Newsletter: Running in

Hi divers

Weekend launches

Saturday: 9.00 and 11.30 to Atlantis and the Ark Rock wrecks, launching from FBYC

Sunday: 9.00 and 11.30 to Photographer’s Reef and Shark Alley, launching from FBYC

The BOS 400 last weekend
The BOS 400 last weekend

Dive report

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.

Chilling on the boat near Kommetjie
Chilling on the boat near Kommetjie

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!)

Seal snoozing on an outboard
Seal snoozing on an outboard

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.

Remember

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.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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A Day on the Bay: Sealing the deal

Date: 24 November 2013

A seal does some crayfishing in Hout Bay
A seal does some crayfishing in Hout Bay

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 Maori and Die Josie and enjoyed the very mellow surface conditions and warm sun.

Shane, Christo, Odette, Gary, Matthys and Otti on board
Shane, Christo, Odette, Gary, Matthys and Otti on board

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.

NSRI training exercises in Hout Bay harbour
NSRI training exercises in Hout Bay harbour

 

Newsletter: Weekend festivities

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Friday: Double tank dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Saturday: Two shallow (maximum depth 18 metres) dives from Hout Bay

Sunday: Two launches if conditions warrant it, from Hout Bay or OPBC

The week’s diving

It has not been a great week of diving as there has been quite a lot of south easterly wind. We launched last Friday and had to hunt around for clean water, ending up at Roman Rock and the Brunswick. There was a huge amount of fish activity close inshore and the phase of the moon wasn’t favourable, so we canned our planned night dive for last Friday evening. We’ll watch the conditions and try again soon. Please enjoy this picture of submarine activity in False Bay, taken on Friday.

Naval activity around the submarine
Naval activity around the submarine

False Bay is currently a pale shade of green whilst the Atlantic is a mixture of clean and green patches. Friday’s wind, surprise surprise, will be south easterly, so it may help to improve the Atlantic viz. Tomorrow’s divers have requested a False Bay launch, hence our planned expedition there.

The Atlantic is the only option for the weekend as the Navy Festival in Simon’s Town will draw a crowd, and this will lunch up all the parking, especially around the yacht club, where we would launch. Miller’s Point is just so far down on my list of nice (and safe and clean) places to launch…

I do think first choice will be out of Hout Bay for Saturday and possibly Sunday, but OPBC will be our second option, depending on how much wind there is tomorrow. On Saturday the boat is primarily students, so both launches will be to sites with a maximum depth of 18 metres. Sunday is wide open and if you have a special request, let me know. As usual, text or email if you’d like to dive this weekend!

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Round the Point

Hi divers

Launches

FridayRoman Rock and Photographer’s Reef , and a night dive at Long Beach. Text me before 10am on Friday if you want to do the night dive.

Saturday (at the crack of dawn): Ark Rock wrecks and Phoenix Shoal

Monday: divers’ choice and Shark Alley

The week’s dives

We were boatless last week so could do shore dives only, but by Friday the boat was back after repontooning.

Leaving the jetty in Simon's Town with our new pontoons
Leaving the jetty in Simon’s Town with our new pontoons

This week we have been blown out most days, but today we headed off to Diaz Beach inside the Cape Point Nature Reserve with a group of very tough and brave swimmers that swam from Diaz Beach to Buffels Bay, a distance of approximately 8 kilometres around the tip of Cape Point. The swim was called Swim for Hope and was in aid of the Little Fighters Cancer Trust.

Swimmers waiting to tackle the shore break
Swimmers waiting to tackle the shore break

Each swimmer had a support boat and each boat had a shark shield, but there was nothing to shield them from the cold or the huge shore-break they faced at the start. Once round the Point the wind eased and the swell dropped and it was far better. Our swimmer, 61 year old Richard Child, swam tirelessly and had nothing more than a few swigs of hot chocolate on the way. He started with a stroke rate of 70 strokes per minute and ended on 68. Very impressive.

Rounding Cape Point
Rounding Cape Point

Weekend dives

Tomorrow is a good westerly wind, this will improve the viz inshore so we will do two dives tomorrow from the boat and then a night dive at Long Beach. There is a fair swell this weekend so I think Long Beach would be the best option . Saturday we launch again but it will be really early as the wind is set to pump from midday. On Sunday we are staying home while 35,000 very energetic cyclists compete for space on the peninsula road network.

