Newsletter: Back from Sodwana

Hello divers and others

We are back from Sodwana. When we arrived the folks that had dived the day before said the conditions were not that great… “The water is only 26 degrees and the visibility was only about 15-20 metres.” Well… being tough and from Cape Town we just had to endure the hardship and had 8 amazing dives. It was partly cloudy most days so nobody came back toasted like we did on the last trip. To the 12 people that joined me, BIG THANK YOU. It was good!!! Clare has put together a disc of photos for everyone and we will make a plan to get them to you.

Below are a few photos from some of the dives.

Green turtle on southern Pinnacles
Green turtle on southern Pinnacles

I have a fair amount of diving to do in the coming weeks as we were able to sign up 28 people for a Discover Scuba experience. Kate is also back from the UK and needs to do forty dives before June when she will attend an Instructor course.

Descending at Pinnacles with Adam, Ollie and Goot
Descending at Pinnacles with Adam, Ollie and Goot

We also have an Advanced course running and this coming weekend I will start a Nitrox/Deep speciality combo, six deeper dives to some of Cape Town’s stunning wrecks, on Nitrox (enriched air) After the deep dives we will continue the Open Water student training.

Sea star at Hotspot
Sea star at Hotspot

The winter months bring cold but very clean water into False Bay, with northerly winds we have exceptional visibility and this winter we will focus on running the Deep, Wreck and Night specialties every month. The wrecks in Smitswinkel Bay are almost all in 35 metres of water and these wrecks are a sight for sore eyes when the water is clean. Night diving has so much to offer as the ambient light, moonlight and bright torches turn the ocean into a pool of light filled with some amazing creatures.

Anemone fish at Four Buoy
Anemone fish at Four Buoy

I have also bought more gear and have a few warmer wetsuits for the cooler months coming to a ocean near you.

Moray eel at Chain
Moray eel at Chain

I would like to make either a Saturday or a Sunday morning boat dive every weekend, weather permitting, so give me some idea of what days are best for whom so we can try and schedule something.

Yellow banded snapper at Stringer
Yellow banded snapper at Stringer

We have also added a few videos to youtube, quite a few new posts to the blog and the website has had a facelift. The blog is an amazing source of information for anything ocean and diving related with many book reviews and a host of other information on sea life. There are hundreds of photos and many of you appear in them! Take a look sometime.

I also have many of your dive cards and will try and drop them off but if you are in the southern suburbs at some point call me and we can meet somewhere. Sending them by post is often a problem as they are mistaken for credit cards and they often just vanish.

best regards

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

Diving is addictive!

My favourite dive course

I am often asked to name the course I most like to teach and quite frankly it’s a very difficult question.

I must say that the Open Water course is possibly the most rewarding insomuch as the learning curve is so steep and watching people go from apprehensive nervousness initially to calm and capable divers in a matter of a few hours underwater is very satisfying.

The Advanced course can also be equally satisfying. Deep specialties, night diving and search and recovery also rate very high on my list, but in all honesty it is more about the person you are teaching than about what you are teaching them.

Students and buddies in Sodwana
Students and buddies in Sodwana

A recent student, her opening statement to me being “I am terrified of water,” was after six Open Water dives a competent, relaxed diver with exceptional buoyancy, excellent airway control and a desire to explore and investigate everything. Such a student is very satisfying.

Spending time in the sea is what I love to do: setting up lift bags, positioning hoops for buoyancy, navigating to specific features underwater, staying down after everyone has returned to the boat as you are diving on nitrox, hanging around an octopus for an entire dive with my camera, or just drifting across the ocean at a safety stop… It’s all a learning curve, and even though I teach someone something everyday about diving, so I learn something new each and every time I dive with a different person. I see something new every time I go diving and no matter how many times I dive the same dive site I will always encounter something different. That’s the ocean, that’s diving, and that’s why I love to dive.

Zero to… HERO!

Congratulations to Kate, who arrived in Cape Town on 8 October 2010 having never dived before, and is leaving on 10 December qualified as a Divemaster, with more than 60 dives and over 45 hours underwater under her belt!

Kate demonstrates incorrect snorkel technique
Kate demonstrates incorrect snorkel technique (in the car, on the wrong side)

While she was here we dived almost every day, in all sorts of conditions. She dived in visibility ranging from pea soup (with croutons) to over 10 metres, water temperatures from 11 degrees up to 18 degrees, and experienced a wide range of what Cape Town diving has to offer. She even did a dive in just a shorty wetsuit – the water LOOKED warm but wasn’t – and I am pretty sure she’s the first diver EVER to do something like that in this city!

