Boating at Buffels Bay

We spent a sunny day at Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, facilitating some boat dives to Batsata Maze and an unnamed reef to the south of Smitswinkel Bay for Old Mutual Sub Aqua Club (OMSAC). We met a whale on one of the dives – he was fascinated by the divers’ orange SMB that they were using while safety stopping, and circled back repeatedly to have a look. It also took quite a bit of doing (in the form of multiple phone calls, emails and an early morning meeting with a ranger) to get permission to drive a boat full of divers and gear through the exclusion zone around Cape Point… But those are other stories.

Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay
Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay

The slipway at Buffels Bay is a civilised place, with no jockeying for position or aggressive fishermen. It is in a very rocky part of the bay, however, and at low tide it’s a tricky proposition to avoid clipping your motors on the bottom. On approaching the slipway, I asked the divers to hop off the boat into the water, and we moved slowly towards the shore. The water was slightly deeper than some of them were expecting!

After bringing the divemobile down and putting the trailer into the water, we manoeuvered the boat onto the trailer and winched and pushed it on. It was too shallow to drive the boat on, as I would usually. This is a hyperlapse video so it’s joyfully speeded up to make me look like Superman.

Newsletter: Paws for thought

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Saturday: No diving planned – why not join the coastal cleanup at Hout Bay harbour?

Sunday: 10.30 am and 1.00 pm to North/South Paw and Justin’s Caves, from Oceana Powerboat Club (very much dependent on wind strength on Saturday)

Monday: Seal rock at Partridge PointShark Alley, double tank dive launching at 10.00 am from Simon’s Town jetty

Recent dives

Last weekend we took the boat down to Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve to join OMSAC for a day of snorkeling, diving and braai-ing.. The conditions were terrific and both the shore divers and those on the boat had great viz. We took the boat to Batsata Maze and to an unnamed site just on the outside of the exclusion zone around the reserve. We were very fortunate to have a whale cruising by during the safety stop, fascinated by the divers’ SMB, and then hanging around as the divers surfaced.  It is a stunning setting for a day out and even the tidal pool was filled with interesting creatures.

There are some photos on facebook, and a nifty little time lapse video of us putting the boat onto the trailer at the slipway. I usually wind the winch much faster than in the video, though – I must have been having an off day on Saturday…

Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay
Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay

On Monday we enjoyed fantastic visibility at Partridge Point, where we snorkeled with seals, and at Shark Alley. There are still a lot of cowsharks around – the time of year when they usually disappear is approaching, so we are watching with interest.

This weekend

A southerly swell rolls into False Bay in time for the weekend. The Kalk Bay Shootout surf competition participants are all excited. When surfers are excited, divers are not. We share the ocean… Just not always at the same time. There is also the False Bay Yacht Club spring regatta taking place on Saturday and Sunday – more info here.

I doubt there will be anywhere pleasant to dive in False Bay. The south easter only starts blowing on Saturday so I doubt that the viz out of Hout Bay will improve enough for good diving. That leaves the Atlantic seaboard. Twenty four hours of strong south easter might clean the water close inshore enough for good diving.

I reckon the best options will be North and South Paw or Justin’s Caves and surroundings, so that’s the plan for Sunday. If the south easter makes it over the top of Table Mountain, and cleans the water sufficiently, we will launching from OPBC at 10.30 am and 1.00 pm. If you’re keen to dive let me know and I’ll contact you on Saturday afternoon to let you know if conditions are good enough.

Early morning at Cape Point Nature Reserve
Early morning at Cape Point Nature Reserve

If you are at a loose end on Saturday, an excellent way to spend your time is at the coastal cleanup dive in Hout Bay harbour. We attended a few years ago, and it is great fun and good for the environment. Just wear a kilogram or two extra of weight if your weighting is usually marginal – the water is not very deep!

Cape Town International Boat Show

In three weeks’ time the CTICC comes alive with the Cape Town International Boat Show. This year there will be a new addition in the form of a “dive village”. Collectively a bunch of local dive centres and operators have come together to make this happen with the goal of showcasing the incredible diversity of diving we have to offer in Cape Town. The village will have a pool in the centre and we will offer non-divers an opportunity to breathe underwater and hopefully come to enjoy the ocean as much as we all do.

The show is on from 10-12 October at the Convention Centre. Come down and visit the representatives of your local dive operator and bring a friend who needs convincing that diving is the best thing ever, and amongst everyone in the dive village we will do our best to get them in the water. SURG will also be there showcasing some of the best photos taken in and around Cape Town’s waters. There are also bound to be a bunch of interesting course options, gear sales, camera displays and the like. Plus the rest of the boat show, which is well worth a look!

regards

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

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Newsletter: Staying out of trouble

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No diving this weekend!

Conditions forecast

The conditions forecast for this weekend is not very different from the weather we had last weekend and as the weather experts say,we are in a seven day cycle. This has been very evident as we have had some really stunning midweek diving days with great conditions and good visibility. My guess is that Saturday will be lousy and although the weather clears on Sunday, it does so in the late afternoon only. Not to mention there are a few drastic swell direction changes starting tomorrow… So I reckon its a stay home weekend.

Sunrise over Sun Valley
Sunrise over Sun Valley

Things to do

There are a lot of things to keep you out of trouble if you aren’t diving:

regards

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

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Get involved with the SeaKeys project

SeaKeys launch
SeaKeys launch

Last week we attended the launch of SeaKeys, a massive collaboration between a wide range of organisations (including DAFF, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and SURG, the Southern Underwater Research Group that has spawned such classics as A Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula, Nudibranchs of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, and Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay). I digress. SeaKeys is designed to increase and collect together information about the marine biodiversity of South Africa. There’s a lot of information out there, but it isn’t centralised and the people who are making discoveries (such as South African dive operator Peter Timm at Triton Dive Lodge in Sodwana!) haven’t all been plugged into  the same network.

This is a citizen science project in the best sense. Four web-based atlases, each focusing on a particular type of marine life, are being established, with contributions from researchers, students, and people like you and me – mostly recreational divers, who get to see firsthand what lives underwater. The four atlases are:

The primary platforms on which these observations will be collected are iSpot (we reported our Western leopard toads there when we moved to the South Peninsula in 2012), SAJellyWatch, and EchinoMap.

There is also a section of the database for historical photographs of fishing activities prior to 1970. This will assist in establishing a baseline from which changes (that we have wrought, mostly) in the abundance and distribution of fish species can be measured. This part of the project is called FisHistory, and even if you don’t have any old photos of your dad holding a two metre long tuna and wearing a mullet and satin hotpants, you can still take a look at the contributions from others.

Starting the conversation in the Whale Well
Starting the conversation in the Whale Well

As was pointed out several times during the evening, the aim of the initiative is to “start a conversation” between the widely disparate users of our oceans in order to get a better picture of what’s down there, how it is threatened, and how it is changing. It’s really exciting that recreational divers can assist with this project, and make ourselves useful.

I am excited to see that iSpot is already buzzing with activity from OMSAC members! iSpot is probably the best place for you to get going, submitting your underwater photos of marine life. You need to provide the location at which the photo was taken (which can be hidden if it’s your super secret reef with a super secret waypoint), and take a stab at identifying the creature – but you don’t have to know what it is. If you don’t know what your creature is, other users of the system will help with identification. If you’re not into photography but are interested in species identification, you can also contribute by identifying other users’ contributions. For more about how iSpot works, visit their help pages.

Are you keen to do more citizen science in Cape Town? Check out Spot the Sevengill Cowshark on facebook.

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:

Newsletter: Cupcakes at night

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Wind, walkers and waves will mean we are diving on Saturday in False Bay starting real early, i.e. 7.00 am at the Yacht club. We plan to dive Atlantis and the Brunswick.

On Sunday there will be way too much traffic and road closures to make an early start possible and I don’t think the wind will allow anything later in the day. I am really keen to do a double tank dive to Justin’s Caves or to dive North and South Paw, but will make that call on Saturday afternoon once we have a better idea of the wind (which looks iffy) and the viz.

Week’s diving

The last week has been spent driving instead of diving as all our cylinders were due for their annual medical examination. We did cancel last weekend’s dives due to the wind being a little stronger than I like to launch and dive in, but the guys that did go out reported really good conditions.

Divers near the jetty in Simon's Town
Divers near the jetty in Simon’s Town

We are just home from a really good night dive and all in all we were 19 divers. We dived below and around the jetty in Simon’s Town and had passable viz and a great deal of jellyfish to contend with. Thanks to all those folks from far and wide (including OMSAC!) that joined the fun. The aim with Diversnight International is to have as many divers in the water at 2013 as possible, world wide, and then to eat cake. The numbers since this event started are:

  • 2005: 351 divers in Norway.
  • 2006: 889 divers in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
  • 2007: 1859 divers in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and also Svalbard.
  • 2008: 2183 divers in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Egypt, Indonesia, France, Spain, Faroe Islands and Belgium
  • 2009: 2749 divers, 218 divesites and 20 countries
  • 2010: 1700 divers, 175 dive sites and 22 countries
  • 2011: 2577 divers, 196 dive sites and 24 countries
  • 2012: 2322 divers, 231 dive sites and 25 countries

If you think the water is cold here, you should feel it in Scandinavia in November, where this event started!

Brave jellyfish warriors at Diversnight
Brave jellyfish warriors at Diversnight

Prizes

Congratulations to Bianca, who won two boat dives in the Diversnight lucky draw this evening! Also congratulations to Esti who has won a Nitrox Specialty course in the October boat divers’ lucky draw.

We will have another draw for boat divers in November and one in December. To enter, come for a boat dive. You’ll win a Nitrox course, or, if you’re already Nitrox certified, you’ll win two boat dives!

Gear

Sometimes I have students and former students who want to sell some gear secondhand. If you’re looking for gear, let me know and I might be able to put you in touch with someone. The details of the transaction are up to you! At the moment I know someone with a Suunto D6i dive computer and a regulator set for sale. If you’re interested drop me a mail and I’ll hook you up.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Getting it wrong

Hi divers

We spent a really great day in on and under the water working on a film shoot today without traveling more than 100 metres from Millers Point. The water was clean, the sun was out and about and the wind not too hectic. I could use about 6 such days a week, thanks.

Seahorse at the Miller's Point jetty
Seahorse at the Miller’s Point jetty

There hasn’t been a lot of diving otherwise this week, and the weatherman has been getting it wrong quite regularly, much to my annoyance. We did dive students last weekend, and while we were navigating the boiling pea soup at Shark Alley (no cowsharks at the moment – they’re on their annual hiatus) a radio controlled plane with a wingspan of about three metres crashed into the kelp near the boat. Brian did some heroic swimming, towed the plane to the boat, and we loaded it on board and delivered it to its owner at the Miller’s Point slipway. There were some tense moments when the electronics started smoking while it was on the boat!

Brian passes his swim test with flying colours
Brian passes his swim test with flying colours

Weekend dives

Deciding on whether or not to dive on weekends has been a little difficult of late as the forecasts are so often way off the mark. It’s almost a requirement to go out and take a look every evening and early every morning. Yesterday the Atlantic – well, Hout Bay – looked appalling and False Bay looked marginal. Today it’s a different story and False Bay was clean.

Never mind, this weekend we have swell, wind, perhaps rain and maybe even sun. Tomorrow early looks good, and Saturday will be OK but really surgy, Sunday will be howling… If the forecast is right. I have students, tourists and local divers so I will dive somewhere at some point if the weather looks good enough… Totally confused? Good, so am I. If you want to try for a dive, let me know and I’ll notify you if and when we hit the water.

Esti, Brian and I ready to dive at Shark Alley
Esti, Brian and I ready to dive at Shark Alley

Courses

I am currently running Open Water, Advanced and Divemaster courses, and we are getting ready to run a Research Diver Specialty course using the wreck of the Brunswick as a case study. This is a site you can dive even in a southeaster!

Coastal Cleanup

21 September is International Coastal Cleanup day, and we will be joining OMSAC and FBUC at False Bay Yacht Club, a venue with which those of you who’ve boat dived with me will be well familiar. The event details are here; if you plan to come along, you must sign up as instructed. There may be a registration fee to participate. It’s a lot of fun – we’ve cleaned at Robben Island and Hout Bay Harbour in the past – and a very good cause to get involved in. Encourage your non-diving friends to join a local beach cleanup.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Flippers and goggles

Hi divers

Last weekend we dived Sunday at Alpha Reef and it was really surgy and the viz not so great. It is odd that the visibility is so low given the amount of westerly wind we have had, but I suspect the very large swells that have accompanied the storms may have something to do with it. We then dived the wreck of the Brunswick where the visibility was a bit better, and finished off some Divemaster training.

