Posts Tagged ‘diving. boats’

Kleinbaai & Danger Point Lighthouse.

Kleinbaai is a picturesque little village situated on the Eastern side of Gansbaai and is the ideal launching site for the local fishermen to fish in the Dyer Island area. Stories about the Big White Sharks led to the establishment of the now very popular shark-diving expeditions which has resulted in Gansbaai being known as the Great White Shark capital of the world.

Old shark diving cage.

Old shark diving cage. Don't think you want to leave your arm hanging out quite like that.

You want to make darn sure you  no the rules before you try cage diving if you want to keep all your limbs.

You want to make darn sure you know the rules before you try cage diving if you want to keep all your limbs.

I was lucky enough to go out on one of the boats and  I am going to be doing a post about the cage diving at a later date so won’t go into much detail now.

One of the seven shark boats operating out of Kleinbaai most days of the week.

One of the seven shark boats operating out of Kleinbaai most days of the week.

It's not only about sharks and this boat, "The Whale Whisperer" tkes people out to view the whales which are also plentiful in the area.

It's not only about sharks and this boat, "The Whale Whisperer" takes people out to view the whales which are also plentiful in the area.

If you are not really into going out to see there is also a very nice restaurant which overlooks the harbor.

If you are not really into going out to sea there is also a very nice restaurant which overlooks the harbor.

Or you could pop in here and buy some goodies here and tell all your friends how you went diving with the Great Whites.

Or you could pop in and buy some souvenirs here and tell all your friends how you went diving with the Great Whites.

I was fortunate that I bumped into my fishing friends, who I had met while at .... and it was through one of them that I got to go out on on of the shark boats and take some photos.

I was fortunate that I bumped into my fishing friends, who I had met while at Yzerfontein, and it was through one of them that I got to go out on one of the shark boats and take some photos.

Kleinbaai is not only about the shark and whale watching but there is also a golf course,  squash courts, tidal pool for safe swimming and some great hiking trails one of which is along the peninsula of Danger Point which extends about 8 kilometers into the sea.

The rocky Danger Point shore line looking back towards Kleinbaai.

The rocky Danger Point shore line looking back towards Kleinbaai.

The many reefs and unchartered rocks along the shoreline make it one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships sailing too close inshore.  A hidden rock lurks just below the surface off the Point and it was on this rock that the legendary HMS Birkenhead met her doom in 1852. This rock can be seen at low tide just a few kilometers off  Danger Point. Seven shipwrecks surround Danger Point and 140 wrecks are dotted along the shores between Danger Point and Cape Infanta.

Danger Point Lighthouse which was erected in 1895 which was too late to for the troop ship Birkenhead which floundered in 1852 with only 193 out of 636 survivors.

Danger Point Lighthouse, erected in 1895, which was too late to for the troop ship Birkenhead which floundered on the 26th of February 1852 with only 193 survivors out of the 636 souls on board.

The Birkenhead floundering off Danger Point.

An etching of the Birkenhead floundering off Danger Point.

Birkenhead Memorial at Danger Point Lighthouse.

Birkenhead Memorial at Danger Point Lighthouse.

Display inside the lighthouse.

Display inside the lighthouse.

Artifacts from the Birkenhead.

Artifacts from the Birkenhead.

All in all I found this a very interesting area to explore and in my next post I am going to follow a group who decided to to go shark cage diving with one of the operators, Marine Dynamics, just off  nearby Dyer Island.

Saldanha Bay.

Situated on the west coast, about 140 km’s from Cape Town, is the picturesque sea side town of Saldanha Bay. It is also positioned  on the northern corner of the largest natural bay in South Africa. The natural deep, sheltered harbour played an important part in the long and colourful history of the area and today still plays a central role in the export and import for the industries of the region.

Saldanha, due to its sheltered harbour, provides excellent conditions for water sport and fishing enthusiasts. During the Second World War it was also extremely important because of its strategic location and safe anchorage as a convoy assembly point. Even today Saldanha is host to a training naval base and the SA Military Academy.

View of Saldanha Bay.
View of Saldanha Bay.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.

The rock formation seen on the right side of the photograph is known as “Adam & Eve”.

Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.
Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.

The local economy is strongly dependent on fishing, mariculture , mussels, seafood and the harbour trade as well as the established steel industry. The popular SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve, which I unfortunately did not have time to visit, has displays of wild flowers in late winter & early spring and Southern Right whales also visit the safe waters in and around the reserve.

Still a strong military presense.

Still a strong military presence.

