Christmas gift guide 2017

I wondered when I’d need a picture of a glass of champagne next to some dive gear; this post feels like as good a time as any to use it. I feel obligated to explain that the champagne was being consumed on our pool deck during the course of a late afternoon fool around in and next to the pool with some of my friends. The dive gear was still lying there from a class Tony had led that morning. The juxtaposition was too much to resist.

Don't drink and dive
Don’t drink and dive

That said, it’s time to think about Christmas, Hanukkah, and time off with the family. Some may even celebrate Festivus. I salute you. Regardless, it’s a good time to give gifts to the people you care about. Some suggestions follow below.

First, here are the obligatory links to previous years’ editions of this guide: 20102011201220132014, 2015. Unfortunately, 2016 was an annus horribilis best left undiscussed. As usual, this year’s guide owes much to previous versions. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Donations

For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful, consider a donation on behalf of your friend or loved one:

Experiences

Don’t forget to add a memory card for the lucky recipient’s camera if you plan to gift any of these! Contact Tony for prices.

For the non diver, you could inspire a love for our oceans with one of these:

As usual our Wild Card was an absolute blessing this year. It has been used for multiple park visits and also gets us a discount on our toll fee on Chapmans Peak Drive‘s frequent user program. The full card is a bit pricey, but there’s a great alternative called My Green Card, that costs R145 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 I think 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.

SanParks is introducing differential pricing for Table Mountain National Park, with significantly lower prices for locals, starting next November, so some mathematics will be required this time next year to determine whether a Wild Card is still worth the expense.

Something to read

Everything you need to know about finding a book related to the ocean can be discovered in our list of most recommended books, and our guide to finding the book you need (on this blog, at least!). There are a couple of children’s books there, too.

A magazine subscription is also a fairly reasonably-priced gift idea. I can’t tell you which of the dive magazines are worth reading these days – our current subscriptions are Maritime Review (which is free, so that’s perhaps cheating) and CAR magazine…

Something beautiful

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 or Noordhoek Farm Village (just browse the shops there, one of them has the tide charts right at the door).

You could also print and frame a photo, or create a photo book. Most camera stores can assist with a range of printing media.

Dive gear and water-related stuff

Some excellent water-related gifts I’ve received over the years include:

 

  • WetSac (seriously, check it out) – order online
  • A hooded towel – surf shops often stock them, try the strip at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg
  • A stand up paddle boarding lesson
  • A reel and/or a surface marker buoy – make sure it’s one of the ones that isn’t negatively buoyant

Otherwise, just think a little bit about what might be useful before or after a dive…

  • Sunscreen, conditioner, cleansing shampoo, detangling spray
  • A reusable metal water bottle (glass is a bad idea for the boat)
  • A mini dry bag to keep phones and keys safe
  • A beanie for cold days on the boat or a cap for the sun, or a buff for hair management or neck protection (the Aquarium sometimes sells turtle ones to fundraise for their turtle rehab)
Be safe, be kind, be lekker. Thank you for your friendship and for the dives!

Scuba diving parties for kids

Learning to snorkel
Learning to snorkel

Earlier this month we hosted a scuba diving birthday party in our pool, for a group of extremely excited eight year olds. It was a slightly chaotic but enormously enjoyable day! The boys first mastered the use of snorkels, making drawings on slates while submerged. We were impressed by how well they took to skin diving, and they rocketed up and down the pool like sea otters.

After that they tried out scuba gear, and we were amused by the various ways they found to enjoy themselves. One of the boys kept inflating his BCD because he liked the sound the over-pressure valve made. Another made foamy fountains of water by purging his octo in the shallows. Others seemed to feel like Jacques Cousteau as they explored the pool! We taught them how to inflate an SMB using their spare regulator, and brought out our collection of underwater cameras for them to take innumerable selfies and group portraits that they could take home with them.

Parties like this are ideal for small groups of four to six participants, as they are supervision-intensive and a small group lets each child fully enjoy their turn to try out scuba gear under the supervision of the instructor. A little bit of advance planning is recommended for the purposes of paperwork, so get in touch sooner rather than later if you think this is something your child might enjoy. We can conduct the event in your swimming pool at home if it’s less than two metres deep, or at our pool. We have conducted a similar event at the Virgin Active gym, but that requires special permission. Be warned, the scuba diving bug might bite!

Sketching on slates
Sketching on slates

The PADI Bubblemakers and Seal Team programs are designed for kids aged 8-10, and enable them to master the use of scuba gear in the swimming pool. You can read more about those programs on the PADI website. From the age of 10, children can obtain a Junior Open Water qualification, which upgrades to a full Open Water qualification when they turn 15.

I’ve carefully chosen these photos so you can’t identify the kids, hence their mixed quality! The big kid with the silver hair is Tony.

Thinking of learning to scuba dive? Read this!

Student dives in Maori Bay
Student dives in Maori Bay

This blog has been going for a while, and there’s some content that I’d like to revive – all in one place – as a handy guide for people who are considering learning to dive.

Once you’ve made the decision to learn to scuba dive, you may wonder how to shop for a dive course. If you’re doing it just on price, I think you’re doing it wrong. Scuba diving is a sport with inherent risks, like paragliding or rock climbing. Do you really want to base your decision purely on how much it costs…?

Should you go and buy yourself a full set of dive gear before you do your course (or worse – I made this mistake – as a package with your Open Water course)? Read about whether you should or shouldn’t buy gear, and if you do decide to go ahead, there are some tips on shopping for dive gear that might be helpful.

What’s the difference between the Scuba Diver and Open Water courses? There is a difference, and you should be aware of it!

Many people ask whether children can learn to scuba dive. The short answer is yes – from the age of eight, in the swimming pool, and from age 10 in the ocean. More information can be found in this post about scuba diving for kids.

We also have a bunch of other frequently asked questions, some of which might help you on your way:

Does one need to be a good swimmer in order to scuba dive?

Which certification agency (PADI, NAUI, SSI, SDI, etc) is best?

Should one learn to dive before going on a dive trip, or on the trip itself?

Can one scuba dive in winter?

Isn’t it too cold to dive in Cape Town?

 

 

Newsletter: Blown out but not down

Hi divers

Weekend dives

Saturday: Launching from Hout Bay to visit the BOS 400 and the seals at Duiker Island

Sunday: Launching from FBYC to visit the sevengill cowsharks at Shark Alley, and Roman Rock

Dive conditions

I was hoping to claim having just got home from a night dive in this newsletter, but alas the howling wind put paid to that. Never mind, we will try again in a couple of weeks’ time. 

The weekend forecast looks good and Saturday will be the better day. I wouldn’t expect incredible visibility but it will certainly be better than the 2-3 metres we have had this week. Let me know by text or email if you’d like to join us for a dive this weekend.

Seal Team in the pool
Seal Team in the pool

The conditions last weekend were not great for diving, so we spent the day on Saturday conducting a Seal Team scuba party for an eight year old’s birthday. Four kids in the pool at a time, each with one of our cameras, and a very amusing set of photos.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Scuba diving for kids

Underwater exploration in the pool
Underwater exploration in the pool
  • Are you looking for a way to keep your family busy during the school holidays?
  • Do you enjoy being outdoors and exploring the beautiful environment around us?
  • Would your child benefit from the sense of achievement that comes from mastering a new set of skills, and the enjoyment that comes from spending time in the ocean?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, read on!

It is a little known fact that children as young as 10 years old can qualify as scuba divers, allowing them to dive with a certified adult diver or scuba instructor. It’s often easier for children to learn the new skills that are associated with scuba diving, because they listen and imitate well, they usually don’t have a lot of built-in hang ups and fears, and it’s really exciting for them to be learning something new.

Kids aged 8-9 are too young to become certified divers, but there is a choice of programs available that allow them to experience breathing underwater in the safe, controlled environment of a swimming pool. If the bug bites, they can complete the course to become fully qualified Junior Open Water divers once they turn 10.

