Newsletter: Batten down the hatches

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

The weather forecast predicts that we are soon to be lashed with 50 km/h winds, a 7 metre swell, and no small amount of rain. It seldom is as bad as the forecasts claim, however the swell size and direction will hammer False Bay. Despite Sunday’s weather looking peachy, I don’t think the ocean will be, so we will plan for a dry weekend… It is winter after all.

Shark Spotting at Fish Hoek beach
Shark Spotting at Fish Hoek beach

Shark Spotters supporters program

We are proud to announce that we have signed on as official supporters of Shark Spotters. We are Silver partners, and for larger businesses there are higher levels of support on offer. (We are hoping to encourage some of the other dive centres to consider supporting Shark Spotters, too…) Individuals can also sign on to the supporters program, or donate in many different ways.

Shark Spotters is part-funded by the City of Cape Town and the Save Our Seas Foundation, and the rest comes from public donations. The Shark Spotters provide beach safety, a world-first environmentally friendly shark exclusion net at Fish Hoek beach, conduct educational programs at local schools, and conduct shark research in and around False Bay.

We’ll write a blog post with more information soon – but in the mean time, we’re very happy to be contributing to the important work of Shark Spotters. If you’d like to as well, visit their website to find out how to lend your support, or drop me an email and I’ll connect you with the right people.


Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099

Diving is addictive!

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You need this: the Shark Spotters smartphone app

The Shark Spotters app
The Shark Spotters app

After a successful Back a Buddy campaign, Shark Spotters launched their free shark safety smartphone app in the summer of 2016. The app has had excellent uptake by water users of all stripes, but I’d like to draw it to your attention in case you aren’t familiar with the ways in which it can make your beach life better and safer! Whether you’re a surfer, a diver, an ocean swimmer, a beach comber, or someone who looks forward to long summer days under an umbrella on the sand, the Shark Spotters app can make a difference to you.

The list of Shark Spotters beaches
The list of Shark Spotters beaches

Shark Spotters operate at eight beaches around the Cape Peninsula: four (Muizenberg, St James/Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek & Caves, Kogel Bay) year-round, and another four (Glencairn, Clovelly, Monwabisi and the Hoek, Noordhoek) from October to April, during the warmer months.

The app allows one to set a home beach – you can see from the image above that mine is Fish Hoek – and when you start the app, you’ll get information for your home beach immediately. Tapping on the home beach block at the top of the screen (where it says “Tap for more”) brings one to a series of screens that you can navigate through by swiping the bottom block on the screen.

The information provided is extensive. You can see information on the last three shark sightings at your home beach, the weather and sea conditions (temperature, wind direction, tides, moon phase, swell), and information on what marine life is in the area. This latter information is not a nice to have so you can look out for dolphins from shore, but an important indicator of the likelihood of a shark being in the area. Dolphins, rays and schools of fish can draw white sharks, while sunfish (and even seals) may be mistaken for a shark when viewed from a distance by an untrained observer.

There’s also information on what facilities are available at the beach, and a short video for each beach, usually taken each morning, showing the prevailing conditions.

All this information is available for all the Shark Spotters beaches, not just your home beach, and you can view a different beach by selecting it from the list that appears under your home beach on the home screen.

Digging into the app, you can find a detailed list of all the recorded shark sightings, and in the settings you can turn notifications of sightings on or off according to your preference. I have them switched on, because I like to be reminded of a world outside the office.

Shark Spotters app menu options
Shark Spotters app menu options

The further menu options, shown above, give you access to a large amount of data about the Shark Spotters program, the exclusion net at Fish Hoek beach, how the flag system works, great white sharks, and more. Most of the menu options also provide links to more detailed information online, if you want to know more.

You can download the app for iOS here, for Android here, or use the download links from the Shark Spotters website. The app is completely free of charge, but Shark Spotters is funded by the City of Cape Town, Save Our Seas Foundation, and other generous sponsors, including individuals. Shark Spotters welcomes donations. Click here to donate.