On Monday we are also launching, and the first dive has not yet been decided (if you book first you get to choose!) but after lunch we will run down to Pyramid Rock to see the cowsharks.

Courses and travel

Currently busy with Open Water, Enriched Air, Rescue and Divemaster. The Sodwana trip is creeping up on us – twelve of us will head off for some warm water on the 26th of April.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Big five

Hi divers

Weekend plans

We will launch from False Bay Yacht Club tomorrow and on Saturday.

The past week’s diving

We had a really good long weekend away in the KZN bush and were very lucky to see the big five and a number of other creatures, from chameleons to giraffes. We also watched a cheetah stalk, chase and take down a small impala – a pretty spectacular predation event that we were very fortunate to witness. I’ve been teaching all week, so there are no underwater photos for this newsletter. Can you make do with some terrestrial wildlife instead?

Lioness at Phinda
Lioness at Phinda

False Bay has been the place to be this week and the water temperature has consistently been between 19 and 22 degrees. It is also the place to be this weekend – well, certainly tomorrow and Saturday, but by Sunday it seems the wind picks up to around 35-40 km/h which will be unpleasant (and unsafe).

Smirking cheetah cub
Smirking cheetah cub

The temperature of the Atlantic peaked at 22 degrees yesterday but has dropped down to 10 degrees in the last 24 hours. This normally means clean water and it is quite likely an option for tomorrow, but tomorrow the forecast is for no wind and 30 degrees of baking sun which will probably green the water up really quickly.

Training

We are close to the final stretch for our two Divemaster candidates and for the current bunch of Open Water and Advanced students. In February will might be a little calmer, and we will concentrate or our Research diver program!

Black rhino
Black rhino

Travel

Our Sodwana trip is growing, and at this stage there are 14 of us heading up there for some clean water and lazy beach days. We have been adding people as they express an interest, so if you are keen, mail me for the details.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Something to look forward to

Hi divers

Weekend diving

On Friday we are shore diving A Frame as the Divemaster candidates are working on a mapping project. On Saturday the boat will be in False Bay but is already full as we have a bunch of Open Water students to qualify. That leaves Sunday open for two launches to somewhere that we can dive without a white stick. If you want to be notified on Sunday morning as to whether conditions will permit us to dive, reply to this mail or send me a text message.

Last week’s diving

This weekend signals the end of most of the up country visitors’ vacation time, and life slowly goes back to normal. You can once again find parking at most of the beaches and and go back to swearing quietly at the idiots on the road because they could be your neighbour.

It’s been a week of really poor diving with swell, surge and low visibility. The Atlantic is not very clean, and nor is False Bay. The storm that hit the Cape2Rio Fleet did its best to fill the bay with kelp, silt and garbage. Today we have had some westerly winds which has helped to clean this up a little, and the forecast for the weekend is a southerly wind. That’s good in some places in the bay, and not so good in others. Today I was in the pool doing skills and equipment exchange with two Divemaster candidates. At least the visibility there was excellent…

Nick may have trouble equalising
Nick may have trouble equalising

Most of you will be aware that last weekend there was a serious diving accident on the wreck of the MV Rockeater in Smitswinkel Bay. The dive community is a small one, and even though we did not know the diver concerned, we have felt the loss keenly and Clare and I have spent a lot of time discussing it. The full details of what happened have not been released, but there is always something to learn when things go wrong, even from partial information.

When incidents like this occur there is a tendency for them to be swept under the carpet, as people tend to believe that it will cause harm to the dive industry. I don’t share this view. Finding someone to point a finger at has no value (and often there isn’t anyone who can be blamed), but a lesson learned has huge value to a diver who is still on the learning curve. Hopefully we are all still on that curve. Not everyone has a person in their life who understands scuba diving and with whom they can work through an incident like this. If you’d like to discuss it at all, please give me a call or drop me an email.

