Cape Town Freediving Clip Of The Week 6:
We don’t do a lot of boat freedives, mainly because there are so many beautiful dive sites close to shore, but when we do, the SAS Pietermaritzburg wreck (PMB wreck) is high up on our list of dive sites to visit. We love this site because it is quite close to the Millers Point slipway, the water temperature is usually warm enough to enjoy a long dive session, it is covered in marine life, it’s resting at a challenging, but fun depth and is still intact enough to feel like a proper wreck dive.
The SAS Pietermaritzburg, formerly the HMS Pelorus, is a 70m long Algerine class ocean minesweeper and was the lead ship for the D-day invasion of Normandy in WWII. It was sold to the South African Navy in 1947 and stayed in service until 1994 when it was scuttled to form an artificial reef in False Bay. This dive site is approximately 700m from the nearest point on land just South of Rocklands Farm and could be freedived from shore. However, there is a lot of boat traffic going past and over this site so it is definitely much safer doing it as a boat dive. If you still want to do this as a shore dive then consider paddling out on a surfboard or a SUP and take along a very visible buoy with an alpha flag (divers down flag).
The PMB wreck is resting on its keel in approximately 20m of water. The deck of the ship is around 16-17m deep and the deepest point on the sand is about 22m. It’s at the perfect depth for Adventure Freediver II certified freedivers! The PMB is lying with its bow to the south and stern to the north. In this video clip, John freedives down and along the port quarter, then enters the exposed structure and exits at the starboard quarter. The entire wreck is covered in thick marine life and there is usually an abundance of fish around. Daniela and Stephan spotted numerous large nudibranchs on the wreck during this dive session. As you can see in the video, it gets dark down there even on days with good visibility so definitely take a torch along.
Please be careful when freediving this wreck. It is breaking up and is structurally compromised. There are lots of sharp bits of metal which could injure a distracted freediver and many opportunities to bump your head. Definitely do not dive here on days when there is strong swell and surge. I also wouldn’t recommend entering any tight spaces. Keep it fun and stick to the open swim throughs.
If you are looking for a change from kelp forest freedives, then this is definitely one of the intermediate/advanced sites we recommend. If you don’t feel comfortable freediving these depths yet, then join us for an Adventure Freediver II course where you will learn how to hold your breath longer and freedive deeper without the aid of a dive line.