27.3. 2021 Lockdown year 1 day 1 Level 1
Okay, yesterday marked one full year of lockdown here in South Africa. I think we had around six weeks of hard lockdown before things were loosened up slightly.
I must say, Beulah and i enjoyed the time at home. In fact, more and more people are saying so lately. It did us all the world of good. Not to mention mother nature as we all remember .
We cleaned the house, worked a bit in the garden – mainly i had to remove dog shit while Beulah experimented in horticulture . We read a lot and generally had real quality time with each other and the dogs.
Meanwhile everything is open again here in South Africa, all shops, businesses, bars, restaurants, bottle stores etc.
Life is almost normal again. We have an average daily new infection rate of about 1300.
Hopefully this number will drop even further soon. We all worry that the Easter holidays will rather bring an upsurge of infections to our coast as people are tired of discipline and restrictions. Everybody wants to go wild and let their hair down.
I will report
The Show must go on…
Our German couple Vicky and Tino left on Tuesday after spending all but three weeks with us. We do get used to people if they stay for so long and once they leave, a gaping hole is always left behind.
Spike and i used this week to get our boats from 95% back to 100% by washing the decks with acid, putting new rims and tyres on the trailers and glueing back any loose ends on the pontoons.
4 Tigers on the Baited Dive !!!
Yeah, Beulah had two divers from JoBurg who wanted to dive Saturday and Sunday. Brrrrphew, really ? It looked like the weekend would be blown out anyway but the closer we got to Saturday the more we got used to the idea of a dive I think it was the constant rainy weather which put us off at first.
Saturday it is then.
The weather is sunny but the SouWester is already blowing 15 knots and going up. Let’s get this done.
We decided to go to our special reef where we saw a tiger on almost every dive with Vicky and Tino. Who knows, maybe he is home ???
We dropped the bait ball, kitted up and went down.
And these she is. Our beautiful tiger lady. As if she knew we were looking for her. She stayed around for about 5 minutes but didn’t come close enough for a nice video. I did get proof however and so far so good. After 5 minutes she disappeared and left us with nothing. As time ticked by i got more and more worried. We can’t just charge these people fr a baited dive and only have a few minutes of action. Should we pull up and try again elsewhere ? All sorts of thoughts occupied my mind when suddenly i spotted a zambezi shark. Okay, now this changes the picture. We already see a tiger and a zam so this improves the quality of the dive by much.
Our divers enjoy the Zambezi while i keep looking around. As true as god, there is the tiger again. Now i am happy!!!
But i realise, this is not the same tiger, this is a male. I am watching and filming him when suddenly i see another tiger. To make sure i check, there are indeed two tigers in the water with us. The second – actually third of the day – is yet another individual. This one is a female with some kind of wrinkles along the stripy body.
Not long and there was the fourth tiger shark. This one was a female with a shredded dorsal and a damaged pectoral fin. And she was massive. And she was not afraid of a couple of little divers. Hell man, this shark really toyed with us. At one stage she came literally within a hand’s width to my little GoPro when i lost the nerve and moved. The camera already couldn’t focus on the front of her nose anymore, that’s how close this shark was. Jeeeeeez….
And the games carried on. I film the one tiger while another is approaching me from the back and a third one from the side. You don’t know where to look and where to point the camera anymore. This animals are huge. 4m from nose to tail end and a circumference of a Baobab Tree.
Cathrine left us after 50 minutes so Andreas and i were alone with these three massive tigers and three ‘little’ bullsharks nobody cared about.
In the end, both of us were on about 20bar of air left in our tanks and decided after 65 minutes to say thank you and good bye to our tiger friends.
Of course the adrenaline dripped out of our ears !!! When we calmed down we could not believe what just happened.
Seriously, this is one of the top 10 dives of my life !!!
21.3. 2021 Lockdown Day 360 Level 1
Ok, so my ear was getting better and slowly i get over the lost super footage of my tiger shark. ( Only slowly, mind you !!! )
It was an absolute pleasure for me to see Spike guiding the whole week. He loved it. He was motivated and so, so excited. I don’t think he ever did so many dives in a row on Protea Banks and by doing so he discovered the beauty of our reef all anew. Well done, brother.
