Newsletter: Purple crayons

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Possible dives out of Hout Bay if the wind and swell give us a break!

It seems the forecaster at WindGURU found the box of purple crayons and has been liberal with them. Other than a slight lull in the wind forecast for Sunday, it’s purple all of next week too. I very much doubt we will get out on Sunday as there is currently a 4 metre swell flexing its muscles. The Atlantic water colour and temperature show signs of great visibility so if the wind is acceptable on Sunday we will launch from Hout Bay. Text, mail or Whatsapp if you want to be on the list.

Diversnight 2016 at the Simon's Town jetty
Diversnight 2016 at the Simon’s Town jetty

Diversnight 2016 took place last weekend. We dived off the Simon’s Town jetty in a chilly wind. Luckily the visibility was excellent and the fishermen only arrived towards the end of our dive. There are a few photos on facebook.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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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:

Christmas gift guide 2012

In the interest of planning ahead, here’s our annual Christmas gift guide. This is specially for the people whose idea of a good gift is “whatever’s available in a shop close to the mall entrance on 23 December!”

Books

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

There are also a couple of children’s books to consider.

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, otherwise try what I’m currently using: Aussie Moist Three Minute Miracle, which is available at Clicks. 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 those who need (or like) to relax

Magazine subscriptions

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 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:

FAQ: What’s it like on a night dive?

Clare took this short clip on a night dive we did in February at Long Beach. There were seven divers, and you can see that – contrary to what you might expect – there’s quite a lot of light to see by. The frantically waving torch you can see at one point was me signalling to Clare to come and have a look at a doublesash butterflyfish we’d found. The visibility on this dive was about 5 metres.

This dive was part of JP’s Advanced course and Corne’s Divemaster training; the other divers just came along for fun. You can elect to do a night dive as one of your three dive choices on the Advanced course (you have to do a deep dive and a navigation dive), and you can even do an entire Night Diving Specialty if that’s what floats your boat. Divemasters are expected to be familiar with night diving in order to be certified.

Night diving is excellent training for low visibility diving in general. Divers each carry a torch (preferably two), and we use strobes and cyalumes attached to each diver’s cylinder to keep track of everyone. At the beginning of the dive we cover our lights and allow our eyes to acclimatise to the gloom. It’s surprising how much ambient light there is, specially if there’s a full moon.

Christmas gift guide 2011

It’s that time of year again. I trust you are all feeling suitably festive. Here’s our annual (well, second so far) Christmas gift guide. Use it/don’t use it…

Books

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

There are also a couple of children’s books to consider.

Dive gear

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

Probably not a good idea to get a mask unless the place you buy it will let the person exchange it if it doesn’t fit!

Donations

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

Experiences

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

For those who need (or like) to relax

Magazine subscriptions

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 find them at Exclusive Books.

Night dive on the Aster

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

I’ve never done a night dive off a boat before, and never gone deeper than about 12 metres on a night dive, and so it was with mixed feelings that I signed up for a night dive on the MV Aster in Hout Bay, on the evening of 17 September. We’d spent the morning diving in Hout Bay harbour as part of an OMSAC-organised underwater cleanup, and in the afternoon Underwater Explorers was running some boat dives. The visibility on the 2.30pm dive we did on the Aster was passable – not midsummer Atlantic clarity, but a respectable 8-10 metres. I spent most of my time on the deck in the centre of the wreck, on top of the bridge, and around the base of the mast. A strong current was pushing into Hout Bay. The wreck is at about 30 metres on the sand, and the deck is at about 24 metres. The top of the bridge is at 19-20 metres.

A tube worm retracts into its shell
A tube worm retracts into its shell

We launched for the night dive just before 6.30pm. On the boat was Tony, who has done lots of night dives (many off a boat, too), me (who has done lots of night dives, but all shore entries close to the city lights), Tami (ditto), and Goot, Gerard and Cecil, who were all doing their first night dive EVER. I don’t think they realised how awesome they were… Descending 25 metres onto the deck of a wreck, into the 11 degree waters of the Atlantic, in the dark, is something quite special!

The Aster is eerily illuminated by our torches
The Aster is eerily illuminated by our torches

We rolled into the water just before 7.00pm, and descended on the shot line. The first few moments were quite disorienting – it was very dark, much darker than the surface conditions hinted it would be, and it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust and for me to figure out where I was on the wreck. Soon I was more relaxed, and I managed to hunt down the tiny basket stars I’d found on the afternoon dive so that I could show them to Tami. I was glad that I’d done an afternoon dive on the same site – it helped with orientation in the dark, and I enjoyed going back to places where I’d seen things a few hours earlier to check whether they were still there.

Basket star feeding at night
Basket star feeding at night

Tony and I were wearing our Christmas strobes – awesome little gadgets except that the gaps between the flashes can be a bit long when trying to do a quick head count. We also had multiple cyalumes and some rather old glow in the dark Bright Weights (weights is a misnomer here – they are in fact positively buoyant). Those didn’t work too well, but we’re not going to give up on them just yet – perhaps more time under a bright light and/or in the sun will charge them better.

