Diving on the Aliwal Shoal

Scottburgh Travel Blog

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Last Sunday I spent the day scuba diving on the Aliwal Shoal which is a point off the southern coast of Kwa-zulu Natal near the town of Scottburgh. It's about an hour's drive south Durban. The Aliwal Shoal is named after the Aliwal, a British ship that ran into trouble there about a hundred or so years ago. The shoal is also famous for being home to a Ragged Tooth Sharks - or "Raggies"- a docile group that can be found in the winter months (i.e. June and July here). Since this is technically still summer we didn't bump into any Raggies, which is fine with me!

I went with Tom and his son Aidan (who's visiting from the US) who are in the process of getting their diving qualification together. This was my first diving trip after being certified, so I was a little nervous that I had forgotten alot of stuff. My initial attempts at putting together my equipment reinforced these fears - I forgot or confused a couple things - which Aidan, unfortunately for him, was quick to point out.

In my defense though I should add that it was about 5 in the morning, definitely NOT the time of the day when I'm at my best and brightest! But once I got in the water I was good to go. During my dive course I think I had been paying alot closer attention to the underwater stuff than the equipment assembly - which isnt really the smartest thing since if you put your equipment together wrong you're screwed!

We did two dives that day and both times the visibility (how clear the water is underneath the surface) pretty much sucked. It seems like the stronger the current or the rougher the sea the worse the visibility since more sand and debris gets stirred up on the ocean floor. The sea on this particular day was rough hence the crappy viz (diving lingo for visibility!). I did see a bunch of cool fish but nothing overwhelming or spectacular.

The conditions were perfect, however, for trying out my new seasickness pill. The pills worked OK since I didn't puke or pass out. I did feel very nauseous on the way back in from the first dive when I think they were wearing off. I wasn't even hungover at all this time - which is really unfair.

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photo by: Billstein