Archive for April, 2013

#310 Point Cooke 2013-04-25

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Point Cooke in Melbourne, Australia
28 minutes, max depth 3.3 m, water 17°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew

#309 Rye Pier 2013-04-20

Saturday, April 20th, 2013
Rye Pier in Melbourne, Australia
36 minutes, max depth 4.9 m, water 17°C
Buddies: Mathilde, Seth

#308 Blairgowrie Pier 2013-04-20

Saturday, April 20th, 2013
Blairgowrie Pier in Melbourne, Australia
64 minutes, max depth 5.8 m, water 17°C
Buddies: Mathilde, Seth

#307 Rye Pier 2013-04-14

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Rye Pier in Melbourne, Australia
35 minutes, max depth 7 m, water 19°C
Buddies: Eva, Natalia, Sandy

#306 Flinders Pier 2013-04-14

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Flinders Pier in Melbourne, Australia
36 minutes, max depth 4.9 m, water 18°C
Buddies: Juan, Natalia

Williamstown Snorkeling

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

With more great weather this week and with the winter closing in I decided to take full advantage of the conditions. While I can snorkel all year around with my drysuit it’s obviously lot nicer without any of the extra gear.

So after considering a few different options I ended up heading to Williamstown. I had been snorkeling there once before shortly after I had my cast taken off last year. That trip didn’t end so well, with all the pollutants in the water after heavy rains I ended up with a nasty case of food poisoning. Luckily this trip went without any incidents and water was fairly clear too (considering how close Williamstown is to the city).

I started out at Point Gellibrand again. This site is very shallow early on but gets more interesting further out. I was hoping for calm conditions but unfortunately it was just windy enough that macro photography close to the surface was quite tricky. I still managed a few decent shots but even the small waves made things pretty annoying.

There wasn’t that much interesting marine life down there so I was mainly focusing on some more abstract closeups. But then I got pretty lucky as I ran into a blue-ringed octopus. This was bit of a surprise as they are normally only active at night. I managed a few shots but then the octopus crawled into a hole out of sight. Bit of a shame, I would have preferred more time with him. By then I was getting bit cool already so I started making my way back towards the coast.

One snorkel obviously wasn’t enough for the day. So I moved on to Williamstown Beach and the breakwater there. After spending some time in the sun to warm up properly I geared up again and hopped in.

The breakwater is actually a pretty nice snorkeling site. The rocky bottom falls quite quickly to  2-3 meters with some shallower areas. There were also a decent number of juvenile fish around, including a few larger schools. Unfortunately the fish kept swimming away from me so I was again mostly taking abstract shots. It didn’t take that long to cover the breakwater itself and some surrounding areas and eventually I got back out of the water.

This was a pretty good snorkeling trips even if the sites were not quite as nice as some of the better areas on the other side of the Bay near Black Rock and Ricketts Point. I still have few spots I want to check out before winter storms set in so hopefully the weather will stay this nice for a little longer!

#305 J4 Submarine 2013-04-07

Sunday, April 7th, 2013
J4 Submarine in Melbourne, Australia
38 minutes, max depth 25.9 m, water 18°C
Buddies: Luke Cawley

#304 HMAS Canberra 2013-04-07

Sunday, April 7th, 2013
HMAS Canberra in Melbourne, Australia
44 minutes, max depth 27.4 m, water 18°C
Buddies: Luke Cawley, Pete

Barwon Heads weekend

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The last time we launched our boat from Barwon Heads we did some excellent reef dives and the short boat rides were a plus too compared to launching from Queenscliff. So when the marine forecast for the weekend was looking almost perfect we were keen to head there again. This time we also stayed there overnight instead of doing just a day trip. We brought down both our boats and camped the Saturday night in Barwon Heads Caravan Park.

For the first two dives on Saturday we visited Chimney Rock and Stellar Reef. Visibility wasn’t as great as the last time we were there but that was to be expected after the algae bloom and some stormier autumn weather. For some reason Chimney Rock didn’t appear as impressive as last time around. I guess in the middle of the day the lightning isn’t as dramatic as in the evening. It was still a nice dive with Nicky and Mel B. The bommie itself is of course very interesting and we also saw lots of fish and a cuttlefish hiding under a ledge.

Stellar Reef was a nice dive too. The structure of the reef was again very interesting and there was plenty of fish life around. Unfortunately the visibility was quite poor so the conditions for photography were not the best. The first group of divers reported seeing several Port Jacksons but they must have scared them away as Nicky and I didn’t see any during our dive.

To finish up the day some of us headed for a third dive at St Leonards. This was a night dive with Bauke, Seth and Casey. I haven’t done a night dive at St Leonards before and hadn’t dived the pier in quite a while for that matter. So it was nice to get back there as the pier is one of my favorites. The visibility was about the same as on the reef sites we did earlier, i.e. quite fine for a night dive. A very welcome change from the couple last times I have been at St Leonards with pea soup water!

