Newsletter: Back to business

Hi divers

Weekend dives

Saturday: 9.00 and 12.00 from Hout Bay to the Romeliathe Maori and/or the BOS 400

Sunday: 9.00 am double tank dive from OPBC to North and South Paw and/or the Cape Matapan

The week(end) that was

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 special offers on Open Water, Advanced, Refreshers and Nitrox Specialty will hold for another few weeks, so if you missed the show you can still be part of the summer diving bunch.

Clare at the boat show
Clare at the boat show

Conditions report

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.

Safety stopping in Maori Bay
Safety stopping in Maori Bay

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!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Slow boat

Hi divers

Just a short and sweet newsletter this week as we are at the Boat Show at the Convention Centre for the next three days, and therefore won’t be diving. Besides boats there are other water related products and services to check out.There are some interesting speakers scheduled for the show, including Monty Guest who will talk about coelacanths tomorrow, and various experts on subjects from sharks to boat electronics to shipwrecks and salvage. Check out the full list of speakers here and plan your visit accordingly.

In short: pop in and say hi. Also, please bring cake.

Parked at the jetty
Parked at the jetty

Dive conditions

We had good diving on Saturday out of Hout Bay, visiting the Maori and Duiker Island, and again yesterday in False Bay. We visited Atlantis, Fan Reef and Boat Rock, and the divers reported good viz of 8-12 metres. If you want to dive this weekend there will always be someone keen to dive, and I know Alistair of Underwater Explorers will be launching on Sunday.

Be good and have fun.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Newsletter: Early summer

Hi divers

Weekend dives

Saturday:  9.30 am to SS Maori/BOS 400 & 12.00 pm to Duiker Island, launching from Hout Bay

Sunday: 9.30 am to Die Josie & 12.00 pm to Tafelberg Reef, launching from Hout Bay

Propellor in Simon's Town
Propellor in Simon’s Town

Conditions report

With weekend temperatures reaching 26 degrees I am going to pretend it’s summer, and to compound that we will dive the Atlantic. The south easter has blown most of the week and is set to blow really hard tomorrow so the Atlantic will be clean… And cold. There is some wind for the weekend but nothing too hectic. The swell is small.

We will launch from Hout Bay on Saturday and Sunday and dive some of the sites we haven’t been to in a while.

Saturday

9.30 am SS Maori or the BOS 400 – two stunning wreck dives in Maori Bay
12.00 pm Duiker Island – play with the seals!

Sunday

9.30 am Die Josie – shallow reef spectacularly located under Chapmans Peak
12.00 pm Tafelberg Reef – a vast reef complex with pinnacles, a yacht wreck, and basket stars

Please reply to this email or text me if you want to dive.

Boat Show... here we come!
Boat Show… here we come!

Join us at the Boat Show

Next weekend (Friday 10 October to Sunday 12 October) is the Cape Town International Boat Show at Cape Town Convention Centre. We have some complimentary tickets to give away, so if you’d like one please let me know – first come, first served! Also, there will be a pool where your non-diving friends and family can experience breathing underwater for the first time. If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, arrange it with participating dive operators, of which we are one…

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

We’re on Instagram!

Fooling around with cameras (and phones) is our second calling. We joined Instagram recently and are enjoying sharing pictures of our adventures, and viewing beautiful images from around the world. You can find us here! Please let us know if you’re an instagrammer – we’d love to follow you.

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Newsletter: In the net

Hi divers

Weekend plans

For a change the weather looks good for the weekend. I cancelled last weekend but that was a mistake as the conditions turned out to be good (loud self inflicted slap). The wind won’t be too strong, and the swell is from the south east which means flat sea along the Atlantic seaboard. I would like to dive North and South Paw on Saturday from OPBC and possibly do a double tanker to Justin’s Caves on Sunday. Text or email me if you want to dive.

Last week’s diving

Wild wind and grumpy sea in False Bay has had us on the Atlantic coastline most of this week. We have done a few trips to Duiker Island and spent an afternoon just off Oudekraal. The water is cool and clean.

We did manage a warm(ish) dive in False Bay on Tuesday when we were fortunate to take two media people for a dive along the new shark exclusion net in Fish Hoek. It was spring low tide so we could almost have walked out to the end of the net, but the idea was to get some photos and a positive story out on the merits of the net, the work involved in deploying and retrieving it and the conservation efforts behind it all. An article appeared in yesterday’s Cape Argus – you can read it here and see some photos from the day on facebook.

Over-under view of the exclusion net at Fish Hoek
Over-under view of the exclusion net at Fish Hoek

Sevengill cowshark project

There is a huge amount of work going on to try and establish a photo ID project for the sevengill cowsharks that hang out at Shark Alley. Its a dive most people really enjoy and very little is know about their movements and habits. Please go and like the project’s facebook page and if you have anything to contribute… info, stories etc… please do so! All the information about what is required for the project can be found on the facebook page.

Pool deck at home is complete
Pool deck at home is complete

Festive season diving

Lots of public holidays and annual leave happening over the next few weeks means we will try and schedule more weekday diving than normal. I will send out text messages if I schedule dives in between newsletters – let me know if you don’t usually get texts from me (and want to), and I will add you to the sms list.

Things are looking so good at home now – we just got the pool deck finished – that I’m looking forward to spending some time doing confined water skills with my Open Water students too!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Newsletter: View from the top

Hi divers

Weekend plans

The weekend forecast is for rain on Saturday and partly cloudy weather on Sunday. I am sensitive to water and would prefer not to dive in the rain so our plan is to launch on Sunday, heading to Outer Photographer’s Reef and Phoenix Shoal, launching from False Bay Yacht Club 10 am and 12 am.

Summer is coming but we are not quite there yet so a jacket was still required on the boat today. Despite the south easter that has blown the past week, False Bay is surprisingly clean. I took a trip out today and the further out in the Bay I went the cleaner it got. Estimates at Seal Island from the cage divers was 12 metre visibility.

View of Fish Hoek from Contour Road
View of Fish Hoek from Contour Road

Upcoming events

November 7th is Diversnight International, sign up here. It is an international event with the aim of having as many divers in the water as possible at 8.13pm. We will confirm the dive site once I’ve checked tides and got permission if necessary. There will be cake.

Our long planned Red Sea trip is going ahead next week; we leave on Thursday next week. There will most likely not be a newsletter for a week or two. While we’re away (or technically on our way back), the ScubaPro Day takes place at False Bay Yacht Club. Discounted boat dives and the chance to try some dive gear (tips on that here) – the participating dive charters will take bookings directly.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, click here or use the form on this page!

Introduction to diving in Cape Town (our youtube channel trailer)

Here’s a short video that we made introducing our youtube channel, which is mostly about diving in Cape Town but also has clips from some of the diving we’ve done in Malta, Sodwana and elsewhere. It shows some of the highlights of diving in Cape Town: seals, cowsharks, and shipwrecks.

Check out our youtube channel for more videos!

Dive tourism in Malta (and some hints for South Africa)

Last year August, Tony and I spent a blissful week in Malta, diving ourselves silly in the mornings and napping in the heat of the afternoon. In the evenings, we ate ice cream and participated in the time-honoured Italian tradition of the passegiata.

Malta, Comino and Gozo from the air
Malta, Comino and Gozo from the air

The nation of Malta comprises three small islands located just south of Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. The water is warm, there is almost no sand around the islands (most of the beaches are man-made), the limestone structure of the islands gives rise to caves, swim throughs and gullies to explore, and there is negligible tidal activity. The climate in summer is almost boringly warm and stable and with the exception of some violent winter storms, the ocean surrounding Malta is welcoming all year through. These factors combine to make it an extremely attractive location for scuba diving.

Malta’s natural charms, however, are greatly enhanced by her government’s approach to dive tourism. Recognising that visiting divers bring considerable income to all sectors of the Maltese economy (divers eat, need somewhere to sleep, and can’t spend all day diving!), the government has over the years scuttled a number of ships (ten or more at last count) as attractions for divers. These include the Um El Faroud, the Imperial Eagle, the P29, and the Rozi – all of which we dived. There are also a number of World War II wrecks (submarines!) around the islands, many at depths suitable for technical diving only.

Diving in Malta is well regulated. The Professional Diving Schools Association is a voluntary organisation representing over 30 dive centres in Malta, and encourages its members to adhere to high standards of safety and care. Divers visiting Malta are required to complete medical questionnaires before being allowed to dive, and are required to adhere to certain other regulations governing divers and their safety.

We very much enjoyed the wrecks in Malta, and found a special charm in even the newer ones that were scuttled in the last five years. The P29, for example, was almost clear of marine invertebrate growth, and all the wrecks were still discernible as the beautiful ships they once were. Surrounding them we found scores of fish – damselfish, barracuda, and the odd tuna.

There are several purposely-scuttled wrecks available around Cape Town, but there’s been no additional activity on this front for years. Only the Aster – the newest wreck, scuttled close to 20 years ago – still looks much like a ship. The Smitswinkel Bay wrecks – the Good Hope, Transvaal, Orotava, Princess Elizabeth and Rockeater, were scuttled over 30 years ago and have been pounded by the rough winter seas of the Cape. They are recognisable as ships, but penetrating any of them is a mug’s game and often during dives on these wrecks one can hear them creaking and groaning in the surge. The SAS Pietermaritzburg is in an even more exposed position off Miller’s Point, and is yet more beaten up despite being more recent than the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks.

