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INTRODUCTION -SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING

In the year 1488, the first European ship sailed around the Cape Peninsula, under the command of Bartolomeu Dias.After being blown of course by a storm, he named the Cape the "Cape of Storms" - and that name has reverberated through the ages, as around 800 ships have sunk around Cape Town!

For almost 400 years, up to the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt, the route around the Cape has been the most important and viable one between the east and the west. This has left Cape Town with a rich collection of different shipwrecks. These wrecks include wrecks from 37 different nations, including wrecks from the Portuguese, the Dutch, English, and French East India Companies, the British Royal Navy, Oil tankers, 19th century passenger liners, WW1 and WW2, and the list goes on!

With so many excellent wrecks to explore in Cape Town, once the bug bites you, all you are going to want to do is dive, dive, dive!

Below are just some of the wrecks that we scuba dive on in Cape Town.

SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING – SAS PIETERMARITZBURG (PMB)

With the full name of SAS Pietermaritzburg it’s no wonder divers call it the PMB for short. This dive site is located 1km off shore form Millers Point in Cape Town and is a very popular. The wreck is around 70m in length and was sunk in 1994.

History of SAS Pietermaritzburg

This ship had been originally been a ocean minesweeper forming part of Britain’s Royal Naval fleet during the Second World War. Originally named the HMS Pelorus, this ship was one of the thousands of vessels that participated in the invasion of Normandy on the 6th June 1944, more commonly known as D-Day. The HMS Pelorus led the invasion, sweeping the area for mines before the invasion fleet attacked.

The ship was later sold to the South African Navy in 1947 where it was renamed the HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. Here it was used for both training and sweeping for mines. After it was decommissioned the ship was used as a form of accommodation for the squadron of Mine Countermeasures during the years 1968 – 1991. On the 12th November 1994 it was purposefully sunk to form an artificial reef in the area near Cape Town.

SAS Pietermaritzburg scuba diving facts:

SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING – SS MAORI

Off the rocky shore line of Karbonkelberg lies the oldest and one of the most popular wreck diving sites in Cape Town. Located about 7.5 km from Hout Bay Harbour the wreck is only accessible with boat diving. Stranded on a rocky reef with an overall length of 122 m and in amazing condition for its age, the SS Maori is an new experience every time! Points of interest on the wreck include the steam engines, the railway lines for cargo and lots more!

History of SS Maori

Originally a British cargo steam ship created in the 1880’s the SS Maori ran aground on the 5th August 1909 on a run from London to New Zealand. Upon reaching the Cape the vessel encountered some bad weather and ran aground and capsized next to Sandy Bay. The ship was carrying loads of goods from British manufacturers ranging from railway lines to explosives, piping to crockery. 32 out of the 53 crew members on the vessel died. A lot of the wreck has been salvaged for fittings and most of the crockery has been taken, however it is now protected under law from removing artefacts. The bell of the ship can be found in the Hout Bay Museum in Cape Town.

SS Maori scuba diving facts:

SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING – ANTIPOLIS

Antipolis is a fairly new wreck located opposite the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Oudekraal. Mainly salvaged the remains lie on a rocky reef 20 m from the coast line. Wreck dive points of interest include, the many crayfish that inhabit this site and the pump / boiler room that remains fairly intact and is large enough to swim through.

History of Antipolis

The tanker Antipolis was being towed by a tug with another tanker, the Romelia, from Greece to the Far East, via Cape Town, to be sold to scrap metal merchants. However, a North Westerly gale caused the line connecting the tankers to the tug to get caught on the sea bed and consequently snap, causing the Antipolis to run aground on the 28th July 1977.  Because of its proximity to shore the wreck was converted into night club for the young, and people used to party on it. It even had its own bar! However when the wreck became too unstable it was closed down and later salvaged.

Antipolis scuba diving facts:

SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING – SS CLAN STEWART

The SS Clan Stewart is a wreck 100 m from the Simons Town shores at Makerel Bay in Cape Town. With various species of aquatic wild life and an interesting wreck with the engine, boilers and shaft available for exploring the site makes for quite an exciting wreck dive! Just look out for some sharp iron edges. Some of the ships features can be seen from the shore at low tide.