Remains of a large swell on Fish Hoek beach this evening
Remains of a large swell on Fish Hoek beach this evening

Sodwana trip in April

On a much happier note, we are planning a dive trip to Sodwana from 26 April to 30 April. We will stay at Coral Divers and do six dives (at least) over three days, with one day for travel on each side (fly to Durban, drive approximately 400km to Sodwana). This will be a busy time at Sodwana because of the public holidays and the fact that schools will be mostly closed that week, so we need to get into gear quickly on this one.

We’ve done this trip a couple of times before – read about one of those occasions here, and see what kind of diving you can expect here. A hint: it’s warm and colourful! You will need to be a confident boat diver, but an Open Water qualification is sufficient. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll send you more details – you only need to pay a 10% deposit to secure your booking, with full payment due 14 days before our arrival. The Coral Divers price list for 2014 can be found here.

Everyone needs something to look forward to at the start of the year… Think about it!

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Waiting for Santa to arrive

Hi divers

Weekend plans

On Saturday we will be shore diving at Long Beach and on Sunday we will be diving from the boat, launching at False Bay Yacht Club. Sunday’s wind is not all that predictable as yet, so we will make a firm plan late on Saturday afternoon.

Smitswinkel Bay
Smitswinkel Bay

The water temperature in False Bay is close to the 20 degree mark, so if it’s warm water you have been waiting for then now is your chance. The wind, mostly south easterly, has not really trashed False Bay as it sometimes can but at the same time it has not really cleaned the Atlantic the way it should.

This weekend’s wind will supposedly be more north westerly so False Bay should be quite good for the weekend – not that it’s that bad right now.

Dive update

So, we are into early January and Santa has yet to deliver my present. My request was simple: no swell, favourable winds, and good visibility. Never mind – I am patient and will wait and hope that he arrives soon.

Near Batsata Maze
Near Batsata Maze

Over the last two weeks we have done some diving, seldom in stunning conditions and seldom with terrific viz… But then Santa may still arrive. December and January are traditionally busy months for courses and we are busy with Open Water, Advanced, Rescue and Divemaster courses right now.

The  Divemaster trainees did part of their mapping project at A Frame today and we had 19 degree water and around 5 metre visibility.

Plans for 2014

When the visibility clears up enough for photography (other than macro) we are looking forward to making some contributions to the Spot the Sevengill Shark project. If you want to know what you can do to help identify the sevengill cowsharks that frequent False Bay, there’s some information here, and you should go and like the Spot the Sevengill facebook page, too.

We’re also going to start thinking about dive travel for 2014. We haven’t been to Sodwana for a little while, so I think that’ll be where we point our noses first… Watch this space!

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Santa cat

Hi divers

I tried very hard to get a picture of one of our cats wearing a Santa hat for this newsletter, but failed. Sorry.

Weekend diving

We will be launching from Hout Bay or Oceana Powerboat Club, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Text or email me if you want to do some cold water diving.

Open Water students at work
Open Water students at work

So December is almost over, all that’s left is a few presents to open, lots of food to deal with and to get some diving done. We have had some serious wind this week but it is set to slow down for the next few days. I doubt False Bay will offer up much but I could easily be wrong. If the wind drops the water is surprisingly clean given the wind and looks far better than it did last weekend.

Ready to get in the pool
Ready to get in the pool

Last weekend’s diving

We dived False Bay last Saturday and Sunday and had really calm seas but really poor viz. On our way back from Shark Alley we stopped to visit the rays at Miller’s Point, and counted twenty snoek fishing boats in the queue to use the slipway. On days like that I’m grateful for False Bay Yacht Club!

Snoek fishing boats at Miller's Point
Snoek fishing boats at Miller’s Point

I do think Hout Bay will offer up the best options for the next few days but Table Bay also has the potential to deliver good viz after so much south easter. For the next ten days we will play it by ear and will most likely launch every day as the weather permits as I have several Open Water, Nitrox and Advanced students to get dived.

We won’t plan to be closed on any specific days during this period as we have enough days of loafing when the weather is poor, so if the sea is good we will dive.

You may already have won a prize

Congratulations to Matthijs who has won himself a Nitrox course in the November boat lucky draw. One diver who is on our boat this month will also win a Nitrox course, or two boat dives if they’re already Nitrox certified. All you need to do is show up.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Whale of a tale

Hi divers

Weekend plans

Possible launch in the Atlantic on Sunday, for hardened veterans who don’t mind rough surface conditions, possible rain, and cold water. If this sounds like you, let me know and I’ll text you if we go ahead! I’ll decide on Saturday late afternoon.

