed to be a marine park but still people try to fish if its not a fishing boat then it is crew from another boat driving around on the zodiacs in the dark. And then there is the shark feeding every night every week we are here some has been feeding. And still people go snorkeling. Is it really necessary that someone has to get bitten again before they will realize that it’s not a good idea. The last one is only a month ago but still the point doesn’t get taken. Sharks have teeth respect them and leave them alone to continue their own natural behavior.

At the end of this week Ania left after spending almost 3 months with us on Fraser . A part of our Fraser family is missing now and we miss her dearly. The season is running to an end. So the leaving of Ania is the first step in a lot of changes to come. The idea off leaving my Fraser really makes me sad but who knows what the future brings.

15th November

Only 7 guest from those 7 only six are diving this means only one zodiac. This week Ahmed joined me. The weather was not very accommodating and we were limited to our diving. Winter has realy come its time for soks gloves and wooly hats in the red sea. But even though on the surface it was madness and even though we had limits, we still saw loads of sharkys on little brother, 7 at a time. Because of the weather conditions we could not leave for deadalus. The chance of not making it back was too big. We dived the onshore reefs of Marsa Alam instead. Like Habili Marsa Alam that I have not dived since I am working on safari. Another week closer to the end of the season.

25th November 2007

Back home, just finished my last week on Fraser and with emperor for now with Helen and 18 norwegians.. The weither was beatifull the diving was great… But the only thing I could think of that this is it.. In total I have spent 5 months on Fraser over the last year and it became my home out at sea.. I have had one of the most beautifull times of my life on this boat.. The simple life the way it should be.. Thinking back and trying to figure out what was the nicest about this season… To be honest I dont know. Every week has been great in its own way. So many people that came on our boat. That shared a week of their lives with us. So many different nationalitys and personalitys, everybody bringing with them their own story. Alot of people arrived as guests and left as friends its nice to know that we didnt only make a difference on diving but also for some people to be reloaded to deal with whatever life is bringing them back home. Thank you everyone for the wonderfull memories..

Love anneke

17 December 2009

Dear Fraser…You once owned the sea.. Now the sea owns you..

I heard the news last night.. While you were still sinking beneath the ocean.

It felt like losing one of my dearest friends.

You gave me the time of my life, you gave me family, you gave me love, you gave me hope.

I am now moving on with my life in Belgium trying to forget, but secretly always hoping to experience it all again.

That dream is lost with you.

You guided me on the ocean and beyond.

You were home!!!



Top Travel stories and memories

Some of these are funny, others are scary, some just beautiful. But these are the moments that have stuck with me over the years. Mostly the reasons why I would do it all over again.

  • Being Kidnapped by Shirley the elephant and meeting that same elephant again pregnant with Milla many years later. Footage to back it up.. Here
  • Given a scorpion as a pet by the Nubian crew in the south of Egypt. We named her baby Jane and fed her fly wings but she died. Photo
  • Waking up to a sandviper at the end of your bed, thinking its plastic and trying to play with it.
  • Swimming in Crystal clear seas. Photo
  • Secretly keeping dessert mise as pets.
  • Listening to music while riding the waves at the bow of the boat. Photo
  • Being dropped of by camels in the desert and being left there for the night.
  • Sleeping under the starts for months.
  • Ending up in a remote village with stories about in breeding and child abuse and wanting to get away as quickly as possible.
  • Being woken up by monkeys throwing coconuts on your roof on a nightly base.
  • Having meals with the locals preferably without utensils.
  • Laying in a hammock on a beautiful beach as a paying job.
  • Counting satellites and shooting stars in the middle of the red sea.
  • Motorbike accidents happening faster than the wounds could heal.
  • Naked nightly swims in the ocean.
  • Jumping of a large boats roof while afraid of heights. Photo
  • Making a big bonfire with palm leaves on a deserted beach instead of a X mas tree on X mas eve. Photo
  • Diving with playful schooling hammerheads for 45 mins.
  • Seeing dolphins around you as far as the eye can see. Start crying – Try to hide it – And realise almost all your guests are sobbing because its the most beautiful thing ever.
  • Getting eaten by sandflies
  • Howling at thunderstorms in the middle of the ocean.
  • Having this picture taken. Photo
  • Sleeping in between hundreds of flying cockroaches because you have been robbed and its that or the street.
  • Swimming in waterfalls. Photo
  • Watching the most beautiful sunsets day after day after day. Photo
  • Being able to say that your home sank and mourn it like it was a person.
  • Making friends for life!

20 places to call home: #20

I should be doing something useful I feel. But the daughter is asleep and we are in a hotel so I can’t move or do anything without her waking up. So instead I think, reminisce and write. I know for a fact that I am very good at the first two, now lets see how that comes out in writing.

I counted the places I’ve lived.. And if I don’t add hotel rooms or short stays then this is the 20th home. Not bad for a 30 something. (I keep losing count ) Those 20 homes are without adding the place I called home most of all and that was little Frazer. Frazer was the love of my life other than my child and husband. To some people Frazer was just a boat but to me Frazer holds the memories to one of the greatest times of my life. Such a shame she took those memories with her to the bottom of the Red Sea. I think I cried more when we lost the boat then when I’ve lost certain people. Anyway Im drifting off. So I didn’t add Frazer cause well technically she is not a home.

