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 historical wreck sites in the Seaforth area on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
These are minor wrecks of some historical interest and a large exposed rock surrounded by a small high profile reef.
S34°11.533’ E018°27.232’ Noah’s Ark
S34°11.603’ E018°27.198’ Ark Rock Barge wreck.
S34°11.545’ E018°27.173’ Boiler wreck 1
S34°11.670' E018°27.196' Boiler wreck 2
S34°11.477’ E018°27.172’ Parana 1862
These sites are in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required. These sites is all entirely inside the Boulders Restricted Zone.
The large rock at the site is marked on the SA Navy charts as "Noah's Ark", and is commonly referred to by local divers as "Ark Rock". 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, probably the "Parana" 1862”, to the north west. Another small wreck of a steam powered vessel lies to the south of the barge wreck, near a small group of large rocks.
Maximum depth is about 14m
Visibility is not often very good in this area, but can be 5 to 10m on a good day. It may vary among the listed sites even on the same day.
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 are a few pinnacles around the main rock, including one to the west, and at least two to the south.
The small pinnacle about 12m to the west of the main rock 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. Most of these appear to be south of the barge wreck.
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.
Boiler wreck 1:
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.
Boiler wreck 2:
This wreck is the remains of a small steam powered wooden vessel. Most of the hull has gone, but there is a small amount of hull bottom under the power plant. The most notable feature of the wreck is a small boiler, about 1m in diameter and 2m long, standing upright on the remains of the hull. A couple of metres away is what is almost certainly the remains of the steam engine, but it is very heavily encrusted, and not possible to make out the details. The engine lies on it's side. The wreckage is about 12m long and 2 to 3m wide, the top of the boiler stands about 1.5m above the sand. About 20m to the south east on bearing 135° magnetic, is a group of fairly large rocks. The full extent of this group has not been measured, but it is probably not very large.
The wreckage of an iron or steel ship which may be the “Parana”. 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’
Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, surrounded by sand.
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.
Parking for shore dives at bottom of Bellevue road at the penguin sanctuary.
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.
This site can also be dived as a coastal underwater orienteering swim. A route from the Pumphouse gulley at Penguin Point via Compass Reef, Photographer's Reef and North Photographer's Reef to Ark Rock, and returning via the Ark Rock Barge wreck, and Boiler wreck 2 to Boulders Beach has been planned and tested. The total point to point distance is about 2km.
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.
See section on topography of each wreck.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
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.
A compass is necessary if you wish to return to shore or navigate between the wrecks under water, and a SMB is desirable to warn boats of your presence during the long swim. A light will help you see into crevices, but is not essential.