The dive itself was interesting enough. This was the first night dive for Casey and Seth so we kept a close eye on both. There was a surprising amount of fish life down there and a great variety too. I even managed to spot a velvetfish which I was quite happy about, usually they are very well camouflaged. We also saw a couple of eels on the bottom but unfortunately I didn’t manage any sharp shots of them.

After a late bbq dinner and some socializing we headed to our campground for a good night’s sleep. Saturday was the last day of daylight savings, so we had an extra hour of sleep too!

So on Sunday morning everyone woke up more or less refreshed. It was finally time for some wreck dives. I has been ages since I had visited any of the local wrecks so I was very much looking forward to the dives. Luckily the day didn’t disappoint either.

Unfortunately all our plans didn’t quite work out in the morning. We were hoping to get some airfills before taking the boats out to make sure we had enough full tanks for the rest of the day. Unfortunately when we Crystal and I got to Dive Victoria’s shop in Queenscliff the place was closed! With no notes on the door and calls going to voicemail this was bit mysterious. We spent around half an hour waiting outside but eventually we decided to give up. We went  to Dive Plus shop instead to see if they could fill our tanks. Luckily we could get our fills there, , even though it took a quite a while as their fill banks weren’t filled up yet from previous night.

So with that out of the way we drove back to the boat ramp, quickly got everyone in the boats and headed for HMAS Canberra. We had booked the 10 am slot for Canberra and because of the delays in the morning we didn’t quite make it in time. But luckily we were there early enough that everyone still had time for a decent dive. I ended up buddying with Luke and Pete with Luke leading the way and Pete and I taking photos. This wasn’t quite the best dive I have done on Canberra but it was still an interesting trip through the wreck.

We entered from one of the holes on the side of the wreck near the lower levels. Then we slowly worked our way upwards through the wreck with a short detour outside. We finally finished at the bridge, then some point swimming around the deck structures and finally proceeded to our safety stop. The minimal swell meant that we had almost no surge down on the wreck, a pleasant change from usual Canberra dives when you need to be little bit careful near the entryways. The wind had picked up a little when we were underwater, however, and so we had small waves waiting for us on the surface instead of flat seas.

For the second dive our boat went to J4 Submarine for another wreck dive. This was also Luke’s 300th (logged) dive but he opted not to follow my lead and did the dive fully suited. Besides, Evan was driving the boat again and I think he has had his share of naked male divers for a while!

I have done this sub several times and never had a truly great dive there. Luckily this was a pretty perfect day for visiting the wreck and doing some penetration too. Surge is often an issue here but luckily today it was pretty much non-existent making for very easy penetration. We also had great visibility on the dive, the best of the weekend.

The only minor issue was missing the wreck itself with our shotline! Luke and I went down first and as we got down the sub was nowhere in sight. Water was very clear so this was quite worrying. Luke picked up the shot and I could faintly see a shape in the distance. We started swimming towards it and after a while it was clear we had found the sub. So no big harm done, apart from the fact Luke spent a fair bit of extra air carrying the shot. By the time Nicky, Carol and Mel followed us down the shotline the shot was already in place next to the sub.

With that issue sorted we got started with the dive itself. We entered the sub from a hole near the stern and started making our way towards the bow where the sub is broken open. There are a fair number of small and some larger holes in the sub so there was decent amount of light filtering in. It was still very dark for photography so I did little some experimenting with slow shutter speeds. The results were somewhat mixed, I guess I need some more practice with that.

While nice the swim itself through the sub is not that special. Luckily we had a nice surprise waiting for us at the place where the sub is broken in half. Outside the entryway there was a huge school of fish that was thick enough to almost block the way! An impressive sight indeed. We stopped for a while with Luke and I took several shots before moving on. Even when we swam through the school the fish didn’t want to budge, the school simply reformed around us and covered the exit again once we had passed.

We also had a quick look inside the broken off bow and the torpedo tubes. There were lots of fish there too. Afterwards we spent the rest of the dive outside the wreck, first we had a look at the conning tower and the plaque placed there by the first group that rediscovered the sub. Afterwards we swam along the top of the sub to the stern and back. At this point we were getting into to our NDL so it was time to start our ascent and head for the safety stop. An impressive dive indeed and a great one for Luke’s 300th. Too bad the photos don’t really do it justice, getting the lightning right inside the sub was quite a challenge. Hopefully I can crack it the next I get there!

To make sure everyone got to do two dives we had the boats going out for the third time. Unfortunately we were running low on tanks so I had to sit out this one. I still ended up sitting on the boat as we plenty of room and it was preferable to waiting on the coast anyway. By this

It was a great weekend, too bad it’s pretty unlikely we get another one so nice until next summer. Despite the high temperatures this weekend we are definitely heading towards winter and cooler and stormier weather.

#303 St Leonards Pier 2013-04-06

Saturday, April 6th, 2013
St Leonards Pier in Melbourne, Australia
43 minutes, max depth 3.4 m, water 19°C
Buddies: Bauke, Casey, Seth