Sardine Run June 2019

30.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 15

Now i heard it all !!! Rumour has it that there are too many sardines so the predators are all full and just eat little bits by swimming past.
Really ?
So we did have a small and moving bait ball.
We had everything and a huge slick of sardines but no predators on them.
What next ??!!!
Protea Banks
A cracker of a day on Protea.
We saw thousands of hammerheads – and this came from my divers and guides, not from me –
3 humpback whales
raggies, sandsharks, zams and black tips.
My arm is damn sore so all i can do these days is drive the boat. Not much fun.
Don’t know how Spike does it everyday for all these years…

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29.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 14

Difficult to get the boat safely through the huge surf into the open ocean.
In Port St.Johns our colleagues had to cancel their day, but we were lucky and managed. This is mainly due to our protected launch site at Maps River where the large waves break on the strip of rock. We can hide behind it and zip past once we spot a break. Brilliant !!!
We had a good day.
Lots of action with sharks, Duskie and Bronze Whalers, whales everywhere, excited dolphins and diving gannets.
Protea Banks
Is always great !!!
Hammerheads galore and same with the raggies. Unreal.
And on almost every dive we see whales these days. As it stands now, out of 10 dives we see at least 7 whales.
In the past we saw a whale every now and then. Then it became more in the last couple of years.
If the trend continues, we can start marketing diving with whale sightings !!!
I couldn’t go to work today. Spent most of the day at the hospital…
My idiot dogs often get into a fight if they get too excited.
So last night.
They piled up against the small gate at my house and hacked into each other.
Man, when they fight, they give it their all !!! Maximum damage.
I tried to open the gate to let them spill into the driveway. As i reach above the fighters trying to get to the key, my arm got mistaken by another dog’s leg and i got mutilated…
When it was all over i carried a thick line of blood through the house…
I cleaned myself up and knowing that it would be too sore to sleep, i took some painkillers we had in the house. Followed up by a muscle relaxant and a couple of beers.
Went to bed alright but woke up a lot being extremely dizzy.
When it was time to get up, i could not talk or move.
I phoned Beulah who worried like hell.
On all four limbs i had to push myself into the bathroom where i just fell asleep again.
Clearly, i was on one hell of a drug trip !!!
Beulah’s sister took me to the hospital where i got the obligatory treatment for rabies.
All in all i received 12 injections…..Jeeeeeez. I am punctured everywhere

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28.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 13

Today we had scattered action everywhere and pretty much all day long.
Now we see whales jumping, then we come across diving birds and dolphins galore.
Next we saw a whole lot of dusky sharks.
Sardines we als spotted, mainly from 7m down.
The water is a bit too warm today at 22˚ and outside the water we had a real hot summer day with 28˚C.
Protea Banks
We were really busy today. 3 boats launched, 5 launches in total.
Cassie from Umkomaas thankfully helped us and Spike and Martin specially brought a boat up from Coffee Bay just for the next two days.
What a logistical nightmare !!!
But we managed well and had great dives on Protea Banks today.
We saw in total :
1 manta ray
2 bullsharks
6 black tips
8 guitar sharks
65 raggies
500+ hammerheads
Excellent day

Sardine Run
Captain Morgan

27.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 12

Despite the hacking winds of yesterday we managed to launch safely today.
Our new plane flew properly but nobody spotted anything exciting until the early afternoon.
All of a sudden, as if an invisible conductor started the orchestra, the ocean awoke.
The guys are talking about hundreds of dolphins, whales, gannets suddenly diving everywhere and coming up with sardines in their beaks.
40 dusky sharks are estimated. 40 !!!
Amazing action on this day of the sardine run !!!
Protea Banks
It was one of those days when nobody knows whether it is too rough to go or not.
It was clear to all of us that the sea would be hectic and a strong wind was forecast for 8am.
The base controller allowed us to choose and what would i do ?
Yes, i go dive !!!!!
We launched through shitty surf and the further we got out towards Protea banks, the worse the sea conditions got.
On the reef we initially had about 2.5m swells. In no time these swells picked up to 4m and more. Every 3 to 5 minutes i had a set of three killerwaves coming through. It forced me to drive the boat up the steep hill of water , only to pivot at the top and drop down hard the other side.
For me as boat skipper it meant i had to be super careful and fight the elements.
In the meantime the divers had a great time under water.
Hammerheads everywhere.
I got really nervous towards the end of the dive. The waves became large, man.
I worried about how to load the divers once they have surfaced without putting the boat into danger .
Yes, it was definitely not a kiddies birthday party today….
Needless to say we did not do a second dive

