Tag: ocean

TOP 10 SWIMMING BEACHES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Warm days of jumping around in the rolling turquoise waves, skipping on white sands and licking ice-cold soft-serves are the secrets to getting the most out of South Africa as a holiday destination. This country’s coastline stretches for more than 2500 kilometres (or over 1500 miles).

Its beaches include trendy hotspots for the brownest babes, the exquisite Wild Coast, or simple stretches of unspoilt sand and sea.

THE TOP 10 SWIMMING BEACHES IN SOUTH AFRICA:

1. Port St John’s, Wild Coast

The sheer magnificence of the Wild Coast is breath-taking, and Port St John’s is the perfect place to immerse yourself in this beauty. This is a tropical beach that is famous for its awesome surfing waves, and is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. This area enjoys hot, humid summers that are best spent frolicking in the warm

2. Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth

Although not the biggest beach in Port Elizabeth, this is certainly one of its prettiest and most popular. It lies at the foot of the iconic Shark Rock Pier that extends into the temperate waters of Algoa Bay. It is situated just next to Humewood Beach, which is the only Blue Flag beach in the city, and both are close to a host of restaurants and the popular Boardwalk.

3. Umhlanga Rocks, Durban

The tidal pools and rock pools of this beach make it ideal for families with little ones and school groups. Every year, Umhlanga Rocks attracts people from all over the country for swimming, surfing, body surfing and sunbathing. The holiday resort village of Umhlanga makes this a beach vacation to remember.

4. Camps Bay, Cape Town

If you’re in the mood for beautiful people on beaches lined with palm trees and trendy champagne bars, Camps Bay is the answer. This spectacular beach lies at the foot of Table Mountain, with the Twelve Apostles looming over it. Smoothed boulders and the broad beaches of pure white sands are unforgettable.

5. Llandudno, Cape Town

Llandudno is a small beach, acclaimed as one of Cape Town’s most beautiful. The homes that perch on the mountains around the beach are some of the most expensive in the country, and keep this beach completely isolated from the bustle of city life.

6. Clifton, Cape Town

Clifton’s beaches are popular filming sites for movies and adverts because of their picturesque white sands, grey boulders and azure waters. This means that days spent on Clifton are sure to yield some celebrity sightings. If not, you are assured of spending time in absolute beauty.

7. Noetzie, Knysna

Noetzie is, actually, just outside Knysna on the Garden Route, and is known for the three mysterious castles right on the beach. It is also known for its variety of wildlife and gorgeous flora. Forested hills and red rock faces make this beach truly special.

8. Plettenberg Bay

Plett, as this area is often known, is a popular tourist destination, particularly during summer. Its two beaches, Robberg and Lookout, are fabulous for swimming, surfing and whale watching, and the miles of sandy shores are ideal for little ones.

9. Cape Vidal, St Lucia

The stunning St Lucia Wetlands Park, now known as the Isimangaliso Wetland Park is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its abundance in flora and fauna. Cape Vidal is part of this area and is most beautiful for its being completely cut off from “the real world”.

10. Willard Beach, Ballito

One of the most popular and acclaimed beached of KwaZulu Natal, Willard Beach is particularly loved for the many attractions and accommodation providers nearby. The long sandy beaches and warm waters make this an ideal option for families and a romantic beach destination for couples.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds more beaches that dot the coastline and invite families and outdoor-lovers from all over the world to sunbathe, swim and enjoy the natural splendour of South Africa.

The dive watch – a history

The oceans have always held a powerful fascination for mankind, accounting for the fact that the history of diving may have started as early as 5,000 B.C., making it as old as human civilization itself. Even today, the sea holds so many secrets and it is doubtful that we will ever fully understand it.

“More people have walked on the moon than have been to the deepest place in the ocean.”

This statement by explorer Don Walsh describes perfectly how little we know about the sea – but as is the spirit of mankind, humans always try to satisfy their curiosity. In order to further explore the marvellous beauty of the sea, all those people who are brave enough to do so, share the need for reliable devices as without them, there would be no diving as we know it today. One of these devices is the diving watch.

Confronted with today’s overwhelming choice of dive watches, we might sometimes forget about the progress this special timepiece had to go through before it arrived at the point where it is today.

Compared to the time span that comprises the history of diving, the history of the diver’s watch seems ridiculously short. But being a mere hundred years in the making, the dive watch underwent an astonishing development, bringing it from a fragile novelty to a robust and reliable companion.