She experienced everything from orally inflating another diver’s BCD at 15 metres, to securing Clare’s cylinder when it came loose (oops!), tying knots underwater, a meeting with a very frisky sevengill cowshark on her first ever dive with sharks at Shark Alley, and using a lift bag to ferry our artificial reef out to the correct depth.

Kate transporting part of the artificial reef
Kate transporting part of the artificial reef

She spent a lot of time towing the buoy line, inflated SMBs and balloons underwater (the latter was highly amusing to watch), mapped wrecks and the pipeline at Long Beach, exchanged information on the layout of the SAS Pietermaritzburg with wikivoyage guru Peter Southwood, enjoyed high-speed boat rides to various local dive sites, filled cylinders at a local dive centre, and navigated at night in order to find the yellow buoy at Long Beach. She’s breathed from a hang tank at a safety stop after a deep dive, and from another diver’s octo while swimming to shore. She’s a pro with a compass. She’s also done some underwater photography – thanks to her, the gobies at Long Beach have a serious complex about the paparazzi!

Kate and Clare getting their bearings on the beach
Kate and Clare getting their bearings on the beach. To infinity and beyond!

Kate dived with and without a computer, in various types of gear and several different wetsuits. She knows the difference between an A-clamp and a DIN fitting. She removes and replaces inserts on cylinders with her eyes closed, changes O-rings, and puts on her own kit. She has filled over twenty cylinders as part of her compressor operator course.

Kate was also a fantastic ambassador for diving for the various students of mine that she interacted with. As part of her Divemaster training, she led dives, demonstrated skills, helped students with their kit, and took on various tasks in order to prepare her for the responsibilities that go with this qualification. She did all of this with good humour, good sense and great precision.

Kate helps Anna with her hoodie
Kate helps Anna with her hoodie

During her stay, Kate buddied with all kinds of divers. She met Russians, Swedes, Canadians, French and fellow British divers, and some regte egte South Africans. She assisted foreign-language students with understanding the questions on the quizzes and exams when their English wasn’t up to the task. She got on famously with everyone she encountered, and was never grumpy or a prima donna.

In the ocean she encountered seals (she’s not a fan), giant short-tailed sting rays, hundreds of octopus, sevengill cowsharks, and her favourite friends – barehead gobies! They’re going to miss you, Kate… And especially your underwater singing!

Barehead goby
Look at that sad little goby face!

The courses Kate completed during her stay in Cape Town are:

I am confident that she is a safe, capable diver with excellent experience under her belt so far, and I look forward to hearing about her future exploits in the underwater world.

Kate on the move
Kate on the move

Night dive at Long Beach (2010.11.06)

Here is some footage from Kate and Clare’s night navigation dive at Long Beach about a month ago. Look out for the beaked sandfish, the three spotted swimming crab, an enormous warty pleurobranch (very briefly), a compass sea jelly, and a puffadder shyshark who gave me the beady eye. There’s also a pipefish, and a large klipfish to be seen.

Newsletter: Interesting diving, octopus, butterfly fish, pyjama sharks

Hi everyone

Diving has been good. We did a night dive last night and found this octopus, he was very kind and gave us a full demonstration of how to glide across the sand as well as a demonstration of how to walk. I was able to get a good video clip of it and will put it up on the blog in a day or two.

Octopus at Long Beach on a night dive
Octopus at Long Beach on a night dive

We also found these three pyjama cat sharks huddled together under the fishing boat stern. This is the second time we have found them stacked on top of one another and apparently this is how they sleep.

Sleeping pyjama catsharks at Long Beach
Sleeping pyjama catsharks at Long Beach

I found two juveniles hiding out some time ago, a jutjaw and a double sash butterfly fish. I have been watching them and have seen them both several times in the same spot over the last few weeks. On the night dive we found these two butterfly fish in a different spot, far apart so I believe there are at least three of these little beauties at Long Beach right now.

Two double sash butterfly fish under a wreck at Long Beach
Two double sash butterfly fish under a wreck at Long Beach

On the ferro-cement wreck close to the harbour mooring buoy we found a tasseled scorpion fish, master of disguise. If it had not moved I would not have seen it.