Vicky, our super diver injured a foot in a bumpy launch which swell on and got blue. Wish, i can feel her pain…but she laboured on like a machine.
To make things easier for her we decided to let her carry the buoy line which pulled her along the current and saved her from finning. Needless to say, she loved it !!! So much so that there was no way in hell to get that buoy line back.
Until the last day when she broke the reel in a assumedly symbolic manner to tell us it was HERS !!! 👍😄 You go girl !!!
On Thursday last week i was busy on a film set and so we decided, Tino and Vicky are perfectly capable to dive by themselves. Vicky carrying the buoy line and Tino her buddy. Spike was driving the boat.
As expected it went very well.
Friday my ear was good to go again and i had to beg Spike to let me dive…
Protea Banks was better than ever. The water was a deep purple-blue, the colour we get when we can see all the way 30m down from the boat to the bottom of the sea. Yes !!!
First dive we did on the Southern Pinnacle of Protea Banks. We barely got down when the tiger arrived already. Unbelievable !!
We have been seeing tigers a lot lately, almost on every dive. It became a joke among us as we said, let’s go visit the tiger…
The dive was particularly good. 30m vis, 27˚ going to 23˚ on the bottom. Eaglerays, Bull sharks, Black Tips, Guitarsharks.
Second dive was on Playground. We definitely took a massive liking in the Playground which had delivered almost every dive into a massive experience.
Just as we passed the Canyon the tiger appeared. It was funny as we could not go wrong. We carried on and encountered a couple of Zams, Black Tips and rich fish life altogether.
Just as we ascended to midwater i saw him…
The tigershark came straight towards me out of the deep. At first i only saw it’s head. It was big.
This time i switch my camera on and push the button to roll the film. No more mistakes !!! Could this be a second chance ? I felt like sitting on hot coals.
I held my breath and stayed at my level as still as i could.
And the tiger kept coming…and coming…and my film is rolling. Camera outstretched as far as my arms reached directly towards the shark.
He must have felt my heartbeat because i could hardly contain my excitement. I am indeed getting a second chance for some of my best footage of tigers in years. And this time it was even better than my fatal last time.
The tiger swims almost into my camera. He is barely a meter away from my outstretched arms when he slowly turns. I did not care what he wanted from me and why he came so close to me. All wanted was this valuable film footage.
And man, i got it. Hell yeah !!!
Of course i am the top resident photographer again hahaha
We were completely chuffed after this dive. What a day we had. To round it off we decided to keep about 100 bar in our tanks and do a quick plunge at Samlon Reef on our way back to base. Salmon is about 1.5km diagonally offshore from Shelly Beach. It is a beautiful reef but not a shark dive. The special thing about Salmon is that we can only dive there about a handful of times a year. Almost all year it is covered in dirty, green and brown muddy water with near to zero visibility.
Anyway, so we jumped into the blue and descended down to the horseshoe formation where there is a 5m wall running the entire length of the reef. Really, really pretty.
When i looked up is did not trust my eyes.
I saw a Giant Manta Ray swimming above us. Can anybody believe this ??!!!
I alerted my divers and switched on the camera but by the time i was recording, the manta was already in the murky distance. I got proof though.
And so ended the best dive day so far for the year 2021
19.3. 2021 Lockdown Day 358 Level 1
While Europe and the rest of the world is still gripped by corona, things here in South Africa are looking good for now.
We have a stable 1000 – 1500 rate of daily new infections which an incidence rate of 14 infections per 100000 people. This is not bad at all, especially compared to most European countries.
Life here is all but normal. Of course we wear masks if we go into shopping centres and we do our best to stay away from unknown people and crowds. Hugging a friend is meanwhile a common practice again….Let’s hope it stays like this.
No matter what happens, the adventure continues at African Dive Adventures and Protea Banks.
