Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Het Huis te Kraaiestein
The dive site Het Huis te Kraaiestein is an inshore historical shipwreck in the North Oudekraal area of the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, part of Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
This is almost always dived as a shore entry dive, as the access is easy, and the distance from the entry point is not very far.
Parking is at the side of the road on the outside of the bend on the City side of the Twelve Apostles Hotel. The path starts near the signpost and after a steep descent curves round to the north between some trees and a granite boulder. It continues north-eastwards and then splits in several directions. The first branch is to the left to the entry for Justin’s Caves, The second continues more or less straight down a slope to a shallow gully between big boulders. There is an old piece of rail and small boulders in this north west entry point. The third branch is to the right, uphill slightly and through between some bushes, then down over the rocks to a shallow sandy gully, with a small beach at low tide. This south-east (closer to the road) entry point has a sand bottom with large granite boulders on both sides. The boulder on the right is convenient resting place for fins, camera etc when making final preparations for entry. The access at both these points is very protected and safe in almost any conditions you would consider diving.
Just to the north east of the entry area at Sandy Cove.
This is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.
"Het Huis te Kraaiestein" was a Dutch ship of 1,154 tons, built in 1697 at the Zeeland Yard for the Zeeland Chamber of the Dutch East India Company, and commanded by Jan van de Vijver. It was wrecked on the rocks in the bay at Oudekraal on the Cape Peninsula on 27 May 1698 in thick mist as they were trying to find the way into Table Bay. The ship was on its maiden voyage outward-bound from Wielingen, which they had left on 1 February 1698, with a cargo of 19 chests of pieces-of-eight (approximately 57 000 pieces). No lives were lost. Three chests of treasure disappeared and the name 'Geldkis' (money-chest) appears on maps of the area.
The sand bottom is at about 10m.
The wreck has broken up completely and all that is left are a few iron cannon, anchors and some pieces of wood. All these items are usually entirely overgrown and you will only recognise them by looking for unusually straight lines. There are two large cannon about 3m long and 0.4m diameter at the southern end of a gap between two boulders. They slope down to the south and one appears to be broken. They are in a V formation with the shallow ends nearer to each other. These cannon are heavily encrusted and partly wasted, and are not immediately recognisable. There is a mass of what appears to be wood which is a few metres long and quite substantial. It is not clear what this might be, but it could be part of the deadwood as it is so massive. There are a few pieces of reinforced rubber hose about 150mm diameter, abandoned by salvors, and in the sand to the south of this there are two more cannon, of the same type, partly or completely buried in the sand. There is an anchor from the wreck nearby. Another large iron anchor lies flat in the sand further inshore, marked on the site map, which may at times be buried under the sand, and another nearby, which has a fluke sticking up which is seldom or never buried. Another anchor thought to be from this wreck can be found north of the big swimthough at Justin’s Caves, and is also marked on the site map.
Geology: Granite corestone boulders of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, and fine quartz and shell sand
This is an area well sheltered from the south west swell, but as it is shallow, there is usually some surge. The site is usually at it's best in summer, and is diveable in strong southeasterly winds but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter.
Keep a lookout for times when the swell is low and short period. The site is not worth diving if there is white water around the rocks.
No facilities provided. Security is dubious as with all parking at the side of public roads.
Kelp forest. There are a few invertebrates and a variety of seaweeds, but not many fish.
Wreckage of a ship of historical interest.
Wide angle lenses will be best suited to photograph the wreckage.
To find the wreckage with the cannon:
Cold water, Hot sunshine.
No special skills required. Popular area for training and night dives.
No special equipment required.