Scuba diving is a great activity for the family to do together – I have taught family groups comprising parents and children, and it’s always a lot of fun. Alternatively, if your kids are keen to dive but you would rather sunbathe on the beach or go for a run with the dogs, that’s also fine! I conduct childrens’ dive course with a high ratio of supervisors (Instructors and Divemasters) to participants.

The confined-water (swimming pool) part of all our dive courses is conducted at our pool in Sun Valley, and the sea dives (for courses with participants age 10+) are usually conducted from Long Beach in Simon’s Town, and off our boat, Seahorse, launching from False Bay Yacht Club or Hout Bay depending on the weather conditions.

Ages 8-9

The PADI Bubblemakers and and SDI Future Buddies programs are for kids aged eight and up, and introduce scuba diving in a swimming pool environment. The PADI Seal Team program is available for the same age group, and involve some basic scuba skills and underwater missions to further increase diving competence.

Ages 10 – 15

SDI Junior Open Water or PADI Junior Open Water course is for wannabe divers aged 10 and up. These courses qualify kids to dive to 12 metres while with a certified adult diver or instructor, and when they turn 15 it is possible to upgrade to a regular Open Water qualification.

Age 12-15

From the age of 12, youngsters can earn the PADI Junior Advanced Diver (qualifying them to dive to 21 metres while with a certified adult diver) and Junior Rescue Diver qualifications.

To see all the dive courses we offer, visit our website. For more information about scuba courses for kids or any other diving related enquiries, use the contact form below to send a message:

Christmas gift guide 2013

Ok so this is a bit late, and if you haven’t done your Christmas, Hannukah and Festivus shopping yet, shame on you. Or just shame. Most of these ideas don’t entail going to a mall and having your personal space invaded by ten thousand hormonal adolescents. You can order online, or make a phone call or two. Get going!

Christmas at Sandy Cove
Christmas at Sandy Cove

Books

For the reader, you could check out our book reviews, arranged by topic:

I’m not going to suggest a magazine subscription – I’ve let most of ours lapse as we seem to have entered a long dark teatime of the soul when it comes to South African diving magazines. If the quality picks up, they’ll be back on the gift list at the end of 2014.

Dive gear

Check out What’s in My Dive Bag for some ideas… You can contact Andre for most of these:

Make sure you know the returns/exchanges policy of wherever you make your purchases. Some places can be difficult, and if the mask doesn’t fit it’s no good at all!

For lady divers

For the diving lady in your life (or your man friend with too much hair), what about some rich hair conditioner to apply before going in the water? Suggestions here. A pack of cheap, soft fabric elasticated hairbands is a good stocking filler.

Some high SPF, waterproof sunscreen, or a nice hooded towel for grown ups (available in one or two of the surf shops in Muizenberg) would also not go amiss.

Experiences

Don’t forget to add a memory card for the lucky recipient’s camera if you plan to gift any of these! Contact Tony for prices.

For the non diver, you could inspire a love for our oceans with one of these:

For those who need (or like) to relax

Memberships

Wall art

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.

My underwater alphabet is available for R200 in A1 size, fully laminated. Shout if you want a copy.

If you take your own photos, you could print and frame a couple, 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.

Donations

For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful:

Newsletter: Deep dives, Sodwana, and octopus don’t eat sweets

Hi everyone

Weekend diving

The weekend was not ideally suited to diving and Saturday was too windy for diving. Sunday saw a strong southeaster which dictated the only option for diving, OPBC.

Violet spotted anemones at North Paw
Violet spotted anemones at North Paw

Close to the V&A Waterfront, the boats launched from there and we went to explore a pinnacle close to North Paw. Almost directly in front of Lions Head there is a North and a South Paw, rocky ridges that resemble the lion’s paws.

Cuttlefish at North Paw
Cuttlefish at North Paw

Maximum depth was 25 metres, visibility around 10 metres and chilly water, 8-9 degrees celcius at the bottom. It is a newish dive site so we were lucky to find all sorts of creatures that had never seen divers before. It also looked like lobster country with hundreds of them, all different sizes, all over the place.

