Saturday: Shore dives in Simon’s Town (only if forecast south easter does not materialise)
Sunday: Launching at 9.00 am and 11.30 am in Hout Bay or Simon’s Town
There is a good chance that diving could be good on both sides of the peninsula on Sunday. Saturday will be made unpleasant if the strong south easterly winds and predicted swell arrive, so Sunday will be the best choice for diving. (If the weather is good and wind is mild on Saturday, we will shore dive in False Bay.)
False Bay may be good if the swell does not turn as southerly as forecast, or if the south easter doesn’t quite get up to the 40 km/h in the forecast. If the wind does arrive, then Hout Bay should clean up enough for some decent conditions.
We will launch on Sunday at 9.00 am and 11.30 am, destination unknown. We will decide late on Saturday whether we will go to Hout Bay or False Bay on Sunday. Either way both dives will be suitable for Open Water divers, maximum depth 18 metres.
It may seem that given the week-long south easter we are having, it would be a simple matter to decide which side of the peninsula to dive. The picture was taken from Chapmans Peak drive today around lunchtime, and the water is not very clear – there are rocks just below the surface in the little bay below the road, but they are hardly discernible.
The water colour in False Bay is not very different but False Bay does seem to recover faster than the Atlantic coast of the peninsula. Sunday’s forecast is for gale force winds, so Saturday is the only decent diving day, but where?
Depending on tomorrow’s wind direction I will make a call late in the afternoon on whether we will launch in False Bay or out of Hout Bay. Either way it will be for dives at 10.00 am an 12.30 pm. I will have mostly Open Water students so the maximum depth will be 18 metres.
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.
Our obsession with shipwrecks that stick out of the water is well documented. We keep a beady eye on the BOS 400, and while the Seli 1 was visible at Blouberg, Tony and I would take a drive out to visit her every few months. We haven’t been out to see her for well over a year, so I was delighted to find myself at Blouberg recently to get an update on her condition.
Divers from the SA Navy were tasked with detonating explosives on the wreck to break her up, which they did in March 2013. This opened a compartment in the wreck from which oil leaked, necessitating a clean up operation. Finally, the remaining wreckage was cut into smaller pieces to expedite its collapse and dispersion on the sea floor.
Today, the resting place of the Seli 1 is marked by an orange buoy, that is hard to spot from land – let alone in my photographs above. The site has been dived by a group of adventurous locals, and apart from a lengthy surface swim it’s a possibly promising wreck for Open Water divers to dive from shore (these are in short supply in Cape Town – the only others I can think of are the Clan Stuart and the Antipolis, and perhaps the Romelia).
Nautical artifacts – both physical objects and place names – can be observed all over Cape Town. One, which I’ve driven past many, many times without even noticing, can be seen on Hout Bay Main Road just between the Shell Garage and Hout Bay Manor. (If you want the precise location, check out this instagram post, which I geotagged.) The anchors of SS Maori, a steamship that ran aground in 1909 in a bay now named after her, are on display under the auspices of Hout Bay Museum. The wreck of the Maori is a very popular dive site, and is eminently suitable for Open Water and beginner divers owing to the depth at which she lies, and the comforting feeling one has of being close to shore whilst sheltered in Maori Bay.
The bell of SS Maori can be seen inside the Hout Bay Museum. The wreck is over 60 years old, and as Peter Southwood points out on the dive site’s wikivoyage page,
This is a historical wreck and is now protected by legislation. Removing wreckage or artifacts is a criminal offence.
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.
For a change the weekend conditions look like something we can use for diving. A south westerly swell of a manageable 2.5 metre height, and very little wind, should give us far better conditions than we have experienced in the last few weeks. False Bay will be better than the Atlantic – the buoy off Kommetjie shows that the water temperature rose 7 degrees in the last 12 hours, which is not a sign of good visibility on that side. There has also been no south easterly wind today, and none is due tomorrow, so False Bay it is.