Craig and Dinho treading water
Craig and Dinho treading water

Weekend diving

This weekend I am staying out of the water due to some scheduled maintenance but the glue should be dry by the end of next week… Luckily for you, if you want to dive, OMSAC are holding a Treasure Hunt, and you can join one of the boats going out on that day. There are also a few shore dives. We went two years ago and it was great fun. The event details are here. You need to book in advance if possible and it’s filled up quickly, so get to it.

And finally…

If you learned to dive with me and do find yourself on another dive boat, please do not use the words flippers or goggles. Too embarrassing. I would never be able to look that skipper and Divemaster in the eye again!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Service interval

Hi divers

We had strange weather last weekend. On Friday we launched from Hout Bay and had sunny, windless conditions but not great viz on the SS Maori. We skipped Saturday as the conditions were not good, and Sunday looked even worse. There were – as there often is – wildy conflicting reports of viz at some sites being 3 metres and others had 12 metres. I take it all with a very large pinch of salt.

Westley, Lisa, Tony, Clare, Christo & Dominique on the boat in Hout Bay
Westley, Lisa, Tony, Clare, Christo & Dominique on the boat in Hout Bay

Diving this weekend

This weekend looks a little bleak at this point, as this cold front that starts tonight is the third in a series that have been here all week. So it’s not that warm, and the wet, windy conditions don’t make for great diving. Sunday clears really nicely and there is no wind or rain forecast so maybe… There has been a roller coaster of swell and yesterday it was 6 metres, tomorrow it drops off to 2 metres and then it builds again on Friday night to around 6 metres again. Saturday won’t be good but the swell drops off for Sunday so maybe…. I would like to plan for Sunday, but will make the call late on Saturday if we are diving.

To book your provisional spot for Sunday, email me or text me.

Storm clouds over Kalk Bay last weekend
Storm clouds over Kalk Bay last weekend

Planning ahead

Next weekend (Saturday 24 August) is the OMSAC Treasure Hunt and it is worth attending. OMSAC always put on exceptionally well organised events so book here now. If you need gear or a dive buddy let me know. I will not be launching the boat or diving next weekend. I am going to have some maintenance done, so I will be out of the water for a few days and will call it a service interval.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Ladies dive free on Women’s Day

Hi divers We had really good conditions last weekend with Saturday being the best. We dived Photographer’s Reef and Roman Rock. Sunday was good at Photographer’s Reef and the Brunswick, but you could see signs of red tide coming and by Monday it was all over False Bay. On Tuesday the swell and the red tide messed up the diving. There are still patches of red tide about but it is not widespread, so odds are good for a diving weekend.

Christo at Photographer's Reef
Christo at Photographer’s Reef

Long weekend plans

This weekend, Friday and Saturday are the days I believe will be best for diving. Sunday will be too windy. There is not much swell about but there is currently a south easterly wind which comes straight into False Bay. My guess is that we will be better off launching from Hout Bay. The sea temperature in False Bay is around 14 degrees, as is the Atlantic, but the weather buoy off Kommetjie shows a temperature drop which usually indicates improving viz. Either way, the plan is to launch at 10.00am and 12.30pm. Neither days will be dives deeper than 18 metres as I have Open Water students on the boat. If you want to get wet, text me and I’ll put you on the list.

Fiery nudibranchs at Photographer's Reef
Fiery nudibranchs at Photographer’s Reef

Free dives for ladies on Friday

Being Women’s Day on Friday, our lady divers will be given a free boat dive to say thanks for never understanding that men don’t need veggies! Cake, yes, any time. But no veggies. One free dive per lady, and kit rental is not included. First come first served! All of you, ladies and gentlemen, must have an up to date MPA permit please. Go to the post office and get one, and bring it with you on the boat.

Craig at Roman Rock
Craig at Roman Rock

Planning ahead

I will be out of action on the weekend of 24-25 August. Luckily for you, if you want to dive, OMSAC are holding a Treasure Hunt, and you can join one of the boats going out on that day. We went two years ago and it was great fun. The event details are here. If you need a heart to heart and some encouragement to be adventurous, let me know!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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