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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Ammunition Barges

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The dive site Ammunition Barges is two inshore recent wrecks in the Seaforth area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand[edit]

Aerial photo of the dive site Ammunition Barges (photo CDS&M)

This is a shallow site and the wrecks have partly collapsed but there is still recognisable structure.

Position[edit]

  • S34°11.408’ E018°26.985’

Bearings:

  • 317° magnetic to the first corner of the harbour wall (from the shore)
  • 268° magnetic to the Martello Tower
  • 250° magnetic to the near corner of the IMT building
  • 222° magnetic from Nimrod Rock (submerged, unlikely to break in divable conditions)
  • 146° magnetic to Noah's Ark

About 100m east of Phoenix shoal About 500m from the beach at IMT

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is entirely inside the Boulders Restricted Zone.

Name[edit]

The name "Ammunition Barges" is a description of the two small wrecks that make up the dive site.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is about 10m. and the top of the wreckage is is about 8m. Average depth is likely to be about 9m.

Visibility[edit]

Visibility is usually not very good in this area. Expect 3 to 6m on a good day, though it can be better or worse.

Topography[edit]

The bottom in this area is flat sand with a few low flat outcrops of granite reef. There are two small (about 20m long) barge wrecks right next to each other at one end, and diverging at a small angle. The wrecks are steel, and have largely broken up. There are some sections of hull side plating and frames still standing, but the ends have collapsed.

Geology: Sand and occasional low outcrops of Pre-Cambrian granite of the Peninsula pluton.

Conditions[edit]

A shallow dive, in a reasonably protected area from south west swell, but quite exposed to the north-wester, which may raise a bit of a chop and make it difficult to find the wreck, though unlikely to cause much surge. The north-wester can cause a current that sets east.

The site is moderately exposed to wind and waves fron the south east, Which will usually reduce visibility.

The site is usually at it's best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities in other seasons


Facilities[edit]

Parking is adequate and tarred (since the aerial photo). The parking area is used by tour buses, use the smaller marked bays.

Get in[edit]

Usual access is by boat from Miller's Point, but can be dived from the shore entry at Seaforth (Boulders Beach).

Shore Dive: Turn off the main road at the IMT sign. Park behind the IMT building. Walk through the gate to the right of the IMT main gates and over the dunes to the beach. The water is shallow to the left near the building and there is some dense kelp around the boulders.

It is about a 500m swim on a bearing of roughly 071° magnetic from the corner of the beach nearest IMT. There are patches of heavy kelp on the inshore reef, and several rocks which either reach the surface or near enough to obstruct a diver, so this will not be a good underwater swim on a fixed bearing. If you can see white water at Nimrod rock you can try swimming out to it, then diving and swimming about 130m on bearing 138° magnetic, but there are other rocks at Phoenix shoal which may also break.

The most likely way to find the wrecks from a shore dive is to swim out on the surface and get a fix from the bearings given in the position section. Use at least three, preferably all. to compensate for errors.

The bottom is mostly sand, so once you are roughly in position, the wrecks may be visible from the surface as a dark patch.

See[edit][add listing]

Various sea cucumbers
White edged nudibranchs
Sponges at the ammunition barge
Red sea cucumbers and a sea squirt at the ammunition barge

Marine life[edit]

Lots of Red chested cucumbers and Stephens' codium.

Features[edit]

The barges are largely rusted away, leaving the frames

Two small wrecks of ammunition barges, and a depth charge mortar is also reported.

Photography[edit]

Wide angle lens using ambient light may capture the mood of the site. Otherwise macro photography of the somewhat limited range of marine life.

Routes[edit]

The site is shallow and compact. you can explore it all on one dive.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

No site specific hazards have been reported.

Skills[edit]

No special skills are required. The site is suitable for novice divers and for snorkelling.

Equipment[edit]

No special equipment recommended.

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Seaforth to Froggy Pond

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