Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Noah's Ark
The dive sites Noah's Ark and the Ark Rock Wrecks are rocky reef and wreck sites in the Simon's Bay area on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Information is provided which may assist in planning Recreational and Research Scuba diving at this site, and links to photographs of marine organisms that have been found there.
Minor wrecks of some historical interest.
Name "Noah's Ark" or "Ark Rock"
The large rock at the site is marked on the SA Navy charts as Noah's Ark. The wrecks are associated with the rock by being nearby. There is a wreck of a barge just south of the rock, the wreck of a small steam powered vessel to the west and a larger iron or steel vessel, possibly the “City of Paris”, to the north west.
S34°11.533’ E018°27.232’ Noah’s Ark
550m north of Penguin Point. This is the biggest rock close offshore in the Simon’s Town area, and it is unmistakable as a landmark.
S34°11.603’ E018°27.198’ Ark Rock Barge
120m from Ark Rock at about 220° magnetic.
S34°11.545’ E018°27.173’ Boiler wreck
70m from Ark Rock at about 280° magnetic. 55m from Ark Rock pinnacle at 265° magnetic
S34°11.477’ E018°27.172’ City of Paris?
120m from Ark Rock at about 340° magnetic.
These sites are in a Marine Protected Area (2009)
Generally considered a boat dive, though all can be dived from shore entry at Penguin Point. There is a swim of about 30 minutes each way, which could be tiring in a chop. The rock is clearly visible and can not be missed.
Parking for shore dives at bottom of Bellevue road at the penguin sanctuary.
Can be dived any time the swell is low and the wind is not too strong. Mostly this will be autumn or winter, as a strong south easter will push up an unpleasant chop. For a shore dive, choose a day when there is not too much wind, as this may set up a surface current.
Maximum depth is about 14m
Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, surrounded by sand.
This is a huge flat topped granite boulder standing on even larger granite outcrop which extends above the sand level. The exposed rock is about 55m long from east to west and 30m from north to south. Mostly sheer sided with small overhangs and some deep crevices. The bottom is sand, sloping very gradually from about 10m at the south of the rock to about 8m near Penguin Point.
There is a small pinnacle about 12m to the west of the main rock which rises to quite close to the surface and is topped by kelp. This pinnacle is at S34°11.530’ E018°27.207’ and could be a hazard to boats.
There are assorted cables lying around on the sand in this area which are remnants of the old navy degaussing range.
Ark Rock Barge:
This wreck comprises the central section of a steel barge, probably a dredging hopper. The hold is about 3m wide, with buoyancy compartments port and starboard, each about 1.2m wide. The hull is level and projects about 2m above the surface of the sand, Hull plating is gone along the lower sides but the ribs are still there. The hold is of heavier metal and is substantially intact, with heavy beams at deck level spaced about 2m apart. A good wreck for beginners as it is not possible to get lost in it.
This wreck is the remains of a small unidentified iron or steel vessel which has mostly rusted away, except for the boiler, what might be the engine crankcase and some of the nearby structure. There may also be more of the hull buried in the sand. Everything is heavily encrusted by crinoids, ascidians and other growth, making identification of the components difficult. The wreckage is about 19m long, 6m wide and 2m high (boiler). The centreline of the vessel lies approximately 030° magnetic.
City of Paris?
The wreckage of an iron or steel ship which may be the “City of Paris”. The wreckage is mostly buried under the sand, with a long strip of hull plating and frames projecting about 0.5 to 1m above the sand. The frame spacing is about 0.5m, and a stringer can also be seen. There are two vertical cylindrical objects about 1.8m diameter and a bit over a metre visible height with small rectangular horizontal openings on the sides, and some door frames and cast iron porthole frames mostly buried in the sand. The main debris field is about 40m long and about 2 to 5m wide at about 120° magnetic. Two other minor debris fields which may be parts of this wreck are known. One is to the north at an unknown position, and the other is to the south at S34°11.497’ E018°27.143’
No site-specific hazards have been reported
No special skills required. Reasonable fitness is necessary to do this as a shore dive, due to the long swim.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
A compass is necessary if you wish to return to shore or navigate between the wrecks under water, and a SMB is required to warn boats of your presence during the long swim. A light will help you see into crevices, but is not essential.
Noah’s Ark: There is a band of Black mussels and barnacles around the rock to about 1m below surface, then Red-bait on deeper surfaces. The vertical surfaces and overhangs are heavily encrusted with organisms typical of the area, and include sponges, crinoids, ascidians, sea cucumbers, hydroids and sea fans.
This debris field is about 12m long at 140° magnetic and may be part of the same ship.
From this point swim 100m at 177° magnetic to the Boiler Wreck, then either to Noah’s Ark 70m at 098° magnetic or to the Ark Rock Barge 115m at 184° magnetic.
If you wish to continue to Noah’s Ark from the barge, the course is 040° magnetic for about 120m. This route has not been tested.
Views of the site from the shore.
Noah’s Ark seen from Penguin Point. It is about a 30 minute swim. There is a wreck of a barge on this bearing about 120m before reaching the rock.