We will launch from Simon’s Town jetty on Sunday, which looks like the better day. We will go at 10.00 to Roman Rock and at 12.30 to Photographer’s Reef. These will be nice, mellow dives as I will have students on board.
I am also diving Open Water students at Long Beach tomorrow morning at 9.30, so feel free to tag along if you feel able to be mostly ignored by me while I concentrate on the new divers! If you need gear, let me know as soon as possible.
… to Otti and Matthijs, who are heading home to the Netherlands this weekend after an adventurous stay of over a year in Cape Town. It has been great to share in some of their adventures. We send wishes for gentle travels and all the best for the birth of their daughter in April! Here’s a picture of them and some other smiley faces (and Christo!) on the boat earlier this year:
Also, thanks to everyone who popped in on Saturday afternoon for our year end do. It was super to see all of you!
We have a training pool that is just the right size for the small groups of students that Tony prefers to teach. It’s an ideal size to heat up, and in order to make it as comfortable as possible to spend extended periods of time on skills, we’ve taken a couple of measures to make the water as warm as we can. The first, which we fitted when we installed the pool, is a thermal cover that both warms the water and reduces algae growth. It looks like grey bubble wrap, and works like a bomb – it raises the water temperature up to four degrees higher than the air temperature (and if you don’t run the pump to mix the heated layers, you can get an impressive thermocline!). Of course, to get the benefit of the pool cover, it has to be on at least some of the time, which is a challenge during the summer months, when there’s always someone in the pool!
The second measure we took to warm the pool was to install solar heating panels on the roof. These panels consist of a fine network of tubes made of tough HDPE, through which the pool water is circulated and then returned to the pool. The existing pool pump is used (this is why we fitted a more powerful one than the size of the pool warranted when we did the initial installation) and the heat of the sun warms the panels directly, as well as warming the roof which warms the panels from below. We fitted them on the north-facing sloping area of our roof. As a rule of thumb the number of panels needed is one for every two square metres of pool surface. Our pool is 5×3=15 metres square, so we have 7 panels (which is 15 divided by two, and rounded down).
The pump has a manifold fitted, which allows us to decide when we pump water onto the roof, and when we don’t bother. During the winter, when it’s quiet, or raining, we can isolate the panels and just run the pool pump as normal. This also saves electricity during the time of the year when it’s most in demand inside the house.
The entire system was installed by our fellow diver Justin Gootman of Project Pumps, and we can highly recommend his and his team’s handiwork and professionalism. (At the same time and with great expertise they drilled us a well point, but that’s another story.)
I learned to dive in Cape Town in the month of July, and the training pool was 9 degrees and I was almost physically ill when I submerged myself. It was very unpleasant. For several years afterwards it was the coldest water I’d ever been in, until a freezing dive at Tafelberg Reef in the Atlantic took over pole position. I am happy to say that we at Learn to Dive Today are doing our bit to ensure that fewer Cape Town dive students have to suffer as I did!
This blog has been going for a while, and there’s some content that I’d like to revive – all in one place – as a handy guide for people who are considering learning to dive.
Once you’ve made the decision to learn to scuba dive, you may wonder how to shop for a dive course. If you’re doing it just on price, I think you’re doing it wrong. Scuba diving is a sport with inherent risks, like paragliding or rock climbing. Do you really want to base your decision purely on how much it costs…?
Many people ask whether children can learn to scuba dive. The short answer is yes – from the age of eight, in the swimming pool, and from age 10 in the ocean. More information can be found in this post about scuba diving for kids.
This footage is five years old and very grainy, but has some sentimental value to me. Tony filmed it after a night dive on the SS Clan Stuart, which on Friday celebrated (?) 100 years aground in False Bay. It was his first night dive in Cape Town (might have been his first dive of any kind in Cape Town, but I’m not sure) and my first ever night dive. I was pretty freshly qualified as an Open Water diver but still had (have) a lot to learn.
I can see just enough of myself towards the end of the video to note that I have my mask pushed up on top of my head, which is stupid. Don’t do that, kids.