Newsletter: Friends and family

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Double tank dives from False Bay Yacht Club at 8.30 am

I reckon the better option for diving this weekend will be on Sunday morning in False Bay. The tide is against us but I still think the visibility will be better than in the Atlantic. We will meet in the False Bay Yacht Club parking lot at 8.30 am with the aim of launching by 9.00 am. It will be a double tanker (that means your options are two dives, or none) as the wind speed grows by lunchtime. Let me know if you’re keen to come along.

Sunny Kalk Bay
Sunny Kalk Bay

Water

The latest Wednesday Water File from the WWF is about the power of community. Read it here. On that subject, here’s something on starting a water committee (at your apartment block, office, or kids’ school, for example). Community could be the eleventh good thing about the drought, if one were to extend this excellent list from WESSA.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: High hopes

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Meet at the False Bay Yacht Club Parking at 9.00am for a double tank dive

The south easterlies are not ready to leave yet for the winter, but they are giving us a break right now. The forecast is for strong westerly wind tomorrow which will, if it blows, clean up False Bay rather nicely for some good visibility on Saturday. There is a 3 metre swell arriving on Saturday but I think it will be fine for a dive or two, and the tides are in our favour.

We will meet at the False Bay Yacht Club Parking at 9.00am. We’ll double tank it and choose the sites once we’re out there. Let me know if you want to be on board.

Giant short tailed stingray at Millers Point
Giant short tailed stingray at Millers Point

I had a couple of good days on the boat this week, the highlight being watching this huge giant short tailed stingray on a flat calm day.

Water

We shared a blog post about diving during a drought this week. Check it out! Also, the WWF’s fourth Wednesday Water File was published yesterday, and it’s very pertinent. It’s all about toilets. Read it here.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Responsible diving during a drought part 2: The boat

Boats are tough. The hull and pontoons are designed to spend their lives in salty environments, and other than harsh discolouration from caked on dust and dirt, Seahorse the boat weathers Cape Town’s water shortage really well. Each time we launch, the boat gets a good dousing with buckets of salt water to remove the worst of the dust and sand. The motors are a different story. They do need a fair amount of rinsing and special attention. Without any such attention the biggest risk is corrosion of the aluminum and steel parts.

Engine flushing is often touted as critical, however many boats spend their life moored and never get fresh water flushes. This only happens if they are hauled out for service and repair. The downside to not running the motors is that the salt builds up in the water pump housing and reduces the lifespan of the rubber impeller. What I do is to connect a fresh water supply from a bucket via a short hose to the flush port of the engine. This trickles some water into the pump housing and helps to reduce the salt build up. This helps a little, but the impellers are both replaced every 100 hours when service is due. They are good for several hundred hours if treated better.

We have a dedicated rainwater tank alongside the boat and if there is enough harvested water I run the motors briefly before a launch as a safety precaution. If the tank level is lower than the impeller, I leave a little earlier to run the motors in the sea prior to launch times.

The item that suffers the most is the trailer. There has been no option for hosing down the trailer after use with clean water for well over a year due to water restrictions. It takes over 100 litres to lightly rinse a trailer. This has taken its toll and you can see that despite the galvanising, without a good rinse the salt water gets to work eating everything up. I reckon that within the next six months sections of the trailer will need replacing and the entire trailer will need to be re-galvanised. This is not a cheap exercise. The wheel rims and axle are two years old. Despite galvanising, rust treating and coating the wheel nuts and hubs with Tectyl, they have not been spared the rust.

High pressure water sprayer
High pressure water sprayer

I have been using a high pressure spray bottle, typically used for gardening, to clean the boat and trailer. It uses a fraction of the water that a hosepipe would, and its focused high pressure output cleans well, even if it is far more labour-intensive.

Read my prior post about caring for dive gear during a drought, here.

Responsible diving during a drought part 1: Your dive gear

It is no secret that Cape Town is a little low on water. The coastal dive industry, even though we spend a lot of time in the ocean, is actually quite a heavy user of fresh water. Everything thing you learn about taking care of your equipment revolves around the phrase “rinse well with clean water.” Clearly this is not an option in Cape Town at the moment

Dive gear in the driveway
Dive gear in the driveway

So how do you maintain your dive gear and keep it in safe condition during such circumstances? For a dive centre or training facility the volume of gear that needs cleaning can be overwhelming at the end of the day. Here are a few suggestions on how to manage.

