At 3h30 my alarm went off this morning.Now it is almost time to go to sleep. The days are long but filled with excitement. At 5am we went to fetch our boats at the yard. Four serious 4x4s drove along the dark roads and picked up 4 boats.
It was a great feeling !!!
We got to the base at Shelly Beach and worked feverishly to get everything ready well before the time.
Everyone knew exactly what to do. Brilliant !!!
When all the divers arrived we were ready and organised.
4 boats launched and carried almost 40 divers out into a rough sea. Everyone had an great dive and got back safely. Then we went a second time and finished around 15h00.
It really feels good to see this operation which has grown from a humble one boat business to four boats . Our staff are amazing. Especially Beulah and Spike who planned this extremely busy time well. Carrie and Steve, Cassie and myself, Shorty, Kenneth and David, everybody knows what is required and everybody pulls his weight to make this work.
We deal with material issues as well as personal ones. Some divers thing they are more clever than they really are, but we deal with them in a friendly way.
What matters is to get 4 boats out smoothly and back safely. And this twice a day for 4 days. Then we can all sit back and laugh about all kinds of episodes.
For now, it is 7pm and we have the most amazing full moon night. I love this life....
It is the day before our peak business ever and we have been working feverishly to make sure, everything will be perfect. Haaaaa !!!
Last week we damaged two gearboxes on two boats and managed to replace them with spare gearboxes.
Our 4x4 has been playing up lately. It makes a tremendous , nasty clanck noise when we put it under load.
Our mechanic had it twice and sent me two nasty invoices, but the clanck noise was not gone. So we tried to really save the car as much as possible.
Today, the diff packed up and we no longer have the 4x4 function.
Our boat Avatar was running smoothly until this morning when it suddenly developed a horrible noise in one engine.
There is seawater in the gearbox, mixed with gearoil and the bearings are cooked.
When the boat Southern Comfort gets back from the second dive, we see a spout of seawater shooting from its hull.
The hull is cracked. Amazing !!!
What else can go wrong ?
Ou yes, the Japanese Guido phones all frantically saying that the transport to Shelly Beach has only one vehicle which is not enough for all 21 people with diving equipment. When we investigate, we find out that the second vehicle is delayed in traffic... that happens...
They still have to get to Shelly Beach and kit up completely for tomorrow. Otherwise we will loose too much time.
Why rush ?
Because the weather forecast is pretty shitty.....
Right now I am having a XXXL Whiskey....
28.4. 2018 The Raggies have arrived !!!
It was time to dive on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks. The vis had turned low yesterday and the 3.5kn current is slowly slacking off.
What better place to dive than the Caves .
We got down and immediately i saw a couple of Raggies swimming around the area before the caves. When i got to the first cave it was full.
I counted 22 male sharks and knew there were more under the overhang. Call it 30.
On our way up we suddenly encountered 2 massive hammerheads. Hell, they came within 3m of our group of 6 divers. This is rather unusual. Normally hammerheads are very shy and keep their distance. What a bonus.
Later on our ascent another 4 hammers and 3 black tips.
The vis was about 12m at the bottom and maybe 7m top half.
But this dive was something special.
In the meantime the other boat baited and got the usual 6/8 black tips.
For unknown reasons we are struggling with tigers this season...??
Second dive went back to the Northern Pinnacle.
We know that there was a great big buster coming around midday. It was less than five minutes into our dive that the wind came through. 20km SW and picking up.
By the time we surfaced the sea was already upside down and white with foaming waves.
Our trip back to shore was an adventure. Our divers loved it !! And so did we, the crew.
I guess if you spend most of your life in an office, a rough sea is exciting and fun.
And finally the day arrived.
25˚ water temp
And sharks everywhere.
On the Baited Dive we had :
9 x Black Tips
1 x Zambezi
1 x Tiger - although only as a distant observer
On the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks we had :
2 x Great Hammerhead
13 x Scalopped Hammerhead
7 x Giant Guitarshark
1 x Eagleray
And on the Northern Pinnacle :
3 x Raggies
3 x Black Tips
Pure Magic today. I am truly relieved....
Life is full of stress at the moment. We are in the middle of our busy season with lots of divers.
We are heading for the maximum we ever had next week when we have 40 divers here at our humble little dive centre.
We ordered a new boat some time ago so we can handle the onslaught of divers from 30.4. to 4.5. but as i expected , it won't be ready.
I said it all along and told Beulah and Spike to work with 3 boats but they just brushed me off as "negativ".....wish i was....
The boat won't be finished and we are basically in shit.
So there is a skipper with boat from Aliwal who is available and willing to help us out.
We are just waiting to see if we get the temporary permit for him from our authorities.
Nothing is ever easy....
Besides that we had to melt hundreds of kilos of bullets to make enough diving weights of. We get the stuff from the shooting range. Lucky to have found them but Shorty is shit scared, one of those spent cartridges might explode. No matter how often we tell him that the bullets have been shot already, he believes in what he believes...
Adding to the stress are the diving conditions at the moment. Just Black Tips and very few jams and other sharks. Today the vis was great, but yesterday it was shocking to say the least.
And we have a whole lot of divers and a whole lot of important divers.
Most are repeat guys who specifically wanted to see the tiger sharks on Protea Banks.
This time Protea Banks does not deliver. Sad to say.
Even a reporter from a great , famous german Magazine - The Stern _ is here to do an article on us.
We are bending over backwards to make this a success story. Once off chance like this !!!
And what is awaiting us on our first really busy day ?
Yes, a major South Westerly Buster with something like 30knots wind....Great....
Maybe it is Friday the 13th or something else. The diving on Protea baks has been terrible in terms of shark sightings. The reef is almost empty of sharks and fish. We do get these periods when the fish disappears for a while and with them the sharks. Its all about the food-chain, i guess.
But right now we are supposed to have our tiger shark season and we are in fact struggling to see even a solitary black tip.
Our first dive on Playground was crowned by this very solitary black tip. Zero else.
South Pinnacle on the second launch yielded not a single shark sighting.
We have a couple of great photographers with us at the moment and we really do need this damn reef to show itself from its better side.
At least the current is pointing in the right direction again after going reverse for the last two days. So hopefully it will all come right soon now.
The launch today was shocking. A fishing boat before us was lucky to survive. Four crew members were flung out of the boat and the last remaining fisherman managed to get the boat out into the open ocean.
We were fine but we know our place well.
As i am writing this i suddenly hear the sea thundering heavily. The waves must be horrendous...
We will see what happens tomorrow.