We have also had several rays on the dives and recently saw a horse fish to the north of the barge wreck.

Artificial reef

We started a small project almost two weeks ago at Long Beach. We are building a small artificial reef to monitor how quickly the ocean adapts to new things. It is small at present but we plan to add items over time. The most interesting so far is that an octopus has moved into a clay pot we attached to a pipe frame. We did not see the the octopus but the signs of dinner – shells, crab body parts etc – are all evident. Several starfish have also moved in and there are small signs of plant growth. I will post some pictures of the project on the blog soon.

The summer season is here, diving is good and the water is warming. We have had the odd 17 -18 degrees days but last night the temperature was 16.

I have several courses running and will dive every diveable day this season. If you want to dive, give me a call as I don’t need an excuse to try a new spot, a popular spot or anything else. We are planning to dive the cowsharks, the Aster wreck, Hout Bay harbour and Kalk Bay harbour soon so if any of these interest you let me know.

I will also run a “buy one get one free” Discover Scuba Diving series of days where every second person dives for free. A good time to get your friends and family in the water.

Regards

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

Night Diving Specialty… Completed!

On Saturday I did the final dive of my Night Diving specialty course, and Kate did the first one of hers. We went to Long Beach, did a dangerous surf entry through the 3 inch high waves, and proceded to do some night time navigation.

The goal was for us to make our way out to the yellow buoy, and then swim back on a slightly different heading. In retrospect it was a tough ask, because the buoy is attached to the sea floor by a chain. Unless we had been pinpoint accurate, we’d never have seen it (and indeed we didn’t) even if we were a few metres away.

Kate and I getting our bearings on the beach
Kate and I getting our bearings on the beach. To infinity and beyond!

Night navigation SUCKS. I did not enjoy it at all, but feel rather proud of myself and Kate for our efforts. We did spend two intervals on the surface arguing about which heading to take, and the second time we surfaced for a look-around, we lost the buoy. Detective Kate deduced that it was behind the yacht on our right (yes, we were THAT far out).

Juggling compass, torch, camera (have not figured out night-time photography yet, so my pictures are like something out of the Blair Witch Project) and dive computer left me feeling as though I did not have enough arms. Some kind of wrist-strap that will make the torch an extension of my arm is definitely in order. The fact remains, however, that night diving is awesome fun… But this expedition did persuade me that it’s more fun when you know where you’re going!

Newsletter: Wreck diving weekend

Hi there

The past week has been great for diving and other than Sunday we were in the water every day. The temperature on Friday was 18 degrees on the Clan Stuart wreck. We were lucky to see rays three days in a row at different locations. A truly remarkable creature, this one was a good metre and a half across. We found this beauty at Long Beach in 7 metres of water. We also saw one on Thursday at the upturned yacht wreck near the yellow harbour buoy as well as one sleeping in the wreck of the Clan Stuart on Friday.

Raymond the ray
Raymond the ray

The summer winds are here and most of the boat launching will move to Hout Bay. The wrecks of the Atlantic are awesome and the viz this last weekend was 25 metres on the Maori wreck.

Kate swims with a golf ball on a teaspoon
Kate swims with a golf ball on a teaspoon

Starting this weekend I will be running one of my favorite series of courses being Nitrox, Wreck and Deep specialties. I am also doing a Night diver specialty over the next week or so and have two Open Water courses starting a week apart. I also have three Rescue and Divemaster students and different levels so there are lots of opportunities to get in the water. All dives this weekend will be boat dives and if you just want to tag along as a fun diver please remeber I need to book by Thursday midday.

Enriched Air

Nitrox, or enriched air increases your bottom time. Diving to 30 metres on air you have a maximum dive time of 20 minutes but on Nitrox 32% you have 30 minutes.

Deep diving and wreck exploration go hand in hand with a Nitrox certification and this is how it works:

Nitrox R 1650 (course can be run in the evenings)
Wreck R 1950
Deep R 2050

If you sign up for either Wreck or Deep you will get the Nitrox course for R1250. Choose both specialties and Nitrox will only cost you R950.

Wreck and Deep both require four dives. All four dives will be boat dives and all will be Nitrox dives if you have done the Nitrox specialty.

Klipfish getting his chin tickled
Klipfish getting his chin tickled

Best regards

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

Newsletter: Halloween dive, wrecks and more

Hi everyone

Summer is closing in on us fast and the water is getting warmer, time to dust off your dive gear and get wet. The rays are back at Long Beach, whales are still around for a few weeks and the ocean is waiting for you to visit.

