Newsletter: Beginnings!

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Friday: Shore dives with students at Long Beach at 8.30

Saturday: Boat dives to the western side of Roman Rock at 9.30 and to Caravan Reef (PMB Reef) at 12.00

Sunday: Boat dives to Shark Alley (for cowsharks) at 9.30 and Seal Rock at Partridge Point at 12.00

On Saturday and Sunday we are launching from False Bay Yacht Club and meeting at Simon’s Town jetty.

Conditions report

First up, merry Christmas (to those who celebrate it) and happy new year (to all of you who adhere to the Gregorian calendar). I hope the new year brings you all you wish for, and some good diving.

 

Happy 2015!
Happy 2015!

The past ten days or so have been hard times for Cape Town divers as huge swell, howling winds and lousy visibility have meant a lot of days that feel wasted -after all mowing the lawn or painting the house are hardly substitutes for diving. A handful of people have dived various sites without any reports of decent conditions. We drove from Chapman’s Peak to Millers Point almost every day watching and waiting for a change in the conditions.

Hout Bay: Saturday to Wednesday
Hout Bay: Saturday to Wednesday

They have finally started to change. For most of the day we have had a light south westerly wind and for the next few days there is more west (in the very light winds) than anything else. Although it won’t turn the viz into 15 metres, it will improve as the weekend and early part of next week progresses. Its not the time of year for 20 metre viz but the water is 20 degrees in False Bay and if the visibility is 5+ metres then diving is quite enjoyable!

We are spending the next few days diving in False Bay. We are going to finalise the boat diving sites on the day as it is difficult to be sure where the best conditions will be. If you want to dive, make your selection from the top of this newsletter, and reply to this mail or text me.

Travel plans

We are turning our minds to travel plans for the next 12 (and a bit)  months. In June we plan to go to Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique, to dive the reefs there, which teem with life. Dates for this trip will be confirmed in the next few weeks. In the mean time, start saving! For this trip, you will need to be a confident boat diver.

Sometime in the first few months of 2016 (a stretch, I know) we plan to do a Maldives liveaboard trip with dive guide Becky and her husband Al from our last Red Sea trip. We will do this trip on the same basis as our Red Sea trip in 2013: we will tell you the dates we’ll be on board, and you book your own berths. Dates for this trip will be confirmed not earlier than the end of March, but you can start budgeting in the mean time. To get the full benefit from this trip you will need to be an Advanced diver with a Nitrox Specialty under your belt.

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!

Heating our pool with Project Pumps

We have a training pool that is just the right size for the small groups of students that Tony prefers to teach. It’s an ideal size to heat up, and in order to make it as comfortable as possible to spend extended periods of time on skills, we’ve taken a couple of measures to make the water as warm as we can. The first, which we fitted when we installed the pool, is a thermal cover that both warms the water and reduces algae growth. It looks like grey bubble wrap, and works like a bomb – it raises the water temperature up to four degrees higher than the air temperature (and if you don’t run the pump to mix the heated layers, you can get an impressive thermocline!). Of course, to get the benefit of the pool cover, it has to be on at least some of the time, which is a challenge during the summer months, when there’s always someone in the pool!

A fine network of pipes
A fine network of pipes

The second measure we took to warm the pool was to install solar heating panels on the roof. These panels consist of a fine network of tubes made of tough HDPE, through which the pool water is circulated and then returned to the pool. The existing pool pump is used (this is why we fitted a more powerful one than the size of the pool warranted when we did the initial installation) and the heat of the sun warms the panels directly, as well as warming the roof which warms the panels from below. We fitted them on the north-facing sloping area of our roof. As a rule of thumb the number of panels needed is one for every two square metres of pool surface. Our pool is 5×3=15 metres square, so we have 7 panels (which is 15 divided by two, and rounded down).

Putting the panels onto the roof
Putting the panels onto the roof

The pump has a manifold fitted, which allows us to decide when we pump water onto the roof, and when we don’t bother. During the winter, when it’s quiet, or raining, we can isolate the panels and just run the pool pump as normal. This also saves electricity during the time of the year when it’s most in demand inside the house.

The manifold for the roof panels
The manifold for the roof panels

The entire system was installed by our fellow diver Justin Gootman of Project Pumps, and we can highly recommend his and his team’s handiwork and professionalism. (At the same time and with great expertise they drilled us a well point, but that’s another story.)

