Heinrich learned to scuba dive recently, and on his final Open Water dive at Duiker Island in Hout Bay, he brought along his Go-Pro camera. He edited together some footage from that dive, and is generously allowing us to share it here.
Deciding on where to dive every weekend is always a case of looking at several weather sites, sucking on your thumb, and then choosing. It can sometimes be so spot on it makes you beam with pride and other times you miss the mark so badly you wonder whether you were looking at a forecast from another planet. I thought perhaps we would try a premium subscription for a while and see if the odds improve. Time will tell…
It has been a pool week for me and therefore it will be a student weekend with only a few spaces on the boat for casual divers. The viz however is absolutely stunning in False Bay right now. If you want to join a dive, let me know.
On Saturday we will dive at Long Beach starting at 9.00 am. The wind is supposed to blow from around midday so we want to get going early. Casual divers are welcome, as long as you can fend for yourself while I take care of students.
On Sunday we will do two launches to a destination as yet unknown. My weather god, who I suspect is as real as a unicorn, says if it blows south easterly all night on Saturday, we will launch from Hout Bay. If it does not we will go to False Bay and launch from the jetty in Simon’s Town. It is also forecast, by the same unicorn, to blow relatively hard on Sunday which means we will most likely dive the sheltered sites of the Brunswick wreck, and Ark Rock.
Summer is on its way, it gets busy and warm really quickly and the price of training and diving usually climbs with the thermometer. We do offer both PADI and SDI courses but are focusing more on the affordability of online theory with SDI. In the modern world we live in it is no longer essential to purchase a big thick manual when you can have it all on your laptop for a lot less money. If you want more info on any of the courses we offer give me a shout or visit our website.
Last weekend we chose to dive Hout Bay, partly because I expected Simon’s Town to be a little too busy given it was nearing the end of the Lipton Cup, a sailing regatta hosted by False Bay Yacht Club. The sea was flat, with light winds and sunny weather and good visibility. We did three dives but by the third one were a bit chilly! It was sad to see all the poaching boats, and the damage that’s been done to the wreck of the Maori lately.
This weekend I think False Bay will be the place to be. We had really good conditions yesterday and the wind direction has been good for False Bay viz. There is going to be some swell so I think we will shore dive at Long Beach with students on Saturday (I’ll be focusing on my students, but casual divers are most welcome to tag along). We will hit the high seas for boat diving on Sunday. We will launch from Simon’s Town jetty to dive Atlantis at 9.30am and the beautiful Maidstone Rock at 12.00. Text or email me if you feel like a dive.
Physiology at the extremes
I attended a conference today focusing on how the human body responds to extreme conditions, with a focus on cold water immersion (but also including exposure to alcohol, drugs, and hyperthermia). It was fascinating, and one of the important things I took away from it is how important it is to take seriously our dives in Cape Town’s water. Our physiological responses and capabilities change after an extended period of time in cold water, and while you may feel that you’re still mentally sharp and fully in control, the opposite may be true, and this is when accidents happen. I’m looking forward to incorporating some of the things I’ve learned into our day to day diving activities at Learn to Dive Today.
Pencil in a trip to Ponta do Ouro in late April/sometime in May next year. We’ll start planning it early next year, but we’ll aim for five days of diving with a day of travel on each side. Start saving now! We have had amazing experiences there – some of our favourite dives were done at reefs called Doodles and Texas.
We are thinking of our diving friends in far off lands – Bernita and Tamsyn, sending all good thoughts your way!
When it comes to inflating an SMB, there isn’t a textbook way of doing it. Sure, people have strong feelings about what’s right and what’s not, but as long as you get the SMB inflated without risking (or having) an uncontrolled ascent, that’s fine.
The method Tony prefers is to exhale into the bottom of the tube. That way, if necessary, you can let go of the SMB and not be dragged with it to the surface (this is a risk that exists if you use your octo to inflate it, as it might get stuck). The only way to get the hang of this process, which involves multiple moving parts, is to practice. Here’s Alex practising at Photographer’s Reef.
We have had a few days of really good diving with very little wind, good visibility and sunny skies. The viz today was better than yesterday: we had about 15 metre visibility at Photographer’s Reef, and at Roman Rock it was even better with 15-20 metre viz. Funnily enough close inshore the viz was a lot less and at the jetty at low tide the water was so brown you couldn’t see the bottom.
The forecast for the weekend does not look all that rosy and there is meant to be strong winds, rain and a fair amount of swell. We will be doing student dives at Long Beach on Saturday, and having a dry day on Sunday.
The good news is that Monday does look good again – and it’s a public holiday – so we plan to launch then, to go to the cowsharks first. It is approaching the time of year they when sometimes do their disappearing act (some period during the months of July-November). The second dive will be to part of the huge Roman Rock site that I have recently found to be very interesting.
Dive sites may change depending on whether the forecast swell arrives or not. If you’d like to dive, reply to this email or send me a text.
Some of the sites we visited on Two Mile Reef were noticeably more barren – with less coral and more sand and rock – than others. I wonder whether this is a seasonal (or annual, or multi-year) variation, or whether it’s a slow process of the reef becoming silted up. Sites towards the middle of Two Mile, such as Garden Route, were covered with coral and looked exceptionally healthy.