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26.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 11

Bad winds forced us to abandon the launch of our boats today. It was just too hectic and as such too dangerous. Huge waves rolled past our river mouth and even if we had tried to get out, it would have been most uncomfortable for our guests to sit on a rolling boat all day.
We cancelled and offered our guests a free of charge excursion exploring the area.
Most went to the Hole in the Wall, the others chose a relaxing , quiet day at the hotel.
Hole in the Wall is a famous landmark in this area and when one is here, it is a must to go see it.
Brilliant piece of nature !!!

Protea Banks
We had a cracker day on the banks today. First dive was Baited and we had 10 black tips, one zam and a sand shark was swimming on the ocean floor at sandshakr gully.
The highlight was a humpback whale which came past .
Amazing to see these huge creatures on scuba.
Second dive we went to the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks .
We had 2 whales on scuba !!!!!!!!
We also had 2 rams, 8 guitarsharks, 7 black tips and about 40 hammerheads coming nice and close to us. Some of the little hammertjies were really cheeky and curious. It was so much fun seeing these little shits coming right close up to us only to shoot off into the safety of the ocean again. Then they turned and came close again.
Like a cat and mouse game. Brilliant !!!

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25.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 10

Today was the day which has given us all new energy.
We really waited for this day and it is absolutely amazing.
Lotss of sharks on several bait balls, duskies, bronx=zies, black tips snd so much more]
I am just unbelievable tired.
After i wrote the Geman part of today’s report i fell asleep in front of my computer.
It is now 23h30
Today was a magic day on both sides, Sardine Run as we’ll as Protea Banks

Protea Banks
Whale on scuba !!!
Visibility 15m to 25m
North side of Protea we had raggies and black tips.
South side great hammerhead, scalloped hammerheads, black tips
Got to go sleep now….

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Humpback Whale
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24.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 9

Today we had two full boats out at sea. And our spotter plane is broken….
While the pilot is organising a replacement aircraft, we have to make do without our eye in the sky.
The water temp has dropped by a few degrees and straight away there is more activity.
We had a large turtle which rested at the surface and built up her oxygen reserves before she went down on an hourlong breath hold dive.
We saw rare penguins, lots of dolphins and many whales.
And the best was a huge slick of sardines moving north.
Lots of bronze whaler sharks were feeding on the sardines, so were dolphins and gannets.
We didn’t have a bait ball, but we were very close.
Unfortunately we did not have space for our amazing photographer and he deserved a day off. So no pics for today…

Protea Banks
It was an odd day today on Protea Banks.
Out of seemingly nowhere we had pretty rough seas out on the reef. As soon as we got to of the land protected area, the sea became pretty uncomfortable with 3m swells.
From zero current yesterday we had 2knots today.
Our divers struggled to keep up with the guide who got pulled by the buoy. Often the divers were hardly visible and caused a whole lot of stress to Holger, the guide.
Whenever he found a sponge to hold onto, his buoy disappeared beneath the surface.
This was however no problem for me as i have dealt with this so many times before.
Due to these rough conditions the sharks from yesterday also moved on into deeper, calmer water.
They saw a handful of raggies, 1 sand shark and a couple of back tips. Nothing like yesterday.
So instead of sitting at the surface between dives we decided t rather go back home.
On the way we encountered a couple of whales and spent almost an hour in their graceful company.

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23.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 8

Today was a pretty quiet day on the Run. Like everyday we had gannets, whales and dolphins. I think we start taking amazing animal encounters almost for granted as time goes on…
The highlight of the day was an encounter with a Cape Fur Seal. Lovely animal and fun to watch.
Also the various seabirds are an attraction in their own right. We have Albatross , Petrels, Terns, Skuas, Gannets of course and many more interesting animals circling above us looking out for some action and food.
Even those of us who are not really into bird watching do find them highly interesting.
All this is part of the sardine Run and the Bait Ball is the ultimate.
And we are all ready for the Ultimate now !!!!!

