Newsletter: Hot stuff

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Saturday: Batsata Maze and Atlantis, launching from False Bay Yacht Club

Sunday: Ark Rock wrecks and Outer Castle, launching from False Bay Yacht Club, conditions permitting

We have had a hard run of howling winds so most of the water time this week has been in the pool, much of it on a lilo. We did get to dive last weekend at Long Beach, and had decent conditions given the weather system floating around. Elmi’s beautiful pooch came to supervise activities.

Elmi's dog at Long Beach
Elmi’s dog at Long Beach

Weekend conditions look good for False Bay, especially on Saturday, as its an almost windless day after strong north westerly winds on Friday; the viz should be really good. Sunday is not too bad, but the wind is north north west and the north part doesn’t do as much for False Bay as the west part does. We will plan to dive but will make a final call early on Sunday. Text or email me if you want to dive.

Kalk Bay harbour on Tuesday
Kalk Bay harbour on Tuesday

Events to diarise

This coming Thursday 6 March there is a talk at the Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT) about the Clan Stuart and the Brunswick wrecks at 6pm. More information on how to book can be found on facebook, here.

Our Sodwana trip takes place from 26-30 April. There are still one or two spaces available…

There is a DAN Day on 17 May. DAN provides medical assistance to divers in trouble, and their regular and informative events are a great source of information. If you’d like to know more, reply to this mail.

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: Marathon weekend

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Launching on Sunday from Hout Bay to dive the Katsu Maru and the BOS 400. Text or email me if you’re interested.

Happy divers on the boat on Sunday
Happy divers on the boat on Sunday

The week’s diving

We have had an exceptional week of great diving, light winds and adequate sunshine, warm 20+ degree water and around 3-4 metre viz. Sadly we cant always get what we we want, and it is seldom that warm water and good viz arrive together.  We are busy with a nice range of training courses so every day has been interesting and fun.

Andrew doing his navigation swim
Andrew doing his navigation swim

The weekend diving is really easy to call for a change. The wind blows very hard today and  tomorrow and a bit less on Saturday with light winds on Sunday. A 4 metre swell for Friday lingers on Saturday, though Long Beach could work. But on Sunday False Bay will be a no-go as most of the Main Road will be closed for the Cape Peninsula Marathon, which finishes in Simon’s Town.

The good news is that the temperature of the Atlantic has dropped from 23 degrees to 13 degrees in the last 6-8 hours and I think Sunday will deliver some clean water. We are scheduled to launch in False Bay tomorrow but I think we may change to Hout Bay instead. Sunday we will most likely launch from Hout Bay and will dive the Katsu Maru and the BOS 400.

Divers surfacing in front of Roman Rock lighthouse
Divers surfacing in front of Roman Rock lighthouse

Special events

We are all set for our trip to Coral Divers in Sodwana from 26-30 April. If you’re still keen to join us, let me know and I’ll see what we can do!

The Cape Town DAN Day takes place on Saturday 17 May. These are educational days filled with talks on diving topics, as well as a tour of the facility where they are held. If you want more information on this event, let me know – space is limited so you need to reserve a place (free of charge) in advance.

Don’t forget to book for the Cape Town Dive Festival, taking place in May – more information on the CTDF website.

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: Best weekend weather

Hi divers

Weekend plans

We will launch tomorrow at 8.00 and 10.30 am to go to Roman Rock and to visit the sevengill cowsharks at Shark Alley.

On Sunday we will launch at 9.30 and 12.00, to visit Photographer’s Reef and the Ark Rock wrecks.

Please remember your MPA permits.

The forecast for the weekend is by far the best I can recall seeing in a while. No wild winds, no massive swells and the water is currently warm. Day time highs are under 24 degrees so the algae should stay away. I have quite a lot of students to dive this weekend so will not have too much extra capacity.

Sea fans at Roman Rock
Sea fans at Roman Rock

DAN Day

There is a DAN Day  taking place on Saturday 17 May in Cape Town that looks to be very interesting. Talks include “Finding the lost diver” and “A Risk-Based Approach to Diving Operation Management”, as well as a tour of the Unique Hydra facility (which is where Andre works). If you want me to forward you the full email with details, let me know. Space is limited – sign up here.

