Newsletter: Diving and travelling

Hello everyone

I am sure you have all enjoyed a vacation and are dying to get back to work… Hehehehe!

Permits

Every diver must have a diving permit. For those that don’t, please rush off to the post office armed with you ID book and get one for the princely sum of R94. Keep it handy, it is meant to be ”on the boat” with you. At some point you will be asked to produce it and failure to do so could result in anything from a fine to the donating of your scuba gear to the government… Jokes aside, its law, so get one. Almost every dive site in south Africa falls in a Marine Protected Area and these are the people who are meant to protect these areas from harm… They need your money.

Recent dives

December has come and gone, the sun has been warming the ocean and we have 18 -19 deg at the moment. Sadly warm water often means less visibility, but the dives we have done have still been fun.

We saw two tiny devil rays at Long Beach just off the concrete wreck near the harbour buoy, a massive short tailed sting ray and a few small playful seals.

On Sunday, in 3 – 4 m visibility Clare took these pictures of a klipfish and an octopus having a disagreement, two students with good buoyancy on their first sea dive and…

Stand-off between a klipfish and an octopus
Stand-off between a klipfish and an octopus
Open Water students on their first sea dive
Open Water students on their first sea dive

… these two orange clubbed nudibranchs were on the kelp near the wooden dinghy wreck at Long Beach.

Orange clubbed nudibranchs at Long Beach
Orange clubbed nudibranchs at Long Beach

Sodwana

I have attached the details and costs of the planned trip to Sodwana. This picture shows a few divers from the last trip doing a navigation swim in 25 m visibility. Did I mention the water temperature was 24 degrees celcius? and will be 25 degrees in April. If you are keen let me know, we do not have to pay anything until middle of February, so stop, think, and book…

Starting a dive in Sodwana... Look at that visiblilty!
Starting a dive in Sodwana... Look at that visiblilty!

Low Season Prices 2011

Boat dives

I am hoping to get us all out on the boat this weekend. I have a few Advanced students needing to do their deep dive as well as Nitrox students. Just remember, if you book a boat dive and cancel less than 24 hours before the launch, I get billed (and hence, so do you).

See you in the water soon!

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>

Newsletter: Sodwana trip and lost gear

Hi divers

Compliments of the season to everyone. Thank you for your support and for the many awesome dives we enjoyed last year. I’m looking forward to a busy dive-filled 2011 and I wish you all the very best for it.

The wind has been a pest for the last couple of weeks, so my Open Water students have been waiting patiently for the sea to flatten and for the visibility to clear (hopefully)! We will be diving our hearts out for the next few days and I will have some of you certified by the end of the week.

Dive report

We did a super dive at North Lion’s Paw near Clifton last week, in stunning visibility. I found a manefish, which usually lives in 400 metres of water, but was visiting our waters for the summer.

Manefish (Caristius groenlandicus)
Manefish (Caristius groenlandicus)

Cecil found his first underwater treasure, a boat anchor, which we raised using Bernita’s SMB (thank you Bernita!).

Bernita beneath the anchor
Bernita beneath the anchor

Sodwana

We are planning a trip to Coral Divers in Sodwana from Saturday 16 April to Wednesday 20 April. The Saturday and the Wednesday will be for travel (fly to Durban and then drive about 4 hours to Sodwana), and then we’d spend four nights/three days at Coral Divers, and do six dives. The Easter weekend is from 22-25 April, so we will be off the roads before it starts and avoid the high season prices that kick in on Good Friday.

Our last Sodwana trip was a roaring success and I can highly recommend the diving (and the company). As far as costs go, I will give you a better idea in next week’s newsletter, but it will probably be in the range of R3500 per person including flights, car hire and basic self-catering accommodation. There are a range of accommodation options so you can sleep in as much luxury as your heart desires.

The Coral Divers website gives you some idea of what the campsite is like. My blog has some photos and dive reports from the last trip, which can be found here.

As we did last time, there will be opportunities for you to do dive courses such as Advanced, Nitrox or a specialty while we’re there, at a reduced rate. Non-divers are welcome – we’ll be done in the water by lunchtime and there’s lots to do in the area.

Please indicate by return mail if you might be interested so that I can work out some numbers and get an accurate quote. Final commitment will be made by paying your deposit at a later stage, so don’t sweat about being totally certain at this point!

Lost gear

If anyone has accidentally gone home with one of my dive compasses, please let me know! It’s been missing since November.

Boat dives

Please note that if you cancel a boat dive less than 24 hours in advance, you will unfortunately have to pay the dive fee. I buy 10 dive packages from Grant, and when he gets a late cancellation that spot on the boat can’t be filled and I am billed for the dive. Thank you for understanding!

Grant is on holiday for a week (well deserved) so no boat diving this weekend.

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>

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>

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

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!

Deep Specialty course

When I started diving, I did not like deep dives. I hated the boat rides to get to the dive sites – the combination of a vivid imagination and a few scary experiences makes me something of a tense sailor. I also get seasick when the boat stops and the sea is choppy – swell plus motor fumes is a bad combination!