Protea Banks
As quiet as it was on the sardine Run, as busy it is on Protea Banks.
With a rather low visibility – 5m top and 12m bottom – the sheer amount of sharks was overwhelming.
We had a hundred Raggies on the Southern Pinnacle of Protea banks and on the second dive we had a hundred hammerheads if not more.
Absolutely amazing !!!

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22.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 6

Today was a real hot summers day here in South Africa. Really nice, exactly what we want here on Protea Banks but not what we want on the sardine run… 26˚C
Nevertheless we had good whale activity, we had dolphins and we had gannets diving occasionally. In the hope to catch the odd sardine.
Spike and Marco are the only boat crew out at sea supported by Dave with his aircraft.
Steven and Brian are towing boat no.3 to Coffee Bay tomorrow early, followed by Martin and Max.

Protea Banks
Today we had another special day on Protea Banks.
We had 2 humpback whales on scuba who took a full minute to swim by our group.
It was mind boggling !!!
besides this we had about 50 raggies on the Southern Pinnacle and another 50 raggies on the northern pinnacle.
There were about 3 bull sharks and 5 Black Tips as well as 8 guitar sharks.
The vis on top was pretty poor at 5m – 8m but the bottom opened up to 15m
Our people were completely over the moon…
As i am writing this i am sitting in my office-cave at home. Out of nowhere i suddenly hear this all familiar noise. I open the balcony door and hear massive waves pounding the beach along the coats here.
Wonder where these hectic waves suddenly come from ???
Gonna be fun and games tomorrow….

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21.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 5

Today was pretty similar to yesterday. We had mega pods of dolphins.
This is something out of this world. Thousands upon thoud=sands of dolphins which cover several kilometres of ocean. Incredible.
Nowhere else does one see these huge mega schools.
Steven, Brian and Brendon came back today to fetch the third boat and all kinds of equipment.
Sunday they are going back together with Martin and Max.
So i will be left alone here with Holger. This means that i will have to get up at 4am instead of 5am. Great !!!
You are so lucky, says my father. You made your hobby to your job.
Who is so lucky !!!
Yes, yes, who works til 10pm everyday ? Right now the time is 22h50 and i am nowhere near finished. Great hobby i got….
Hahaha, lucky i am dive-mad and don’t mind taking everything around the diving in my stride…

Protea Banks
Protea was doing its magic again today.
First day was a baited dive and i thought, i let the children play with the black tips. Seen them a million times…
The launch was hectic to say the least. Huge waves coming pounding into the launch bay like the size of a house. No room for errors.
Once we decided to go, we went at full speed. It felt like an out of control truck rushing down a steel hill.
Once we got through the surf zone i turned around and saw our new guests from Japan with wide open eyes and fear written all over their faces as if they just did a roller coaster ride.
Philippe and Robert who know the launch just laughed. The new divers learnt in a very short time that this is not a kiddies birthday party.
Welcome to Africa !!!
And Murphy’s law wanted me to suffer again. The guys had an amazing dive with 12 black tips, 3 jams right on the bait ball and 100 hammerheads circling the scene 4 times.
Second dive North had about 50 – 60 raggies in the two caves.
I more than likely am going to dive tomorrow, no matter what !!!!

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20.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 4

We have everything we need for a great recipe.
Today our guests saw a mega pot of dolphins which was several Kilometers in size. One estimates 3000 – 4000 animals.
Is that good ???
I’d say it is unbelievably brilliant !!!
Oh yes, and they saw a couple of hammerhead sharks.
Really ? They have to tell us they saw some hammerheads ??? Some ?
Well, we the tough guys from Protea Banks saw about a thousand hammerheads today !!! True.
Furthermore they had quite a few bronze whaler sharks in Coffee Bay. Bronzies are the smaller cousins of our black tips. They are the typical sardine run sharks.
Only one whale today. That is unusual for this time of the year.
We had plenty here in Shelly Beach.
There were only a few gannets today.
Everything there for a great recipe, it just needs to come together.
Let’s see what this weekend brings us…

Protea Banks
Like i pointed out above, we had a brilliant day on Protea Banks today.
We estimate around the 1000mark in terms of hammerheads, we had 2 bull sharks, a whole lot of black tips, about 8 guitar sharks, 1 manta ray, 1 eagle ray, 1 great hammerhead.
I lost track at some stage because sharks came from all directions.
I had my camera with me but did not manage to get a good shot of the hammers with the wide angle lens.
Nevertheless i got a couple of great pictures which i am most excited about.
My hammerhead pics are from Philipe Grand.
Amazing day.

