Newsletter: Playing the odds

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives, location TBC

The odds are good that diving will be sort of okay on both sides of the peninsula, on both days of the weekend. We had 3-4 metre visibility yesterday in False Bay with lots of red tide patches. Strong south easterly winds tomorrow should push the red tide a little further into the bay.

The weekend has very little swell and although the wind does fool around a little, I think Sunday will be the best option. Hout Bay or False Bay I cannot say but will decide that on Saturday. If you’re up for a dive, get in touch.

Gannets at Bird Island in Lamberts Bay
Gannets at Bird Island in Lamberts Bay

Diversnight

Next Saturday, 3 November, we’re night diving at Long Beach. If you’re keen to participate in Diversnight, we’d love to see you. If you are going to need gear, let me know sooner rather than later.

regards

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

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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: Pick a side

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives either from False Bay Yacht Club or Hout Bay

Odds are that Hout Bay as well as False Bay will offer some decent diving on Saturday. I was out on the boat on Tuesday and Wednesday in False Bay and it was decent.

Hout Bay today was very green. A forecast of howling south easter for tomorrow may clean things up, but I think its best I decide where to go on Saturday after a look tomorrow afternoon. Let me know if you’re keen to dive.

Gull in Lamberts Bay
Gull in Lamberts Bay

Diversnight

Diversnight is on 3 November. It’s a night dive with a difference – learn all about it here. We’ll probably be at Long Beach this year to avoid the tricky conditions at the jetty at low tide (squelch!)x – here’s a facebook event to remind you of the date, and where you can post any questions you might have.

Shark Spotters / Little Optimist fundraiser

Monwabisi Sikweyiya, the original Shark Spotter and real-life hero, is participating in a race with a difference, having just learned to sail. He’ll be racing an tiny sailing dinghy against a host of other luminaries at the V&A Waterfront on 20 October. Sponsorships of Monwa will be split between Shark Spotters, who keep False Bay’s sharks and people safe, and The Little Optimist Trust, which assists ill and needy children to survive and thrive. Both very worthy causes! Donate here if you’re keen to lend a hand.

regards

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

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Muizenberg’s marine street art

Public art is one of the things that can define a community’s ethos. In the seaside suburb of Muizenberg, there’s a lot on which to feast the eye. What follows is a small tour of some of the most prominent marine-themed artworks I’ve noticed around Muizenberg. I’m ignorant, but I know what I like to look at, and here’s some of it.

Rhodesia road whale pair

Whales on Rhodesia Road
Whales on Rhodesia Road

This humpback whale mother and calf pair feature prominently along the wall of a residential home in Rhodesia road. They were created by Sergio Rinquist (Serge One of the One Love Studio).

Killarney Road fish

Fish on Killarney Road
Fish on Killarney Road

You might have seen these five colourful fish peeking out of Killarney road, visible on your right as you drive along Atlantic Road towards the Main Road. They blend true-to-life forms with colour and playful designs, and are worth closer examination.

Fish on Killarney Road
Fish on Killarney Road

They are also the work of Serge One – the One Love studio is responsible for a lot of the beautification of Muizenberg through their vibrant murals. See his instagram page here.

Rustenburg Pharmacy whale

Humpback whale by Chris Auret
Humpback whale by Chris Auret

It’s definitely worth popping into Rustenburg Pharmacy at 52 Beach Road to check out the massive humpback whale mural by Chris Auret. He calls it Health and “Whaleness” on his website!

If you want to find any of these murals on Google maps, search for the road name and the suburb. None of the roads are very long so you shouldn’t have to look hard to find the artworks. There are also many more incredible public artworks in and on buildings in the Muizenberg area.

If you go exploring on foot, the usual disclaimers associated with movement in a big city in South Africa apply: be aware of your surroundings, don’t flash your valuables around, go in the daytime, and take along a friend or two if possible.

Newsletter: Summer’s due

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Monday: Boat dives from Hout Bay

Big anchor at Noup
Big anchor at Noup

I do wish for summer to arrive long before it’s due… For many reasons, but mostly because I’d like to reacquaint myself with my slip-slop collection. Along with summer comes the south easterly wind, and it is around this weekend. But I fear it’s too little too late to clean the Atlantic, and a bit too much for great False Bay conditions.

We will therefore have a dry weekend but will most likely launch from Hout Bay on Monday. If you can accommodate some weekday aquatic therapy, let me know.

regards

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

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A visit to the Vasa museum in Stockholm

I never got around to sharing some of the maritime components of the trip Tony and I made to Sweden (for adventure) and Denmark (for family) in July-August of last year. I trust you will indulge me as I intersperse these recollections with our (not always so) regular programming.