Connected to the pool pump
Connected to the pool pump

I learned to dive in Cape Town in the month of July, and the training pool was 9 degrees and I was almost physically ill when I submerged myself. It was very unpleasant. For several years afterwards it was the coldest water I’d ever been in, until a freezing dive at Tafelberg Reef in the Atlantic took over pole position. I am happy to say that we at Learn to Dive Today are doing our bit to ensure that fewer Cape Town dive students have to suffer as I did!

Newsletter: Back to business

Hi divers

Weekend dives

Saturday: 9.00 and 12.00 from Hout Bay to the Romeliathe Maori and/or the BOS 400

Sunday: 9.00 am double tank dive from OPBC to North and South Paw and/or the Cape Matapan

The week(end) that was

We had a dry weekend last week as we spent three days at the CTICC participating in the Cape Town International Boat Show. We met a lot of new people, some old friends and a few really cool dogs. Many of the visitors to our stand expressed an interest in diving and asked to be added to the newsletter. To new readers we say welcome and hopefully we see you all soon in the water!

The special offers on Open Water, Advanced, Refreshers and Nitrox Specialty will hold for another few weeks, so if you missed the show you can still be part of the summer diving bunch.

Clare at the boat show
Clare at the boat show

Conditions report

The south easterly wind has been hectic all week so theoretically the Atlantic should be crystal clear. I drove home along the coastline today and there are huge patches of clean water and huge patches of darker water. It looked very clean around Llandudno so I think the Romelia is on the cards for the weekend. I doubt False Bay will be good as apart from the wind, the swell is in a southerly direction which does not improve conditions at all.

Saturday looks like the best option for diving, and Sunday a maybe. If you want to dive, reply to this mail or text me. Sunday’s launches will be confirmed late on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday: launching from Hout Bay at 9.00 and 12.00. I have mostly students so we will look for clean water around the wrecks of Maori Bay and the Romelia wreck area.

Sunday: conditions permitting, we will be launching from OPBC at 9.00 for a double tank dive. We will look at the viz around the wreck of the Cape Matapan, and if it’s not clean there we will dive the pinnacles at North and South Paw.

Safety stopping in Maori Bay
Safety stopping in Maori Bay

Congratulations are in order

for Shane and Odette, who got engaged this week. Wishing you all the happiness! Also congrats to Brian, who has just completed his Divemaster course in… wait for it… Hawaii! Brian is starting an Instructor Development Course this week. Good job!

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!

Guest contribution: Heinrich’s seal diving video

Heinrich learned to scuba dive recently, and on his final Open Water dive at Duiker Island in Hout Bay, he brought along his Go-Pro camera. He edited together some footage from that dive, and is generously allowing us to share it here.

Seal Dive at Duiker Island, South Africa from Heinrich Meyer on Vimeo.

The last training dive for my OWD. Amazing dive site with Seals everywhere you look. They are very playful and like to interact with divers. And by interact I mean biting… 😀

Handy hints: Getting respect on the boat

Do your fellow divers not give you the respect you feel you deserve? Lisa has the answer to all your problems: scare them with a high fashion Doberman hoodie! Some visual intimidation will do the trick.

Lisa in her awesome Doberman hoodie
Lisa in her awesome Doberman hoodie

She was trying out a new hoodie that was a gift from a friend on a dive just after Christmas. I thought she looked like a very friendly Doberman, but maybe it is a superhero hoodie like my Batman one. Whatever the case, it looks pretty awesome.

Family business

Ready for action at the pool
Ready for action at the pool

Our pool is five by three metres, and just under two metres deep at the deep end. We’ve had a number of students that have come to do their confined water skills, but in December we had two firsts: four students at the same time, and all of them were related. The three Carstens children were doing a PADI Open Water course, and their old man was doing a Refresher.

Exam time!
Exam time!

Not only did all of us fit in the pool at the same time for the basic skills (with me towards the shallow end and the family in the deep end), but we had an awesome time of it. It’s been great having the pool on site. The pool we used to use sometimes had water clarity issues, and there certainly wasn’t the option of popping inside for a cup of coffee and some theory work.