No matter how well you de-kit after a shore dive, wet dive gear tends to collect sand. (You can minimise this by using something like the Wetsac, but this isn’t always an option with my students.) I take the gear back into the ocean and rinse it as well as I can in the shallows. This involves several trips as wet dive gear is heavy.

Wetsuits are rugged and don’t too much mind being left salty. They do end up being a little crispy after a while, but the most important, non-negotiable aspect is hygiene. I take a spray bottle with a mixture of Savlon or Dettol and spray the inside of the salty wet suit, then let it dry. Gloves, booties, hoodies and rash vests get the same treatment.

Regulators get a similar treatment, without the disinfectant. I give them an overall light spray with warm water in a spray bottle, with a good spray into the mouth piece. The inflator hose nipple also needs to be rinsed well as this does not handle salt build-up too well and could get stuck during a dive (at best, annoying… at worst, life-threatening).

Cameras, dive computers, torches and compasses do need a little more care, but fortunately are relatively small and have lesser water requirements. I use a narrow, tall bucket and put the bucket in the shower. While showering you can easily catch enough water to cover these items…. Seldom more than a litre is required, and you can leave them to soak.

The biggest challenge is a BCD. Again, it is a tough and rugged piece of gear, but the inflator mechanism does not like salt build up. Using the same bucket of water used for the camera and dive computers, I soak the inflators overnight. I then connect an airline and inflate and deflate the BCD to help flush out the valves behind the inflate/deflate buttons.

Whilst such basic, minimalistic care for your dive gear is not as thorough as that recommended by the manufacturer, it is a method of extending the use of your gear when the availability of fresh water is close to zero. As a rule I prefer to only have two students per class and can effectively wash three sets of gear in less than three litres of water.

It goes without saying that as soon as it rains, you should be collecting that water to give your gear the long, luxurious soak it deserves (and probably needs by that stage)!

Newsletter: Wish list

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Hout Bay boat dives, if things calm down

Kalk Bay on a calm day
Kalk Bay on a calm day

Currently abundant fresh water and good diving conditions every weekend are at the top of my wish list. Both Saturday and Sunday will sport 30+ km/h winds, from the south east. There is a slim chance that Hout Bay could have cleaned up by Sunday, however the 3 metre swell will make for sloppy surface conditions. Should Sunday look better by late Saturday, I will get in touch with those on the list… So get on the list (email, whatsapp, text, phonecall, or post office tree can work).

Water

Read the WWF’s third Wednesday Water File (all about securing fresh drinking water) here. We’ll be sharing some tips about diving during a drought, and preparing for Day Zero, on the blog in the coming weeks.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Hunting rockcod and moray eel in Sodwana

This is a really cool bit of behaviour that I filmed on a dive to Pinnacles on Two Mile reef while we were in Sodwana last September, and one of my favourite things of all that we saw. A malabar rockcod (Epinephelus malabaricus) – as identified by our dive guides – in dark hunting colours, patrols the reef ahead of a honeycomb moray (Gymnothorax favagineus). At the time I didn’t know what was happening – it looked as though the eel was stalking the grouper – but it turns out to be more complicated and more interesting than that. I had filmed a subset of a total pattern of behaviour, in which the moray and rockcod (from the family of fish also called grouper) were hunting co-operatively.

A researcher at a Swiss university discovered in 2006 that coral groupers seek out giant moray eels (both of these species live in the Red Sea), summoning the eels from their dens with a vigorous shaking of their bodies. The fish and the eel then swim together looking for prey , a deadly tag-team of hunters. The groupers are fast in open water, but the eel can get into crevices to flush out prey. It is this behaviour, executed by a different type of eel and a different type of grouper, that I saw in Sodwana.

The scientists reported that the groupers use a head-stand signal, combined with a shaking of their bodies, to indicate the location of hidden prey to the eels. When the eels see this, most of them swim towards the grouper, and flushed out the prey.

