Sunday: Launching from Simon’s Town jetty at 9.00 am, weather permitting
Finding enough dive related content for a newsletter is difficult when there has been little to no diving! The south easter has blown the entire week and is not yet done with us. It has flipped to north westerly and back and is forecast to do so a few times more in the next week. It is as though winter is on its way out, but fighting not to leave! I had a look at the Atlantic today thinking that the water might be clean after so many days of south east wind, but it is still very green.
This weekend does not look all that great. There is a fair amount of south easter on Saturday so I don’t think diving will be much good. There is less wind on Sunday, but some rain in the forecast.
Stay dry on Saturday, launch from Simon’s Town jettyon Sunday at 9.00 am (to be confirmed mid-Saturday). I am out on False Bay tomorrow and will have a better idea of whether and where we will dive on Sunday. If you have a preference and/or want to get on the boat, email or text me.
There has been a lot of permit checking lately so please make sure yours is current. If it isn’t, I have temporary permits available on the boat.
Sunday: Boat dives – if the weather forecast turns out to be wrong!
We had a good dives last weekend, and our shore dive at Fisherman’s Beach was pretty pleasant. The site is very dependent on the size of the shore break – if it’s too big you end up barrel rolled on the sand before you even get started! Fortunately is was not that bad and we had a good 6 metre viz. A couple of photos here, on facebook.
Thanks to Jan de Bruyn who took this picture of the boat last Friday, when I was out in False Bay!
I am sure the best option for tomorrow will be watching some of the best big wave surfers give Dungeons or Sunset Reef a ride, we will launch from Hout Bay at 10.00 am for this.
The dive conditions for the weekend look a little poor. There is strong north north westerly wind forecast for Saturday, too much for pleasant boating, and a fair amount of south easter for Sunday. The water should be very clean given the last few days of wind so I am open to the idea of launching on Sunday if the wind turns out to be a little less than it is currently forecast to be.
To provisionally book or put your name on the list in case we launch on Sunday, you can SMS, Whatsapp, call, email, call on a landline, send a carrier pigeon, or (preferred method) pop in with cake. You decide.
Date to diarise
As part of the South African Shark and Ray Symposium happening next month, there’s a fantastic speaker evening being held on Monday 7 September. Check out the details on facebook here. There are some riveting speakers who will take you through False Bay’s fauna from the microscopic to the massive (orcas, anyone?)!
False Bay is clean right now, we had 10-12 m visibility at Atlantis and a little less at Alpha Reef today. A few minutes after the divers rolled into the water at Atlantis a juvenile humpback whale cruised by the bow of the boat, less than 5 metres away. There are signs of a red tide closer to Roman Rock but it was really mild. There were hundreds of compass jellies in the water on both dives. Thanks to Jerrel for this photo from today.
Last weekend we had a great shore dive at Windmill Beach, and enjoyed seeing so many other divers taking advantage of the excellent conditions. The visibility on Sunday was probably 6-8 metres and the water was a rather chilly 12 degrees.
The weekend seems to be a one day affair if the current forecast is anything to go by. Saturday looks good with little wind and mild swell. We will launch from Simon’s Town jetty at 9.00 am for SAS Pietermaritzburg and at 11.30 am for Pie Rock.
Sunday and Monday are meant to have more south and south easterly wind than I would like, and boating in that will not be great. I know a number of you guys are keen for a shore dive on Sunday or Monday but we will decide late Saturday on whether we do this or not.
Text or email me if you want to dive on either day, and I will keep you posted.
Tomorrow a 6.5 metre swell passes by, accompanied by 50 km/h winds. The odds of good diving conditions following that hot mess are slim so I am not planning anything for this weekend.
I have not forgotten about doing a weekend shore dive for folks who are rusty and/or desperate to get in the water, but this weekend isn’t the time for it. I’ll keep those of you who expressed an interest in the loop, and publicise it here and on facebook too.
I photographed this (recently deceased) backspine cowfish after retrieving it from the surface just inshore from Roman Rock, last Friday. This was an unusual opportunity to look closely at this not often spotted little chap. There was a visible plankton bloom in the area with a few other dead fish floating on the surface, too.
Both WindGURU and Windfinder have used their purple and orange crayons for the forecasts again which means the wind will blow harder than most people find enjoyable. Fortunately these colours are confined to Friday’s forecast, and by the weekend we are back to low wind conditions. The wind direction tomorrow will improve the already very good visibility in False Bay, so that is a good thing. The downside is it that might rain and it might be cold, but then again it might not. And you’re going to get wet anyway!
Saturday looks to be the warmer day so that will be my choice for boat dives. We will go to Fan Reef at 8.30 (meet at 8.00) and Atlantis or Outer Photographer’s Reef at 11.00 (meet at 10.30). We may do these as a double tank dives, in which case there will be no getting off the boat in between. There will be hot chocolate on the boat in my new Minion cups to make it worth your while.
Shore diving for the out of practice
We are planning a shore dive next weekend, on Saturday if the weather plays along, for everyone who needs to get back in the water and dust off their confidence and buoyancy skills, so make a note in your diaries and I’ll confirm the details in next week’s newsletter. Winter is a great time to dive in False Bay. The water is generally clean, and the prevailing winds flatten the sea. With this in mind, how about a trip to the post office next week to renew your permit to dive in a Marine Protected Area?
Earlier this month we returned from our second ever dive trip to Ponta do Ouro. (It was my third time there – on my first trip, in 2009, I wasn’t qualified to dive yet, and met my future husband, where he was diving and skippering five times a day and living in a reed hut. I still sometimes feel guilty for having a part in him leaving this little piece of paradise.) We flew to Durban. A shuttle transported us to the Kosi Bay border post, where we were met by Mike of Blowing Bubbles Diving. Mike drove us and our luggage over the dunes into town, and dropped us at Planet Scuba, where we would stay for the week.
Planet Scuba is situated on top of the hill that overlooks Ponta’s central square. Since my last visit (I think), a pharmacy has opened on the corner (pictured above), and later in the trip we purchased a much needed decongestant there (for a fairly princely sum, but beggars can’t be choosers).
Every morning we would walk down the steps to the road that leads to the beach, and head towards the point to meet up with the boat for diving. After diving, we would either walk back or get a ride on the back of the Blowing Bubbles bakkie. We breakfasted between dives, and then returned to the beach. The dives in Ponta do Ouro are boat dives, and the skippers launch the boat off the beach through the waves. There was almost no swell while we were there, so the surf launches were quite tame!
We dived for five days, most of us doing ten dives in total. We contemplated a dolphin trip with Dolphin Encountours, but reports were that boats were only seeing one or two dolphins, if any, and the trips cost more than a dive so we carried on diving instead. We were so, so lucky to see a huge pod of dolphins at the end of our last dive, near Ponta Malongane. On our first dive that day we had seen big schools of baitfish near the surface, and the dolphins had probably come to the area for feeding. We weren’t allowed to get into the water with them, but they swam past the boat for ages, and we heard them breathing as they passed by. Tony and I stuck our cameras over the side of the boat, and it turned out there were many more dolphins underwater than we could see on the surface.
The pace of life was very mellow. We dived, ate, slept, and repeated various iterations of that sequence. We admired the community of friendly dogs down at the beach. We enjoyed hungry cats and condensed milk milkshakes at Neptune’s, with a view over the Motel do Mar (where we stayed on our last trip) to the beach. We had a healthy and delicious lunch at Mango above the Dolphin Centre, and got thoroughly soaked by a tropical rainstorm on the way back to Planet Scuba. Christo, Esther and Laurine sampled the “chemical s***storm in a glass” (I quote Esther) that is Ponta do Ouro’s famous R&R (rum and raspberry). Strangely, none of them wanted any more…
The diving was excellent. The water temperature was 23 degrees, and we had (apparently mediocre for Ponta) visibility of about 10 metres, sometimes more. This was very acceptable to us as Capetonians. The reefs are teeming with life, and all of us saw something new. Laurine was enchanted by a turtle, Tony spent most of his dives upside down with his head in crevices in the reef, Christo directed all of us to exciting discoveries with his torch and pigsticker (a metal kebab stick slash pointer that must have a different name but I don’t know it), and Esther maintained her sense of wonder and calm as she brought up the rear of our little group on most dives. On one of the dives a very strong current gave us opportunities to use our SMBs, which was an excellent learning experience and a reminder of how important a safety sausage is, no matter where you are diving.
