Where to find a book

Dixie naps in front of the bookshelf
Dixie naps in front of the bookshelf

We talk a lot about books on this blog (in our house, apart from a gadget problem, we also have a book problem…) and I thought maybe it’d be helpful to provide a bit of structure around that. I have some old posts that I update periodically with a loose classification system that’ll help you to find a book about sharks, or diving history, or something for children, if you want to. At this time of year, if you’re starting to look for gifts for friends and family, this might be helpful:

Oceanography and ocean history books – not as dry as it sounds; some excellent overviews of ocean science here

Marine biology books – popular science mostly, including issues of keeping dolphins and orcas captive

Fish identification books – both South Africa-specific and for other, warmer waters

Books about sharks – from popular science through photography all the way into some quite technical information

Conservation books – images and words to inspire us to protect the ocean

Ships and shipwrecks – finding them, diving them, cataloguing them

Books about extreme diving – cave diving, deep diving, technical diving, commercial diving, freediving…

Diving adventures – travelling divers, and individuals who pioneered

Dive travel books – books about Malta, the Red Sea, and other must-see diving destinations

Diving science and physiology – the stuff you have to learn for your Divemaster course, but some good reads despite that!

Surfing books – not just for surfers

Diving history – the early days of the aqualung, and the history of ocean exploration

Photography and art books – eye candy and material to dream over

Novels and children’s books – some good ideas for the younger generation

A look of disapproval

Disapproving Fudge is disapproving
Disapproving Fudge is disapproving

Looking at all the paraphernalia on the boat around him – wetsuits, BCDs, and other gear – I am guessing that the expression of opprobrium on Fudge’s face is related to the lack of direct attention he is receiving from the boat’s owner. Attention (and adulation) is like jet fuel to Fudge.

Bookshelf: Coastal Gardening in South Africa

Coastal Gardening in South Africa – Allan Haschick

Coastal Gardening in South Africa
Coastal Gardening in South Africa

This book isn’t about diving or marine subjects – not even remotely – but I thought it might be helpful to draw the attention of coastal residents who happen to read this blog (or, the one coastal resident who reads this blog?) to this fabulously useful book about gardening at the coast.

It didn’t occur to me until we moved from Kenilworth to Sun Valley, but gardens close to the ocean exist in a set of high-stress circumstances that suburban gardens don’t have to deal with. There is airborne salt, more wind, and – if you’re really close to the sea – sunlight reflecting off the ocean and burning your plants. The soil is often of poor quality, and a high water table may be a mixed blessing… Your plants may not like the brackish water that your wellpoint brings to the surface. Moreover I am a terrible gardener, operating in wild bursts of activity sometimes years apart, so I can use all the help I can get.

Allan Haschick is a Port Elizabeth resident and has created a useful guide for gardeners operating near the coast. He lists plants of various types (shrubs, ground cover, etc.) that like coastal conditions, and provides useful guidelines for landscaping and garden planning. My favourite part of the book, which I hope will assist me in getting myself into gear in the garden, is a checklist of what to do in each month of the year to keep your garden in good form.

Used in conjunction with a book that provides more detail about each plant type listed, this is an excellent companion for coastal gardeners wanting to make the best of the conditions where they live. For a sample of the kind of inspiration contained in this volume, check out the author’s Pinterest board on the subject. (Just try not to collect shells, rocks or driftwood from the beach if at all possible – all these are components of the habitat and ecosystem and get used and broken down by marine organisms.)

You can get the book here.

A view across the valley

Tony on the dune field
Tony on the dune field

Our house (and little dive centre) is located on the edge of a beautiful slice of Table Mountain National Park, below Peers Cave. Living where we do is one of the great joys of our lives. Below Peers Cave is a dune field that stretches to the back of Fish Hoek (and used to stretch all the way to the coast until just over 100 years ago). It’s like a secret slice of wilderness – once you climb over the saddle of the lowest dune, you’re in a valley below the mountain, with a pool of tannin-stained water, reeds, fynbos, and white beach sand.

View from Fish Hoek to Kommetjie
View from Fish Hoek to Kommetjie

From the top of the dunes you can see – all the way to Fish Hoek, and all the way across in the other direction to Long Beach, Noordhoek, and the ocean beyond. False Bay about three kilometres away, as the crow flies, and Long Beach about 4.5 kilometres. Tony and I took a winter Sunday afternoon walk and spent some time sitting on top of the dunes. We watched a container ship making its way slowly north towards Table Bay, and we saw the bright billows of cloud and reflections off the sea in False Bay.

A glimpse of False Bay… from a drone

The instruction manual for the Parrot AR.Drone wasn’t kidding when it recommended not to fly the quadcopter in strong winds. Although when Tony lined his one up on our pool deck for a quick demonstration to a friend (he planned to take off to the height of our garden fence and land it immediately), there was only a whisper of a breeze blowing, and conditions seemed perfect for a late afternoon flip.

He wasn’t banking on the powerful thermals that build up in the valley where we live, however, and over the sports fields next to our house. As soon as it reached fence height, the drone took off vertically like a rocket, sailing unassisted over the pine trees next to our house and down Kommetjie road. Before it got out of range and stopped transmitting video, it took some tantalisingly brief footage of Fish Hoek, with False Bay in the distance.


Fortunately the errant high flier was located resting and askew, by the side of the road, exhausted but undamaged after its adventures. Next time we fly it on a warm day we’ll ask Christo for his (former) paraglider’s expert opinion on the risk of thermal columns in the immediate surroundings!

And what a beautiful place we live in, yes?

Newsletter: Surf’s up

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Pool training

Sunday: Shore dives (or surfing) at Long Beach

Panorama of False Bay (left) and the Atlantic (right)
Panorama of False Bay (left) and the Atlantic (right)


When a surf school reckon this weekend’s surfing is likely to be the best surf this year I take it as a sign the diving most likely won’t be that great. A 6 metre swell rolls ashore this weekend and if you look here you can see it has already begun to arrive. I know the debate as to whether it will affect False Bay or not can go on forever I think I will give launching a miss.

So our weekend plans are training in the pool on Saturday, and on Sunday big wave surfing at Long Beach, or diving if conditions permit. We will hope the swell is not to hectic and that the rain doesn’t wreck the viz and do two shore dives!

Coelacanth talk

Dr Kerry Sink of SANBI and the SeaKeys Project will talk about the history of the coelacanth, right up to the present day, at Kirstenbosch on Friday 1 August. The evening aims to raise funds for the NSRI. More information here.

Secret dune field near our house
Secret dune field near our house

Sevengill cowsharks

A total of twenty five sevengills have been tagged to date, and in time we will have a better understanding of where they go inside and outside False Bay. Did you know that thirteen of them were caught (and tagged and released) in a fishing competition held at the Strand recently (more information on the South African Shark Conservancy facebook page)? They definitely wander further afield than just Shark Alley! Remember to log your sightings of sevengill cowsharks on the Spot the Sevengill facebook page. We’d also love to hear your thoughts on our protocol for diving with cowsharks, which we took the time to write down recently!


Most of the False Bay dive sites we visit lie within a Marine Protected Area (MPA). This means that limited consumptive activities (such as fishing) are allowed, and also that as scuba divers, we need a permit to dive there. The permit costs in the region of R100, is valid for a year, and can be obtained at the Post Office on presentation of your ID book and the fee in cash. Please make sure yours is up to date!


Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099

Diving is addictive!

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