The latest acquisition of two new BF250 four-stroke Honda outboard motors by Ocean Odyssey , Knysna’s only permitted Whale Watching and Marine Eco Tour company, means that all their vessels are now completely powered by Honda
Common dolphins swimming next to Honda-powered Ocean Odyssey vessel
Last year they fitted the BF200hp Honda motors on their newly refurbished Buttcat and they have been more than pleased with the motors’ performance thus far. Onwards and upwards, they decided to step it up a notch with the BF250 model, which has garnered rave reviews from across the board with its engineering and clean technology prowess.
The BF250 Honda has a range of pretty awesome specs, such as “boosted low speed torque, which improves acceleration at low speeds, giving Ocean Odyssey skippers navigating the often dynamic opening of the Knysna Estuary on a daily basis a serious advantage.
Renowned for their environmentally conscious technology, Honda outboard motors also deliver ultra-low emissions and improved fuel economy, the latter of which is an important financial concern for any business. These features are particularly important for Ocean Odyssey, an advocate for maintaining the integrity of the marine environment within which they operate. At cruising speed, this engine uses up to 30% less fuel than other outboard motors in its class; a notable plus for our fragile environment.
Another spec they love is the unobtrusive noise of the motor. The ingeniously designed variable air intake system includes a silencer, which means when Ocean Odyssey is viewing the magnificent marine animals during their tours, they are doing so quietly, minimising any impact they may have on the animals and avoiding any change of the animal’s natural behaviour.
During the festive season volunteer NSRI rescue crews responded to 144 calls for help, rescued 151 people and assisted a total of 40 boats which were in trouble
The school holidays are finished and the National Sea Rescue Institute has looked at the drowning statistics from the NSRI stations around the country for the period 1 December 2014 to 14 January 2015.
In incidents that NSRI responded to, there were a total of 31 fatal drowning incidents (19 adults and 12 children). Rip currents were the greatest risk to bathers, claiming the lives of 9 people (5 of whom were children).
The greatest risk to children was being near water, unsupervised. NSRI responded to 6 fatal drownings in fresh water (3 of whom were children).
Compared to the same period last year the drownings because of rip currents are lower. There were 9 fatal drownings this year versus 13 in rip currents for last December / January.
“The number of fatal drownings for the past two years is similar when looked at nationally. The most heartening thing for us this year, is that fatalities from people caught in rip currents is lower than last year. We hope that the intensive education that we did throughout the year had something to do with this,” said NSRI CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson.
“Most of the people who we responded to assist were wearing lifejackets which is great. To boaters the biggest danger is not wearing lifejackets and not attaching kill switches. These are really easy precautions to take that can save your life,” said Dr Robertson.
NSRI is reminding all water sport enthusiasts to be safe this festive season. Here’s a reminder of three seemingly small things that can make a massive difference when things start to go wrong out on the water
1 – Wear a life jacket. Even if you’re a strong swimmer or competent skipper, a life jacket can save your life. Get into a habit of putting on your life jacket when you launch and keeping it on at all times when on the water. Make sure that the life jacket you wear is the right size and that the straps are securely fastened. This is especially important for children’s life jackets. A life jacket with crotch straps will not ride up on your body and is much safer than one without.
2 – Wear kill switches. When you launch, secure the kill switch to your person by either fastening it around your ankle or to a secure clip on your lifejacket. Test the kill switch to make sure that it works properly and that it doesn’t get stuck due to corrosion. Have a spare kill switch on the boat stowed in a place that is easy to access so that if you do go overboard, the remaining passengers will be able to restart the vessel and come and fetch you. It is especially important to wear the kill switch in surf.
3 – Watch the weather. Coastal weather especially can change rapidly. Before launching, check the weather report and plan your trip accordingly. If you see that the conditions are deteriorating while you are out to sea, return to shore immediately. In addition, let someone on land know where you are and what your intentions are so that if you do not arrive on time they can alert the local rescue authorities immediately.
