Red Sea inspiration

I’ve found the article and photograph(s) that put a bee in my bonnet about going to the Red Sea. The Autumn 2012 edition of the Dive Site magazine featured an article by Andrew Taylor, Cape Town diver and rather amazing underwater photographer. For some reason this particular image of one of the cargo holds of the Giannis D caught my imagination…

Autumn 2012 issue of The Dive Site
Autumn 2012 issue of The Dive Site

If you have a copy of the magazine you should check out the article. It’ll also make you want to pack your bags and go – the photographs are amazing.

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!”


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.


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


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.


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

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…


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!


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


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.

Magazine: screenshot screenshot isn’t strictly speaking a magazine – it’s more like a global scuba diving internet portal. It’s divided into a few sections, each of which is huge and comprehensive.

  • Forums – very active discussion pages on everything to do with scuba
  • Gear – scuba gear for sale by, as well as a few user reviews
  • Classifieds – buy and sell scuba gear
  • Photos and Videos – huge numbers of user-submitted photos and video clips
  • Dive Sites – brief summaries on dive sites all over the world (including quite a few South African ones)
  • Dive Shops – look up dive centres in the city you plan to visit. Learn to Dive Today is listed here!
  • Articles – articles on scuba and more… you could spend hours browsing here

There’s also an iPhone app, if you’re into that sort of thing! This is a lovely site to while away a few hours when you want to be in the water but can’t…

Supporting the NSRI

We feel quite strongly about this, in the same way that some people feel strongly about supporting the SPCA or Amnesty International. So pardon me if I offend you!

Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront
Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront

If you’re a water user – scuba diver, boater, fisherman, surfskier, swimmer, surfer, or kite surfer (and I am sure there are more) – then supporting the NSRI is one of the things I think you should consider. They are entirely staffed by TOTALLY AWESOME volunteers, and do a wide range of work protecting and rescuing those who use the South African coastline. Their work is often dangerous, uncomfortable, and scary, and it’s in every one of our best interests – including the volunteers’ – that they have the most up to date and well-maintained equipment possible.

Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront
Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront

Becoming a member of the NSRI is the least expensive way of showing your support. It costs only R100 per year, and you get a subscription to Sea Rescue magazine – three issues per year – which has articles about everything ocean related.

Another way to support them is to volunteer. You need to live within a short distance (10-15 minutes I think) of  a base station, but they can use the services of even people like me (that is, with no sea legs!) – to make coffee, do administration, and assist at the base. If you know the sea, first aid, navigation, radio operation or anything like that then they’d be thrilled to have you on board.

Magazine: African Diver

African Diver is a freely available South African diving magazine, that appears only in electronic format. You can subscribe to their newsletter which alerts you to new editions, which come out six times a year. The magazine has been running for about two and a half years.

African Diver issue 14
African Diver issue 14

The magazine covers a wide range of diving and ocean-related topics, from dive sites and dive travel, to conservation, safety (they have a close association with DAN), wrecks, photography and free diving. The focus is on diving in Africa. The photos are gorgeous and plentiful. Because it’s digital format, large photo spreads don’t cost the publishers anything extra, which makes for a fantastic full-screen experience.

That said, I don’t find the format of the magazine particularly user-friendly – you have to download a pdf file which can be up to 15MB in size, so it involves commitment – and I do struggle to commit to reading anything on a computer screen for a significant length of time (rich coming from a blogger who hopes you WILL commit to reading THIS on a computer screen!).

But the format enables the magazine to be free and it does mean you can change the font size to super ginormous if that’s what your eyes need. Also, you can zoom into those stunning photos to your heart’s content. There is also an option that enables you to read the magazine online, without downloading the whole thing.

There is an interesting blog on the African Diver site, that is updated more frequently than the magazine.

Latest issue (Issue 14)

Georgina Jones of SURG writes an article about local dive site Star Walls (in the Atlantic). There’s a final installment from a couple who drove cross-country from Betty’s Bay in the Western Cape to Japan, in order to highlight what humans are doing to our oceans. There’s an article on shark finning in Mozambique (by the same author who wrote an article on the identical topic for the latest issue of The Dive Site).

There’s a very interesting article about deep diving, and the independent attitude that is required by divers when they reach the Advanced qualification stage. The author, Debbie Smith, lists the aspects that an Advanced diver should be able to manage: their own kit, their buoyancy, tucking in their gear, getting down, safety stops, helping themselves on the boat, and so on. It’s a very salutary reminder that even though you can theoretically be qualified as an Advanced diver after doing only nine dives ever, there’s a lot more to it than that.

