Christmas gift guide 2018

Chaps, Festivus (for those of you who find tinsel distracting) is around the corner. This year, as a principle, the gifts that I’m giving to the people I care about are skewed towards experiences, and when they are things, I’m trying to make them beautiful things that will enable my chums to live more sustainable lives.

Before I get going, however, can I point you to this excellent, far more comprehensive, far more inspired gifting guide over at twyg? Their first suggestion is “don’t gift at all”, and this is probably something well worth considering, if it won’t cause a domestic diplomatic incident.

Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)
Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)

Here’s a quick list of ideas in case you’re struggling.

An experience

A dive course or boat dive with Tony, a family photo shoot, a day out at Cape Point or up Table Mountain in the cable car, a digital magazine or streaming television subscription – use your imagination!

Something water wise

It’s likely that most of us will never, in good conscience, be able to resume watering our gardens the way we used to. For this reason, water wise plants are high on my list of excellent gifts for keen gardeners. For ideas of what plants to choose, your local nursery will help, or you and the avid coastal gardener in your life can consult this excellent book.

Something to minimise waste

  • A set of stainless steel or glass straws (Sustainable.co.za is one stockist), glass or copper straws (check out EbonyMoon for these), or a pack of paper or other biodegradeable straws to keep at home and/or carry around like a dork for use at restaurants.
  • A reusable coffee cup – Seattle Coffee Company sells beautiful Keep Cups, as do Vida e Caffe and many supermarkets. ecoffee cup sells beautiful bamboo cups, with a range of designs to choose from.
  • A reusable shopping bag – most supermarkets stock bags of some description, as does Faithful to Nature. 3friends has beautiful Shweshwe printed bags that are very special. We should all have a reusable shopping bag in our handbags, as well as several in the car.
  • A bokashi bin, which you can find at Builders Warehouse or at many nurseries. Don’t be grossed out – we have significantly improved the soil quality in our garden, and don’t put out any food waste or scraps with our garbage any more, thanks to diligent use of this nifty indoor composter!

Something to lift up someone else

Some deserving, marine-related recipients of a donation on your friend’s behalf are:

There are many more excellent non profits than just these three, and so much need, but do your research carefully. My rule of thumb is, if the founder’s face is plastered everywhere and it looks more like a personality cult than an NPO, it’s not a cause that I want to give my bucks to.

A donation of time is a way to do something great, and spend time with someone you care about. Promising to join a friend for a beach cleanup followed by a coffee (in your reusable cup, your treat) gives a gift to the planet, and the gift of time to someone you value. To find a local clean up, follow the Beach Co-Op (facebook) and Cape Town Beach Clean Up (facebook). The Two Oceans Aquarium also arranges periodic beach cleans. (Non-Capetonians, facebook and google search are your friend.)

Looking back

Previous years’ gift guides, which contain some good ideas – if I say so myself:

  • 2017 – for info on Wild Cards or My Green Cards, small specific gifts for divers and water people
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013 – for info on gift ideas for readers
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010

Be safe, be kind, be frugal, be wise! Thanks for reading.

Newsletter: Better than nothing

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday and/or Sunday: Boat dives in False Bay

The forecast today is a little better for the weekend than it was earlier this week. There is some wind and some odd swell and swell direction changes but I believe it should be worth diving both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday will most likely be a little better. I have students on the boat on both days so there is not much space, however, if you are quick you can reserve a spot!

Zandvlei Nature Reserve
Zandvlei Nature Reserve

Things to do

It’s not as if one needs to actively seek out extra commitments at this time of year, but in case you’re at a loose end check out Wavescape’s Slide Night happening on Monday (you need to book in advance for this). You can get some adult education at UCT’s annual Summer School in January, and there’s something for you whether your interest is sharks or shipwrecks.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Places to go

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach at 8.30 am

Sunday: Meeting at 9.00 am on the Simon’s Town jetty for boat dives (20-30 metres’ depth for Advanced divers)

Weekend conditions look decent. I have both Open Water students and Advanced students to certify, so I will tentatively plan shore dives at Long Beach on Saturday at 8.30 am, to be home in time for the rain…

And boat dives for Sunday at 9.00 am on the Simon’s Town jettySunday’s dives will be in the 20-30 metre range as there is some swell, so we will hide from the surge at depth.

