It is high time for me to conclude this year's Sardine Run. I am late with my summary because we had a lot of things to sort out after the big move back into civilisation. Now peace and tranquility has once again come to our life and we find time to do long outstanding jobs.
Sardine Run 2014 Summary
Last year in 2013 we had a perfect Sardine Run. Our package was optimised and all elements of this package were falling into place. This year we did exactly the same. In principle.
We spent 4 weeks in Coffee Bay instead of 3 last year and we added a second boat to our program. The hotel Ocean View in Coffee Bay once again came through to us with everything they had. Nothing was too much or not anybody's job. No nonsense whatsoever. The staff as always outstandding, the rooms and the hotel has undergone some renovations which are ongoing. It is so exciting to go to the Ocean View Hotel because it truely feels like home. A lot of staff has changed but the good old faithfuls will always be there and the new people were all an absolut pleasure.
Our lovely launch site Mapusi has changed a lot from last year. Lots of beach sand was deposited by the sea at the mouth of the river. Instead of driving the boat through the river into the ocean we had to cross the river this year and drop the boats right at the mouth. This needed a lot more hands on involvment from the guests who all enjoyed the adventure.
Louis, our well experienced pilot of our spotter plane and his lovely family were all with us in Coffee Bay. Louis as always doing his most valuable work by directing our boats into the best possible action of the moment. He also provided many , many opportunities for our guests to catch a ride on one of his long spotter flights. An experience nobody will ever forget.
Weather was magic this year. Hardly an overcast day and only one single day in 30 was lost due to strong winds. 29 days we launched. On ht elost day we organised trips to the famous Hole in the Wall, hikes in the area and a visit to the Sangoms, also known as witch doctor. This Sangoma ( traditional healer ) impressed every single one of our visitors and earned a lot of respect.
The ocean action this year was truely amazing. We had Bait Balls over and over, whale encounters like never before - our photos bear witness - super pods of dolphins and hundreds and hundereds of gannets diving into sardines and bait fish.
Absolutely spectacular. Of course we also had some quiet days with very little activity but such is mother nature. On these days we either organised a Baited Dive or we just made the best of whatever we could find.
In the end, every single guest of ours got what he bargained for and left completely satisfied and happy.
The Wild Coast delivered once again an unforgettable experience for those who decided to live life to the full.......
Sardine Run 2015 Bookings are open and coming in !!! Don't be left behind.
Shark Repellent Test
Some guys from Reunion asked me to test a shark repellent they have devised and patented on Reunion Island. It consists of rotten shark meat , some other stuff and amino acid. I did agree to test the stuff in the hope that they find something fast to solve their shark accident problem in Reunion and so stop killing all bulls and tiger sharks as is directed by the French Government in Paris.
This killing definitely affects us here in South Africa. These kind of distances are nothing for sharks - Reunion is near Madagaskar/ Mauritius.
So i went to the Northern Pinnacles of Protea Banks and squirted one 60ml syringe full of repellent right in front of a Raggy.
Life has gone quiet at African Dive Adventures. There is till much work in getting everything back to where it belongs. Everything is covered in dust and sand... Lucky we did not have too many damages and the few things which took a bit of a knock will be fixed in no time. I don't see or hear a thing from my staff. They don't even nag for money,,,,,which means they must be exhausted. Blood pressure is coming down to manageable levels. Had to postpone my appointment with the dietician for another month. She moans at me like hell.....J.
I will write a conclusion of this year's Sardine Run shortly.
18.7. 2014. Sardine Run
Today was our last day on the Sardine Run 2014. Although the activities we have witnessed over the last couple of weeks will still continue for a few more weeks, our program is finished and we are moving everything back home. I have waited long for this day, but today i am really sad....
Today the guests have seen a bit of everything but not enough to get too excited over. Perfect for a last day of an amazing experience. I will summarise it soon and upload some more good photos.
Beulah spent her last day here distributing lots of second hand clothes she has collected over the last year. The families Lange, Popp, Wilkens and Kalies from Germany send a 10kg parcel with clothes every now and then. Beulah with the help of some staff of the Ocean View Hotel today visited the poorest of the poor around here and handed out these clothes free of charge of course. The gratitude in these people is indescribable.
At dinner this evening the entire staff of the hotel came to our table and sang for us. They made speeches and thanked us for the support and charity for the community. In the end they sang the national anthem for us.....oh man.....!!