After Czech Tomas departed Beulah had lost her top photo material supplier and i became First Photographer at African Dive Adventures. An honour anybody can live without. Really…
After Tomas came Vicky and Tino from Germany for over two weeks.
The conditions on Protea Banks were and still are out of this world. We saw everything we could think of and i filmed like hell with the little GoPro and supplied lovely pictures for Beulah’s Facebook.
I believe, the pain of loosing the tiger shark footage the other day made me physically sick. I suddenly had another ear infection…
And so Spike took over my role as dive guide from 13.3. til 19.3.
I took his role as skipper of the boat. I must say, i really enjoyed launching in difficult conditions again, driving a boat and sitting out at sea for a couple of hours.
In the meantime, i had to relinquish my camera to Spike who was suddenly the Number One Photographer in Beulah’s disloyal book.
Please see what Spike managed in terms of footage and judge for yourself : hehehe
Well done to Beulah’s new photo man. Hihihih
Spike, the new photo artist !!!
18.3. 2021 Lockdown Day 357 Level 1
I have to be quick today. I was working on a film set and could not go out to sea with Vicky and Tino.
As they were diving for almost 2 weeks with us already and Vicky holding the buoy line due to a foot injury, Spike and i saw no problem in allowing the two to dive without a guide.
Spike handled the boat, Vicky the buoy line and Tino was her buddy. As expected it went better than well and when i came home i received her dive report :
what a wonderful and successful dive day we had today !!!
Very little current, temp below 25m is 23˚, above 25m we had 25˚
First dive Playground : 2 zams, 2 groupers and on the safety stop we saw a black tip and a great barracuda.
Because we did not see the tiger as usual, we decided to go South on our second dive which turned out to be the best decision made.
As we descended we came across a pod of 15 dolphins. On the bottom we had an unusual amount of fish including eagle ray, black ribbon tail ray and Spike’s potato bass.
At the safety stop we saw a 2 meter marlin in less than 4m distance. What a sight !!!!! What a day !!!
12.3. 2021 Lockdown Day 351 Level 1
It’s been a week that we have dived everyday with Vicky and Tino from Germany. These are really the only two Germans who did not let their government scare them from coming to South Africa. Respect, guys.
For their courage they get rewarded with lovely summer weather, pool at the Diver Villa, great diving on Protea Banks with visibility of no less than 25m everyday and going to 30m. Watertemps are 27˚ top ¾ and the bottom 10m cools down to 22˚
We were diving the Playground at Protea Banks which we know is the home of the Tigershark.
And true as god, we find him two days in a row. Yesterday we jokingly said, let’s go and visit the tiger shark again…
Off we go to the Playground which is always a very special dive. Sure Martin and Holly remember this reef well !!!
So we get there and drop into the deep true blue water of Protea Banks as it has been for the last 2 weeks non stop.!!!
Tino and i stop at ten meters and look for Vicky and Riaan. Riaan signals ear problems and after a few seconds i seem to understand Tino that Vicky is also struggling with her ears.( really- the one with real ear problems is actually your truly here. My doctor wants to send me to the specialist…but no, brother, we dive. No time for sissies hahaha )
So Tino and i carry on before we drift off the reef. We come past the canyon, the shot hole, the whale tail which sticks in the ground and the clowns head. From there we angle right past the cork screwtowarhs the cave of the Playground.
This reef is bizarre and simply wonderful.
But we don’t see any sharks at all. Well, i think, at least Vicky doesn’t need to feel bad.
We are between 15m and 20m, it is exactly 35mins into the dive when i suddenly see the so familiar face of my preferred shark species.
A tiger is coming out of the deep in a straight line towards me and Tino. I grunt through my regulator to get Tino’s attention and switch my camera on.
I hold my breath not to make bubbles, hold my camera dead still and keep my eyes on the Tiger Shark. She comes to within less than two meters of me before she turns slowly, swims a bit on and stops to look at us again. She keeps looking and slowly gaining distance, then turns in towards us again. After over Two minutes she disappears in the endless space of the ocean.