The mast of the Aster at night
The mast of the Aster at night

Doing a safety stop in the dark is a challenge. I didn’t realise how much I rely on having a visual reference – even just watching the depth on my dive computer – to manage my buoyancy at the end of a dive. Using other divers as a reference is not ideal – what if they’re using ME for a reference too? This dive was the first time I’ve used the backlight on my Suunto D6 since I’ve had the computer (about 40 dives), and I realised that the default setting it’s on (illuminates for 5 seconds) is hopelessly and irritatingly too short for a safety stop in the dark. I was also wearing an unbelievably buoyant second wetsuit over my usual Mares Trilastic, which had me shooting towards the surface like a very large cork every time I broke the five metre mark. All this aside, we managed – all of us, together – a safety stop, and then we were on the surface around the buoy, looking for Richard and the Underwater Explorers boat.

The Underwater Explorers buoy on the surface
The Underwater Explorers buoy on the surface

It was very, very peaceful on the surface (until Gerard started on about the crotch strap of Cecil’s new Poseidon wing, purchased for his forthcoming cave diving adventures), and the air wasn’t cold at all. Getting on the boat was a bit of an exercise – dive gear being predominantly black. The boat was far enough from shore that there was very little ambient light to assist the skipper and us in stowing our kit properly, but Richard was organised and quick, and we managed. We had a wait of a couple of minutes for Alistair and his two buddies (all on twins) to surface, and then we headed back to dry land, a warm shower, and the deep sleep that always follows a day of diving.

Tami, Gerard and Cecil waiting to board the Underwater Explorers boat
Tami, Gerard and Cecil waiting to board the Underwater Explorers boat

Dive date: 17 September 2011

Air temperature: 23 degrees

Water temperature: 11 degrees

Maximum depth: 25.3 metres

Visibility: 10 metres (always tough to estimate on a night dive, but we did do a dive at the same site a few hours earlier)

Dive duration: 27 minutes

The divers back on the boat
The divers back on the boat

Strobes

Tony and I love doing night dives. It’s wonderful to watch the sunset, and then be underwater as the sky darkens and the nocturnal marine creatures come out to play. Last year, mostly by accident, we gave each other strobes for Christmas.

A strobe is usually a small, battery powered device that emits a very bright, flashing light at regular intervals. The ones we bought for each other (from Andre) are both rated to 50 metres’ depth and visible for several kilometres on the surface, so useful for emergency signalling both above and below the sea. They burn for hours on only one or two small batteries.

Tony's Seemann Sub strobe
Tony's Seemann Sub strobe

Tony’s is from Seemann Sub (rebranding as Subgear at the moment), and has a small ridged wheel at the end opposite the lit portion that you turn to switch it on and off.

Mine is a Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe that runs on a single AA battery and will burn for eight hours. You turn the cover over the lit portion to switch it on and off.

My Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe
My Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe

Both strobes float head up in the water, so when we attached them to our cylinder (just put the lanyard over the pillar valve before connecting the first stage) and submerged ourselves, they floated just behind our heads. You can’t see the light of your own strobe in this position (which is good, because it would get really annoying!) but it’s very visible to your dive buddy. You could also attach it to the shoulder of your BCD – some vests have velcro there for that purpose.

We really enjoyed having these underwater the first time we used them. Lukas was with us on his first night dive, and we had another instructor and his student with us (they also both had strobes), and it was incredibly easy to keep track of where everyone was without having to swim right on top of each other.

These would also be useful on a deep dive, for diver identification, and if you’re diving anywhere that there’s a chance (however slim) that you might get lost on the surface.

Newsletter: Deep wrecks and warm water

Hello everyone

The new consumer protection act prohibits the sending of unsolicited mail so if you want to opt out of these newsletters send me a mail with the word REMOVE in the subject line.

Recent Dives

The weather is changing, many weeks of planned launches being cancelled seem to soon be a thing of the past. Last weekend we went to the quarry in Somerset West to find some depth for the Deep diver specialty. The water looks clear and inviting but soon gets dark.

Blue Rock Quarry - looks inviting, yes?
Blue Rock Quarry - looks inviting, yes?

We descended down the line below this buoy at Blue Rock Quarry (above). Below are the walls of the quarry, while the water was still fairly shallow.

The walls of Blue Rock quarry
The walls of Blue Rock quarry

This photo was taken around 30 metres, where it’s dark and obstructed by large dead trees.

Dark diving in the quarry
Dark diving in the quarry

On Sunday we went to Long Beach for some rescue skills and for Cecil to get used to using a sling tank, a requirement for deep technical diving and cave diving, something Cecil is preparing for.

Cecil practising with a pony bottle
Cecil practising with a pony bottle

Here’s a picture of Clare exhaling into her SMB. A good way to fill an SMB rather than using a regulator (your octo): you can hold your SMB open just above your head and exhale into it.

Clare inflating an SMB
Clare inflating an SMB

On Tuesday I started a new Open Water course and we dived in a warm 19 degree water with 6 metre visibility.

Sodwana

The Sodwana trip is close and we leave on the 16th April for a four night, 6 dive warm water experience. For anyone that has suddenly decided “why not?” there are still places, it won’t be too bad diving there as the water is only 27 degrees at the moment and the visibility is a little poor for Sodwana, about 25 metres . The diving and accommodation is around R1800 for four nights and six dives including tanks and weights. You will be hard pressed to find a better location than Sodwana within such easy range of Cape Town.

This weekend

On Saturday we are diving the wreck of the Fleur at 0830. This is the sister ship to the grey ship moored outside the Two Oceans Aquarium and I believe she was scuttled in the bay not too far from Seal Island and lies on the sand at around 42 metres. This is a dive for Deep Specialty only.

The next launch will be shallower with a maximum depth of 18 metres and will be a qualifying dive for several Open Water students. There is space on this launch for now, Grant will launch from Millers Point and then pick us up at Long Beach. Please SMS if you want to be on the boat.

Sunday we will dive the sevengill cowsharks, weather and swell permitting.

Courses

The weather is good so I have new courses running every week. We have Open Water, Deep, Rescue and Divemaster courses running at the moment but the conditions are getting to be ideal for a Night diving specialty. If you would like to try this give me a shout.

With regular good boat diving in our near future I will run a special on the Advanced course for four people. If you want to know who else is keen let me know and we can get started
The specialty for April will be Night diving so dig out your torch and charge the batteries.

The Dive Site

This is a free magazine and by far the best diving magazine in South Africa. You get a free online weekly version and a print version every quarter for free. All you have to do is sign up for it. I have been on the list since day one and have never been spammed so I can assure you it is produced by a quality company: www.thedivesite.co.za.

Permits

I can’t end a mail without a gentle reminder about permits. If you don’t have one, please get it tomorrow!!!

For those of you that read our blog you should know that thanks to Clare it was rated as one of the top blogs worldwide and had over two thousand reads in 24 hours. If you have not visited it you should as there are most likely pictures of you on it plus it has a lot of diving related information.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Dive sites: Blue Rock Quarry

We have had a lot of lousy weather lately resulting in the boat diving being cancelled almost every week since the beginning of the year. With a Deep Specialty in progress this has been a huge setback. With the prospects of a deep boat dive diminishing we decided to do a deep dive in the quarry.

Blue Rock Quarry
Blue Rock Quarry

Blue Rock Quarry is situated just outside of Somerset West and is so named for the blue rock harvested there years ago. When it fell into disuse, it was filled up with water and now plays host to a range of watersports and recreational activities.

Blue Rock Quarry - looks inviting, yes?
Blue Rock Quarry - looks inviting, yes?

We chose a spot that had a depth of close to 50 metres as we were looking for a maximum depth of 40 metres. The water looks clean and inviting from the surface and in fact the visibility is very good despite the total darkness that surrounds you from around 30 metres.

Buoy line dropping to 25 metres
Buoy line dropping to 25 metres

Cecil, Clare and I entered the water here, where a line goes down the wall to a ledge at about 25 metres. The water is clear providing you do not rub a fin, finger or bubble on the walls as this results in a cascade of silt and fine rock rubble which takes a fair amount of time to clear.

Rocky slope
Rocky slope

We had planned to stop at 20 and again at 30 metres on the way down but due to the poor visiblity  we stopped a few more times just for me to make sure Clare and Cecil were still above me on the line.

Cecil descending down the buoy line
Cecil descending down the buoy line

At 30 metres we encountered a tree. The branches sticking out in all directions are a huge hazard in low visibility as entanglement is a real possibility. We moved away from the tree and picked up another cable that I reckon runs down to nearly 50 metres.

Dark diving in the quarry
Dark diving in the quarry

At 34 metres the water was very dark, and visibility was reduced to almost zero due to the silt dislodged by us on the cable. I stopped at 34 metres and shone my light down; directly below me was another tree.

The walls of Blue Rock quarry
The walls of Blue Rock quarry

We could move away from the line and descend further or turn the dive here. We did the skills required for the dive at this depth and started our ascent. Ascending was slow and deliberate, with planned stops at 20, 10 and 5 metres.

Tree stump at 5 metres
Tree stump at 5 metres

We did not see any life except for one small freshwater crab spotted by Clare. You don’t do this dive to sightsee!

Cecil doing his safety stop
Cecil doing his safety stop

Things to remember for a fresh water dive: weighting is critical, and you must remove weight for this dive. A good dive light, a back-up and cyalumes or strobes are also required plus a detailed dive plan. The quarry is also used for wake boarding and cable water skiing and a circular raised cable drags the skiiers around the perimeter so an ascent off the line is out of the question.

Dive date: 26 March 2011

Air temperature: 25 degrees

Water temperature: 12 degrees (much warmer on the surface, over 20 degrees)

Maximum depth: 34.4 metres (33.6 metres according to the dive computer, adjusted by 2.5% for fresh water)

Visibility: 4 metres

Dive duration: 23 minutes

As a facility for training the quarry is an option but having dived many quarries in my life I would much rather choose an angry dirty ocean to a quarry.