Concrete stairs lead down to the water where our boat was moored. A jovial Senegalese local played a rythmic beat on his tam-tam– luring us to our boat like the Pied Piper. It was an early afternoon dive, and so would be a 1-tank dive. Located only a few kilometers from shore, the Madeleine Islands sit a quick boat ride away from Dakar’s coastline. Mamadou (our dive master) kept the tap of jokes flowing as our little skiff made it’s way amongst fishing boats to the islands. A couple from France were delighted to get reacquainted with our dive-master–as they had dove with him 20 years earlier.
The water temp hovered around 16 degrees Celcius. I donned my 3/2 Oceanic Pioneer wetsuit, and added an extra layer of Lavacore to keep from getting chilled– Bella did likewise. I hesitated with donning a hoodie, but after plunging my hand into the water realized it was a must to wear.
Before we knew it we were already at the island. The boatman dropped anchor. We prepped our cameras, and back-flipped into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The water was murky and green. And the current was strong. We dove along the submerged part of of the island– spotting sea-slugs and little rays. Visibility was less than 10′. We dove down to 60′ where it was a little clearer– hoping there would be less current. Yet there just seemed to be more. Bella and I glanced at each other and made the signal to head-back.
We’ve learned not to push ourselves too much on a dive in questionable conditions. For indeed, there is always the next dive.
Quick Tip: The Aeris Jetpack is a WING BC with integrated weights– giving you great mobility and freedom on your dive. Use the detachable bag on your dive boat to keep the stuff you don;t need for your dive: sunglasses, sunscreen, micro-towel, Dfog, etc..
Aeris Jetpack BC’s
Aeris Ion AT600 First Stage & ION LT Second Stage
Aeris Manta Dive Watch
Aeris Velocity Fins (Bella)
Aeris Accel Fins (Roberto)
Aeris Ai300 Computers
Oceanic Pioneer Wetsuit
Oceanic Pioneer Mask
Lavacore Pants & Short Sleeve Shirts
Ikelite Camera Housing w/ Pro-2800 LED Video Lights
Ikelite Coolpix Camera Housing
The streets of Dakar, Senegal were hustling and bustling when we arrived. Vendors hawked their wares. Cars honked without purpose, and people filled every empty space. Not exactly the backdrop I imagined for scuba-diving, but hey..you never know.
The dive shop–named Oceanium was easy enough to find, and was located around an open bar/cafe area, overlooking the Atlantic. We got introduced to our dive-master Mamadou- a tall fellow with a ready smile- who marveled at the quantity of gear that we pulled out of our Jetpacks.
Conversation flowed and we got to spend some time explaining our kit to him and sipped some coffee that would wake-up a 12 year old dead horse. The vibe was like that of most dive-shops, relaxed–but ebbing with an excitement… an excitement to dive.
We detached our bags from the BC’s and prepped-our kit for what was to be our first dive in Africa.
Gear Guide: AERIS Jetpack BC is adjustable to all sizes. From the back, to the shoulder straps to the waist strap–it all adjusts. I’m 6’1 and Bella is 5’4. And the Jetpack fits us both. It was nice not to have to rummage through my checked-luggage for dive gear. Everything was snug in my Jetpack bag section…even my Accel fins!
Find part 1 and 2 at www.theexpeditioners.com
Sponsored by Aeris, Oceanic Worldwide, Lavacore Int’l, Ikelite Underwater Systems
By visiting different countries (Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa) on Expedition Africa–we really got to tell the difference between cultures. Each country was so clearly distinct from the other– which was fascinating! Likewise, our diving experiences were extremely different in each country. But that’s to be expected from destinations so far apart from each other.
From Dakar, Senegal to Gansbaai, South Africa it is about 6800kms– and from Gansbaai to Vilanculos about 2000kms as the crow flies. We were hoping to get the Sardine Run as well, but alas, it just wouldn’t fit into our scheduling.
Senegal was out first testing ground for our new gear. We were happy that we didn’t have to fidget with the equipment, as dive was challenging to say the least.
When we decided to go to Africa, we knew that a trip to the continent wouldn’t be complete without diving with great white sharks– and so we booked with Sharklady Adventures. Little did we know how up close and personal we would get to be with them!
Our principle reason for choosing Mozambique as a dive destination was in the hopes of seeing Whale Sharks, as Tofo and Vilankulo are known for their sightings. But nature beats her own drum, and from what I understand, those sightings of the gentle giant have become more and more rare. Still, we got to spend some quality time with a giant grouper!
Dive Gear Tip: Taking your AERIS Jetpack as your carry-on is a fantastic solution for flying with your dive kit. But what happens when your plane is a little itsy-bitsy plane who’s overhead compartments are half the size of regular planes? Simple, once you are on the plane and stowing your bag un-clip your BC from the bag section of the Jetpack (making it half the size,) and stow the two sections separately in the overhead, OR put one section in the overhead and the other under the seat in front of you.