Newsletter: Weekend of diving

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach from 9.00 am

Sunday: Boat dives, meeting at False Bay Yacht Club at 9.00 am

Things are looking good for a weekend of decent diving without too much swell or wind. Based on the forecast I think Saturday will be better for shore dives and Sunday (which has a longer period swell) will be the best day for the boat.

On Saturday we will be at Long Beach at 9.00 am. On Sunday we will meet in the car park at False Bay Yacht Club at 9.00 am. I am out on the boat tomorrow so I will have a better idea of the visibility and will choose Sunday’s sites accordingly. There are students on the boat so the depth will not be greater 18 metres.

Olifantsbos on a calm evening
Olifantsbos on a calm evening

Diversnight organisers reported a total of 1,780 participating divers from around the world. Thanks again to all who were part of this event in Cape Town two weekends ago!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Bookshelf: Scuba Professional

Scuba Professional: Insights into Sport Diver Training and Operations – Simon Pridmore

Have you ever wanted to run away and become a scuba instructor? Have you been intoxicated by promises of a lifestyle of tousled, barefoot, beach-based freedom from the rat race? Have you passed your instructor training course and are trying to decide what to do next? Or are you already a dive professional, perhaps looking to solidify your dive business, diversify your income streams, or branch out in the dive industry?

Scuba Professional
Scuba Professional

This is the final, and possibly most important, book in Simon Pridmore’s scuba trilogy (the other two are Scuba Fundamental and Scuba Confidential). Like the other two, it has much to offer – this time, to dive professionals and wannabe dive professionals.

Some of the topics Pridmore discusses are hard truths, such as the fact that becoming a scuba instructor is less about diving than about teaching. A person who doesn’t feel a vocation to teach should probably look for employment elsewhere in the dive industry rather than trying to attain instructor status. He devotes a whole section to teaching issues, many of which will be extremely useful to new instructors looking to move quickly up the learning curve.

An often overlooked feature of the dive industry is that there are many people who make a living from diving, but not by teaching students. Pridmore includes an incredibly helpful chapter in which he interviews several such dive professionals about their jobs, including a gear distributor, a photojournalist, a liveaboard cruise director, and a dive travel specialist. All of these professions include many of the positive aspects of the dive industry, and should provide inspiration for anyone who is keen on the underwater world but doesn’t necessarily feel the urge to teach.

For owners of dive businesses such as dive shops, charters or small training operations, Pridmore has much advice gleaned from running his own dive centre on the island of Guam. Many of his recommendations seem like common sense to anyone who has paid attention to the cycle of boom and bust that seems to characterise the dive industry in some locations, but they are hard-won insights that likely are only obvious after the fact. Unsurprisingly (perhaps?) several relate to safety considerations and gear maintenance. Many of the recommendations Pridmore provides are illustrates with anecdotes describing how he arrived at his viewpoint.

A whole section is devoted to developing a culture of safety in diving, something that featured in Scuba Confidential as well. It can be difficult to discuss dive safety and it seems to me that the industry doesn’t even try. None of the professional member forums I’ve attended, presented by training agency employees with access to incident reports, statistics and trends, has ever addressed dive safety directly. It would be tremendously helpful for instructors and divemasters to know that, for example (I’m making what follows up to make a point) most potential dive accidents happen on dive two of the Open Water course, during mask remove and replace, or during regulator recovery. Because instructors are obliged to report such incidents, training agencies know all about them.

Finally, the future of the dive industry comes under the spotlight, with a discussion of rebreathers (are they the future?) and the likely origin of the next wave of scuba diving students and tourists (Pridmore reckons, China). I was surprisingly moved (for a book about being a dive professional) by the chapter about dive tourism businesses, which concludes with the insistence that the only way a dive business in a remote, exotic location will flourish, is by involving the local community, training them to work in all levels of the business, and spreading a message of conservation that includes the people who live in the paradise in question. This kind of cultural sensitivity has not been the norm in many places, but where it is, the results are special.

Get a copy here (South Africa), here or here.

Bookshelf: Scuba Fundamental

Scuba Fundamental: Start Diving the Right Way – Simon Pridmore

When I first learned how to dive, all I wanted was to find books about scuba diving that were relevant to my stage of knowledge and skill, so that I could learn more (my learning style is by reading). Unfortunately at that time the only books about scuba diving in South Africa that I could find were absolute rubbish (fortunately the situation has improved immeasurably – here’s a quality example). I wish I’d had this book to hand, but it was only published last year, so sorry for me.