17.7. 2014. Sardine Run
The day started slow. Perfect weather with temperatures reaching 27C by mid day. We have learnt that warm weather usually means low activity. But this time it seems the rule does not apply. Our spotter plane directed the boat into an area with several Bait Balls. Gannets diving, Common Dolphins hunting. We have spent a few hours enjoying this activity. Today was definitely the highlight of our Australian Group's stay with us. Their expectations of the Sardine Run 2014 have not only been met but exceeded. That's what they all agreed on after their return in the late afternoon.
The day at sea finished with whale activity where the guests got within touching distance again to these gentle giants. Visibility overall good today at 15m
15.7. 2014. Sardine Run
No sardine activity today. The weather has warmed up to almost 28C. Nice for us but the old sardines don't like this a bit. They usually go deep into the colder water.
Therefore the old whales were quite chirpy today. Breaching everywhere and making for great photos.
I drove our polish group out to the northern pinnacle of Protea Banks. It was a calm day off Shelly Beach today. No wind in the beginning, flat sea, exceptionally pleasant. When the divers came up after their dive they all started to jodle like they were on the Octoberfest. Bastards !!! They had by far the best dive of the year today.
300-500 Raggies ( !!!!!) a school of Dolphins, a Humpback Whale ( !!!!) 7 Zambezis and 2 Black Tips.
Everyone agreed, it was their best dive of their lives...
I hasked them all to please send me an e-mail whenever they have a better dive and to consider that i might only have another 30 years to live..........J
14.7. 2014. Sardine Run
A number of Bait Balls were sighted today with plenty of Common Dolphins. At some stage the boat was surrounded by something like 300 dolphins. Amazing sight this !!
The sea was pretty rough with white horses everywhere due to wind. Louis our pilot could not take off today but JP had our boat safely in his hands.
After being bashed around for quite some time, the group came home a little earlier than usual. Great day on the amazing run.
13.7. 2014 Sardine Run
A fresh breeze blew over the ocean today and everytime it is cold, we have a lot of activity. Most action today happened close to shore where the visibility was virtually Zero. Guys who went into the water could not even see their own fins at the end of their legs...terrible !!! Despite this hundreds of birds were diving no stop over quite a large area along the coast. This alone was spectacular. Dolphins were busy working on bait balls, the ocean was alive. Our guests watched most of the excitement from the boat. Afterwards they drove out into deeper water and spotted some whales which they followed and swam with. Lucky the vis out there was around 15m.
Me still being sick with flu was condemned to top and drive the boat today while Kyle and the divers had a dive of a life time. 200 plus Raggies were encountered on one single dive on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks. All these sharks in 25m visibility is enough to make me more sick for being on the damn boat.......
Most divers today classified this dive as the best of their lives. How cool is that !!!
I know nothing about soccer. Find it terribly boring but tonight - hell - i am shouting for Deutschland.
12.7. 2014. Sardine Run
The weather has warmed up again and the action slowed down. Today the guys were directed to a bait ball by our spotter plane but it dispersed shortly after they got there. There was a bit of whale activity which kept them busy.
11.7. 2014. Sardine Run
Sardines and whales were the flavour of the day. The guys spent over two hours on the largest bait ball ever seen. They were missing the sharks and birds and only dolphins were busy on the ball. After some time they lost interest and moved on. More smaller bait balls and then they found themselves surrounded by a group of 8 whales. Our guests snorkelled with these giants and came within touching distance. The whales did not seem to mind all this attention at all. Everyone was ecstatic.
Also the weather has been perfect this week. Cold nights and mornings going to pleasant day temperatures. No clouds, no wind, excellent conditions.
10.7. 2014. Sardine Run
Another perfect day here in Coffee Bay with lots of action everywhere. We had several bait balls, whales in touching distance, dolphins working sardines and gannets diving. There wasn't a dull moment today. Even for me lying in my bed in the hotel with a fully blown flu, the day was not boring at all. I could see gannets and whales diving right outside the hotel all day long. This is Sardine Run.
9.7. 2014. Sardine Run
Bait Ball - Bait Ball - Bait Ball
Today was the day of the Bait Ball in Coffee Bay. Both our boats were in the middle of real Sardine Run action. They had sardines everywhere with gannets diving, dolphins working them into balls and sharks feeding. Absolutely magic. Conditions were excellent this morning, no wind and pleasant temperature. This afternoon the wind came up a bit and the boats were home by 14:00 with all happy guests.
8.7. 2014 Sardine Run
The day of the dolphins. We followed a large group of dolphins for quite some time today. It was an amazing sight to see them hugging the coast line and jumping over huge breaking swells. Magic !! After a while our plane was up in the air and reported no activity anywhere near us. Louis then flew north and just as he was saying that he doesn't see anything he broke in mid sentence and got excited. He actually spotted a Bait Ball from the air about 12km from our position. We quickly packed away our brunch and went on the way towards the activity. We took a chance but as expected the action was gone by the time we got nearer. Pity, but we tried.