You can read more about the study that revealed the extent of this behaviour here, and the actual paper reporting the research here. The scientists also discovered two other species with complementary skills that hunt co-operatively, on the Great Barrier Reef this time: the coral trout, and octopus.

Moray eels look incredible when they swim freely across the reef. Here’s one doing just that, in the Red Sea.

Newsletter: Exclamation marks!!

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Atlantic ocean boat dives at 8.30 and 11.30 am

I completed an SDI Open Water course with students this week, and we dived Long Beach on two days. The visibility was 3-4 metres on both days, and later in the week it was extremely surgy.

Roosting on the catwalk at Fish Hoek
Roosting on the catwalk at Fish Hoek

It does appear that the Atlantic dive sites will be the ones to visit this weekend. False Bay is not great right now and the south easter won’t help, however it is exactly that strong south easterly wind that is needed to clean up the Atlantic. The south easter has been blowing for much of the day today, and is forecast to continue tomorrow and Saturday.

It really needs to be south easterly wind and not a southerly wind, and most important it needs to be blowing in Hout Bay. Strong wind in the northern suburbs, or over False Bay, doesn’t always translate into the same over Hout Bay.  It drops off for Sunday, so clean cold water should be the order of the day. We will be launching from OPBC or Hout Bay (so we can check out the desalination plant) at 8.30 am and 11.00 am.

Water

Here’s this week’s Wednesday Water File from the WWF. It’s all about groundwater, and you should read it. If you’re feeling stressed and helpless about Day Zero, remember that we’ve been given the gift of a bit of time to prepare for it – and, just maybe, avert it (by using a hashtag, apparently) – so make a to do list, ask someone sensible for advice if you need it, don’t get scammed by a dodgy rainwater tank supplier, and get going.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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On the reef in Sodwana

We wrap up the videos from Sodwana with a couple of clips showing everyday life on the reef. Both these videos were filmed on a beautiful dive on Pinnacles, Two Mile Reef, which was strangely not marred by an absolute circus of an Open Water course that was being conducted in the vicinity. (Pinnacles is a popular training site.) Despite antics which included two people’s weight belts coming loose at the same time, we were able to stay away from that chaos and to enjoy some incredible reef life. (Perhaps I will share some footage of the weight belt fiasco when a suitable amount of time has passed.)

Clown triggerfish having a munch
Clown triggerfish having a munch

First up, a clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspiccillum) going about his business on the reef. These fish are fantastic looking, and if you ask Sophie nicely, she will show you the hand signal for them, which requires both hands to be free.

Here’s pair of barred filefish (Cantherhines dumerilii) at Pinnacles:

Schooling in Sodwana

In addition to lots of bluebanded snapper, we saw other schools of fish while we were diving in Sodwana. A calm approach with minimal body movement allows one to get quite close to them. Here, a school of lunar fuslier (Caesio lunaris) are led by a lone yellowback fusilier (Caesio xanthonota), filmed on Two Mile reef.

We also saw this school of handsome humpback snapper (Lutjanus gibbus) over Pinnacles on Two Mile Reef.

Newsletter: Up to all of us

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Shore dives at Long Beach

The wind, strong as it has been, has not been from the right direction to create favourable diving conditions. The Atlantic needs good solid south easterly winds and there has not been enough of that yet. Tomorrow and Saturday are forecast to offer up wind from the right direction, but a 3.5 metre southerly swell will make for bumpy conditions even if the water cleans up.

This leaves us with False Bay. The swell direction is not one that is kind to False Bay so I think I will skip boat launches and plan shore dives at sheltered Long Beach on Sunday.

I will also be shore diving with students on Monday and Tuesday. Fun divers are welcome to join us as long as you’re happy to let me focus on my students. If you’re keen to get wet, let me know.

Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach
Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach

Water

I trust that all of you are doing your very very best to save water and that you are thinking about and making plans for Day Zero, which seems more likely than not by this point. The WWF has started a helpful weekly publication to assist everyone through this period – read the first one here (pdf).

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!