Scuba Fundamental
Scuba Fundamental

I read it anyway, with my jaded old eyes. It isn’t specific to South Africa, but it’s written for people who are contemplating learning to dive, who are busy learning, or who are still early in their diving careers. Many of the topics that Simon Pridmore covers are ones that Tony and I tried to deal with in the early days of this blog. He is eminently sensible, and writes from a position of deep, international experience in the dive industry.

How does one choose a dive course? How does one choose a diving instructorWhen shouldn’t one dive? Which certification agency is best? Should a new diver buy their own equipment, and where does one even begin with that? Once qualified, what next? What about diving in cold water and cold weather? How can divers keep safe on the surface? Pridmore also discusses some important elements of dive etiquette such as peeing in your wetsuit, entry techniques (giant strides, backward rolls, and so on), seasickness, dive boat etiquette, behaviour around marine animals, and what to do if your dive buddy surfaces with a giant booger.

If you’re thinking of learning to dive, are busy with your course, have done fewer than 30 dives, or are just seeking some direction in the early stages of your love affair with scuba diving, consider this guide. If you have a friend or family member you’d like to start a conversation with about diving, or would like to buy a dive course for but can’t afford it, this book is an excellent starting point. I found myself agreeing out loud with the author’s observations more times than I can count.

Get it here (South Africa), here (US) or here (UK).

Newsletter: Filling up

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives from Simon’s Town at 9.00 am and 11.30 am (maximum depth 18 metres)

Filing station on Vaxholm
Filing station on Vaxholm

We are back from a vacation and the one thing, of many, that stood out as something that we could really use in False Bay, was a filling station. Not one for cars – we have those – but a real marine filling station that boats can approach from the water. The one in the picture is on the island of Vaxholm in the Stockholm archipelago.

Word is that the visibility is in False Bay has been decent. Not much wind or swell are in the forecast for Sunday so that’s the day we plan to dive.

Both dives (at 9.00 am and 11.30 am) will be to a maximum depth of 18 metres and most likely around Roman Rock, as I have students to qualify. Let me know if you want to join us.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Newsletter: Clean and fresh

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives (max 18 metres) at 9.00 am and 11.30 am from Simons Town jetty

Simon's Town boating on a windless day
Simon’s Town boating on a windless day

It is the time of year where False Bay is mostly good, clean and a little bit cooler. Providing the usual winter swells don’t hammer us, the conditions are good. Sunday looks to be the better day for us, so we plan to launch at 9.00 and 11.30 am from False Bay Yacht Club. Both sites will be a maximum depth of 18 metres as I have students to qualify.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Slightly swelly

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday and Monday: Boat dives (location to be decided)

Last weekend we did some boating in Table Bay as a support boat for the Robben Island to Big Bay Freedom Swim. The remnants of the swell on Thursday and Friday was enough to give the swimmers a sizeable challenge with strong currents, choppy surface conditions and very cold patches of water.

Colin swimming across Table Bay
Colin swimming across Table Bay

The swell climbed from under 2 metres to a little over 5 metres this morning.  This means diving tomorrow is pretty much out, as is diving on Saturday (thanks also to the Two Oceans Marathon). The swell drops off during the day on Saturday so both Sunday and Monday should deliver some reasonable diving conditions.

It is difficult to say whether Hout Bay or False Bay would be better on Sunday and Monday, but I will make that decision late on Saturday afternoon. I have Open Water and Advanced Open Water students so one day is likely to include a deep dive to more than 18 metres.

If you are keen to dive on Sunday or Monday, let me know and I’ll schedule you in!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Newsletter: Testing 123

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Two launches from False Bay Yacht Club, meeting at 8.00 am

A long period 3 metre swell arrives tomorrow, drops on Saturday and then builds again on Sunday. I am planning two launches early on Saturday morning as I have several students to certify. We will meet in the car park at False Bay Yacht Club at 8.00 am. Destination unknown and weather dependent. If you’re keen on a magical mystery tour, drop me an email, text or Whatsapp.

The boat from underwater
The boat from underwater

Keeping busy

In case you missed it on the blog this week, we tested one of our self-inflating life jackets in the pool, to see what would happen when it got wet. It works!