Before I get shot down in flames for trying to compare Maltese and South African wrecks (age differences aside), let me qualify my statements. I recognise that there are significant differences between the Mediterranean Sea around Malta and the two oceans surrounding the South African coast – here are two:

  • the quantity of biomass that is supported off the Cape coast is far greater than that supported by the almost sterile (I exaggerate) waters of the Med – invertebrates quickly cover available surfaces and blur the outlines; and
  • the tides and currents around our coast are fierce and strong, and in a short time weaken any structure placed underwater.

What isn’t different, however, is how valuable scuba diving tourists are to the countries’ economies. Divers who have the means to travel and scuba dive also have the means to enjoy other activities in their destination countries. Diving is often a hobby of those who generally enjoy the outdoors, and a country like South Africa (as opposed to, say, Dubai) has a wealth of experiences in nature to offer such tourists.

Very little grows in Malta, and the islands are hilly but no one would travel there for that reason alone.  Compared to Malta, South Africa is ridiculously blessed with spectacular landscapes and wildlife both above and below the ocean. South African divers also know the tropical wonders of Sodwana, the chilly but exhilarating shark, wreck and reef diving available in the Cape, and the incredible ecosystems in between. This is all in addition to our mountains, deserts, fynbos, bush, and coastal scenery. Why isn’t more made of our underwater heritage?

It would be wonderful to see the South African government and South African National Parks being receptive to more properly cleaned wrecks being scuttled around our coast in locations suitable for recreational diving. More Marine Protected Areas, properly policed, would be good. It would also be great to see local dive centres striving to offer meaningful, repeatable diving experiences to tourists, instead of seeing them as once-off cash cows who can be taken out for a dive in appalling conditions because they aren’t coming back anyway. It would also induce much joy if airlines of all sizes in South Africa recognised (as Air Malta does) that scuba diving is a sport, like (ahem – sorry divers) golf, and gave an extra luggage allowance for scuba diving equipment.

I don’t think enough is done to encourage tourists to visit this country in order to dive, or with diving as one of their primary activities. It would benefit everyone – not just dive centres and dive charters – if more could be made of this opportunity. The example of Malta is a good one.

Cape Town Active blogger interview

I recently participated in an interview on the Cape Town Active website. They are running an interview series on Cape Town bloggers. The full article can be found here, but – for your amusement – here are my answers to their questions:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

We live in Cape Town – my wife Clare was born and bred here, and I ended up here after growing up in Durban and then living in Botswana, Jordan and Mozambique. We love the outdoors, and the ocean in particular, and consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy the lifestyle we do in such a big city. You don’t have to drive very far from home to find space, fresh air, and all sorts of wonderful creatures when you need to get away from the noise and traffic and shopping malls.

How you first got involved in with blogging?
I moved to Cape Town just over two years ago, and started a scuba diving training business (Learn to Dive Today) from scratch. With no marketing budget (well, no budget, full stop!) we looked at every kind of free advertising we could find.

We saw that a lot of bloggers use their blogs for promotional purposes – some tastefully, others in completely tacky ways. After running a competition with a dive adventure as a prize on a popular local blog, I thought “Why can’t we have our own blog?” Clare’s job revolves around numbers but she loves photography, words and writing, so she was very keen on the idea.

The intention was to provide a resource for current and potential students, to answer their questions about diving, and to showcase what diving in the Cape – which is exceptional – can be like. It’s evolved into a broader spread of topics, but at the centre of it all is enjoying and caring for the ocean.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
Because we write about ocean-related events and activities with a special focus on Cape Town, we’ve become a bit more deliberate about attending relevant meetings, talks and festivals (in our personal capacity – no one sponsors us anything!) and writing about them.

We’re both a bit shy so we meet people really slowly, but we have gradually built up a network of fascinating people with various special interests in marine conservation. There is a lot of work and study that takes place in South Africa on marine subjects, and unfortunately the most vocal and self-promotional people are usually those who aren’t doing anything.

We’ve been lucky to meet some of the folk behind the scenes who are carrying out the real work.

How would (someone) describe your blogging style?
Varied subject matter, lots of words (if it’s Clare that wrote the post!), image-rich, and opinionated… But then that’s what a blog is good for: expressing your opinion!

