Sunday and Monday: Boat dives (location to be decided)
Last weekend we did some boating in Table Bay as a support boat for the Robben Island to Big Bay Freedom Swim. The remnants of the swell on Thursday and Friday was enough to give the swimmers a sizeable challenge with strong currents, choppy surface conditions and very cold patches of water.
The swell climbed from under 2 metres to a little over 5 metres this morning. This means diving tomorrow is pretty much out, as is diving on Saturday (thanks also to the Two Oceans Marathon). The swell drops off during the day on Saturday so both Sunday and Monday should deliver some reasonable diving conditions.
It is difficult to say whether Hout Bay or False Bay would be better on Sunday and Monday, but I will make that decision late on Saturday afternoon. I have Open Water and Advanced Open Water students so one day is likely to include a deep dive to more than 18 metres.
If you are keen to dive on Sunday or Monday, let me know and I’ll schedule you in!
The weekend forecast looks mostly like it is going to be a cool – or rather cold – water dive weekend. There is a fair amount of swell on Saturday, too much for my liking. Sunday has less swell and a little less wind. Hout Bay will most likely be the best option as the wind is fairly strong south easterly which is not all that pleasant in False Bay.
We seem set for a week of pleasant conditions. That rates as a good early Christmas present in my book. On Saturday and Sunday we will launch from Simon’s Town early to finish a few Advanced and Nitrox courses.
On Monday we will do shore dives to continue with Open Water courses, and the rest of the week will be for fun diving. Let me know where you want to go and when you’re free, and I will see if we can make it happen.
Stuck for Christmas presents? Check out our 2015 gift guide. It’s still pretty fresh, but to it I would add Into a Raging Sea, by Andrew Ingram and Tony Weaver, commemorating 50 years of the NSRI. Available at all good bookshops!
Today we took a load of surfers out to Dungeons. Amongst them were a few first timers at Dungeons and the happy cheers and bear hugs when they caught their first serious Dungeons roller was a sight worth seeing. Dungeons is a spectacular sight so if you haven’t been there do so at least once in your life.
Back to diving… We dived the Atlantic last weekend. Maori Bay was cold and clean-ish. Visibility was around 10 metres but then the temperature was also in the single digits. Die Josie was a lot cleaner and just as cold.
On Sunday we dived in False Bay – doing Search and Recovery for an Advanced course in 2 m visibility makes it a little more realistic!
Well… There is swell and wind in the forecast. The swell was not all that noticeable in False Bay today but was very surf-worthy at Dungeons and Muizenberg today. The wind is forecast at around 30 km/h for both days and for students doing their first boat dives I think it’s not that good an idea. So I have no launches planned for this weekend.
Saturday and/or Sunday: Boat dives in the ocean, probably… For an explanation of why so vague, read on!
We seem to be in a zone of poor weekend diving conditions. The weekdays offer some options but most local divers need weekends condition because of inconveniences like their jobs! This week has offered several decent days midweek and a gloomy weekend outlook. Saturday has more wind than Sunday but Sunday has more swell than Saturday… What to do?
There is currently a 4 metre swell in the Atlantic that will have some effect on Hout Bay. I have a backlog of Open Water and Advanced students needing boat dives, not to mention a bunch of regular divers all chomping at the bit so I am going to plan for both days but sadly it will again be a matter of making a decision on the morning. This involves a quick drive down to Smitswinkel Bay or alternatively a trip up Chapmans peak to take a look before deciding. For students, we would like good surface conditions and good visibility, for purposes of safety and enjoyment. There is no room for compromise here. If you can handle a short notice YES or NO to a dive as yet unplanned, then text me to book.
Clare has been in touch with those of you who have expressed an interest in joining us from 28 June to 4 July for five days of diving in Ponta do Ouro. Please let me know if you haven’t heard from her and we’ll get some information to you as soon as possible. For more about the diving in Southern Mozambique, check here and here.
The next DAN day is at False Bay Underwater Club on Saturday 28 February, from 2-5pm. DAN is an organisation that provides top up medical and evacuation cover to divers, as well as medical information, and a host of other services. They host sessions of lectures and slideshows by industry specialists, on all sorts of diving topics (often safety and medically-related), two or three times a year. The afternoon time slot of the one on 28 February means that you can dive in the morning and still attend! There is some more information here. These events are always extremely informative and highly recommended.
We had fantastic diving in freezing cold water in False Bay on Friday for the Advanced course currently on the go. It was a real shock to feel 11 degree water in False Bay at the height of summer – by the time we got to the top of the beach we were hot again! By Saturday morning, a spectacular green plankton bloom reduced the visibility back to low single digits.
This week, despite there having been so much south east wind that our cats have struggled to stand upright, the Atlantic is not as clean as you might expect. I took these photos from the top of Chapman’s Peak around midday and you can see the patchy brown spots. More south easter tomorrow may improve the conditions in the Atlantic, however a 3 metre, 15 second swell rolls in tomorrow evening, so I think there will be too much surge for comfortable diving. The wind goes westerly at midday on Saturday and the swell drops so I reckon Sunday will be the best day for a dive, and we will launch from Simon’s Town jetty at 9.00 and 11.30.