Man, there are two happy divers in the water of note !!! We scream and throw high fives and shake hands and pump fists. What an encounter. I have waited years for this opportunity and today was the day and the camera was on target…the camera…
When we get to the surface we hear that all the people on the boat also saw the tiger which was swimming near the surface.
During our surface interval Renier, our Free Diving Instructor is doing some free diving with Riaan. They manage to hit 15m depth when they too see a tiger shark and a bull shark.
What a day this turns out to be. The wind is hacking 20 knots by now and the sea is rough. But, hell, we are having a lot of fun !
We did another dive on Playground and saw 2 Zams and 2 Black Tips. Nice dive.
When we got back to the beach i had a light step knowing that i have the footage i was waiting for for years.
I loved the feeling of looking forward to something great so i did not rush to get back home.
When i eventually did i rushed upstairs and stuck the memory stick into my laptop.
I cannot find the Tiger….
All i see is the footage of us jubilating. This is not what i filmed….oh no…
It dawns on me, the camera was switched on but i did not push the ‘video’ button in all anxiety of this awesome encounter. In fact i was holding a dead camera into the tiger shark’s face…
My disappointment has no bounds. My heart weighs 20kg. I scream around the house in frustration. I don’t eat, just drink dinner beer…
This once in a long time chance wasted so stupidly… I am beside myself. Pissed off, buddy !!!
Thankfully Tino was not far from me and he filmed properly.
I am still pissed off, damnit
Only this makes me feel better:
If this doesn't bring tears to your eyes you never lived the best times of all....
7.3. 2021 Lockdown day 346 Level 1
Wow, the last ten days are just a blur. I remember, we dived our hearts out on Protea Banks and the diving was out of this world.
We barely notice that there is Corona in this world. South Africa is doing very well. One hardly sees people with masks on except in the shopping malls. But here at the Shelly Beach base this is a rather uncommon sight.
And this is where we spent most of our lives in the last ten days. Shelly Beach – Protea Banks – Home to bed…
The Czechs spent eight days with us. We had such great diving that Tomas Kotouc, the owner of the dive travel company booked straight away for next year. Tomas was our first group client in 2000.
We did a lot of reminiscing and had nearly laughs.
Friday the wind blew hard from South West and when we got to the harbour, it was closed. We spoke to the master nicely and managed to be allowed to launch. It was just Sophie and Jerome, our friends from JoBurg and Spike and i as crew. So all of us highly experienced in all kinds of conditions.
Eventually the wind blew 25 knots and Protea Banks was predictably very rough.
But man, as soon as we broke the surface and slowly descended into the True Blue of the Indian Ocean, we knew it would be a special dive.
25m – 30m vis, 26˚ water temp and Protea Banks full of marine life.
We all but fell on top of a school of hammerhead sharks. Then we saw eagle rays. One by one until i counted 8 in total.
6 Bull Sharks, 3 Black Tips, 6 Great Hammerhead Sharks and a pod of about 20 Bottlenose Dolphins.
A dream dive.
Or, as Tomas Kotouc called a similar dive a few days earlier, a Galapagos Dive….
Yesterday, Saturday was the first day for Vicky and Tino to dive in on Protea Banks. Sadly we did not get the same action we had a day earlier, but the sea conditions were out of this world. Stunning visibility of over 25m and warm water.
Today was a typical Sunday…
Although the vis was a cool 30m and the water temp 26˚, the sharks were not home.
This is mostly so on a Sunday, believe it or not.
On our Baited Shark Dive we saw a Marlin chasing Sardines, we saw a Bull Shark and a Black Tip very distant.
And on our Reef Dive afterwards we did see an Eagle Ray, 2 Black Tips and a Hammerhead.
Maybe i am just spoilt now….
Anyway, after the double tank dive today it was Good Bye to Sophie and Jerome who have a long drive back to JoBurg while we races home as fast as we could to get onto the balcony with a large bottle of ice cold beer like every self respecting person does on a Sunday…