I just received a friendly message from Tim Robbins from Nairobi Backpackers, he has been telling me that due to the latest problems in Kenya he had a shortage of customers and about 70% of people stoppping to his place were directly or indirectly linked to me.
I left early this morning from Margate and took the N2 from Port Shepstone. 530 kilometers laters, after driving on a shit road for about 7 hours I'm in Cintsa, staying at Buccanner's Backpackers in a lovely little place. I say shit road because despite being the main national road, the state is similar to the one in Kenya fron Nairobi to Mombasa. Potholes all the way. The major difference is that there is signs 'potholes for 20km' every 21km When there are not you find work along the road (are they actually fixing the road ??? that would be so nice !) and you have to stop for 10, 20, or 30 minutes... etc..
I'm in Margate right now. I'm staying at Margate Backpackers for R65. Not crowded as usual. I was diving Protea Banks this morning with African Dive Adventures. Protea Banks is supposed to be an advanced dive as you are diving in the blue, go down to 40m and you have a strong current. This is supposed to be THE place to see all kinds of shark. Unfortunately and as it is right now, no sharks but we went through a group of dolphins and we could hear the sounds of dolphins and humpack whales all the way.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the fucking idiot that managed to create the virus that succeeded in spamming my Apache mail account with hundred of useless mails 'coming' from all the developper world. This is especially appreciated in South Africa where it cost R30/hour for a slow shared ISDN connection. I did not even finished picking them all after one hour.
I think I have finished with my dives here. I did Cathedral this morning and ended up seeing a ragged tooth shark but could not manage to take a good picture of it. Visibility was average, a bare 8m. I think I will move by tomorrow toward Margate.
I spent a few hours in the afternoon at Crocworld. This is basically some sorts of aquariums for crocodiles, you also find there some nice birds and vervet monkeys hanging around and stealing the duck food
At least ! The water was cleared up by some small rains yesterday night and the rough sea probably helped as well. Visibility was back to something decent, over 20m. We were dropped next to a manta ray and ended up into a group of them a few minutes later. Idem for the second dive after surfacing I was in the middle of the group of the mantas, they were feeding at the surface and I managed to take a few other pictures.
By the way, avoid diving with the Whaler these days if you don't want to get angry at such unprofessional people. Wait until there is some change.
After a dive in the morning where visibility was typically toilet-like, I went to the Natal Shark Board in the early afternoon. The NSB is recognised internationally as an expert on shark attack prevention and their crews face rough and often treacherous seas every morning just after sunrise to check the shark nets for entangled marine life. All sharks found alive in the nets are tagged and released.
I just received email confirming me that the west coast of Thailand is absolute crap at this period of the year and that nearly all operators are closed from May to the end of October because of the mosoon. I will have to grab more information. Koh Tao and co. are the better solution at this time of year but I have been told as well that this is quite average.
Meanwhile I have been diving in toilet-like visibility today which means a green/yellow soup with a bare 5m visibility (assuming you have light). I managed to see a blackcheek moray however.
I have had f* dives today. We basically missed the targeted dive sites 2 times and ended up swimming more than 45 minutes over an empty algae plate... First dive at 7AM was surprising..basically I thought for a moment we had 200m under us because it was pitch black..no the visibility was horizontally less than 10m and basically we could not see the bottom before being 5m from it. We were supposed to dive Cathedral (30m+) and we missed it, I wanted to find again this nice pink paperfish/leaffish and a small juvenile boxfish.
First dives in Aliwal Shoal after a long time. We were diving Cathedral and were able to see a ragged tooth shark, however visibility was extremely bad and the camera gets confused in such low light conditions making focus difficult. We however saw a magnificent pink paperfish.
I left Sodwana and Coral Divers around 13:30 and managed to find my way to Salt Rocks, 50km north to Durban. I'm kindly being hosted by Pam & Fred (see previous entries, Fred is the creator of the excellent Scuba Sodwana CDROMs that all divers interested about marine life in South Africa should get).
After a week in Paris where among other things I enjoyed public transport strikes, eating and drinking out with friends, I'm back to Sodwana. I left Paris at 23:25 yesterday and arrived in Johannesburg around 9:50 this morning, I then rented the same car as last time (VW Chico) at AVIS - A brand new car with 480km only ! - . I tried first Budget but they did not have any car available for this category...and they did not bother replying my email from 2 days ago as well. They probably do too much business... . I just wanted to check Budget prices as their drop off price is R150 instead of R250, but no chance this time.
Last dive today as I'm driving back to Johannesburg tomorrow morning. I have been doing my first dive today in 7-miles with a very cool and friendly group from Durban and did the second one with Fred from Rover Productions creator of Scuba Sodwana. The weather was absolutely terrible (raining again) but sea was considerably better than yesterday (and visibility aas well).
I'm diving Sodwana Bay since today and this place is amazing. It is a macro paradise and there are good opportunities to see sharks and dolphins as well. I took some rather good shots of a group of dolphins we were diving with as well as a nice grey reef shark. On the weather side, it has been raining cats and dogs since yesterday, frustrating.
Due to some reasons, I have to go back to France for a couple of days. I will arrive on Sunday 8 and leave back to South Africa on Saturday 14.
I'm moving tomorrow morning to Sodwana Bay, a well known diving spot up north of South Africa. I will be there until Friday for reasons explained later. These last days I did quite some excellents dives in Aliwal Shoal where I was able to see manta rays, eagle rays, potato bass, turtles, etc... I'm quite unlucky with sharks right now as I only saw one in my first dive last week.
I have been diving the Produce and Nebo wrecks today. As for my first dive in the Produce we were lucky to spot Manta rays just in the mid section. I have been able to swim close to them and take a good number of pictures most of them being unfortunately very bad as visibility was not what it was days ago (roughly 15m+ with particles). If you don't know what to offer me as a present, think about an external strobe like the Ikelite DS125 or Sea & Sea YSDX90.