BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: July through October
DIVE QUALIFICATION: OW1 or equivalent
Raggies are found on Aliwal Shoal, off the coast of KwaZulu/Natal, about an hours drive south of Durban, from July through October. When on a Raggie dive you can also expect to encounter Dusky Sharks, Black tips and if you are really lucky, a Bull or Zambezi Shark.
All “Raggie” diving is done on scuba and we usually do the first dive at first light so as to be the first group of divers on the reef, as this is when we "catch" the Raggies resting. As more and more divers descend on to the reef they tend to frighten the “Raggie’s” off. After the first dive we return to our B&B for surface interval time and a hot English breakfast before going out for the second “Raggie” dive of the day. Sometimes we may do a 2 tank dive without coming back for breakfast. SIT is done on the boat.
The modus operandi is that after a light breakfast of muffins, fruit, cereal and juice you will assemble at the dive centre which is situated on the premises of the B&B for dive planning and to kit up for the first of your two scheduled “Raggie” dives of the day. Once the formalities have been dispensed with you will be transferred to the Umkomaas River mouth from where we will launch the “Rubber Duck” or Zodiac and head for the Shoal. A river mouth launch at Aliwal is often likened to “white water rafting in a wetsuit”. The launch itself is an adrenalin rush!!
Once over the reef you will don your BC, fins and mask and do a backward roll into the ocean and descend to the sandy bottom where the group will assemble and under the guidance of the Dive Master and one everyone is down you will all head off in search of the “Raggies”. Your dive master will have a pretty good idea of exactly where they are to be fond as he has more than likely done the same dive the morning before, and Raggies being creatures of habit, return to the same location every night to rest.
As a diver get low on air, usually at 50 bar, they ascend up the buoy line which is held by the DM to the dive boat above which constantly keeps the buoy in view. Once on the surface you pass your tank and fins to the shipper who will secure them on the boat and then he will help you back into the boat. Once all the divers and the DM are back on board the skipper will head back to the Umkomaas River Mouth where he ties up and joins you for breakfast at the B&B. After breakfast and SIT you will change tanks and head back to the river mouth for your second “Raggies” dive for the day. After the dive you will return to the B&B and the rest of the day is free.