North Battery Pipeline entry point

Exploring: North Battery Pipeline

Tony has been eyeing the pipeline just south of the Lower North Battery (that collection of navy buildings with gun turrets on the Main Road just before you get into Simon’s Town) for some time. It’s north of Long Beach and further north than the wreck of the Brunswick. Even though I was coming down with what turned out to be a vicious bout of flu, I was determined to get in the water (I reckoned I was getting sick anyway…) so we went exploring one Sunday morning in midwinter.

We parked the cars on the southern side of the North Battery – there’s a little driveway and we pulled them out of the way onto the grass (here it is on Google Maps). There’s also space for just one car, pulled right off the road, right above the entry point. From there it’s a bit of a walk along the pavement, down a slope, over the railway line and then down to where the pipeline starts. You can see the single-car space next to the piece of fence, and below it the start of the pipeline to the left of the rocky outcrop in this image from Google Maps.

The entry isn’t too bad. There’s a barnacle-encrusted concrete promontory that we sat on to put our fins on, and then (theoretically) dropped forwards into the water, which was just over waist deep. While putting on my fins I got washed over backwards onto the wrong side of the promontory (thank you for my thick wetsuit!) but that turned out to be fine, as it was sheltered, and eventually I managed to get clear of the swell and kelp with a little bit of effort.

North Battery Pipeline entry point
North Battery Pipeline entry point

We followed the pipeline straight out to sea. It’s not very long, but quite undisturbed, with lots of abalone and rock lobsters. There are one or two leaks in the pipeline, emitting a brownish liquid whose origins we preferred not to speculate on… it looked warm, or oily, because it shimmered a bit before mixing with the surrounding water. Tony thought it might be mountain water (tannins causing the brown colour). Hope so. Right at the end of the pipeline the visibility got really poor from all the stuff flowing out, so we turned south.

It’s all sand south of the pipeline, with lots of beautiful anemones and countless sluggish puffer fish buried in the sand. We turned after a hundred metres or so, and swam back closer in to shore. There we found what looks like the remains of a ship – four or five big rusty bits of iron sticking out of the sand in relatively shallow water. I don’t think it’s part of the Brunswick – I think we were too far north – but it could be.

Verdict: Glad we checked it out. Lots to see on the pipeline (good for macro photography) but be careful about the poor visibility at places. Curious about the bits of ship (I assume) inshore, south of the pipeline.

Dive date: 18 July 2010

Air temperature: 17 degrees

Water temperature: 12 degrees

Maximum depth: 6.5 metres

Visibility: 5 metres

Dive duration: 30 minutes

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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