The Christmas weekend has arrived and our gifts this year include some good visibility and a the cowsharks being back at Millers Point. We hope to launch tomorrow, if the wind and rain are a bit milder than the forecast, and again on Saturday.
Then it is eating and napping time for a day or two, and we will plan to dive again on Tuesday, most likely in the Atlantic. If you’d like to do some festive season diving during the next week or so, let me know.
We would like to wish you all a good end of year rest, and merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. Thanks for the support and friendship, and we look forward to a diving-filled 2017.
We seem set for a week of pleasant conditions. That rates as a good early Christmas present in my book. On Saturday and Sunday we will launch from Simon’s Town early to finish a few Advanced and Nitrox courses.
On Monday we will do shore dives to continue with Open Water courses, and the rest of the week will be for fun diving. Let me know where you want to go and when you’re free, and I will see if we can make it happen.
Stuck for Christmas presents? Check out our 2015 gift guide. It’s still pretty fresh, but to it I would add Into a Raging Sea, by Andrew Ingram and Tony Weaver, commemorating 50 years of the NSRI. Available at all good bookshops!
First up, let me refer those of you who are truly bloody-minded Christmas shoppers to the gift guides from previous years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. This one draws heavily upon all of those, and you may safely skip the past editions unless you really want lashings of Christmas gifting cheer. I am tempted to say, as usual, that if you haven’t started thinking about this already, you’ve left it too late… But prove me wrong. (Plus, I’m publishing the gift guide a bit earlier than I usually do – you’ve got a month to get busy.)
For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful, consider a donation on behalf of your friend or loved one:
We’ve really got our money’s worth from our Wild Card this year. It has been used for multiple entries to Cape Point, for De Hoop, and for one or two other trips, and paid for itself in a few months. The full card is a bit pricey, but there’s a great alternative called My Green Card, that costs R110 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 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.
A DVD – either a movie, a series box set, or a documentary – is not a bad gift idea!
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.
If you take your own photos, you could print and frame a couple, create a photo book (Orms can help with this if you don’t know where to start), or experiment with stretched canvas prints if that’s your thing. A digital photo frame pre-loaded with underwater images is also a lovely gift for a diving friend.
Dive gear and useful stuff
Smaller items of gear such as cutting tools, masks, clips and other accessories won’t break the bank. Contact Tony for some ideas and suggestions as to what to get and where to find it.
You can order a WetSac online (seriously, check it out). Otherwise, a fabulous hooded towel that will be the envy of everyone at the dive site can be obtained from one of the surf shops (try Lifestyle Surf Shop and just walk in there with your head up like you don’t care you’re not a surfer) next to Primi Piatti at Muizenberg.
Otherwise, just think a little bit about what might be useful before or after a dive. Sunscreen, deep conditioner, cleansing shampoo, a mini dry bag, a beanie for cold days on the boat,
Several years ago the wonderful Tami gave me a WETSAC for my birthday. It sounds like something squishy and perhaps offensive, but in fact it is a marvel of ingenuity and designed to improve the lives of divers and surfers and outdoorsmen everywhere. She bought it at a craft market in Hout Bay, and both of us have been hunting for a retailer of this product since then. Recently, I struck it lucky with a well phrased google search (something like “wet bag”).
How many times have you struggled out of your wetsuit on a rough surface (Miller’s Point parking area and Hout Bay harbour, I’m looking at you), hurting your feet, standing on the neoprene and pressing it into the tar? You’re damaging yourself and your gear! Then you toss the dripping, smelly wetsuit into the back of your car – into a box, if you’re organised – and hope it doesn’t spray seawater and bits of grit from the parking area everywhere while you drive home.
WETSAC is here to help. Essentially a mat that converts into a waterproof bag, it comprises a circular piece of tough fabric with a drawstring around the edge. You stand on it to get out of your suit, throw in your gloves, hoodie and booties, then step off and pull the drawstring tight. Toss the bag into your divemobile and don’t worry about remnants of your diving and changing adventures ending up all over the boot. It is beyond convenient. Plus, you can buy it online. Make a note for next Christmas!
(I was not compensated in any way for this post… The thing is just geninuely nifty!)
First up, merry Christmas (to those who celebrate it) and happy new year (to all of you who adhere to the Gregorian calendar). I hope the new year brings you all you wish for, and some good diving.
The past ten days or so have been hard times for Cape Town divers as huge swell, howling winds and lousy visibility have meant a lot of days that feel wasted -after all mowing the lawn or painting the house are hardly substitutes for diving. A handful of people have dived various sites without any reports of decent conditions. We drove from Chapman’s Peak to Millers Point almost every day watching and waiting for a change in the conditions.
They have finally started to change. For most of the day we have had a light south westerly wind and for the next few days there is more west (in the very light winds) than anything else. Although it won’t turn the viz into 15 metres, it will improve as the weekend and early part of next week progresses. Its not the time of year for 20 metre viz but the water is 20 degrees in False Bay and if the visibility is 5+ metres then diving is quite enjoyable!
We are spending the next few days diving in False Bay. We are going to finalise the boat diving sites on the day as it is difficult to be sure where the best conditions will be. If you want to dive, make your selection from the top of this newsletter, and reply to this mail or text me.
We are turning our minds to travel plans for the next 12 (and a bit) months. In June we plan to go to Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique, to dive the reefs there, which teem with life. Dates for this trip will be confirmed in the next few weeks. In the mean time, start saving! For this trip, you will need to be a confident boat diver.
Sometime in the first few months of 2016 (a stretch, I know) we plan to do a Maldives liveaboard trip with dive guide Becky and her husband Al from our last Red Sea trip. We will do this trip on the same basis as our Red Sea trip in 2013: we will tell you the dates we’ll be on board, and you book your own berths. Dates for this trip will be confirmed not earlier than the end of March, but you can start budgeting in the mean time. To get the full benefit from this trip you will need to be an Advanced diver with a Nitrox Specialty under your belt.
Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the massive Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The quake’s epicentre was off the coast of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and triggered a massive tsunami with waves over 30 metres high. 230,000 people in coastal communities around the Indian Ocean lost their lives, with most of the fatalities occuring in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. The scale of the devastation is hard to explain; there are plenty of videos to be found online, showing the sea receding and then rushing back, far inland, with unimaginable force. The coastline was reshaped, modified, and entire towns were razed to the ground.
A year after the event, the New York Times published a series of articles about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and they are well worth reading, today especially. Their author, Barry Bearak, spoke to survivors of the tsunami, and wrote down their stories. He outlines the hard-to-understand calculus of natural disasters (and life itself) in the first article in the series:
But the disposition of who lived and who died was more than a matter of distance from the sea. Indeed, some people lived for the very reasons others died. They were in one part of the city when they ordinarily would have been in another. Some were fortuitously late, others disastrously early. Survival was decided by which road taken, which stairs climbed, which hand held. Once in the grip of the waves, hurled and churned through the malign darkness, some made it through the gantlet of deadly debris. And some did not.
What about a day trip to Cape Point, a donation to a worthy cause on behalf of your loved one (the NSRI is always first on our list), an underwater photo shoot, or (if you take photographs or can find a photographer whose work you like and isn’t too expensive) a framed or mounted picture of some of our local marine life?
You can also refer to Christmas gift guides from previous years (2011, 2012 and 2013) for more ideas. Be safe this festive season!
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.
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.
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.
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!