The very first diving watch

Nowadays, several big names of the watch industry claim to have been the first to develop a dive watch and so far no agreement has been reached. Rolex insists on having invented “the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch [which] marked a major step forward” while Blancpain declares the year 1953 the “creation of the first modern diver’s watch” thanks to its Fifty Fathoms and Omega boasts about having “created the first true dive watch.

But let us have a look at the facts:
Although the first efforts to waterproof watches were already made in the 17th century, no real progress was made until three centuries later. In the beginning of the 20th century, water was still one of the biggest enemies of the watch (together with dust, shock, magnetic fields, and general abrasion).

Then Hans Wilsdorf appeared on the scene of the watch industry – the founder of Rolex, who would play a remarkable role in the development of the dive watch – and changed the course of history – it could be called the genesis of the modern diving watch. In 1926, the ambitious genius developed a wristwatch that was waterproof as well as dustproof thanks to its winding crown, bezel, and case back that could be screwed down against the middle case, heralding a new era: a century of unstoppable development that finally lead to the wide range of watches that accompany divers to the most spectacular and mysterious parts of the oceans.

This watch named Oyster – the forefather of today’s famous Rolex Oyster collection – was put to the test on 7 October 1927 when British endurance swimmer Mercedes Gleitze who attempted to cross the English Channel. During this daring swim, she wore the Rolex Oyster on a chain around her neck. The public was certainly surprised when the watch not only survived more than 10 hours in the freezing water, but still worked with a precision and accuracy that was astonishing, making it the first water-resistant watch in history.

Great minds think alike: Omega, Panerai, and Blancpain

Omega SA was the first company to industrially produce and commercially distribute a diving watch in 1932. Being the predecessor of today’s successful Seamaster collection, the Omega Marine was tested on the wrist of Charles William Beebe, a famous naturalist and explorer, and survived a water depth of 14 metres.

In 1935, at request of the Royal Italian Navy, Officine Panerai joins the ranks of those who dedicated themselves to creating the perfect dive watch and starts developing its own waterproof watch – the Panerai Radiomir. Its name derives from the radium-based powder that gives the numerals and markers of this watch its luminosity. Back then, only ten prototypes of the watch were made – all of them equipped with a Rolex movement that was protected from water with a case back and winding crown that could be both screwed down.

Two years after equipping the Royal Italian Navy with this water-resistant watch, Officine Panerai started mass-producing the Panerai Radiomir, which is today considered to be the first underwater military watch worldwide.

The well-established watch manufacturer Blancpain was not one to be left out in this race for the best water-resistant watch. In 1953, a watch was launched at the request of the French Navy: the Fifty Fathoms. This watch – one of the first timepieces waterproof up to 100 metres – can also be seen on the wrists of Jacques Cousteau and his team in the famous underwater film “Le monde du silence” (“The Silent World”).

The success story continues: Rolex dive watches in the 20th century

Rolex took another step forward when the Rolex Submariner was presented in 1953 – the first watch impressing with a water-resistance of up to 100 metres. This number would later increase to 200 metres and finally to 300 metres. Additionally, the Submariner is equipped with a uni-directional rotatable bezel, making it ideal and safe for measuring diving time.

The Rolex Submariner collection rose to fame, when it was featured in a number of James Bond movies, e.g. on the wrist of Sean Connery in “Dr. No”, the very first film about the British Secret Service agent. Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond book series, stated about the spy: “He could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex.”

The French company COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) – a pioneer in saturation diving – let Rolex equip its divers with the Rolex Submariner. From 1963 onwards, the Rolex Sea-Dweller was the company’s dive watch of choice because of its innovative case with the imperative helium escape valve and its waterproofness of up to 610 metres – or 2,000 feet, earning the watch the name Sea-Dweller 2000.

From this point, the development continues with an unprecedented speed:
In 1978, Rolex develops the Sea-Dweller 4000 with a water-resistance of 4,000 feet (1,220 metres). 30 years later, the Rolex Deepsea is created: a watch that can survive 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) under the surface – 100 deeper than the human body.

Rolex’ diving adventures

Only seven years after the launch of the Submariner, Rolex entered unknown territory. Aboard the submersible bathyscaphe “Trieste”, the aforementioned Don Walsh and the oceanographer Jacques Piccard set out in 1960 with the intention of exploring uncharted waters: they traveled to the deepest point of the ocean, the Challenger Deep at the southern end of the Mariana Trench. On their way to the ocean floor – to a terrifying depth of 10,916 metres (35,800 feet) – the two pioneers were accompanied by the Rolex Deep Sea Special strapped to the outside of the bathyscaphe. Having successfully completed the adventure, Jacques Piccard sent a telegram to the Rolex headquarters that read: “Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 metres as it does on the surface.”

