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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Rambler Rock

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The dive site Rambler Rock is an offshore rocky reef in the Simon's Town area on the Cape Peninsula side of False Bay, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It includes several sections of reef, such as the North-west pinnacle, the North-east reefs, the Southern pinnacle and surrounding reef, and the small reef section at Hotlips pinnacle. Several other patches of reef in this area have not yet been surveyed or named. If they have been dived, no-one has recorded them.

Understand[edit]

Map of the dive sites at Rambler Rock
Map of the dive site at Rambler Rock South Pinnacle

The North-west pinnacle is particularly scenic in good visibility.

Position[edit]

  • S34°10.924’ E018°27.899’ 1 Rambler Rock North-west Pinnacle
  • S34°10.916' E018°27.996' 2 Rambler Rock North-east Reefs
  • S34°11.011’ E018°27.918’ 3 Rambler Rock Southern Pinnacle
  • S34°11.145' E018°28.091' 4 Hotlips Pinnacle

A group of reefs south east of the Roman Rock lighthouse off Simon’s Town Harbour. It is marked on the SAN charts which show two major groups of rocks at this site: the north group and the south group. There are several patches of reef in each group, and the ones that have been mapped are listed here.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. It is outside (east) of the Boulders Restricted Zone.

Name[edit]

The reef is marked on the SA Navy charts as "Rambler Rock".

Depth[edit]

  • Maximum depth about 22 m on the sand at the North-west pinnacle. Top of the pinnacle is about 10 m.
  • Maximum depth at the Eastern reefs is about 27 m on the sand. The top of this section is estimated at 12 m.
  • The Southern reef has pinnacles rising to a bit above 9 m, and the surrounding sand can be deeper than 24 m.
  • The far south-western reef has sand bottom at 30m to the east, and rises to a fairly flat-topped pinnacle at between 18 and 21 m.

Visibility[edit]

Visibility is difficult to predict, and may differ from sites further inshore (usually better) and further south (may be better or worse). When conditions are generally good for this area it may be in excess of 10 m, more commonly a bit less.

Topography[edit]

North-west pinnacle[edit]

A pinnacle of very large boulders and outcrops concentrated in an area about 25 m diameter. The top of the pinnacle is at about 11 m depth. The pinnacle is surrounded by scattered small low boulders and outcrops over a larger area (About 75 m East to West, 35 m North to South), on a coarse sand bottom, at a depth of just over 24 m. Some nice gullies, crevices, overhangs and holes in the deeper areas. Particularly colourful on vertical and overhanging areas, and the topography is fairly spectacular in good visibility. Partly mapped.

North Central reef[edit]

Unmapped section of reef between North-west pinnacle and North-east reefs. Reported to rise to shallowest depth of about 12 m. No other information available at this stage.

North-east reefs[edit]

Extensive fairly low profile reef with areas of moderately high profile boulders. Not very well known, but pleasantly varied. Partly mapped. Main pinnacle is a big outcrop with flat-top at about 22 m with big boulder perched on top, rising to about 14 m, surrounded by large area of lower reef, mostly below 21 m, with a few local shallows about 18 m. Flat sand beyond reef at about 25 to 26 m. Larger, but more spread out than the north-western pinnacle, so not as spectacular in good visibility.

Southern pinnacles[edit]

Extensive granite reef. The pinnacle rises to the shallowest depth of about 8 m to the north-west of the reef. There are several areas of about 18 m depth in the central part of the reef, but most is deeper than 18 m. Profile is moderately high over a large part of the reef, and there are occasional sand-filled gulleys. Fairly extensively mapped above 24 m. Lots of sea fans and soft corals, sea cucumbers and brittle stars.

Grant's dome[edit]

Domed granite outcrop about 300 m WSW of the South pinnacle. About 15 m at shallowest point, down to about 21 m, with good examples of sea fans. First recorded dives 16 June, 2014.

Hotlips Pinnacle[edit]

Granite outcrop on sand rising to about 18 m on top. Flat topped pinnacle, with surrounding low to medium profile reef of boulders and low bedrock. Maximum depth about 30 m on sand to the east. Large numbers of sea fans. First recorded dive on 16th February 2015. Named after the Hotlips spider crab, Achaeopsis spinulosus, several of which were seen at this site on the first dive.

Geology: Granite corestone outcrops and boulders of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton.

Conditions[edit]

This site can be dived at any time of the year that has low or short period swell. Poor visibility at the surface does not necessarily extend to the bottom. The site is exposed to winds from all directions, which can produce an unpleasant choppy sea, and make it difficult for the boat crew to see a diver on the surface. The site is usually at its best in winter and spring.

Get in[edit]

This site is only accessible by boat. It is about 3.9 km from Simon’s Town or 5.4 km from Miller’s Point.

See[edit]

Marine life[edit]

The rocks are encrusted with a variety of organisms depending on depth and orientation. There are kelp and sea urchins on the tops of the pinnacles, and Red-bait and other large solitary ascidians scattered around. The steeper sides are largely covered by common feather stars, There are also occasional sea fans, some quite large. The sand is coarse and shelly near the rocks, and there are sand stars, brittle stars, sand slugs, burrowing anemones and purple sea pens on the sand.

Photography[edit]

This is a good photographic site. Unless the visibility is particularly good, macro equipment will usually give the best results.

Routes[edit]

  1. North-west pinnacle: Live boat dive. Drop onto the pinnacle and explore. It is small enough to swim around a few times at varying depth, so start at the bottom and work your way up. The kelp is restricted to the top so a SMB can be towed easily. Alternatively use the shotline or deploy your DSMB at the end of the dive.
  2. Southern pinnacle: Start at the pinnacle. The reef is large and not well known, so there are no special recommendations for the route of a dive.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

A Great White shark was seen by a group of scuba divers at the northern pinnacle.

Skills[edit]

No special skills required, though the ability to deploy a DSMB is useful as most dives are from a live boat.

Equipment[edit]

A light is useful to restore colour at depth, a compass to keep track of your movements, a DSMB to let the boat know where you are surfacing, and Nitrox can extend no-decompression time significantly in this depth range.

Nearby[edit]

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Roman Rocks reefs

This dive guide to Rambler Rock has guide status. It has a variety of good, quality information including location, conditions and equipment, and info on marine life and other sights. Please contribute and help us make it a star!