Cape Town’s visible shipwrecks: Commodore II finds a home

Commodore II by the Milnerton lagoon
Commodore II by the Milnerton lagoon

I am happy to report that the Commodore II has finally been paid the attention she deserves, and moved to a permanent position on the shore of Milnerton lagoon. SAHRA began a process in late 2016 (when the wreck still lay on the beach close to the lagoon mouth) that has finally concluded with the wreck being moved on Friday 23 November. There are some pictures of that endeavour here and here.

View towards Lagoon Beach hotel
View towards Lagoon Beach hotel

We first wrote about the Commodore II in 2015, and I was amazed that a wreck with such a fascinating and high-profile history could have practically disappeared into obscurity. There appeared to be no desire from the keepers of our maritime heritage to protect her, and when she washed up the Milnerton lagoon during a storm in late 2017, it seemed that she would be carted away piecemeal for firewood before anyone realised what was being lost.

View of the Commodore II
View of the Commodore II

Late last year, an enterprising local resident secured the wreck to the banks of the lagoon off Esplanade road, at his personal expense, to prevent it from washing around inside the lagoon and injuring paddlers or damaging the historic bridge further up. We wrote about his efforts here.

The Commodore II's sturdy construction
The Commodore II’s sturdy construction

The new, and hopefully final location of the wreck is just next to the small parking area outside the Lagoon Beach hotel and Wang Thai restaurant. It’s entirely accessible at all hours of the day and night, and there are promises of interpretive signage to share the wreck’s history with passers by.

Tube worms cover the lower portion of the wreck
Tube worms cover the lower portion of the wreck

I went to visit the wreck a week after she was moved. Dried pond weed still covers some of the planking, and thousands of tiny tube worms cover the lower part of the structure that was submerged (I can’t tell what kind – most likely Ficopomatus enigmatus, the estuarine tube worm that thrives in brackish water).

It’s great that the Commodore II is now firmly on the radar as one of Cape Town’s historic shipwrecks, worthy of preservation. I’ll be updating my ebook to reflect her new location before year-end. Meanwhile, read about her chequered history here.

Christmas gift guide 2018

Chaps, Festivus (for those of you who find tinsel distracting) is around the corner. This year, as a principle, the gifts that I’m giving to the people I care about are skewed towards experiences, and when they are things, I’m trying to make them beautiful things that will enable my chums to live more sustainable lives.

Before I get going, however, can I point you to this excellent, far more comprehensive, far more inspired gifting guide over at twyg? Their first suggestion is “don’t gift at all”, and this is probably something well worth considering, if it won’t cause a domestic diplomatic incident.

Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)
Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)

Here’s a quick list of ideas in case you’re struggling.

An experience

A dive course or boat dive with Tony, a family photo shoot, a day out at Cape Point or up Table Mountain in the cable car, a digital magazine or streaming television subscription – use your imagination!

Something water wise

It’s likely that most of us will never, in good conscience, be able to resume watering our gardens the way we used to. For this reason, water wise plants are high on my list of excellent gifts for keen gardeners. For ideas of what plants to choose, your local nursery will help, or you and the avid coastal gardener in your life can consult this excellent book.

Something to minimise waste

  • A set of stainless steel or glass straws (Sustainable.co.za is one stockist), glass or copper straws (check out EbonyMoon for these), or a pack of paper or other biodegradeable straws to keep at home and/or carry around like a dork for use at restaurants.
  • A reusable coffee cup – Seattle Coffee Company sells beautiful Keep Cups, as do Vida e Caffe and many supermarkets. ecoffee cup sells beautiful bamboo cups, with a range of designs to choose from.
  • A reusable shopping bag – most supermarkets stock bags of some description, as does Faithful to Nature. 3friends has beautiful Shweshwe printed bags that are very special. We should all have a reusable shopping bag in our handbags, as well as several in the car.
  • A bokashi bin, which you can find at Builders Warehouse or at many nurseries. Don’t be grossed out – we have significantly improved the soil quality in our garden, and don’t put out any food waste or scraps with our garbage any more, thanks to diligent use of this nifty indoor composter!

Something to lift up someone else

Some deserving, marine-related recipients of a donation on your friend’s behalf are:

There are many more excellent non profits than just these three, and so much need, but do your research carefully. My rule of thumb is, if the founder’s face is plastered everywhere and it looks more like a personality cult than an NPO, it’s not a cause that I want to give my bucks to.

A donation of time is a way to do something great, and spend time with someone you care about. Promising to join a friend for a beach cleanup followed by a coffee (in your reusable cup, your treat) gives a gift to the planet, and the gift of time to someone you value. To find a local clean up, follow the Beach Co-Op (facebook) and Cape Town Beach Clean Up (facebook). The Two Oceans Aquarium also arranges periodic beach cleans. (Non-Capetonians, facebook and google search are your friend.)

Looking back

Previous years’ gift guides, which contain some good ideas – if I say so myself:

  • 2017 – for info on Wild Cards or My Green Cards, small specific gifts for divers and water people
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013 – for info on gift ideas for readers
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010

Be safe, be kind, be frugal, be wise! Thanks for reading.

Newsletter: In the windy city

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

Summerstrand in Port Elizabeth
Summerstrand in Port Elizabeth

We’re in Port Elizabeth for a long weekend, so I won’t be running any dives. If you do go out, be safe and don’t go deeper than the bottom!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Baboons on the beach

Baboon on the beach Baboon on the beach

A recent low tide visit to the beach at Platboom near Cape Point, on the Atlantic coast of the peninsula, enabled us to watch a troop of Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus)  foraging for limpets, mussels and other marine snacks on the rocks at low tide. The baboons bite the tops off the limpets with their formidable incisors, or pry them from the rocks intact to get at the protein-rich flesh. They also eat mussels.

Baboons foraging for seafood at Platboom Baboons foraging for seafood at Platboom

This foraging behaviour is extremely rare among primates. In baboons, it is only observed on the Cape Peninsula and in one other species in Somalia. Matthew Lewis studied this troop of baboons as they foraged around the Cape Point nature reserve, and his thesis makes for fascinating reading. (Wild Card Magazine also featured Matthew’s research.)

Baboon on the beach Baboon on the beach

The amount of time the baboons are able to spend foraging on the shore is largely determined by the height of the tide, and by weather conditions. As a result, the amount of time the baboons spend seeking marine food sources is small compared with the time they spend looking for roots, bulbs, insects, berries, and small animals.

Low tide at Platboom Low tide at Platboom

These baboons are part of the Kanonkop troop which ranges freely in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park and whose home range does not bring them into conflict with humans (or, as a rule, allow them access to any anthropogenic food sources). They were completely uninterested in us and our vehicle, unlike the baboons we see further up the peninsula around Millers Point, for example.

Concentrating baboon Concentrating baboon

Newsletter: Sorry, kids

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

The weather forecast for the weekend is wild and windy, and definitely not diving weather.

Diversnight 2017 at Long Beach
Diversnight 2017 at Long Beach

We had a great night dive last Saturday evening at Long Beach. It was calm but crisp, and we spent a lot of time watching a vast array of fish and invertebrates marauding around on the sand, hunting for their dinner. Clouds of fish fry, so thick that at the beginning of the dive we couldn’t see our feet, provided food for an array of predators. There were a lot of divers in the water, and it was great to see the dive clubs take ownership of this community diving event. Watch out for Diversnight 2019!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Diversnight ahoy

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Night dive at Long Beach – meet at 7.00pm

I took a look at Hout Bay as well as False Bay today, and neither look all that great. There has been big swell and strong winds this week so it’s a little messy. Saturday is a calm, quiet day with neither swell nor wind, so this should help settle the ocean enough for a decent night dive on Saturday evening. It is not inconceivable that very early boat dives could work on Sunday, however that’s a decision that can only be made late on Saturday.

Biscuit skate at night
Biscuit skate at night

Diversnight

Diversnight is this Saturday, 3 November. We plan to meet at Long Beach (the tide is against us for a jetty dive) at 7.00 pm. My plan is to start the dive just on 8.00 pm. There are several groups and clubs doing dives for Diversnight so there will be several shore-based people around to keep an eye on the cars.

If you are joining us please let me know sooner rather than later (it makes cake baking easier), and if you require any gear!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Three strikes

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

Neither the wind strength and direction, or the swell size, period and direction translate into anything close to great diving conditions. I won’t be diving but you may get lucky with some visibility in the cold Atlantic.

Succulents in Lamberts Bay
Succulents in Lamberts Bay

Reminders

I mentioned these last week, but here we go again:

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Batten down the hatches

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

Fish Hoek Beach on a stormy evening
Fish Hoek Beach on a stormy evening

We have not had that much in the way of proper stormy weather this winter, however, that seems set to change for the weekend. Strong winds, big swell and lots of rain don’t bode well for any diving activities… Unless it is in the aquarium.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Love is…

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Maybe, maybe not (read on!)

I would love to be writing to you, claiming a weekend ahead with stunning dive conditions…. But I am not. The week has had some looooong period large (i.e. Dungeons) sized swell. Although the swell drops off for the weekend, the wind (mostly northerly) and its strength (strong), don’t look all that great.

Heart-shaped sea star
Heart-shaped sea star

I am out on the boat tomorrow and the conditions should be the same for Saturday so if it’s good… I will change my plans, otherwise it is most likely going to be a dry weekend. If you want the option of diving based on tomorrow’s conditions, let me know.

What to do if you find a stranded sea turtle?

A tiny little chap was found at Kommetjie this past week. If you find a stranded turtle, keep it dry, and transport it as soon as possible to your nearest turtle rescue point. If you’re in Cape Town, this is most likely the Two Oceans Aquarium directly, or the Shark Spotters info centre at Muizenberg, who will make sure the turtle gets to the aquarium for rehabilitation and future release. Read more about what to do on the Two Oceans Aquarium website, here.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Goose barnacles in motion

Ok, so there had to be a video. Here are some of the goose barnacles (Lepas testudinata) that I found on Noordhoek beach last month. Bear in mind that they are out of their natural habitat (which is sea water) and were struggling in the sun. (I did try to drag some of the kelp back to the sea, but the pieces were huge and high up on the sand.) This group of barnacles was quite frisky, and shows you what a raft of kelp colonised by goose barnacles might look like if you swam underneath it.

For more on goose barnacles, visit this post.