Wreck specialty course… Part 3

Luke reads the Wreck Specialty manual
Luke reads the Wreck Specialty manual

Tami and I finished our Wreck Specialty course independently of Kate, because she was on a deadline and had to get back to Mud Island (which is so deep in snow at the moment that it should be renamed!). We finished the course in spectacular fashion with a dive of surpassing magnificence on the SS Maori just outside Hout Bay.

Dive 4: SS Maori

Like the dive we did on the SAS Pietermaritzburg for the second dive of our Wreck Specialty, the Maori is at a moderate depth and none of the stupidity that comes with deep diving (at least for me) or rapid air depletion is an issue. It’s a large, spectacular wreck but more broken up than the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks. It was carrying an interesting cargo, much of which is still visible at the site. The large amount of metal lying around means that a compass is next to useless.

Here’s a picture to whet your appetite, but more information can be found in a detailed post about the Maori, to follow!

Tami descends on the Maori
Tami descends on the Maori

Much to Tony’s relief (probably), the three of us – Kate, Tami and me – are now certified Wreck specialists. Tami and I did not do any penetrations as part of the course – the wrecks we ended up diving on didn’t permit it – but when we get a chance to visit the MV Aster in Hout Bay with Tony, we hope he’ll show us how!

Newsletter: Christmas diving rush

Hi divers

The last week has been very hectic with a lot of students signing up, so I will be diving nonstop until Christmas – at which point I will enjoy a dry day featuring some turkey and a nap! I have seven Open Water and two Advanced students on the go with some DSDs thrown into the mix and hope to certify most of them before the end of the year.

On Thursday we did two amazing dives in the freezing (8 degrees) Atlantic. The first was on the SS Maori, which sank in 1909 with a diverse cargo including large iron water pipes, porcelain and railway sleepers.

Gerard impersonating a manta ray on the SS Maori
Gerard impersonating a manta ray on the SS Maori

The wreck is in a small, sheltered bay about 7.5kms from the Hout Bay slipway and we enjoyed the incredible 20 metre plus visibility as we explored the large wreck.

Tony congratulating Cecil on completing his Open Water course
Tony congratulating Cecil on completing his Open Water course

The second dive was in the same bay, on a more modern and intact wreck of a floating crane called the Bos 400. It ran aground in the winter of 1994 while under tow by a tug. It was outfitted with no expense spared, with a state of the art hospital, bridge, and helipad. The helipad collapsed within the last three months and the wreck is far more stable now than it was last time we visited Maori Bay.

Wreck of the Boss 400
Wreck of the Boss 400

This has to rate as one of the best dives I have ever done. The wreck is huge, unbelievably impressive and you could spend a lifetime exploring it. Again, the visibility was for miles. A large portion of the crane sticks out of the water and we took a drive around it on the boat before dropping into the water.

Divers descending on the Boss 400
Divers descending on the Boss 400
Cecil drinking and diving on the Boss 400
Cecil drinking and diving on the Boss 400

I am hoping that the dive charters will launch on the Christmas weekend (boxing day or the 27th) and I will let you know if boat dives are planned.

Congratulations to Corne who has just finished his Rescue course, and to Tami and Clare for completing their Wreck specialties. Also to Cindy, Cecil, Koen and Francine for Open Water.

See you in the water soon!

Regards

Learn to Dive Today logoTony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog
Diving is addictive!

<strong><a href=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/small-colour-e1284626229322.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-486″ title=”Learn to Dive Today logo” src=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/small-colour-e1284626229322.jpg” alt=”Learn to Dive Today logo” width=”73″ height=”67″ /></a>Tony Lindeque</strong>
076 817 1099
<a href=”http://www.learntodivetoday.co.za” target=”_blank”>www.learntodivetoday.co.za</a>
<a href=”https://www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog” target=”_self”>www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog</a>
<em>Diving is addictive!</em>

Thoughts on correct weighting

Most divers are overweighed, partly from the fact that their benchmark is the amount of weight they used when doing their Open Water course and more often due to their decision to add more weight after having a dive where they struggled to descend.

We are not all the same and different tissues have a different specific gravity, fatty tissues less than 1 and muscle and bone around 1.8-1.9 therefore not all 80 kg divers will wear the same weight.

Wetsuits, boots, gloves, mask volume, hoodies all have different buoyancy characteristics just as changing from a 10 litre cylinder to a 12 litre cylinder will also affect your buoyancy. As your comfort level in the ocean increases your breathing rate improves, your control over the inflator button improves (i.e. small bursts). All these factors contribute to achieving the real weight you require.

Tank weights are often used to ensure a diver is ”heavy” saving the instructor or divemaster the hassle of a buoyant diver floating on the surface whilst the rest of his divers are descending to unknown depths. Tank weights are promoted as being the reason a diver is balanced. Ankle weights are also often added to girls’ ankles as they are ”too light”. A huge factor in this is the material used in their fins: some cheap fins float like corks. I don’t like tank weights because if you are at 25 metres and run out of air you will be unable to ditch all your weights. A well trained diver will not be over weighted, will not run out of air at 25 metrees or have any other mishap… However correct weighting, proper training and a competent diver in the correct gear all go hand in hand. Mess with just one of these aspects and mishaps do happen.

Correct weighting is essential for comfort underwater
Correct weighting is essential for comfort underwater

If you think you are correctly weighted, lie in 5 metres of water, take your weight belt off and hold it in your lap. Slowly remove one weight at a time: you will be surprised at how little weight you need to stay at the bottom. Another option is to place your weight belt on the bottom, hold it tightly and move your arms up and down the length of your body until you are perfectly horizontal. If you find you need all your weight on your chest..then look at a BC with integrated weight pockets. Moving your cylinder up and down in your BC strap also helps find the perfect balance. Remember adding a shorty wetsuit and a rash vest to keep you warm add to the buoyancy of your chest area. A hoodie that fills with air also affects your profile.

New gloves!

SEAC Sub Gloves Zip
SEAC Sub Gloves Zip

My wonderful husband got me a pair of new gloves a couple of weeks ago, and I have been testing them thoroughly. They’re 3 mm thick shiny blue SEAC Sub gloves, with a Supertex palm (for gripping things) and a zipper on the back of the wrist.

They’re snug, easy to put on and fit nicely under my wetsuit cuffs. Plus the colour is totally awesome!

Tony got them from Andre’s scuba shop on Simon’s Town Main Road, just after Long Beach on the right.

FAQ: Can one scuba dive in winter?

For one thing, divers don’t mind the rain… they’re going to get wet anyway! But, surprisingly, winter diving in Cape Town is often better than summer diving. At least part of this has to do with the fact that conditions are ideal for diving False Bay (my favourite side of the peninsula), where the water is warmer than the Atlantic. The prevailing winds are northwesterly, and this flattens the sea in False Bay. The bay is also protected from the winds to some extent by the mountains around it. The result is that the visibility in winter is magnificent. The water is a bit colder (more towards the 12 degree end of the range), but because the air is cooler than it is in summer, you won’t actually feel much of a difference, and in fact it often feels relatively warm. Cape divers will tell you that winter is the best time for diving here – don’t miss it!

(This information also appears on my website, here.)

FAQ: Isn’t it too cold to dive in Cape Town?

Water temperatures in Cape Town tend to vary between 7-10 degrees celcius on the Atlantic side, and 12-22 degrees in False Bay. This is chilly, I admit, but the rewards for braving the cold are huge. We have an incredible selection of reefs, wrecks and kelp forests to explore here, and an astonishing variety of marine life. The way to deal with the cold is to wear the right gear. Two wetsuits (a shortie on top), thick gloves and booties, and – most essential – a hoodie – will keep you toasty warm and will enable you to enjoy leisurely dives in our rich waters.

(This information also appears on my website, here.)

Bookshelf: Photography and art

Do you want to look at pictures of marine life, learn how to take underwater photos, or make your coastal garden pretty (I admit, a bit of a leap)? Here’s a reading list to get you started.

Photographs of ocean-related subjects:

Photographs of marine life:

General underwater photography:

Art (this book is really unclassifiable!):

Making your surroundings beautiful: