Long-time friend Daniel Brinckmann presents a heartfelt remembrance of Protea Banks diving legend Roland Mauz
Friends, diving enthusiasts and industry colleagues have now said goodbye to Roland Mauz, the owner of African Dive Adventures, with a globally streamed memorial service in Ramsgate, South Africa.
The 64-year-old from southern Germany suffered a heart attack on 8 November while the dinghy was being transported to the waterline and could not be revived, despite the best efforts of his team.
Roland began diving on the Protea Banks in 1996 with his partner for life, Beulah, who was by his side for over 37 years. “Back then, the fishermen only gave me days to survive because they thought the bull and tiger sharks were so dangerous and the currents were fierce,” Roland remembered.
Since these early days, the Swabian completed over 3,500 dives on the open sea reef and introduced countless divers from all over the world – including the author of these lines – to the real nature of the large predators he called his ‘kittens'.
Long before the diving dream couple settled in Ramsgate, South Africa, they both met during Roland's business studies in Kempten. After two years in the Navy and travelling around the world, Roland finished university in 1989, after which the couple moved to Beulah's home country of South Africa.
The couple previously married in the Comoros and fell in love with the beauty of the underwater world there and then. Soon both were to become pioneers in their new home, in more than one way: on Protea Banks in general, with ‘baited dives' with tiger and bull sharks at the same time, and also as the first diving tour operators to offer trips to neighbouring Mozambique’s whaleshark mecca Tofo, long before a serious tourist infrastructure existed there.
For years, Beulah and Roland also followed the sardine migration to the Wild Coast in June and July – the fact that they chose Coffee Bay, a beautifully remote location where there were no other divers, as the base camp for the Sardine Run comes as no surprise to anyone who knew the animal-loving couple. The two of them could hardly get close enough to the pulse of wild nature, even though Beulah had stayed on land for many years due to her health.
Few diving centre owners over the age of 60 still go on breakneck rides through treacherous, meter-high surf. Roland did it because few could do it and because that shine in his eyes and the fascination with untamed nature never really left him.
When the seasonal giant schools of hammerhead sharks failed to materialize during a whole month’s press trip for Tauchen magazine in 2019, he suggested exploring a deep reef beyond the Protea Banks. What we found at about 50m was a cold-water biotope fed by deep sea currents, so unique that the discovery and images found their way onto South African television.
Spontaneously coming up with some ‘little' replacement just reflected Roland’s mentality: there is always a way. Do it, remove obstacles, recognize the risks, but have the courage and believe in what you are doing. He followed his way – even with a heavy heart – when his wife Beulah died after a short illness two years ago, almost on the same day of the month as Roland’s passing. With his partner for life went a dream team: him as the man of the sea and her as marketing expert.
Back in the winter of 2021, Roland, who wasn't exactly social media savvy and rather straight, but warm roughneck with a mischievous sense of humour, left a message that was very important to him: “Don't wait to tell a person you love, like, respect or appreciate how much you love them love how important he is in your life. Don't feel ashamed or weak. Even I, the rude German, tell my male friends that I love them because I really do.”
Condolences from around the world underline how much the ‘rude German' himself was loved. And they express the hope that everyone who knew him shares – that Beulah and Roland are now reunited in the hereafter.