Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/SS Oakburn and MV Boss400

From Wikitravel
Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : SS Oakburn and MV Boss400
Revision as of 08:46, 31 August 2009 by Pbsouthwood (talk | contribs) (Gallery)
Jump to: navigation, search
Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/SS Oakburn and MV Boss400

Default Banner.jpg

The dive site Oakburn and Boss 400 is a wreck site in the Karbonkelberg peninsula area on the Atlantic seaboard 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.

The site is mainly interesting for the wreck of the Boss 400, and what remains of the Oakburn. The marine life is better represented at other nearby sites.

Name "Oakburn and Boss 400"

The Oakburn, a British cargo steamer of 3865 tons, was wrecked in fog on 21st May 1906, on a voyage from New York to Sydney. Two lives were lost. Its cargo included railway lines and equipment, glassware, sewing machines, musical instruments, oil and paper. The Oakburn has pretty much fallen apart, and on 27 June, 1994, the crane barge Boss 400 broke its towline during a north westerly gale while under tow by the Russian tug Tigr, and ran aground virtually on top of the older wreck. Unsuccessful efforts were made to reconnect the tow and salvage the vessel. The Boss is also starting to break up and it is possible to do some penetrations, but one should be careful. Length of the Boss 400 is about 100m and displacement about 12000 tons.

File:(insert image file name)
Aerial view of the dive sites at theOakburn and Boss 400. (Photo CDS&M)


S33°02.216’ E018°18.573’

The position is unmistakeable (2009) as the Boss is clearly visible above the water for a long distance. The Oakburn is to the South West of the Boss, almost under its stern, and somewhat deeper.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009)


The site is only accessible by boat as there are no roads in the area. The site is about 7.4km from Hout Bay harbour.


The site should preferably only be dived on calm days as it is in an exposed position. There can be a very strong surge through the Boss.

The site is exposed to swell from the west, and protected from wind and chop from the south east. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there may also be occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter.

This is an area which sometimes has upwellings caused by south easterly winds, which result in cold clear water, and may be followed by a plankton bloom, which will reduce visibility again


Maximum depth on the Oakburn is about 22m, mostly shallower. The Boss is considerably shallower.


Granite outcrops and boulders of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton


Granite corestone point with two wrecks. The older Oakburn lies deeper and further to the west, to the stern of the Boss, among moderate to large boulders and outcrops. The wreck is severely broken up and the plates and framing are fairly mangled, though there are a few places a diver can get under them. The recent Boss is largely intact and is still perched high on the rocks, with only part of its upper deck awash. There is a large space under the stern which can be penetrated like a cavern, which is fairly free of snags and is open along a wide area. Other penetrations may be possible in calm weather, but swell causes powerful surge around and through the openings in the stern. The sides are clad with heavy vertical timbers for protection when laying pipes.


Cold water, Strong surge. Ragged wreckage. Probably a high risk of entrapment in the Boss.

Skill level

No special skills required for non-penetration dives.


(photographic equipment suggestions needed)


A light will be useful as there are lots of holes and openings to look into.

Marine life and features

Historical and recent wrecks. Marine life is typical of the area but not particularly noteworthy. The Boss is largely intact, though it is deteriorating rapidly as it is in the surf zone. Penetration is possible, but can be tricky due to the surge.

Suggested Routes

No recommendations available at present.


Views of the site.


Back to Dive sites of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay

This is a usable article. It touches on all the major areas of the topic. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!