Stripping an outboard
Stripping an outboard

French naval fleet

There are a few French naval ships, including an aircraft carrier, in Table Bay at the moment. They are supposedly open to the public for viewing but there seem to be endless complaints on the local radio stations about this not happening. Never mind, they leave on Tuesday and I will plan to launch early from OPBC to get a few pictures as they leave the Waterfront. Text me if you want to join me.

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!

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: Hello pumpkins

Hi divers

Weekend dives

Launching on Saturday and Sunday, at 9.30am and 12pm – conditions are dubious, so a final call on the status of the launches and their locations will be made first thing on each morning. Text or email me if you want to dive.

Hawkfish at Bluff Point
Hawkfish at Bluff Point

Red Sea trip

So, the Red Sea trip has come and gone and without a doubt I will miss the visibility the most. On a bad day we had 20 metre viz and on a good day easily 40. I won’t go into the dives that much as Clare will post details with pictures on the blog and facebook in the coming weeks. We did about 20 dives in total so there is a lot to cover. Every dive was done on Nitrox. Since it’s Halloween, the photos in this newsletter are from one of the night dives we did while we were in Egypt, at a wreck of a small barge located at Bluff Point.

Having been out of the Cape Town water for the last two weeks I have very little to contribute but I am keen to get in the water this weekend and shock my self into the reality of slightly cooler water.

Basket star at Bluff Point
Basket star at Bluff Point

Dive conditions

As usual we are puppets on the strings of weather forecasts that all have oddities this weekend. Tomorrow and Saturday False Bay is supposed to have a south easterly swell and a south easterly wind. That means that Atlantic might work. It does not look too clean today but the south easter tomorrow might be enough to clean it up (but don’t hold your breath – one day of south easter is rarely sufficient).

On Sunday the swell is very westerly so that is good for False Bay, but will Saturday’s swell ruin it? Hard to tell. The plan therefore is two launches on Saturday and two on Sunday at 9.30 and 12 noon. Destination unknown, but irrespective of whether we dive False Bay, Hout Bay or Table Bay there are so many sites to choose from and we you can decide on the day. I will go and take a look at the sea really early and text whoever has booked by 7.30 as to the launch site.

Moray eels at the Barge wreck, Bluff Point
Moray eels at the Barge wreck, Bluff Point

Diversnight International

It’s Diversnight on Thursday 7th (this coming Thursday) and we will dive the jetty in Simon’s Town as we did last year. We will meet in front of Bertha’s at about 7.00 -7.15pm, and aim to enter the water at around 8 pm. The whole idea is to have as many divers in the water at precisely 2013… Thirteen minutes past eight, around the world. Sign up (or get details) here.

If you need to rent a torch or gear, please let me know by Wednesday! And don’t forget that there will be a couple of lucky draw prizes, and cake!

Dates to diarise

DAN Day, Saturday 9 November – remember to book in advance if you want to attend.

We are still running our lucky draw boat dive/Nitrox course competition for passengers on our boat each month from October to December. October’s winner will be announced in next week’s newsletter, and on facebook. To be eligible to win a prize (of a Nitrox course, or two free boat dives if you’re already Nitrox certified), you just need to do a boat dive with us. Simple!

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, click here or use the form on this page!

Series: Underwater Universe

Underwater Universe
Underwater Universe

The four episodes of this History Channel series cover waves, tides and currents, predators, and pressure – all powerful features of the ocean that can be sensationalised (some more easily than others) and presented for shock value and as imminent threats to human life. Full advantage is taken of this fact.

This very American offering doesn’t boast the measured, mellifluous tones of Benedict Cumberbatch or Steve Toussaint as narrator, but the line-up of (mostly in-studio) guest narrators is quite impressive. Bruce Parker (The Power of the Sea), Susan Casey (The Devil’s Teeth and The Wave), David Gallo (scientist presenter of the TED Talk I mentioned here), Scott Cassell (student of the Humboldt squid), Richard Ellis (writer of a number of ocean history, art and science books), and Neil Hammerschlag (shark scientist) were familiar to me, as was big wave surfer Ken Bradshaw, from this article. The strange, uncomfortable way in which the studio narrators were filmed, with silent close ups interspersed with talking, was very annoying and must have been incredibly embarrassing to shoot. Or perhaps the cameraman took the footage when the narrators didn’t realise they were being filmed.

