Mini came to live with us to be a friend to Fudge. She is immensely curious, performs routine inspections of the entire house on a daily basis, and likes nothing better than to explore the back of my car and inside the boat. Here she demonstrates that she’d make a fine figurehead, posed on the bow of our rubber duck, Seahorse.
Later she realises that the life of a ship’s (boat’s?) cat is not as easy as it may seem when the boat is trailered in the driveway…
You can see the sponsor and participant gazebos behind the clubhouse, some divers emerging from a shore dive at Shark Alley, and the boats lined up around the clubhouse, ready to receive divers and gear. If you look carefully you can see divers rinsing their kit, and hanging it up to dry behind the clubhouse. You can also appreciate what a magnificent weather day it was, and the beauty of the False Bay coastline.
The guy filleting snoek was not part of the festival! The look on his face when the camera flies up to him is priceless!
Last weekend the first ever Cape Town Dive Festival was held at Miller’s Point. We could not have asked for better weather on Saturday and the entire event was a huge success. All the local dive centres, training schools and boat charters pulled together and made this an event not to be missed. Every little detail was covered. We even had hot showers on the slipway for cold divers. Well done to all that participated and a big thanks to all the divers that supported the event.
The season has kicked off in a big way for us we and we have been running courses almost every day for the last two weeks. The conditions in the bay are great right now despite the water fluctuating between 13 – 15 degrees. We are expecting 25 degrees air temperature this weekend so summer is most definitely around the corner. For those that still need to do a few dives to complete their courses started before the cold set in, dust off your manual, and give me a shout so we can get going. There is a long weekend around the corner so if you do not have plans to go away, go diving.
Finally we have relocated to the South Peninsula and it now takes 3 minutes to get to the beach… Less if you speed (which I can’t really, and specially not towing the boat)!
The new classroom is taking shape and the equipment we use is now no longer tucked away in boxes every day, it is instead all neatly stored and easy to access. Pictures to follow as we make progress. We are very happy here already. Please feel free to follow us home (not like a stalker please) after your dives to check the new place out!
Tomorrow is not technically weekend but we are doing two dives tomorrow for Advanced students, Nitrox dives on Saturday for the Nitrox Specialty students and starting a new Open Water course on Sunday.
As the weekend approaches we are glad to see favourable weather for the long awaited first ever Cape Town Dive Festival. The first date was a weather disaster and the decision to postpone was a good call as it was a weekend of really foul weather. For those renting gear from me for the festival please make sure you mail me the details of your requirements before midday tomorrow. We will have all the gear in the gazebo which we are sharing with BlueFlash.
Over the last few days I have been out, on, or in the water almost every day and must say it makes me very happy watching the mercury creep up towards to 20 degree mark (air temperature, that is). We have done a few double tank dives to the cowsharks and seals and they never ever seem to disappoint. The bay is also full of snoek, whales, and dolphins and these are all good signs we are heading for a good summer season.
We are busy with a few Open Water and Advanced courses and will be doing some Nitrox training dives during the festival. Congratulations to Mark who completed his Divemaster course after practising his teaching skills on an extremely difficult pair of divers called Christo and Maurice!!
Next weekend it is International Coastal Cleanup Day. I will be in touch with you regarding that during the course of next week.
The weather forecast for the (long) weekend of 9-12 August was grim – and this after a series of winter storms that made Tony and I wish we’d scheduled our trip to Denmark to visit family for July, rather than December! The weekend was notable for being the dates on which the Cape Town Dive Festival was originally planned to take place, but the predicted wind (gusting up to 80 kilometres per hour), swell (up to 9 metres late on Saturday), low temperatures and heavy rain led the organisers to postpone it to 8-9 September instead.
Tony and I were keen to see what the storm would do to False Bay. Also, he had a bad case of cabin fever, having been trapped indoors with the cats for days by the weather. We thus took two drives down the peninsula, on the morning and late afternoon of Saturday 11 August. There are a number of pictures from that day here, and this post contains some more.
Runoff from the mountain had made many of the inshore sites spectacularly muddy. The yacht basin outside False Bay Yacht Club looked like milky tea, with a distinct line further out (just visible above) marking the boundary of the murk. As we ate breakfast at the yacht club we listened to the sailing race scheduled for that day being cancelled – the wind was so strong that the sailors feared breaking things off their yachts!
Froggy Pond, Miller’s Point, and many sites in between suffered the same fate. The picture below was taken during a vicious hailstorm. I sacrificed picture quality for camera integrity.
The venue of the dive festival, the Cape Boat and Ski Boat Club, was waterlogged and battered by strong winds and hail when we stopped by. The lawn area where the sponsors’ gazebos were to be erected was soaked. Shark Alley, where shore dives were to have taken place, was the colour of Coca Cola.
This picture was taken the day before (10 August). The swell was fairly large. The extremely large swell promised by the weather sites did not materialise at all in False Bay, although the sites on the western side of the Cape Peninsula did experience some swell that day. The direction was very westerly, which perhaps spared the bay from the full force of it.
Late on Saturday afternoon Christo alerted us to a deep sea trawler, the Andromeda, sheltering in Smitswinkel Bay. She joined at least two other (much larger) ships hiding from the storm near Muizenberg, with a Smit Amandla tugboat to watch over them.
The conditions are pretty good right now. We have had some really good diving this week and we had 10-12 metre visibility at the sevengill cowsharks yesterday. As for weather calls, I have been driving to Miller’s Point almost every day to check conditions before collecting the boat as the forecast weather seems seldom as predicted. False Bay is stunning right now: we have seen whales almost every day, the viz is good and the surf has been great. We also have another brief resident ship in the bay, an oil tanker of sorts.
Tomorrow we will have some more serious wind with wind speeds of around 50-60 km/h but this tapers as we go into the weekend. However, a 4.5 metre swell arrives with this wind tomorrow evening and lingers most of Saturday so the plan is to skip Saturday and launch on Sunday. Please let me know if you want to be on the boat. I will do a double tank dive if possible as its better in the morning than the afternoon. Hopefully by next weekend we will be able to start doing a few more shore dives for those that prefer shore entries and for the students waiting to complete their training.
Cape Town Dive Festival
Remember the dive festival next weekend (8-9 September). There are still a few spots open if you’re keen! Visit the website for more.
The weather has really been out of whack recently and I have not found the predicted conditions matching the actual conditions more than once over the last two weeks. Despite the cold, wet and windy conditions there have been some good days and I have had the boat out as often as possible. Last weekend was really busy at the Yacht Club as the Lipton Cup was due to start , a week long regatta, so there was a hive of activities in preparation. The slipway at Miller’s Point has also been extremely hectic as the snoek are running in the bay, so every boat in Cape Town seems to have been launching there every day and some days it has been difficult getting into the parking lot!
Yesterday we dived at Partridge Point and then with the sevengill cowsharks and the water was 13 degrees with 6-8 metre visibility. During the seal dive the viz was far better at depth and a little further out but closer to the rock it dropped off to about 2 metres. The was a fair bit of surge.
Tomorrow will be a flat, calm, sunny blue ocean day in False Bay, but it’s Friday and far too many people seem to want to be at work. I will dive at Long Beach with students and will then have some idea of the conditions closer to shore as all the dives we have done recently have been off the boat.
Saturday will once again be a howling 50 km/h windy wet day but it’s from the right direction to improve the viz, and the swell is around 3 metres which is just bearable. Diving will be best on Sunday as the wind drops off somewhat and it’s north westerly so the bay will be flat.
I will make a decision on Friday evening whether we launch on Sunday once I see an updated weather forecast. If it’s going to be too windy we will dive at Long Beach or A Frame. Let me know if you want to do a shore dive or a boat dive, so I know who to contact about diving on Sunday once I’ve seen the weather.
Cape Town Dive Festival & International Coastal Cleanup Day
There are some spaces available at the festival (taking place on 8-9 September), and the reduced rate of R100 for dives applies until 31 August. Visit the website for more information.
The following weekend, on Saturday 15 September, is International Coastal Cleanup Day. We plan to support OMSAC at their cleanup dive in Kalk Bay Harbour – more information here. These cleanupdives aren’t always scenic, but they are always interesting, and it’s a very worthwhile project to be involved in. If you’re interested in participating, either chat to me or go ahead and register directly with OMSAC. Clare and I are moving house next week and will only have headspace for more admin after that!
For the last few weeks its seems like we have been on a rollercoaster of wind, sun and rain.
Sadly the lows on the rollercoaster – good weather days – have fallen midweek for the most part and there has been no weekend diving. Luckily this weekend it’s almost the opposite and you can see we are in for at least two good days, tomorrow and Saturday. OK, lets call it one, Saturday. The wind, of which we have had lots, is from the right direction to clear the bay, but the run off from all the rain makes the inshore sites dirty. I drove along the coast today and although the water is not crystal clear close to shore, it looks really good further out and the further south you go the better. The swell is from the south west so it is not affecting the bay much.
Last weekend the wind strength and the rain put paid to the Cape Town Dive Festival and the dates are now the 8th and 9th of September. If you missed out on your chosen dives book now as there have been some cancellations from the up country folks and this has made space for those that hadn’t booked.
You can see the rain and wind had a profound effect on the mountain and it started leaking cappucino.
I am planning two launches on Saturday and will aim for the warmer day time temperatures so we will launch at 9.30 and 12.00. I do always prefer to have the sites to be the divers’ choice so look on wikivoyage and pick something southish… Like Atlantis, Partridge Point, Batsata Maze, etc., and text me your choices with your desire to dive (for some I know this is very high). I am going to be out on the bay tomorrow and will have a look at all the sites I have time for to make sure the visibility is good for Saturday.
Sunday may be an option for a launch, but it’s looking windier than I prefer and rainier than Saturday, so at this stage I’m unsure. If you have a burning desire to dive on Sunday give me a shout and I’ll see if I can make it happen.
The only training I have done in the past couple of weeks has been “how to use an umbrella”. Sadly its not a diving course but you do get wet. I have an Open Water course starting this coming week – at least conditions in the pool are not weather dependent!
I don’t watch too much Youtube stuff, but Christo sent me this and I have not stopped laughing for days. If you or someone you know has ever not quite understood how a new piece of technology is meant to be used, watch this.
The long weekend and the Cape Town Dive Festival is upon us so given the length of the week we decided on a quick newsletter that would arrive in your mailbox earlier than usual.
Cape Town Dive Festival
The weather forecast for the weekend is a hot topic right now and changes from awful to okay and back to dodgy at every update. Given the recent inaccuracies we have all experienced with the forecasts, we are hoping for good – or at least decent – weather.
You should all have received a confirmation email with all the relevant info about the festival (if you’re attending) so I won’t cover all that again other than to remind you to bring your dive certification card and MPA permit to registration. There is very poor cell phone reception in the area so qualifications cannot be verified online.
If you have a gear requirement from me please let me know ASAP what to bring for you.
Last weekend’s diving
We dived the SAS Pietermaritzburg on Saturday as we wanted to get some photos of its current state as there are plans under way to have the wreck protected as a heritage site. This normally only applies after 60 years but salvors have been removing parts of the wreck and it is felt by the diving community, other interested parties and the naval community that it should be left alone. It is claimed that the wreck has not been affected but the salvor himself has admitted to removing up to 20 tonnes of metal from on and near the wreck.
Thursday being a holiday, plus a promise of sun all day we plan to launch at 10 and 12 or alternatively do a double tank dive to avoid the wind that comes in the afternoon. I am keen to dive the cave area of Batsata Maze and to explore a section of the Smits cliffs.
Friday and Saturday we will be at the Dive Festival.
We may also launch on Sunday, depending on the conditions and the fullness of our cylinders. I’ll notify you by text message if you’re a regular boat diver with me, and if you’re not but would like to be informed of prospective launches, please drop me an email or send me a text to express interest.
We have an incredible bay on our doorstep and I could spend every day for the rest of my life either on or underwater in False Bay. Granted, the weather does play a hand in this and we have had many stay at home weekends over the last month but this last week has been exceptionally good and the conditions look set to stay so for a while.
We dived several days in the last week and have had really good visibility, yesterday being the best with such clear water at the cowsharks that you could see the sharks swimming below from the boat. We launched from the Yacht Club in Simon’s Town and the boat ride down to Miller’s Point was like driving a boat in a bathtub.
Clare took a trip to Seal Island on Wednesday on the Shark Spotters research vessel (as a guest – very lucky!) and can confirm there are white sharks there… and a couple of seals.
Yes, that is Clare on the shark research boat (she’s in the cabin in this picture)…
Yes, real live people on Roman Rock! The weather station at Roman Rock has been down for a while and here you can see the maintenance guys sorting it out.
Something seems to be messing the water colour up around Long Beach and the harbour swing moorings, and the water there is a murky brown. Rumour has it the pipeline we dive along from Long Beach is currently active and where we have always thought that the “broken” section was the old pipe, it seems likely this is the new sewage pipe. Being broken, it’s pumping effluent into the water close to shore… This has not yet been confirmed but there are people on the case.
Sadly the SAS Pietermaritzburg wreck has been worked on by a salvor and it is rumoured that upwards of 20 tons of steel and brass has been removed. Being less than 60 years old it does not have historic protection but a meeting has been called on Monday at 5.30pm where we as divers can all show that we want it protected. Either be at the meeting (at the Simon’s Town Museum) or sign the petition here.
This weekend we will avoid shore dives as I am unsure of the status of what is or is not being pumped out close inshore. I don’t want anyone to get typhoid, bilharzia or jungle fever from diving in raw sewerage. Instead we will head south, very south, as the visibility is stunning south of Photographer’s Reef and should not be wasted. There is a little south east wind on Saturday and almost none on Sunday. The swell, just under 2 metres, is a very westerly swell so it won’t affect the bay in any significant way.
Two things about this weekend: the False Bay Yacht Club have a regatta on Saturday so we will need to use Miller’s Point for launches. The snoek are running in the bay right now so unfortunately there will be a lot of fisherman there and there may be a few delays. Bring your serene face.
Please get your MPA Permits up to date at the post office. Also, there are still some spaces available at the Cape Town Dive Festival – some additional boats have been added. It’s going to be a very enjoyable two days. Check out the Dive Festival website and get booking if you haven’t done so already!