We finished the year with two Lenker dives on Protea Banks. The first was on the Southern Pinnacle where we only saw one Zambezi shark.
As we had almost no current, we decided there is no way without diving the Northern Pinnacle.
And it was as always a brilliant dive.
The water had a mean thermocline from 23° down to an icy 16°. As we already lost a lot of bodytemp on the first dive, this one was actually sore...
But we stuck it out for 15 mins at the Caves where we found 11 Raggies in the first and 3 in the second cave. For this time of the year, this is a bonus.
On the way back, Spike spotted a hammerhead at the surface. We got within a couple of meters of the shark before it slowly swam away.
With this we finished 2018
All I have left to say now is : Happy New Year to everybody.
May the parents of your children always be wealthy, healthy and happy.
See you in 2019.....
One dive today and everybody dispersed. It wasn't all that great to be honest.
The Vis was just over 10m, watertemp 22° and the Current was screaming.
Martin had the buoyline and the rest of us had to swim like hell to keep up.
We did see a number of hammerheads and guitarsharks, but the atmosphere at depth was dark and dingy.
It just showed again how important good fins are in conditions with current.
If we had fins with slits or holes, we would not have managed to keep up with the group. Fullstop.
Don¡t let anybody lead you up the garden path when you buy new fins !!!
You never know where you will be diving and what the conditions will be like. If there is no current , you can fin slowly and softly but if there is current as we had today, you simply need the power of a good fin to keep up.
Now we all wanted to go home and enjoy Boxing Day..
Beulah is sleeping downstairs in her favourite windowseat, I am upstairs in my favourite rooftop room overlooking the sea.
Accross the road from me there was an eagle sitting on top of a huge pine tree. I watched him for an hour. Brilliant.
Now I am having a couple of toots and enjoy my dog¡s company.
And tomorrow, we see what Protea Banks has in store for us....
Merry Christmas to everybody from all of us at African Dive Adventures, Roland, Beulah, Carrie, Spike, Shorty and Martin.
Just in time for Christmas we got our current back on Protea Banks. We missed it for weeks now and yesterday we had a lovely 2 knot current.
Straight away we had sharks again on the reef.
400-500 hammerheads, several great hammerheads, a huge Zambezi, 2 duskys.
Vis was just under 20m and water temp still a fresh 20˚
Today we did not dive. Took the day off.
Tomorrow looks promising. I am sure we will have great diving as i can see a clear colour line out at sea. This is usually a good sign.
Then there is a lot of bad weather predicted again. It carries on and on.....
But we have learnt that these predictions are not always so accurate and instead of cancelling beforehand we rather wait for the day and go see for ourselves.
Lots of exciting diving is coming up.
Yesterday we cancelled the diving because a strong wind was predicted and no boat had launched. So we did't want to be the ones pushing for business. It turned out that the elusive wind got stuck on about 15 knots and we could have dived all day.
I do take into account that everybody from myself to my staff to the harbour master etc are a bit tired....
Today we did not make any excuses.
The wind was predicted even stronger than yesterday and the launch was really bad.
The harbour was initially closed but when i spoke to Brian the controller there, he said he would let us go.
So we decided to try our luck.
Old Rodney said, he thinks we would see lots of hammerheads today. So it was decided to go to the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks to try our luck.
The launch was tricky but old Spike did very well and manoeuvred our beautiful boat safely through the surf.
We got out to Protea Banks where we had 2m - 3m swells and pretty fresh water at 18˚ on the bottom and 20˚ on the top.
We saw a couple of raggies in the beginning and about half way through we got a nice big school of hammerheads.
Afterwards a few more hammers and we estimated the dive to have produced in excess of 100 hammerheads.
Visibility on top was not great but second half was a cool 20m.
We all returned to the base safely and happy smiles everywhere. No second dive was attempted !!!
So this made us the only boat in the ocean on 23.12. This never happened as long as i have been in Shelly Beach which reaches it's 22 year now. The base is completely empty. Normally it is a hive of activity, a magnet which pulls every holiday maker and tourist in the area.
Marlin (left side)
Spot 3 x Roland
I am back on the horse and glad, my spell with the health specialists is over. Had the old gall bladder removed on 6.12. and was back diving on Protea Banks on 13.6.
As soon as seawater flowed through my veins, everything came right. Amazing !!
We had the scientists and film crew of Wild Oceans with us for a good week. They are starting a program to explore the migration and aggregation of hammerheads on Protea Banks. So it was interviews and film crews following us non stop. It felt like being on a reality show. Much fun though !!
The people were particularly of fun.
They had mapped the entire area around Protea Banks which will be protected soon with an ROV and printed a 3D Map.
On this map we found a reef about 2km offshore of the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks.
We never knew about this reef. maybe the fishermen knew it, but for us it is totally new.
The reef, we called it Wild Ocean, comes up from about 80m depth to 32m.
We did an exploratory dive, Roxy a Marine Biologist, Jason the cameraman and i.
It was a great feeling to be the first humans ever seeing this reef.
What a huge privilege. !!!
At the end of this month my friend Supp and i will do a lot of exploring on Wild Ocean with our rebreathers. Oh man, i can't wait.
Our diving on Protea is great but not normal. We have 70 raggies on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks but not the ongoing hammerhead aggregation we were looking for. We did see huge numbers in several hundreds of hammerheads over 2 days but we should have thousands of hammerheads everyday.
For a very long time now we had no or very little current. This is going on for almost 6 weeks now and confuses the entire ocean . Raggies should have been gone at the end of November. never ever did we see such a huge amount.
For our guests this is of course a treat. Divers come back to base with a lot of exciting chatter and huge smiles all over. Good for business...
Good, old Rodney is here for a couple of days. He is almost part of the staff. He comes down from his busy life in JoBurg several times a year and joins us on the Sardine Run regularly.
It is always great to see him and have him with us.
Otherwise we are supposed to be in our annual peak holiday season. It looks a bit bleak though when one compares it to better years. The base in Shelly Beach is very quiet, the roads are not even busy and the shops, restaurants and shopping centres are bitterly complaining. South Africa is clearly not out of our economic troubles.
Hopefully with the elections next year our politicians will be able to install more confidence and positive thinking in our population.
Thankfully we can't complain. December has never been a busy month for us. We rather let go a bit and join the holiday feeling. However, we are diving and doing well.
We don't like to compare annual revenues with previous years. We don't do the mathematics. Too depressing.
We simply open the fridge and if there is a lot of meat and beer inside, our little economy is doing well.....
Today we were busy all day with our scientists and film crew.
They are here to promote Protea Banks and the amazing amount of hammerheads we have here. We have a program over the next week to count and estimate the Hammerhead sightings. All very exctiting.
Carrie and Martin dives today on Protea Banks. First dive Northern Pinnacle. Vis was around 20m and the divers saw a large school of hammerheads , estimated to be around 120..Not many Raggies left apparently. This is most peculiar if we think that yesterday we had uncountable amounts of Raggies.
Second dive was on the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks. The current changed to reverse, which is not really what we expected.
Nevertheless we saw one Great Hammerhead, 3 x scalloped Hammerheads and - believe it or not - 3 x Tigersharks. And each tiger shark was a different one !!!
What a day !!!
So, i have survived the ordeal of having the gall bladder removed.
When i came back from the Durban hospital i had to get back to work pretty quickly. In the beginning i was a bit weak, but soon i picked up strength and managed to do my job as usual.
Good thing, as for some reason, i am the only dive master in my company who can dive Protea Banks properly. I hate to say this, and i hate that this is a fact at the moment, but it is a major cause for stress and concern.
I needed to jump in between hospital times. Quite hectic.
But we managed, like we always do when we have a crisis.
The diving was good but unusual. We had so many raggies and so few hammerheads. On one dive we counted over 60 raggies. It was amazing.
On the other hand, we had baited shark dives without a single shark sighting !!! That was bloody terrible !!!
In the meantime the conditions are improving. Carrie had a tiger shark a few days ago, lots of hammerheads, i had a zambezi, some black tips are returning to the reef, great hammerheads and large schools of scalloped hammerheads.
On tuesday i got a call from the surgeon. If i have time today, he could take my gall bladder out.
Oofff. This was a shock to the system. I was scheduled for Thursday and very busy on Wednesday. But if i could save myself 2 days of anxiety and fear, i would jump at it.
I tried everything to find a replacement for Wednesday. Nobody, nobody, nobody can or wants to help me out. Great !!! some of my closest friends give really weak reasons.
Hey, i am asking because i have to go for an operation !!!! Nope. Nobody goes out of his way to make this possible for me.
It would have really helped as the surgeon had lots of time on Tuesday which is always good for any patient. I would have had 2 days extra to recover before i have to be back at work again next week and if something like this gets jumped on you, the least time to think about it is the least time to worry...
Not possible. I phoned him back defeated and we left my appointment for Thursday.
Thursday came and i had to be at the hospital at 6h30.
By 9am i was taken to my bed where they clothed me in the most embarrassing garments !!!
My lovely Beulah stayed by my bedside every minute of the day. Only at 15h00 they pushed me towards the theatre.
I pictured this all differently. I thought they would put me out straight away before they take me to the theatre. I actually hoped, i would never see the goings on at the theatre.
Wasn't like that.
I got into a waiting loop and saw doctors and nurses running around and doing things. I heard a patient screaming his head off. Jeez, it was so nerve wrenching, i thought maybe he couldn't afford the anaesthetic ...??? I died many deaths in there.
Eventually they wheeled me into the slaughter room. They tried to match the height of my bed with the table when i eventually lost my patience.
I got off my bed, pushed it out of the way and jumped onto the operation table.
Come on guys, let's get this done !!!!!
I got a painful injection and when the gas mask came towards me i must have lost consciousness...
I woke up in my bed in my room with my Beulah by my side.
What a pleasure.
The old gall bladder was gone but they left me 33 gall stones as a souvenir. !!! 33 !!
Friday morning i was discharged and Beulah took me home to recover in the best place on earth.
By Tuesday next week i will surely be back in the water doing what i love most
I am back. Had do disappear for a while. Out of action.
Here you think you get bashed around on a boat every day, get jumped by 5 crazy dogs when you get home ,end up with blue marks you can't even remember when and where it happened.
And from one day to the next i got knocked off my feet.
Gall Stone. Jammed up the liver duct so the bile could no longer flow off and collected in my body. It attacked my liver, my spleen, my blood. I was truly down and out.
I had some bad ass stomach pains and decided to go see the GP.
He looked in my eyes and told me to pack my bag.
Pack my bag ??? Are you sending me on a forced holiday ???
Yes, holiday at the Margate Private Hospital, he says.
Totally shocked i hear my diagnosis and that there is no choice but to remove the stone and subsequently the gall bladder.
After 2 days in Margate Private, the doctor sees me and has a shock.
He immediately orders an ambulance which shoots me to Durban. Parklands Hospital.
I am told, my condition had worsened and they can't handle me here in Margate.
Parklands is top of the range. The doctors there are the finest in the country. The nurses are focused on their job with no issues at all.
I had a deluxe room in the Oncology department. My single room had an ensuite bathroom, flat screen TV, WiFi, the lot. My food was excellent, i chose off a menu .
Still, i was very sick. When they wanted to operate on me they looked at my blood count and stopped the process.
First we need to get the platelet count right in order to avoid you from bleeding to death. ...Okay...???
I got sicker by the day. Fever almost reached 40˚. What got me going was the fact that in the Oncology department i was the lucky one !!!
Beulah phoned me and when i made no sense she shot through to Durban to spend every minute at my side. She was my invaluable companion in this ordeal.
I went through MRI scans which scared the living hell out of me, through bone marrow extracts which almost broke me completely and of course gall stone removal.
A thousand injections, drips, blood samples. It never ended.
After 12 days i felt fit enough to get stroppy. All i wanted was to be home.
Home with my Beulah, home in my beautiful house , home with my beloved dogs.
It became painful and started to affect me mentally. I had to force myself to stay calm. Everyday i had to stay another day, another weekend.
In the end i told the doctors that as much as i appreciated their immaculate care, i am going home tomorrow - with or without their consent.
So they let me go.
I was still so weak, i could hardly walk up the stairs to my room.
So i chilled for a week at home before i dared myself back into the ocean.
In the meantime we were very busy and Beulah and Spike ran the show. They were short staffed and struggled like hell but they managed.
Karen went with me on my first dive and watched me closely. I did well, had no problems at all.
Straight away i did the second dive that day. Might as well see what i can do...
And i managed well. I was coming out of my low spot and back to normal.
As we are busy this week as well i made a deal with the surgeon to postpone my gall bladder removal until Thursday next week. So i could be of good help this week with our groups.
It feels good....