Simonstown, False Bay
There are many reasons why Capetonians should be overly excited for winter to arrive. For starters, there is the prospect of – hopefully a lot – of rain in order to get some relief from the severe ongoing drought. Where for most Capetonians this will be enough to look forward to, us scuba divers cannot wait for another aspect that winter weather brings along: good visibility!
When the clouds slowly roll in from the north, it is advisable to start packing your dive gear and keep an eye out for the first drops of rain to fall. When the storm finally hits, you know that the waters around Simonstown should be clearing up soon and getting into the ocean becomes a must. Although autumn is only carefully knocking on our door, Saturday 7 April provided us with an exciting sneak peak of what this upcoming dive season might have in store for us.
After some unexpected rainfall and north-westerly winds, the water turned crystal clear along the east side of the Cape Peninsula. But do not let the blue tropical looking water fool you, as with this clarity comes the cold. However, being lucky enough to find yourself in the water during these conditions makes up for every minute of shivering. One of our favourite but not always accessible spots – Castle Rocks – was looking particularly beautiful that morning, so in we went. Although our computers were reading a chilly 13 degrees Celsius, we got greatly rewarded with amazing visibility and an abundance of life on the reef.
Castle Rocks is a Marine Protected Area and is situated within a No-Take Zone. This means that you are not allowed to catch fish in any manner – and believe it or not – the fish know this too! On surrounding reefs you often encounter rather shy species like Galjoen or Red Roman, but at Castle these fish are very inquisitive and like to interact with you. Not showing any fear of divers, especially the large Red Romans enjoy some close up interaction. During our dive there was even one Roman in need of a buddy. He followed us for most of the dive and at some point even allowed a belly rub!
It had been a while since this side of the bay had been looking this spectacular and we could not get enough of it. After a good hour of exploring life in the kelp forest, making new friends, and searching for many types of nudibranch the cold eventually even got to us, but not without leaving two extremely satisfied and happy divers in its wake.