Difference between revisions of "Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/SAS Good Hope"
Latest revision as of 18:43, 17 October 2011
S34°16.105’ E018°28.851’ (Bow)
S34°16.054’ E018°28.850’ (Stern)
The SAS Good Hope is the second from southernmost of the 5 wrecks in Smitswinkel bay.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.
"HMSAS Good Hope" was one of three Loch class frigates transferred to South African naval forces while under construction. The ship was laid down in November 1943 as HMS Loch Boisdale, and was launched at Blyth on 5th July 1944 as HMSAS Good Hope and went into service on 9th November 1944. The vessel saw service as a convoy escort during the closing stages of World War II and was for many years the flagship of the S A Navy. The ship was sold for scrap and scuttled by explosive charges in Smitswinkel Bay to form an artificial reef at 3.45 pm on June 18th 1978 and sank in 5 minutes.
Maximum depth is about 36m on the sand, main deck was about 25m, but structural collapse has reduced the height of the wreck and the high points are now (July 2011) at about 27m.
Visibility is somewhat unpredictable, and can vary from around 1m up to over 20m on an exceptionally good day. More often it is in the 6 to 10m range, which is quite divable, and better than average for False Bay. This is due to the depth, and possibly because it is quite near to the mouth of the bay and is more likely to get clearer oceanic water. There are frequently occasions when the surface visibility is relatively poor, less than 5m, but the water is clearer below about 10 to 15m, and visibility can be quite good, though dark, on the wreck. On days with exceptional visibility the water is blue, but it is usually green, due to organic particulate matter in the water column. There may be a small degree of silting on the exterior, and considerably more inside in sheltered areas, but this is not a problem unless you intend to penetrate.
The wreck lies upright on a flat sand bottom with bows to the south. The wreck of trawler Princess Elizabeth about 10m off to starboard about 20m forward of the transom. Most of the hull plating has rusted away on the quarter deck leaving mainly frames. The wreck has deteriorated markedly since 2004. The mast has fallen and is lying over the starboard side. The main deck has partly collapsed and has caved into the wreck, still attached along the sheer line.
The interior of the hull is now accessible from many places where the plating has wasted away, and also through a number of openings on the deck. The structure must be considered unstable, and you enter at your own risk. A large rectangular opening roughly amidships opens into what was probably a boiler room, which is still quite crowded with equipment. (mostly unrecognisable) Other compartments in what was probably living space are more open, but there are old cables and other snags all over the place. Much of the interior does not seem to be heavily silted, as there is often surge which will disturb and carry away silt in open areas.
Geology: Flat fine white sand near the hull, though there is a small granite reef some 50m to the east of the stern.
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 its 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.
This site is only accessible by boat. It is about 5.3km from the slipway at Miller's Point.
The wreck is too deep and dark for much seaweed, but it is heavily encrusted with invertebrates, some of which are seldom seen anywhere else but on the Smits wrecks. Reef fish are regularly seen, and some pelagic fish have been seen passing by, including Oceanic sunfish and Yellowtail.
Recent wreck of World War II vintage warship.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
Use a shot line or anchor line if possible to control ascent rate and the place where you will surface. For your first dive on this wreck there is enough to see just swimming around the perimeter and over the deck.
Penetrations should be planned taking into account the structural state of the vessel. Significant structural collapse has recently (2008) occurred without any obvious warning signs, and further collapse may occur at any time. Enter at your own risk.
The structure has become unstable due to corrosion, and there is a risk of collapse if there is a strong surge. Penetrations should be planned with this risk in mind.
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. A DSMB is recommended in case you have to ascend away from the shotline.