Under Simon's Town jetty

Exploring: Simon’s Town Harbour

Tony and I have been itching to dive the jetty in front of Bertha’s for some time. We enjoy eating take away dinners on the steps there, and watching the fishermen trying to catch squid for bait in the evenings. We finally found time while on honeymoon, and went there with Kate to see what we could find.

Not a good place to surface carelessly
Not a good place to surface carelessly

Despite being told by an officious member of the public that what we were doing was HIGHLY ILLEGAL and that we would get RUN OVER BY A BOAT (which became a possiblity when we found ourselves in a metre of water in front of a slipway at one point) or worse, blasted out of the water with space lasers and locked up in lead-lined cells for the rest of our lives, the Navy Ops Room were totally chilled about it when we called them.

Under Simon's Town jetty
Under Simon's Town jetty

We did giant strides in from the steps on the left hand side of the jetty. The tide was out, so the bottom few steps were green and very slippery. A small crowd of onlookers gathered to observe us. We had hoped to spend much of the dive under the jetty, but when we got in a very strong current and mounds of sea lettuce – the most irritating plant in the world – caused us to ditch that plan and swim around the jetty and to the west, towards the exit of the yacht basin.

Sign in Simon's Town yacht basin
Sign in Simon's Town yacht basin

The visibility was good, and the sea lettuce was only intermittently annoying. We met lots of klipfish, some very friendly. Only one shyshark made an appearance, but large numbers of abalone colonise the rocks and tyres down there. It’s not as full of litter as I’d expect – I suppose I should have learned my lesson about how clean harbours can be with our Robben Island dive – and everything that is lying in the water has been heavily encrusted with coralline algae and sea plants.

Friendly klipfish coming in for a look
Friendly klipfish coming in for a look

We spent most of the dive at around 2 metres – it was low tide and it’s not deep there at all. Under the jetty we found enormous false plum anemones, fanworms, and some very interesting encrustations on the pillars.By the end of the dive the current had lessened, and the conditions there were much more suited to a leisurely exploration.

False plum anemone (and sea lettuce) under the jetty
False plum anemone (and sea lettuce) under the jetty

Getting out took a bit of thought and acrobatics (fortunately no audience except for the self-appointed policewoman of Simon’s Town) because the tide had gone so far out that we couldn’t get onto the bottom step of our entry point without taking our kit off, climbing a small ladder, walking along a crossbeam, and stepping from there onto the step, which was covered in green slime.

To get out, we climbed up the ladder...
To get out, we climbed up the ladder...
... walked along the crossbeam...
... walked along the crossbeam...
... and up the steps
... and up the steps

Verdict: This is definitely a site to be dived just before high tide, much like the Knysna lagoon, to facilitate entry and exit and to ensure that you aren’t fighting the current the whole time.

Dive date: 01 December 2010

Air temperature: 28 degrees

Water temperature: 16 degrees

Maximum depth: 3.4 metres

Visibility: 6 metres

Dive duration: 56 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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