Given the time of year, we can expect fair conditions in False Bay, but we will have to wait a month or two for conditions to improve significantly. For now we still need to contend with some swell and a fair bit of wind. For the weekend I reckon Sunday will be the better option, and we will launch from Simon’s Town jetty for the SAS Pietermaritzburg at 8.00 and then Outer Photographer’s Reef at 11.00. We’ll hope that the pod of nearly 20 orca spotted in the bay earlier this week is still around…
We were astonished to encounter a grader on Long Beach this morning, moving sand from inappropriate places back onto the beach. Unfortunately it had created a huge band of muddy water that interfered with our plans for a navigation dive for the Advanced course currently on the go! Better luck tomorrow.
First up, merry Christmas (to those who celebrate it) and happy new year (to all of you who adhere to the Gregorian calendar). I hope the new year brings you all you wish for, and some good diving.
The past ten days or so have been hard times for Cape Town divers as huge swell, howling winds and lousy visibility have meant a lot of days that feel wasted -after all mowing the lawn or painting the house are hardly substitutes for diving. A handful of people have dived various sites without any reports of decent conditions. We drove from Chapman’s Peak to Millers Point almost every day watching and waiting for a change in the conditions.
They have finally started to change. For most of the day we have had a light south westerly wind and for the next few days there is more west (in the very light winds) than anything else. Although it won’t turn the viz into 15 metres, it will improve as the weekend and early part of next week progresses. Its not the time of year for 20 metre viz but the water is 20 degrees in False Bay and if the visibility is 5+ metres then diving is quite enjoyable!
We are spending the next few days diving in False Bay. We are going to finalise the boat diving sites on the day as it is difficult to be sure where the best conditions will be. If you want to dive, make your selection from the top of this newsletter, and reply to this mail or text me.
We are turning our minds to travel plans for the next 12 (and a bit) months. In June we plan to go to Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique, to dive the reefs there, which teem with life. Dates for this trip will be confirmed in the next few weeks. In the mean time, start saving! For this trip, you will need to be a confident boat diver.
Sometime in the first few months of 2016 (a stretch, I know) we plan to do a Maldives liveaboard trip with dive guide Becky and her husband Al from our last Red Sea trip. We will do this trip on the same basis as our Red Sea trip in 2013: we will tell you the dates we’ll be on board, and you book your own berths. Dates for this trip will be confirmed not earlier than the end of March, but you can start budgeting in the mean time. To get the full benefit from this trip you will need to be an Advanced diver with a Nitrox Specialty under your belt.
It is once again a weekend that does not bode well for diving. We are looking at pretty much the same conditions that were around last weekend and from what I have gathered the conditions last weekend were somewhere between lousy and appalling. A 3-4 meter swell arrives tomorrow. It drops but lingers on Sunday and reappears in force on Monday. Both False Bay and Hout Bay are very green and brown and viz reports have been very poor.
I doubt the weekend will deliver any good diving, sure if you really need to dive and can deal with the surge and low viz then try sheltered sites from shore. For us, we will stay high and dry.
Brian, whom many of you will know from the time he spent here in late 2013 during which time he did his Advanced course and got comfortable diving in cold, not always clean water, qualified this week as a diving instructor in Hawaii. He has accepted a job at a dive centre there, and if you head out that way be sure to visit him. He is pictured above doing the aircraft recovery specialty, the raw egg specialty, and his best Grumpy Cat face. Well done Brian!
Load shedding tips
One way to guarantee that your area will not experience load shedding is to buy a generator, fuel it, wire it for connection to the mains, and then wait, with the excitement of a child, for the power to go out. It won’t, I promise. You can thank me later.
Both the Atlantic and False Bay have been great during the week. We had 8 metre visibility on an Atlantic charter on Wednesday, and today’s offshore winds have flattened False Bay nicely, and cleaned the water significantly. The water temperature on both sides of the peninsula is similar, 10-12 degrees, and the visibility is around 8 metres. I feel that if the water temperature is a single digit the viz needs to be double that, but we don’t always get what we want! False Bay will be the best option this weekend so we will plan to launch on Sunday, at 9.30 for Atlantis and for Tivoli Pinnacles at 12.00.
Please diarise our open house on Saturday afternoon, 13 December. Proper invitations to follow.
On Sunday while out on the boat we passed by the prototype shark repellent cable at the end of Glencairn beach. This is a non-lethal approach to keeping humans and sharks separate, and is in the testing phase. You can see how the cable is lying with electrodes on each side of the centre cable, the electrodes marked by orange buoys on risers that stick out at low tide. There’s a description of the cable here, and we’ll have some more photos on the blog next Wednesday.
This is a great project with a potentially significant impact on the relationship between humans and sharks in South Africa. The cable was developed at the behest of the KZN Sharks Board, and is being tested in co-operation with Shark Spotters and the City of Cape Town.