Unlike BBC documentaries, which tend to rely purely on incredible photography and fluent narrative to convey information, the History Channel favours a CGI-heavy approach that we encountered in Treasure Quest, Deep Sea Salvage, and also in the National Geographic Shark Men series. For the subject matter of this series – particularly the sections on waves, tides and currents – it was very appropriate and informative. The first episode, devoted to tsunamis, rogue waves and “monster waves”, made good use of CGI to illustrate the concepts as they were explained. The series was produced shortly before the Japanese tsunami of 2011 (there is a hastily tacked on “thoughts and prayers” disclaimer) and features interviews with a survivor of a tsunami in Samoa. I am fascinated by rogue waves – the whole episode could have been devoted to them but they don’t make for good television – we only have indirect evidence of their existence. Also, I could have done with more footage of giant ships battling storms, but that’s what youtube is for…

The least interesting and most irritating episode was the one devoted to the ocean’s top predators, which suggested that orcas are a serious threat to humans. As evidence, the cases of captive killer whales drowning and injuring their trainers at marine theme parks were cited. No mention was made of the psychosis that these whales suffer from as a result of confinement in a small, barren, completely unnatural environment. An incident in which orcas inexplicably rammed and sank a yacht in the Pacific Ocean is also described and re-enacted. Whether the orcas did what they did because they wanted to kill the people on board is highly debatable. There is also a half-hearted attempt to paint whales as potentially vicious killers, recounting incidents when sperm whales rammed whaling boats in the 19th century. More power to the sperm whales, I say.

The other dangerous predators were (predictably) white sharks, Humboldt squid, saltwater crocodiles and Australian box jellyfish. There was a small environmental message at the end of this episode, mentioning that squid will probably end up the top predators in our oceans if current trends – fishing out large predatory fish and global warming in particular – continue.

The third episode, on the immense pressures that objects in the deep ocean are subjected to, was very interesting to Tony and me as divers. A confusing interview with a diver whose brother got DCS on a wreck dive leaves (I suspect) much out. Were they even qualified divers? Why was he surprised that his brother felt unwell and confused as to the cause after he popped to the surface from 30 metres after a 30 minute dive?

The bulk of the third episode, however, recounts a 1981 experiment called Atlantis III in which three volunteers were taken in a saturation system to a simulated depth of 686 metres while breathing Trimix 10 (70% helium, 20% nitrogen and 10% oxygen). It took 31 days for them to decompress. The chief of the experiment, Peter Bennett, was the founder and former CEO of DAN. There’s a more information about the project here – worth a read (download the pdf slowly), and a briefer account here.

The series concludes with an episode on tides and currents, including rip currents. The massive tidal range of Morecambe Bay in the United Kingdom,  is discussed at length. At low tide, up to 300 square kilometres of mudflats is exposed, and flooded again when the tide comes in. The guides who escort people out onto the mudflats when the tide is out seem like charming individuals – it is recommended not to wander around at low tide without local guidance. In 2004, the rising tide trapped and drowned 23 Chinese immigrants who were working the cockle beds – with such a large expanse of land to cover, the rising tide comes in at great speed. There is also a harrowing re-enactment of a father and his two sons getting washed out to sea in a rip current in Kauai that should make you think twice about swimming at beaches with warning signs on them.

You can get the DVDs here if you’re in South Africa. Foreigners, go here or here.

Newsletter: Dates to diarise

Hi divers

We are off travelling for ten days, so this week’s newsletter is a list of dates to diarise!

The photos in this newsletter are from a lovely deep dive for an Advanced course that we did at Outer Photographer’s Reef on Saturday, followed by a dive at Phoenix Shoal just outside the harbour in Simon’s Town. There are some videos from the Outer Photographer’s Reef dive here. The visibility on both dives was 6-8 metres, but yesterday it had improved to 10 metres at Seal Rock and Shark Alley (no cowsharks though).

Anemones at Outer Photographer's Reef
Anemones at Outer Photographer’s Reef

ScubaPro Day – Saturday 26 October

The ScubaPro Day takes place at False Bay Yacht Club on Saturday 26 October. Discounted boat dives and the chance to try some dive gear (tips on that here) – the participating dive charters will take bookings directly. There are four launch times, starting nice and early. Underwater Explorers is participating if you’re at a loose end!

Diversnight International – Thursday 7 November

November 7th is Diversnight International, sign up here. It is an international event with the aim of having as many divers in the water as possible at 8.13pm (2013 – get it?). If you enjoy night diving, or want to try it out, then you should be there. It’s quite festive. More details about this event will be provided when we get back from the Red Sea!

DAN Day – Saturday 9 November

We attended the last DAN day in Cape Town, which comprised a tour of the SA Navy diving facility, and a series of excellent talks by DAN medics and the NSRI. The next one is on Saturday 9 November, and comes highly recommended. Early booking is essential (the last one was fully subscribed) – more info here.

Strawberry anemones
Strawberry anemones

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, click here or use the form on this page!

Newsletter: Good mileage

Hi divers

Weekend launches

The weekend does not look all that rosy. A rather large swell is forecast and a little rain for tomorrow and Saturday, and then a fair amount of south easter for Sunday, but it blows later in the day so this is the plan:

Saturday 9.30 and 12.00, to Outer Photographer’s Reef and Maidstone Rock.

Sunday 8.00 and 10.30, to Spaniard Rock and the Brunswick / Caravan reef

Klipfish at Spaniard Rock
Klipfish at Spaniard Rock

All launches will be from False Bay Yacht Club. As usual, text me if you want to dive. We have Advanced students for Saturday and need to start early on Sunday as the wind picks up after lunch. These launches are subject to a final call early on the day as the swell may or may not affect us. It is always a sign of bad weather to come when big boats seek shelter in False Bay; at present two large ships have come into the bay, presumably to hide from the wind and swell.

Recent dives

Variable dorid at Pyramid Rock
Variable dorid at Pyramid Rock

We have had a good run of late and last weekend we were out on the boat on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The weather was not nearly as bad as the forecast so we had some good diving, as well as encountering a large number of extremely frisky whales. It was also good to see some new and old faces on the boat. The viz was not spectacular, but there was not too much wind or swell. Today we had 4-5 metre visibility at Long Beach.

Octopus at Pyramid Rock
Octopus at Pyramid Rock

We had really good mileage out of the white shark encounter two weeks ago and were fortunate to have the story run on a few local blogs, from which the Sunday Times got hold of it, and that led to a short radio interview on Cape Talk on Monday morning. That kind of exposure doesn’t come around very often, so thank you False Bay, Christo, Craig, the Russians and of course the shark. If you haven’t heard what happened, click here.

Two red sponge nudibranchs at Spaniard Rock
Two red sponge nudibranchs at Spaniard Rock

There are two red sponge nudibranchs in the photo above. See if you can see them: a bigger one just above the snail, and a smaller one to the right of the image. They are perfectly camouflaged!

Dates to diarise

The next ScubaPro Day is on Saturday 26 October. On that day we will be spending some time in airports on our way back from the Red Sea, so unfortunately our boat won’t be participating. If you’re keen to do some cheap boat dives and maybe try out some ScubaPro gear, however, diarise the date. More information will be provided in the next few weeks.

The next Cape Town Dive Festival is on 2-3 May 2014. More information on that will be revealed in the coming months, I imagine.

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, click here or use the form on this page!

Newsletter: Night night

Hi divers

Last Saturday we did a night dive at Long Beach. Four of the eight divers were doing their first night dives ever: Craig, Tamsyn, Dinho and Liam. Conditions were excellent and we had a great time. Photos in this newsletter are from that dive.

