Bookshelf: SEALAB

SEALAB – Ben Hellwarth

Sealab
Sealab

In the 1960s the US Navy developed three undersea habitats, in order to experiment with saturation diving and to explore the possibility of humans living on the ocean floor. Of necessity, any group of people engaged in this pursuit would be separated from life on the surface, in some cases by days or weeks of decompression obligations. SEALAB I, II and II were progressively deeper and more complex habitats. Developing them was a technical challenge that led to many advances that we benefit from today. The experiments also provided an opportunity to study the psychological and physiological effects of isolation, and of long periods of breathing mixed gases under pressure.

The SEALAB experiments took place during the same era as the efforts by NASA to put a person on the moon, and received far less attention. Jacques Cousteau was interested in the project, and himself experimented with underwater habitats called ConShelf I, II and II. These habitats were far better publicised than the US Navy’s efforts, even though their aims were more modest.

Author Ben Hellwarth does not confine his attention to the habitats, but also provides a fairly detailed history of decompression theory and diving history. Like Neutral BuoyancySEALAB might provide a relatively painless introduction to dive theory for Divemaster candidates. In fact, this book reads like a thriller at times! Some photographs from the SEALAB projects are available on the US Navy website, and in this slideshow. To our modern eyes, the clunky and primitive appearance of some of the gear is a reminder of how pioneering the now 60 year old work to allow humans to live and work in the sea was.

If you’re interested in the history of saturation diving, I recommend this article, which covers some of the ground that Hellwarth does in SEALAB. If you want to see it in action, check out Pioneer (fictional movie based on actual events) or the series Deep Sea SalvageYou should also check out this article by Hellwarth, entitled The Other Final Frontierand this podcast/radio show. If you are EXTREMELY interested in this subject but don’t want to read a book, try out this hour-long lecture video by Ben Hellwarth.

Experiments with underwater habitats are ongoing.

Get a copy of SEALAB here (South Africa) otherwise here or here.

Series: Underwater Universe

Underwater Universe
Underwater Universe

The four episodes of this History Channel series cover waves, tides and currents, predators, and pressure – all powerful features of the ocean that can be sensationalised (some more easily than others) and presented for shock value and as imminent threats to human life. Full advantage is taken of this fact.

This very American offering doesn’t boast the measured, mellifluous tones of Benedict Cumberbatch or Steve Toussaint as narrator, but the line-up of (mostly in-studio) guest narrators is quite impressive. Bruce Parker (The Power of the Sea), Susan Casey (The Devil’s Teeth and The Wave), David Gallo (scientist presenter of the TED Talk I mentioned here), Scott Cassell (student of the Humboldt squid), Richard Ellis (writer of a number of ocean history, art and science books), and Neil Hammerschlag (shark scientist) were familiar to me, as was big wave surfer Ken Bradshaw, from this article. The strange, uncomfortable way in which the studio narrators were filmed, with silent close ups interspersed with talking, was very annoying and must have been incredibly embarrassing to shoot. Or perhaps the cameraman took the footage when the narrators didn’t realise they were being filmed.

Unlike BBC documentaries, which tend to rely purely on incredible photography and fluent narrative to convey information, the History Channel favours a CGI-heavy approach that we encountered in Treasure Quest, Deep Sea Salvage, and also in the National Geographic Shark Men series. For the subject matter of this series – particularly the sections on waves, tides and currents – it was very appropriate and informative. The first episode, devoted to tsunamis, rogue waves and “monster waves”, made good use of CGI to illustrate the concepts as they were explained. The series was produced shortly before the Japanese tsunami of 2011 (there is a hastily tacked on “thoughts and prayers” disclaimer) and features interviews with a survivor of a tsunami in Samoa. I am fascinated by rogue waves – the whole episode could have been devoted to them but they don’t make for good television – we only have indirect evidence of their existence. Also, I could have done with more footage of giant ships battling storms, but that’s what youtube is for…

