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: Just in time

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Friday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Saturday: Boat dives (maximum depth 18 metres) from False Bay Yacht Club

Sunday: More boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Seahorse at Hout Bay today
Seahorse at Hout Bay today

Just in time for Christmas, we have been granted a few days of almost flat seas and very little wind. To top it off the wind direction is also great for False Bay. Friday,  Saturday and Sunday all look like good days for False Bay.

I am keen to launch in False Bay tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday so if diving is in your plans for the next day let me know as soon as possible and I’ll keep you informed of the schedule.

We were at Tafelberg Reef today, then the wreck of the Maori, and then Duiker Island. Although (or rather, because) the visibility was good, the water was cold…. Seven degrees below the thermocline. We had the wind change direction at midday and by late afternoon Hout Bay was starting to darken so I doubt the Atlantic visibility will hold for too long.

This will be the last newsletter before Christmas so I would like to wish those of you that celebrate it a good one, and to everyone without exception a safe and happy time with family over the upcoming crop of public holidays and (hopefully) time off from work.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Christmas gift guide 2017

I wondered when I’d need a picture of a glass of champagne next to some dive gear; this post feels like as good a time as any to use it. I feel obligated to explain that the champagne was being consumed on our pool deck during the course of a late afternoon fool around in and next to the pool with some of my friends. The dive gear was still lying there from a class Tony had led that morning. The juxtaposition was too much to resist.

Don't drink and dive
Don’t drink and dive

That said, it’s time to think about Christmas, Hanukkah, and time off with the family. Some may even celebrate Festivus. I salute you. Regardless, it’s a good time to give gifts to the people you care about. Some suggestions follow below.

First, here are the obligatory links to previous years’ editions of this guide: 20102011201220132014, 2015. Unfortunately, 2016 was an annus horribilis best left undiscussed. As usual, this year’s guide owes much to previous versions. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Donations

For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful, consider a donation on behalf of your friend or loved one:

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:

As usual our Wild Card was an absolute blessing this year. It has been used for multiple park visits and also gets us a discount on our toll fee on Chapmans Peak Drive‘s frequent user program. The full card is a bit pricey, but there’s a great alternative called My Green Card, that costs R145 and gives twelve entries to any of the paid sections of Table Mountain National Park (so, Cape Point, Boulders, Silvermine, Oudekraal, and a few braai areas). Read the fine print carefully though – if you use it up quickly, you have to wait for the 12 months to pass before you can purchase another one. But I think you can also share the 12 clips with friends, whereas a regular Wild Card is tied to your identity. You will have to go to the SANParks office in Tokai to get a My Green Card.

SanParks is introducing differential pricing for Table Mountain National Park, with significantly lower prices for locals, starting next November, so some mathematics will be required this time next year to determine whether a Wild Card is still worth the expense.

Something to read

Everything you need to know about finding a book related to the ocean can be discovered in our list of most recommended books, and our guide to finding the book you need (on this blog, at least!). There are a couple of children’s books there, too.

A magazine subscription is also a fairly reasonably-priced gift idea. I can’t tell you which of the dive magazines are worth reading these days – our current subscriptions are Maritime Review (which is free, so that’s perhaps cheating) and CAR magazine…

Something beautiful

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 or Noordhoek Farm Village (just browse the shops there, one of them has the tide charts right at the door).

You could also print and frame a photo, or create a photo book. Most camera stores can assist with a range of printing media.

Dive gear and water-related stuff

Some excellent water-related gifts I’ve received over the years include:

 

  • WetSac (seriously, check it out) – order online
  • A hooded towel – surf shops often stock them, try the strip at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg
  • A stand up paddle boarding lesson
  • A reel and/or a surface marker buoy – make sure it’s one of the ones that isn’t negatively buoyant

Otherwise, just think a little bit about what might be useful before or after a dive…

  • Sunscreen, conditioner, cleansing shampoo, detangling spray
  • A reusable metal water bottle (glass is a bad idea for the boat)
  • A mini dry bag to keep phones and keys safe
  • A beanie for cold days on the boat or a cap for the sun, or a buff for hair management or neck protection (the Aquarium sometimes sells turtle ones to fundraise for their turtle rehab)
Be safe, be kind, be lekker. Thank you for your friendship and for the dives!

Newsletter: Festive diving

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Friday 23rd: Boat dives from Simon’s Town jetty

Tuesday 27th: Boat dives from Hout Bay harbour

The Christmas weekend has arrived and our gifts this year include some good visibility and a the cowsharks being back at Millers Point. We hope to launch tomorrow, if the wind and rain are a bit milder than the forecast, and again on Saturday.

Santa diving the Aster
Santa diving the Aster

Then it is eating and napping time for a day or two, and we will plan to dive again on Tuesday, most likely in the Atlantic. If you’d like to do some festive season diving during the next week or so, let me know.

We would like to wish you all a good end of year rest, and merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. Thanks for the support and friendship, and we look forward to a diving-filled 2017.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Christmas present

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday & Sunday: Boat dives from Simon’s Town – get in touch to book a place

Monday: Shore dives at Long Beach

We seem set for a week of pleasant conditions. That rates as a good early Christmas present in my book. On Saturday and Sunday we will launch from Simon’s Town early to finish a few Advanced and Nitrox courses.

On Monday we will do shore dives to continue with Open Water courses, and the rest of the week will be for fun diving. Let me know where you want to go and when you’re free, and I will see if we can make it happen.

The much beloved Danes in the pool
The much beloved Danes in the pool

Stuck for Christmas presents? Check out our 2015 gift guide. It’s still pretty fresh, but to it I would add Into a Raging Sea, by Andrew Ingram and Tony Weaver, commemorating 50 years of the NSRI. Available at all good bookshops!

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 2015

First up, let me refer those of you who are truly bloody-minded Christmas shoppers to the gift guides from previous years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. This one draws heavily upon all of those, and you may safely skip the past editions unless you really want lashings of Christmas gifting cheer. I am tempted to say, as usual, that if you haven’t started thinking about this already, you’ve left it too late… But prove me wrong. (Plus, I’m publishing the gift guide a bit earlier than I usually do – you’ve got a month to get busy.)

This is our Christmas tree. It's cat proof.
This is our Christmas tree. It’s cat proof.

Donations

For the person who has everything, or because you’re feeling grateful, consider a donation on behalf of your friend or loved one:

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:

We’ve really got our money’s worth from our Wild Card this year. It has been used for multiple entries to Cape Point, for De Hoop, and for one or two other trips, and paid for itself in a few months. The full card is a bit pricey, but there’s a great alternative called My Green Card, that costs R110 and gives twelve entries to any of the paid sections of Table Mountain National Park (so, Cape Point, Boulders, Silvermine, Oudekraal, and a few braai areas). Read the fine print carefully though – if you use it up quickly, you have to wait for the 12 months to pass before you can purchase another one. But you can also share the 12 clips with friends, whereas a regular Wild Card is tied to your identity. You will have to go to the SANParks office in Tokai to get a My Green Card.

Something to read

Everything you need to know about finding a book related to the ocean can be discovered in our list of most recommended books, and our guide to finding the book you need (on this blog, at least!). There are a couple of children’s books there, too.

Something to watch

A DVD – either a movie, a series box set, or a documentary – is not a bad gift idea!

Something beautiful

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.

If you take your own photos, you could print and frame a couple, create a photo book (Orms can help with this if you don’t know where to start), 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.

Dive gear and useful stuff

Smaller items of gear such as cutting tools, masks, clips and other accessories won’t break the bank. Contact Tony for some ideas and suggestions as to what to get and where to find it.

You can order a WetSac online (seriously, check it out). Otherwise, a fabulous hooded towel that will be the envy of everyone at the dive site can be obtained from one of the surf shops (try Lifestyle Surf Shop and just walk in there with your head up like you don’t care you’re not a surfer) next to Primi Piatti at Muizenberg.

Otherwise, just think a little bit about what might be useful before or after a dive. Sunscreen, deep conditioner, cleansing shampoo, a mini dry bag, a beanie for cold days on the boat,

Genius gear: the Wetsac

Using the WetSac
Using the WetSac

Several years ago the wonderful Tami gave me a WETSAC for my birthday. It sounds like something squishy and perhaps offensive, but in fact it is a marvel of ingenuity and designed to improve the lives of divers and surfers and outdoorsmen everywhere. She bought it at a craft market in Hout Bay, and both of us have been hunting for a retailer of this product since then. Recently, I struck it lucky with a well phrased google search (something like “wet bag”).

How many times have you struggled out of your wetsuit on a rough surface (Miller’s Point parking area and Hout Bay harbour, I’m looking at you), hurting your feet, standing on the neoprene and pressing it into the tar? You’re damaging yourself and your gear! Then you toss the dripping, smelly wetsuit into the back of your car – into a box, if you’re organised – and hope it doesn’t spray seawater and bits of grit from the parking area everywhere while you drive home.

WETSAC is here to help. Essentially a mat that converts into a waterproof bag, it comprises a circular piece of tough fabric with a drawstring around the edge. You stand on it to get out of your suit, throw in your gloves, hoodie and booties, then step off and pull the drawstring tight. Toss the bag into your divemobile and don’t worry about remnants of your diving and changing adventures ending up all over the boot. It is beyond convenient. Plus, you can buy it online. Make a note for next Christmas!

(I was not compensated in any way for this post… The thing is just geninuely nifty!)

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!

Article(s): The New York Times on the Christmas 2004 tsunami

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the massive Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The quake’s epicentre was off the coast of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and triggered a massive tsunami with waves over 30 metres high. 230,000 people in coastal communities around the Indian Ocean lost their lives, with most of the fatalities occuring in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. The scale of the devastation is hard to explain; there are plenty of videos to be found online, showing the sea receding and then rushing back, far inland, with unimaginable force. The coastline was reshaped, modified, and entire towns were razed to the ground.

A year after the event, the New York Times published a series of articles about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and they are well worth reading, today especially. Their author, Barry Bearak, spoke to survivors of the tsunami, and wrote down their stories. He outlines the hard-to-understand calculus of natural disasters (and life itself) in the first article in the series:

But the disposition of who lived and who died was more than a matter of distance from the sea. Indeed, some people lived for the very reasons others died. They were in one part of the city when they ordinarily would have been in another. Some were fortuitously late, others disastrously early. Survival was decided by which road taken, which stairs climbed, which hand held. Once in the grip of the waves, hurled and churned through the malign darkness, some made it through the gantlet of deadly debris. And some did not.

You can find the series of four articles here:

Part 1: A Ghost in the Water

Part 2: The Sea is Coming

Part 3: Living Among the Dead

Part 4: A Special Burden

 

Christmas wishes

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, we wish a very happy day with family and friends. Please enjoy this small collection of sea stars.

A giant cushion star on a sandy area of the reef
A giant cushion star on a sandy area of the reef
Brooding cushion star on 13th Apostle reef
Brooding cushion star on 13th Apostle reef
Brooding cushion star on the Maori
Brooding cushion star on the Maori
Lonely sea star
Lonely sea star
Granular sea star
Granular sea star
A red sea star... count the legs!
A red sea star… count the legs!