Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/MFV Orotava
The dive site MFV Orotava is a recent wreck in the Smitswinkel Bay area on the Cape Peninsula side of False Bay, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
This site is only accessible by boat. It is about 5.2km from the slipway at Miller's Point.
S34°16.023’ E018°28.796’ (Bow)
S34°15.998’ E018°28.774’ (Stern)
The MFV Orotava is the second from northernmost of the 5 wrecks in Smitswinkel bay.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.
The "MFV Orotava" was built in 1958 by Cook, Welton and Gemmel Ltd, of Beverly, East Yorkshire. The steel trawler was donated to the False Bay Conservation Society along with the MFV Princess Elizabeth by Irvin and Johnson. In August 1983 the vessels were towed out to Smitwinkel Bay and were scuttled.
Sand bottom is at about 34m, Gunwales 25 to 27m. Highest point on the wreck about 23m
The Orotava is the larger of the two trawlers and lies on the sand at about 34 metres. The highest part of the wreck is the top of the funnel at about 23 metres (2005). The vessel has an asymmetrical superstructure with the enclosed part offset to port and a covered walkway on the starboard side. The wreck lies heeled to port at an angle of about 20 degrees. There is a large winch on the foredeck.
Geology: Flat white sand.
The site is exposed to swell from the south east, and to a certain extent, from the south west. Longer period swell will make conditions on the wrecks uncomfortable or hazardous due to strong surge, but short period waves will just make it uncomfortable on the boat. Visibility is less predictable, and at this time is largely a matter of luck and reports from divers who were in the area recently.
The site is usually at it's best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities at other times of the year, though least often in summer, when the south east wind tends to blow much of the time.
The wreck is too deep for much seaweed, but it is heavily encrusted with invertebrates, some of which are seldom seen aywhere else but the Smits wrecks.
Fairly intact wreck of steel trawler
(photographic equipment suggestions)
No particular route recommended. Penetrations are tight and limited due to the size of the vessel.
Scorpion fish have been seen on the wrecks, and are well camouflaged. Their spines carry a dangerous venom.
Certification appropriate to the depth is expected. Some level of training or experience in wreck diving is recommended, and penetration should only be attempted by suitably competent divers after reconnaisance and appropriate planning.
Equipment appropriate for the depth should be used. Nitrox is recommended for those competent to use it. A light is strongly recommended, and penetration should not be attempted without the appropriate equipment and planning. If you are not entirely certain what this would be, you are not competent to do the penetration.