Newsletter: Clean and fresh

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives (max 18 metres) at 9.00 am and 11.30 am from Simons Town jetty

Simon's Town boating on a windless day
Simon’s Town boating on a windless day

It is the time of year where False Bay is mostly good, clean and a little bit cooler. Providing the usual winter swells don’t hammer us, the conditions are good. Sunday looks to be the better day for us, so we plan to launch at 9.00 and 11.30 am from False Bay Yacht Club. Both sites will be a maximum depth of 18 metres as I have students to qualify.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Slightly swelly

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday and Monday: Boat dives (location to be decided)

Last weekend we did some boating in Table Bay as a support boat for the Robben Island to Big Bay Freedom Swim. The remnants of the swell on Thursday and Friday was enough to give the swimmers a sizeable challenge with strong currents, choppy surface conditions and very cold patches of water.

Colin swimming across Table Bay
Colin swimming across Table Bay

The swell climbed from under 2 metres to a little over 5 metres this morning.  This means diving tomorrow is pretty much out, as is diving on Saturday (thanks also to the Two Oceans Marathon). The swell drops off during the day on Saturday so both Sunday and Monday should deliver some reasonable diving conditions.

It is difficult to say whether Hout Bay or False Bay would be better on Sunday and Monday, but I will make that decision late on Saturday afternoon. I have Open Water and Advanced Open Water students so one day is likely to include a deep dive to more than 18 metres.

If you are keen to dive on Sunday or Monday, let me know and I’ll schedule you in!

regards

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

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Newsletter: Testing 123

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Two launches from False Bay Yacht Club, meeting at 8.00 am

A long period 3 metre swell arrives tomorrow, drops on Saturday and then builds again on Sunday. I am planning two launches early on Saturday morning as I have several students to certify. We will meet in the car park at False Bay Yacht Club at 8.00 am. Destination unknown and weather dependent. If you’re keen on a magical mystery tour, drop me an email, text or Whatsapp.

The boat from underwater
The boat from underwater

Keeping busy

In case you missed it on the blog this week, we tested one of our self-inflating life jackets in the pool, to see what would happen when it got wet. It works!

Maritime archaeologist John Gribble is speaking at the auditorium of the South African Astronomical Observatory on Wednesday 17 August, 4.30 for 5.00 pm. His talk is entitled “From Shipwrecks to Hand Axes: An Introduction to South Africa’s Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage” and is described as follows:

South Africa’s maritime and underwater cultural heritage is surprisingly diverse and extremely rich. Although shipwrecks are the most obvious elements of this rich heritage resource, there are a range of pre-colonial maritime heritage resources that are less well known. This talk will introduce South Africa’s maritime and underwater cultural heritage, highlight the archaeological importance of this resource, and touch on a few examples of interesting, local historical wrecks.

There is no need to book, the event is free to the public.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Sweets on the boat!

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Sunday: Boat dives at 9.00 to Atlantis Reef (5-27 metres) and 12.00 to Tivoli Pinnacles (10-22 metres)

Conditions report

Both the Atlantic and False Bay have been great during the week. We had 8 metre visibility on an Atlantic charter on Wednesday, and today’s offshore winds have flattened False Bay nicely, and cleaned the water significantly. The water temperature on both sides of the peninsula is similar, 10-12 degrees, and the visibility is around 8 metres. I feel that if the water temperature is a single digit the viz needs to be double that, but we don’t always get what we want! False Bay will be the best option this weekend so we will plan to launch on Sunday, at 9.30 for Atlantis and for Tivoli Pinnacles at 12.00.

Sweets on the boat!
Sweets on the boat!

For the diary

December is starting on Monday and the season gets really busy, really fast. We are going to focus on Open Water, Advanced and Nitrox courses this December. We will add a Nitrox course free to the first 5 people that sign up for an Advanced course during December. We are also able to run the Research Diver, Drift diver and Equipment Specialist courses during December and January. To see the range of courses available take a look here.

Please diarise our open house on Saturday afternoon, 13 December. Proper invitations to follow.

For interest

On Sunday while out on the boat we passed by the prototype shark repellent cable at the end of Glencairn beach. This is a non-lethal approach to keeping humans and sharks separate, and is in the testing phase. You can see how the cable is lying with electrodes on each side of the centre cable, the electrodes marked by orange buoys on risers that stick out at low tide. There’s a description of the cable here, and we’ll have some more photos on the blog next Wednesday.

The risers on the cable are clearly visible at low tide
The risers on the cable are clearly visible at low tide

This is a great project with a potentially significant impact on the relationship between humans and sharks in South Africa. The cable was developed at the behest of the KZN Sharks Board, and is being tested in co-operation with Shark Spotters and the City of Cape Town.