Baboon on the beach at Platboom near Cape Point
Baboon on the beach at Platboom near Cape Point

Water

I hope you’re still exerting yourself and thinking independently and responsibly about your own future water security. Here’s this week’s Wednesday Water File from the WWF, which deals with South Africa’s water sources.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Keep up the good work

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives… which side of the peninsula to be confirmed!

Both Saturday and Sunday have fairly decent weather forecasts. The question will be whether the visibility is better in False Bay or Hout Bay. I will go with diving on Sunday, doing two launches. The first will be for Advanced students, second for Open Water divers. I will decide tomorrow late afternoon where to go. Shout if you’re keen to dive.

Ark Rock
Ark Rock

Water

The WWF’s Wednesday Water File this week is about carrying on our water saving ways, even though the situation for the rest of the year has apparently improved (or, an election looms large). There are some great “dry hygiene” tips to help you to keep under the 50 litres per person per day limit. Read all of them here.

Citizen scientists unite!

Are you interested in how you can contribute to science as an ordinary citizen? We’ve shared some local ideas here and here… And now there’s a Citizen Science Fair taking place at Kirstenbosch on 14-15 April. Here’s a link to the event on facebook. Learn about how you can get involved in adding to scientific knowledge, which enables better conservation management decisions and protection of the biodiversity around us. I’ll remind you again of this event closer to the time.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Newsletter: Ready to go

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Atlantic boat dives

Sunday: False Bay boat dives

There is little doubt that both Saturday and Sunday will be good for diving. It may be better in the cold Atlantic on Saturday and the warmer, green False Bay on Sunday. At a guess I would say Saturday is likely to be the better of the two but both days should deliver some nice visibility.

I have a bunch of Open Water and Advanced students to qualify so sites will be chosen based on who can dive, and when. Let me know if you are keen to join us.

Desalination plant site at Strandfontein
Desalination plant site at Strandfontein

Water!

This week’s Wednesday Water File is extremely interesting: all about desalination. Read it here.

regards

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

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Responsible diving during a drought part 1: Your dive gear

It is no secret that Cape Town is a little low on water. The coastal dive industry, even though we spend a lot of time in the ocean, is actually quite a heavy user of fresh water. Everything thing you learn about taking care of your equipment revolves around the phrase “rinse well with clean water.” Clearly this is not an option in Cape Town at the moment

Dive gear in the driveway
Dive gear in the driveway

So how do you maintain your dive gear and keep it in safe condition during such circumstances? For a dive centre or training facility the volume of gear that needs cleaning can be overwhelming at the end of the day. Here are a few suggestions on how to manage.

No matter how well you de-kit after a shore dive, wet dive gear tends to collect sand. (You can minimise this by using something like the Wetsac, but this isn’t always an option with my students.) I take the gear back into the ocean and rinse it as well as I can in the shallows. This involves several trips as wet dive gear is heavy.

Wetsuits are rugged and don’t too much mind being left salty. They do end up being a little crispy after a while, but the most important, non-negotiable aspect is hygiene. I take a spray bottle with a mixture of Savlon or Dettol and spray the inside of the salty wet suit, then let it dry. Gloves, booties, hoodies and rash vests get the same treatment.

Regulators get a similar treatment, without the disinfectant. I give them an overall light spray with warm water in a spray bottle, with a good spray into the mouth piece. The inflator hose nipple also needs to be rinsed well as this does not handle salt build-up too well and could get stuck during a dive (at best, annoying… at worst, life-threatening).

Cameras, dive computers, torches and compasses do need a little more care, but fortunately are relatively small and have lesser water requirements. I use a narrow, tall bucket and put the bucket in the shower. While showering you can easily catch enough water to cover these items…. Seldom more than a litre is required, and you can leave them to soak.