The least interesting and most irritating episode was the one devoted to the ocean’s top predators, which suggested that orcas are a serious threat to humans. As evidence, the cases of captive killer whales drowning and injuring their trainers at marine theme parks were cited. No mention was made of the psychosis that these whales suffer from as a result of confinement in a small, barren, completely unnatural environment. An incident in which orcas inexplicably rammed and sank a yacht in the Pacific Ocean is also described and re-enacted. Whether the orcas did what they did because they wanted to kill the people on board is highly debatable. There is also a half-hearted attempt to paint whales as potentially vicious killers, recounting incidents when sperm whales rammed whaling boats in the 19th century. More power to the sperm whales, I say.

The other dangerous predators were (predictably) white sharks, Humboldt squid, saltwater crocodiles and Australian box jellyfish. There was a small environmental message at the end of this episode, mentioning that squid will probably end up the top predators in our oceans if current trends – fishing out large predatory fish and global warming in particular – continue.

The third episode, on the immense pressures that objects in the deep ocean are subjected to, was very interesting to Tony and me as divers. A confusing interview with a diver whose brother got DCS on a wreck dive leaves (I suspect) much out. Were they even qualified divers? Why was he surprised that his brother felt unwell and confused as to the cause after he popped to the surface from 30 metres after a 30 minute dive?

The bulk of the third episode, however, recounts a 1981 experiment called Atlantis III in which three volunteers were taken in a saturation system to a simulated depth of 686 metres while breathing Trimix 10 (70% helium, 20% nitrogen and 10% oxygen). It took 31 days for them to decompress. The chief of the experiment, Peter Bennett, was the founder and former CEO of DAN. There’s a more information about the project here – worth a read (download the pdf slowly), and a briefer account here.

The series concludes with an episode on tides and currents, including rip currents. The massive tidal range of Morecambe Bay in the United Kingdom,  is discussed at length. At low tide, up to 300 square kilometres of mudflats is exposed, and flooded again when the tide comes in. The guides who escort people out onto the mudflats when the tide is out seem like charming individuals – it is recommended not to wander around at low tide without local guidance. In 2004, the rising tide trapped and drowned 23 Chinese immigrants who were working the cockle beds – with such a large expanse of land to cover, the rising tide comes in at great speed. There is also a harrowing re-enactment of a father and his two sons getting washed out to sea in a rip current in Kauai that should make you think twice about swimming at beaches with warning signs on them.

You can get the DVDs here if you’re in South Africa. Foreigners, go here or here.

National Hyperbarics

Exterior of the hyperbaric chamber
Exterior of the hyperbaric chamber

Clare and I took a tour of the National Hyperbarics facility at Kingsbury Hospital earlier this year. This is a specialised clinical hyperbarics facility, where they use a recompression chamber to treat diving injuries as well as to provide wound care. Breathing oxygen at an elevated pressure (higher than atmospheric pressure) is beneficial to healing of wounds, and also part of the first aid for decompression sickness.

In contrast to the chamber we did our chamber dive in at UCT, the National Hyperbarics chamber is for medical purposes. It’s equipped with comfortable seats for eight patients, and oxygen masks and monitoring equipment for each patient. It’s rated to 30 metres so actually wouldn’t provide a very exciting chamber dive experience despite the creature comforts!

Interior of the chamber
Interior of the chamber

The team at National Hyperbarics are almost all (I think) scuba divers, and on occasion I have referred my students to them for assessment before signing up for a dive course. In addition to providing and monitoring hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the doctors are able to advise and prescribe treatment for divers with asthma and other concerns which may require medical clearance before getting in the water.

Control panel for the hyperbaric chamber
Control panel for the hyperbaric chamber

In the event that you have a diving accident in Cape Town, this is probably the chamber you’ll end up in. If you’re a DAN member (which you should be), DAN will arrange transfer to National Hyperbarics for you. If you’re not, you’ll have to contact them yourself to arrange for a medical technician to meet you at their Claremont facility should you require recompression treatment. So if you aren’t a member of DAN, visit the National Hyperbarics website immediately and save their contact number in your cellphone.

