George Moyses – Diamond diver

I met George on one of my walks along the beach soon after I got to McDougalls Bay. He was being interviewed by  Get Away Magazine so I said I would catch up with him on another day. He has become quite famous in the area as he was also recently on SABC 2 in the 1st episode of a  programme called “Shoreline”. It took me a number of attempts to catch up with him but yesterday I was eventually able to sit down and hear his story.

George in front of his house which is right on the waters edge.
George in front of his house.

George, who is 57, is a well spoken friendly guy, who has been living in the area for the past 30 years earning a living as a diver, extracting  diamonds from the sea at various locations along the West Coast. He is passionate about the sea and diving. He is also a keen surfer and windsurfer and enjoys the solitude of living on his own at McDougalls Bay in his small house on the beach.

The house right on the beach front.
The house right on the beach front.

Training at Simonstown.
Training at Simonstown.

He received his diving training while serving in the navy at  Simonstown.

It was near Simonstown that he and a friend salvaged a fishing boat, the Arabian Star, that had sunk without major damage.  They restored, fitted out and renamed her Blues Breaker, then  headed up the West Coast to try and make their fortunes.

Blues Breaker.
Blues Breaker.

I have watched a video that George  made called “Diamond Divers” and can say that you have to be slightly crazy to do that kind of work. It is incredibly dangerous, they loose at least 2 divers annually, very physical and really long hours for generally not much reward. George has been fairly lucky and only had one major accident, right at the beginning of his career, when he was hit in the face by a propeller.

They can of course strike it lucky and have a really good pay day, of maybe R100,000,  but that is an exception, a bit like hitting the lotto. They normally earn about R7,000.00 to R10,000.00 per month. These guys carry all the costs and only receive 50% of what they take out. They can only work when weather and sea conditions are favourable, which might be only 10 days of the month.

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Some underwater photographs of the dredging process.

George no longer works off his boat but  from the shoreline. They use converted tractors to haul all the pipes, pumps and sifters right on to the rocks. In the video you see them working in the gullies as they look for and extract the gravel that contains the diamonds. I would not last an 10 minutes  if I tried to do what they do.

The once proud Blues Breaker is no longer looking to good.
The once proud Blues Breaker is no longer looking too good.

George is a multi talented guy and supplements his income in different ways. He is a keen photographer and videographer  and has produced a video which he sells for R100.00. I bought one of the videos and it has some fascinating footage of what these men go through in order to make a living. Most of the divers seen on the video are not young, average age of 50+ , and must be extremely tough and fit to survive. Many of the younger, experienced, divers have left for the oil rigs where they earn a good wage and work in far better conditions.

Front Entrance to house.
Front entrance to George’s house.

He has converted part of his house into a small museum for which he charges R10.00 a visit and he also makes various articles from driftwood which he sells. He is separated, in a very friendly way, from his wife who lives and works in Port Nolloth and has 3 daughters, the youngest of whom is just about to matriculate.

George with old diving suite.
George with an old diving suite.
Model ship made from scrap wood.
Model ship he made from scrap wood.
Info about the model ship.
Info about the model ship.
George with some of the goods he sells.
George with some of the goods he sells.

I gather from the video interviews and what George says, that there is a lot of uncertainty as to how much longer these divers are going to be able to make a living if things do not change. Right now the only ones making  money  are the mining companies who take 50% off the top with virtually no cost to themselves.

UPDATE ON GEORGE:

This post about George has been one of the most popular and most read so I thought I would post a quick update, thanks to Ludwig Venter, an old school friend who caught up with George and family a few weeks ago. Ludwig sent me some pix so I am posting these for all who might be interested.

Ludwig and George meet again after 40 years.

George and wife Debbie

George with family.

George's cabin which is right on the high water mark.

Another update on George:

George went to his 43rd school class reunion in Senekal recently and his friend Ludwig Venter sent me these photographs to post on this site.

George with a group of old school friends

George with daughter Helen looking at a slide show of his school days.

George after a quick dip in the pool - still looks pretty fit for a 60 year old.

Having a nice cold one.

George checking out all the messages and photos about him on "Gone Fishing"

All the very best for the future George and may you strike the “BIG” one soon.