Sodwana sees a lot of divers doing a lot of dives, year-round. There are at least eight dive charters operating from the beach, and Two Mile in particular sees some heavy traffic – including Open Water divers (many from Johannesburg) doing their first sea dives. During a recent conversation, Gerard blamed the heavy boat traffic for what he perceives as a slow decline in the health and biomass of the reef life in Sodwana; I wonder if the fishing activity that somehow co-exists with the dive charters has anything to do with it. Or perhaps we are imagining things, and just happened to dive on a few parts of the reef that were having a quiet day.
Whether we are imagining the changes in the reefs in Sodwana or not, it’s still a very beautiful place to dive, and worthy (as are all wild places on this earth) of our protection. You should go there and see for yourself!
Weekend diving: Shore dives tomorrow (Friday) at Long Beach
Weekend boating: Watching the big wave surfers at Dungeons on Sunday, if conditions line up properly
As far as diving goes this week has seen few decent days, and I have only had pool days. There has been hectic wind and lots of swell but the good news is the water is clean, if a little chilly. Tomorrow I will be climbing in at Long Beach for student dives.
This weekend is again an odd one as Saturday is meant to boast near gale force winds and on Sunday there will be less wind but a long period swell of around 6 metres – so If washing machine diving is your thing, go diving.
There is a good chance that Dungeons delivers the goods on Sunday and if it does we will launch from Hout Bay and go get a few pictures of the really brave and talented big wave surfers. The photo above shows some surfers on this awesome wave on a relatively small (if you can believe it) day! If you’d like to be on the waiting list for this, let me know. I’ve been modifying our tank rack on the boat so it converts to a bench, so it’ll be great to test that out!
Next week looks like a week of wind and swell which will hamper diving but hopefully by next weekend it will improve. One interesting thing about big winter swells and strong winds is that the wreck of the BOS 400 might go down this winter… Let’s wait and see.
Weekend diving: No dives planned. Pool on Saturday!
Last weekend we attended the DAN Day at Unique Hydra (a company that makes and markets commercial diving equipment) and as always the speakers and the topics were exceptionally good. DAN stands for Divers’ Alert Network, and they provide medical insurance for divers over and above what your medical aid will cover, as well as incredibly useful advice and guidance via their hotline, staffed by diving doctors. Twice a year they arrange a day of diving and health related talks and a tour of an interesting facility – the next one is on 2 August and I highly recommend you attend. We’ll remind you closer to the time.
The photo above is from the DAN South Africa instagram feed! We are standing in front of a huge structure that will be built into a ship, enabling saturation divers to live and work in a pressurised environment for weeks on end.
No launches are planned this weekend. Saturday starts off really windy and the wind picks up dramatically during the day. On Sunday, it blows even harder and a 5 metre swell arrives. I have pool training so will be spared the grumpy sea. Its a pity as the visibility is currently really good. We’ll hold thumbs for next week!
We had pretty good conditions last weekend out of Hout Bay, where we launched on Sunday for a double tank dive for an Aquaventures IDC. On the BOS 400 the visibility was only about 6 metres, and about 8 metres at Duiker Island. There were reports of even better conditions inside Hout Bay.
After the divers left Clare and I took the boat down to the Slangkop lighthouse in Kommetjie for a picnic (on the water). The winds were light, with lots of sun and a gentle swell, and we spent some time putting running in hours on the boat.
The condition have been really good all week, and apart from a fog bank that hung around on Tuesday and Wednesday, the diving has been good. We dived Partridge Point and cowsharks on Tuesday to complete Open Water and Divemaster courses, and then spent some time just off Millers Point watching three huge short tail stingrays in the shallows. We were also fortunate to see humpback whales on the way back to Simon’s Town. (Yes, I did take a picture and yes they were humpbacks despite this not being the time of year for them!)
Dive conditions forecast
The forecast for the weekend is for very little swell, very little wind and lots of sunshine (29-30 degrees on both days). My kind of weather! The water temperature in False Bay is also pleasant and is between 16-20 degrees depending on how deep you go.
It is a good time to go diving. We will launch from Simon’s Town jetty as usual and the plan is to dive Atlantis and the Ark Rock wrecks on Saturday, and on Sunday Photographer’s Reef and Shark Alley. If you have a burning desire to go somewhere else, let me know and I’ll see what we can do! As usual, text or email me if you want to get on the boat.
Please remember to have your MPA permits up to date (this applies if you’re coming to Sodwana, too – they will be checked). Also remember that if you book a dive and can’t make it for whatever reason, you need to let me know the evening before otherwise I will have to charge you for the spot on the boat.
On a beautiful day in Hout Bay towards the end of last year, we were entertained by a seal that had caught a west coast rock lobster. The seal spent a lot of time parading around near the boat with his lobster, and we were suitably entertained. We dived the SS Maoriand Die Josie and enjoyed the very mellow surface conditions and warm sun.
I was diving with Open Water students, so Gary skippered for us. On our way back into the harbour we came across the local NSRI station personnel doing towing exercises with their two vessels.