When I do trip planning I tend to gravitate towards attractions and places that have something to do with maritime history and the marine environment – these subjects tend to make both of us happy. I became obsessed with visiting the Vasa Museum a few years ago, and when the opportunity arose to route our travels through Stockholm, I made it our first priority on our first full day in the city. If I had to provide a single reason for why we went to Stockholm, the Vasa might be it.

The Vasa museum
The Vasa museum

The Vasa was a Swedish warship that sank on her maiden voyage, within a stone’s throw of land and inside the collection of islands that makes up Stockholm, in the summer of 1628. She went down suddenly and quickly, and was lost until the 1950s, when the wreck was discovered in 32 metres of water in brackish Lake Malaren, just outside the harbour of Stockholm. The lake is connected to the sea, but the water is not salty enough to accommodate shipworms (Teredo navalis), and the absence of this wood-muncher contributed to Vasa‘s preservation. An extensive salvage effort culminated in 1961, and in 1988 the ship was moved to a dedicated museum on the island of Djurgården. The masts on the outside of the museum building aren’t original, but they show the height to which Vasa‘s actual masts would have reached.

Stern view of Vasa
Stern view of Vasa

Both the story of the Vasa‘s construction and sinking, and of her recovery and preservation, are remarkable. (I’ll leave you to discover why she sank.) I did a guided tour of the museum which provided some colour regarding the ship’s history before walking around on my own, but Tony preferred to explore independently from the beginning. The salvage process is well documented, as is life on board, characterised by some grim realities!

State of the art 1950s diving gear
State of the art 1950s diving gear

A team of engineers works constantly to preserve the ship, which is closely monitored for structural and chemical changes, and kept in a strictly climate-controlled environment. The fruits of their research have assisted in the preservation of other historical vessels such as the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, and the parts of the exhibit related to the preservation of Vasa are fascinating in and of themselves.

First view of Vasa
First view of Vasa

I can’t adequately convey what it was like to walk into the museum for the first time and see a full-sized 17th century wooden warship right in front of us. Vasa is colossal, and breathtaking. So much of what I know about what life was like centuries ago has to be supplemented by imaginative reconstruction of things I’ve never seen before (like a wooden warship), or ambitious mental deletions of the industrial and agrarian features of almost all the landscapes one interacts with in developed countries. Seeing the Vasa was like a smack in the face from the past. Most of my photos are no good, because you’re so close to the damn thing, and it’s so enormous, that cameras just don’t do it justice. But your eyes do. If you’re anywhere remotely near Stockholm, get thee to the Vasa Museum. I promise you won’t regret it.

A Day on the Bay: A Brydes whale for company

On a beautiful, calm day in early June this year, shortly after dropping my divers in the water, I was visited by a friendly Brydes whale. A Brydes whale – I suspect the same one – had been showing a strong interest in boats in western False Bay over the last couple of weeks.

The whale makes its presence known
The whale makes its presence known

I knew it was a Brydes whale because of the small, sickle-shaped dorsal fin far back on its spine. This one circled the boat a few times, and then headed straight for me like a submarine on the surface. It pushed a small wave of water ahead of it as it came.

The Brydes whale near the boat
The Brydes whale near the boat

It was a slightly intimidating sight as it ploughed through the water. It was an extremely calm day, so the boat’s motors were switched off. I waited with some anxiety to see what the whale would do.

The whale comes to investigate
The whale comes to investigate

After a close pass by the boat, the whale circled Seahorse several times, blowing lustily. It came back to the boat repeatedly over a period of at least half an hour. I kept the engines off, and made sure my life jacket was fastened. I hoped the divers might also be able to see what was happening! The whale was not hostile in the least, but an exuberant animal weighing between 12 and 20 tons, moving at speed, could accidentally tip me into the water in a heartbeat.

Brydes whale circling Seahorse
Brydes whale circling Seahorse

The whale lifted its head out of the water a few times, showing me the three rostral ridges on top of its head and the grooves under its throat, which also help with confirming its identification as a Brydes whale. Our whale book says that these whales often have small, circular cookie cutter shark scars, specially if they’ve been in tropical waters, but I couldn’t see any.

Brydes whale showing his head
Brydes whale showing his head

I find Brydes whales a little mysterious, because they can be seen year round in False Bay and somehow lack the predictability of the Southern right whales and humpbacks whose rowdy presence is apparent close to shore in False Bay between June and November. If you see a whale in the first half of the year in False Bay, it’s almost certainly a Brydes whale.

These whales calve year-round, because they don’t ever go into really cold water (False Bay is at the southern end of their range). This preference for warmer water is probably related to their relatively thin layer of blubber. They eat schooling fish and plankton.

Brydes whale off the bow
Brydes whale off the bow

Their blows are low and bushy, as you can see from my photos. They don’t aggregate in big groups like other whales seen along South Africa’s coastline, and you’ll see at most two animals together at a time, if that. These whales are still caught by the Japanese as part of their “scientific” whaling program.

