Newsletter: Two bays

Hi divers

We had an early start last weekend and launched from Simon’s Town at 7.30 am to get in and out before the wind arrived. Conditions were good and we dived the Atlantis area.

False Bay on Sunday
False Bay on Sunday

On Tuesday we launched from Hout Bay and despite a few days of south easterly winds the visibility was around 6 metres, but the swell created quite considerable surge. Both dives were around deep Tafelberg Reef and the surge could be felt below 30 metres.

Hout Bay on Tuesday
Hout Bay on Tuesday

The forecast for the weekend looks a little bleak. Much wind and much swell means slim odds of finding nice diving conditions anywhere. However should conditions change we will keep you posted by text and Whatsapp, and go diving.

Diversnight

Don’t forget Diversnight, happening at Long Beach on Saturday 7th November. Read more about this venerable Norwegian night diving tradition on the Diversnight website. (We like the cake aspect.) There’s a facebook event for your diary here!

regards

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

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Newsletter: Tea time

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday and/or Sunday: Early launches from OPBC (Saturday) / Simon’s Town jetty (Sunday) depending on weather and demand

Last Saturday we launched the boat in Hout Bay for a team of researchers to deploy and retrieve three of the acoustic tracking receivers that listen for tagged sharks and other animals along South Africa’s coastline, providing information about their movements to scientists. The receivers are part the Acoustic Tracking Array Program (ATAP), and you can read more about how it works here.

Deploying an acoustic receiver outside Hout Bay
Deploying an acoustic receiver outside Hout Bay

We launched from Hout Bay again on Tuesday, and the 3 metre swell could be felt at 30 metres on Tafelberg Reef. The visibility was OK, but the water was really cold.

Weekend dive plans

False Bay looks a little messy right now and tomorrow’s wind is not going to help. Today and tomorrow the swell is around 3 metres and goes southerly. Both days of the weekend have strange weather patterns in the forecast.

I reckon Saturday would be best at OPBC and Sunday would be best for False Bay. Wind speed builds mid-morning so either way you are looking at a really early start – and by that I mean launched by 7.00 am. Both days lend themselves to double tanking to avoid the wind.

A 7.00 am launch is not everyone’s cup of tea so I suggest we decide where to go based on who is diving. You can text, Whatsapp, facebook message, email or carrier pigeon your desires to my door if diving is on your mind.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Weekly cycles

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving planned

We seem to be in a cycle of great diving days in the week and not so great conditions on weekends. This weekend looks much the same as the last few and neither day is going to be great.

We have a scientific charter first thing on Saturday before the wind comes up, so won’t be running boat dives that day. By mid-morning on Saturday, the wind will be up at around 25 km/h from the south, and on Sunday it’s meant to be closer to 50. Sadly I think its best you haul out the lawnmower.

Boat Rock, photo by Arne Gething
Boat Rock, photo by Arne Gething

Thanks to Arne for this photo, taken at Boat Rock a couple of weeks ago…

Dates to diarise, things to do

Oceans of Life photographic exhibition currently at Iziko South African Museum

Diversnight at Long Beach, Saturday 7 November

Shark Spotters fundraiser and photo competition prizegiving at Primi Piatti, Muizenberg on Sunday 22 November

regards

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

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Newsletter: Offshore wind

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Two launches to Caravan Reef and Maidstone Rock, meeting at False Bay Yacht Club at 7.30 am

At Shark Alley on Sunday
At Shark Alley on Sunday

We did an early launch last Sunday in the hope of ducking the wind but despite a really good first dive we called it off for the second dive as the wind had picked up dramatically. The weather this weekend looks similar… Much offshore wind to clean False Bay on Saturday and much less for Sunday. We will go with two launches for Sunday, meeting in the parking lot at the yacht club at 7.30 am.

Dates to diarise

The Cape Town International Boat Show takes place this weekend at the CTICC. Look out for us there on Saturday!

Diversnight takes place on Saturday 7 November. It’s a great opportunity to dust off your night diving skills. Diarise!

regards

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

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The new Cape Point lighthouse

View of the new Cape Point lighthouse from the sea
View of the new Cape Point lighthouse from the sea

To me it would seem totally logical to build a lighthouse as high above sea level as possible. As we saw with the old Cape Point lighthouse, there is such a thing as too high, particularly when you’re building in an area that is prone to heavy mist and fog. The most notable shipping casualty that occurred after construction of the old Cape Point light was that of the Lusitania, wrecked on Bellows Rock in 1911. A new lighthouse was planned, along with a light at Slangkoppunt in Kommetjie, to replace the old light at Cape Point.

View of the new lighthouse at Cape Point
View of the new lighthouse at Cape Point

The new lighthouse was built on a 15 metre high pinnacle of rock called Diaz Point, which was dynamited to form a flat platform upon which the lighthouse would be built. Building materials were hauled by oxen from Simon’s Town, and transported by tram down a track on the cliffs. Most of the way the gradient of this tram track was 1 in 4; for a short stretch it was 1 in 2. This is incredibly steep. At the end of the tram track, the building materials were lowered by crane onto a ledge. Building sand was excavated from a cave at the bottom of the cliff, and carried up to the platform on which construction took place. Water was brought close to the building site by trolley, and piped down onto the location.

 

Like the old lighthouse, the new lighthouse is nine metres high, but instead of cast iron, it is constructed from masonry and the tower is square. The lantern house on top is white. The new lighthouse’s elevation is 87 metres above sea level, giving it a range of visibility of 32 nautical miles. The fully automatic light flashes three times every 30 seconds, and there is a subsidiary red light in the base of the lighthouse facing towards Anvil and Bellows Rock. This light is only visible from the sea, if you go around Cape Point to the western side of Cape Point.

