On a warm day when the boat is in the driveway, it’s not unusual to find a little stowaway asleep in the console. We think he’s been doing this for ages, but we’ve only discovered it in the last couple of months.
Junior’s unorthodox choice of napping spot is cool, shady and often contains a jacket or two for him to lie on.
When it gets too warm, he moves his head further into the shade.
The last two months have been what I would call an almost ideal summer.The weather has been terrific and the hectic south easters we had a year ago have not been much of an issue. Whilst we still await the icy crystal clean Atlantic to materialise, the viz has been good more often than not on both sides of the mountain. Roll on January.
The coming weekend’s forecast is almost a carbon copy of last weekend, so we will shore dive tomorrow and have early start on Saturday before the wind arrives. Sunday we will follow a “let’s wait and see” plan as it’s not too clear whether the wind will be as strong as the forecast says it will. That leaves Monday,Tuesday, and Wednesday for us to wrap up diving for 2015.
Taking a break
We will be closed from 24 December until 3 January 2016. If we don’t see you before then, have a merry Christmas and a jolly new year. Be safe and get some rest. We would would like to thank everyone that has dived with us throughout the year. Your support is appreciated and I know I have had a lot of fun, laughs good and bad viz, and an abundance of cake.
Same again is not a phrase we can use for December this year. Last December was appalling by comparison and although we are only 10 days into the month, we have already done twice the number of dives we did in the whole of December last year.
Conditions this past weekend were great and they have been the same all week. The westerly wind today has made things even better and tomorrow and Saturday should be pretty good… In False Bay. The Atlantic looks a little dark and the water temperature is 16 degrees Celcius, which doesn’t herald good viz that side.
We are launching tomorrow and Saturday, but I think Sunday will be a little too windy for diving. The forecast is for it to blow hard from midday on Saturday, so we will launch for a double tanker at 6.00 am on Saturday from Simon’s Town jetty.
Remember our free try dives in the pool until Christmas eve. We have had some bookings and the pool is warm! It’s a great opportunity to introduce your friends and family to scuba diving. Get in touch if you want to bring someone over – booking is essential.
Please have your MPA permits up to date – you can get one for R94.00 at the post office. Take along your ID document.
On the subject of Marine Protected Areas, please read this and send in your comments about the imminent opening of the Tsitsikamma MPA to fishing. Allowing fishing in a marine protected area is a bit of a contradiction in terms, so I encourage you to read about the proposal and let your voice be heard on the subject.
The sea swallow, Glaucus atlanticus, is a type of pelagic nudibranch. Pelagic means it lives in the open ocean, and being a nudibranch makes it a member of the phylum Mollusca. They are also called blue dragons, blue sea slugs, and a few other similar names. Because of where they live, these striking creatures are not frequently seen, so we were lucky to encounter a few of them after a dive at Batsata Maze in the south western part of False Bay, just south of Smitswinkel Bay.
The blue patterned side of this nudibranch that is visible when viewed from above is actually its underside. The top surface of the animal, which points down, is counter-shaded (like a great white shark). It is a greyish silver colour to blend in with the surface of the sea when viewed from underwater.
Sea swallows suck air into a gas-filled sack inside their bodies, for buoyancy. They prey on blue bottles (also called Portuguese man o’war) and retain and concentrate the blue bottles’ venom in their bodies for use against their own enemies. This makes them extremely venomous with the potential to sting badly.
Luckily the intrepid Carel leaped into the water to scoop one into a cup and we could all take a closer look (don’t touch!) on the boat and get some photographs. Afterwards, our visitor was returned safely to the ocean.
They are widely distributed through many of the world’s oceans, and sometimes wash up on the beaches in False Bay. They are unusual, but not earth-shatteringly rare. If we were more social media savvy we would have managed to use this sighting to manufacture the kind of hysteria generated by that facebook page whose title expresses an intense and profane love for “science“, or a few other media channels. But we’re not, so you get this blog post!