Half a century later, the next expedition gets under way, making 26 March 2012 a historic day for the world of diving: James Cameron sets out for the world first solo dive to the Mariana Trench – the first manned dive since the adventure of Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard. All alone in the submersible Deepsea Challenger, the famous film director is only accompanied by the experimental watch Rolex Deepsea Challenge on the outside of the boat. Reaching an incredible depth of 12,000 metres, Cameron and the Rolex watch go down in the annals of history.

Dive computers: the future is now

Dive computers (personal decompression computers, decompression meters) first arose in 1957 and have since then partly replaced the separate equipment needed for dives.
In the development of this device, the Finnish company Suunto holds a special position: founded in 1936, it started its success story with the distribution of liquid-filled compasses and half a century later, the first dive computer was launched: the Suunto SME-ML. Merely a decade passed until these essential devices reached the size we know today.

However, the dive computer has not superseded the diving watch – nor will it in the foreseeable future. Today, the diver’s watch is as reliable and popular as never before and the innovative drive of the watch manufacturers is in full swing. Their accuracy and functionality as well as their elegance is ever increasing, making the diving watch the ideal companion both under water and on land.

Top 6 dive watches today

The Rolex Submariner is probably the best-known dive watch – and not only for being worn by James Bond. The iconic design combined with the extraordinary quality that made Rolex famous makes for a reliable wristwatch water-resistant to 300 metres.
But the “Sub” is not the only celebrated dive watch by Rolex: the Sea-Dweller and its more expensive sister model, the Rolex Deepsea, are every bit as reliable and precise as the Submariner.

Having created the first modern dive watch, Blancpain has outdone itself with every Fifty Fathoms watch it has launched since presenting the first model in 1953. This collection of dive watches features a wide range of different designs, offering the right watch for everyone.

Paying tribute to the original Breitling Superocean, the Superocean Héritage is a popular choice for divers. The choice of different models – all of them equipped with a COSC-certified movement – of this collections satisfies every taste.

Its angular case makes the legendary Panerai Radiomir collection easily recognisable. But Officine Panerai has another ace up its sleeve: the dive watch Panerai Luminor is younger than the Radiomir, but that does not take away from its continuous success – especially after being seen on Sylvester “Sly” Stallone’s wrist in the movie “The Expendables”.

Introduced in 1967, the IWC Aquatimer has been reinvented numerous times and several special editions have been launched. The innovative IWC SafeDive System as well as a separate internal and external bezel make diving even safer.

Finally, the Oris ProDiver must not be forgotten. The version Oris ProDiver Date outperforms all watches for amateurs and aims directly at professional divers. Equipped with the Oris Rotation Safety System, this dive watch will never let its wearer down.

An honorable mention goes to: Suunto. Even though the Finnish company does not technically produce dive watches, no such list would be complete without a word about Suunto – especially as there is a whole range of watch-sized dive computers.

7 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on the Beach This Summer

THINKSTOCK IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES

Allow me to tell you about the angriest I’ve ever been in my life. I was a lifeguard in Long Beach, NY and the ocean was particularly rough on this day. (I know you’re thinking, But it’s NY! How rough can the ocean really get there?? Well, click on this link to have a look. http://youtu.be/PiPNAeo-174 That’s about 100 yards from the spot I worked, so lesson one is don’t underestimate any body of water you plan on entering.)

On this particular day I had a rescue when a riptide eroded a sandbar that a large group of people had gathered on. Almost everyone made it to the shore on their own except for the two small children I pulled out. They were brother and sister. He was 8 or 9 and she was maybe 11. When I returned them to land, I had expected to see mom or dad waiting to hug them; relieved that their children were safe. They weren’t there. As a matter of fact, I had the kids take me all the way to the back of the beach where I found the mom sleeping… with headphones on! She was completely oblivious to the fact that she had almost lost both of her children while she worked on her tan. Please don’t think I’m exaggerating. Her kids were at the very end of their struggle to stay afloat when I got to them. They were going to die. I was furious at this person for being so careless when it came to the safety of her kids and I made sure that she knew it.

