Archive for November, 2012

New house

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The house in Coburg I had lived in for the whole winter was supposed to be just a temporary accommodation but I ended up staying there for around seven months! But with the first warm days of the spring it was quickly becoming clear I couldn’t survive the summer there. On warm days the house got really hot almost instantly and it was pretty much impossible to get it cool again. With no air-conditioning and low ceilings there was little one could do.

So I told my landlord I was moving out and got to house hunting right after I returned from New Zealand. After visiting a couple of places I ended up checking out a share house in Caulfield, south-east of the city center. I liked the place instantly, it’s a really nice unit in a two-storey house with a beautiful garden at the front. The neighborhood is superb and there is also a small park right next-doors. It’s really close to public transport, too: there are a couple of trams running to the city and if one is in a hurry one can switch to a train along the way. There’s also a direct tram access to St Kilda Beach, a nice bonus with the summer coming up! And I really liked the housemate, too, so moving in was really a no-brainer.

I first checked the place out on Friday and then moved in on Saturday evening after finishing with the diving. My stuff followed on Sunday, in hindsight I probably should have asked for some help moving. As it was I was barely able to move everything over in three (heavy!) hauls in a tram. Luckily my dive gear and some of my other stuff was back at the MUUC gear shed, so I didn’t have to move quite everything at once.

I have really enjoyed my first few days in the house. The only real complaint is the lack of AC, but even that is a fairly minor issue as the house stays reasonably cool even in warmer weather. So far I’m really happy how the house hunting turned out!

#247 Lonsdale Arches 2012-11-24

Saturday, November 24th, 2012
Lonsdale Arches in Melbourne, Australia
35 minutes, max depth 15.2 m, water 17°C

Portsea Hole and Lonsdale Arches – Great dives with some camera issues

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

After returning from New Zealand it was obviously time for some more diving with MUUC. Weather turned out great on Saturday so we took the boat out for some dives. A pretty much perfect day, almost completely flat and sunny.

We started out at Portsea Hole and apart from some current the conditions were superb! Visibility was pretty amazing, some of the best I have seen around Victoria. Unfortunately some moisture had been trapped in my camera housing and I soon found out that all my shots were turning out pretty foggy. I hoped for the best and still took a lot of shots, but alas, all of them turned out quite foggy. Shame really, the conditions were perfect for some awesome wideangle shots. Still, despite the camera issues it was a really nice dive.

On the way back to Rye we even ran into some dolphins, unfortunately they didn’t stay to play this time around so there was no chance to take photos. After switching tanks we headed out again, this time to Lonsdale Arches. I hadn’t done the site before and so didn’t really know what to expect. There are quite a few ledges and swim-troughs, so the dive was interesting enough. This time camera worked without issues and I got few pretty nice wide-angle shots. Particularly the shots I took of Evan in one of the swim-throughs worked out really nicely.

After the second dive some of the others headed out a third time for some scallops and mussels. I was not really keen myself so I stayed back at the shore with Bauke. They took their time but after two great dives I didn’t really mind waiting out.

#246 Portsea Hole 2012-11-24

Saturday, November 24th, 2012
Portsea Hole in Melbourne, Australia
38 minutes, max depth 21.3 m, water 16°C

Rainbow Warrior

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

After Poor Knights it was time to dive perhaps the most famous wreck in New Zealand, the Rainbow Warrior. This Greenpeace flagship was sunk in 1985 by the French intelligence service in an act of terrorism. The French agents placed two bombs on the vessel while it was docked near Auckland and it sank with one casualty. The wreck was refloated during official investigation and later scuttled in Matauri Bay near the Cavalli Islands.

Nowadays it forms an artificial reef and it is a popular diving site, both for the rich marine life and the historical value. The wreck lies in 26 meters of water and it is easy to penetrate. There’s lots of colorful growth on the outside of the wreck and plenty of fish life inside. While diving around Poor Knights Islands was certainly excellent, this was the dive I was most looking forward to during the trip.

Unfortunately weather took another turn for worse. Forecast for Tuesday was pretty reasonable but in practice the swell was quite high and it was raining heavily pretty much the whole day. We were out on a fairly small boat and it was definitely the poorest weather I have been out with on a commercial diving boat. So the conditions were pretty unpleasant, at least I was diving in drysuit. Not that it ended up preventing me from getting wet in the end.