Group photo after successful completion of confined water skills
Group photo after successful completion of confined water skills

Cracking an egg underwater

Brian and his raw egg
Brian and his raw egg

Have you tried this? It’s an art, but if you do it gently you can remove the entire shell of a raw egg without the white and yolk coming apart. The water pressure holds the contents of the egg intact.

South African eggs have really hard, thick shells – I learned this from watching British cooking shows on television – so it’s a delicate procedure to strike the egg hard enough to crack the shell, but not so hard that you splatter the contents everywhere. Having witnessed it, I can also add that smashing the egg on your buddy’s head will not have the desired effect.

Here are Brian and Esti playing with eggs during their Advanced course at Outer Photographer’s Reef.

Whether you manage to crack your egg perfectly or not, a passing fish will be very grateful for the meal. Does this count as chumming?

Bookshelf: The Rapture of the Deep

Rapture of the Deep: And Other Dive Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Know – Michael Zinsley

Rapture of the Deep
Rapture of the Deep

I shouldn’t have read this book after The Face of the Deep by Thomas Farber. The comparison is unfavourable. While Farber is lyrical and thoughtful, Zinsley describes alcohol-fueled romps through the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean while working as a diving industry professional.

While most of the observations about the cultures that the author encounters are quite prosaic, this is the first book I’ve read that frankly deals with the commercial side of recreational scuba diving. Perhaps it is necessary to be prosaic in order to discuss this; the reality is far from the romantic vision sold by some of the dive certification agencies. Zinsley describes greedy dive shop owners who send their staff out to dive in appalling conditions, and does not mince words about the paltry pay one can expect as a Divemaster. He observes that Instructors get paid slightly more, but that they tend to spend most of their time in swimming pools, and that a number of them end up as shopkeepers, hardly diving at all.

There are some highly amusing but very politically incorrect descriptions of Zinsley’s former students and clients who dived with him at the various operations where he worked as Divemaster. It seems that a lot of the time, your Divemaster can tell within a few minutes whether you’re going to be trouble on a dive or not. (Try not to be trouble! It’ll keep you healthy – or alive – and make the dive a lot more enjoyable for everyone.) Zinsley describes his experiences with nitrogen narcosis and a scare with decompression sickness.

Zinsley has visited and dived in some of the world’s most exotic destinations, and it’s probably more accurate to classify Rapture of the Deep as a travelogue with diving. This is a light, riotous, unapologetically misogynistic read with no literary pretensions whatsoever. I’d specially recommend it for professionals in the dive industry, who will empathise with much of what Zinsley describes.

You can buy the book here if you are in South Africa, and here if you’re not. If you want to read it on your Kindle, go here.

Newsletter: Shooting animals

Hi divers

Surprised by an early newsletter? Well its going to be short and sweet. We will not be diving this weekend at all, however, the forecast looks good for some really clean water in False Bay so if you can dive, do it.

Navigating slightly off course
Navigating slightly off course

We have had a mixed bag this week and had some early morning good viz in Hout Bay on Wednesday and ended off with some low viz in the afternoon as the wind died and the water warmed up. It was amazing to watch the bay go dark in a matter of hours.

Our Divemaster candidates had a really challenging course to navigate with a huge amount of task loading to prepare them for the role of Divemaster. We set up a course close to Die Josie that was angled across the current, the wind and the swell to demonstrate the difficulty in finding someone or something in low viz and with a current running.

Rescue skills
Rescue skills

Yesterday we spent some time at Long Beach and had pretty good conditions. The visibility was perhaps 4 metres, but it was calm and sunny which was perfect for Discover Scuba students.

So far we have thirteen enthusiastic divers heading off to Sodwana on 26 April. If you’re keen to join us, let me know and we’ll do our best to slot you in!

Clare and I are off early this morning, heading north to a game reserve to shoot a few pictures of the wildlife above the water. We are back on Monday and it will be diving as usual next week.

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!

Swimming off the edge of the reef

Deep skills at Outer Photographer's Reef
Deep skills at Outer Photographer’s Reef

One cool, green day at Outer Photographer’s Reef, Tony took Brian and Esti for their deep dive as part of their Advanced course. The nice thing about this reef is that it’s a huge granite slab, 15-18 metres deep on top. If you drop off the edge of the slab onto the sand, you can get 25-27 metres. You can descend to the top of the reef, get comfortable (first deep dive, after all – some nerves are understandable!) and then swim over the side to get some depth. This is what’s happening in this video: