We are really busy this time of the year. Got two full boats of divers, mainly from Germany, Holland and France. Half of the divers are repeat guests which is a great honour for us and Protea Banks. I just hope, the old lady of the sea bottom realises this and produces some spectacular adventures.
Lately the diving has been difficult with terrible winds from either NE or SW. Before last weekend we were blown out three days in a row. This is frustrating for all of us, crew and divers alike.
Then the weekend was magic. Warn sunny summer days with relatively calm seas. Okay, we had huge swells, but the sea was at least not rough anymore.
Beneath the conditions change from day to day and often even from dive to dive.
Low vis changes to good 25m vis and shark sightings are still regular on every single dive. Obviously if the vis is low, the sightings are short and murkey.
Today we saw 30+ raggies on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks and 3 Hammers, one zam and 3 black tips on the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks.
The diving was amazing. After 2mdays of strong SW'ly winds we managed to get out to Protea Banks. I expected good conditions and came along with my rebreather.
Steve was the guide and Spike the skipper.
On the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks we had hundreds of hammerheads. Really, school after school of these magnificent beasts came past us. So, so good.
Second dive we went north and found an amazing 40+ raggies in the caves.
As we descended into the first cave a school of hammers came past pretty close.
The stage was set for an awardwinnng movie which is still in my head !!
Despite the weatherforecast we managed to get out yesterday.
The launch was something out of a horror movie ! Hectic.
But good old Spike negotiated with Neptune and his waves and went out safely.
They did a Baited Dive and had amazing vis again. Lots of Black Tips and Hammerheads in the background.
The wind did pick up quite strong while they were out which made me worry a lot until i heard they were back.
Should we go out in conditions which make us worry ?
It is always a hard call. When we have divers with us who were blown out time and again all of us want to use every small chance we get to make their 10000 km voyage worthwhile.
Safety comes first but there are borderline conditins which are still safe albeit uncomfortable at times.
We brief our divers intensively and more so if the weather is not perfect.
Our crew is well experienced and can handle just about anything the weather throws at us. But sometimes we have divers who don,t understand the risks and cause us a lot of stress.
Then there is the other side of the borderline. Like today.
The sea looks still reasonable but the clouds are flying at high speed. Everybody knows that the wind will blow the sea to froth within an hour or two.
So today we had to cancel the diving. Keep everyone warm and safely in bed......
For two days we could not launch and tomorrow is still not sure either. In the meantime i have a boat load of divers sitting here getting more and more anxious to experience our magical Protea Banks.
Diving - whenever we got out has been very nice. Lots and lots of sharks on both pinnacles.
Lance who was with us for the last week and a bit unfortunately had to move off. He left me a wonderful e-mail which i want to post right here :
Unfortunately I am at the end of a weeks diving with Afridive on Protea banks on the KZN South Coast of South Africa. I have been diving and working on and off in the dive industry since the late 80s and I can honestly say that the team at Afridive are of the highest caliber and I can highly recommend them to anyone wanting to have unforgettable diving experiences. Their skipper Spike, DM Steve, instructor Karen and 2 gear staff Shorty and Kenneth are worth their weight in gold. We had a few challenging dives and they all exhibited a high degree of professionalism and experience on the boat, in the water and on land. They took care of everyone and handled all gear with ease and care. On one of the dives we had a group of people on re-breathers and all the staff were familiar with the rigs. I was impressed by Karen, the resident dive instructor. I participated in a shark conservation diver course with her and was super impressed. She is a good, caring instructor and went out of her way to take care of everyone on board. Giving the more experienced divers space and the less experienced divers more attention and care. I was also touched by Roland the owner's, calm, 'hands on' approach. Over the week that I was with them, there wasn't a single gear failure with the gear I hired or any of the gear. I can count the number of times that this has happened in the last 28 years of diving on one hand. It shows me that their gear is well serviced and taken care of and that their technicians are doing a good job. The air was also very good quality, sweet and smooth to breath. Excellent. And then there were the dives themselves. I had wonderful close up, respectful, enviro friendly experiences with turtles, ragged tooth sharks, hammerheads, black tips, zambezi sharks, dolphins and reef fish, I highly recommend Afridive to anyone wanting to experience something out of the ordinary. I will definitely come back next time I am in South Africa.
Lance (PADI Divemaster)
Too much wind yesterday, perfect today, too much wind tomorrow....The old song...
But today was a cracker day on Protea Banks.
Perfect weather, flat sea, 20˚ water temp and 28˚ airtemp. Vis was an okay 10m plus on the first dive and quite a bit less on the second dive. But despite the crappy vis, the dives were picture book.
Andy, Gabi and i dived with the " Anti-Bubble-Machines " and loved life today !!!
On the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks we saw about 100 hammerheads, 2 rams, 3 black tips, 1 dusky and 2 guitarsharks. Amazing !!
After a break back at the base we launched again for the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks. As the current was whipping we dropped 200m north and Steve, our loverly divemaster found the caves head on. Well done.
The first cave was full with no less than 30 sharks. Of course, the scuba divers caused a whole lot of trouble and chased a lot of the sharks away with their bubbles. Andi and i stayed longer and had the privilege to enjoy the sharks calmed down again.
When the two of us got to the second cave we found lots of juvenile raggies with their mothers. 20 plus.
It was amazing to lie on the ground and watch the sharks do their thing. Totally cool.