Things started smoothly enough, we went down to the wreck and conditions below surface were lot better than on the surface. Unfortunately, after some time on the wreck I noticed my dump valve was acting up again. I was buddied with just the guide so we started heading up along the rope, I let some air out of the neck seal and got pretty wet in the process. However, on the way up we managed to figure out how to fix the issue so we decided to continue the dive for a while longer. By the time we got back to the boat I was really cold and wet but on the other hand I got to do a long nice dive on the wreck!

Conditions were not really suitable for drying up anything, but I warmed up the best I could on the boat and we improvised some new (and less wet!) undergarments. Then we went down for our second dive at the nearby True Love Reef. This time around I was down with just a British couple who were also in drysuits, the rest of the divers had had enough of the poor weather and cool water and decided to stay on the boat.

This was an excellent reef site with nice walls and very rich fish life. There were lots of nudibranchs along the wall and some morays as well. Again things were pretty ok underwater. Back on the surface it did look little scary though when large waves were breaking on some rocks near where we surfaced.

As you can imagine my New Zealand diving didn’t quite go as planned. I still had some excellent dives and I’m really keen to do more diving there later on!

#245 True Love Reef 2012-11-20

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
True Love Reef in Cavalli Islands, New Zealand
46 minutes, max depth 31.1 m, water 16°C

#244 Rainbow Warrior 2012-11-20

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Rainbow Warrior in Cavalli Islands, New Zealand
47 minutes, max depth 24.7 m, water 16°C

#243 Trevor’s Rocks 2012-11-19

Monday, November 19th, 2012
Trevor's Rocks in Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
72 minutes, max depth 14.6 m, water 16°C

#242 Northern Arch 2012-11-19

Monday, November 19th, 2012
Northern Arch in Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
45 minutes, max depth 21.3 m, water 15°C

Poor Knights Islands

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

On Sunday I finally got to diving. Weather was still pretty rough and the boat ride to the islands was somewhat bouncy. Luckily we were able to find some really sheltered sites there.

There were large schools of fish visible from the surface and I was really looking forward to the dive. We were diving a small sheltered bay, starting from one side and then crossing over to the other. Unfortunately visibility was rather poor when we got down below the surface and there was some surge from the swell as well. The dive itself was nice enough, but a poor match for the fisheye lens I had on.

The second dive was at another sheltered site where we followed a beautiful wall for most of the dive. This time around I used my macro lens with some better results. Still, both my dives were pretty short due to my buddy. He was a real old-timer who had been diving for literally decades. And he obviously had lots of cool stories to tell. But this was also his first dive in five years so he went through his air really quickly. Not really his fault, but somewhat annoying nonetheless.

Luckily on the Monday things improved considerably. Weather was lot better, we had clear skies and almost flat seas. On the way out from Tutukaka we met a pod dolphins, the people from the other smaller boat were allowed to swim with them. We had to content ourselves with watching and photographing the dolphins and the swimmers. The dolphins kept playing there for quite a while before finally moving on.

I was buddied with two other fairly experienced divers and we did our own thing for both dives. The first dive was at a site Northern Arch and likely the best dive of the trip. The site is well known as one of the best of the 60+ named sites around Poor Knights Islands. We started out following a large wall towards the arch itself. The arch looks pretty small on the surface but below surface its massive! The wall was really colorful and there was great variety of nudibranchs and fish all along the way. There were even some tropical fish there brought by the East Australian Current (or East Auckland Current as the locals want to call it).

And if that wasn’t enough near the beginning of the dive we visited a really cool small cave that was just large enough for the three of us to fit in safely together. The water near the end of the cave is actually brackish and there are some freshwater species living there! Just a shame visibility wasn’t really good enough for good wide-angle shots, while there was plenty of macro life around it felt such a waste to use macro lens on a site like this.

The second dive of the day was Trevis Rocks. This series of three small pinnacles is another great good site with good fish life and lots of nudibranchs. We found only two of the three “rocks” before heading closer to the shore. There we visited another small cave and then spent rest of the dive in the shallow water next to the island before returning to the boat.

And then on the way back to Tutukaka we spotted another pod of dolphins! What a perfect way to finish up an excellent day of diving.