posted Apr 8, 2014, 11:10 PM by Thomas Kraus
updated Apr 8, 2014, 11:14 PM
The Aliwal Shoal is app. 5 kilometers offshore south of Umkomaas. As a reference, the coordinates northern point of Aliwal Shoal, where the wreck of the Produce are laying are 30°15.636'S and 30°830'E. Umkomaas serves as the gateway to the Aliwal Shoal and is the home to the majority of the Aliwal dive charter operations. The Zulu name is Umkomanzi, which was given by King Shaka Zulu himself in 1928 on one of his royal processions with his 'Impi' (warriors).
During a hunting sojourn, he saw a number of cow whales and calves which were basking in the shallows a short distance out to sea from the river mouth. The name Umkomanzi, literally translated means 'The watering place of the whales'.
Under the Umkomaas bridge on the river (uMkomazi) mouth is the launchsite for the Aliwal Shoal excursions.
Pending on conditions / tidelevel you will man the semirigid boat (RIB) still in the river or direct from the beach into the surf. Thats where the difference to "regular resort diving" starts! There is staff to load and secure your scuba equipment and get the boat ready, however - at times you may be asked to lend a hand to push the boat in the surf....
After that it's all as explained in the briefing beforehand: feet's in the footstraps and hold on for the first exiting part of your Aliwal Shoal trip! A surflaunch with an 8m, twinpowered semirigid boat (RIB) passing the surfzone is a "thrill" on itself. At more rough conditions it can be a bumpy event with plenty of oceanspray... ;-)
After an 20 min. boatride you are at the Shoal. The Aliwal Shoal can be an testing divesite if you are visiting the first time. Again: NO resort diving!! All dives ( well, almost all..) are drift dives, the dive leader, either DM (divemaster) or instructor will deploy an top-service signalmarker as reference for the skipper as well for the scuba divers while guiding the dive.
An description of all Aliwal Shoal divesites as Raggies Cave, Shark Alley, Cathedral and others you find here or you use the site-search below.