Bottlenose Dolphin
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19.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 3

And again the Sardine Run cranked up a notch or two.
The guests had a fabulous day at sea around Coffee Bay today.
Whale action was amazing, Dolphins were trying their best to work a bait ball but the sardines managed to escape from a massacre…
They went deep and moved quick which saved their lives today.
We had breaching whales even between our two boats.
The water temp has gone back to 21˚
We know that the cooler the water and the cooler the air, the better the action.
There is a cold front coming this weekend which could make a difference.
Hope it does not blow us out the water altogether….
Our guys are tired already. Before 8pm you don’t see one of our crews anywhere. They are all flat in their beds .
I think Beulah likes it that way. Less kindergarten work for her to do…
We want our staff to be at their best during the day so we can give everything we have to our guests. Drinking and parties don’t belong to the sardine run.
Thats for afterwards….

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18.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 2

Things are improving slightly. Today we had amazing whale action. Couple of humpbacks came to play with us while we were in the water.
We did tell them to stay 300m away from us, but to no avail…
Never stick to the rule, those damn bullies !!!
Besides we saw dolphins, sharks, gannets and fast moving sardine action.
The guests could not get in the water on scuba as the sardines just kept going. Lots of people don’t understand this until they are on a boat and see for themselves.
The water temp has dropped a tiny fraction and although the air was still way too warm, we had already a noticeable increase in activity.
Everyone is still very happy with what they experienced so far.
I hope nature is cranking things up a notch or two very soon now.
i see, there is a cold fron coming this weekend…Eisch….

Protea Banks
Protea is cooking. We had about 20 raggies on the northern pinnacle of protea banks .
Our second dive we chose to go south.
And what a good choice this was !!!
800 hammerheads ? Probably not enough !!! They didn’t stop coming …
And closer than usual too.
It was so, so exciting. We gave high fives and fist pumps all over.
I had my camera with my new strobes with me. Got some stunning pictures of the raggies and reef fish and stuff. Unfortunately my wide angle lend=se still did not see the hammerheads and so my camera did not focus on them. No focus, no shot…
But i am happy. my strobes are putting me now at a point where photography depends entirely on myself and no longer on my inferior equipment.
Now i need to get it right and i will.

As my good Beulah has gone to Coffee Bay to run her sardine run 2019, i am left alone at home.
Just me and 5 crazy dogs. they say, your dog is a replica of yourself…oh dear, i must be mad…
But as much as i miss my lady of 35 years, being alone at home has also its little pleasures.
Beulah has stressed the fact that i must not even think about changing anything at the house.
Ja, baas. i told her.
The day she pulled out, the handyman pulled in. Yay …
We will surprise her most pleasantly.
Got a huge project which will take care of a lot of stuff around the house. can’t mention it here at this stage, but i am convinced that my darling will be most pleased with me.
Hey !!!! yay !!!
i trust, nobody rats on me, guys !!!

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Captain Spike
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17.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 1

Our first guests arrived pretty late last night and just wanted to crash. So today we had a leisurely breakfast before we did our usual briefing.
At around 8h30 everybody was taken to our launch site Mapusi in the hotel’s safari car.
That trip is in itself an adventure when done the first time !!!
So the spotter plane was in the air spotting the best activity of the moment.
It was a relatively hot day today. And when it is too warm, the activity is suppressed. In other words, it was a relatively quiet day with a few highlights as the amazing pictures show.
Our photographer is special, that’s for sure !!!
A couple of lazy whales, some common and some bottlenose dolphins were seen by the two boats out at sea.
Later on the pilot spotted a small bait ball. Unfortunately it was too far away for the boats to steam too. The bait ball would have been gone by the time the boats got there…
So far not a bad first day but we do definitely need a cold spell to get full action.

Protea Banks
We had an amazing baited shark dive on Protea Banks with 7 black tips, 2 jams and a school of about 30 hammers swimming past.
On the Northern Pinnacle of Protea banks we saw about 10 raggies.
Vis was around 15m, water temp 22˚


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16.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day 0

Today our first guests are arriving at Coffee Bay.
The weather is perfect. Sunny, hot, no wind.
We see birds offshore, whales and large schools of dolphins.
This year we have once again a great photographer. His name is Pier Mane and we don’t know anything about him….
He was recommended to us last minute when our booked photographer had to bail out due to health reasons.
And Pier is delivering already. He is a most keen photographer and not scared of hard work. He wants to be with the guys at first light to take pics. Magic.
And when there is nothing to photograph, he just lends the guys his hands in setting up our dive base at the Ocean View Hotel.
Great guy to have with us.
And tomorrow the show begins. Sardine Run 2019…

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15.6. 2019 Sardine Run Day -1

Beulah and her crew are in Coffee Bay. More importantly, my 2 boats, my tractor and my car all arrived safely and in tact !!!
After packing everything for the great trek it now needs to be unpacked again.
Huge mission.
This is a logistical nightmare one could teach at the university…forget a nut and you’re screwed…..
Spike, Brian and Steven left at 1h00 am and arrived just in time for breakfast . Crazy guys but they know what they are doing and saved themselves a lot of troublesome traffic.
I am never happy travelling at night, especially in the Eastern cape Province.
All kinds of animals gravitate towards the warm tarmac and you must be ultra careful.
Tomorrow our first guests will arrive.
The show begins.
i am constantly asking about ocean action but don’t seem to get a straight forward answer.
Yes, there are gannets diving, there are large schools of dolphind=s and of course whales everywhere. But everybody seems to be focused on their task ahead which is to get the dive centre into a professional condition.
Apparently Steven excelled in doing just that.
So pleased to hear that everybody is giving 110%
We are here on Protea banks. Martin and i
We have our own challenges . They left us with the silver pick up which just had been serviced but its alternator has already packed up.
martin picks up the pick up ( !!! ) in the morning and gets everything ready for diving.
I am left with Beulah’s BMW.
I am considering to have a tow hitch welded on the back and a winch installed in the front of the BMW.
Sure Beulah will understand….
Lucky we have the boat Spitzbüble. At least that is flawless…..
For now…

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6.6. 2019

2 days to ‘S’ day.
Beulah , Marko and Brendon are leaving on Wednesday for Coffee Bay. On Friday, Spike, Steven and Brian are pulling out.
And i will be alone here !!!
Not much fun for me this year. I am holding the fort here on Protea Banks and i will be busy every single day.
Some days i had to hire another skipper with his own boat to help me, other days, especially in July i might have to launch 4 times a day.
Not looking forward to that as it means getting up at 4am when it is miserably dark and horribly cold.
Damn !!!
Besides keeping African Dive Adventures going i also have to worry about the Diver Villa, making sure there are fresh beds available for every guest who comes along. There will be a busy coming and going at the villa. We need to have fresh linen and the house cleaned all the time.
Then i still need to look after the pool business we have. Luckily this one does not need too much attention this time of the year.
And last not least i have my own household to worry about.
5 large dogs, a gardener and a maid are constantly hungry….
Oh dear…
Right now we are hecticly busy. Last minute preps and last minute shopping.
We can’t forget anything at all. Every detail needs to be planned and packed up.
3 quarters of our entire operation is moving to Coffee Bay.
The logistics are a nightmare.
We have to plan for every eventuality, even and hopefully if it never happens.
It is a hardware battle. We never know what happens and if everything comes back.
From 17.6. , our first sea day on Sardine Run 2019 – we will be sitting on hot coles.
Hopefully there will be lots of sardines and action
Hopefully all our guests will be happy and get to see what they are hoping for
Hopefully nobody will get hurt
Hopefully the weather always holds out
Hopefully we don’t have serious breakages
Hopefully the beer never runs out…..

African Dive Adventures
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1.6. 2019

Spike, Tommy and i went to Coffee Bay early this week to take a load of equipment down and to see what is going on.
The Ocean View Hotel has improved a lot. New rooms were added, older rooms renovated. It is looking stunning.
And especially what we saw out at sea was very exciting.
Hundreds , maybe thousands of gannets flying all over the place and diving for sardines. Really nice and promising.
I could spend a few hours with the new owner. Our meetings were constructive, very pleasant and very positive.
Also the employees of the hotel genuinely displayed excitement about us coming again for the tenth time and support their hotel.
Our business during this generally quiet time of the year has become a vital part of the hotel’s success. Every year we have had more visitors on our sardine run program. It is a steady growing event for us.
Today i dived again after a long 2 week break. And what a dive it was…..