On 11 March 1919 the new lighthouse was commissioned (put into service). The view from this lighthouse covers a full 353 degrees, with seven degrees obscured by Da Gama Peak behind it. It was manned for a time, but is now automated.

Getting closer to the new lighthouse
Getting closer to the new lighthouse

The public is not allowed to visit the new lighthouse, or even to get particularly close to it. It can be viewed from a viewpoint at the end of the Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail, a highly recommended short walk from the old lighthouse at Cape Point. Along the way you will see the remains of World War II bunkers and a radar station, and you will traverse the most fantastically narrow ridge of rock (in perfect safety). The wind is likely to be extremely strong, whatever time of year you go – dress accordingly. Also note that the walk does not take nearly as long as is suggested by the signage at the start. It is approximately one kilometre each way.

View from the old lighthouse towards the new one
View from the old lighthouse towards the new one

As usual, everything I know about this lighthouse that I didn’t learn by looking at it (i.e. most everything), is thanks to Gerald Hoberman’s wonderful Lighthouses of South Africa book.

The old Cape Point lighthouse

The old lighthouse at Cape Point
The old lighthouse at Cape Point

The old Cape Point lighthouse was commissioned 1 May 1860. A nine metre cast iron structure (same fabrication as the Slangkop lighthouse), it is painted white. The designer of the lighthouse did not visit the site, and decided that the weight of the nine metre high cast iron tower would be sufficient to keep it anchored in place without a foundation. Fortunately the construction supervisor was well appraised of the strong winds that blow year-round at Cape Point, and decided to bolt the tower to the rocks.

Southern face of the old Cape Point light
Southern face of the old Cape Point light

The lighthouse was built 262 metres above sea level – the highest practical elevation at which it could be situated. On a clear evening, the light was visible for up to 36 nautical miles. Much of the time, however, it was hidden under the blanket of fog and low-lying cloud that frequently bedevils Cape Point. The Lusitania was wrecked on Bellows Rock, below Cape Point, on just such a foggy night in 1911.

In 1919 a new lighthouse was commissioned, lower down the cliffs from the old light. This light, combined with the Slangkoppunt lighthouse, would do the job that the old light was supposed to do. The old lighthouse is now a watch room with a communications centre and lighthouse monitoring system.

It is not open to the public, but if you wish to walk around it and admire the spectacular views, it can be found at the top of the hill (or take the funicular if the power isn’t switched off for load shedding) above the main parking area at Cape Point.

Plaque commemorating period of operation of the lighthouse
Plaque commemorating period of operation of the lighthouse

As usual, everything I know about this lighthouse that I didn’t learn by looking at it (i.e. most everything), is thanks to Gerald Hoberman’s wonderful Lighthouses of South Africa book.

Visible shipwrecks: MFV Harvest Capella

The rocky peninsula at the northern end of Maori Bay, on the opposite side of the bay to the MV BOS 400 crane barge wreck, is called Oude Schip. It can be reached by walking and bouldering from Llandudno, or, as we (predictably) prefer, on a boat ride out of Hout Bay. We are usually in the area with the aim of diving the wrecks of the Maori, the Oakburn or the BOS 400.

High and dry at Oude Schip
High and dry at Oude Schip

On the rocks at Oude Schip are the remains of a Sea Harvest fishing vessel called MFV Harvest Capella. This 44 metre long diesel trawler ran aground in early October 1987, apparently during a south easterly gale. There are some pictures of her aground here and here.

MFV Harvest Capella at Oude Schip
MFV Harvest Capella at Oude Schip

Over the years, part of her bow has been pushed right up onto the rocks by the force of the waves. At the same time it has been breaking up, and perhaps in a few years will be almost indiscernible. The wreckage is quite unstable, and not really suitable for clambering about in any more.

MFV Harvest Capella on the rocks behind our boat
MFV Harvest Capella on the rocks behind our boat

Next time you’re in the area, ask your boat skipper to take you towards the rocks on the Sandy Bay side of Oude Schip to see how the Harvest Capella is looking these days!

Newsletter: Roll on summer

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Early double tank dive, weather permitting

Spring is around the corner and we are still waiting for the weeks of crystal clean water we should have in False Bay. There have been very few real winter visibility days this winter. (I may have had this complaint last winter too…)

Buffels Bay at Cape Point
Buffels Bay at Cape Point

The weekend looks to be another let’s wait and see situation. Tomorrow’s wind should improve the visibility, which is currently not that great, for some good diving early on Saturday. By midday on Saturday the wind is strong and on Sunday it will be close to gale force. I hope to launch early on Saturday for a double tank dive but it’s low tide at 9.00 and there is a forecast 3 metre, 14 second swell so deeper sites will be better. I would imagine that the Roman Rock area will be our best bet. Text or mail me if you want to be on the list for Saturday and I will make a call tomorrow afternoon.

The wharf street parking at the Simon’s Town jetty is a paid parking area again from tomorrow. A slip is placed on your car when you arrive… Make sure the time is recorded correctly.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Duelling seasons

Hi divers

Weekend dives

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.

Windmill Beach in better days
Windmill Beach in better days

Dive plans

Stay dry on Saturday, launch from Simon’s Town jetty on 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.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Surf, then dive

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

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.

Briefing at Fisherman's Beach
Briefing at Fisherman’s Beach

Thanks to Jan de Bruyn who took this picture of the boat last Friday, when I was out in False Bay!

Boating in False Bay, pic by Jan de Bruyn
Boating in False Bay, pic by Jan de Bruyn

Surfing

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?)!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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