What I did count is the houses I grew up in, the ones in Belgium and the one in England. The time I lived in Mallorca and so on.

In Egypt I had several I started off with the cheapest place at the end of Mashrabeya Street in Hurghada.. Back then It used to be 500le for a two bedroom without AC. Years later I moved up the scale and lived in Mastaba for a while.. Yes the one with the awesome view and a swimming pool. in-between I also had several “normal” apartments in Hadaba.  But the place I remember the most was a hut in Awlad Baraka Camp about 30 km south of Marsa Alam. Back then there was no telephone connection unless you walked up the hill and held your phone up really high and if you were lucky the connection could be strong enough to send of receive a message. There was no AC there wouldn’t be a point really to have AC in a hut as the hut had no window and no doors. There was only a carpet to keep the heat out and give you some kind of privacy. Electricity we didn’t have during the day as the generator wasn’t running then. No TV – No Internet.. But Oh my god how much did I love it there. It was a simple life. A bit of diving, a lot of sweating, a bit of reading and not much else. Some of my funniest memories were getting a baby scorpion for my Bday as a pet. They gave it to me in a matchbox and told me to feed it fly wing. If Baby Jane wouldn’t make it then I should never have kids.. Baby Jane died after two days and I cried my eyes out. The other animal involving memory is waking up thinking they put a plastic snake in our hut. You know one of these zigzag rolled up things. It was at the back of the bed on a pillow. So I walked over and bent over while I talked and waved some air to the snake. It didn’t move only to confirm what I thought. The boys just planted this plastic thing to scare me. Without the slightest worry I went for breakfast and told the story to one of the Nubian staff. Suddenly everyone jumped up and asked if there was still someone in the room. Before I could properly answer 10 of them were already up the hill with sticks and shouting how silly we Europeans were. In our hut they found my then boyfriend doing exactly the same as I did a few minutes before that. Talking to the snake, as any other normal person would do. We soon found out it was a sand viper and those are are pretty venomous. We kept shouting not to kill the poor thing but the snake had no luck. It’s bedouin believe that if they see a snake and don’t kill it it’s bad luck for all their family. From then on we would always be and probably still are the silly Europeans to them.

In between living abroad I also lived in normal cities like Antwerp, 3 of the 20 homes were there. One of them took a lot of blood sweat and tears as we rebuilt it from scratch with our own hands. Building stuff turns out to be very rewarding and it really adds to the homely feeling. No wonder that my daughter was born in that apartment only to figure out it wasn’t big enough with her in it. Because we weren’t quite dead yet after building the apartment and because it turns out to be an unhealthy addiction of some sort.  Well.. we decided to rebuilt a complete house. Ooooh the memories I’m still feeling physical pain just thinking about it.

Anyway there was also Thailand before all that building and I simply can’t leave Thailand out because even if I only had two homes there and even though some people might state a hut isn’t really a home. It really did feel like home to me. especially the last place I lived in on Koh Chang called Bai Lan Bay. We had the highest Treehouse on the hill. It was a pain climbing up those stairs every day in the tropical heat, but the view over the ocean was so worth it. As soon as the sun went down and you were still gasping your breath from yet another gobsmacking sunset. The bugs started to come out. There would be territorial wars happening on the outside of the mosquito net and that sort of replaced the television. At night while sleeping geckos would sneak up right next to your ear and do their “GECKOOOOO” call and if that didn’t wake you up then the thunderstorms or the monkeys throwing coconuts on your roof would. Maybe I never slept very solid during that time but I sure didn’t mind waking up to the sound of nature.  Ok before I get to floaty for most people to handle we better get to now.

So here we are in Dubai. After living in Belgium for almost 6 years I did it again. Although this time it’s a bit different. This time I followed my husband and I brought my daughter and I’m not diving to make a living. This time was the best planned moving abroad thing I ever did. We planned the big move for a year with is like 20 billion times longer then my other moving abroad stunts.  My husband came here over 3 months ago. And still for some reason we managed to move only today. Maybe move is even a big word as the house. That house that we didn’t find first, that house that was supposed to be finished a few weeks ago isn’t actually finished yet and is and will be for a while pretty empty. We were supposed to move into the house a few weeks ago when I first got here. That way we would have had a few weeks to settle in before going on our family vacation. But this morning they were still painting, taking out carpet, the cooker still needs to be fitted, the electric is not working, neither is the heater and I can go on for a little while. Will it kill us? No it won’t.. We just have to juggle a little bit harder. We are staying in a hotel a bit longer while we move most of our belongings in the evenings after my husband finishes work. Our belongings luckily isn’t that much yet. Except for clothes, office stuff, some toys and kitchen stuff we didn’t have a lot to move. We will however need some things when we get back from holiday so we bought an airbed, a cooker, a fridge, a washing machine and cleaning stuff. So on this big move that we carefully planned we will have to camp in a house that hopefully by the time we come back from will be finished. What are we taking with us from this moving to Dubai adventure? Mainly that planning is over rated, that like in Egypt Inshallah Bokra is a well used phrase and that we will enjoy our holiday even more. So maybe next time I’ll plan to make things go just as rough just to enjoy a holiday 🙂