38 Comments

  1. Hanlie on July 31st, 2009

    Fascinating! I bet he was an interesting character to talk to!

    The little guy always gets the raw deal, doesn’t he?

  2. Chris M on August 4th, 2009

    Wow, what an amazing life to live!

    You mentioned a pay day of R100,000 being extremely rare, have they ever had such a day? I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than diving along the bottom of the ocean looking for diamonds and other interesting bits and pieces!

    This must have been on of your most interesting experiences thus far?

  3. pbdphoto on August 4th, 2009

    It has happened but it is a bit like winning the lotto. Also they are man handling massive vacuum machines sucking up the gravel that contains the diamonds. They would only find out later what they had got.

  4. Chris M on August 4th, 2009

    Ah yes, of course, I misunderstood somewhat.

    Well, at least they’ve hit the lotto before :D

  5. Ken on August 12th, 2009

    Anyone know how we can contact George to get a copy of the video – is it on DVD yet?
    Thanks

  6. pbdphoto on August 12th, 2009

    You can contact George through either Debi @ 0835248528 or Dee @o278517395. Also PO Box 442, Port Nolloth, Richtersveld, South Africa.

  7. Richard Morschel on September 14th, 2009

    Great to see my uncle George! I am his nephew. My mother is George’s sister, now living in Germany. I don’t have any contact with George but have fond memories of times with him!

    Thanks for the pics and article!!

    Greetings from Frankfurt, Germany.

  8. justBcoz on September 14th, 2009

    Oh my goodness … this is amazing! An almost family reunion :-)

  9. pbdphoto on September 14th, 2009

    @Richard Glad you enjoyed the article and pix.
    @JustBcoz small world hey?

  10. Jacques Booyens on September 15th, 2009

    George is my uncle, my mothers brother. Have not seen him in many years, going to be in SA at the end of the year so will definately make contact again! Have watched his dvd, worth getting.

  11. pbdphoto on September 15th, 2009

    Hi Jacques Yes I bought one of his DVD’s (he has now produced 2) and found it fascinating. Would love to see both combined, edited with commentary and good music and about a half hour long. He could do really well with that!

  12. Richard Morschel on September 15th, 2009

    I would sponsor to get that up and running to help my brilliant uncle George!! Anyone else want to chip in…..whose gonna do it ; )) Jacques?

  13. Jacques Booyens on September 15th, 2009

    Sounds good! I have just called Debbi, and given her my e-mail so George can get in touch.
    As I worked in the television industry for 10 years prior to moving to London I can see the potential in his work… his life would make a great documentary… Something to think about!!

  14. Richard Morschel on September 15th, 2009

    let’s go for it!

  15. justBcoz on September 15th, 2009

    This is so cool :D

  16. Chris M on September 15th, 2009

    This is a pure example of how social media and blogging can be so powerful and beneficial!

    Please keep us updated on what happens.

  17. pbdphoto on September 15th, 2009

    @Richard@Jacques Wow this is quite something! I really liked George and would love to see something like this happen – both video and documentary on his life. The one factor against the video is that it was all shot on VHS so the quality is not to high.

  18. Jacques Booyens on September 15th, 2009

    Will be in touch! Will speak to the rest of the family and see who wants to get on board! I know Tanya will…

  19. pbdphoto on September 15th, 2009

    @Jacques@Richard Do please keep us all up to date as to what comes of all this.

  20. Kyle Snethlage on December 13th, 2010

    Hahaha, so weird I found this, George is a friend of mine! Actually going to Port Nolloth next week for a visit!

  21. pbdphoto on December 13th, 2010

    Hi Kyle please say hi to George from me. This post had a lot of response and hopefully reunited him with family.

  22. Jacques Booyens on December 13th, 2010

    Hi Kyle,
    This is George’s nephew, please send our regards, living in London so not to easy to get in touch, would love to make contact again……

  23. bevan dredge terblanche on December 15th, 2010

    100000 is nice but any diamond diver worth his meat knows that its only a taste, they deserve so much more,! hardest divers you will ever see

  24. Kyle Snethlage on December 23rd, 2010

    Hi, will do so, Jacques! Feel free to add me on FB, I’ll put up a few pics there for you!