Update (February 2012): National Hyperbarics is moving from Claremont to Tokai. Their new facility is currently not open, so you can’t use their chamber in the event of an accident. Dive safely!

Update (March 2014): It doesn’t look as though National Hyperbarics is going to open for business again. If you’re concerned about which hyperbaric chamber you’ll go to if you have a diving accident in Cape Town, read this post.

Newsletter: Hout Bay to Mozambique

Hi divers

What we have been up to

For those of you that did not make it to the ocean last weekend I can truly say you missed out big time!! The OMSAC clean-up dive on Saturday morning was really enjoyable with some amazing articles being removed from Hout Bay harbour. True to form OMSAC ran an excellent event with everything happening on schedule. After the clean-up we dived the Aster wreck. We dived on Nitrox to maximise our bottom time and penetrated the forward hold. Goot and Gerard were doing their Nitrox specialty dives, Goot had a taste of wreck penetration, and Cecil was also test diving his new twin tank setup so we had a ‘’busy’’ dive.

Tiny basket stars on the Aster
Tiny basket stars on the Aster
The mast of the Aster at night
The mast of the Aster at night

Back on dry land we waited out the sunset and then went back out to the Aster for a night dive. The conditions were great, visibility 10 -12 metres and cold water (11 degrees) on the bottom. Night dives to the deeper wrecks are more challenging than shore night dives so a big well done to the guys and girls that joined.

Goot, Tami, Tony, Clare, Gerard and Cecil, ready for a night dive on the Aster
Goot, Tami, Tony, Clare, Gerard and Cecil, ready for a night dive on the Aster

Talks

On Tuesday evening we attended a talk and slide show at Dive Action. Barry had done some diving in a fjord in Norway and recounted the trip with a lot of info and photos of the dive centre there and the wrecks. He also talked us through the logistics of diving far from home with a few hundred kilograms of dive gear. As you know I have absolutely no knowledge of rebreathers so if you want to know more about diving with a re-breather then Barry is the man to see.

The Fernedale and the Parat side by side
The Fernedale and the Parat side by side

As you can see in this photo (courtesy of Gulen Dive Centre, kindly shared with us by Sarah from the Dive Action team), the visibility in the fjords is something else. It was taken at around 30 metres and the wreck on the right sits on the sand at over 55 metres.

This evening we attended a talk at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre by George Branch… He is one of the authors of the Two Oceans book and is an almost legendary figure in South African marine biology. The talks at SOSSC are always very good and are always ocean related so you should make an effort to attend a few… You are never too old to learn something new!!! Visit their facebook page and like them and this way you will be informed of their activities. Their page is constantly updated with some stunning photos and lots of info on sharks.

Hyperbaric chamber

Clare and I were taken on a tour of the hyperbaric medical facility in the Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont today. It is the only chamber of its kind in Cape Town and is used for many forms of medical treatments not related to diving, but should you have a  problem on a dive and get DCS, this is the place you will go! This centre is also home to one of the most respected diving doctors in South Africa. As a diver you should have DAN Medical Insurance and you should know where the nearest chamber is, how to get there and who to call. All of this information should be in your log book. Their website is here. We will post a detailed report of this visit on the blog soon. This is a fully equipped medical facility and a lot different to the chamber we did our 50 metre chamber dive in!

What we are going to get up to

Training

Saturday is pool day and if you want to join and play with your gear and buoyancy text me before 2pm Friday. The cost to scuba dive in the pool (if you’re not on course) is R50, and if you just want to swim it’s R7. We are still busy with Deep and Nitrox Specialties which we will continue with early Sunday morning, launching out of Hout Bay at 7.30am. The boat takes 14 and we are already confirmed for 10 people so text me quickly if you are in.

After the boat dive we will move to False Bay and then do dive 3 & 4 for a few Open Water students. If the conditions are good we will try the Clan Stuart or A Frame. The visibility in the bay at the moment is 10 – 15 metres and despite some southeaster for the next two day I doubt it will do too much harm so diving will be good.

