Protea Banks

Monday 20 November 2017

Going diving again today. At a different spot, further south along the coast. Protea banks.

I was picked up at 6.30am and driven to the dive centre, which was a few minutes down the road. It all seemed a bit pointless as I am staying right next to where the boats launch from. And I didn’t need to do anything.

At 8am we were back at the launch point. A beach entry. But the breaking waves weren’t too big, so that was lucky.

It was a bumpy 20 minute drive out to our dive site. I was soaking wet. Just before we got in, I saw a humpback whale jumping out of the water. Cute.

The water was so clear. The visibility was great.

The whole time we were diving, we could hear the humpbacks singing to each other.

Skimming along the sand at the bottom, way beneath us were loads of sand shark / guitar shark. So cool. There were at least 10 of them. I’ve only ever seen one once before.

The bottom was deep – at the shallowest was 35m, then went deeper as we drifted along. So most of the time we were in blue water. Then for the last half of the dive, completely unable to see the bottom at all.

Apotato grouper was following us around for a long time.

For the last half hour, the skipper sent a bait drum down. Similar to yesterday, filled with sardines. But this time we weren’t given the same safety briefing. There was no briefing. Our guide was pulling out handfuls of sardines and scattering them in the water. As well as cracking a plastic bottle (mimics fish bones breaking and are usually banned in many diving places). And dragging along a line with foil attached to the end of it, again mimicking sardines.

Soon enough there were a few oceanic black tips around us. Feeding on the bits of fish scattered in the water around us.

I was a little concerned. We were now essentially just feeding sharks. With the same in-water characteristics of a spear fisher. And every time you see shark attacks, it is always on spear fishers – speared fish give off certain vibrations in the water. Potentially similar to the plastic bottle and bits of dead fish around us.

The sharks are very quick and agile. And showed no interest in us at all. But you never know what else is hanging around. There are tiger sharks, bull sharks and great whites here.

When we cameup, there were big waves. Of course I threw up as soon as I hit the surface again. Happens every single time after sitting at 5m doing a safety stop in waves.

The wind was 20 knots.Apparently it was only going to get worse.And was starting to get too dangerous to dive in. So we didn’t do the second diveand instead headed back to shore.It took us 50 minutes to get back.It was slow through thewaves.But we did see some more humpbacks! A mother and a baby.Just sitting around on the surface.

I was so tired.After washing my wetsuit (and a few clothes), Ifell asleep.Rather than sleep all day, Imade myself get up and go for a walk to the shops.I’m staying next to a large shopping centre.So wandered around looking at food for a while! All the supermarkets across South Africaand Namibiaare exactly the same.They all sell the same stuff.For the first time all trip, I had WiFi. So spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

I’m not sure why am early morning is much of a surprise anymore.

I was at the dive launch site for 6.15am, already in my wetsuit and ready to go.

The breaking waves at the shore were much bigger today. But once we were past those, the sea was calmer. There was less wind. But still quite large waves in the water.

We went to a different location on the reef – the northern end. There are only two areas at Protea; north and south.

We had to drop through 30m of water before we could even see the bottom, which was around 33m.

Then we dropped a bit further, down to 37m into a cave full of raggie tooth sharks. They were big. Much bigger than the ones I had seen before. Pretty cool.

After that, we were shallowing up into the blue. And spent the rest of the dive there. There were more black tips. And a few copper sharks.

I didn’t enjoy the surface interval. We were sitting in rolling waves. I felt ok initially. Then suddenly very sick. And spent the rest of the time leaning over the edge of the boat being sick. Not fun.

We were only on the surface for about half an hour, before we were off again. But as the dive sites are so deep we barely had a 5 minute bottom time before chasing no-deco time back up to around 9m. We were back up there within 10minutes. So spent the next while sitting in blue water. Feeling the waves. Feeling sick. There were sharks around us. But I couldn’t handle the sickness anymore. So went up after about 35 minutes. The rest of the group thought that was a great idea too. So we all came up.

Half of the sharks we have seen here have fishing line attached to them. Hooks in their mouths, or on their fins. Too much fishing going on here.

We were back on land by 9.30am. Efficiency!

I had high hopes for diving here. There were supposed to be tiger sharks, bull sharks and hammerheads, amongst others. Plus large quantities of other sharks – oceanic black tip and raggie tooth. Whilst I have seen some sharks, I was expecting a lot more.

I had until 1pm before Ineeded to catch my bus backup to Durban. So washed my kit and hoped it would dry before Iwent.

Timeflies when you aredoing nothing and it wassoon time to go.The guy who owns the hotel dropped me back at the bus stop, which wasnice of him.I would have struggled with my bags again!

The bus arrived on time. It was a boring 2 hour drive back up the coast. Then the driver went right past where I wanted to be dropped off and said we were going up to the airport, then back down. What?!

After we reached the airport, he decided we were waiting for someone else. I was not impressed. So I complained. Eventually we were on our way. And almost 1 HOUR later, back where I wanted to be. So ridiculous.

And even after all that faffing about, I still had to get an uber to where I was staying. But it was only about 5 minutes away.

I’m staying at a guesthouse. And is essentially a large fancy house. With a pool. So awesome.

I ordered some dinner from theawesome salad shop.And enjoyed lazingaroundfor the rest of theevening.

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