Sodwana backward roll

Here’s a backward roll. We were at Pinnacles on Two Mile Reef in Sodwana Bay, diving with Coral Divers. This backward roll was well executed: everyone rolled on the skipper’s cue, all together.

Clare and Laurine are wearing buffs, pink and blue respectively. Clare says it helps to keep hair out of one’s face and mask, in the absence of a hoodie, and I say the bright colours make it very easy to account for them underwater!

Newsletter: More purple crayons

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

View from Boulders Beach
View from Boulders Beach

There is little doubt in my mind that diving this weekend will be for the hardcore only. Both Saturday and Sunday will feature howling south easterly winds which will make for rough surface conditions. The forecast seems to imply wind strength capable of affecting both sides of the mountain so there will be very few places to hide.

But wait, there’s more

There are some windless days coming up next week. If you’re a lucky one available for weekday diving next week, let me know your availability and I’ll keep you in the loop regarding plans.

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!

Finishing a boat dive in Sodwana

This isn’t the most exciting video, but I hope it reminds you of how blue and clear the water is off the coast of KwaZulu Natal, and what it’s like to dive in Sodwana on a good day. It was filmed at the end of a dive on Pinnacles on Two Mile Reef, as the divers approached the boat and waited to hand up their gear. Watch out for Laurine, Esther and Christo!

If you aren’t familiar with diving off a RIB (rubber duck), I hope this is a helpful bit of information about how things work at the end of a dive. I’ll share a backward roll video from our most recent Sodwana trip soon, but in the mean time, check out this one to see what it’s like at the start of a dive!

Christmas gift guide 2017

I wondered when I’d need a picture of a glass of champagne next to some dive gear; this post feels like as good a time as any to use it. I feel obligated to explain that the champagne was being consumed on our pool deck during the course of a late afternoon fool around in and next to the pool with some of my friends. The dive gear was still lying there from a class Tony had led that morning. The juxtaposition was too much to resist.

Don't drink and dive
Don’t drink and dive

That said, it’s time to think about Christmas, Hanukkah, and time off with the family. Some may even celebrate Festivus. I salute you. Regardless, it’s a good time to give gifts to the people you care about. Some suggestions follow below.

First, here are the obligatory links to previous years’ editions of this guide: 20102011201220132014, 2015. Unfortunately, 2016 was an annus horribilis best left undiscussed. As usual, this year’s guide owes much to previous versions. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Donations

For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful, consider a donation on behalf of your friend or loved one:

Experiences

Don’t forget to add a memory card for the lucky recipient’s camera if you plan to gift any of these! Contact Tony for prices.

For the non diver, you could inspire a love for our oceans with one of these:

As usual our Wild Card was an absolute blessing this year. It has been used for multiple park visits and also gets us a discount on our toll fee on Chapmans Peak Drive‘s frequent user program. The full card is a bit pricey, but there’s a great alternative called My Green Card, that costs R145 and gives twelve entries to any of the paid sections of Table Mountain National Park (so, Cape Point, Boulders, Silvermine, Oudekraal, and a few braai areas). Read the fine print carefully though – if you use it up quickly, you have to wait for the 12 months to pass before you can purchase another one. But I think you can also share the 12 clips with friends, whereas a regular Wild Card is tied to your identity. You will have to go to the SANParks office in Tokai to get a My Green Card.

SanParks is introducing differential pricing for Table Mountain National Park, with significantly lower prices for locals, starting next November, so some mathematics will be required this time next year to determine whether a Wild Card is still worth the expense.

Something to read

Everything you need to know about finding a book related to the ocean can be discovered in our list of most recommended books, and our guide to finding the book you need (on this blog, at least!). There are a couple of children’s books there, too.

A magazine subscription is also a fairly reasonably-priced gift idea. I can’t tell you which of the dive magazines are worth reading these days – our current subscriptions are Maritime Review (which is free, so that’s perhaps cheating) and CAR magazine…

Something beautiful

Clip Clop designs and prints beautiful tide charts for Cape Town and Durban and moon phase charts for the year. You can order online or usually find them at Exclusive Books or Noordhoek Farm Village (just browse the shops there, one of them has the tide charts right at the door).

You could also print and frame a photo, or create a photo book. Most camera stores can assist with a range of printing media.

Dive gear and water-related stuff

Some excellent water-related gifts I’ve received over the years include:

 

  • WetSac (seriously, check it out) – order online
  • A hooded towel – surf shops often stock them, try the strip at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg
  • A stand up paddle boarding lesson
  • A reel and/or a surface marker buoy – make sure it’s one of the ones that isn’t negatively buoyant

Otherwise, just think a little bit about what might be useful before or after a dive…

  • Sunscreen, conditioner, cleansing shampoo, detangling spray
  • A reusable metal water bottle (glass is a bad idea for the boat)
  • A mini dry bag to keep phones and keys safe
  • A beanie for cold days on the boat or a cap for the sun, or a buff for hair management or neck protection (the Aquarium sometimes sells turtle ones to fundraise for their turtle rehab)
Be safe, be kind, be lekker. Thank you for your friendship and for the dives!

Newsletter: Summer winds

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore diving at Long Beach

Sunday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Thank goodness the daytime temperatures are more in line with my comfort zone than they were a month ago. The warmth does come along with the south easter, though, and it has been very noticeable this week.

There is however a sign of respite this weekend and both Saturday and Sunday have small windows of windless weather early in the morning. The visibility may be another matter entirely but that will be best debated late afternoon tomorrow. I will most likely shore dive early on Saturday and launch the boat early on Sunday. Keen? Let me know.

Kites at Koeberg Nature Reserve
Kites at Koeberg Nature Reserve

Desalination talk

Here’s your final reminder that this coming Tuesday (5 December) at 7.00pm, Dr Ken Hutchings will give a talk on desalination and its possible effects on the marine environment. We could all benefit from some good information on the subject, with awareness of the South African context. The facebook event with more detail is here.

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!

Biscuit skate on a night dive

We came across this small biscuit skate (Raja straeleni) while doing a night dive at the jetty in Simon’s Town, on the occasion of Diversnight 2017. They are found in the eastern Atlantic ocean all the way down to 700 metres depth, grow really slowly, and are frequent bycatch from hake trawling operations off the South African coastline. SASSI says don’t buy it. The species is data deficient on the IUCN Red List.

These skates have thorn-like stings along part of their tails, and this one seems to have a whole lot else going on in the tail region which looks as though it would help him camouflage among seaweed. (None of the biscuit skates pictured in our fish identification books have quite such fancy tail-gear.) Also watch how he flicks sand over himself for additional disguise when he stops moving.

Also, they can jump – perhaps a little known talent… Once, while Clare was on duty at the aquarium, a small one leaped right out of the shallow ray pool that used to be next to the touch pool, and landed on the floor. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. A quick manhandle and he was replaced in his pool (and that exhibit was moved soon after)!

Newsletter: Close call

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

To be confirmed – let me know if you want to stay in the loop!

The weather forecast, and what’s actually happening, is extremely difficult to call at the moment. I’d like to do boat and/or shore dives this weekend, but it remains to be seen whether the wind will allow it. If you’d like to dive and have a little bit of flexibility, please message me and I’ll keep you informed. I’ll make a call this afternoon on plans for tomorrow.

Festive whale at the airport
Festive whale at the airport

Desalination talk

On Tuesday 5 December at 7.00pm, Dr Ken Hutchings will give a talk on desalination: how it works, and what its effect might be on the marine environment. This is an extremely topical subject given that many of the City of Cape Town’s alleged water crisis relief plans depend on the implementation of small-scale desalination plants around the peninsula, which will discharge salty brine (a byproduct of the reverse osmosis process) back into the ocean. Is this a big problem? Come and bathe your mind in some facts. The facebook event with more detail is here.

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: Weekend of diving

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach from 9.00 am

Sunday: Boat dives, meeting at False Bay Yacht Club at 9.00 am

Things are looking good for a weekend of decent diving without too much swell or wind. Based on the forecast I think Saturday will be better for shore dives and Sunday (which has a longer period swell) will be the best day for the boat.

On Saturday we will be at Long Beach at 9.00 am. On Sunday we will meet in the car park at False Bay Yacht Club at 9.00 am. I am out on the boat tomorrow so I will have a better idea of the visibility and will choose Sunday’s sites accordingly. There are students on the boat so the depth will not be greater 18 metres.

Olifantsbos on a calm evening
Olifantsbos on a calm evening

Diversnight organisers reported a total of 1,780 participating divers from around the world. Thanks again to all who were part of this event in Cape Town two weekends ago!

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!

Documentary: Diving into the Unknown

Having recently dived into the 21st century (with a Netflix subscription), I looked up this Finnish documentary as soon as it became available. It covers events that took place early in 2014, when a group of Finnish cave diving friends started a traverse of a massive, deep cave system in Norway. Two did not surface from the dive.

Diving into the Unknown
Diving into the Unknown

The Norwegian police, advised by Rick Stanton, a well-regarded British cave diver, closed the cave and announced that it was too dangerous to attempt to retrieve the men’s bodies. Their dive buddies, who had pioneered exploration of the more than 100 metre deep system and felt they knew it like the back of their hands, disagreed. They also felt a duty toward their friends, and therefore planned a mission (illegally) to retrieve their bodies.

Their dives were filmed for this documentary, which features interviews with the surviving divers and another of their friends who trained some of them as cave divers, and accompanied them on their mission. Whether events mirrored those that took place at Boesmansgat in 2005, or whether the ending was quite different, I’ll leave you to find out.

Unless… you read this excellent article from the BBC, before watching the documentary. It will reveal the outcome of the body retrieval dives, but it may also enhance your enjoyment of the film. A chance to study a map of the cave system, which featured in the film but was introduced too late for it to be truly helpful, and a chance to familiarise oneself with the difficult Finnish names, may be of benefit.

This is hardcore diving, to incredible depths, on rebreathers, in overhead environments, and under ice (to start the dive, the men cut a hole in the ice covering a lake surrounded by snowy hills and bare trees). Most of us will never do anything like it. The scenes filmed inside the cave range from serene clarity to heart-stopping moments of claustrophobic intensity as the divers work through obstructions and labour to free their friends’ bodies. Even though this is likely not aspirational for many of us, the questions raised by the men’s mission, especially whether it was wise to go back into the cave at all, make for some interesting discussion.

See the documentary on Netflix, or get the DVD here (South Africa) or here. Here’s the official trailer:

Newsletter: A vote of thanks

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No dives – but try to dive the Atlantic if you can!

We have very little swell, very little wind and very little visibility in much of false Bay. The Atlantic is looking much better. We have other commitments this weekend which means I’m not running charters.

I do think the visibility will hold for some Atlantic diving, and encourage you to hop on a boat out of Granger Bay/OPBC or Hout Bay, or join a shore dive at Oudekraal. We’ll be back in action next week.

Entering the water for Diversnight 2017
Entering the water for Diversnight 2017

Thanks to all who joined us for Diversnight. We were 20 divers in total. Though the water was shallow and the end of the dive involved a bit too much wading, we saw some fantastic creatures. I’ll be sharing some videos 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!

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