Liam on the night dive
Liam on the night dive

Weekend plans

As the days grow longer and summer beckons (it’s called positive thinking) we do still need to get through August, which according to the weather sites is the stormy month. There has been little sign of winter during the week and most days have been fairly pleasant. False Bay is quite clean and blue.

That all changes starting late tomorrow as a long period 6.5 metre swell rolls into the bay. That coupled with some rain will make diving a bit surgy and unpleasant, and my feeling is that it best be left alone for this weekend. If you’re at a loose end please pop down to Glencairn Beach or the far end of Long Beach to support the OMSAC Finathon, or take part if you feel up to it! Sponsorship of the divers/swimmers/paddlers can be directed towards Shark Spotters, a cause close to our hearts!

Perlemoen at Long Beach
Perlemoen at Long Beach

DAN Day

Last Saturday we attended the DAN Day at the Simon’s Town navy base. We had a tour of their dive training facility (this is most likely where you’ll end up if you need to use a recompression chamber after a dive accident), and then a series of very informative talks.

Pyjama catsharks asleep in the pipeline
Pyjama catsharks asleep in the pipeline

DAN or Divers’ Alert Network is an international organisation that provides a form of insurance whereby they will pay for any expenses related to diving accidents that your medical aid and travel insurance don’t cover. They will also pay for you to be evacuated if necessary, and these costs can be severe. However, if you choose not to take out DAN cover, they are still the people to call if you or your buddy has a suspected case of decompression illness. They have doctors on call who will guide you as to what to do, and they will arrange a chamber and evacuation if necessary (however the costs will be for your account). You don’t have to know where your nearest chamber is and whether it’s operational, because DAN keeps that information for you.

Please visit the DAN SA website, check them out, put their number into your phone (0800 020 111 in SA or +27 (0) 82 810 6010 if dialling from outside SA), and let me know if you have any questions (I might be able to help, or I can refer you to someone at DAN who can). Clare and I have cover, and it costs us about R175 per month for both of us. You can also take out cover specifically for a dive trip, if you don’t feel you dive enough to justify year-round membership. For an interesting story about someone who really needed their DAN membership, read this.

Diving and exercise

One talk at the DAN Day that was particularly interesting was about diving and exercise. Studies have found that light exercise a few hours both before and after a dive can be beneficial in reducing gas bubble formation, which is a good thing (too many bubbles cause the bends). The speaker also reminded us that one must keep fit to divediving isn’t going to make you fit, but being fit before coming diving will keep you safe and healthy.

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, click here or use the form on this page!

SDI Online Training

Newsletter: Fields of fish

Hi divers

It’s winter so not as many people dive as they do in summer, but the week’s diving has been good with little or no swell and clean water at around 15 degrees. We had lovely conditions at the infrequently-dived wreck of the Brunswick last Saturday, before the rain came, and equally good conditions at Long Beach yesterday. There are some photos on facebook here and here. If you haven’t liked our facebook page already, please do – you can keep up to date with what we’re up to. We post photos regularly and try to do a visibility report whenever we dive.

Fish and box jellies at Long Beach
Fish and box jellies at Long Beach

For once the weekend weather and dive plan is an easy call. Both days look exceptionally good and the bay is quite clean and calm right now. We are attending the DAN Cape Town event on Saturday so there will be no diving, but we will launch on Sunday to do qualifying dives for Open Water students. We will launch from the Yacht Club in Simon’s Town and the plan will be to visit Photographer’s Reef and the cowsharks.

Anemone on the Brunswick
Anemone on the Brunswick

Please remember your MPA permits. If you plan to come diving, check that yours is valid. If you don’t have one (or if it’s expired), head down to the post office with your ID book and about R100 and ask for a “scuba diving permit”. We dive a lot inside the marine protected area, for which you need a permit.

Wreckage of the Brunswick
Wreckage of the Brunswick

Our Red Sea trip is in October (17-26th). There are still one or two spaces on the liveaboard if you feel like a last minute (almost) holiday, but it’s almost full. We’ll do a local trip (to Sodwana or Durban) again in the new year so don’t worry if you miss out!

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, click here or use the form on this page!