  25. Zardoz TheRussian on February 12th, 2011

    great pictures dig the standard dress did my time 95 moved on to consetion 10 then the rigs africa but back in SA making it happen

  26. Ludwig Venter on January 28th, 2012

    In the years 1966 to 1970, George was my room mate (and best pal) at boarding school in Senekal (Eastern Free State) attending Paul Erasmus High where his mother was also the school Secretary…… There is also a Moyses street in Senekal, named after his dad who was mayor of Senekal in the early 60’s……

    In the mid 70’s I met George in Durban where he was also diving, but for ………lead sinkers.

    Hopefully, this site is still active so that we can get an update, but I will try to get hold of Debi or Dee later today to get contact details to George…. I’d love to get in touch.

  27. aj smit on April 13th, 2012

    Thanks for putting us on George`s spoor Ludwig cannot believe its the same George who was with us in school,facinating and very very interesting,was good to see u again George

  28. Ludwig Venter on April 13th, 2012

    Thanks AJ Smit….. In fact….. At the end of April (Long weekend)… I have my trip planned and I’m on my way to see George in PN….. I’m not sure if he knows about it yet… but I have spoken to Dee… (his daughter)…..

    It’ll be an approximate 3,000km return trip for me and the first time that I see George since 1975/6 and I’m looking forward to seeing my old room mate again…..

    We have a lot of catching up to do and I am worried that 3 days wil not be enough, but unfortunately….. that’s all I have available….. Will give you guys feed back when I get back.

  29. Ludwig Venter on May 12th, 2012

    I have just spent a wonderful 3 days with George and great to have met his family as well….. Wish I knew how to post photos on this site…. Have some great updates…. Fantastic and happy family….. If ever you get to McDougalls bay….. be sure to pop in at “One time” Georges cabin and get yourself copies of his dvd’s and books…… Very interesting reading and viewing…. Thanks George!!… hope you enjoyed me as much as I did you and the catching up after 42 years……

  30. pbdphoto on May 12th, 2012

    @ Ludwig – thanks for the update on George. Will e-mail you where to send some pix which I will append to the post.

  31. Irma Prinsloo on May 17th, 2012

    Hallo George,
    Dis fantasties om van jou te hoor. So lekker dat die pelle weer mekaar opsoek. Mens dink ver terug as jy al die stories van ons skooldae weer hoor. Groete van Irma

  32. Judy Swanepoel on May 17th, 2012

    George inspires me….he understands something of life that many miss …….

  33. Joy Schwertley (Kolbe) on May 17th, 2012

    What a treasure this is to see our George in the pictures that Ludwig took when he was in Port Nolloth. The picture of Ludwig and George is priceless!

    Sending you lots of love George

    Joy

  34. Ludwig Venter on May 17th, 2012

    Great to see so many Senekallers responding to the photos and the site…… It is this site that ended my 42 year search for my pal and thank you Patrick for re-uniting us…..

    May even lead to new long lost connections when they stumble across your blog….. Keep this live and growing…. Much Appreciated….

  35. Susan Jacobsz on May 18th, 2012

    Hi George,
    What a wonderful website, what a wonderful life! I was at school with George and always think he was a fascinating guy!
    Lots of love,
    Susan.

  36. Elza van wyk(du preez) on May 19th, 2012

    I was with George till the end of matric in Senekal. What a GREAT friend to know. What a live.!! Dankie Ludwig dat jy dit moontlik gemaak het sodat ek vir George kon skype. Na 42 jaar was dit fantasties. Love you Georgie. Elza van wyk(du Preez)

  37. Robert Morschel on February 25th, 2015

    Wonderful to see my Uncle George’s life being celebrated like this! Thank you.

  38. pbdphoto on April 12th, 2015

    Hi good people. Have just received this e-mail so if anyone can help out please let me know
    .
    Hi Pat,
    I hope you are well.
    I’m a television producer working for US documentary program ‘VICE on HBO’.
    I’m trying to track down George Moyses in the hope he will be part of our show.
    I’ve seen your fantastic work with George so was hoping you may be able to point me in his direction.
    Any contact would be extremely helpful.
    Kind Regards,

    Phil Goyen
    Producer
    ph: 213 399 4459



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