Scubapro Day – 1 October

Scubapro are having a ScubaPro Day in the Simon’s Town yacht basin on 1 October. They will allow you to test dive the latest gear from their range. There will be food, drinks and goodie bags plus lots of divers and other kinds of people. Boat dives are going to cost R100 and R25 gets you a goodie bag and registration at the event. I have booked 12 places on two dives on the boat, big brother to this boat.

Ruby Runner's little cousin, spotted in Germany
Ruby Runner’s little cousin, spotted in Germany

If you want to participate you need to book and you need to do this soon. Boat dives at R100 don’t come round too often so book this week or lose out. You will need to book and pay by Tuesday next week for this event. The dives are at 8.00am and 2.00pm.

Travels

There is a trip to Mozambique on the weekend 4-6 of November. It is a five dive/three night package that starts at R1850. You will need to mail me for more info as it is a trip shared with a dive centre in Durban and will need some quick decisions.

Reminders

  1. A diver is currently in jail in Cape Town for diving without a permit… Don’t let it be you… Get a permit if you don’t have one.
  2. Book for the boat for Sunday and October 1 (ScubaPro Day) NOW!

Bye for now,

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

Diving is addictive!

Chamber dive revisited

Sealing the inner chamber door
Sealing the inner chamber door

We recently did a chamber dive to 50 metres. A hyperbaric chamber is a sealable chamber, or pressure vessel, somewhat like your dive cylinder (just larger), and has hatches large enough for you to climb in. It is connected to an air compressor or a bank of compressed air, and once you’re in and it is sealed the pressure is increased just as the pressure around you increases as you descend. You need to equalise as you do under water, the only real difference being is that you are dry. A fast descent means constant equalizing and ensuring deep breaths are taken. You will experience nitrogen narcosis, the extent will vary from person to person and you voice will change.

Our hyperbaric chamber
Our hyperbaric chamber

The video below shows us counting backwards from five, showing the correct number of fingers and turning our hands round after each number. It’s hard when you’re narced!

As a recreational diver you will find that your PADI eRDP will not allow you to enter a depth greater than 40 metres when you plan a dive, and the recreational dive planner (RDP or dive tables) will not allow planning deeper than 42 metres. The chamber operator or anyone that does deep technical diving will have a program to enable proper dive planning and ensuring the correct dive profile is maintained, by means of decompression stops.

Checking on the first group of chamber divers
Checking on the first group of chamber divers

On our dive we descended to 9 metres, and paused whilst two way communication was tested and the operator checked everyone was okay. Thereafter we dropped like a stone down to 50 metres in two minutes. Our bottom time was nine minutes. Nine minutes at this depth gives you quite a decompression commitment and we ascended slowly doing several deco stops on the way up with a total dive time of 39 minutes.

My Mares Nemo Wide showing the dive stats
My Mares Nemo Wide showing the dive stats
Citizen dive computer
Citizen dive computer

Our dive computers all joined us for this dive and were placed in a bucket of water (some dive computers will not go into dive mode unless the water contacts are activated). I had a Suunto Mosquito, a Mares Nemo Wide, an Uwatec Aladin Prime and a Citizen dive computer as well as a wrist mount depth gauge.

My trusty Suunto Mosquito showing the dive stats
My trusty Suunto Mosquito showing the dive stats
The Aladdin that Clare usually wears
The Aladdin that Clare usually wears

The computers were all similar in readings and were all between 50.1 metres and 50.4 metres whilst the depth gauge showed 59 metres! It’s safer for your instruments to err on the side of conservatism (i.e. tell you you’re deeper than you are, rather than the other way around). This depth gauge probably didn’t know what hit it!

Analogue depth gauge with red needle showing maximum depth
Analogue depth gauge with red needle showing maximum depth

A very important deep skill on a PADI Advanced course is to compare your depth gauge with your buddy and your instructor. There can easily be huge variations in depth gauges.