On the way back we dropped of our younger and enthusiastic passengers in front of the Ocean View Hotel. They wanted to swim back to the beach and enjoy some serious surf.
On our way back to Mapusi Base we encountered a large flock of birds diving in amongst dolphins from shallow heights. This indicates either red eye sardines or anchovies, not the elusive Natal Sardine....We watched the action for a while. every time we were ready to go into the water, the animals moved a few hundred meters forward. It was still fun to watch.
And tomorrow ? We are convinced it will be all happening. !!!
7.7. 2014 Sardine Run
Today was actually my first day on the Sardine Run in Coffee Bay for this year. Although i know it, it is still an amazing experience to launch at Mapusi and bring the boat back through the river mouth. The boat gets pushed into the water behind a wall of rocks which break the waves and allow for save hiding until boat and sea are ready for launching. Once we are in the open sea we look for any animal activity and wait for our plane to direct us to the best place. Today was a bit quiet after yesterday's amazing action. We had a school of Common Dolphins, small flocks of gannets cruising and crossed the path of six humpback whales in total. The wind was a bit stronger than expected which made the sea wet and choppy. After about four hours everybody was ready to go back to base.
Coming back was again an astonishing event of skills and experience on the side of my staff. My guys are amazing, i couldn't call it any less.
6.7. 2014 Sardine Run
Today is big change over day. All but two guests are leaving. Sure, they did not get to see Bait Balls during their week on the Sardine Run, but they still had an amazing time in Coffee Bay. We do explain to every guest we have that Sardine Run is all and everything to do with ocean action. Not just one aspect. Some were swimming in almost touching distance to 30 ton whales, others found themselves in the middle of countless dolphins. Those who were flying with our micro light plane have memories for ever. ...
I am just about to leave now for Coffee Bay. My turn next week. It has gone cold , so we hope we don't only have to suffer the low temperatures but get rewarded with renewed action in the ocean.
I will be back.....
As i arrived in Coffee Bay i heard that the guys had a great day today. What a relief...
They were in the middle of a superpod of dolphins. A superpod usually consists of several hundred up to a few thousand animals. It is unimaginable !!!
It took over 40 minutes for all the dolphins to pass the boat. Besides dolphins there we about 1000 gannets diving everywhere. So, it looks like the Sardine Run action is on again.....
5.7. 2014 Sardine Run
At 7 am the wind came. No chance to launch today. So JP takes most divers on a sight seeing expedition to the famous Hole in the Wall and around. Just the trip accross from Coffee Bay to HitW is an adventure. This road is horrendous and whoever survives it will never forget it....it is not only scary but also amazingly beautiful.
4.7. 2014 Sardine Run
Things hav calmed down again. Here and there we see a couple of gannets, some dolphins and in the distance blows a whale or two. We are all waiting for the cold front which is on it's way from the Cape and should arrive at Coffee Bay tomorrow.
Daniel, our super photographer is leaving us today. We will miss his pictures sorely.
3.6. 2014 Sardine Run
My guys have reported a lot more action today. Gannets were dive bombing again and the boats were in a huge pod of dolphins . When they went into the water, they saw Dusky Sharks.
Our Micro Light Plane had to do an emergency landing today. During take off a rock hit the propeller caused by the wash of the prop and damaged one of the blades. Louis managed to bring the plane back down safely. All part of the adventure....
We had some great dives on the Northern Pinnacles of Protea Banks. Twice we encountered at least 40 Raggies in the two caves. Amazing sights no matter how often we go there.
Visibility always around 12m and watertemp 20C
2.7. 2014 Sardine Run
Our guests can fly as passengers with our spotter plane.
1.7. 2014 Sardine Run
Perfect weather and whales pure. The divers are absolutely happy. We have full on summer temperatures in Coffee Bay with 27C and warmer. In fact we would not mind at all if we get a proper cold fromt so the old sardines get a bit of a kick in the butt. But at this stage no complaints.
We dived the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks today. Visibility was murky at 10m and the water was colder than Coffee Bay with 20C.
When we got to the first cave i counted 28 raggies inside. Afterwards on our way up we had a number of bull sharks follow us. I counted 6 of them. Tomorrow the annual Tuna Bonanza fishing competition begins. It is a nightmare for all of us who don't fish. 60-70 boats are launching for the next 4 days, all in the hunt for the biggest fish.