Monthly Spearfishing Report July 2002


The Law of the Sea

I was recently having a discussion with some diving friends on what is the legal position if you come across an abandoned vessel. The general consensus was that the vessel belongs to whoever finds it. Unfortunately this is not the case. The ownership of the vessel still falls to the registered owner. An abandoned vessel is called a derelict in maritime terms and though abandoned, still remains the property of the registered owner. To claim salvage awards for the successful voluntary salvage of a vessel in peril, several factors are considered. The risk to the salvor, degree of danger to which the vessel was exposed. Most salvage awards amount to 10% to 25% of the value of the vessel and property salvaged. In the case of a sunken vessel that was lost long ago and no owner exists or can be determined. The person who finds the vessel is entitled to take possession of it. These are the general rules and might change depending on the circumstances.

Diving conditions for July

R-L) Craigh Heslop 27kg, Clint Nevin 19kg, Nick Mclurgh 21kg king mackerel taken at Salt Rock Diving conditions for the first half of July were excellent with mainly settled seas, good visibility and lots of fish to be found. Salt Rock produced some good catches. Craigh Heslop gets the catch of the month for his seven king mackerel shot there on a shore dive. The heaviest fish weighed 27kg with the average weight being around 10kg. The same day Clint Nevin landed a 38kg kob along with a 19kg king mackerel. Days like that do not happen often and are the stuff that dreams are made of. The kob have also moved onto the wrecks with Len Debeer landing two recently of 37kg and 25kg. Many divers are seeing them but you need a good breath whilst lying on the sand, for them to approach close enough for a good shot. Most of the wrecks lie in 30m and l know of 3 divers who have lost their lives hunting on the wrecks, so take care.

The lower south coast has been providing some quality reef fish with big rock cod, baardman and rubberlip making up the bulk of catches. Scottburgh point out by the nets has been producing some big king mackerel. The paddle-ski anglers have been getting some good catches there. On saterday the 13th l saw one come in with a sailfish strapped to his ski. There have been a lot of wahoo out on Aliwal Shoal with a number of divers landing these fish. The sardine netters have been netting sardines most days during the settled conditions. Durban Bay has been an especially good spot this year for them. Whilst on the Transkei coast recently, there was still a lot of bird activity so there could still be some sardine activity when conditions settle. Cape Vidal has really come to life with lots of king mackerel being taken. Some of these fish will be good sized after their sardine feed and one of 32kg was landed recently.

Spearfishing Nationals Cancelled

The big fronts that rumbled through followed by snow on the mountains and heavy falls of inland and coastal rain, put paid to the good diving conditions. This was the period chosen for the National Spearfishing Championships at `Hole in the Wall` on the Transkei coast. Most of the Kwazulu Natal teams went down a week before the start of the competition, just in time for the beginning of the bad weather. One team was there a day or two earlier and did some scouting in excellent conditions. They reported seeing large numbers of fish. Black musselcracker around 10kg. Good sized white musselcracker along with big natal fingerfin. One diver counted 18 cape knifejaw on one down. The Nationals were cancelled due to undiveable conditions and this is the third year in succession that they have not been held. Things need to be jacked up a bit here.

Spearfishing Nationals for Kwazulu Natal

The next Nationals will be held in Kwazulu Natal. The provisional dates for the competition are 2 – 6 June 2003. The areas will be Cracker to the Cutting and Cutting to Umgababa river on the south coast with Umhlanga lighthouse to Tongaat river the area on the north coast. As the competition is held over two days only two of the areas will be dived depending on sea conditions on the day. There should be good competition for the Natal teams with lots of local divers eager to make the sides in home waters. It is a good opportunity for some of the lesser known divers to show their spearfishing ability. Anyone interested should contact Richard Bruno on 0832895587. Richard is the Natal Underwater Union Spearfishing officer and will be organizing the trials to pick the Natal teams.

Durban Harbour circa 1880

Durban Harbour in the 1800sThe photograph of Durban Harbour taken in the 1880`s shows the harbour before all the development took place. Durban harbour is now the busiest port in Africa. Figures for 2001 show total imports of 12 386 400 tons with exports totaling 16 560 809 tons for the full year.

The Naming of Coffee bay

Coffee Bay was so named by a missionary, John Shaw, who lived there in 1827. As Coffee Bay is only a few kilometers south of the Umtata River mouth, the sea is often brown from the dirty water running out of the river mouth. This is especially so in the rainy season and hence the name Coffee Bay. The more colourful version of the naming is linked to the sinking in the bay of a ship, said to be carrying a cargo of coffee beans. This is the version given by the tourism board and l suppose any sinking ship could have the odd coffee bean onboard stored in the galley in a jar.

August, normally a very windy month, has been good for spearing the last 3 years with fairly settled conditions here in Kwazulu Natal. The recent outflow of most rivers together with large amounts of silt could mess up inshore conditions, especially if the northeast blows. Aliwal Shoal will probably be the best bet for a dive if you have access to a boat. Safe diving, John.