When you go to the beach (or anywhere) with your kids, YOU are the first and most important line of defense when it comes to their safety. Gone are the days when the beach meant that you can sit in a chair and read a book, or take a nice nap in the sun. You now have to be constantly on guard. If your child is near the water, you need to be near the water too. If your child is in the water, you should be ankle-deep right behind them at the absolute minimum. You’d be shocked at how quickly a small child can go from wetting his or her toes to being knocked over and washed out with a surprise wave. A 10-second glance away could be all it takes. Consider the lifeguards a final option when all you have done to keep them safe has failed. Do not rely on them or anyone else when it comes to the safety of your kiddos.

Here is a list of things to run through before you head to big blue with the kids:

1. Know your swimming limitations

Please take note that I’m not saying “DISCOVER your limitations.” If you think the water might be too rough for you, then I assure you that you are right. Err on the side of caution always. Don’t put yourself into a dangerous situation, especially when you are with your kids.

2. Be especially cautious in unfamiliar waters

By most standards, I am an excellent swimmer. However, new bodies of water present new challenges that I might not know about and don’t want to discover when I’m in it. Always investigate the place you’re entering first. Ask locals, scope out potential problems and stay out if you’re unsure. If it’s a hot day and you see a delightful-looking area of water that is free of other swimmers, assume there is a reason for it. There might be a riptide, polluted waters or it might be off-limits for some other reason you are not aware of.

3. Recognize a Riptide

Riptides (sometimes called “undertows”) are channels of water that flow from the beach out to sea. You have all of these waves coming in and they have to go back out to sea somewhere. The water is pushed to the side by the waves that are behind it until it finds an exit. This is usually in a spot that’s deeper than the surrounding areas and when the water rushes out, it forms a channel and makes it even deeper. Take a second to watch the water before you go in. Is there a section of the beach where the waves just aren’t breaking? Does the whitewater that’s rolling in mysteriously disappear in a section? That is the deeper water. Waves break where the water gets shallow. If they aren’t breaking, it’s deeper there and you should move your kids somewhere well away from it because chances are, that’s the spot that’s pulling out to sea. What looks to you like the most serene patch of water can very well be the most dangerous. Also, don’t swim very close to jetties or piers. Riptides often form next to them as water is forced out to sea.

4. Know how to get out of a riptide

Riptides can be very scary if you’re in one. You swim and swim and swim towards shore, but either make no progress, or get farther and farther away. If you’ve never been in a riptide, imagine swimming to the end riptide-diagramof your pool, only you’re swimming uphill and the water is pushing you back. There is a very simple solution to this. Swim parallel to the shore, not towards it. The riptide might only be a few yards wide. Once you’re out of it, getting to shore will be relatively easy again.

5. Talk to the lifeguards before you go in

This is a surprisingly simple thing to do that most people overlook. You might be looking at the lifeguard and think to yourself, Pffff… That kid is 19 years old, tops. What can he/she tell me that I don’t already know… Well, when it comes to the ocean, I guarantee you that they know more than you might ever know. In one summer, it’s very likely that those “kids” will spend more time on the beach and in the ocean than most people will in their entire lives. They are the experts and you should respect that. Ask them where the safest place is for you and the kids. Have them point out dangerous spots (they’ll know where they are and where they form with changing tides). If you’re not a strong swimmer, let them know and ask them to keep a particular eye out for your children. I promise you that if you show them that you are making an effort, they will make an effort for you as well.

6. Recognize when someone is in trouble

I strongly recommend that everyone read this article and share it with everyone you know. “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/. It gives you a very real description of what to look for and recognize when someone is in desperate need of help. They cannot call out, they cannot scream. They simply go under. I’ll leave this quote from it here: “Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.”

7. Assign a guardian when you are away

There are obviously going to be times that you can’t watch the kids. You might have to go to the bathroom or feed a parking meter. A mistake that many people (especially those in groups) make is assuming someone else is watching the kids. They are there with eight other adults, so someone is looking out while you’re away, right?? The problem that arises is that every other parent is also assuming someone else has their eyes on your kids. When you need to leave, assign someone specific to watch your children. Tell them “You are in charge of them until I come back. DO NOT STOP WATCHING THEM UNTIL THEN.” Be firm about it. If you don’t give someone this responsibility, you can’t assume that someone is going to just naturally take over.

So please take caution this summer. Watch your kids at the beach, at the pool, heck, even near the mall fountain. Once you know what to look for and what to look out for, you can spend time on the beach passing that knowledge on to your children. They will be safe while you’re with them and armed with the lessons you give them, they’ll be safe in the future when they are on their own.