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.
Sunday: Boat dives from OPBC or Hout Bay if conditions permit
Midweek launch: From OPBC to see the Volvo Ocean Race yachts arriving in Table Bay
The wind is forecast to do some real south easterly blowing over the next few days, so False Bay is messy but the Atlantic is a bit cleaner. There is too much wind on Saturday for any kind of pleasant diving or boating, but Sunday has less wind (according to some of the wildly contradictory weather forecasts) and I think the odds are good that Table Bay will be a better option than Hout Bay, if the water cleans up enough to make dives worthwhile. It is difficult to say for certain where would be best but we will make that call on Saturday afternoon. The plan will be to dive North and South Paw if conditions permit. Let me know if you’d like to be on the watchlist!
Last weekend we dived out of Hout Bay, visiting the BOS 400, Star Walls and then Tafelberg Reef. The water was less clean than expected: 8-10 metre viz and a very cold 9 degrees. Thanks to Georgina for this picture of an itsy bitsy basket star! On Monday I was out along the Atlantic seaboard for a film charter and despite the fog we found dolphins, a sunfish, a whale, hundreds of seals, and incredible bird life once we were far offshore. There’s an album of photos on facebook.
Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race first leg comes to an end next week and the yachts are expected to arrive at the V&A Waterfront from Tuesday onwards. There is currently less than 9 nautical miles between the top four after several thousand miles of open ocean racing. The finish will be really exciting and we plan to launch as many days as possible next week to hopefully catch a glimpse as they race by… And perhaps a photo or two. Let me know if you think you’ll be able to take a midweek day of leave to go out on the boat.
Diversnight is an international night diving event that we try to participate in each year, just because. This coming Thursday, 6 November we will meet at Long Beach in Simon’s Town at 7.30 pm with the aim of starting the dive at 8.00 pm. We must be in the water at 14 minutes past eight to “count” and the aim is to set a new world record. There are currently 16 countries participating in this event. You can RSVP to the event on facebook, and read more about Diversnight here. There is no charge apart from any gear you may need.
If you need to rent gear, please let me know by Wednesday morning. You don’t necessarily need to be an Advanced diver to do a night dive, so give me a call or send me a mail to talk about it if you’re unsure. If you’ve been thinking about an Advanced course, though, this is a good time to get started.
We had a dry weekend last week as we spent three days at the CTICC participating in the Cape Town International Boat Show. We met a lot of new people, some old friends and a few really cool dogs. Many of the visitors to our stand expressed an interest in diving and asked to be added to the newsletter. To new readers we say welcome and hopefully we see you all soon in the water!
The south easterly wind has been hectic all week so theoretically the Atlantic should be crystal clear. I drove home along the coastline today and there are huge patches of clean water and huge patches of darker water. It looked very clean around Llandudno so I think the Romelia is on the cards for the weekend. I doubt False Bay will be good as apart from the wind, the swell is in a southerly direction which does not improve conditions at all.
Saturday looks like the best option for diving, and Sunday a maybe. If you want to dive, reply to this mail or text me. Sunday’s launches will be confirmed late on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday: launching from Hout Bay at 9.00 and 12.00. I have mostly students so we will look for clean water around the wrecks of Maori Bay and the Romelia wreck area.
Sunday: conditions permitting, we will be launching from OPBC at 9.00 for a double tank dive. We will look at the viz around the wreck of the Cape Matapan, and if it’s not clean there we will dive the pinnacles at North and South Paw.
Congratulations are in order
for Shane and Odette, who got engaged this week. Wishing you all the happiness! Also congrats to Brian, who has just completed his Divemaster course in… wait for it… Hawaii! Brian is starting an Instructor Development Course this week. Good job!
Sunday: Possible boat or shore dives, if the weather forecast moderates. Text me to be notified.
Conditions report and forecast
We had exceptional conditions in False Bay last weekend, with 20 metre visibility and a comfortable 18 degrees on the surface. It’s been a long time since False Bay has been so clean. There are some photos on facebook that will show you just how stunning the conditions were. We dived Photographer’s Reef and the wreck of the Brunswick.
The viz has dropped somewhat this week but it is still pretty good. Sadly we are unlikely to have good conditions this weekend: just as well, because on Saturday is the all day long DAN day that you should attend if at all possible, with very informative talks about diving safety and a tour of a great facility in Cape Town. If you want me to forward the details then send me an email, but be quick as you need to book in advance (i.e. tomorrow) if there’s still space.
On Sunday I don’t think the conditions will be all that great. There is a 2-3 metre swell, which is not too bad, but the wind is forecast to blow more easterly than south easterly and this tends to cause a larger than is pleasant wind chop that makes for unpleasant surface conditions. I am hoping the forecast changes as we get closer to Sunday and the wind drops off, and that way we can get some diving done. I will make that call late Saturday afternoon. Text me if you want to be on the list to dive if we do go out.
Training and permits
Winter is a good time to further your dive training – the water is cleaner in False Bay, and we have some really beautiful conditions to work with. If you’ve been thinking about a Specialty course, Advanced, or Rescue (for example), let me know and I can tell you a bit more about what’s involved. You’ll build up your confidence in the water and be a better buddy!
Please make sure you have an up to date MPA permit when you come diving… For visitors, I have a temporary (one month validity) permit book, but if you live here it’s definitely better to get a one year permit from the post office.