October has been a busy diving month. The trip to Sodwana was awesome and we are thinking about another trip early December or perhaps early January.

I have been lucky to have dived almost every day since the beginning of the month and congratulations to the following people on their certifications:

Open Water

Anna, Belinda, Richard, Gabby, Lorna, Kate

Advanced

Gerard, Justin, Kate, Sophie, Tami

Deep Specialty

Clare

Students at Long Beach
Richard, Belinda, Anna, Kate and Corné at Long Beach

Kate is here from the UK doing the Zero to Hero program with me. She started on the 13th October and has done Open Water, Advanced, and is busy with Nitrox and Rescue. Next week she will start her Divemaster program.

On Saturday I will finish an Open Water course and continue with a Rescue course. Sunday the plan is to dive the sevengill cowsharks and Boulders, perhaps see a penguin underwater.

Saturday we are having a Halloween night dive.

These are the rules:

  • you must dive in a Halloween theme something or another… use your imagination
  • you must find treasure… I will hide several prizes during the day at the site we dive
  • to find them you must… use your imagination!
  • we will have an egg cracking contest… underwater… where you must crack and remove the shell of a raw egg gently, so the egg stays intact…
  • coffee and ( ) on the beach afterwards… plus you get to open the treasure you found…

November

I am going to run an Advanced open water course, a Wreck specialty, Night diver specialty, and a Deep diver specialty course during the month of November. Dates are 6th, 13th and 20th. The Deep specialty will qualify you to 40 metres and the Wreck specialty will include wreck penetration for those keen to explore the inside of a sunken ship. Night diver will give you great confidence is low visibility diving conditions.

The Deep and Wreck courses are dependent on boat scheduling and detailed dive planning so book early if you are interested.

Best regards

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

Night Diving as a Specialty or a fun dive

Tony and I do night dives quite often. We love it – there are creatures that only come out at night, and there’s something very exciting about going somewhere familiar and seeing how different it looks at night. We’ve seen something new on every night dive we’ve done (latest: white sea catfish at Long Beach). Besides, I LOVE cyalumes (for the uninitiated, those are the awesome little light sticks that you snap to release a chemical and then they start glowing) and all things glow in the dark.

I admit that I found my first night dive a little bit scary, and I still find I have to be more deliberate about relaxing in the water and not letting my imagination run wild. But it’s a very good discipline, forcing yourself to breathe deeply and be calm, and very quickly you get distracted by all the creatures that are either attracted to or hypnotised by your torch.

A lot of fish will swim right up to your torch, giving excellent photographic opportunities and time to examine them in detail. I specially like the beaked sandfish – they only come out at night (when I dive Long Beach during the day, I always wonder where they are). They’re long, thin, shiny, cream-coloured fish with translucent fins like dragon fly wings, and they use their pointy noses to dig themselves into the sand when they get a fright. But most of the time they gather together in little groups, milling about langurously on the sand. They love to check out torches and are not shy unless you make sudden moves or try to touch one.

I’m busy doing the PADI Night Diver Specialty – since we do so many night dives, and since I’m hungry to learn more at the moment, it seemed like a good idea. It’s not a demanding course at all, but I’m enjoying it. The manual covers night diving techniques in a lot of detail, and has a very useful section on choosing a dive light, and the relative advantages of different types of light and batteries. Most of it seems to be common sense, like remembering not to shine your light in people’s eyes, not going into any overhead environments (because there’s no daylight for orienting yourself) and making sure you have a backup light. However, it’s the kind of common sense that one needs to be reminded of or have specifically pointed out – I would never have thought about the danger of going into caves or penetrating wrecks at night, and would probably have gotten myself into trouble without giving it a second thought.

The practical section of the course involves three dives. There are a couple of navigation tasks, and on one of the dives you have to sit on the bottom for three minutes with the lights off. It’s surprising how light it is underwater at night. We did a night dive at Long Beach on Saturday, and even though there was cloud covering the moon, the ambient light underwater from our cyalumes and from the city lights was not inconsiderable.

If you enjoy night diving, or want to challenge yourself with something new, different and unusual, this is a really cool specialty to try. You can also do a night dive as a fun dive with an Open Water Qualification, or as an Adventure dive towards your Advanced Open Water diver qualification.