January not Ideal for Gansbaai Cage Dive
by Steve & Hayley de Klerk
We saw 2 sharks - it was great but visibility was very poor due to Westerly winds which filled the bay with algae. Was a great day and would definitely do it again, but would be more conscious of the weather and make sure that the visibility was good before going out.
Diving Operator PerformanceGansbaai is famous and I wanted to see Dyer Island so after research on the internet, found Marine Dynamics.
They gave an adequate safety briefing and also information about the sharks although we had a stand in person who was not that good as it was not her job and she was not that familiar with the slide presentation. But overall they were great and I have nothing to complain about.
They gave us lasagne before the boat trip at the Great White House and it was very good, but fairly rich for some folk worried about sea sickness. Drink included.
Food on board was perfect for the occasion. Fresh and tasty. It consisted of white rolls with ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato as well as chips. Very good. There were drinks but I never had any and never saw them. Crew could have given us a heads up about lunch and told us where the refreshments were.
Hayley's take: Aimy was an absolute pleasure, lovely operator. All in all, a most professionally run and well organised experience. I will certainly recommend your company to interested persons/friends and hopefully have the added benefit of Aimy as our operator.
Out at SeaWe spent 3 hrs out at sea including the ride in and out between ramp and viewing site.
The boat is approx 32/34 feet and takes 16-18 passengers. Up to 5 persons at a time can go into the cage.
Used Dramamine. None of us were sick. Sea state on the day was perfect and flat and it was sunny.
How The Day WentWe took a pleasant 40 knot run to where the cage was already in the water. Sea was flat with a lazy swell. Secured boat to existing anchor line and then tied cage to side of boat. Given wetsuits and booties and suited up. Crew began to chum (they used chum, decoy and baited line to attract great white sharks to the boat).
First small shark appeared about 25 min later. First five guests immediately in the cage. Visibility was very poor so could only see outline of shark when very close to cage. Cage was in poor shape as welds were broken in places.
Hayley says: A good length of time was allowed for everyone in the cage to view. There was even a 2nd opportunity to go back into the water for those who were interested. We were told to remove our goggles and booties once out of the cage. Due to the water being so murky, the staff on board were very good at shouting to those in the cage "down down down, shark shark shark" which was a great help as one couldn't see anything in the water. This of course created great hype and excitement adding to a fun event even though conditions were poor. All staff were most friendly and helpful, lots of laughter all round.
A second larger shark, approx 3m, showed up and stayed with us for some time. Personally managed to get in the cage twice. Expected to have more cage time and more than 2 hrs at the site.
Hayley says: Seeing the 2 sharks was incredible and full of adrenaline but the water was very murky which greatly hindered our viewing. Viewing was better from the top of the boat.
Best option was to get in cage and keep head above water as this got one very close to the shark with best viewing due to poor under water visibility. Head under water was a waste of time. Crew should know this and suggest it.
Crew should also give a briefing on how to safely secure oneself in the cage. The cage was in the water and we did not know which places were safe to hold on to or to put our feet. This should have been explained to us before we got into the cage as we had to figure it out ourselves by putting our heads under water to look for options all while the shark was right next us. This time would have been better spent viewing the shark.
Hayley says: Yes not enough detail to layout of inside of cage was given. Where to hold, where not to, the importance of remembering to keep all limbs inside the cage as once in the water it is very easy to have a foot, arm or hand sticking out of cage amidst all the excitement and adrenalin.
After 2 hrs, cage was hoisted on board, secured and we ran back to the harbour. Returned our suits etc. Staff was great, very friendly and fun to hang with. Felt like we were in good hands all the time.
Hayley says: We were asked if we were ready to return to shore and if enough viewing was had by all. On route back, we spotted a school of dolphins and a few minutes was spent watching them next to the boat which was an added bonus. There was a lovely relaxed vibe on board with great interaction between guests and staff.
The group made their way back to the Great White House for refreshments, but my party of 3 (Steve, Hayley and their brother - Ed) decided to head of to the rocks for some quiet family sun-downer time.
AccommodationI stayed with family in Cape Town.
DisappointmentsSome issues are mentioned in my comments above. I had expectations of going to Dyer Island as this is what you guys push as the best place to see Great Whites, not to mention that we were shown pictures of the island during our briefing. We never went near the place and although I accept and understand why, (time of year) it would have been appropriate to be told this up front so that we knew what we were going to do before hand. I still would have come along and done the trip, but I would not have been as disappointed.
Hayley says: Only seeing 2 sharks but understandable due to time of the year. Sad that water was not clear for good viewing. Will definitely like to come back in Winter for improved viewing and to see more sharks.
Tips and AdviceAlthough we still had a great time, try make sure not to go directly after a westerly as this clouds up the water with algae.
The most useful items in my luggage were sunglasses, camera and Dramamine.
Hayley says: The far left side of the cage is greatest for viewing as bait is hauled out of water back on to boat from this side, thus better chance of shark passing past this side – excellent viewing on this side.
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