Rock lobster at North Paw
Rock lobster at North Paw

Fun with octopus

On Tuesday last week I spent 30 minutes with a video camera and an octopus. I had previously seen this same octopus become very excited at the sight of my brightly coloured weights some time ago. We were doing a peak performance buoyancy dive and when the students placed the coloured weights on the sand near the octopus it became very animated. I spent some time with this octopus last week and gave him some liquorice allsorts to play with. After tasting them all one by one they were spat out. Most entertaining. Watch the video here.

Night light sea jelly with Tony in the background
Night light sea jelly with Tony in the background

Deep Specialty

This weekend we start a Deep specialty course. As a deep diver you are qualified to dive to 40 metres, this makes many of Cape Town’s wrecks accessible for exploration (including those in Smitswinkel Bay, most of which are deeper than 30 metres on the sand). Experience an emergency decompression stop, navigation at depth and breathing from a hang tank. You will learn more about nitrogen narcosis, how to plan a dive using a dive computer and the use of dive computers. Drift diving and wall diving will also be experienced during this course. You will also learn proper deployment of an SMB. If you’re interested or want to discuss this course with me, drop me an email.

Cecil checking his computer at a safety stop
Cecil checking his computer at a safety stop

Congratulations to…

The following students have attained their qualifications since 1 January – welcome to the world of diving!

Open Water -Arieh, Michelle, Andrew, Lukas, Jamie-Lee, Danelene, DC, Sarah (all grown up)

Junior Open Water – Shira, Josh (nearly grown up, 10-15 years old)

Seal Team – Abby (9 years old)

Advanced – Oscar, Mark, DC, Cecil

Nitrox – Cecil

Tony, Cecil and SMB on the surface after the North Paw dive
Tony, Cecil and SMB on the surface after the North Paw dive

Plans

Wednesday and Thursday I am doing some Rescue training and an EFR course, a prerequisite for Rescue.

We will be finalising the arrangements for the chamber dive this week, and I will contact those of you who have expressed an interest in a separate mail. If you’d like to take part and haven’t let me know yet, or want to know more about it, please email me.

I’ll also be in touch about Sodwana (16-20 April). If you’re still on the fence or still need to pay your deposits, get moving and confirm whether you’re in or out.

And finally, permits – if you don’t have one, go to the post office NOW and get one!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Directions to the Southern Suburbs swimming pool

If you learn to dive with Tony (which you should, if you haven’t already) you will do your confined water skills at our pool at our facility in Sun Valley. You might also do a Discover Scuba DivingBubblemakers (if you’re a kid), or Seal Team course at the pool.

We used to use 2 Military Hospital swimming pool on Wynberg Military Base. It’s indoor, and heated to about 24 degrees. The water quality varies wildly, with visibility from 3-25 metres.

The pool is on the corner of Buren and Scobel roads in Wynberg and is run by SwimLab. Once you’re inside the Military Base, just follow the signs for the hospital.

Here’s how to get there:

From central Cape Town (or anywhere north of Wynberg):

  1. Get onto the M3 towards Muizenberg.
  2. At the top of Wynberg Hill take Exit 12, to Trovato Link Road.
  3. Follow Trovato Link Road through a set of traffic lights.
  4. At the second traffic lights, turn right into St John’s Road.
  5. Where the road forks, take the left fork into Camp Road.
  6. Turn right into 51st Avenue.
  7. Take the first left into Brink Drive.
  8. Follow Brink Drive to the T junction with Buren road, and then turn right.
  9. Look for Scobel Road on your right – the pool is covered with a domed white plastic cover and will be on the corner.

From anywhere else:

  1. Get onto the Main Road heading towards Wynberg.
  2. Turn into Constantia Road from whatever direction you’re approaching from.
  3. Go through the traffic circle at the Engen garage, taking the second exit (so you’re still going in the same direction).
  4. When you can see the police barracks in front of you (large, unsightly blocks of flats), turn right up Bower Road.
  5. At the top of Bower Road, turn right at the traffic lights.
  6. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into St John’s Road.
  7. Follow the directions from point 5 above.
Inside the pool area
Inside the pool area

Seal Team

PADI has an amazing program for young kids. It is called Seal Team and it is a program in which 8 – 10 year olds can learn to dive.