History of SS Clan Stewart

The British steamer vessel transporting a cargo load of coal ran aground on 21st November 1914. The SS Clan Stewart weighing around 3500 tons was blown to shore by a strong Cape South Easter, which even caused the vessel to drag its anchor all the way! Four months were spent trying to get the vessel to float again but to no avail, it joined so many other wrecks in Cape Town.

SS Clan Stewart scuba diving facts:

SHIPWRECK SCUBA DIVING – SMITSWINKEL BAY WRECKS

In Smitswinkel Bay there are five wrecks which you can visit on one dive! These Wrecks include the SAS Transvaal, the MV Orotava, the MV Princess Elizabeth, the SAS Good Hope and the MV Rockeater. The dive ranges over 400 m covering all 5 wrecks, starting at the SAS Transvaal to the MV Rockeater.

History of Smitswinkel Bay Wrecks

The SAS Transvaal was a Loch class freighter that was sent to the South African Navy in Cape Town for construction in the 1940’s. In 1978 the ship, now having been sold for scrap metal was scuttled in order to form an artificial reef in Smitswinkel Bay.

The MV Orotava was a British vessel created in 1958. It was a steel trawler and was kindly donated to the False Bay Conservation Society. Donated along with it was the trawler the MV Princess Elizabeth after being badly damaged in a fire. The two trawlers were scuttled in 1983.

The SAS Good Hope was also a Loch class freighter sent to the South African Navy for construction in the 1940’s along with the SAS Transvaal. It worked as a convoy escort in the end of the Second World War and after that was used as a flagship for the South African Navy until 1978 when it was sold for scrap metal and scuttled in 1978.

The MV Rockeater was an American coastal freighter used by the United States Navy in 1945. In 1964 it was bought by Ocean Science and Engineering South Africa, and was used to conduct surveys for map profiling. The ship also had consisted of a drilling crane which was used for taking core samples. This can be found next to the wreck as it was cut off beforehand. The Ship was scuttled in December 1972.

Smitswinkel Bay Wrecks scuba diving facts:

 

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What have others said about Into the Blue Scuba Dive Center?

Globetrekker Oxford

“Top marks for safety and professionalism”....

The reason for giving five stars is not because my dive day was good - it was horrible, a complete washout, no viz, unpleasant swell, just all round yucky conditions.

However, that's nature, and dive operators can do nothing about it. What all dive operators should do is be as professional and customer-focused as the guys from ITB diving.

First thing to note is that ITB is considerably cheaper (by almost 1000.- Rand) than Simonstown operators, which is baffling considering that they also have the transport cost from Cape Town to budget for.

DMs, Instructors and Shopfloor staff are all super friendly and helpful; I even got picked up from my Cape Town digs and dropped off afterwards, free of charge.

On the boat, I saw all the emergency and redundancy gear I like to see: twin engines (VERY important!), Oxygen, comms gear, flares, the lot. Briefings were thorough, and buddy check was insisted on.

The trip to Seal Rock in the RIB was fun in the swell, but when we got there the captain did not let us dive because of the unsafe conditions. Disappointing as this was, he was totally right. Low tide and heavy swells are a dangerous combination this close to the rocks, and as for trying to get back into a RIB in seas like this....
We then tried the PMB wreck, where zero viz and nasty vertical swell separated the group and forced us out of the water after 25 minutes.

The captain did offer to try another spot but was honest enough to tell us that in his opinion it was going to be rubbish everywhere, and so we called it a day.

Back at the dive shop, we were all offered a re-schedule, but as I'm out of time I was given half my money back. I know from experience that this is not the norm in the industry, sadly.

Into the Blue is a top notch outfit that does things by the book, with a strong safety focus and very customer centered, on top of offering reasonable pricing and a fair refund policy. You'll have a hard time to find a better operator anywhere around. They'll definitely be my first choice when I pass through next, and for doing my IDC sometime this year.

Just hope mother nature will be in better mood then.

Visited April 2017

 

Omar Badr

Guys i must thank you for an awesome diving experience!...

 i dove with you last Saturday and the Cow Sharks dive was the Best dive in my life!! 
Very knowledgeable instructors and amazing staff! 
Keep it up!

Brian Brown

Great diving courses. Friendly staff. 5 star.