Bait Balls, Bait Balls, Bait Balls...
Launching procedures are much better today. Every day practice grows and improves. Before long, the pilot reports activity towards the south. The boats are met with Bait Balls, gannets diving in front of people, whales , dolphins and sharks. They see a sailfish shooting into a bait ball and taking sardines !!!!! Zambezis and Black Tips and Duskies hunting.
All day something is happening. Then boats return by 16h00 instead of 14h30. This is a good sign. All guests agree , this was a day to remember. Sardine Run 2015 was a success for all those present today. From now on we can relax. The pressure to deliver is eased....
Pictures will hopefully follow soon....
29.6. 2015 Sardine Run Day 1
After breakfast the guests are transferred to the launch site at Mapusi. The trip in several 4x4s is exciting in its own right. The track to the river mouth is steep and rocky, scary and impressive. Its what we do.....adventure every day.
Although the first day is always a check day and things usually don't run very smoothly, the guys manage to get the two boats launched and out to sea. Louis our microlight pilot reports dolphin sightings but not much activity elsewhere. So the guys get into superpods of hundreds of dolphins. Not bad for the first day.
By midday the wind is blowing strong and the water is going white. Following popular consent, the boats turn around and head for home.
Not bad for the first day.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring some better activity.
28.6. 2015 Sardine Run Day 0
Everything is ready for action. Tons of equipment was ferried down to Coffee Bay. We have 2 boats, 1 compressor, 25 cylinders, 2 4x4s, 230kg lead, 8 complete sets of rental kits, 6 crew and thousands of small items we might need or not.
Yesterday the crew went to check out the launch site. They had to go on snorkel to identify all the rocks in the river mouth which could possibly become a problem.
Today everybody prepares for the arrival of our first 20 guests. Everybody must be accommodated in the lovely Ocean View Hotel, equipped and briefed as to what is going to happen. Everybody must know what to expect. This calms them down.
This preparation period is almost as exciting as the run itself. Adrenalin flows freely...
This year we have for the third time a group from Schoener Tauchen in Bremen.
We also welcome Nobina and her Japanese guests. Nobina lives and works in Tofo, Mozambique. She has done Sardine Run as an agent for a Japanese company several times in Port St. Johns. When she contacted me she was tired of the goings on at PSJ and wanted something different. We sincerely hope we can deliver and keep her as a client for years to come.
When we first negotiated for the Sardine Run, we were talking about almost 30 Japanese divers. Suddenly Ebola broke out and the Japanse got really worried. Daily the group shrank down and ended up with 2 x 5 divers - half of the original size....and Ebola had nothing to do with Southern Africa. But still we had to pay the price.
The tourism industry is definitely a sensitive business....
Preparations for our Sardine Run are running hot now. This morning at 7h00 Beulah and Brian are going to Coffee Bay. Every day we were running around getting last minute things sorted out. Buying equipment and anything we can possibly thing of. And just as it seems as if we were on top, a boat motor breaks...
Then the Landcruiser is still with the mechanics and they don't know how to get it right... Last night one of our main skippers has let us down. He was supposed to go to Coffee Bay on Saturday....not much sleep these days !!!
As usual reliable. Last week the tigers returned for a visit. Karen had 4 tiger sharks on the Baited Dive. Unbelievable !!!
On the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks we have around 15-20 raggies at the moment. On the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks we see a few hammerheads, bulls and black tips. Whales and dolphins everywhere.
On our Baited Dives we typically see quite a lot of black tips and always around 5 zambezis.
Vis is 20m, watertemp 22C. The weather is absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, warm days, cool nights. There is no wind and the sea is completely flat.
Just got back from Coffee Bay. We took a ton of equipment and the first boat down for the Sardine Run. In nine days from now we have our first launch. The trip was tough with the old Landcruiser. We drove more in second and third gear than in fourth. Bad breaks and hard to change gears caused a lot of swearing....
But we made it safely and once in Coffee Bay, everything is always good. What a lovely place !! The hotel is preparing for our arrival. Many rooms have now been renovated, the staff are exceptional. From the owner to the last member we were welcomed and thanked for the business we bring them again to this year's Sardine Run. They appreciate our business and we appreciate what this hotel and it's people do for us. Magic.
The power was down for 24 hours which in turn caused the cell phone signal to be down. No calls, no disturbing a good man in a great pub !!!
In the meantime out at sea the action is pumping. As far as we can see there are birds diving in the water, dolphins working and whales steaming past.
This is what it is supposed to be like for this time before the run. Amazing sights.
While we were gone...
....Protea Banks did not sleep. Karen and Kyle had 4 Tiger Sharks on a Baited Dive. Unbelievable !!! For some weeks now we did not see tigers anymore. The season was finished. And suddenly we get an influx of tiger sharks again. Hopefully they stay around a bit longer and give us the bonus points for being here at an unusual time...
What a day we had today !!! Weather perfect. Pure sunshine, no wind, no cloud, warm days, cool nights, flat sea. Absolut peace.....above....
Under water is a warzone.
20m visibility, 24C temperature and almost 4 knots current. Sharks everywhere, Zambezis, Hammers, Black Tips and Raggies. Brilliant.
Our last dive of today was crazy. We went to the caves on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks to visit the Raggies. We knew, the current is strong and the dive difficult. My 7 Polish divers can dive well enough. But many learnt new lessons today.
We all made it to the first cave where we spent 7 minutes watching sharks and catching a breath. Then we flew from the first cave to the second cave. That was hectic. Lots of sharks in the second cave as well. Everybody made it safely.
After our usual 15 minutes total dive time we had to leave the caves and start the ascend. After 35 minutes we all were safely back on the boat with a story to tell.
Drysuit guys popped up, air ran out, weights were lost but fun we had.
And from now on, my Polish group has understood that diving Protea Banks is not a kiddies birthday party....
My friend Andries
Such is life at the coast during the Sardine Run time :
Tommy the harbourmaster phones me and tells me that the sardines are all over. Thick, from Port Edward all the way to Coffee Bay.
Oh shit, i don't need them now. Can somebody hold them until the end of the month ?!!! Now the adrenalin starts running. I phone Beulah and ask her to phone the Ocean View Hotel in Coffee Bay to find out what is going on. In the meantime i am with Tommy in the tower and he phones some fisherman in Port Edward. The fisherman says there was lots of actin earlier this morning but it has calmed down. Beulah phones back and says there is no activity in Coffee Bay. Far too quiet for the time of the year. Oh shit. We don't need too little action either. But the fact is, nobody knows what is happening right inder their nose !!! But then somebody says that Glen said that there will be many sardines this year....But the problem is the large swell. This forces the sardines out deep and they will be netting them in Durban for months to come while we don't get to see them here. My head is spinning by now.
Then Beulah phones back. She spoke to Naseer in Coffee Bay and he went to have a look. He saw the ocean alive. Gannets, whales and dolphins everywhere. Lots of action. See, i told you the locals know not what happens under their nose....
In town i see Kenny the Cloured zooming around like a lunatic in his old rust bucket. When you see akenny the Coloured, you know the sardines are here. Apparently they are in Ramsgate right now. But the swells are too high and the fishermen can't net. You don't see Kenny the Coloured right through the year, only during the sardine run. And then he is wild like eveybody else here.
This is a build up to complete insanity. But epic fun !!!!
And i am expected to get real work done today ????
What the hell. I go for a walk on the beach and let the dogs out. Me and my friend Andries.....
What a life we live...
After the big wind on Friday...
Paddle Out on Sunday
7.6. 2015 Paddle Out For Sharks
Today is the annual Paddle Out For Sharks event. We will gather at the beach with paddlers, surfers, divers, fishermen and everybody who is interested in saving and learning more about sharks. We want to highlight the plight of these animals being decimated at a rate of 100 million per year in the finning trade, as well as our useless shark nets along our KZN coastline. Here 30-50 sharks have lost their lives this week when they got caught in these nets while chasing a pocket of sardines. People need to understand the highly important role the sharks are playing in our sensitive eco system. If we humans carry on destroying these majestic animals at the present rate, future generations will have to deal with serious ocean problems....
The message is : Sharks do not eat people, remove the nets !!!
We are the voice of these animals.
The Paddle Out is now three years old and growing. Awareness is raised in South Africa, Mozambique, Australia
Come and join us at the Paddle Out wherever you are
You too can be part of this event even if you are land locked. Just wear anything related to the ocean, sharks, fish or whatever and send us a photo. Talk to your family and friends about sharks and the fact that we need to protect these animals from extinction in the near future.
Watch the film below. You won't believe it !!!
An absolute MUST SEE !!!!!
The Sardines are here !!!! Today the fishermen netted over 100 crates of sardines. This is more than they have seen in the last decade. As such an excellent sign for an excellent Sardine Run to come. We saw whales jumping and gannets diving. The ocean action has begun.
With this exciting event we also had a very upsetting event. Unfortunately the sharks followed the sardines last night and got caught in the shark nets.mwhen the Sharks Board went to service the nets this morning they found them full, full of dead sharks. What a terrible tragedy !!! We estimate 30-50 large Duskies and Bronzewhalers were decimated. This is a terrible loss to the environment as well as to tourism......
We don't blame the Sharks Board for this but mankind in general.
Why the hell do people still believe these useless nets protect them from sharks ??? Sharks are not interested in eating or attacking humans !!! When will people finally understand that these animals are not dangerous to us ? When will we understand that we desperately need them to keep our oceans alive ???
The answer is : Like with everything, we will wake up when it is too late.....
Gone is the month of May and in a flash we are halfway through 2015. Looks like are having fun and exciting times. So we can't complain. Time flies.
At the moment we have well needed break. This means that instead of having fun diving, we have to do real work. Real work are things like preparing for the imminent Sardine Run, ordering oil, doing maintenance on the boats, having the cars repaired, the broken phone, trimming the tree at the Diver Villa, touching up with paint, installing safety boxes in each room, sorting out the garage, organising lead for making dive weights....the list is endless. And so is the mess after a busy period !!!
Below i have a small video clip which i put together of our amazing and unforgettable Tigershark Season of late. the other one is a lovely clip of the Raggies on Protea Banks. Amazing animals...