Abby giving an OK sign
Abby giving an OK sign

My latest junior dive star is nine years old. Abby, on vacation from the UK, wanted to learn to dive with her older brother and sister plus mom and dad. The five of them spent two days in the pool and in these sessions Mom, dad and older brother and sister completed their confined skills for Junior Open Water and for the parents, Open Water diver.

Abby writes on a slate underwater - look at that buoyancy
Abby writes on a slate underwater - look at that buoyancy

Abby completed five dives and five Aqua Missions thus resulting in her being certified as a PADI Seal.
At the age of nine her buoyancy was excellent, she swam through hoops , cleared a flooded mask, recovered her regulator and used an alternate air source.

Writing on the wall
Writing on the wall

We also played games with hoops and slates and she used an underwater camera to take a whole lot of paparazzi photos of her family while they were all diving! The Seal Team crewpack contains a DVD and a manual/logbook with quizzes, puzzles and lots of information. It’s definitely not a Mickey Mouse course – and it’s a lot of fun both to teach and participate in.

Seal Team manual/logbook
Seal Team manual/logbook

Newsletter: Dive report and southeaster

Hi everyone

I hope you have had a great Christmas and hopefully a break from the office. Fortunately my ”office” has been busy and I don’t relish a break from it. I know there are many of you chomping at the bit to dive and finish your courses but the southeaster has been howling non-stop since Saturday and the sea looks a little like pea soup. I hope it dies down soon so we can all get back in the water. Sunday’s early boat dives were also cancelled due to an unforseen breakage on the boat.

Strawberry sea anemones and a pink urchin on the Romelia
Strawberry sea anemones and a pink urchin on the Romelia

I spent Friday in the Newlands swimming pool with a family of five, the youngest being 9 years old. Abby was doing a program called Seal Team. It is unbelievably rewarding teach such young kids to dive and her older sister and brother, mom and dad took longer to get comfortable than she did. I had hoops in the water and by the second session in the water her buoyancy was perfect and she swam through the hoops with a big smile on her face.

Gas flame nudibranch on the Romelia
Gas flame nudibranch on the Romelia

I am going to plan a day in the diving pool at Newlands, it’s five meters deep and a perfect place to hone bouyancy skills, trim your gear and cull some of the weight from your heavy weight belts. Its also a wonderful place to test and get acquainted with all the amazing dive gear you got for Christmas…

Divers explore a wall
Divers explore a wall

Early January I will be starting a Wreck specialty and plan to include penetration into the Aster, lying in Hout Bay on the sand at 25 metres. I am also going to run a Nitrox and Deep specialty so if going to 40 metres is on your to do list don’t miss this (I hope you got a torch for Christmas)!

We recently dived the wreck of the Romelia (pictures courtesy of Clare). The visibility was not great but the colours and sea life were stunning.

Sea life on the side of the Romelia (encrusted with orange coraline algae)
Sea life on the side of the Romelia (encrusted with orange coraline algae)

There is an amazing contrast between the life, colour and water temperature between the Atlantic sites and the False Bay sites. I tend to favor the False Bay coast as the water is warmer but every time I dive the Atlantic I am astounded by the clarity of the water. On our last wreck dives, the Maori and the BOS 400 we had 20 plus metres visibility.

Hottentot in the red bait zone above the Romelia
Hottentot in the red bait zone above the Romelia

regards

Learn to Dive Today logoTony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog
Diving is addictive!

<strong><a href=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/small-colour-e1284626229322.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-486″ title=”Learn to Dive Today logo” src=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/small-colour-e1284626229322.jpg” alt=”Learn to Dive Today logo” width=”73″ height=”67″ /></a>Tony Lindeque</strong>
076 817 1099
<a href=”http://www.learntodivetoday.co.za” target=”_blank”>www.learntodivetoday.co.za</a>
<a href=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog” target=”_self”>www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog</a>
<em>Diving is addictive!</em>