Know the number of your local NSRI station and save it into your phone. You can find the details at http://www.nsri.org.za/stations-crew/
Be safe this festive season.
Honda outboards complying with very inflexible environmental standards in the Knysna Estuary
Did you know that of all the estuaries in our country, the Knysna Estuary is the most significant in terms of biodiversity? This 1800ha expanse is literally teeming with life in many shapes and forms. Birds, fish, invertebrates and an astounding variety of plant life can be found here in huge concentrations. The permanently open estuary boasts very productive eco systems, supporting hundreds of different species. Such is its importance, that the esteemed marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle has identified Knysna as a Hope Spot, which are special places that are considered critical to the health of the ocean, what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.”
It is also exceptionally beautiful, a true nature’s playground which lures scores of visitors each year. Ocean Odyssey devotes a lot of energy to showcasing Knysna’s natural assets and is committed to minimising any impact that they might have while doing this. This is why they have chosen to be powered by Honda, whose outboard motor specs comply with very inflexible environmental standards. While delivering serious horsepower and manoeuvrability, the latest Honda motors are also very quiet and considerably fuel efficient.
We are offering a new and exciting trip this summer – the Knysna Heads Rush – an adrenaline-fuelled boat trip across the Knysna Estuary to the iconic, sentinel cliffs known as the Knysna Heads, one of the most dynamic estuary openings in the world. This exhilarating 45 minute tour serves to showcase the surrounding scenery, with interesting facts about the host of species that can be found here. We will show you exactly why Knysna is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa.
It is quite a humbling experience cruising around in one of Ocean Odyssey’s vessel, dwarfed on either side by these looming, rugged sandstone headlands and surrounded on all sides by what can easily be described as heaven on earth.
Honda-powered Ocean Odyssey, Knysna’s only permitted close encounter whale watching operation, has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Status
This is an international award given to beaches, marinas and nature-based boat excursions that meet a standard of excellence in the following categories: Environmental Education, Environmental Management, Safety and Security and Water Quality. The criterion is laid by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education).
Honda-powered Ocean Odyssey stands proudly alongside other well-known local Blue Flag sites, namely Brenton and Buffalo Bay beaches (Sedgefield Beach received a pilot Blue Flag) and Thesen Island Marina, from where the Blue Flag recipients for the 2014-2015 South African Blue Flag season were announced at a ceremony hosted by the Knysna Municipality. It was attended by esteemed guests such as the Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, Knysna’s Executive Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, Wessa’s CEO Dr Burger and the National Coastal Programme Manager Ted Knott.
Perhaps the most significant of the aforementioned categories within the Blue Flag Programme is Environmental Education. The famous Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum penned this perspective perfectly: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught”. It has indeed become clear that education is crucial for the preservation of the environment.
The Blue Flag Programme is managed by WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa); the respected South African environmental NGO, whose mission it is to “implement high impact environmental and conservation projects that promote public participation in caring for the Earth”. Blue Flag falls within WESSA’s National Coastal Programme which aims at both protecting and rehabilitating South Africa’s dynamic and beautiful marine environment, which includes miles of sweeping beaches, vast estuaries, rocky shores, marinas and more. The programme offers numerous benefits including improved tourism facilities and management of coastal ecosystems.
Luring thousands of local and international tourists every year, the Greater Knysna area is well renowned for the raw beauty of its myriad ecosystems and its natural beauty is the area’s primary economic draw card. These Blue Flag statuses bring to the fore just how extraordinary Knysna really is. It lies within the extensive Garden Route National Park, which includes not one but two Marine Protected Areas (MPA”s), rich in species both in and out of the water. The Park includes several Blue Flag beaches. Knysna itself is hugged by an estuary that is rated as the most significant in terms of biodiversity in the country. Within this estuary is Thesen Island, a Blue Flag marina, and operating from this marina is Ocean Odyssey, one only six Blue Flag whale watching companies in the country. The above facts tell a story that is real cause for celebration and should serve to inspire each of us to conserve our most precious and inspiring natural environment.