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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/MFV Orotava

2,990 bytes added, 14:10, 6 May 2012
[[Image:Smits Wrecks Chartand Good Hope Reef map.png|thumb|400px|Map of the wrecks at of Smitswinkel Bay: . The MV Orotava is second from the topof the picture]][[Image:Diver on starboard side MV Orotava general arrangement plan.png|thumb|400px|General arrangement plan of Orotava P8281051the wreck]][[Image:Oratava (2).JPGjpg|thumb|300px|Diving the Orotava]]  
Like the other wrecks of Smitswinkel Bay, the MV Orotava is reasonably accessible and a popular dive site for both local and visiting divers. The dive is moderately deep, but within the comfort range for many recreational divers, and the area is fairly well protected from the prevailing swell. The depth also protects the wrecks from the worst of the storm surge which would otherwise have broken them up much sooner. The Orotava is one of the better preserved wrecks of the Cape Peninsula, and is small enough to be fairly comprehensively visited on a single dive.
The MFV Orotava is the second from northernmost of the 5 wrecks in Smitswinkel bay.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (20092004). A permit is required.
Sand bottom is at about 34m32m near the stern, Gunwales 25 25m to starboard on the quarterdeck, to 27mforward of the wheelhouse to port. Highest point on the wreck about 23mat the top of the funnel.
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°, and is (2012) still in almost intact condition, with very little wastage of shell plating. There is a long raised quarterdeck, with a smaller wheelhouse structure and funnel forward, with the wheelhouse roughly amidships. The front and top of the wheelhouse are gone, leaving the upper superstucture open all the way to the back, where there is a hole below the funnel into the space above the engine room, which is also accessible via the engine room skylight. The top of the funnel now functions as a skylight for this part of the superstructure, but the frames are too close for use as an access point.  There is a large winch on the foredeckwaist deck just forward of the superstructure, and a pair of hatches ahead of this give reasonable access to the hold space, which is clear, but cluttered by pillars, which were used to support washboards to control the cargo. There are several holes in the sides and upper deck where plating has rusted away leaving only the frames, which are probably too tight for most divers to exit. The base of the mast is roughly in line with the shelter deck on the port side, just aft of the forecastle, and on the starboad side is a trawl gallows, supported by struts. The forecastle is accessible at main deck level trough a spacious opening at the break, and inside there is a hatch down into a hold, which appears to be accessible, though a perhaps little tight for back mount. This hold contains little of interest, it is virtually empty. The forecastle space is quite open and reasonably clear except for a large number of pillars. There is a small manhole to a cofferdam which is too small for diver access, and in any case you can see the whole compartment from outside. There is an open hatch a fairly large skylight on the foredeck forward of quarterdeck just abaft the funnel, which has lost the cover on the winchstarboard side, giving and the hole is big enough to provide comfortable access for most divers. This opens into a space above the engine room, and there is a hole directly belowwhich takes you the rest of the way down directly above the engine block. A shaft tunnel is visible behind the engine, which looks fairly tight. The engine room is fairly cluttered, but reasonably clear above the engine.  
[[Image:Diver at the propeller aperture on the Orotava P8281063.JPG|thumb|Diver framed by the propeller aperture]]
[[Image:Diver over the funnel on Orotava P8281106.JPG|thumb|Diver over the funnel]]
[[Image:Feather_stars_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04835.JPG|thumb|Feather stars]]
[[Image:Scorpion_fish_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04881.JPG|thumb|Scorpion fish]]
[[Image:Twotone_fingerfin_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04886.JPG|thumb|Two tone fingerfin]]
===Marine life===
The wreck is too deep for much seaweed, but it is heavily encrusted with invertebrates, some of which are seldom seen anywhere else but the Smits wrecks. There are large numbers of multicolour and other sea fans, large clusters of sea cucumbers and areas covered with srawberry anemones. The Frilled nudibranch and the Gas flame nudibranch are common. Barred fingerfin are possibly the most common fish, but others, including scorpion fish , white seacatfish, panga, two-toned fingerfin, klipfish and horsefish may be seen.<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">Image:Feather_stars_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04835.JPG|Feather starsImage:Scorpion_fish_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04881.JPG|Scorpion fishImage:Twotone_fingerfin_on_MV_Orotava_DSC04886.JPG|Two tone fingerfinImage:White seacatfish inside Orotava wreck P5050108.JPG|White seacatfish in the holdImage:Whelks and egg mass on Orotava P5050136.JPG|Whelks with an egg massImage:Frilled nudibranchs on the wreck of the Orotava P5050137.JPG|Frilled nudibranchs</gallery>
Fairly intact wreck of steel side-trawler. The low funnel is the highest point and stub mast on the forward part of superstructure are the wreck, possibly highest points on the whole wreck. There is a large and easily recognisble recognisable winch on the foredeck just forward of the superstructure. Much The front of the plating wheelhouse is wasted, missing and you can swim into the superstucture from the forward end above the winch. The engine room is accessible for the appropriately skilled and equipped diver, and some of the machinery is in place.<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">Image:Oratava (1).jpg|Inside the OrotavaImage:Diver at the propeller aperture on the Orotava P8281063.JPG|Diver framed by the propeller apertureImage:Diver over the funnel on Orotava P8281106.JPG|Diver over the funnelImage:Diver on starboard side of Orotava P8281051.JPG|Diving the Orotava - starboard sideImage:Lookin out from the forecastle space on MV Orotava wreck P5050122.JPG|Looking back out from inside the forecastle Image:Divers in wheelhouse 2.jpg|Divers in the wheelhouse</gallery> ===Photography===
There are plenty of macro subjects, but in good visibility a wide angle or fisheye lens wil give some interesting views

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