21 July Sardine Report 2019

21 July Sardine Report 2019

It’s been another cracking sardine season for the sardine run operators down in the Transkei and Natal. These guys have encountered bait balls daily and have been getting some spectacular video material, which we will get to see soon enough.

To make sure we are on top of things, we headed south on sardine patrol, and have the following to report.

July Sardine Report 2019

Port St Johns

Arriving in Port St Johns, we could already feel the buzz. The Umzimvubu was looking delightfully clean and there were boats everywhere. Anglers anchored in the channels, we saw one guy boat a 12kg class Garrick and a little Kob. Sardine safari boats moored at the line of jetties, all prepared for the mornings adventures.

We visited Offshore Africa down on the river, who run sardine run trips for two months through the season. Rob Nettleton and Debbie Smith (The Shark Lady), the operators, live in Port St. Johns and are consummate professionals in what they do. They chuck you right in with the sardines and sharks!

Chatting to Richie O’Connell who leads one of the boats, “You don’t even need a baitball to find and swim with sharks. They’re everywhere!”.

Rob showed me some of this year’s footage, the cameras are dressed up with much better and wider lenses making it possible to really capture all that is going on down there. Stay posted for this material when it comes out, it is truly work of underwater art.

Through the three days we spent scouring the views around Port St. Johns, we saw lots birds running south still. Some just sitting on the water too full to fly. And the odd dive bomber as sporadic shoals moved through under the surface. But the sardine spotters travelled north and south and every day out they have jumped in with sardines. Rob was on day 33!


Great views and nice swells greeted us here. But again, we never saw any real hot action from the shore. Lots of birds. Oil slicks from previous sorties. Crystal clear water. Very fishy looking.

21 July Sardine Report 2019
21 July Sardine Report 2019

Coffee Bay

We stayed at the pretty Coffee Shack where they installed us in the King’s House. A delightful cottage overlooking the entire bay flanked by the Sugarloaf and the Mbomvu point. Four delicious shad for breakfast.

The action was absolutely wild!

Shoals of sardines were being driven to the surface. Mainly it was dolphins but we also saw sharks breaching and some outsized yellowfin tuna. The gannets were raining down like bombs. And this was just the first shoal. They just kept coming through sporadically throughout the entire day. The huge waves, well ok 2 to 3m, were kind of keeping the action on the backline and only one occasion did they come right into the white water where they were obliterated.


When we came over the hill, the vista was unexpected. Waves were reeling down the point, the sand was connecting across the entire bay! There were a bunch of guys on it but the waves were plentiful and everyone was mellow.

There were birds diving and some dolphins were hunting but the water never smelled fishy and the surf continued even better the next day. When a fabulous Berg wind kicked mid-morning and painted the prettiest surfing picture I have seen for a while. Then the huge west that is currently blowing a gale at about 40 knots hit hard and so we moved on to the other side of the river to Freedom O’ Clock to catch up a bit.

And we got to throw a little video together quick…

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Get in touch via umzimkulu@gmail.com if you would like to join us for The Sardine Run next year.

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Bodysurfin' Take 1

Bodysurfin’ The Movie

Bodysurfin’ The Movie

Bodysurfin’ The Movie: It’s not often you find something that blows you completely away. But this is will. Blow you the hell away. Flung by a masterful piece of artwork in the form of a quasi-ephemeral timepiece movie about the purest wave riding form we know about.


It feels like a hundred years ago when my brother Marc and I were fortunate enough to hang out with a certain Frenchie Fredericks, as kids. The same Frenchie that toured the north shore as a Springbok surfer in a sponsored VW beetle late 60’s. This was way before any doors needed breaking down. Frenchie’s erstwhile and notable companion was Christine Petrucci. The first Springbok lady surfer. Who used hang out with The Rell. And is the mother of *Maya.

Frenchie was heavily into board design and fin technology. And as early teens, Marc and I fell in with his mystical dreamings and fanciful wave riding philosophies. He surfed with aplomb, and a nice twitch which he converted into speed whenever he needed it. An intense surfer, full of concentration. Flare.

Back then, a day on the beach was just that. An entire day on the beach. Starting way before the sun. And ending with it.

Umtentweni, our local beach, was infamous for it’s shorebreak. On a decent spring with some east swell lying around, this dumper could really deliver. With Frenchie’s encouragement, we were all up for it. So much tube time. So many laughs. So many grazes.

And it was here that Marc and I were able to live life through Frenchie’s decades of experience and travels a while. In between waves he would chat north shore and south shore. Names that were God-like to us. Haleiwa. Laniakea. The Pipe. And whilst surfing these mystical meccas, Frenchie was rubbing shoulders and sharing waves with the likes of Nat Young and Rell Sun. He even knew Gerry Lopez!

Those days charging the huge shorebreak with Frenchie Fredericks were right in our formative years. He taught us how to wipe-out properly. How to porpoise a wave. How to survive the sand!

So when I found this. Bodysurfin’ The Movie. I was flung back to those pure and simple days. When having a surfboard didn’t even matter. Because you could just go for a ‘body’…any high tide you liked.

BUT what a movie features just below! If you would like to get real familiar with the inside workings of a tubing wave, watch away! The camera work is straight from George Greenough and the completely custom made sound track and movie score is oh so ephemeral. This movie dollops buckets of kudos onto such a noteworthy and noble pastime as is bodysurfing.

Enjoy and share a magnificent surfing production – these guys really turned it on! You ought to watch every scene. Listen to every note. I did.



