January 16, 2012
Another one of the xmas presents we got this year was a scuba dive at Aliwal Shoal (you might be starting to gather – once you move into a backpacker lifestyle you start to cherish the experiences in life more than the material things, plus anything you get given has to fit in your backpack for when you leave and not push you over the 18kg limit..). We booked ourselves onto the last dive of the morning this past Sunday, diving with Miguel from Aquabud. The boat turned out being full so he couldn’t dive with us but we had heaps of fun anyway.
Hayley, Bryony and Me.
I ended up being buddied with my sister Bryonyand Hayley with another diver in the group. The ride out from the Umkomaas river mouth launch was pretty exciting as a decent size swell was running but once we were past back line it all calmed down. The ride out to the shoal, for those who haven’t dived there before, takes around 20 minutes to half an hour on the semi-inflatableÂ ribs they use (we call them “Rubber Duckies” locally). Once there you kit up and backward roll off, then drift around with the currents over the shoal while the boat follows your surface markerÂ buoyÂ which the dive master tows behind him.
All the happy divers, fresh off the boat.
The visability wasn’t great – my estimate was around 8-12 meters. Water was warm though, mainly at 26C with a couple patches down at 25C and apart from a strong surge whenever a set rolled over our heads, the currents were minimal. In terms of what we saw, lots of the normal fish for Aliwal, lots of nudibranch spottings, a couple of crayfish and heaps of star fish. Hayley saw a turtle once she had surfaced – it came right up to her to check her out but that was probably the highlight of the dive. That said, it was awesome being back on a boat and back in the water. And Hayley got to experience diving in currents and swell – something theÂ CaribbeanÂ can’t offer!
Felicity, Miguel, Hayley and Me.
After the dive and an uneventful ride back, we cleaned and rinsed everything then popped next door to the “Hidden Reef” bar for an ice cold draft of beer and lunch. Which turned into a couple more beers for the none drivers and eventually we were dragging ourselves away, only to head back to Kloof to Stokers to pick up where we left off! What an awesome day out – and it looks like we’ll be doing it all over again next weekend if the weather holds.
Bryony and our divemaster Cecil.
Unfortunately we didn’t have an underwater camera with us [update: managed to get a few from one of the other divers on the dive so you'll find one or two underwater ones now], so the pics are all from afterwards on dry land. Click herefor the gallery on picasaweb.