Ark Rock (or Noah’s Ark) is a well-known landmark just off Boulders Beach. It has a certain melancholy aspect when viewed on a cloudy day, which is the sort of day on which we dived it recently. Any feeling of melancholy is swiftly replaced, upon approaching the rock, by a physical response to the almost overpowering stench of cormorant guano, which liberally coats the top of the rock along with the cormorants themselves. The beauty of this site is that one can find shelter regardless of which way the wind is blowing, but since it is near the top of False Bay the currents in the area can be moderately punchy.
There is frequently a group of young Cape fur seals in the water on the south side of the rock, thermoregulating and playing vigorously. This is an alternative location to do a seal dive when Seal Rock is unavailable due to large swells. The visibility here will never be spectacular, but even when it’s five metres or so the dive is very pleasant. Once one is tired of interacting with seals, it’s possible to swim around the rock and to explore the reef that extends some distance from the part of the rock that protrudes from the water.
Tony has found this a very pleasant place to train Open Water students on their first boat dive, as the reef around the rock drops off in a stepwise manner down to 14-16 metres. Once students are comfortable close to the rock, in about 6 metres of water, they can go down to the next step, and the next.
We found large quantities of electrical cables, which wikivoyage says is from the old navy degaussing range. This is related to removing or decreasing the magnetic field around a ship’s hull to minimise the risk from mines. There’s an explanation of how that used to work here and some more technical stuff here.
It’s important to call the navy if you plan to dive here (in fact, anywhere from Long Beach down to A Frame) and leave your name with the guys in the Ops Room. While we were in the water Tony was harassed by a patrol boat captain who instructed him to leave the area because they’d been having trouble with poachers and (getting annoyed) “because I say so!” During their exchange these immortal words were uttered by the patrol boat captain: “Do you mean to say that you have no means of communicating with the divers while they are underwater?”
Unfortunately I’d left my iPhone on the boat. (In reality Tony could have revved the boat’s engines and we would have known to surface, but since he’d been given no valid reason why we should get out of the water, he was feeling unco-operative.)
It goes without saying that you must have an SMB or a towed buoy when you dive here, as the boat traffic is heavy.
Dive date: 11 November 2012
Air temperature: 19 degrees
Water temperature: 16 degrees
Maximum depth: 10.1 metres
Visibility: 5 metres
Dive duration: 41 minutes