There are two wild coincidences in this story. Firstly. Christine Petrucci. Mother of Maya. *Maya is Geoffrey Petrucci from JBay. His first name is Maya. He bust his neck bodysurfing the infamous ‘Tweni shorebreak when he worked with us at The Spot. Nineties. He survived just fine, but Christine still blamed us!

Second coincidence. Frenchie’s spearing buddy in the late eighties was none other than The Sardine News’ spearfishing editor at the time, our very own Darrell Hattingh!


Alternative surfing accommodation in Tofo - in da barrel

Surfing Mozambique: It’s cyclone time again

Surfing Mozambique: It’s cyclone time again

Surfing Mozambique this time of the is always very interesting. Two cyclones so far, have thumped swell at us this past month. The first, AVA, had us surfing places like Tofinho every day. And the huge dollop of sand there has seen surfing right through the tides. This syclone hit the east side of Madagascar where a huge escaroment of mountains sent it packing. It floated off down south and east, just shy of the exact place we need it to be.

The second was a bit more serious but stayed farther off the coast. On Saturday the ten foot sets arrived closing out the entire Tofnho Bay. On Sunday, Barra went off the scale again. There was no footage shot, nbut this clip of it doing it’s thing last year exactly this time, tells the story.

This clip only features the last third of the first superbank. It starts kilometres further up. The second superbank was also absolutely firing this day. A lot easier but still tubular bells. Top to bottom.

At one point, after my umpteenth wave, I was staggering back only to find my two surfing mates, Aladinho and Dave Charley, lying in a puddle of water, completely spent. I kicked them back both up and out there. Only to hear both of them howl their proverbial lament, over and over – “I just had the BEST wave of my LIFE!”. Over and over again.

I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Barra has one over the other superbanks in the area. It’s easy to get to. Has great pubs and restaurants lining the bay. There are many options, through the tides. It’s all very beautiful too. And very uncrowded. Even if it was, the point is so extensive, you would be surfing alone most of the time.


It changes continually. Right now, the second superbank down at the mouth has been replaced by a huge natural swimming pool. As the ocean assaults the bars and establishments along the way.

The first one still exists, but also has a huge swimming pool where the 100metre beach was.

The good news. Is that further up the bay, the original superbank, the one that caused all the fuss way back then, is returning to shape and form. The swell really concentrates on this particular piece of Barra. It breaks real hard and underwater.

And gets 8ft!

And a video playlist of all things surfing Mozambique…

To get on up to Tofo and to enjoy the life here a while…check out our accommodation options at the following link…


And other holiday packaged experiences here…

Fishing Experiences


Diving Experiences


Surfing Experiences


The Sardine crew have been operating in the tourism world in Southern Africa, for decades. We have assembled packages and options based on these years of experience and contact gathering.

We have tried and tested each option, and the facets therein. We are always on call and/or around.

If you need help with other logistics like travel, we can help.

Get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com or http://facebook.com/thesardine.co.za/ or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671.

Surfing Sathanes

Surfing Sathanes

Surfing Sathanes

Surfing Sathanes with an energetic Dustin Volker aka Krusty, and a polished Chris Leppan, this film with camera lady Riz Laine and edit by Xonalanga, tells the real story of surfing the fabled Mozambican point breaks.

A fickle coastline at best, Mozambique surf spots much prefer east swells, which start hammering though as the cyclone season kicks into gear. The swells in this clip were south swells, and as you can see, the wave seems to warble a tad.

It’s great surfing as usual. Krusty kills it on his backhand whilst natural footer Chris is just loving his time up here in the tropics. Right hander after right hander after right hander.

It’s been a good summer so far. And with the first Cyclone, “AVA”, having already caused mayhem on the east side of Madagascar, it looks to be a good season into 2018. This cyclone made landfall half way down Mad, and the steep mountain escarpment that side broke it’s speed from 150kph right down. Where it careened off south-east and out to sea.

But not without sending us some of it’s juices in the form of a punchy east swell, that lit up the Tofo Bay at high tide, with some perfect shore-breaking waves, for quite a few days. It wasn’t big enough for the Barra sand to come alive. But that’s coming soon!

There is a tropical depression way up top, in the cyclone factory right now. Will it form up into a real spinner? The ones we want are not the ones that come into the Mozambique Channel at all. Those randomly cause havoc and chaos, and are literally completey unpredictable. No, the ones we want spin-off and hang around the very tip of Mad. Those are the conditions to watch for.

Get your paddling arms on! These swells are short period and very strong.

Check out our offerings in the Trips and Travel menu at top. Or click here.

And lets go surfing!

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More from surfing this area in Mozambique…

Grant Gilmour and Chad Leavitt discuss the paddle out

Video: Surfing Praia do Rocha

Video: Surfing Praia do Rocha

Surfing Praia do Rocha with the cool crew of Grant Gilmour, Chad Leavitt and Branco Mijulkov.

Grant Gilmour, Chad Levitt and Branco Mijulkov star in the surf movie style flick of a surf patrol to Praia do Rocha, Inhambane, Mozambique. A fun session great for laughs and a few cool clips – all done on cellphones.

The sand has finally returned to Tofinho reportedly, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be doing the odd dawn patrol down Praia do Rocha way.

To stay in Tofinho, check out Oceano Azul here.

To stay a little up the beach from Tofo, check out LalaLand.

And for smoking hot pizza, check out Branko’s here.