Diving Protea Banks is not just an everyday event. Due to the depth of up to 35m, the often strong current and the large sharks we can encounter here, it is important that the diver is well trained, experienced and confident.
Our minimum requirements to dive with us are: 30 logged dives as advanced scuba diver AOWD !!!
Deep Diving on Protea Banks
Due to the deep diving depth of 30-35m it is important that the diver is well experienced and confident. At this depth nitrogen narcosis can initially be experienced by the diver. It is imperative that the diver stays calm and in control at any stage of the dive and avoids a rapid ascent to the surface, no matter what can go wrong. Our highly experienced divemasters do an extensive pre-dive briefing on all possible and actual aspects of the dive. During the dive, they keep a constant eye on everybody in the group.
Nitrox is ideal for diving Protea Banks but not compulsory
Diving in Current
Diving in current is much fun and a convenient way to cover a large distance with very little effort. The divemaster carries a buoyline with a reel and a buoy floating on the water’s surface. The boat follows this buoy and picks up each diver as he ascends to the surface.
It is critically important not to get separated from the divemaster as he is the only connection to the boat! If this should happen, the lost diver(s) must ascend immediately to the surface without delay or even safety stop.
Divers neede to understand the concept of drift diving. This simply means that it is a group event and no matter how great the urge to leave the group and take that unique photo or have a bit of privacy, safety is always priority
Lost Diver Procedure
If a diver or several divers have lost visual contact with the divemaster and/or the buoyline, they have to consider themselves in a Lost Diver Situation.
This is a serious place to be, especially on Protea Banks and requires immediate and responsible action.
Divers need to ascend to the surface without delay. Even safety stops should be omitted in order to avoid drifting too far away from the boat.
Divers need to understand that a strong current weakens at depth and accelerates in shallow water. This means that if a lost diver ascends to the shallower depth, he/she is in the fastest current speed and the longer one remains there, the further away from the boat one drifts.
Every diver must carry a Surface Marker Buoy which is to be inflated should the boat not spot the surfaced diver(s) immediately. If however this surface marker buoy gets inflated while on the safety stop, the buoy will be pushed by the current even faster thus separating the diver even further from the boat.
Once at the surface the boat then will pick up the diver(s) and give an acoustic signal to the divemaster and his group. If the divemaster does not get the acoustic signal after a reasonable period of time, which allows the skipper to spot and load the lost diver(s), the divemaster then will ascend and alert the boat of the missing person(s). In the meantime the highest qualified diver will carry the buoyline if conditions allow. If the boat cannot see the surfaced diver(s), the divemaster will return to his group and abort the dive in order to start the search without delay.
We put extreme emphasis on lost diver procedure in our extensive dive briefing and our staff is drilled on stringent safety measures throughout the entire diving operation.
African Dive Adventures has a wealth of experience which ensures that in the unlikely event that we should loose a diver we know exactly where and how to find him/her again.
Diving with Sharks
Diving with sharks in natural water is not dangerous to the diver at all. No shark has ever attacked a scuba diver under same conditions. However, some sharks may be inquisitive and can come really close to the divers. It is important to stay calm and relaxed while encountering sharks. Any rapid movement will only scare the animals away and spoil the sightings for everybody. A rapid ascent could end in DCS.
We even go as far as baiting the sharks in order to get them really close to the divers. This allows us to get these perfect photo opportunities and adrenalin rushed shark encounters.
We have done such Baited Dives with Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks 475 times up to date and never ever even had the slightest threat, let alone accident.
What is important though is to stick to the rules and listen to our experienced PADI Divemasters at all times.
Diving with sharks is absolutely not dangerous.
Dive Profile Protea Banks Reef Dive
The dive begins at 30-32m depth and generally doesn’t drop to more than 35m on the Southern Pinnacles. On the Northern Pinnacles, the maximum depth will be 38m in the first cave and 35m in the second cave. According to the actual multilevel profile which will be dived, the no stop bottom time is approx. 16 minutes on the Southern and 13 minutes on the Northern Pinnacles.
When the bottom time is up, we start to ascend to midwater where we often see the big Zambezies, Hammerheads, Black Tips etc. We spend about 5-7 minutes at 18m, ascend to 15m for about 10 minutes and spend another 10-15 minutes at 10 and 5m.
Our minimum divetime is 35 minutes and our maximum divetime 45 minutes, all depending on how interesting the midwater area is.
We dive to computer limits. Every diver is responsible for his own maximum depth and his bottom time. If the diver stays with the divemaster at all times he can be sure that the dive will be without a dangerous deco stop obligation. It is important to check your air regularly.
Dive Profile Baited Tiger Shark Dive
On our famous Baited Tiger Shark and Bull Shark Dive things are rather different.
Here divers level off at around 10m and stay between 10m and 12m all the time.
Our Baited Shark Dive is unlimited timewise provided everybody sticks to the depth limit.
This depth allows divers to stay as long as 60mins – 90mins without touching on deco. Once ascending, a safety stop is always recommended.
Every diver takes great pride in his or her latest state of the art diving equipment. No expense will be spared when it comes to eveything from the latest ‘flat screen’computer to the most useless but flashy looking ‘mongo’fins.
But when it comes to safety equipment, the budget has run out…..
Safety equipment however is the single most important part of the dive equipment and should have first priority as this is all you have when your life depends on it. !!!!!!!!!
We recommend the following safety equipment to be carried on every single dive :
– A Nautilus Lifeline two way VHF radio with built in GPS
– A cheap telephone in an old underwater camera casing
– A Delayed Surface Marker Buoy with valve and 30m string
– A LED underwater torch
– A Nico Signal Flaregun or set of Pencil Flares
– A mirror
– A satellite tracker
– An energy drink
– An ENOS unit
Thanks to the Sharkproject and Seareq from Germany we now have the ENOS safety system at African Dive Adventures. Our dive masters carry a sending unit while the ENOS receiver is on the boat. Once the sender is activated it sends a distress signal directly to the receiver. Once the signal is received, the unit makes a loud acoustic sound alerting the skipper and crew of a diver in distress. For immediate rescue ,the receiver then shows us on the screen which direction, distance from boat and coordinates of the sender.
So far we have tested the unit successfully from a distance of 1.5km in rough seas. The manufacturers specify a range of 10km. Amazing !!!
We won’t go to sea without our ENOS
Shelly Beach is an official Small Craft Harbour managed and staffed by our municipality. We have three harbour masters sharing the work. Several times a day they are in contact with the weather bureau to check the wind conditions.
If the wind blows more than 20 knots or the launch conditions are dangerous, the base will be closed.
If there is a gale force wind forecast for the day, the base will stay closed no matter when the wind is expected.
This safety measure often makes a difficult decision easier….