Newsletter: Ever had a bad Monday? Come diving on Tuesday!

Hello diving people

Anemone at Long Beach
Anemone at Long Beach

You will probably have heard about the shark bite that occurred at Clovelly this morning, at the far end of Fish Hoek beach. For a balanced description of the events, you can read what the NSRI says here. At this time of year sharks do move inshore from Seal Island, and as a swimmer or surfer it is essential to pay attention to the Shark Spotter sirens and flags. As divers we are less concerned about sharks, because it’s highly unlikely that a shark will mistake you for anything other than what you are: a noisy, neoprene-clad figure exhaling clouds of bubbles, unlike any other creature in its domain! I have dived extensively with sharks – when I was working in Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique, our first dive of the day was almost invariably to a reef called Pinnacles, where we saw hammerheads and Zambezi (bull) sharks almost daily, and sometimes tiger sharks. They just do not bug divers.

However, it is recommended to avoid flailing around on the surface too much at any time of the year in Cape Town’s waters, even if you’re in scuba gear. Controlled buoyancy and businesslike behaviour when you surface after a dive will contribute to your peace of mind. If you’d like to chat about sharks or are concerned about what to do if you see one while diving, please get in touch (my contact details are below or on the About page). You can also read this post in our Frequently Asked Questions section for more information, and my account of seeing a great white shark while diving. There is a follow-up on that sighting here.

Sharks are a reality of life lived close to and in the ocean, and we are privileged to reside in a country where great white sharks have been protected for nearly 20 years. Increased shark sightings in Cape Town are attributable both to population growth of great whites – back towards their natural levels before fishing for them was popular – and to increased efforts being put into minimising interactions between bathers and sharks, chiefly by the excellent Shark Spotters campaign. For a bit of background and some food for thought, you can read this post about the history of Shark Spotters, and this movie review.

Tony and Gerard on Tafelberg Reef
Tony and Gerard on Tafelberg Reef

Sharks aside, the ocean has been kind to us of late. We dived both the Atlantic side and the False Bay coastline this last weekend and had a good 12 metres visibility with 10 degrees at Tafelberg Reef, and at Long Beach we had 6 metres visibility and 15 degree water. Yesterday we dived Partridge Point with some tourists and had 15 degree water with 8 metre visibility, and some friendly and playful seals made the tourists extremely happy. On the way out we saw several whales from the boat, and then on our way back our skipper took us on a tour to see the penguins, oystercatchers, and some other tourists standing on the beach!

Bluefin gurnard at Long Beach
Bluefin gurnard at Long Beach

On Saturday ScubaPro will be holding a dive day. This is taking place at the False Bay Yacht Club in Simon’s Town and there will be five or so dive boats running dives at R100 each. Tonight was the deadline for booking a spot on the boat so hopefully you have all made a plan. We had 12 spots but they are all taken. If you are on the first launch on Saturday (8am), please be at the yacht club by 7am. Directions here.

Basket star on Tafelberg Reef
Basket star on Tafelberg Reef

ScubaPro will have gear available for testing on a dive so if you have finally saved up some hard earned cash to purchase a BCD for example, you could test the one you have had dreams of owning… Oh, no you can’t do that… You need to hand in your old one to test a new one. Or fork out some cash to hire one first so that you can hand it in. Once again the local dive gear suppliers show little or no concern for new divers getting into the sport except to take their money.

Anyway, this is how the day will look:

GOODIE BAGS for every diver booked on a dive with a participating Charter – Please note, only bookings received by Wednesday 28th September are eligible for Goodie Bags. Collect your Goodie bag on registration day.

DEMO GEAR: Hand in your gear and borrow the latest & greatest for a test dive!

SPIRIT of SEALIFE Photo Comp: A fun competition where the picture that best captures the fun & wonder of diving wins, not necessarily the picture that is technically best!

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY at the Prize Giving Party! Great food and beverages will be available and there’ll be music and a slide show from the Sealife Photo Comp! Prize giving for the photo comp and the lucky draw will take place at 16h30.

WORLD CUP RUGBY on a BIG SCREEN:

Although there’s no Springbok match, we’ll be screening the World Cup matches in the morning (07h00 and 09h30).

WIN OVER R17 000-00 WORTH OF PRIZES: Try any item of demo gear to qualify for the Lucky Draw.

On Sunday I will spend the day at Long Beach as there are six people wanting to experience scuba diving for the first time, so it will be a DSD day.

Close up of a basket star at Tafelberg Reef
Close up of a basket star at Tafelberg Reef

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Checking out the kink in the chain at Long Beach
Checking out the kink in the chain at Long Beach

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!

Newsletter: Whale chasing surfers…

Hi divers

Seal at the safety stop in Smitswinkel Bay
Seal at the safety stop in Smitswinkel Bay

Now that we are well on our way to spring, summer and the silly season it is time for many of you to dust off your logbooks, lose the slippers and put on your flippers… erm, fins. Diving conditions are great all year round in the Cape and despite the bad weather days we have sometimes, there are many, awesome days that beg to be dived. Going to work is one thing but taking a day’s leave in the week and diving is very, very, therapeutic… I call it Aquatic Therapy. Try it, it works.

The past week’s dives

Tiny basket star on the MFV Orotava
Tiny basket star on the MFV Orotava

Last weekend an 8 metre swell on Saturday kept most of us dry that day. We dived the MFV Orotava wreck in Smitswinkel Bay on Sunday.  The surface conditions were decent but it was very surgy at depth. The visibility was good and we were doing Deep and Nitrox Specialties so this was the perfect dive for this. Diving was also good in the week and on Wednesday we had 27 degrees in the parking lot, not a breath of wind (conditions very suitable for tanning) and 8 metre visibility in the water.

Two friendly frilled nudibranchs on the Orotava
Two friendly frilled nudibranchs on the Orotava

Weekend diving

This weekend will grace us with good diving on Saturday and less so on Sunday. We are doing a deep dive early on Saturday, to the Fleur, a wreck in the middle of False Bay that lies at around 40 metres on the sand. Grant will do another two launches, to the SAS Pietermaritzburg and to Roman Rock so if you are keen to go boating, which you should be, then shout.

I will spend the afternoon at Long Beach with Open Water students. Sunday is less easy to plan. The diving conditions will be good but it may be very cloudy and for some this relates to cold. I will decide Saturday afternoon but will dive at A Frame or Windmill Beach. There is a 3 metre swell which may just make A Frame difficult. Windmill Beach is often difficult on weekends due to the limited parking but on a cloudy day we may be lucky. It is a shore entry with a walk to the beach that is a little longer than the walk at Long Beach, but involves less rock scrambling. Shout if you are coming.

Speckled klipfish on the MFV Orotava
Speckled klipfish on the MFV Orotava

Gear

I have recently replaced some of my older gear and added a few extra items. If you rent gear from me on a regular basis please mail me for an updated price list.

Coastal Cleanup Day

Next Saturday morning we are joining OMSAC for International Coastal Cleanup Day, with a cleanup dive taking place in Hout Bay harbour. If you’d like to come along, sign up here and check out event details here. It costs R25, and payment must be made directly to OMSAC. If you need to rent gear for the dive, I can assist. I think it’s going to be quite festive.

This time last year

There are lots of whales in the bay at the moment. I watched a few surfers have a panic attack today and paddle faster than they thought possible when a whale surfaced less than 100 metres from them.

A whale greets three alarmed surfers in Muizenberg
A whale greets three alarmed surfers in Muizenberg

Last year this time we had whales on the surface at the end of a dive in Smitswinkel Bay and that photo soon became the most viewed photo on our blog. Another ‘’last year’’ item, last year I made it possible for any of the courses I offer to be purchased on a split payment arrangement. This worked well for me and many of the students that dived last season. I am going to do the same again on a more permanent and easier payment system. If you want to do a course but don’t have the money, mail me and we can work out a payment schedule.

We have again sponsored some dive training for the Reach for a Dream Foundation. Last year they auctioned and sold raffle tickets for the courses we sponsored and collected a fair amount of money for this charity. So visit their website and help someone reach for a dream. It’s a very good cause.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

Sea life: Basket stars

Basket stars at Klein Tafelberg
Basket stars at Klein Tafelberg

I have only ever seen basket stars in the Tafelberg Reef complex. They are found elsewhere, but I haven’t dived anywhere else they are found. After the first dive I did on Tafelberg, I was so excited that I started yelling as soon as my head popped out of the water. These creatures are magnificent, and appeal to me as a (former) mathematician.

Basket star on Tafelberg Reef
Basket star on Tafelberg Reef

Their long arms branch repeatedly, like fractals. In the image above, the arms are folded in.  To feed, the basket star extends one or all of its arms into the water column to catch plankton and other microscopic snacks. They favour areas with currents that carry food past them.

Basket star arm
Basket star arm

Basket stars are related to brittle stars and starfish (they are echinoderms), and are generally found in deeper water. At Tafelberg Reef they are found on the sides of the large granite outcrops that comprise the reef. They grow incredibly slowly and can weigh a couple of kilograms when at maximum size.

Feeding basket star
Feeding basket star

Newsletter: Seasons of the sea

Hi divers

We have had some amazing diving days of late. Friday saw conditions at Long Beach that we have been longing for for months. Warm, clean water with an abundance of life. The ocean’s seasons are very interesting aspects of diving for Clare and I, and thanks to Clare’s logbook and amazing photos we have a much better idea now than we had a year ago of what you can find and when.

Pint size octopus at Long Beach
Pint size octopus at Long Beach

We have been fortunate enough to see tiny octopus, warty pleurobranchs spawning egg ribbons, klipfish mating, huge rays feeding and shysharks having a feeding frenzy. We visited the cowsharks, watched sadly as injured and hooked sharks struggled to adapt to the harm inflicted upon them by man, and watched a juvenile jutjaw and a doublesash butterflyfish grow from 2 centimetres to close to 6 centimetres before they moved off from their tiny safe house to brave the ocean.

Carpet flatworm at Long Beach
Carpet flatworm at Long Beach

On the weekend Clare found a juvenile sole so small and so well camouflaged it almost avoided her beady eyes. We always find something new and interesting in the ocean. We have watched our small artificial reef go from bits of wood and plastic to a small colony of life. The list is endless.

Transparent anemone at Long Beach
Transparent anemone at Long Beach

Diving at this time of year is not to be missed. (That applies all year round!)

Recent dives

Basket star on Tafelberg Reef
Basket star on Tafelberg Reef

We dived the Atlantic early Sunday, Grant taking us to the yacht wreck on Klein Tafelberg reef. We were looking for depth to continue the Deep Specialty and our maximum depth was 37 metres in 10 degree water with amazing visibility, 15-20 metres. We had to perform a simulated emergency deco stop for 8 minutes and during this time we had seals nipping at Cecil and I, and a jellyfish bonanza. We had a dive time of 36 minutes and we dived on Nitrox.

Cecil and a curious seal
Cecil and a curious seal

From Hout Bay we dashed to Long Beach to dive with the two Divemaster candidates and continue the Advanced Course doing navigation. Back in the water once more for a Refresher, and home to download the photos. The ocean was warm at Long Beach, 17 degrees, calm and the visibility was 5-6 metres.

Part of the yacht wreck on Tafelberg Reef
Part of the yacht wreck on Tafelberg Reef

Atlantic diving should start to fade soon as the seasons change and the prevailing winds come from the north west. This cleans and cools to False Bay area and the visibility gets better and better.

Side of the pinnacle at Klein Tafelberg
Side of the pinnacle at Klein Tafelberg

Trips

We are off to Sodwana on Saturday for a four night/six dive trip, and the group, 13 in total, are all looking forward to this. We will post photos and video when we get back. I think we have five or six cameras for this event so there are bound to be loads of good photos.

Planned dives

We are hoping to book two launches for the Friday after we return from Sodwana, that being Easter Friday and booking is essential. We will plan to go to a wreck for the first dive and possibly a barge wreck or reef for the second launch. I need to give Grant some numbers before I leave for Sodwana so please let me know as soon as possible.

Courses

I am starting a new Deep Specialty course as soon as we get back from travelling. It’s a good idea to do the enriched air/Nitrox specialty at the same time. This combination qualifies you to dive to 40 metres, and gives you longer bottom times and safer diving.

Regards


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

Diving is addictive!