Newsletter: Something to look forward to

Hi divers

Weekend diving

On Friday we are shore diving A Frame as the Divemaster candidates are working on a mapping project. On Saturday the boat will be in False Bay but is already full as we have a bunch of Open Water students to qualify. That leaves Sunday open for two launches to somewhere that we can dive without a white stick. If you want to be notified on Sunday morning as to whether conditions will permit us to dive, reply to this mail or send me a text message.

Last week’s diving

This weekend signals the end of most of the up country visitors’ vacation time, and life slowly goes back to normal. You can once again find parking at most of the beaches and and go back to swearing quietly at the idiots on the road because they could be your neighbour.

It’s been a week of really poor diving with swell, surge and low visibility. The Atlantic is not very clean, and nor is False Bay. The storm that hit the Cape2Rio Fleet did its best to fill the bay with kelp, silt and garbage. Today we have had some westerly winds which has helped to clean this up a little, and the forecast for the weekend is a southerly wind. That’s good in some places in the bay, and not so good in others. Today I was in the pool doing skills and equipment exchange with two Divemaster candidates. At least the visibility there was excellent…

Nick may have trouble equalising
Nick may have trouble equalising

Most of you will be aware that last weekend there was a serious diving accident on the wreck of the MV Rockeater in Smitswinkel Bay. The dive community is a small one, and even though we did not know the diver concerned, we have felt the loss keenly and Clare and I have spent a lot of time discussing it. The full details of what happened have not been released, but there is always something to learn when things go wrong, even from partial information.

When incidents like this occur there is a tendency for them to be swept under the carpet, as people tend to believe that it will cause harm to the dive industry. I don’t share this view. Finding someone to point a finger at has no value (and often there isn’t anyone who can be blamed), but a lesson learned has huge value to a diver who is still on the learning curve. Hopefully we are all still on that curve. Not everyone has a person in their life who understands scuba diving and with whom they can work through an incident like this. If you’d like to discuss it at all, please give me a call or drop me an email.

Remains of a large swell on Fish Hoek beach this evening
Remains of a large swell on Fish Hoek beach this evening

Sodwana trip in April

On a much happier note, we are planning a dive trip to Sodwana from 26 April to 30 April. We will stay at Coral Divers and do six dives (at least) over three days, with one day for travel on each side (fly to Durban, drive approximately 400km to Sodwana). This will be a busy time at Sodwana because of the public holidays and the fact that schools will be mostly closed that week, so we need to get into gear quickly on this one.

We’ve done this trip a couple of times before – read about one of those occasions here, and see what kind of diving you can expect here. A hint: it’s warm and colourful! You will need to be a confident boat diver, but an Open Water qualification is sufficient. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll send you more details – you only need to pay a 10% deposit to secure your booking, with full payment due 14 days before our arrival. The Coral Divers price list for 2014 can be found here.

Everyone needs something to look forward to at the start of the year… Think about it!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Scuba diving for kids

Underwater exploration in the pool
Underwater exploration in the pool
  • Are you looking for a way to keep your family busy during the school holidays?
  • Do you enjoy being outdoors and exploring the beautiful environment around us?
  • Would your child benefit from the sense of achievement that comes from mastering a new set of skills, and the enjoyment that comes from spending time in the ocean?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, read on!

It is a little known fact that children as young as 10 years old can qualify as scuba divers, allowing them to dive with a certified adult diver or scuba instructor. It’s often easier for children to learn the new skills that are associated with scuba diving, because they listen and imitate well, they usually don’t have a lot of built-in hang ups and fears, and it’s really exciting for them to be learning something new.

Kids aged 8-9 are too young to become certified divers, but there is a choice of programs available that allow them to experience breathing underwater in the safe, controlled environment of a swimming pool. If the bug bites, they can complete the course to become fully qualified Junior Open Water divers once they turn 10.

Scuba diving is a great activity for the family to do together – I have taught family groups comprising parents and children, and it’s always a lot of fun. Alternatively, if your kids are keen to dive but you would rather sunbathe on the beach or go for a run with the dogs, that’s also fine! I conduct childrens’ dive course with a high ratio of supervisors (Instructors and Divemasters) to participants.

