This is a recently discovered site near Roman Rock, named Tivoli Pinnacles because of its position east of Roman Rock (as Tivoli is east of Rome). It’s a very short boat ride straight out to sea from Long Beach, and the site is very close to the approach lanes for Simon’s Town Harbour.
We started our dive on top of one of the southern pinnacles, and drifted with the current, spending most of the dive at about 18-20 metres. The relief is quite flat away from the pinnacles, but there is a lot to see.
Tony found a horsefish, resting in a gap in the rocks, Andrew found an evil eye puffer fish for me to photograph, and I spotted a wide array of nudibranchs – mostly silvertip, crowned and gas flame.
This was a very easy dive in the conditions we did it in. There are ample opportunities to stop and examine the reef as you pass over it, and the depth is relatively constant. It was my second dive of the day and I actually went properly into deco… During the six minute deco/safety stop that my dive computer demanded a large and friendly seal frolicked around us. When we surfaced, he was leaping about next to the boat.
Grant had received a call that there was a large pod of dolphins off Kalk Bay harbour, probably feeding, so we followed the massive flock of cormorants north, and drove past the pod. There were maybe 500 long beaked common dolphins all together, including a lot of very tiny calves. It was beautiful.
This newsletter is late because we have just attended an extremely interesting talk at the Two Oceans Aquarium on biomimicry… Bio what? Google it, but it is a fascinating look at how man can mimic nature in order to solve problems. For example, cars designed to look like a boxfish have aerodynamics of note, and wind generator blades shaped as whale pectoral fins are up to 75% more efficient and so it goes on.
Last weekend we managed only one deep dive to the Good Hope wreck (around 35 metres on the sand) and had good visibility and warmish 14 degree water.
The last few days have been wet and dry days as the ”summer winds” southeaster has blown all week… Let’s not go down the weather forecasting route!! Spoiling the dive conditions, but a wet week anyway as we had a catastrophic water pipe failure at home last week, flooding the entire house with enough water to snorkel around in… The water had run for around 8-10 hours so there was plenty of time for it to dam up…
This weekend we are attending the OMSAC Treasure Hunt on Saturday, and on Sunday will do an early boat dive out of Hout Bay to dive the wreck of the Aster, a wreck sunk by divers for divers which has wreck penetration possibilities. This is an ideal dive to start an Advanced course or a Wreck Specialty. The wreck also lies within swimming distance of another wreck called the Katsu Maru.
After Hout Bay we will move to Long Beach and continue with Open Water dives. Please let me know, if you haven’t already, if you’d like to come along on Sunday morning to the Aster. There are only two places left and please remember that boat dives cost R200. If you’re heavy on air, order a 15 litre cylinder in good time for R80, and if you’re Nitrox certified let me know if you require it.
Also, please don’t forget to bring your MPA permits if you come diving with us. They’re available at the Post Office, and if you’re caught without one your kit (or mine, if you’re using it) can be confiscated. That’ll keep me on your Christmas list for a loooooong time…
James and Claire gave me the xkcdbook for my birthday this year. It’s unashamedly geeky humour, and I love this particular cartoon (not in the book) so much that I’d consider getting it tattooed on my back.
Okay, not really, but I do like it very, very much!
If you’ve ever driven to Simon’s Town along the False Bay coastal road, you’ll have passed the wreck of the SS Clan Stuart on your left. The engine block sticks out of the water at low tide, and only the highest spring tides come close to covering it. The steamer ran aground during a summer gale in late 1914 after dragging her anchor. She was carrying a cargo of coal, all of which was salvaged I think.
The site is quite exposed, and will never boast 20 metre visibility, but on a good day with a calm sea, low swell and the correct prevailing wind direction you can be very lucky (as we were)! The entry is quite hard work. The one we usually use is to park on the roadside outside the old oil refinery and naval graveyard, and kit up there. Walk across the road, climb the low brick wall and find a route down the dunes to the railway line. Take care as the railway line is now in use. Cross the tracks and use the large cement walkway/staircase to get down to the beach. The last step is high – I found it easier to go left over the big boulders on the way down, but on the way up this is too difficult.
Once on the beach, you can walk to opposite the engine block. The wreck runs nearly parallel with the shore about 40 metres in each direction from the engine block, so you’ll actually hit it almost certainly, wherever you get in. Watch out for the wave on the beach – sometimes it looks small, but with scuba kit on your back you’re heavy and unstable and in a big swell you can get nicely tumbled. Make sure your BCD is inflated before you brave the breakers – you might even want to go so far as to put your regulator in your mouth before you set out. As soon as you are through the waves, put your fins on and swim out into deeper water away from the surf zone. Don’t mess around here – it can spoil (or prematurely terminate) your dive!
The Clan Stuart was made of iron, and although she’s very broken up, much of her remains. The remains of boilers can be seen next to the engine block, and the ribs of the ship are clearly visible as you swim along her length. There are ragged bits of metal decking, and some bollards are clearly visible on the edges of the wreckage.
There is a lot to see here – beautiful invertebrate life – abalone, mussels, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, worms – schools of fish (we saw blacktail seabream), shysharks, and of course the pleasure of swimming the length of a shipwreck! There are also ridges of sandstone to explore, and kelp covers parts of the wreck. Particularly around the engine block, the growth is very dense.
This is a good site for night dives, and seals are often spotted here which is very entertaining. The entry and exit can be a bit of hard work, but it’s well worth it and the depth (maximim 9 metres at high tide) makes it very suitable for training dives.
As Sophie and I started our ascent I saw a huge ribbontail ray swimming away from us on the sand. It was surgy and there was lots of sand in the water (as can be seen from the photos), so he disappeared fast.
Clare took this panorama at Long Beach whilst the NSRI were out training a couple of weekends back. They were there for a long time as we saw them before and after both dives. They seem to have a very good training program and were hauling people out the water, performing CPR and so on. I have not had too many ocean diving days this past week and have only been in the pool. The wind and rain have been…
I have Open Water students on Saturday doing dives one and two at Long Beach but we will do two boat dives on Sunday. The usual: deep first and shallow next. Launch times will probably be 9am and 11am – please let me know either by text or email if you’d like to be on the boat, by tomorrow morning at the latest.
Clare, Justin and I swam out to the yellow buoy at Long Beach. Under it is a large bed of mussels and very fat starfish
OMSAC Treasure Hunt
A reminder, the OMSAC False Bay Treasure Hunt is on the 9th July, go here for more details. Clare and I are hoping to get on the boat dives at 10am (to Boat Rock) and at 1pm (to the cowsharks at Pyramid). I suggest you book quickly if you have strong preferences about where you’d like to go.
I have a small stack of PADI certification cards for some recently-qualified students: Tinus, Lindsay, Marinus, Dean and Dirk. I’ll try and drop them off with you if I’m in your neck of the woods, otherwise next time you come diving or are in the Southern Suburbs we can arrange for you to get them.