There’s a very inspiring article about disabled scuba divers, and a safety review from DAN of 2010.

Magazine: The Dive Site

The Dive Site issue 2 Spring 2010
The Dive Site issue 2 Spring 2010

I have ranted before about how magnificent this magazine is, and I felt it was worth doing so again. If you’re a diver, and not subscribed, SHAME ON YOU! Get thee to the Dive Site website and sign up!

It’s free, and marvellous. The magazine arrives in print every quarter, and there’s a weekly newsletter that is packed with super articles, updates and competitions. You can read the magazine online, too, should you so wish.

It’s hands down the best diving magazine in South Africa. Tony and I keep our copies with our books rather than with the pile of magazines in the guest loo! This is how a diving magazine should look.

I also like it because the editor takes a strong ethical stance on whaling, shark finning, and conservation issues in general.

Latest issue (Summer 2011)

In the latest issue (which came out several weeks ago), freediver Hanli Prinsloo ruminates on the virtues and ethics of eating fish. Charles Maxwell, underwater videographer, speaks about his work and favourite subjects to film. There’s a fascinating article on the Okavango Delta, covering the cameramen for Into the Dragon’s Lair, a documentary about the (very large) Nile crocodile. There’s an article on shark finning in Mozambique, and some beautiful work by underwater photographer Fiona Ayerst.

Magazine: Submerge

Submerge is the other not-for-free South African diving magazine, alongside Divestyle. (The Dive Site is the free one, and is preferable not only for the reason of its cost…)

The Submerge website is smaller and contains less current diving information than that of Divestyle, and while the Current Affairs section on the website is interesting, the absence of dates on the posts makes for frustrating reading. The same section in the magazine is far more useful.

The magazine itself has a more dated look than Divestyle but I find it to be more content-rich and the photographs are more numerous and in general magnificent. Valda Fraser is a regular photographic contributor. She’s the co-author of More Reef Fishes & Nudibranchs, a stalwart on our Sodwana trip (the book, not Valda).

Regular sections include an Ask DAN column, in a sort of agony-auntie format, and the magazine seems to have a close affiliation with DAN. There are also regular Instructor Diaries (often more than one), and a double page spread of Current Affairs. For those who like to (or bother to) tweak their photos after the fact (clearly I am not one of them), there’s a regular Photoshop section that demonstrates simple effects and adjustments for underwater photographers.

One of my favourite sections is the Portfolio section, where an underwater photographer gets to show off a sample of his or her best work. There are the usual features on gadgets and gizmos, including lots of photographic gear.

There are several regular sections that make Submerge a magazine you want to keep:

  • There’s a regular Dive Sites section, with photos and useful facts about dive sites all along the Southern African and Mozambican coastline.
  • Species Focus is a short one or two page bullet-form article with photos, concerning a particular species
  • There’s a “collectable” fish ID section of which Dennis King is often co-author and photographer. This is very useful for distinguishing different types of ray, butterfly fish, nudibranch, or other marine creature. There are sometimes multiple fish ID sections per issue.

Submerge does sometimes have a column or two on technical diving, but it’s much less of a feature than it is in Divestyle.

Like Divestyle, Submerge comes out six times per year, lagging Divestyle by one month.

Latest issue (February/March 2011)

Submerge (February/March 2011)
Submerge (February/March 2011)

The latest issue is rich on dive travel features, something at which Submerge is very good. Adam Cruise writes an article on diving in Pomene in Mozambique – seahorse heaven apparently! – and there’s a gorgeous photo spread by Valda Fraser of creatures seen on a night dive in the same location.

The featured underwater photographer in the Portfolio section is Mark van Coller, and the cover image (a beautiful seal) is also his. There’s also a feature (with lovely photos) on the destructive crown of thorns starfish. Species Focus is on batoids (skates and rays). Unfortunately our own giant short-tailed stingray was missing!

Submerge is running a series on shipwrecks at the moment, compiled by Wreckseekers. It’s more about the legends and history than about diving the wrecks, but interesting nonetheless.

If you had to choose between Divestyle and Submerge, I’d subscribe to Submerge, particularly if you have a special interest in underwater photography, dive travel or species identification.

