Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Diving/spearfishing at Cob Inn Transkei

The launch was not a problem – boats are put in at the river with no restriction or booms – it is even a recognized launch site.
Tides were neap and there was little tidal variation.
Surf was fairly large at bout 2 –3 m. Water was trashed inshore and it only cleared up nicely at about 2 km offshore and it became blue another 500 m out.
In the blue the temperature as 22.5 deg C and the viz about 20 m – the inshore temp was 20 deg C.

I had taken Mapsource co-ordinates for the pinnacle directly off Cob Inn. My intent was to do some blue water hunting. With the sounder on I headed out and at about the 4 km mark I found the reef rise up to about 35 m from around 50 m. Some more sounding showed up a 28 m spot which I GPSed. On the first day I was out the wind came up quickly and I soon found out that the current was running at 6-7 kmph – on land that is a fast walk! I parked the idea of anchoring despite having 100 m of rope to trail out the back of the boat. So I decided to try a fishing with line and sinker on the drift. That was no good as the current and wind “held” back the bait and sinker while pushing me and the boat on. Not long and the wind cranked up from the east and I headed inshore to try some other fishing spots – no luck.
Next day rain and wind awoke me and an outing to sea was not a good idea.
The day after that the sun cam out and the weather cleared up but the surf was a good 2.5 m and the biggest sets were around 3 m. I decided to wait for high tide when the launch would be safer and when the river level would be better. I launched at about midday and drove strait out the mouth without having to dodge the sets – lucky, good timing. The forecasted east wind did not materialize and I headed strait out for the blue water. On getting to the spot I found the previous day I switched on the sounder and found it not working – the battery got wet in the rain and lost charge.
The water was still bright blue and warm with 20 m viz so I headed up current about 200 m and got in with my reelgun and left the boat to drift. At about 18 m down the water cooled to about 18 deg C. Far below I could see the strips of sand and reef at 30 m or so. Soon I drifted onto a shallow section (23-28 m) covered with numerous small blue hottentot and little else. On one down I had a birds view as I “flew” over the reef in the current at 5 kmph. Spooky to see how fast I covered the reef.
I did another drift and saw a shoal of 5 little eastern tuna that would not tolerate my approach.
I took a starting co-ordinate (32 28 703 S, 28 41 707 E) and an end one (32 28 847 S, 28 41 502 E) for the drifts – the drift distance was 417 m and only allowed 2 dives. I managed to take a co-ordinate just after I got to the shallow ridge (32 28 759 S, 28 41 635 E) – it was probably about 50m toward the ending co-ordinate as I did not get to the boat immediately.
I also tried using a silver chip packet as a flasher and put in pilchards to create a chum stream but to no avail – the clear water remained clear of fish, and sharks.
On each drift I also dragged and X Rapala lure back to the beginning of the drift but to no avail.
As the tides changed from high to outgoing I missed the shallow ridge as the flow was out to sea thus taking me further out. (It is advisable to take note of tide switches for your drifts – outgoing tides pull you out over the reef and ingoing tides pull you inwards. The effect is more pronounced in shallow areas.)

The shallow ridge was kind of like a wavy knife-edge about 40 m long with large pot-like cavities on the sides and an abrupt drop on the southwestern edge. Unfortunately I had problems charging my camera and did not get any pictures.
Next time.

I chatted to a fisherman, called Neil, who knows the area – he has fished the pinnacle and said common catches include: poenskop(black musselcracker), cape salmon, Scotsman, romans, red stumpnose, dageraad, and rock cod. He said yellowtail are scarce and only once did they catch king mackerel. He was surprised that I saw the tuna.
One of the crew thought I had lost my marbles and considered diving out there in such a current was crazy – different comfort zone I guess.

Some day when I return there I hope for flatter water and certainly would like to diver there again - a boat drive would certainly be advantageous.

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