Seahorse in our driveway

The decision to operate a dive boat

Depending on where you are in the world and the coastline you frequent most, owning a dive boat is sometimes optional, and there are several factors to consider. If you were in KZN, shore diving is almost non existent due to the coastline and the unsheltered beaches. If you had a dive centre there without a boat it would be virtually impossible to offer much in the way of diving or training. Here in Cape Town there are quite a number of shore entries and these sites can fulfil most of the training requirements for a range of courses.

For any of the more advanced courses the depths close to shore don’t meet the criteria set by the certification agencies, and in order to reach the deeper sites a boat is required. For example the PADI Advanced course requires you aim for a maximum depth of 30 metres. The best wrecks for a Wreck Specialty require a boat ride. The most popular wreck for wreck penetration is the Aster which lies in the middle of Hout Bay and again is only accessible by boat. Whilst Cape Town boasts well over 100 dive sites the vast majority are boat dives, and in fact only a handful of the shore dives are relatively easy entries whilst most require a scramble down a bank and back up that bank at the end of a dive. Some also require a surface swim of over 100 meters. Whilst these sites are easy for the accomplished diver, a novice diver, already intimidated by all the new info being crammed into a dive course, doesn’t always find the rocky entries and exits a blast.

In Cape Town many dive operators don’t own boats and instead use the services of other centres or dive charters. This has certain benefits in that there are none of the associated costs and time consuming tasks related to boating and the dive is over once you kit is off loaded, whereas when operating a boat the dives are only over once the boat is home, washed, fuelled and ready for the next dive.

We found that using the services of other centres and boat charters had the disadvantage of seldom being able to choose the site or the launch times and this makes student dive planning a little more difficult. Co-ordinating the change of divers, equipment and dive planning becomes difficult if the first and second launches have students at different levels.

Seahorse in our driveway
Seahorse in our driveway

In addition to this, I have owned sailing vessels and boats for many years and love spending time on the water. In view of the usefulness to our dive school and the enjoyment we would get from boating, we decided that the right thing was for us to buy a boat when we were able to. The result was Seahorse, acquired at the end of March 2012. Since then we have enjoyed many boat dives off our own boat, and had many happy hours exploring False Bay.

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Tony

Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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