Some jobs have their perks – like free tickets to the company’s box for big rugby matches, or a company car that you’d never be able to afford under normal circumstances. If you’re really lucky, like Shot Bru contributor, Dane de Jager, you get to surf a perfect reef break that is restricted to only yourself and your colleagues.
Working as a diamond diver up the weskus definitely has its perks for Dane. Here’s a snapshot he took of a restricted peak in the diamond mine he works at near Alexander Bay.
“I’m working up in Alexander Bay diving diamonds.” explained Dane. “The waves I have found inside the mine are quite good. Even if exposed, access is pretty much out of the question (and so is filming).”
“I have been fortunate enough to work for Simon James, an avid surfer who allows me to take work vehicles and go explore the coast. Most spots have never been surfed and some only by me; I’m quite privileged. I have managed to organise a camera in the mine now as I am making a safety video for the Alexkor Diamond mine, so I will be taking some more shots as soon as I get a chance.”
Intrigued, we asked Dane to tell us more about the restricted peak.
Another empty barrel rifles off.
ZIGZAG: That wave looks perfect. What’s it like?
DANE: The spot in the photos is a sick right that comes off a shelf. It’s quite shallow at the end, especially on the low tide. Kelp is always a problem up here, but we are divers and have the equipment to sort that out if we want. We move rocks and cut away kelp with a sickle. There is always a solution and we make a plan!
Does it hold any size? How big have you checked it get?
It runs for about 100 meters-plus when it is big (which is only about 6 to 8 foot), then bends into a fat bowl at the end. There is a far longer left just on the other side of that point about 200 meters away. It gets a bit bigger and can offer a good barrel. Sometimes it’s a solid 200 to 300 meter ride – if not more!
Staring at a quality left while setting up for a day of graft.
Are there any other hidden gems you’ve come across in the area?
Other waves I have found stretch from Kleinsee to Alexander. There are some hot spots in Port Nolloth with some ridiculous waves ranging from massive 20 ft bombs, to long open waves that run forever, as well as some heavy, shallow ledge pits – all with no one around for miles. The biggest crowd I’ve surfed with up here was with six people in Port Nolloth and that’s with everyone hooting and frothing.
Where do you call ‘home’?
I hail from Cape Town but grew up in Hermanus and have been living there for about 24 years. My local spot is Onrus Beach, which has seen itself in the Zag a few times. I started surfing and diving when I was 13 and never looked back. Both have brought me great pleasure and peace of mind, as well as provided me with a lifestyle that few rival.
Work days can often be 15 hours long. Luckily Dane has a coast full of potential waves to blow off some steam on.
Can you tell us a bit more about your job? What is it like carrying that giant vacuum cleaner around under water?
I have been diving diamonds up here on the west coast for seven years. It’s a lifestyle more than a job. I love what I do and I work with a really good crew for a rad company that gives us all the freedom in the world. I really am blessed! Our typical work day starts at 5:30am and ends at around 8:00pm, and sometimes 9:00pm – a long day! The work involved is very physical and strenuous. We are basically mining diamonds underwater with giant suction hoses, while fighting super cold water, rips, waves, bad visibility and anything else that nature can throw at you. Let’s just say that mother nature protects her gems and makes sure you have to work hard to get them.
The end product after a hard day’s work.
Here is a video that Dane uploaded to Youtube, which gives an idea of his line of work: