group of offshore dive sites near Castle Rocks on the Cape Peninsula east coast

The dive site Pie Rock is an offshore rocky reef in the Castle Rocks restricted zone on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula , near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

UnderstandEdit

 
Map of the dive site at Pie Rock reef

This is a spectacular dive in good visibility, and large numbers of fish may be seen. Outer Castle is structurally part of the same reef, but has historically been considered a separate site. The site was known by the name "Pie Rock" before 2004. The sections were named after mapping started

PositionEdit

  • S34°14.375' E018°29.075' 1 North Pie Rock
  • S34°14.396' E018°28.943' 2 West Pie Rock Reef
  • S34°14.432' E018°29.153' 3 East Pie Rock Reef
  • S34°14.445' E018°28.985' 4 South Pie Rock Reef pinnacles

North Pie Rock pinnacles are about 760 m from the north entry area at Castle Rocks. Bearing 353° True (017° magnetic) to Bakoven Rock, approximately 278° True (302° magnetic) to north side of Castle Rocks, and about 150 m south east of Outer Castle, There is an iron anchor to the east of the main pinnacles at about 18 m depth at S34°14.381' E018°29.105'

South Pie Rock Pinnacles are in the extreme southern part of these reefs, nearly directly south of the North Pie Rock area, on a distinct lobe delineated by sand tongues to the east and west, and sandy bottom to the south. The western reef is inshore of the south pinnacles, and there is an unexplored lobe of reef to the east, which will probably end up being called East Pie Rock Reef. There are other nearby reefs across sandy gaps of varying widths. Some have been explored, others may never have been dived.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is entirely inside the Castle Rocks Restricted Zone.

NameEdit

The area was called "Pie Rock" because one of the larger rocks in the area is said to look a bit like a giant wedge of pie.There does not seem to be any record of which rock this is, but the name stuck. The names for the parts of the reef were given as descriptions to identify them by relative position. Outer Castle was known by that name and dived on in the 1980s and probably earlier. It is visible from the shore as a blinder, a submerged rock which causes waves to break over it in some sea states and tides. It is offshore of Castle Rocks, a distinctive granite promontory, which is reflected in the name.

DepthEdit

Maximum depth is about 25 m at the sand to the east. Top of the highest pinnacles is at 4 to5 m. Average depth on a dive is about 15 to 18 m, within the range for entry level divers.

VisibilityEdit

Visibility will be similar to the nearby reefs, but may be a bit better than on the inshore reefs because there will be less surge on the sand, and the deeper parts may be below the worst of a plankton bloom.

TopographyEdit

Large granite corestone outcrops and boulders. The site is in three main sections, Pie Rock North Reef, Pie Rock Southern Pinnacles and Pie Rock West Reef. There is a lobe of reef at the east side of the mapped areas, which is also the deeper side, but so far no reports on the topography of the eastern lobe.

  • Pie Rock North Pinnacles is two adjacent groups of high pinnacles south of the Outer Castle blinder. This is the central part of the Pie Rock reef complex, and the northernmost area referred to as Pie Rock. It is the first of the Pie Rock reefs to be recorded as a dive site, and the early dives were probably mostly near the eastern sand edge of this area.
  • Pie Rock Southern Pinnacles are part of a more extensive area of low reef to the south, with a picturesque group of shallow pinnacles rising to about 4 m depth at the shallowest point.
  • Pie Rock West Reef is a relatively shallow area west of the north and south pinnacles, with a shallow point at about 4 m depth.
  • Pie Rock East Reef is a partly explored area to the south-east of the north pinnacles. Early survey indicates fairly open reef extending to at least 25 m depth to the southeast, with some pinnacles rising to about 16 to 18 m depth to the east and southeast. Most of the reef remains unexplored. The edges are a bit diffuse, with sandy indentations and patches among the rocks, and rocky bits in the sand. There is a swimthrough under a boulder pinnacle on the southeastern reef edge.

Geology: Granite of the Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton.

ConditionsEdit

The site is moderately protected from south westerly swell. South east chop may make it unpleasant on the surface, but it may be quiet below the wave base, however a strong south-easter or one that blows for a long time will push up a swell that will make it unpleasant all the way down. Generally considered a late autumn and winter dive site but there are also occasional opportunities in other seasons. A north-westerly wind can raise a chop that can make the boat ride back wet and uncomfortable.

Get inEdit

 
Pie Rock reefs and nearby dive sites

The site is generally considered a boat dive. It is approximately 2 km from Miller's Point slipway and 9.3km from Simon's Town jetty. It could be dived from shore entry at Castle Rocks, but would require a 750 m swim each way. For a shore dive use a SMB when near the surface, as boat traffic in the area can be heavy on a good day. Bearing from Castle Rocks north entry approximately 120° magnetic. Don't try this in a strong offshore wind.

SeeEdit

Marine lifeEdit

Large numbers of false corals, feather stars, colonial ascidians, red sea cucumbers and colonial hydroids. A reasonable variety of fish, sometimes in fairly large shoals.

PhotographyEdit

Like most of the dive sites in this part of False Bay, the visibility is not very predictable, and in most conditions close up and macro photography will be a good choice. Wide angle scenic shots can give good results when the visibility is unusually good. For close up work some form of artificial lighting is advised, both to reduce blur by shortening exposure time, and to bring out the colour.

RoutesEdit

No particular route recommended.

Stay safeEdit

HazardsEdit

No site specific hazards are recorded.

SkillsEdit

Certification appropriate to the depth is expected, otherwise no special skills are required. Ability to deploy a DSMB may be useful if you surface away from the shotline.

EquipmentEdit

A DSMB may be convenient if you surface away from the shotline.

NearbyEdit

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Castle Rocks

This dive guide to Pie Rock is a usable article. It has information on location and equipment as well as some complete entries on what to see. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.