Aliwal Shoal

Saturday 18 November 2017

I have been carrying around my dive kit for the past 2 weeks. And today I finally get to use it.

I have looked at diving here at Aliwal Shoal for a few years. But never got round to it. I was too scared. After being in the Galapagos earlier in the year, I was full of much more confidence. But now that it’s been a while and I’m actually here, it’s a bit a bit more real. Shark diving.

We met at 7am. Gathered kit. And off in the pick up truck a while later at 7.45am.

They do a beach launch here. Through the waves. It was terrifying. The breaking waves were huge. I’ve done beach launches before, in Mozambique, but nowhere near as bad as that.

Once we were past the worst, it was flatter. But even still, the waves were large.

Our first dive was at one of the more popular sides of Aliwal. At the cathedral.

We dropped next to a cave. There were a few small raggie tooth sharks hanging out in here. But they didn’t come too close.

For the rest of the Dive we didn’t see much. The surge was so strong. Back and forth. All over the place.

The surface interval wasn’t great. Sitting in the waves. I didn’t feel too good.

Our second Dive had so much surge. We saw basically nothing. A bit disappointing. But I was so pleased to be out of the water. Despite being sick on the surface.

Coming back to land the boat, the breaking waves were still huge and I was terrified. But it was actually very pleasant. We didn’t jump around or drop. It was very smooth.

It was 12pm by the time we got back. And time for ‘breakfast’. I had some mushrooms, potatoes and toast with peanut butter.

I wanted to go for a walk around the town to have a look. The town I’m staying in is small. But I bumped into one of the boys from the dive shop who told me not to go out alone. So put an end to that plan.

So for the rest of the afternoon, I sat around and didn’t do too much.

The Dive centre has a bar and restaurant attached and the women had been making pizza bases for most of the afternoon. So I had a pizza for dinner. The menu was great – you just chose what you wanted on it! I had olives, peppers and tomatoes. So good.

Then an early night. I was exhausted.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Today was an hour earlier. Meeting at 6am. And we left at 6.30am.

The first dive was on a reef. There was no current. And no surge. It was so nice. It was pretty and there was lots of see. A few scorpionfish. Large schools of snapper. A few turtles. Raggy tooth sharks. Much more enjoyable than yesterday.

Our surface interval was fairly short. But our second Dive was only shallow. We weren’t going any deeper than 10m. It was a baited Dive.

I haven’t done a baited Dive before. We were given a briefing. There were two containers filled with sardines. The bottom one at around 20m and the top one at 9m. We were going to be diving by the top one and absolutely no lower than it. We had to stay 5m away from it. And up-current of it. We had to stay as one group and not separate from the group.

Even when they were setting the bait balls into the water, the oceanic black tips were splashing around on the surface. So many of them.

I was expecting to be scared. But it was fine.

We were drifting along at 10m. But could see the bottom at around 25-30m. The visibility was great.

And we had so many sharks. The most I counted at any one time was 10. It was cool. They came so close.

We stayed for around an hour, before coming back up. Even when we were getting back on the boat, there were lots of sharks swimming right underneath us.

Back around 11.30am and ‘breakfast’ time.

Then I had a few hours to sit around before I was getting a shuttle further down the coast. The shuttle departed close to the Dive shop – only 1 block. Very handy. So I didn’t have far to walk with my copious bags.

I was starting to get worried. The bus was half an hour late. But finally arrived.

It took an hour to drive further down the coast to Shelly Beach.

This is larger town. With a large shopping centre and lots of car shops.

Despite being the last person on the shuttle, the man wouldn’t drop me a 2minute drive from where the official drop point was. So I had to struggle with all my bags up the road. Not fun.

I’m staying right on the coastline, with a great view of the ocean all around. It’s a small self catering apartment. And I had no food.

Luckily the large supermarket just up the road was still open. It was 6pm and most shops close early on a Sunday.

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