Time has improved the situation. I’m a much more relaxed boat passenger than I was a year ago. I make sure to travel with skippers I trust. I make sure I’m seated near the back of the boat (for bumpiness), and I wedge my feet into the footstraps and hold on to the ropes. I’ve been lost at sea for a little while, and while unpleasant, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

I’ve also conquered my fear of deep water. Friday’s dive in Smitswinkel Bay was the first deep dive that I’ve been totally relaxed about, before and during. I’ve learned to trust my equipment, and to trust my buddy. I know how I feel at 30 metres down (sharp as a stack of wet newspapers), and I consciously relax. I have breathed off Tony’s octo at the bottom of the ocean (I sucked air prodigiously on my first couple of deep dives) and both of us survived. The apparent viscosity of the water at depth (like swimming through honey) doesn’t surprise me any more, and I know not to over-exert. My buoyancy has improved greatly and I don’t get panicky when I have to inject several squirts of air into my BCD to slow my descent.

Deep dives are awesome. It’s incredible to see the colours come to life when you shine a torch on things, or fire off a camera flash. It’s also thrilling to be able to explore a part of the ocean that is completely inaccessible in the normal course of things.

I also love safety stops. I love floating in midwater, seeing everyone’s bubbles around me, and feeling like an astronaut. We did a dive on the SAS Transvaal in incredibly visibility, and this video Tony took on the safety stop captures the feeling of weightlessness and space.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-raFP0oP3A&w=540]

The only frustration to me is how short the dives are. Because of the increased pressure at depth, you breathe a LOT more air out of your cylinder with each breath than you do on a shallow dive. At 40 metres, each breath consumes five times more air than at the surface. You also have to watch your dive time to avoid hitting the RDP limits at depth. A Nitrox course comes in handy here… But it seems that practice, and improved diving technique, are the key elements to improving air consumption, dive time and enjoyment of the whole experience.

The theory aspect of the course covers dive techniques related to drift and wall dives, decompression sickness and how to avoid it, safety stops and one or two other matters such as photography at depth. The skills required on the dives mainly relate to safety stops, different types of ascent and descent (with and without a reference line), and a little bit of navigation. It gives me great confidence to know that I am now certified to 40 metres, although, as the manual points out, 30 metres seems to be the “optimum depth” for the kind of scuba diving I enjoy.

Plan your dive and dive your plan

Three divers approached me at the dive centre one day, requesting I take them to a dive site where they could dive to 60 metres. They wanted to test some new equipment configurations. Two were certified advanced Nitrox divers, qualified deep technical divers and had made several dives to over a hundred metres… in a lake. The third diver, like myself, was qualified to dive to 40 metres.

So we draw up a plan: they will dive to 60 metres, spend 6 minutes at that depth, ascend to 50 metres and spend 5 minutes there, then ascend to 40 metres 5 minutes thereafter and so on until the reached 6 metres where they would switch to pure oxygen to reduce the deco stop time as the current at this site is strong. The third diver and myself would meet them at 40metres.

Using a software program called V Planner we calculated that including the descent time and ascent times for each stage, at a controlled rate, we would enter the water precisely 16 minutes after they started their dive and we would meet them at 40 metres. We would then all be together for the next 30 minutes, ascending with them to their 6 metre safety stop, ensure they had both switched to pure oxygen and then leave them and return to the boat.

The plan was that we would spend 6 minutes on our descent to 40 metres and all four of us would reach 40 metres together. They were made to clearly understand that should they have a problem at any depth deeper than 40 metres we would not be able to help them as we were diving 12 litre steel cylinders on a Nitrox 32% mix, limiting our depth – and what’s more we did not have the qualifications to go to 60 metres.

We discussed the plan in great detail and everyone was set. A red SMB would be hoisted if they experienced any difficulty and a yellow would be released once we met at 40 metres.

Mistakes happen

We started our descent on time, and watching my dive computer and timer I descended at the agreed rate. My buddy, however, did not. He descended way too fast. Believing that they would be in control of their dive he descended very fast and joined them, ahead of schedule at a depth of 55 metres. They were 3 minutes behind schedule as they had struggled to come to terms with the ocean current. Now we had a problem. I waited at 40 metres, but they arrived late, and this meant I would risk going into deco before we left for the 30 metre stop.

At this point my buddy ran out of air. He was closer to the deep divers as he was reading their slates, so he grabbed the first regulator he could see: the deco tank regulator, filled with pure oxygen. At depth oxygen is toxic and can kill you in a matter of minutes. I grabbed it out of his mouth, so he grabbed my regulator out of my mouth as he was now starting to panic. He was holding onto me so tight I could not reach my octo so I reached for the octo of another diver. So here we were three divers locked together at 40 metres, each with a regulator in our mouths that belonged to someone else. I managed to get him calmed and off my cylinder and onto the octo of the deep diver with the most air. Now back to normal, we started our ascent and did the required safety stops, reached the 6 metre stop for them to switch to oxygen and headed for the surface. I reached the surface with 10 bar in my tank.

Deep dive
Ascending from the almost disastrous deep dive on Atlantis in Ponta do Ouro. Note the hang tank of pure oxygen.

My buddy had been to 55 m on a Nitrox mix of 32%. The maximum safe depth for this blend is 40 metres. He had almost sucked on a cylinder of oxygen at 40 metres, this is a lethal dose at depth. Mistakes happen. Be meticulous with dive planning, rehearse your incident scenarios and make sure you dive your plan.