In 1797 Lt William McPherson Rice charted a submerged reef approximately 1½ nautical miles off shore, north of Cape Recife. He named it Dispatch Rock and noted that it lies only 3m below the surface at low tide. This rock was a peril to many a ship and in 1838 a lit marker buoy was anchored over the reef, but it was soon washed away. In 1843 another buoy was placed and an official notification was placed in then Government Gazette naming it Roman Rock.
Today an East Cardinal marker buoy warns ships to pass on the eastern side. At night a flashing light marks the location of the reef. There is of course a bell on this buoy to warn ships when fog rolls into Algoa Bay, hence the name Bell Buoy.
This reef is also known as Roman Rocks due to the large number of red roman fish that are found here. Bell Bouy is an extensive reef and very popular amongst divers due to its close proximity to Hobie Beach. The large reef made up of gullies and pinnacles which are teeming with fish, soft corals, feather stars, starfish, sea fans and anemones (characteristic of the Cape).
The current co-ords for the buoy are 33o58.897 S 25o41.916 E
The Bell Buoy crossing (Hobie Beach to Bell Buoy and back) was achieved for the first time in 2009 by Eastern Cape solo swimmer Kyle Main. On the back of Kyle's 2009 double crossing, the Nelson Mandela Bay Bell Buoy Challenge has been established as an open water ocean swim of 8km from the cities prestine blue flag Hobie Beach to the Nautical Bell Buoy, situated some 2.5km off shore and 3.5km from Hobie Beach, and back.
Main, who has built a reputation on attempting long-distance solo open-water swims, found himself among a school of about 200 dolphins during his Bell Buoy swim. "Dolphins are par for the course for long swims in the bay. The swim was slightly tougher than expected, especially due to the currents around the bell buoy and on the way back. The wind was also not in my favour, being offshore (a westerly) at the time and I suspect an easterly would have been slightly easier." Kyle Main