MUSWELL HILL PEOPLE

Surfing underwater on the African coast

WHEN sea divers Charlotte Grahame and partner Mark Durham encounter sharks and dolphins off the African coast the world will he able to watch. Their 18,000-mile, year-long trip from South Africa to Egypt is being billed as the world's first underwater cyber-safari. Video images will be broadcast on the Inter­net site set up by Ms Grahame, allowing friends and her family hack home in Queen's Avenue, Muswell Hill, to share in her amaz­ing experience.  The couple, both aged 27, will indepen­dently dive their way up Africa's East coast, starting in September, 1999  at Cape Town.  By the time they leave the Gulf of Aqaba a year later, they will have sampled some of the world's most beautiful sites over land and sea.

They plan to dive with great white sharks off Cape Town, enter Mozambique in time for the whale shark season, explore the vast freshwater lakes of Malawi and the nation­al safari parks of Tan­zania and Kenya, before returning to the coast, to the Red Sea in June.  That will coincide with tile schooling season for hammer-head sharks and exotic fish. They will assess the political situation in north-east  Africa before tracking their precise journey and have arranged to meet up with convoys peri­odically for security purposes.  As well as feeding their web­site - www.divethedream.com they will conduct a survey of sea life for the Marine Conservation Society.

“I had the madcap idea to go to Mozambique in a London pub and it grew from there. Our plans just wouldn't go away amid the hangover the next morning," said Ms Grahame, a West End advertising executive. Like her partner,  who used to run a London diving shop, she is an experienced diver.  Three years ago she worked as a chef on a dive boat on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  The couple have spent months saving and organizing the adventure, which they estimate will cost £20,000.  They have also used their spare time to learn about website technology.   Two sponsors, who will advertise on their website, have agreed to supply the diving gear and ship over a converted former army Land Rover, which they bought especially for the trip.  They are currently seeking more sponsorship for their largely self-financed journey.  Ms Grahame said “We’ll take the laptop and camera equipment and will hook up to the Internet whenever we can.  People will be able to follow our progress and see what we will see without getting their feet wet.  "There will be video clips and information about the dive sites we visit. The site will be tailored towards divers as well as the general public.”