What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
I teach scuba diving courses from beginner (Open Water) to Divemaster, and take divers (sometimes tourists, sometimes locals) on guided shore and boat dives. Clare works in finance – a desk job involving lots of numbers – and tags along with me and my students on weekends.

When we’re not working or blogging, Clare is reading or napping and I am feeding the squirrels in our garden or working on my car. We also try and dive for pleasure as much as possible, just the two of us, although in the busy season it can be difficult!

How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog?
Our mandate to ourselves with the blog is to cover “everything ocean-related”, and since the two of us spend so much time either in, next to or thinking about the sea, we don’t have a problem with content generation.

A dive at a new site, a question I get from a student, a dive trip (overseas or upcountry), something interesting we’ve see underwater, or a book/DVD/talk we’ve seen about the ocean are all fodder for a new post!

Where do you go for news and information online?
The Underwater Times (www.underwatertimes.com) is a fantastic news aggregator for ocean-related news. We are also active on Twitter (@learn2divetoday) and pick up a lot of news there, too.

Whats your strategy with your blog in general?
The original intention, as I mentioned, was for the blog to act as a marketing tool and supplementary resource to customers of my scuba diving business. We do still keep that in mind, but it’s now also a lot about self-expression, sharing the things we’ve seen and enjoyed, and showcasing the marine diversity we have on our doorstep as Capetonians (and South Africans).

On the technical front, we’re in the process of figuring out how to move the blog from wordpress.com to a self-hosted WordPress site, and quite excited about the flexibility that will bring.

Everyone has a favorite post. Name yours and why?
One of Clare’s posts, about the recent shark bite that happened in Fish Hoek, got quite a lot of attention and was republished on the Shark Spotters website.

Her favourite one, however, is called “Shark Huggers”, and is a rant about people who pretend to care about shark conservation but are actually only interested in using sharks to raise their own profile.

My favourite post would have to be a toss up between one entitled “How to Clean  a Stinky Wetsuit” (self explanatory title, I think) and one called “What’s in My Dive Bag“, which is about all the little gadgets that can make the difference between a terrible dive and a fantastic dive.

Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
I really admire Chris Mills from imod.co.za. His was one of the first local blogs I found, and thank goodness for that! He posts on all kinds of things, but we’ve found his material on social networking, online marketing, search engine optimization and developments in technology extremely helpful in figuring out our own online strategy.

We’re still total newbies in this arena, but Chris has a way of explaining things really clearly and showing how they’re relevant to your business. He’s also a really approachable, helpful guy and has answered some specific questions of mine too. If you’re not following imod.co.za, you should be.

Newsletter: Christmas is coming

Hi divers

Weather, hmm, this time of year it is a tussle between the Atlantic and False Bay with the Atlantic winning more often than not. We decided not to dive last Saturday as I felt the conditions unsuitable for newish divers. Those that braved these conditions (see the picture below) were rewarded with 8 degree water and mind blowing viz.

Fun times on the boat out of Hout Bay harbour
Fun times on the boat out of Hout Bay harbour

As I write this newsletter I can see outside that the southeaster is hammering the bay and despite the wind dropping off tomorrow I don’t think False Bay will be very clean for the next few days. This weekend’s conditions are once again sending the boats and divers to the Atlantic. Saturday does not look good but Sunday seems at this point to be much better. Grant will launch on Sunday from Hout Bay. Please contact him directly to book… I will be spending most of the weekend in the pool with new students!

Feather star finds a home
Feather star finds a home

We did dive False Bay this last week before the southeaster became problematic. On Sunday we were at Long Beach, and later in the week I dived with tourists primarily and had 6 metre visibility with 17 degree water. We also dived at A Frame and saw gully sharks in the swim-through. I only saw two, but there have been up to 8 seen at once so it appears they have made it their home.

Burrowing anemone at Long Beach
Burrowing anemone at Long Beach

Many people are on leave, have odd days off and want to get some diving done. This time of the year also sees an influx of tourists so planning and pre-booking is essential. The dive schools are also all busy so getting on a boat can be difficult as Cape Town has far fewer dive boats than number of dive schools. If you have a few days off in the next couple of weeks try and plan ahead, and if I text or email you about a boat dive, let me know chop-chop if you’re in.

The Learn to Dive Today website has had a bit of a revamp – we are currently busy switching over from the old to the new one, which can take up to 48 hours as the new hosting information propagates across the internet, so service may be unpredictable. If you do go check it out, please let me know if you find any broken links or typos!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

P.S. For gift ideas for the scuba diver in your life, or as a list of hints to give to your mother, girlfriend, granny or second cousin to assist them in buying you a present, you can check out our Christmas gift guide. Also works for Hanukkah!