Newsletter: Wishing winter away

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives from Simon’s Town jetty to Photographer’s Reef and Roman Rock OR shore dives at Long Beach

I know we are barely past the halfway mark of winter, but the last few warm and pleasant days have got me wishing summer was here.

Some swell and lots of south easterly wind are in the forecast for Saturday, so Sunday will be the better option for diving. We will aim for a later start to see how well False Bay fares during Saturday’s onslaught. If we decide to launch the boat it will be from the Simon’s Town Jetty at 9.30 and 12.00 and the most likely sites will be Photographer’s Reef and Roman Rock.

If the conditions aren’t boat-worthy on Sunday, we’ll shore dive at Long Beach.

An app for beach lovers

The Shark Spotters centre at Muizenberg
The Shark Spotters centre at Muizenberg

Shark Spotters, who do pioneering beach safety work and shark research in Cape Town, are crowdfunding a mobile app which will provide information on beach and surf conditions, shark and other marine animal sightings, and whether the Fish Hoek exclusion net is currently deployed. The app will be available free of charge. Watch this video for more information about the app, and give your support by donating here!


Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Supporting Romeo’s Wish

This year, Learn to Dive Today has donated a Discover Scuba Diving experience as a prize in the Romeo’s Wish raffle, to raise funds for DARG (Domestic Animal Rescue Group) in Hout Bay. We love dogs and cats (all creatures except mosquitoes, actually!) and are happy to contribute towards making a difference in the lives of some pets that would otherwise be neglected.

You can read more about Romeo’s Wish here, here and here. Details on how to buy a ticket for the raffle are below:

Romeo's Wish

Christmas gift guide 2011

It’s that time of year again. I trust you are all feeling suitably festive. Here’s our annual (well, second so far) Christmas gift guide. Use it/don’t use it…


For the reader, you could check out our book reviews, arranged by topic:

There are also a couple of children’s books to consider.

Dive gear

Check out What’s in My Dive Bag for some ideas… You can contact Andre for most of these:

Probably not a good idea to get a mask unless the place you buy it will let the person exchange it if it doesn’t fit!


For the person who has everything, or just because you’re feeling grateful:


Don’t forget to add a memory card for the lucky recipient’s camera if you plan to gift any of these!

For those who need (or like) to relax

Magazine subscriptions

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 find them at Exclusive Books.

Supporting the NSRI

We feel quite strongly about this, in the same way that some people feel strongly about supporting the SPCA or Amnesty International. So pardon me if I offend you!

Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront
Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront

If you’re a water user – scuba diver, boater, fisherman, surfskier, swimmer, surfer, or kite surfer (and I am sure there are more) – then supporting the NSRI is one of the things I think you should consider. They are entirely staffed by TOTALLY AWESOME volunteers, and do a wide range of work protecting and rescuing those who use the South African coastline. Their work is often dangerous, uncomfortable, and scary, and it’s in every one of our best interests – including the volunteers’ – that they have the most up to date and well-maintained equipment possible.

Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront
Table Bay NSRI Station at the V&A Waterfront

Becoming a member of the NSRI is the least expensive way of showing your support. It costs only R100 per year, and you get a subscription to Sea Rescue magazine – three issues per year – which has articles about everything ocean related.

Another way to support them is to volunteer. You need to live within a short distance (10-15 minutes I think) of  a base station, but they can use the services of even people like me (that is, with no sea legs!) – to make coffee, do administration, and assist at the base. If you know the sea, first aid, navigation, radio operation or anything like that then they’d be thrilled to have you on board.

Learn to Dive Today supports the Anchor Challenge

On Saturday 11 December, the Mr Price Anchor Challenge will bring some mayhem to Fish Hoek! This is a multi-event (running, swimming, cycling, paddling) sports challenge that is unlike a triathlon in that there is time between legs to regroup, rest and prepare for the next event.

Learn to Dive Today has donated two Discover Scuba Diving experiences to be used as lucky draw prizes, or spot prizes for event winners. The proceeds of this event are being donated to several worthy charities, and we are proud to be associated!

Discover Scuba Diving voucher
Discover Scuba Diving voucher

Come and say hello at the registration expo on Friday 10 December from 1600 to 2100 at the Valley Christian Church on the first floor of the OK Furniture Building on the corner of Main and De Waal roads in Fish Hoek (opposite Shoprite).

We’ll also be out and about on Fish Hoek beach on race day (Saturday 11 December). Look out for the divemobile and the Learn to Dive Today signage.

The divemobile taking in the sights in Gansbaai
The divemobile taking in the sights in Gansbaai

The race routes can be found here. With particular reference to the swim leg, the organisers state the following with reference to potential shark activity in Fish Hoek:

The swim leg will be held in a compact triangle shape that will be bordered by 30 shark shield devices, lifeguards and safety boats.  Then, the high activity in the water because of all the swimmers and boats will act as a further deterrent.  The swim will also be held at a time of day when there is the least marine activity.  Finally the shark watch program will be operating and we will not run the swim leg should there be any question as to the safety of competitors.

Toad Nuts raffle winner

Congratulations to Ruan, the winner of a Discover Scuba Diving experience in the ToadNUTS raffle held last month. We blogged about this raffle in November.

We look forward to introducing Ruan to the underwater world!

Ruan and his DSD voucher
Ruan and his DSD voucher

Gift ideas for Christmas

Anyone who’s had the misfortune to set foot in a shopping mall lately will be aware that Christmas decorations are out, and Christmas shopping is in full swing.

If you have a diver, or potential diver, in your life, getting them something to do with their hobby as a Christmas or Hannukah gift is a good idea. Lucky for you, Learn to Dive Today has suggestions for all budgets!

Under R300

Check out the bookshelf category for book ideas, and the movies and documentaries categories for DVD gift ideas.

Under R1000

What about a Discover Scuba Diving gift voucher from Learn to Dive Today? The Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) experience is designed for people who have never dived before, and want to try it out – perhaps before committing to a full Open Water course, or perhaps just for the experience.

Discover Scuba Diving voucher
Discover Scuba Diving voucher

You’ll meet at the beach, have a short briefing explaining the gear and basic dive principles and safety, and then go in the water. Tony will teach you a couple of essential skills – very basic things like mask clearing – and then you go for a dive. That way you get to experience what it’s like to be a diver, first hand, to see if the bug bites!

If you enjoy the dive and want to take it further, you can get the cost of the DSD credited towards your Open Water course.

If you want to order a voucher, email Tony.

Over R1000

Can I get on your Christmas list?! You might find possible gifts in the Gadgets and Gear category – from dive gear to cameras…

Any budget

Have you considered making a donation to the organisation of your choice – Reach for  a Dream, the NSRI, or SANCCOB for example – on behalf of your gift recipient? This is a very special gift that has the potential to do a lot of good in this world that so badly needs it, and impacts more than just the people giving and receiving the gift.

Save our toads

Learn to Dive Today is supporting the conservation efforts of the civilian scientists of Toad Nuts, who work every August to protect endangered western leopard toads as they migrate – often across busy highways – to their breeding ponds across the South Peninsula area.

Learn to Dive Today has donated a Discover Scuba Diving experience as a prize in a raffle that is currently on the go to raise funds. The funds will be used to purchase GPS equipment to tag the toads that are rescued during the breeding season. We assisted the Toad Nuts this year, patrolling in Noordhoek and Sun Valley on rainy August evenings looking for toads trying to cross the roads. They are awesome creatures!

Western leopard toad
Western leopard toad sitting on Clare's wrist

Raffle tickets are available for R10 from Chai-Yo in Mowbray and from Simply Asia in Lakeside, or direct from Suzy and Alison at Toad Nuts. Other prizes include:

40 minute scenic flight over the Cape Peninsula

2 night stay at Leopardstone Hill Country Cottages worth R1800

Business listing on Scenic South site worth R400

Rioja restaurant meal voucher

World of Birds tickets

Splattered Toad wine hampers

This is well worth supporting – you’ll be assisting with a very worthy conservation project (and the prizes are cool)!