Maritime archaeologist John Gribble is speaking at the auditorium of the South African Astronomical Observatory on Wednesday 17 August, 4.30 for 5.00 pm. His talk is entitled “From Shipwrecks to Hand Axes: An Introduction to South Africa’s Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage” and is described as follows:

South Africa’s maritime and underwater cultural heritage is surprisingly diverse and extremely rich. Although shipwrecks are the most obvious elements of this rich heritage resource, there are a range of pre-colonial maritime heritage resources that are less well known. This talk will introduce South Africa’s maritime and underwater cultural heritage, highlight the archaeological importance of this resource, and touch on a few examples of interesting, local historical wrecks.

There is no need to book, the event is free to the public.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Sweets on the boat!

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Sunday: Boat dives at 9.00 to Atlantis Reef (5-27 metres) and 12.00 to Tivoli Pinnacles (10-22 metres)

Conditions report

Both the Atlantic and False Bay have been great during the week. We had 8 metre visibility on an Atlantic charter on Wednesday, and today’s offshore winds have flattened False Bay nicely, and cleaned the water significantly. The water temperature on both sides of the peninsula is similar, 10-12 degrees, and the visibility is around 8 metres. I feel that if the water temperature is a single digit the viz needs to be double that, but we don’t always get what we want! False Bay will be the best option this weekend so we will plan to launch on Sunday, at 9.30 for Atlantis and for Tivoli Pinnacles at 12.00.

Sweets on the boat!
Sweets on the boat!

For the diary

December is starting on Monday and the season gets really busy, really fast. We are going to focus on Open Water, Advanced and Nitrox courses this December. We will add a Nitrox course free to the first 5 people that sign up for an Advanced course during December. We are also able to run the Research Diver, Drift diver and Equipment Specialist courses during December and January. To see the range of courses available take a look here.

Please diarise our open house on Saturday afternoon, 13 December. Proper invitations to follow.

For interest

On Sunday while out on the boat we passed by the prototype shark repellent cable at the end of Glencairn beach. This is a non-lethal approach to keeping humans and sharks separate, and is in the testing phase. You can see how the cable is lying with electrodes on each side of the centre cable, the electrodes marked by orange buoys on risers that stick out at low tide. There’s a description of the cable here, and we’ll have some more photos on the blog next Wednesday.

The risers on the cable are clearly visible at low tide
The risers on the cable are clearly visible at low tide

This is a great project with a potentially significant impact on the relationship between humans and sharks in South Africa. The cable was developed at the behest of the KZN Sharks Board, and is being tested in co-operation with Shark Spotters and the City of Cape Town.

For the history books

Last Friday the wreck of the Clan Stuart turned 100. She ran aground in False Bay on 21 November 1914. We had a little commemoration of our Clan Stuart dives on the blog.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Summer winter diving

Hi divers

Weekend plans

Saturday: Student dives (casual divers welcome) at Long Beach

Sunday: Launching at 10.30 and 13.00 – Hout Bay if the south easter blows as predicted, otherwise False Bay.

Roman Rock this afternoon
Roman Rock this afternoon

Dive reports

We had good diving today but there was a south easterly swell which could be felt despite it only being around 2 metres. The wind picked up in the afternoon but the morning conditions were good, it was great to have some sun after the last several wet days. The visibility was 4-5 metres and we dived Roman Rock and Ark Rock.

The weekend weather is better than we have had for several weeks so we will dive at Long Beach on Saturday for training, and we will launch on Sunday. Spring low tides mean we need either to launch really early or a bit later than normal, so the plan is to do two dives, at 10.30 and 13.00.

The south easter blew today and is forecast to blow for the next two days, so we may go to Hout Bay for some summer winter diving and dive one of the wrecks there (the BOS 400, the Maori, the Aster or the Katsu Maru), or find a friendly reef to check out. If the wind doesn’t pan out as expected, we will go to Maidstone Rock 10.30 and Ark Rock at 13.00.

Permits and prices

Please make sure you have your permit or you will need to buy a temporary one from us on the boat. The boat dive price is R260 per dive.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Practice makes perfect: inflating an SMB

When it comes to inflating an SMB, there isn’t a textbook way of doing it. Sure, people have strong feelings about what’s right and what’s not, but as long as you get the SMB inflated without risking (or having) an uncontrolled ascent, that’s fine.

The method Tony prefers is to exhale into the bottom of the tube. That way, if necessary, you can let go of the SMB and not be dragged with it to the surface (this is a risk that exists if you use your octo to inflate it, as it might get stuck). The only way to get the hang of this process, which involves multiple moving parts, is to practice. Here’s Alex practising at Photographer’s Reef.

Here are two more videos of successful SMB inflation. If you dive in Cape Town, it’s absolutely essential to be able to perform this skill. Furthermore, it’s now part of the PADI Open Water course!