The biggest challenge is a BCD. Again, it is a tough and rugged piece of gear, but the inflator mechanism does not like salt build up. Using the same bucket of water used for the camera and dive computers, I soak the inflators overnight. I then connect an airline and inflate and deflate the BCD to help flush out the valves behind the inflate/deflate buttons.

Whilst such basic, minimalistic care for your dive gear is not as thorough as that recommended by the manufacturer, it is a method of extending the use of your gear when the availability of fresh water is close to zero. As a rule I prefer to only have two students per class and can effectively wash three sets of gear in less than three litres of water.

It goes without saying that as soon as it rains, you should be collecting that water to give your gear the long, luxurious soak it deserves (and probably needs by that stage)!

On the reef in Sodwana

We wrap up the videos from Sodwana with a couple of clips showing everyday life on the reef. Both these videos were filmed on a beautiful dive on Pinnacles, Two Mile Reef, which was strangely not marred by an absolute circus of an Open Water course that was being conducted in the vicinity. (Pinnacles is a popular training site.) Despite antics which included two people’s weight belts coming loose at the same time, we were able to stay away from that chaos and to enjoy some incredible reef life. (Perhaps I will share some footage of the weight belt fiasco when a suitable amount of time has passed.)

Clown triggerfish having a munch
Clown triggerfish having a munch

First up, a clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspiccillum) going about his business on the reef. These fish are fantastic looking, and if you ask Sophie nicely, she will show you the hand signal for them, which requires both hands to be free.

Here’s pair of barred filefish (Cantherhines dumerilii) at Pinnacles:

Newsletter: Up to all of us

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Shore dives at Long Beach

The wind, strong as it has been, has not been from the right direction to create favourable diving conditions. The Atlantic needs good solid south easterly winds and there has not been enough of that yet. Tomorrow and Saturday are forecast to offer up wind from the right direction, but a 3.5 metre southerly swell will make for bumpy conditions even if the water cleans up.

This leaves us with False Bay. The swell direction is not one that is kind to False Bay so I think I will skip boat launches and plan shore dives at sheltered Long Beach on Sunday.

I will also be shore diving with students on Monday and Tuesday. Fun divers are welcome to join us as long as you’re happy to let me focus on my students. If you’re keen to get wet, let me know.

Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach
Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach

Water

I trust that all of you are doing your very very best to save water and that you are thinking about and making plans for Day Zero, which seems more likely than not by this point. The WWF has started a helpful weekly publication to assist everyone through this period – read the first one here (pdf).

regards

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

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Newsletter: Happy Blue Year

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Launching from False Bay Yacht Club at 8am for a Smitswinkel Bay wreck / at 10.30 am for cowsharks

African penguin at Boulders
African penguin at Boulders

I’m launching early on Saturday for a student dive to one of the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks, and at 10.30 am for (most likely) cowsharks. They’ve been spotted by a couple of reliable witnesses this week!

The boat is already almost full, but if you’d like a spot let me know as soon as possible. We may also be able to go out on Sunday – let me know if you’d like to dive.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Conflicting signs

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives at 10am

The forecasts are conflicted as to whether the weekend’s wind will be manageable or hectic. Saturday looks like the better option and it is too early to rule out the Atlantic. Currently it is green off Long Beach in Noordhoek and the CSIR buoy shows the temperature climbing – not good prospects – but if the south easter picks up it will change.

Heron in the Simon's Town yacht basin
Heron in the Simon’s Town yacht basin

My plan is to launch early on Saturday as I have a Junior Open Water diver who needs to get a handle on backward rolls before vacation time. I will most likely hide in the yacht basin for that. Thereafter we can go anywhere we choose… If the weather permits. So, if you are on the list you will get an update from me at around 7.30am on Saturday, and if its a go, we will leave from the Jetty at 10.00am. Want to get on the list? Let me know!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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