The dive site Star of Africa is an offshore rocky reef with a historical wreck in the South Peninsula area on the Atlantic Seaboard of the Cape Peninsula near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
The wreck of the Star of Africa has been dived very seldom, if ever, before September 2015, when a group of Cape Town wreck hunters found the site on the last planned search leg of the last planned dive before they intended to abandon the search indefinitely. The search had been going on sporadically for several years, when the weather permitted, and sufficient enthusiasts were available to swim search lines.
By September 2015, most of the likely ground had been covered, leaving just three unsearched patches. Two of them had shown slight results on a magnetometer search some years before, the third was just a gap in the chart. Searches at the two magnetometer hits revealed nothing, and the three teams allocated to the last gap also had no luck. The first group decided to swim the last line in the last gap after completing their unsuccessful dive and landed right on the wreckage. They found heavily encrusted iron structure, two brass porthole frames and a hardwood deadeye with the rusted remains of a wire stay. This last item is strong evidence of a sailing vessel of the right period. A second dive was done about an hour later, and more structural wreckage was found, including riveted plates, curved hull frames, and part of the keel from near the sternpost. Three anchors were also found, two of them next to the iron bowsprit.
Details of the vessel: Length 154.5' x breadth 27.3' x depth 15.9'. Iron sailing barque of 445 tons, owned by L Anderson & Murison, Cape Town, and built by John Duthie, Sons & Co., Torry Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Aberdeen, Scotland in 1876, near the end of the age of sail. The Star of Africa was carrying a cargo of rice from India to Cape Town, when it struck Albatross Rock on 29th August 1880 and sank within a few minutes. The Second Officer and one sailor survived to tell the tale. The masts were visible sticking out of the water for a short time, but the exact position was not determined or recorded.
- 1 Star of Africa: S34°16.295' E018 21.55' — offshore from Albatross Rock.
This site is in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area since 2004. A permit is required.
The Star of Africa is the name of the ship wrecked at the site.
Maximum depth is about 27 m. and the top of the reef is about 24 m. Average depth of a dive is likely to be about 26 m.
Visibility on a good day should be over 10 m.
The wreck is very broken up, and lies scattered on low to medium profile sandstone reef with occasional sandy areas and low ridges. The bowsprit and two bow anchors are at the southern end of the debris field, which to date has been estimated at about 50 m diameter. The highest item of wreckage found so far is the two anchors, which are about 2 m high. Most of the structural wreckage extends less than half a metre above the bottom.
Geology: Hard and resistant sandstones, possibly of the Table Mountain series. Strike appears to be roughly magnetic north/south, Dip is not clear, but may be either nearly horizontal or nearly vertical.
The site is completely exposed to westerly swells, from northwest to southwest, so should be dived in very calm conditions, and is more likely to be good in summer. The site is protected from south easterly swell, but exposed to south easterly winds, as the peninsula is quite low at that point.
This site can only be accessed by boat. The nearest launch site is the public slipway at Witsand, also known as Soetwater, or the Crayfish factory, between Kommetjie and Scarborough. The site is 10.7 km from Witsand, or 27.5 km from Hout Bay harbour.
Sparse Laminaria kelp forest on the rocky areas, with mixed seaweed understorey, particularly crustose corallines, Invertebrates are fairly sparse on the flat open areas, with a bit more variety on the small rocky ridges.
Wreck of a late 19th century iron barque.
Wide angle photography of the wreck in good visibility .
This is a site which will be dived to see the wreck, so swim around and see it. It is small enough to see most of it on one dive.
No site-specific hazards.
No special skills are required. No penetration is possible, and the site is open and clear of significant hazards. The depth is below the range recommended for entry level divers, but otherwise it is suitable for most divers.
The water will be cold, so a good wetsuit or drysuit is recommended. The site is small and open, it should be possible to surface at the shotline, but a DSMB is recommended in case you have to surface elsewhere, so that you are more visible to the boat. Nitrox will enable you to dive for longer without the need for decompression stops. The wreck is at a depth where a well chosen mix can extend bottom time considerably.
Other regional dive sites:
- Dive sites of Table Bay and approaches
- Dive sites of the Cape Peninsula east coast
- Dive sites of False Bay offshore and approaches
- Dive sites of False Bay east coast
- Fresh water dive sites of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area