Email

We changed website hosts this week, and emails to learntodivetoday.co.za are bouncing at the moment. Please use my gmail address instead (my name and surname at gmail.com) for the time being.

Whale on the beach

Earlier this week a whale carcass washed ashore at St James beach. It didn’t look much like a whale any more. Such a large animal will feed millions of mouths in the ocean from the tiniest organism to the great white shark. Out in the ocean and left to nature, such a carcass would slowly be consumed down to the last morsel, but given the proximity to us human beings such matters need some intervention. Plan A was to tow it out to sea, plan B was to remove it to a landfill. It was taken under tow but sadly the weather was against this succeeding, and left anywhere in False Bay the wind would most likely return it to shore.

Whale on the beach in Fish Hoek
Whale on the beach in Fish Hoek

At around 5.30 pm it was landed in Fish Hoek, dragged and pushed up the beach and loaded onto a flat bed truck. This took about four hours. It was estimated to weigh between 3-4 tons so this was no easy task. We watched from around 5.00 pm and I was very impressed by Shark Spotters,Cape Town city officials, Solid Waste staff, the work crew and everyone else who really made a huge problem go away in a matter of hours. Before you say, ”why don’t they leave it to nature?” bear in mind that given the time of year – with lots of people in the water, seasonal inshore shark movement, and onshore prevailing winds – and it all adds up to, it was the best and only option available.

Preparing to put the whale on a truck
Preparing to put the whale on a truck

We dived at Long Beach today and found a few chunks of this carcass in about 6 metres of water. There are most likely more around and Solid Waste staff have been removing these chunks as and when they wash up on the beach. Be vigilant!

Weekend plans

What about the weekend? Well, I do not hold much hope for great conditions on either of the days. However, Sunday may just pan out. The south easter is set to blow between 30 and 60 km/h from midday tomorrow until late on Monday. This wind direction cleans the Atlantic but it is set to blow there too, possibly 30+ km/h, making for appalling surface conditions. Down below it will most certainly be crystal clear so if a really rough boat ride does not bother you let me know. If the wind does drop it will be a day of really good diving.

I have also scheduled boat diving for Tuesday as I have an Open Water course to complete, and Tuesday looks really good. Take the day off work!

There is always the option of great conditions in Gordon’s Bay when the south easter blows so check with Deon from Indigo Scuba late on Saturday for Sunday dives.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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A Day on the Bay: Boiling pea soup & a plane crash

Date: 6 September 2013

Ready to dive at Shark Alley
Ready to dive at Shark Alley

Lately spectacular vehicular disasters seem to follow me around. Hoping for good conditions – there was no real reason why the visibility shouldn’t be good – we set out for a dive with Open Water and Advanced students. Unfortunately the bay was filthy – we looked for clean water at Roman Rock, and found only compass sea jellies. We went south to Shark Alley, where – in desperation – we dived. It was like being in boiling pea soup, only colder. One of my students hung onto the kelp to try and keep position in the water. We had to abort a compass swim because of the surge. It was impossible to keep a heading.

Plane crash!
Plane crash!

Meanwhile, on the boat, Kate was watching a large, camouflage-painted radio controlled aircraft circling the boat and the dive site. It crashed into the water just before we surfaced. Its owner was watching frantically from the shore. Brian leaped into the water and retrieved it, and we drove to the slipway at Miller’s Point with it balanced precariously on the pontoon.

Brian gets ready to go overboard
Brian gets ready to go overboard

It started to smoke as the batteries short circuited. I told Kate – who was holding it – that if it caught alight she should throw it overboard. There was a small fuel tank that could have caused a problem if the plane started burning! Fortunately we were able to return the plane to its owner. If you recognise the plane, please tell its owner to get in touch because he must have some amazing footage of the boat at Shark Alley on the camera that was mounted on the fuselage!

Brian passes his swim test with flying colours
Brian passes his swim test with flying colours

It turned out to be a good day for fishing (Miller’s Point was packed) but not for diving.