Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/MV Katsu Maru
Access is only reasonably practicable by boat. The site is about a 2.2km ride from the harbour slipway. The wreck is in the harbour approaches, and there may be significant boat traffic.
S34°03.903’ E018°20.949’ (roughly)
In the middle of the mouth of Hout Bay, About perpendicular to and 30m to the West of the wreck of the M.V. Aster
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.
The Japanese trawler "Katsu Maru #25" struck an unidentified object and was holed on the port side. While under tow to Hout Bay the vessel flooded and it sank in the bay on 7th August 1978.
Maximum depth about 28m meters in the scour at the bow and stern. Average depth of the wreck is over 20m.
The wreck lies on its starboard side heeled at slightly more than 90°, imbedded in the flat sand bottom at about 27m. The bow points towards approximately magnetic southwest. There is moderate scouring at bow and stern, usually to about 28m maximum, depending on the tide. The wreck is essentially intact and still looks much like when it was afloat. The hull is basically intact with a few holes rusted through, but will probably deteriorate quite rapidly as the plating is getting very thin in places (2005). The superstructure and funnel are also identifiable. The foredeck still has a large winch, and there appear to be gas cylinders on a rack. The stern deck areas are a bit cluttered with debris. There is an external bar keel about 150mm deep along the length of the hull. The wreck of the MFV Aster lies more or less astern (north east) of the Katsu Maru, at an estimated distance of about 15m.
Geology: Flat sand bottom.
The site is exposed to south westerly swells, which can cause a strong surge. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and winter.
This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by strong south easterly winds, resulting in cold clear water, which may develop a plankton bloom over a few days, which will reduce the visibility again.
Keep a lookout for times when the south west swell is low and short period, and there is not too much south easterly wind forecast.
The wreck is heavily encrusted with common feather stars and sponges, with some colonial ascidians and hydroids. The hull is said to provide challenging penetrations, and conger eels have been reported from the interior.
Recent wreck in fairly intact condition.
Macro and/or wide angle equipment recommended
No special route recommended. The deck has more interesting details than the bottom.
Cold water, occasional fog, boat traffic. Possible entrapment if the wreck is penetrated. Some of the structure may be unstable. Strong surge if the swell is large or the period long.
No special skills required unless penetration is intended. It is necessary to be qualified for 30m dives.
A light will restore colour and allow you to look into the wreck. Reel and DSMB are worth carrying in case it is necessary to surface away from the shotline. A dry-suit is recommended as the water is cold, Nitrox is recommended to extend no-decompression time.