Magazine: Divestyle

Divestyle January/February 2011
Divestyle January/February 2011

Until the advent of The Dive Site, there were two primary South African print edition diving magazines: Submerge, and Divestyle. We subscribe to both of these. Frankly, The Dive Site has set a new standard for diving magazines, but it’s early days yet and Submerge and Divestyle are well-established.

Of the two (Divestyle and Submerge), Divestyle has the most professional look, at least on the cover. Submerge looks a bit like an eighties throwback, a lot like the tacky photography magazines that rely on lurid fonts and neon colours on the cover to get attention.

To be honest, however, there’s not much to differentiate the two magazines. Sometimes they put out issues within weeks of each other, with identical topics for their cover stories. We’ve just received the latest Divestyle, though, so I can comment in detail on it.

The magazine is published by the husband and wife team who produced The Dive Spots of Southern Africa. Many of the articles in the magazine are written by one or both of them. Fiona McIntosh, author of the Atlas of Dive Sites of South Africa and Mozambique is also a regular (and much appreciated) contributor.

They do have a useful section near the front of the magazine where local dive centre owners and dive instructors can provide short updates on the current local dive conditions – this section was particularly interesting and active after the fire in Ponta do Ouro and has provided a good way to keep up to date with developments among the dive operators there.

I also enjoy the technical diving section (strangely enough, since I’m firmly in the recreational scuba camp!) for its contributions by greats such as Don Shirley, Peter Herbst and Nuno Gomes. The format here is that a question is posed, and several tech divers contribute their opinions. There is a regular column by a diving instructor, too, which provides interesting (and sometimes controversial) insights.

The dive travel aspect of the magazine is pretty good – we keep old issues of all our diving magazines for this very reason. Both local and international destinations are covered.

The photographs are generally of high quality, and there’s  a section where readers can send in their own photos for a bimonthly competition. I enjoy seeing what equipment others are using, and personally judging the results!

Tony enjoys the various bits and pieces of advertising leaflets that come with the magazine… He often wonders what sort of quality training a dive centre that offers a “buy one Open Water course, get one free” offer is willing to provide…

The Divestyle website is quite useful, with useful information on local and international travel destinations available free of charge. There are book and DVD reviews as well as a few dive gear and camera reviews too, but not as many as I’d expect. (The magazine has a regular section on cool new gadgets and toys for divers… Tony and I enjoy those pages particularly!)

The magazine comes out six times per year. There’s not much of a saving off the cover price for subscribing, and it doesn’t arrive earlier in my postbox than it does in the shops… But I do find it convenient to subscribe. You can get hold of it in local dive shops and (I think) at CNA and Exclusive Books.

Latest issue (January/February 2011)

This latest issue (cover pictured above) got up my nose because the editor commented that an article he’d published in the current issue concerning evolution didn’t sit well with his personal convictions. All well and good, but how does putting a bikini-clad woman on the cover sit with your convictions? It’s naive to think that there’s any deeper interpretation of the image that can be made, other than “sex sells”, and hypocritical to object to an article on evolution on religious grounds, but not to an almost naked covergirl! (Given my background, I know about this stuff… the religious side, not appearing almost naked on magazine covers, I mean… and can sympathise, but I can’t bear hypocrisy!)

There was also a vapid article about the broadnose sevengill cowsharks in False Bay. The image accompanying the piece could have been much improved (talk to Jacques, for example) and to say that the article said nothing useful would be quite complimentary. A local expert such as Georgina Jones, while acknowledging the shortcomings in our knowledge of these wonderful creatures, would have been able to provide a far more insightful and informative article.

That said (as I climb clumsily down off my high horse), I wouldn’t dissuade you from subscribing, and I will acknowledge that we did enjoy this issue about as much as we usually do!

Divesite promo

Issue 1 Winter 2010
The Dive Site Issue 1 Winter 2010

If you dive in South Africa and you have not signed up for The Dive Site magazine, you should. It’s free – costs not one cent – and the best dive magazine in South Africa. The articles are fascinating, the photos are magnificent, and that necessary evil – the advertisements – are relevant, classy and unobtrusive. It’s a large format magazine printed on thick glossy paper, which means that you can keep it proudly for years to come.

There’s also a weekly newsletter that is well worth signing up for even if you can’t get the magazine (the print run is limited). It features awesome photography, blogs by divers, conservationists and other interesting people, and very cool competitions.

Bookmark The Dive Site in your web browser and support this high quality initiative for South African divers!