Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Miller's Point slipway
This article is a travel topic
Miller's Point slipway is the most popular launch site for boat dive charters on the west side of False Bay. It is also extensively used by commercial and recreational small boat fishermen.
The Miller's Point public slipway is mostly used by divers during winter when diving in False Bay is at its peak, due to the prevalence of heavy south westerly swell on the west facing coastlines and the absence of strong south easterly winds.
The “Hymie Steyn Ramp” was built with funds contributed jointly by Cape Boat and Ski-Boat Club and the Department of Sport and Recreation. There is public access for boats with seaworthiness certificates and licensed skippers. This is a popular facility and is much used by commercial fishermen, sport fishermen, dive charter boats and private dive boats as it is convenient for most of the dive sites on the west side of False Bay. There are occasionally problems when the snoek are running or a fishing competition is held and dive boats are unofficially denied access. There are also occasions when running or cycling races are held on the M4 and the road is effectively closed for the day. This happens about twice a year and the dates are known long in advance. Dive the east side of the bay or stay at home on these occasions.
In theory, controlled by MCM, but they are never there when the fishing boats need controlling. Responsible person is probably the Kalk Bay harbourmaster.
There is a more exposed slipway at Rumbly Bay on the south side of Miller's Point, at the Cape Boat Club, which is available to members. This slipway is less protected from southerly winds and waves and the bottom is rocky, so it is not usable at very low tides. However it is convenient when the main slip is overwhelmed by fishing ski-boats and several of the local charter boats have membership so they can launch there when it suits them better. The club facilities are available to a limited extent to customers of member charter boats, and security is considerably better than at Miller's Point main parking area on a busy day. The same baboons frequent the club parking area and it is necessary to keep unattended car doors locked, but at least the baboons will not steal your dive gear or wallet, unless it smells edible.
S34°13'58.58" E018°28'26.46" (Main gates) S34°13'49.63" E018°28'25.12" (Slipway ramp)
About 7.7 km south of central Simon's Town, and 48km from central Cape Town by road.
The position of the slipway and a short breakwater provide good protection from waves from most directions. Launching and recovery are possible in most weather conditions, but can be a little tricky in a strong north-wester. The water at the slipway is shallow at low tide, with a sand bottom at the slip but there are some submerged rocks near the end of the breakwater. Tricky at low tide for large boats.
The concrete jetty to the side of the slipway is suitable for loading, unloading and boarding the boats, and has a few small cleats where the boat can be tied off for a short period
Diving charters seldom operate from this slip if a strong South-easter is forecast, as diving conditions will usually be poor and the ride uncomfortable.
The Rumbly Bay slip has no breakwater, but is partly protected from southerly swells by a rocky reef and some huge boulders to the south. The slipway has dense kelp and shallow rocks on both sides, and some local knowledge is useful to avoid hitting them by accident. This slipway does not extend very deep, and larger boats can not use it at low tide. The end of the concrete ramp is damaged in places and there is a bit of a step, so occasionally trailers get stuck when taken in past the end of the ramp. There is no jetty for loading and unloading: either you are in the boat for launch and recovery, or you jump out and wade.
Open 7 days a week 24 hours a day (in theory). There is a boom at the gate to the trailer parking area, but it is probably not locked. Parking for trailers is extensive, but occasionally filled. The trailer parking area is gravel and there are no marked bays. Trailers are normally parked attached to the tow vehicle. There is a loading zone at the side of the tarred road opposite the gate and steps leading to the lower parking area. This is where dive boats are usually loaded before launching, and unloaded after the dive.
The slipway is a concrete ramp 9m wide, 6° slope, in good condition with a tarred access road in good condition, and a turning area above the ramp. There is a 12m long concrete jetty to the side of the slipway where boats can tie up to load and unload passengers and drop off the driver to fetch the trailer. Rubbish bins are provided at several places.
A separate parking area is provided for vehicles without boat trailers which has been adequate most of the time. It is paved (tarred) but there is loose dirt on the surface and it can be muddy in winter when most dive trips from this ramp are made.
There are public toilets at the turning bay at the top of the ramp, but they are behind a fence. You have to go around the end of the fence nearest the ramp.
No public telephone, and cellphone reception is poor. You may have to walk around until you find a spot where reception is workable. If all else fails, the lawn in front of the Boat Club usually has workable reception.
A launching fee of R70 (September 2010) is charged for boats.
A parking fee may or may not be charged for parking. It is a fairly small and arbitrary amount,and it is not predictable on which occasions the gate guard will charge the fee. If he or she does, pay it and get the receipt. The receipt may or may not have the correct amount marked on it. This is also not predictable.
How to get there from the Cape Town Railway station:
Strand Street (R102) 0.87km. Continue on New Market Street (R102) 0.05km. Continue on Eastern Boulevard (N2) 4.51km. Continue on Rhodes drive(M3) 2,54km. Continue on Union Avenue (M3) 1.87km. Continue on Paradise Road (M3) 0.87km. Continue on Edinburgh Drive (M3) 1.73km. Continue on Simon van der Stel Highway (M3), 9.62km. Left into Steenberg Road (M42) 1.00km. Right into Main Road (M4) 0.46km. Right into Boyes Drive 6.90km. Continue on Loch Road 0.27km. Left into Clairvaux Road 0.28km. Right into Main Road (M4) 2.88km. Continue on Simonstown Road (M4) 2.73km. Continue on Main Road (M4) 2.43km. Continue on St George's Street (M4) 3.33km. Continue on Queens Road (M4) 0.33km. Continue on McFarlane Road (M4) 0.61km. Continue on Main Road (M4) 4.71km. Left into service road for Miller's Point slipway and Cape Boat and Ski-Boat Club.
At the north end of the service road is a boom to the boat and trailer parking area and slipway. To the right is the gate to the public parking area for other vehicles, and just south of this is the gate to the Cape Boat and Ski-Boat Club parking area and clubhouse. The old Rumbly Bay slipway at the boat club is not normally used, as it is shallow and exposed. The Miller's Point slipway is not visible from the road or parking areas.
Security of parked vehicles is unreliable. Your valuables should be locked in a place where they can not be seen. When there are divers in the parking area, it is unlikely that your vehicle will be molested by humans, but baboons may invade your vehicle if they smell food. They have learned to open car doors, so it is necessary to lock if there is food inside. Sometimes the dive clubs or charter boats will hire a security guard to look after the parked vehicles, but don't rely on this. The gate attendants do not appear to be required to provide security.
The slipway is not the place to learn to reverse with a trailer. On a busy day drivers who are unable to get their trailer into the water quickly may be heckled by boat owners waiting to use the slipway. Also try to make sure your motors will start, so you do not block the jetty facility unneccessarily.
Cellphone connectivity is poor from this area. There are some places where you may get a signal, and others where you will not, and they may change with the weather and for other less obvious reasons.
The grassy patch in front of the fishing club has a relatively good spot, right up close to the flagpole, and the road to the main slipway has a place at the top of the hill where reception is said to usually be workable. Most times the lower parking lot is not too bad, but the upper one is not good. Walk around a bit to find a workable place for the call.