Saturday: Dives from Simon’s Town jetty at 9.00 and 11.30 am, sites dependent on conditions
We had good conditions last week; they held for the weekend and then kept going at the start of this week. Yesterday and today, however, the viz took a bit of a nosedive and is possibly going to settle into the summer visibility groove of a warm 4- 6 metres, depending on your eyesight. There is very little swell or wind in the forecast which will help.
I doubt there will be too much difference between Saturday and Sunday so the plan is as follows: a screechingly early double tank launch on Saturday (6.00 am on the Simon’s Town jetty). On Sunday we will meet for 9.00 am and 11.30 am. The sites will depend on what we find on Saturday.
This Cape long-legged spider crab hitched a ride to the surface on one of the divers’ booties this week. Isn’t he a handsome chap? He is back where he belongs!
Try diving in the pool
In the month of December until Christmas, we are offering Discover Scuba sessions (try dives) in our pool, free of charge, every Wednesday and Thursday after 3.00 pm. If you have a friend that needs a little persuasion to qualify as your future dive buddy, then bring them along. Booking is essential. Get in touch if you want to reserve a slot.
This past week has not really been a diving friendly week. There has been a fair amount of swell on and off and also a decent amount of humping south easterly wind. The weekend shows promise for the Atlantic, which is currently still dirty but is showing signs of improvement. There is a good chance it will be clean by Saturday or Sunday. The swell goes south east, so I think Granger Bay may be a possibility, and Hout Bay will almost certainly work.
Sunday will probably have less viz than Saturday but also a bit less swell, which is important for Hout Bay launches. If by Saturday afternoon the Atlantic is not clean we will dive False Bay instead (warm water is better than cold water in poor visibility!).
Sunday: Boat or shore dives, conditions dependent!
We have had terrific conditions all week and have been taking full advantage. False Bay is cleanish and warmish. Visibility has varied from site to site but the bay is full of life. On Tueday we spent our surface interval time photographing sea swallows at Batsata Maze. Wednesday’s surface interval was spent filming giant short tail sting rays at Millers Point, and today we were fortunate enough to have two orcas swim by close inshore whilst the divers were on the SAS Pietermaritzburg this morning. Who knows what we will see tomorrow!
Sadly the diving today was somewhat overshadowed by the raging fire that descended on Simon’s Town with the westerly wind, despite the best efforts of many firefighters. Watching from the water you could see the speed at which the fire traveled and I doubt anything other than a thundershower was going to slow it down. On the run back into Simon’s Town we went through really thick smoke.
The weekend, however, does not look too rosy. At cowsharks this afternoon the swell was quite noticeable and although it stays at 3 metres for most of tomorrow, the forecast is for 5-6 metres on Saturday. It seldom reaches the height in the forecast but even at 4-5 metres diving becomes less than great. Surge and low viz are on the cards. I think there will be a better than good chance that Sunday will be semi-decent so I will provisionally schedule diving, either from the boat or perhaps a shore dive or two… Text me if you want to join and I’ll keep you posted.
We had decent diving at Castor Rock and Boat Rock last weekend despite the patchy spots of visibility.
On Saturday evening twenty five divers shore dived at Long Beach and the Clan Stuart for 2015’s Diversnight. The conditions were pristine, and False Bay’s marine wildlife was out in abundance for the occasion. It was great to put faces to names and to meet and dive with so many of you. Thanks to everyone who took part!
The viz has improved all week and was already 10 metres on Tuesday when we went to Castor Rock and Rambler Rock. We are out tomorrow and Saturday, and I am sure the excellent viz is pretty much everywhere in False Bay. The weekend looks rosy: the wind is light and the swell is around 3 metres on Saturday with a little less on Sunday.
One of the locals in Struisbaai has a small, black dog that was playing at the harbour when we were exploring (and filming stingrays). The activity of choice was retrieving pebbles from the small shore break, with a small breath-hold as required, and then vigorously burying them in the sand higher up the beach. Passers by were encouraged to participate in the game, which is how we got involved – the harbour was quiet that day and we could not resist her wagging tail and persistent barking at the end of the jetty. I think this little dog would get on well with Dori from Ponta do Ouro…
Here’s a small video I took of the dog and her game: