Indeed, it's been almost two weeks since my last post.
Since we have been in the lockdown and practically no longer work properly, time is going around much faster than usual.
My mother calls me every Sunday and just put the phone on the hook and then it's time for my mother to call again. Incredible.
Last Saturday, so today a week ago we went diving again. It was okay, nothing special.
Visibility was 15m, rather cloudy, water temp 22 ° C.
On the north side of Protea Banks, there was only one sand tiger shark in the first cave. Then we saw a bull shark and a black tip shark.
We didn't feel like it this week, but we will definitely go again next week.
With two of our boats the annual seaworthiness test was due, which we passed as usual without any problems.
This week we fooled around in the store. Beulah wanted to clean everything up again.
Everything looks super neat now that nobody comes anyway ...
The bottlestores were closed again last Sunday. This time without warning.
That means we cannot buy alcohol and tobacco anywhere in the country.
Of course, I made provisions and bought a healthy supply of beer, whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka, gin, sparkling wine, wine and other things.
Actually, it should be enough for the rest of the year. However, we suspect that we might not see an open bottlestore this year.
The corona is raging in our country. Over 12,000 new infections every day with around 200 deaths.
Slowly it happens closer to home
Yesterday there were a total of 422,000 infections and 6,350 deaths.
We are now world number 5,
Germany is 18th with 206,000 infections and 9200 deaths.
Our dogs are of course super happy that we spend so much time with them.
I prefer to sit in my attic room and enjoy the view of the sea.
The dogs also like to be up here because they have a watchtower-like view of the neighborhood.
They either lie on the small balcony or sit in front of the sliding door and keep watch.
As soon as another dog runs past, they run down the stairs, barking like crazy, and do a murder performance at the gate.
So that every dog and every person knows, nobody is welcome here.
This happens certainly ten, fifteen times a day.
Then there is a cat in the neighborhood ...
Man ... this is war ...
This damn cat has of course learned how to do it.
Twice a day, she ever so slowly walks past our house and very close to our gate.
The dogs are going crazy !!! Really.
They don't bark, they scream. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
They race to the gate at full throttle and can just just brake there.
The cat struts undisturbed with one paw raised, middle claw stretched out past the completely freaked out dogs and pisses on the other side of the road in the bushes.
Dude, the dogs are pissed off.!!!!!
From time to time they go at each other in sheer frustration. Then get down to business.
Last week I had to take Thembi to the vet ...
Meanwhile, the old cat with a big grin and raised middle claw again runs past our gate super slowly.
One day I press the opener .....
This is a great video about diving in the Second Cave of Protea Banks with Sharks
So the storm didn't come up to us.
Too bad and thank god.
On Saturday we had about 25 knots southwesterly wind. The sea was white, of course, but bright sunshine made everything seem half as bad.
When the sun set, the wind continued to freshen up with gusts of around 35 knots.
It knocked down a pot plant. The only one I left because the pot is too heavy anyway. Now the old pot is broken.
It was a lot different in the Cape Town area. They had hectic winds, very high seas and freezing temperatures..
On Sunday evening, our president made a speech and, bang, he banned alcohol sales again ...
We now have around 12,000 new infections with around 100 deaths a day.
Since alcohol could be bought again, the hospitals have been flooded with injured people due to alcohol abuse.
The government says we need beds for Corona sick people and not for alcohol injuries that can be avoided.
Quite simply, the sale of alcohol is prohibited until further notice.
Well, at least we haven't been raised to a more stringent lockdown level again.
So we are still in level 3 and will definitely stay here for a long time.
The President said that we will probably only reach the top of the curve around August / September ....
And then it slowly goes down the curve ... that may take time, dude !!!!
As for alcohol, I've made provisions.
Should have enough for the rest of the year. Roland's Pool Bar is fully stocked.
And I am the bartender and at the same time the only guest.
Pour behind the counter and drink in front of the counter.
That also keeps me fit.
Otherwise, Beulah and I are suddenly mad about gardening.
Man, where does that come from?
The damn garden never interested me. I wanted to tar everything anyway.
And now ?
Already a thousand euros spent on pots, containers, soil, compost, plants, flowers, vegetables ... it never stops.
Carrots and tomatoes are my baby.
Beulah does potatoes, onions and flowers.
I have created a herb garden at the diver's villa.
If you know your way around from the garage to the kitchen door, there is a bed on the right side all the way.
Next to it in the grass on the clothesline I planted a lemon tree.
Everything for my guests.
Until the first people come back this project should be in full swing.
And if you want to cook at home, you are welcome to help yourself in my herb garden.
Sardine Run 2020
Sardines in front of my house
Sardines stretching as far as i can see
9.7. 2020 Lockdown Day 105
When i woke up this morning and looked out of my bedroom window i saw a dark patch on the water.
I looked through my binoculars and saw that the patch are thousands of sardines.
The patch grew and moved up and down the coast.
I watched from my house for about three hours.
My friend stays about ten kilometres south from me and told me he is also seeing sardines all over the place. He reckons, he saw hundreds of dolphins feeding off the sardines.
I phoned a fisherman friend and told him about the cards. He said, he can't sell another sardine anymore. Nobody is interested so he is not fishing them anymore.
This has never happened here before.
I have been here for 29 years and never heard a fisherman turning down a good sardine catch.
What a year 2020 !!!!!
Mega Bad Weather is said to come to South Africa
We have heard lots of warnings to prepare for a weather spectacle not seen in a long time.
The country is set to receive a huge cold front making landfall in the Cape by tonight.
We will only get it on Saturday.
Very strong winds, heavy rains and lots of snow in the mountains is forecast.
Right, i am ready.
My camera is on standby
A hundred days ...
We learned a lot.
We are careful when we go shopping
We put on a mask when we go to a shop or center
We check the temperature of our employees
and the most important thing:
We always have more than enough alcohol at home to survive at least six months ... hehehe.
Exactly a week ago we were told that we could go diving again.
We are not allowed to do business but only go out privately.
It doesn't add much to survival, but it feels good to have that freedom again.
A hundred days ago it was normal; It's something special today ...
So let's go diving. But when ?
First of all, see what the weather looks like.
Of course we don't go every day but every now and then. After all, we have enough work every day. We hardly have time to go diving again.
Thursday looks good.
No wind, warm air temperatures, everything perfect.
But it doesn't have to be a mission...
Boooaaar it's uncomfortable in the morning !!! Really fresh.
And everything around until the boat is at the port ....
I'm looking for encouragement from Spike but he has no enthusiasm either.
Let's see, it says on Tuesday.
I ask him again on Wednesday. Shall we go tomorrow?
I don't know, he says. A lot of work ...
Let's see how we feel on Thursday.
Wednesday night still no decision has been made.
As a precaution, I put all my things together that I need.
Charge heat vest
Man, if only one could charge me !!!!
My house looks like an electricity company.
My regulator has so much corrosion that my first stage can no longer be rotated.
I have to untie it with a pipe wrench. Boy Boy !!! It is really high time.
With all the dive gear in the back of the car, I drive to the diving villa shortly after 9 a.m.
Here we meet four times a week and do some work on the house and garden.
Late last night we installed a new axle. So basically it would work.
When I drive up the steep driveway I'm still not sure if I really want to go or not.
I'm really rusty ...
When I get to the top I see Spike already uncovering the boat and warming up the engines.
Love the smell of a two-stroke
All right. The decision is made.
Suddenly the rust falls off in one fell swoop.
My heart that has been dead for a hundred days is starting to beat again.
Yes, we're going diving today.
Spike says he drives the boat. Brian is coming too
Now I need a buddy or I go diving alone.
I do not care.
Our young Brendon has time and is happy to come along.
Today he will dive for the first time as an official dive master.
All right. Here we go.
We still have to solder a motor quickly (probably it would otherwise fall off ...)
Now all the safety equipment has to be loaded.
We rack our brains so we don't forget anything.
Oxygen, radio, first aid kit, GPS, life jackets .. blue bla, bla. The list is endless.
And fuel, of course ... Almost forgot ...
Then comes the big maneuver to tow the boat out of the garden.
At 11 a.m. we stood in front of the gate of the diver villa.
Then off to the shop. Get cylinders and oxygen.
Then to the port.
The paperwork is now twice as much as usual. The port fees have also been increased today. ...
We drop the boat on the beach and push it into the water.
The boat sits in the sand like a piece of lead. And there is hardly any equipment on it. I think we've all gotten a little weaker.
Two fishermen help us and the six of us manage to get the boat afloat
The engines run, we jump on.
What a great feeling to finally be on a boat again !!!!
Spike puts the gears in and shoots through the surf.
He belongs at the wheel !!! Looks good.
The sea is totally calm. A dream.
Everywhere we see whales blowing off or waving their fins at us.
It's almost like the sea is happy to see us again.
The four of us are definitely happy to see the sea again, oh yes !!!
Boat coming out
The Olde Faithful
Nothing will stop us now !!!
Spike fully in control
1ams greeting us
The closer we get to Protea Banks, the more enthusiasm increases.
First is the north side of Protea Banks.
As always, we throw our bottles over our heads and get ready to dive.
I tell Brendon we're going to do a decent decompression dive. Get in there, dude.
Three - Two - One - Go calls Spike and for the first time in over a hundred days I feel sea water around me again.
It is much warmer than expected. 24˚C the first ten meters, then 23˚C
The viz an amazing 25m
We are greeted by five bull sharks as we dive down.
Ouch !!! I am totally overjoyed.
We go without a buoy. Spike has it under control.
We are sooo free in the water. Wonderful.
When we arrive at the first cave we are back home.
I look through the first hole and see how the sand tigers swim their lazy circles.
Brendon and I go in the middle. The sharks carry on undisturbed.
I film, Brendon looks for teeth on the ground and sharks pull water through the gills.
We go through the tunnel and to the second cave.
As we enter through the hole in the ground the sharks are in front of us.
The second cave has more sharks than the first. A total of twenty .
If the water were colder, there would be a lot more sharks. But the conditions are so good, I couldn't ask for anything better
We stay until it is no longer possible and at the end we let the current keep us moving while we slowly make our deco stops.
One or two bull sharks accompany us all the way.
Wonder what they think?
Roland back again? Or wonder if the guys tastes good up there?
hahaha, good thing we don't know
Arriving at First Cave
Brendon coming in
Brian and Spike
Beaching at full speed
We surface and we are just happy
After the first dive we sit on the boat for an hour and enjoy being on the boat again.
Brandon and I dive again. This time on the South Side of Protea Banks.
The dive was good, but we didn't see much.
At one point I saw a big shark disappear into the depths. It could have been a tiger,
Massive tail, but I wasn't sure. Can also have been a bull shark.
Does not matter. It was good.
We go back to Shelly Beach with a great feeling.
Shelly Control this is Southern Comfort, Permission to beach
Shortly after three o'clock we put the boat on the beach, load it and drive directly back to the diver villa.
I stop briefly at the bottlestore and buy a crate of beer.
Such a day has to be celebrated.
Now the boat has to be maneuvered up the narrow and steep driveway again.
Then unload everything, wash everything, put everything back in its place.
We are finished at 5 p.m.
A long day, but a good day. The ice is broken.
We will go diving again soon
1.7. 2020 Sardine Run
I look out the window and see how a group of almost a hundred gannets plunges into the water in front of our house.
It's high time I mentioned the Sardine Run 2020
Sure, the Sardine Run is a sore point this year. According to our original bookings, we would have been in Coffee Bay for a week to hunt for action.
And this action is happening right now without us to witness it.
Sardine fever has been boiling since mid-May.
I already said last year and again at the beginning of this year that all signs are there for a fantastic diving year 2020.
The tiger sharks were already at Protea Banks in November, hammerhead sharks in thousands.
It was clear to me that the Sardine Run would also be unusually good this year.
And then came the stupid Corona and thwarted us.
And how !!!
But while we are stuck, nature regenerates itself in no time.
The sardines remain almost undisturbed by human hands this year and, as I have always said, that was the reason why the sardines no longer ran like they used to.
When Beulah and I set foot here in Margate in the early 1990s, you could set the clock after the sardines .
As soon as the aloes bloomed, the fish arrived here. The fishermen pulled large schools of sardines ashore and sold baskets full of them.
In the old days these fishermen made enough money to survive the whole year !!! Great !!!
Because at that time the sardines were only used as fishing bait and their value was quite low.
Over the years, the value of sardines has been discovered as other edible fish become fewer and fewer, and large fishing vessels have skimmed away thousands of tons of sardines around Port Elizabeth and East London before nature could trigger these small fish to start racing.
It is my theory that this rigorous human intervention has massively disrupted and almost destroyed this natural event.
The sardines never came up to our province and just when the tourism industry discovered the unique value of this event, it was over .....
Destroyed by humans
The Sardine Run
We received more and more requests to offer Sardine Run activity.
If we didn't want to stay behind, we had to play along.
But there was nothing more to be done here in Margate. We had no choice but to go south.
And that's not easy.
The Eastern Cape Province is the poorest province in the country. There is very little infrastructure, people are bitterly poor, corruption rampant and everyone does what they want.
The law doesn't get that far.
The Wild Coast has its name for good reasons !!!
We found our Sardine Run home in Coffee Bay. The Ocean View Hotel is like an oasis in a wild desert of a primitive existence.
We managed to run our boats, 4 x 4s, tractor, plane, crews for ten years under the most difficult circumstances, doing a good job.
We push and pull the boats through the Mapusi creek over stone blocks that are too big, salt water and driftwood.
Every day the boats drive in and out dodging large underwater rocks.
A slight misjudgment by the boat driver costs us a lot of money if an engine gearbox is literally knocked off the boat engine.
But our people know their stuff. Spike, Brian and Steven carefully investigate the local conditions and advise how they can safely bring the boats with their valuable cargo of people into the ocean and back without an accident.
We find the action. Each year.
Of course we only go with an aircraft as support to the boats.
With a few exceptions, our guests always get their money's worth.
As always when you are dependent on nature, there are also a few quiet days during the Sardine Run.
Basically, a week is enough to experience this phenomenon and to remember it for a lifetime !!!
Sardine Run 2020
It is happening
Not every day, but constantly large schools of sardines come along the coast.
The sardine fishermen (specially licensed) have already caught so many sardines that they can no longer get rid of them.
The first baskets (about 20KG) were sold for ZAR 1200 each.
Brian called me last Sunday and asked if I didn't want to buy sardines for ZAR 100.
Unfortunately I have 4 freezers full of bought sardines ... Age ...
In the assumption that it will be a good diving year I have filled up completely to be ready for the tiger shark season.
Now the shit corona can eat the old sardines .....
Nevertheless I am really happy to see that nature works so well.
In the meantime, the fishermen have stopped fishing because they can no longer sell the sardines ...
This has not happened since 2004.
And so we are looking forward to the Sardine Run next year. It will be good!