The air temperature was warm, the wind hardly blew, and for a while we could forget that at home in Cape Town it was cold, frequently dark, and overflowing with commitments and obligations. We returned the way we had come, but feeling a little more ready to cope with the rest of the Cape winter. We’ll be back in a couple of years, Ponta!
(I’ll share some little videos and more photos from the trip over the next couple of weeks.)
Saturday: Boat dives out of Simon’s Town, sites to be confirmed
Mozambique dive trip
We have just returned from a short dive trip to warmer waters. We had five days of really good conditions in Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique, with no swell and almost no wind. The water was 23 degrees most days and on every dive we were amazed by something. Watch the blog for a trip report in the next week or two, and some photos and video from the trip. There’s an album of pictures on facebook already.
Dive conditions and plans
The bay has been treated to winds from all directions in the past week, and there appears to be a huge volume of dirty water swilling around. Some places are really clean and inviting and others not so much.There is some rain in the forecast for Saturday afternoon and a fair amount of wind for Sunday.
I am planning to launch on Saturday but will make a call on where during the course of the day tomorrow as I will take the boat out tomorrow for a good look around. If you’d like to be on board for Saturday’s dives, let me know by email or text message and I’ll keep you in the loop.
What we did find was quite disturbing: a hissing, pulsating patch of water beneath which the rusty wreckage of the Seli 1 lies, very close to the surface. There was no wind and very little swell when we were searching for the wreck, and initially we thought it was a school of baitfish disturbing the surface in that way. Fortunately we approached the spot slowly, because if we’d ridden over the wreckage this would be a different kind of blog post altogether.
We rode around the spot as close as we dared, watching the image of the objects below us on the sonar. The buckled plates of the wreck, where the SA Navy divers did their work with explosives to reduce it below the waterline in 2013, were clearly visible. The wreckage – particularly the shallowest part pictured above – is a definite hazard to any boat with a keel. We couldn’t tell exactly how much clearance there is between the top of the shallowest part of the wreck and the surface, but it didn’t seem to be more than half a metre. I hope it’s more than that, and I also hope that SAMSA pays attention to our request for a replacement marker buoy on the wreckage to warn ships (but considering how many channels of communication I had to try before not getting some kind of error, I haven’t a lot of hope).
The Lighthouse Swim is a 10.5 kilometre trip northwards up the Table Bay coastline, from Milnerton lighthouse to Big Bay. The swimmers plunge through the breakers at Milnerton, which is similar to the start of the Swim for Hope at Diaz Beach, and quite intimidating. This year’s Lighthouse Swim took place on 7 June, and we supported a relay team of four swimmers.
Our job was to keep an eye on their safety in the water (we had a SharkShield on board), and to guide the swimmers along the most direct route possible to Big Bay. Things can go downhill very quickly when a swimmer gets too cold, and it is vital to act quickly if the onset of hypothermia is suspected.
Fortunately there was no wind and the swell was manageable. The water was cold, hovering at 11-12 degrees, and other participants in the race dropped out one by one. Only the fastest individual swimmers would manage to complete the course in such challenging conditions. The conditions were good for relay teams, as members could warm up on board in between dips in the ocean. There was ample hot chocolate to go around. Our team of four were full of smiles and enthusiasm, and did a fantastic job, finishing as the second relay team in 2h45.
Upon arrival at Big Bay, all four team members had to jump into the water so that they could finish the swim together.
We did not quite reach the wrinkly finger clean and cold diving conditions we were hoping for this week. We have launched on every diveable day this week, but the water has remained at around 14 degrees and the visibility between 4 and 8 metres. After the dives today I ran around the bay looking for cleaner water but did not find much. There is some south easterly wind tomorrow which will not be a great help. I am out on Saturday for a private charter but plan to dive on Sunday if there is viz.
Text or email me if you’d like to keep in the loop about Sunday’s dive plans.