Fishing trawler in the harbour.
Fishing trawlers in the harbour.
More fishing boats.
More fishing boats.

Took a stroll to the end of this wharf,  where you can just see that white car,  to see what was going on and found this.

Yes there are fish in the water and some are even catching them!
Yes there are fish in the water and some fishermen are even catching them! The fish is a Stompneus and of legal size.
Came accross 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Came across 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Looks like quite a large and active yaucht club.
Looks like quite a large and active yacht club.
Flowers and boats - not your normal mix.
Flowers and boats – not your normal mix.

Saldanha Bay has the normal mix of shops, restaurants and 2 hotels. I would imagine that some of the local shops are really going to battle as there are now 2 big shopping centres that have opened nearby.

The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.
The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.

I had been quite keen to stay at the local caravan park but to be honest had heard some not very nice things said about the park so gave it a miss. I decided to go and have a look and see for myself.

Entrance to caravan park.
Entrance to caravan park. Good securit, friendly manager and the price was good.
Some of the well grassed stands.
Some of the well grassed stands.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.

I don’t know if things have maybe changed dramatically recently but I thought the park looked pretty good and I would not hesitate to stay there if I was in the area again. They also have cottages ranging in price from R160.00 (small 4  bed)out of season to the largest (6 bed) at R574.00 in season.

On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.
On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.

The Sishen-Saldanha Project, constructed during the early 1970’s, is the only dedicated iron ore export facility in South Africa. The dedicated railway line runs from the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape directly to the off loading facility in Saldanha Bay harbour. These trains are kilometres in length and if you get stack at a level crossing can take more that 10 minutes to pass.

Lamberts Bay walk about.

Lamberts Bay is situated 260km’s north of Cape Town on the West Coast. It is well known for its sea food and  is in the heart of crayfish country.  It attracts holiday makers, week-enders and day trippers almost all year round. Crayfish season is from November to April and every year in April the masses descend on Lamberts Bay for the  Crayfish Festival. There are plenty of things to do and see in Lamberts Bay. Apart from  white beaches and blue waters there is  a 9 hole golf course, 4×4 and hiking trails, fishing, surfing, bird watching and, in season, there are good whale watching opportunities.

I decided the best way to get a feel of the place was to go walk about and talk to some of the locals.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.
Lamberts Bay Harbour.

There is no doubt that central to Lamberts Bay is the harbour area. The fish factories, Bird Island, diamond divers boats and the well known Dolphin and Seal Island boat trips launch from here.

One of the many resaurants in Lamberts Bay.
One of the many restaurants in Lamberts Bay.
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Another.
And another. This one was in the harbour area so really nice atmosphere.
And another. This one was in the harbour area so had a really great atmosphere.

Diamond diver Jakes Viljoen.
Diamond diver Jakes Viljoen.

Bumped into Jakes taking his dogs for a walk – the black dog on the left is called “Thandi” and Jakes jokingly refers to her as a Khoisan Hunting Hound, and the other,  a very beautiful Golden Retriever, is called Rupert. Jakes knows George from McDougalls Bay and we had a long chat about the future of diamond divers on the West Coast.  Jakes seemed a bit more positive about it all compared to others I have spoken to.

TJ Gifts.
RT Gifts.

Jakes and his wife Adele have just recently taken over RT Gifts so I popped in to have a look around.

Some of the good for sale at RT Gifts.
Some of the good for sale at RT Gifts.
Sandveld Winkel.
Sandveld Winkel.
The lady in the shp described the goods for sale as "iets van alles" - a bit of everything.
The owner of the shop described the goods for sale as “iets van alles” – a bit of everything.

Room to rent.
Room to rent.

One thing for sure is that if you wanted to stay overnight or longer you would have no problem finding accommodation. Apart from the Lamberts Bay Hotel and many self service flats available it looked as if every second house had accommodation available.

Found this on th beach front but have no idea what it is. I just liked the shape.
Found this on th beach front but have no idea what it is. I just liked the shape.

Well maintained baai and picknik area.

Well maintained braai (barbecue) area at the beach front.

Thought of my daughter when I saw this as I know it's her dream is to have a place right on the sea front.

Thought of my daughter when I saw this as I know it's her dream to have a place right on the sea front.

The one negative thing  about Lamberts Bay are the number of street sellers and beggars that are allowed to hassle and badger one in quite an aggressive way. I find it very off putting and am sure that something could be done about it.

There is plenty more to see and do in Lamberts Bay so I am going to do a second post showing  the attractions such as Bird Island, Seal Island, a boat trip to see the dolphins and the museum which had some really interesting displays.

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.