For the history books

Last Friday the wreck of the Clan Stuart turned 100. She ran aground in False Bay on 21 November 1914. We had a little commemoration of our Clan Stuart dives on the blog.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Summer winter diving

Hi divers

Weekend plans

Saturday: Student dives (casual divers welcome) at Long Beach

Sunday: Launching at 10.30 and 13.00 – Hout Bay if the south easter blows as predicted, otherwise False Bay.

Roman Rock this afternoon
Roman Rock this afternoon

Dive reports

We had good diving today but there was a south easterly swell which could be felt despite it only being around 2 metres. The wind picked up in the afternoon but the morning conditions were good, it was great to have some sun after the last several wet days. The visibility was 4-5 metres and we dived Roman Rock and Ark Rock.

The weekend weather is better than we have had for several weeks so we will dive at Long Beach on Saturday for training, and we will launch on Sunday. Spring low tides mean we need either to launch really early or a bit later than normal, so the plan is to do two dives, at 10.30 and 13.00.

The south easter blew today and is forecast to blow for the next two days, so we may go to Hout Bay for some summer winter diving and dive one of the wrecks there (the BOS 400, the Maori, the Aster or the Katsu Maru), or find a friendly reef to check out. If the wind doesn’t pan out as expected, we will go to Maidstone Rock 10.30 and Ark Rock at 13.00.

Permits and prices

Please make sure you have your permit or you will need to buy a temporary one from us on the boat. The boat dive price is R260 per dive.

regards

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

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Practice makes perfect: inflating an SMB

When it comes to inflating an SMB, there isn’t a textbook way of doing it. Sure, people have strong feelings about what’s right and what’s not, but as long as you get the SMB inflated without risking (or having) an uncontrolled ascent, that’s fine.

The method Tony prefers is to exhale into the bottom of the tube. That way, if necessary, you can let go of the SMB and not be dragged with it to the surface (this is a risk that exists if you use your octo to inflate it, as it might get stuck). The only way to get the hang of this process, which involves multiple moving parts, is to practice. Here’s Alex practising at Photographer’s Reef.

Here are two more videos of successful SMB inflation. If you dive in Cape Town, it’s absolutely essential to be able to perform this skill. Furthermore, it’s now part of the PADI Open Water course!

Family business

Ready for action at the pool
Ready for action at the pool

Our pool is five by three metres, and just under two metres deep at the deep end. We’ve had a number of students that have come to do their confined water skills, but in December we had two firsts: four students at the same time, and all of them were related. The three Carstens children were doing a PADI Open Water course, and their old man was doing a Refresher.

Exam time!
Exam time!

Not only did all of us fit in the pool at the same time for the basic skills (with me towards the shallow end and the family in the deep end), but we had an awesome time of it. It’s been great having the pool on site. The pool we used to use sometimes had water clarity issues, and there certainly wasn’t the option of popping inside for a cup of coffee and some theory work.

Group photo after successful completion of confined water skills
Group photo after successful completion of confined water skills

Bookshelf: The Rapture of the Deep

Rapture of the Deep: And Other Dive Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Know – Michael Zinsley

Rapture of the Deep
Rapture of the Deep

I shouldn’t have read this book after The Face of the Deep by Thomas Farber. The comparison is unfavourable. While Farber is lyrical and thoughtful, Zinsley describes alcohol-fueled romps through the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean while working as a diving industry professional.

While most of the observations about the cultures that the author encounters are quite prosaic, this is the first book I’ve read that frankly deals with the commercial side of recreational scuba diving. Perhaps it is necessary to be prosaic in order to discuss this; the reality is far from the romantic vision sold by some of the dive certification agencies. Zinsley describes greedy dive shop owners who send their staff out to dive in appalling conditions, and does not mince words about the paltry pay one can expect as a Divemaster. He observes that Instructors get paid slightly more, but that they tend to spend most of their time in swimming pools, and that a number of them end up as shopkeepers, hardly diving at all.

There are some highly amusing but very politically incorrect descriptions of Zinsley’s former students and clients who dived with him at the various operations where he worked as Divemaster. It seems that a lot of the time, your Divemaster can tell within a few minutes whether you’re going to be trouble on a dive or not. (Try not to be trouble! It’ll keep you healthy – or alive – and make the dive a lot more enjoyable for everyone.) Zinsley describes his experiences with nitrogen narcosis and a scare with decompression sickness.

Zinsley has visited and dived in some of the world’s most exotic destinations, and it’s probably more accurate to classify Rapture of the Deep as a travelogue with diving. This is a light, riotous, unapologetically misogynistic read with no literary pretensions whatsoever. I’d specially recommend it for professionals in the dive industry, who will empathise with much of what Zinsley describes.

You can buy the book here if you are in South Africa, and here if you’re not. If you want to read it on your Kindle, go here.

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: 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/

Diving is addictive!

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