After a while the whale seemed to lose interest, and left me to my thoughts as I waited for the divers (who were gloriously oblivious, it turns out) to surface. While it’s an incredible experience to have an animal like this approach you so close and with such confidence, I am glad it left. Ship and boat strikes are a very real danger to whales, and a whale that is so curious about boats could get itself into trouble in the busy boating areas close to shore in False Bay.

The whale disappears into the Bay
The whale disappears into the Bay

Regulations state that unless you’re in possession of a whale watching permit (and there’s only one operator in False Bay who has one of those), you are not to approach a whale closer than 300 metres, anywhere in South African waters. If a whale approaches you, move away if you can do so safely. If there are divers in the water, your responsibility is to stay close to the divers, so turn off your engines and enjoy the moment!

Newsletter: No weather available

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Nada! Stay safe!

The weather man has decided not to send any weather our way for diving this weekend. Instead, we get an 18 second, 6 metre swell with some wind speeds of around 40 km/h. The sane and safe thing to do is to stay out of the ocean; however for those that do brave it… Please post videos.

Storm clouds
Storm clouds

Diversnight

Curious about the origins of Diversnight? Read all about it here. Remember, it’s on Saturday 3 November.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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All about Diversnight (and the unifying power of cake)

November is around the corner, and with it one of the regular fixtures on our diving calendar: Diversnight. Diversnight is a community diving event, which aims to get as many divers underwater as possible for a night dive on the first Saturday of November, at a time corresponding to the current year. So last year we dived at 20:17, and this year, we’ll all try to be underwater at 20:18 (8.18 pm). Get it?

Night diving for Diversnight 2017
Night diving for Diversnight 2017

Diversnight is a Norwegian invention that has spread around the world. It’s a great way to meet and mingle with fellow divers. The event is for everybody and the aim is a collective one (which is very Scandinavian, now that I think about it) rather than a quest for individual glory. In the past we’ve been grateful to share the shallows with divers from various local clubs and origins. I’d encourage you to join in if there’s a Diversnight event near you, or start your own one, even if it’s small.

There is some information about the history of this mysterious Nordic scuba event on the Diversnight website, but (as usual) I had a lot more questions, so I contacted the Diversnight team to see if they’d be willing to submit to an interview.

Ludvig and the rest of the team were very kind to answer all of my questions, and the interview follows below. When Ludvig mentioned the Diversnight team’s belief in the unifying power of cake, I felt that we were kindred spirits. Hope to see you at one of the Diversnight events in Cape Town on Saturday 3 November at 20:18!

Traffic on the jetty for Diversnight 2017
Traffic on the jetty for Diversnight 2017

Who is the Diversnight team? Is Tone, who founded Diversnight (according to your website) still involved? Do you all live in the same town, or are you spread far and wide?

The Diversnight Team consists of three people:
Tone Svee Dahl – The founder of Diversnight. Still involved in keeping the rest of us in line with the Diversnight spirit.
Thomas Kalve – Designed and built the new Diversnight website, keeping all the technical doohickeys up and running making sure people can register both sites and numbers.
Ludvig F. Aarstad – Mainly running Diversnight communications on a semi-daily basis. Keeping the Diversnight Facebook page up to date with registrations from the Diversnight website, and generally trying to bring the word out to as many people as possible.

What kind of diving do you all usually do – are you recreational divers, or hardcore ice or cave divers?

The Diversnight Team is all recreational divers, though some of us has been known to dive under the ice on a couple of occasions.

How did you start to spread the word of Diversnight outside Norway?

According to the Diversnight History, Diversnight started off as a regional night dive through the website dykkesiden.com. Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish divers frequented this site. Most of the foreign users of the site were Swedish, and when they heard about Diversnight they wanted to participate and the Danes were also offered to join. When we saw that this was a great success, we actively contacted various diving websites on the internet.

How do you publicise Diversnight every year? It looks as though the number of divers participating each year changes quite a lot (up and down) – do you know why?

The date and time of Diversnight each year is published at both the diversnight.com website and the Diversnight page on facebook. We have also sent out this info via email to all registered contacts on the website, but we are now mainly focusing on using facebook as the communications channel.

Every year we see some sites dropping off and new ones joining due to various reasons. The weather has a huge impact in some areas, but it also boils down to how good we are in promoting the event.

Still we see that this has now become an important, yearly event for many divers, dive centers and diving clubs.

There was a very big increase in number of divers and number of countries from 2008-2009. Can you remember what caused that jump in numbers?

The reason for the huge jump in numbers from 2008 to 2009 is probably due to the massive use of facebook, and a real effort from all the Diversnight Team, when promoting the event. The Diversnight Team used to be bigger, and we then had more capacity then we have today. More people reach out to more people.

Can you tell me what a typical Diversnight dive is like for you in Norway? I am from Cape Town, so the sun sets at around 7.30pm in November. So it is not yet dark when we get into the water. The air temperature can be 15-20 degrees and the water 14-16 degrees. So it is a little cold, but not terrible. Most people wear wetsuits not drysuits. I imagine it is a bit different in Scandinavia?

In Norway, based on where you are located, the water temperature will range from 6 to 8 degrees. Surface temperature will be about 3 degrees, and it will be dark. Drysuit is a must :).

Speaking for my own club, the actual dive/event takes place like this:
People will gather maybe an hour before the actual dive time to ready their gear and register with the dive leader. We also usually have a treasure hunt during the dive, where sunken tokens can be exchanged for prizes, if found. If many prizes are left, the remaining will be in a raffle amongst all the registered divers.

Cake, coffee, mulled wine (non-alcoholic) etc. is served, and we have bonfires. Also, one year in Estonia they were more than 20 divers, diving between ice flakes. Still they were in the water with huge smiles after a fantastic night dive, even if most of them were using semi-dry suits!

On that subject, why did you choose November (originally December) and not June or July, when it is warmer weather? Or was it just by accident that it ended up being at that time of year?

The reason it was started in December is that the idea of a nationwide night dive was conceived by Tone at a place called Scuba Bar in Oslo, one November night in 2005. It took her/them roughly three weeks to get the concept together, with the idea of showing everyone that diving wasn’t just a summer activity and that even if the temperature shows -10 degrees celsius and it is pitch black it is still fantastic to dive and very social at the same time, being key.

The reason it was moved to November is because almost all of the Nordic dive sites were frozen over in December 2010, and the reason it was moved from being on a Thursday to being on a Saturday is simply by request of the Diversnight community.

Nigella's blondies for Diversnight 2017 - these were good (if I say so myself)
Nigella’s blondies for Diversnight 2017 – these were good (if I say so myself)

Is cake still a big part of Diversnight for you? What kind of cake did you have last year (if any)? We had blondies, which are chocolate brownies but made with white chocolate instead of dark chocolate.

Cake is still an essential part of Diversnight, and the Diversnight Team try to emphasize this as often as we can. On the first cake dive, Tone noticed how incredibly unifying a cake can be, so she kept inviting people to cake dives. The rest of Norway adopted this, and the tradition was born. By these cakes, people got to know one another, new friendships were established, and new buddy teams were formed. Cake proved to have a way more unifying effect than simply eating your food with others.

Again, speaking for my own club, last year we had a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting coloured ocean blue for the occasion and decorated with edible sea creature ornaments.

There is no special Diversnight cake, even though Tone has baked the same cake for years. The recipe was posted, by Tone, on the Diversnight facebook page, and on the diversnight.com website recently.

Is there anything that you want people to know about Diversnight, or any cool story you’d like to share?

Well, the story of Diversnight is cool by itself, and is covered by the article written by Tone herself on the website. We would like everyone to help us spread the word about Diversnight. We want Diversnight to keep living as a worldwide night dive, connecting people from the diving community all over the world through diversnight.com and the Diversnight facebook page.

Diversnight is a great way of showing the world that diving is a sport that can be enjoyed all hours of the day, all days of the week, all year round, even if you live in the cold north somewhere.

Through Diversnight, we all dive together, even if some are in Africa and others in Norway. The idea is to be together, have fun doing what you love, experience something together, and eat cake!

My husband’s children live in Denmark, so each time we visit them we try to explore a little more around Scandinavia. Last year we spent some time in Sweden, and Norway is definitely on the agenda for a future trip. What is the diving like where you are? Does it vary a lot around the coast? Do you dive in lakes too?

We dive in fjords and also out toward the open sea. The Norwegian coastline is very long, and offers a lot of excellent places to dive. To my knowledge, there is not much diving in lakes in Norway.

Getting into the water close to 20:17 for Diversnight 2017åç
Getting into the water close to 20:17 for Diversnight 2017

Many thanks to Ludvig for getting together answers to my many questions! We hope that Diversnight goes from strength to strength.

Newsletter: Taking the gap

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Double tank dive from False Bay Yacht Club

Sinuous sea fan at Atlantis
Sinuous sea fan at Atlantis

The forecast seems to change dramatically from day to day. Instead of predictable patterns, we seem to go from one extreme to the next. This morning it seemed that both days of the weekend would be good, but this evening… Not so much.

There appears to be a wind gap early on Sunday, so we will take that and launch from the Simons Town jetty at 8.15 am. It will be a double tanker as the wind picks up during the course of the day. There will have been some south easter on Saturday, so it we will decide on the sites based on where we find visibility.

Want to dive? 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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