Goot checks his computer
Goot checks his computer

Chamber diving for dummies

I’ve been wanting to arrange a chamber dive for a while. Hyperbaric chambers are like large geysers that can be pressurised to higher than atmospheric pressure. They are used in medical applications – breathing oxygen-rich gas at high pressure assists with all manner of complaints – and of course, in diving medicine for the treatment of decompression sickness. They are also used in commercial diver training.

Checking out the chamber
Checking out the chamber

A chamber dive doesn’t involve water, scuba gear or buddy checks. It simulates the experience of breathing compressed air from a cylinder at the bottom of the ocean by putting you in a sealed metal chamber, pumping air into it to the required pressure, and decompressing you slowly after leaving you there for a while. It’s perfectly safe. There’s an intercom so the chamber operator can hear you at all times, and we were supplied with a rubber mallet for knocking on the chamber wall in emergencies while the pressure was being adjusted (which is a noisy process, like sitting inside a jet engine).

Goot settles in inside the chamber
Goot settles in inside the chamber

The chamber we visited is on campus at the University of Cape Town and is used for commercial diver training. Eight of us did a chamber dive to 50 metres (in two groups of four). This is 10 metres deeper than Tony and I are qualified to dive in the ocean (with a Deep specialty qualification), and 20 metres deeper than an Advanced diver is qualified to go. An Open Water diver can go to 18 metres. The only requirement for this dive was an entry-level dive qualification, so Open Water was fine.

Paul the chamber operator at the controls
Paul the chamber operator at the controls

Paul, the chamber operator, checked that none of us had any plates, pins or bolts in our bodies. It turns out that both Goot and Tami are semi-bionic, and they were told to move the affected limb (or jaw, as the case may be) to ensure blood flow throughout the process. Nitrogen bubbles would be more prone to form around a screw or other metal fixture interrupting the natural shape of the bone. We were told to sit with our legs as straight as possible, arms uncrossed, to ensure that blood circulates well throughout the dive. He warned us that if we have a panic attack at 50 metres there’s nothing to do except sit on the affected diver, because once the chamber is pressurised it cannot be depressurised quickly without serious – life-threatening – risk to the occupants. For this reason we had a stop on the way down, at 9 metres, to check that everyone was still happy.

It's crowded in there - Bernita, Sophie, Tracy and Goot do their dive
It's crowded in there - Bernita, Sophie, Tracy and Goot do their dive

The chamber is pressurised to six atmospheres by pumping air into it. The pressurisation was done quickly – it took two minutes (with a brief stop at 9 metres to check that we were all right) to take us down to 50 metres. We had to equalise like MAD, literally every couple of seconds, and the chamber got very very hot inside as the air was pumped in. Boyle’s law at work… Constant volume, increasing pressure!

Starting the ascent
Starting the ascent

We spent about eight minutes at 50 metres. It was an intensely strange sensation. I felt the same light-headed hot scalp feeling that I experienced last time I was seriously narcosed, in Smitswinkel Bay, but magnified to the point that I felt drowsy and woozy and quite chilled. Our voices sounded as though we’d been inhaling helium, and EVERYTHING was very funny. I had a very nice feeling of well-being but wasn’t really interested in complicated conversations.

We had our dive computers with us in a bucket of water, and checked them periodically to see what they were telling us. Tony had his Mares Nemo Wide set on nitrox 32%, and it was flashing at him that we were perilously close to the maximum depth at which it’s safe to breathe that mixture. As expected, it gave us more bottom time than the computers that were set on air before it went into deco.

I distinctly remember trying to interpret the array of numbers on the screen of one of the dive computers, and handing it back to Tony and saying vaguely, “I don’t understand what all these numbers mean” – VERY odd for me because my entire job revolves around the complex manipulation of numbers, and I have a great fondness for statistics of all kinds!

Still feeling rather jolly, and hot - emerging from the chamber
Still feeling rather jolly, and hot - emerging from the chamber

As the chamber was depressurised, we experienced Boyle’s law in the opposite (very welcome) direction: the air cooled rapidly and mist formed to such an extent that at times I couldn’t see Tami, who was a metre away from me. There was a little bit of coughing from irritated lungs at this point!

The first group degassed by spending 5 minutes at 9 metres, 5 minutes at 6 metres, and 10 minutes at 3 metres. This is an extremely conservative decompression schedule and fulfilled all deco obligations plus more after the bottom time that was experienced. All our dive computers would have allowed us to ascend long before Paul let us out of the chamber! The second group, in which Tony and I were, had an even more conservative decompression schedule because of the particular age and physical profile of our group, and we spent 5 minutes at 9 metres, 10 minutes at 6 metres and  a full 15 minutes at 3 metres.

Tracy, Goot, Sophie, Tami, Bernita, me and Cecil - Tony took the picture
Tracy, Goot, Sophie, Tami, Bernita, me and Cecil - Tony took the picture

Dive date: 8 March 2011

Air temperature: 26-31 degrees (inside the chamber)

Water temperature: what water?

Maximum depth: 50.4m

Visibility: wall to wall (so about 1.5 metres!)

Dive duration: 40 minutes

Chamber dive video

We finally did the long-threatened chamber dive yesterday evening. Here’s a video I took from outside the chamber, with Bernita, Goot, Sophie and Tracy inside – highly narcosed at 50 metres and having (from the sounds of things) a whale of a time.

We’ll put up some more detail and photos from the chamber dive later this week.

Newsletter: 50 metres and Gordon’s Bay

Hello all you divers

Tracy, Goot, Sophie, me, Tami, Bernita, Clare and Cecil outside the chamber
Tracy, Goot, Sophie, me, Tami, Bernita, Clare and Cecil outside the chamber

We have just come home from a 50 metre chamber dive. We were two groups of four on each dive and the profile went like this: surface to a brief stop at 9 metres to check that everyone was okay and then a plunge down to 50 metres in two minutes, ten minutes at this depth and then around 25 minutes for the ascent with a few stops to decompress.

50 metres down...
50 metres down...

We took a small sample of a wetsuit with us, this compressed to paper thin material. Two balloons, inflated before the descent, shrank to the size of a fist at 50 metres. We took several dive computers and a wrist mount depth gauge. The computers agreed more or less on the depth we reached, 50.2, 50.4 and 50.1 metres. The analogue depth gauge showed almost 60 metres. Great fun and a safe way to experience chronic nitrogen narcosis.

Clare examining the controls of the chamber
Clare examining the controls of the chamber

Last week

Evil-eye pufferfish at Long Beach
Evil-eye pufferfish at Long Beach

We had three good days of diving last week and saw a huge ray, several cuttlefish, puffer fish, and of course the regular octopus. There have also been huge schools of yellowtail, the fishermen were netting a few hundred an hour on the northern end of Long Beach. All the dives last week were interesting as a big school of tiny anchovies followed us around.

Two tiny cuttlefish at Long Beach
Two tiny cuttlefish at Long Beach

We dived at Long Beach on the weekend, Corne doing Divemaster training, Marinus and Dean doing dive three and compass work for their Open Water course, and Sarah finishing her Open Water course.

Dean practising compass work under a towel while Marinus and Corne look on
Dean practising compass work under a towel while Marinus and Corne look on

The water was 15 degrees and the visibility was low, perhaps 3-4 metres. We were able to capture a small feeding frenzy on camera below the bow of the wreck where a few species were after the same food, the winner being the shyshark who took it all in one bite. I’ll send a link to the video in the next newsletter.

Sarah impersonating a manta ray
Sarah impersonating a manta ray

Sunday’s planned boat dives were cancelled due to a red tide hitting the coastline and turning the water into coffee. Clare, Lukas and I did a photography dive to check it out and had less than 2 metres visibility.

This weekend

This weekend will be a little tricky. The Argus Cycle Tour is on and its around the peninsula so there are going to be road closures on Saturday evening and Sunday. Saturday they are closing the road late so we may be able to dive from Hout Bay but will only know on Thursday if this is going to happen.

Sunday is definitely out so we are planning to head off to Gordon’s Bay, weather permitting. The plan is for Grant to take the boat out really early, check out the conditions and then give us a call. You will need to either escape the race, participate, or stay home so why not come to Gordon’s Bay and we go wreck hunting. The diving there is lovely and conditions are good there when our side of False Bay is a mess because of the southeaster. We’re going to make a day of it and have lunch and an ice cream afterwards.

If you want to come diving on Sunday please let me know before midday on Friday because the boat will fill up very quickly with NON-cyclists!

Sodwana

Sodwana divers please send me a list of gear you will require so we can get it planned and arranged. We will have a dinner at our house for the group about 10 days before we leave to get all the final arrangements sorted out. I will let you know amounts owing in a separate mail.

Courses

I am currently running Open Water courses, Deep specialty, Rescue and Divemaster. The Deep specialty qualifies you to 40 metres so if proper exploration of those wrecks in Smitswinkel Bay is on your bucket list let me know and we can do some deep diving.

I am going to run two special programs over the next month, one being a package of Open Water, Advanced and a Specialty – e.g. Wreck, Deep or Nitrox – at a half price. Secondly do Discover Scuba Diving any weekday for R350 and if it is for a friend of yours you can tag along for free.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Newsletter: Club evening and chamber dive

Hi everyone

We have done very little diving this past week, lousy weather and lots of wind.

Dive planning

This weekend I am hoping to do boat dives one day (probably Saturday, weather dependent), and shore dives with students on the other day. Let me know if you’d like to tag along on either and I’ll keep you in the loop.

Boat dives

Please note that prices for boat dives are going up as of 1 March (today) from R180 per person per dive to R210. If you want to buy a ten boat dive package you can do so directly from Grant at BlueFlash for R1600. A one-off boat dive directly from Grant is R250.

Obviously if you’re doing a boat dive as part of your course, you don’t need to pay.

Chamber dives

We have one or two spots left for the chamber dive, which is taking place on Tuesday 8 March at 5.30pm in Rondebosch. This is going to be a very entertaining (and hopefully educational) experience and I’d recommend you join us if you can. Email or call me if you’re interested.

You don’t need a medical certificate if you plan to do this dive – just an Open Water (minimum) qualification.

Wreck diving talk

On Wednesday evening (2 March) there’s a talk on shipwrecks (diveable ones) of the West Coast, given by Alistair Downing of Underwater Explorers (the diver who described his experience of being bent to Clare for a blog post on DAN membership that I mentioned two newsletters ago).

It’s happening at False Bay Underwater Club which meets just down the road from where I live in Kenilworth. This is a nice opportunity to meet some of the FBUC members (many of whom you will recognise from diving on the boat), to see what it’s like to be part of a dive club, and to learn something new and interesting.

If you’d like to attend, let me know and you can meet at our house at 7.20pm and follow us down the road from there. The talk should be over by 9pm unless things get really out of hand.

There’s no charge except the price of one drink at the bar to support the club!

Dive Site magazine

Those of you who haven’t signed up for the Dive Site magazine at www.thedivesite.co.za should do so – it’s a FREE quarterly magazine of outstanding quality (far better than the ones that actually cost you money) along with a super weekly newsletter (and I am not just saying that because I was featured in the last one!). In the next issue of the magazine will be an article about the discovery of the SS Cape Matapan, the wreck opposite Cape Town Stadium that some of you dived with me last month (with mixed success!)

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Dive Site magazine
Those of you who haven’t signed up for the Dive Site magazine at www.thedivesite.co.za should do so – it’s a FREE quarterly magazine of outstanding quality (far better than the ones that actually cost you money) along with a super weekly newsletter (and I am not just saying that because I was featured in the last one!). In the next issue of the magazine will be an article by our trusty boat skipper Grant about the discovery of the SS Cape Matapan, the wreck opposite Cape Town Stadium that some of you dived with me last month (with mixed success!)

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!