Back home! I spent the last few weeks in Egypt, diving in the Red Sea. Blazing sun, 95- degree weather, 82-degree water and loads of tropical fish made my home waters seem very far away.

The air at home is about the same temperature as when I left, but the water has definitely cooled — which I realized when I forgot close my dry suit all the way on my first dive. A brisk splash of 53-degree water seeped into my clothes and kept me alert, if nothing else. But around these parts, we see more marine wildlife in the winter than in the summer; on this dive we saw several types of sole, a few cod and quite a few eels.

Even though this was one of our usual after-work dives, by the time we hit the water it was already dark enough for my dive torch. Despite the cold and dark, though, there is a real beauty to diving in the off-season. I find night dives extremely relaxing, almost meditative. And some of the popular sites can be quite crowded in season, with divers on your left, right, above and below. On this particular night, we were the only ones there, and our small group made for a very low-key dive. Only the week before in the Red Sea, I encountered five live-aboards on one reef, most of them with a capacity of about 25 divers, as well as a number of day boats.

The cooler water also makes the air more stable, generating less wind and thus weaker currents. So while the air can be cold, it is also calm, and so is the sea. As we descended into the water it was like slipping through a pool of mercury, glistening and tranquil, and when we reached the end of our dive, I surfaced a little way from the rest of the group. I ascended slowly, taking my time moving from one element to the other, savoring the quiet, inside and out. Calm waters, good visibility, lots of wildlife and very few divers — what’s not to like?

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