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Africa > Southern Africa > South Africa > Diving in South Africa > Diving the west coast of South Africa > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Hakka Reef

Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Hakka Reef

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The dive site Die Middelmas or Hakka Reef is an offshore rocky reef in the Karbonkelberg headland area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand[edit]

Map of the dive site at Middelmas and Hakka Reef

Position[edit]

  • 1 Die Middelmas: S34°01.747’ E018°18.328’
  • 2 Peet's Pinnacle: S34°01.655’ E018°18.341’
  • 3 Sven's Caves pinnacles: S34°01.760’ E018°18.420’
  • 4 Southeast pinnacles: S34°01.780’ E018°18.380’

Die Middelmas is a rock that projects above the water at all tides, to the west of the Oude Schip peninsula. Hakka Reef is around this rock.

This site is in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area since 2004. A permit is required. The site is within the Karbonkelberg restricted area.

Sven's Caves is a group of deep overhangs and swimthroughs at about 20 m depth on the south side of a group of high profile pinnacles to the east of the exposed rock, first reported by local diver Sven Huckveld.

Southeast pinnacles are a pair of high pinnacles to the southeast of the exposed rock. The taller pinnacle to the west rises to within 6m of the suface. There is a deep overhang under the lower pinnacle on the south side.

Peet's Pinnacle is a steep sided corestone boulder pinnacle rising from about 23 m on the sand to the west up to a reported 8 m on top, surrounded by lower reef, first reported by local diver Peet van Eeden.

Name[edit]

Also known as Middelmas Blinder. Named after the rock formation, Die Middelmas, that the site is close to. This rock formation forms a 'blind' rise which peaks about 5 m below the surface.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is about 26 m to the west, and the top of the blinder is about 5 m. Middelmas rock extends several metres above the surface. Average depth is likely to be about 15 m.

Visibility[edit]

Visibility is variable, as with all sites in the region. On a really good day it may exceed 20 m, and will then usually be very cold. These conditions normally occur in summer, when upwellings driven by the strong south easterly winds bring cold, clear, deep water to the surface. The good visibility does not often last long, and is usually followed by a plankton bloom soon after the wind dies down. More often the visibility is less than 10 m, and it is quite commonly around 5 to 8 m in ordinary diving conditions. Of course it can easily be worse, and may be as low as 3 or 4 m, even if the conditions otherwise look good.

Topography[edit]

The site is marked by a large exposed rock beyond the tip of the "Oude Schip" point at the north of Leeuwgat, on the west side of the Karbonkelberg.

The reef is around the exposed rock, and is mostly high profile granite boulders and outcrops, with sand patches in the deeper areas. The reef is exposed to the prevailing swells and there is usually significant surge. There are several narrow steep-sided gullies and overhangs, and these provide habitat for the usual reef ecosystem of the area. The reef is more colourful than the interior of Leeuwgat (Maori Bay).

There is some steel wreckage to the south and south west of the rock which has not been identified, though it may be part of the Bos 400, which touched this reef before finally coming to rest at Duiker Point.

There is also some riveted iron or steel wreckage of unknown provenance close to the northwestern corner of the exposed rocks at about 12 to 15 m depth. This cannot be part of the Bos 400 which was welded.

Sven's Caves: There are a few swim-throughs and deep protected gullies in the area known as Sven's Caves (shown on the map), which is marked by a pinnacle rising from about 18 m to about 8 m, with several other slightly lower pinnacles around it.

Southeast Pinnacles is a group of two pinnacles with a small cave overhang on the south side.

Oude Schip Pinnacle: There are several isolated pinnacles to the north of the reef which break in moderate to heavy swell, and are a hazard to shipping, though as the whole area is a hazard to shipping it is not too important that they are not accurately marked on the navigation charts. One of these, now named Oude Schip Pinnacle, has been mapped, and rises to about 2 m below the surface at low tide. It is a group of massive granite outcrops clustered quite close together on the deeper reef extending west from Oude Schip point.

Peet's Pinnacle: One of the isolated pinnacles north of Middelmas, more or less straight out beyond Oude Schip point.

Geology: Pre-Cambrian granite corestones of the Peninsula pluton. Occasional sand patches at low points.

Conditions[edit]

The site is exposed to the wind and to swells from all directions with some west in them, so should be dived when the swell forecast is for low and short swells. The site is reasonably protected from the south easterly wind and well protected from south easterly wind waves, but it is far enough offshore to occasionally catch gusts of the south-easterly wind. The ride back to Hout Bay will be wet and bumpy in a strong south-easter. The site will probably be at it's best in summer after a strong south-easterly wind, which may bring upwellings of cold clean water, but there will also be occasional opportunities in other seasons.

Get in[edit]

Middelmas dive sites

This site is only accessible by boat. It is about 8.1 km from Hout Bay harbour.

See[edit]

Marine life[edit]

Expect to see soft corals, sea fans, hydroids, sponges, basket stars, nudibranchs and more. The area known as Sven's Caves is particularly rich in soft corals and sponges, and has a fair amount of noble corals and nippled sea fans. The flatter areas may have urchins, brittle stars and patches of black mussels. The shallower surfaces are covered with dense growths of Red bait, and where there is sufficient light there are lots of seaweeds, including kelp forests.

Features[edit]

Deep gullies, walls, pinnacles and swim-throughs. Some wreckage of an unidentified welded steel ship to the south west, and of an unidentified riveted iron or steel ship close to the exposed rocks to the north. The area known as Sven's Caves has several gullies, pinnacles and swim-throughs. There are several blinders to the north, mostly unmapped, but they can break without much warning if the swells are in sets.

Photography[edit]

There is lots of coral and invertebrate life so bring your macro lenses! Also, the rocky outcrops, overhangs and vertical walls make for interesting mid and long shots. A wide angle lens will probably give best results for these.

Routes[edit]

No particular routes recommended.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

Cold water, strong surge in swim-throughs, gullies and overhangs.

Skills[edit]

No special skills required, but because of the strong surge and delicate corals and invertebrates, good buoyancy control and finning techniques are essential. This site is not recommended for novice divers.

Equipment[edit]

No special equipment recommended.

Nearby[edit]

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Leeugat (Maori Bay)

This dive guide to Hakka Reef is a usable article. It has information on location and equipment as well as some complete entries on what to see. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.