The confined-water (swimming pool) part of all our dive courses is conducted at our pool in Sun Valley, and the sea dives (for courses with participants age 10+) are usually conducted from Long Beach in Simon’s Town, and off our boat, Seahorse, launching from False Bay Yacht Club or Hout Bay depending on the weather conditions.

Ages 8-9

The PADI Bubblemakers and and SDI Future Buddies programs are for kids aged eight and up, and introduce scuba diving in a swimming pool environment. The PADI Seal Team program is available for the same age group, and involve some basic scuba skills and underwater missions to further increase diving competence.

Ages 10 – 15

SDI Junior Open Water or PADI Junior Open Water course is for wannabe divers aged 10 and up. These courses qualify kids to dive to 12 metres while with a certified adult diver or instructor, and when they turn 15 it is possible to upgrade to a regular Open Water qualification.

Age 12-15

From the age of 12, youngsters can earn the PADI Junior Advanced Diver (qualifying them to dive to 21 metres while with a certified adult diver) and Junior Rescue Diver qualifications.

To see all the dive courses we offer, visit our website. For more information about scuba courses for kids or any other diving related enquiries, use the contact form below to send a message:

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Newsletter: Santa cat

Hi divers

I tried very hard to get a picture of one of our cats wearing a Santa hat for this newsletter, but failed. Sorry.

Weekend diving

We will be launching from Hout Bay or Oceana Powerboat Club, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Text or email me if you want to do some cold water diving.

Open Water students at work
Open Water students at work

So December is almost over, all that’s left is a few presents to open, lots of food to deal with and to get some diving done. We have had some serious wind this week but it is set to slow down for the next few days. I doubt False Bay will offer up much but I could easily be wrong. If the wind drops the water is surprisingly clean given the wind and looks far better than it did last weekend.

Ready to get in the pool
Ready to get in the pool

Last weekend’s diving

We dived False Bay last Saturday and Sunday and had really calm seas but really poor viz. On our way back from Shark Alley we stopped to visit the rays at Miller’s Point, and counted twenty snoek fishing boats in the queue to use the slipway. On days like that I’m grateful for False Bay Yacht Club!

Snoek fishing boats at Miller's Point
Snoek fishing boats at Miller’s Point

I do think Hout Bay will offer up the best options for the next few days but Table Bay also has the potential to deliver good viz after so much south easter. For the next ten days we will play it by ear and will most likely launch every day as the weather permits as I have several Open Water, Nitrox and Advanced students to get dived.

We won’t plan to be closed on any specific days during this period as we have enough days of loafing when the weather is poor, so if the sea is good we will dive.

You may already have won a prize

Congratulations to Matthijs who has won himself a Nitrox course in the November boat lucky draw. One diver who is on our boat this month will also win a Nitrox course, or two boat dives if they’re already Nitrox certified. All you need to do is show up.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: In the net

Hi divers

Weekend plans

For a change the weather looks good for the weekend. I cancelled last weekend but that was a mistake as the conditions turned out to be good (loud self inflicted slap). The wind won’t be too strong, and the swell is from the south east which means flat sea along the Atlantic seaboard. I would like to dive North and South Paw on Saturday from OPBC and possibly do a double tanker to Justin’s Caves on Sunday. Text or email me if you want to dive.

Last week’s diving

Wild wind and grumpy sea in False Bay has had us on the Atlantic coastline most of this week. We have done a few trips to Duiker Island and spent an afternoon just off Oudekraal. The water is cool and clean.

We did manage a warm(ish) dive in False Bay on Tuesday when we were fortunate to take two media people for a dive along the new shark exclusion net in Fish Hoek. It was spring low tide so we could almost have walked out to the end of the net, but the idea was to get some photos and a positive story out on the merits of the net, the work involved in deploying and retrieving it and the conservation efforts behind it all. An article appeared in yesterday’s Cape Argus – you can read it here and see some photos from the day on facebook.

Over-under view of the exclusion net at Fish Hoek
Over-under view of the exclusion net at Fish Hoek

Sevengill cowshark project

There is a huge amount of work going on to try and establish a photo ID project for the sevengill cowsharks that hang out at Shark Alley. Its a dive most people really enjoy and very little is know about their movements and habits. Please go and like the project’s facebook page and if you have anything to contribute… info, stories etc… please do so! All the information about what is required for the project can be found on the facebook page.

Pool deck at home is complete
Pool deck at home is complete

Festive season diving

Lots of public holidays and annual leave happening over the next few weeks means we will try and schedule more weekday diving than normal. I will send out text messages if I schedule dives in between newsletters – let me know if you don’t usually get texts from me (and want to), and I will add you to the sms list.

Things are looking so good at home now – we just got the pool deck finished – that I’m looking forward to spending some time doing confined water skills with my Open Water students too!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Cooked underwater

Hi divers

To say it was a busy week is an understatement. It started out with a test run of the worlds first underwater braai device at Miller’s Point, conceived and executed (with the help of a marine engineer) by Jan Braai. The tide was against us but we finally got the unit out to deep enough water and lowered it below the surface. There were a few teething problems that needed to be dealt with before the final attempt on Tuesday.

The underwater braai in all its glory, with Craig (far left) and Mark (far right) helping out
The underwater braai in all its glory, with Craig (far left) and Mark (far right) helping out

Meanwhile, back to regular diving and on Saturday we launched for a group of Russians who wanted to dive with the cowsharks. Besides the fact they are currently missing, the weather wasn’t the greatest so we decided on Photographer’s Reef and the Clan Stuart. Their disappointment at being told there were no cowsharks was soon eclipsed but the appearance of a great white shark, over three metres long, within minutes of the backward roll at the Clan Stuart. The shark did a few passes and then allowed them to gather their wits and swim for shore. Well done to Craig and Christo for excellent leadership.

There’s a short video taken by one of the Russian divers here. Starting on Saturday we will feature some more information about this event on our blog, so if you’re ever in a similar situation you can hopefully refer back to how others have handled it. If you’re impatient you can read the Scenic South article here. The divers all felt very fortunate to have had this experience, even if it made their hearts beat a bit faster for a while! The other dives for the day, Photographer’s Reef and Roman Rock, were not as exciting but the viz was good.

Craig and Mark wondering what Mark van Coller of Atlantic Edge Films is doing crouched on the slipway
Craig and Mark wondering what Mark van Coller of Atlantic Edge Films is doing crouched on the slipway

Back to the braai project we went, and on Tuesday we launched from Hout Bay, set anchors, buoys and a host of other gadgets including safety divers in preparation for the underwater braai. In calm and cool conditions we finally sank the unit to the required depth and the man Jan Braai, on scuba, lit the fire, waited for the wood to turn to charcoal, and cooked some boerewors. Once done we raised the unit, he removed the rear panel and ate a well prepared piece of meat. The show featuring this harebrained scheme will be broadcast on Kyknet on Friday 27 September. There’s some press coverage here and here, and a short video in Afrikaans here and an English one here.

Surfers looking like ants on the face of Dungeons
Surfers looking like ants on the face of Dungeons

Yesterday we launched from Hout Bay again, this time for a bit of big wave action at Dungeons. A couple of big lenses and a few surfers with even bigger bravado and huge skills entertained us to almost four hours of some of the best surfing I have ever watched. The swell was huge, the sound alone is mind blowing and the speed at which they come down the face of this wall of water is astonishing. If you have not been to watch it is definitely something to add to your bucket list. There are some photos on facebook, here.

Training

We are busy with SDI and PADI Open Water and Advanced courses, Craig is about to step into the world of Divemasters, and summer is on its way.

The weekend and public holiday

Well, Saturday is World Oceans Day and an underwater cleanup event will happen in the yacht basin at False Bay Yacht Club in Simon’s Town. If you have always wondered what it looks like under the yachts moored there, sign up here.

I had planned to launch after the cleanup but sadly I doubt the conditions will be all that good, so I’ll do pool work in the afternoon. Sunday on the other hand does look good and we will launch, from the False Bay Yacht Club. I have a navigation dive with a few students so we will do this at Pyramid Rock and see if the cowsharks are back yet.

On Monday we will most likely do shore dives at either A-Frame or Long Beach (they’ve had several whale sightings at boring old Long Beach lately!) and will launch again on Tuesday. I think Tuesday’s swell and wind will make for a great opportunity to dive Batsata Maze and Atlantis.

If you want to dive, let me know by text message or email!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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First students in the pool at home

Cara, Anna and Josh
Cara, Anna and Josh

I thought I’d share a couple of photos from our very first bunch of students in the pool at home, when they came to take their first breaths underwater and do some of the basic skills for an Open Water diver.

Josh breathing underwater
Josh breathing underwater

That experience of inhaling underwater for the first time – and receiving clean air from one’s regulator instead of a mouthful of water – is unforgettable. This is a great thing to be able to share with students, and it’s exciting to have a safe, clean, unhurried environment to do it in.

Anna suited up in the pool
Anna suited up in the pool

Installing a pool

Before the work started
Before the work started

At the end of September 2012 Clare and I moved from the duplex in Kenilworth, where she was living when I moved to Cape Town, to a more spacious home on the edge of Sun Valley close to Fish Hoek. We love living in the South Peninsula, close to the sea and mountains. We have a large garden populated by Western leopard toads, frogs of all kinds, mole snakes, field mice, and actual moles of various sizes. Guinea fowl, hadedas, white eyes, grey herons, jackal buzzards, owls, sunbirds and a host of other feathered creatures pass through on a regular basis.

Starting to dig a hole
Starting to dig a hole

Starting in late April we installed a 5 x 3 metre swimming pool in the back garden, with the intention of using it for dive skills training as well as for our own leisure purposes. It is salt chlorinated and will eventually be surrounded by a wooden deck and equipped with some solar heating equipment to warm the water using the sun’s rays. In the mean time, an energy saving pool cover keeps it clean and warms the water by up to four degrees.

Coming through a gap in the fence
Coming through a gap in the fence

The process of installing the pool was actually very quick, and I enjoyed watching the hole being dug, the shell arriving and being positioned, and the sand being filled in around the fibreglass shell. We used all the sand dug out of the hole to level the garden, which is now looking (and feeling) much larger and less likely to cause a twisted ankle on one of the sloping areas. Here are some photos I took while the pool was being installed.

The final product
The final product

A week or so after installation I took my first group of students in the pool – two Open Water students and a Discover Scuba Diving candidate. It’s great not to have to drive to Wynberg to use the pool there any more! I’m happy to report that this particular independent instructor (and SDI Resort Dive Centre) is more independent than ever.

Shallow end of the pool
Shallow end of the pool

We wouldn’t recommend the particular company that put in our pool if you’re considering having one done yourself, but with a bit of work from me the finished product is great.

Newsletter: First breath

Hi divers

We did not plan any dives for last weekend as I suspected conditions were not the best. To make sure I was certain of the decision we dived at Long Beach on Sunday and had perhaps a dim 2 metre viz. Bad idea. Here is a picture I took of myself on that dive, which I think explains it all:

Batman selfie in terrible viz
Batman selfie in terrible viz

This week has been much of the same weather with wind from too many directions to actually fix either the Atlantic or False Bay. Some south east today and not too much tomorrow will maybe improve the Atlantic a bit but I wouldn’t hold my breath. False Bay will most likely be the same 4-6 metre viz but a little (very little) warmer.

Split shot in the pool
Split shot in the pool

Weekend plans

I am shore diving in False Bay tomorrow with students and will launch from Simon’s Town on Saturday to do the qualifying dives for this week’s students. Sunday is wide open and I don’t have a definite plan as such but there is a bunch of people that have not done much diving recently (you know who you are) so I plan to rustle them up and do some of the easier sites such as Ark Rock wrecks and Ark Rock itself. If you want to join us, please text me. Don’t be shy! First timers are welcome. The more the merrier.

Taking a first breath underwater
Taking a first breath underwater

Travel

Don’t forget our travel plans. We’re looking for companions who love diving – anyone can come along. If you want more information on either of these trips let me know:

Durban wrecks and reefs – 17 to 21 June

Red Sea liveaboard – 17 to 26 October.

See you in the water!

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, click here or use the form on this page!