Birthday Dives: SS Coogee and “Dirty Steps”

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It was time for my Birthday dives again! We ended up going out on the 19th of May, a few days before the actual Birthday. Forecast was looking rather promising so we took both the boats down to Queenscliff and started heading out through the Heads. Unfortunately the conditions in the Heads were quite choppy and while the Big Boat I was on got through Luke decided to turn the Little Boat back and do a dive inside the Bay inside.

After confirming that the other boat was ok we continued heading out to SS Coogee, our original destination. It was little bit choppy out there but pretty smooth going after we had cleared the heads.

I hadn’t dived the wreck in a long while so I was rather excited. I went down with Mel B and got started with the dive. Unfortunately my torch was acting up quite a bit and I spent way too much time on the bottom fiddling around with it. It was little bit murky down there and I even got slightly lost for a moment. Luckily we relocated the wreck quickly but with the limited bottom time this led to some very limited chances to explore the wreck and take photos.

We still had time for a decent look at the boilers and the bow section. Unfortunately by the time we reached the stern section and the most impressive parts of the wreck we were already hitting the decompression limit. After a few quick photos of the stern we had to head back towards the surface already. A real shame, I would love to spend lot more time with the photogenic steering rudder and the schools of fish always swimming around it.

To celebrate my Birthday I had made a Finnish style cake with cream and strawberries. A few us already ate our share on the boat, the rest of had their slices back on the shore. This was my first attempt at a cake like this but in general it was judged a success.

For the second dive we waited for slack and set out for Lonsdale Wall. We visited a slightly different section than usual, we called this area “the Dirty Steps”. Conditions on the surface had improved significantly: the sun was out in full force and the ocean was perfectly flat. Visibility was still somewhat average but not bad enough to spoil an excellent deep dive.

At the Dirty Steps the Lonsdale Wall plummets along several “steps”, small plateaus with steep slopes between. This is one of the deeper parts of the Lonsdale Wall, we went down to almost 50 meters and from there a steep slope kept going down into the abyss. It seems likely the area is used for training too, there were some permanent lines going down from around the 40 meter mark. At that depth we also found some remains of an old sailboat.

With the poor visibility near the surface it got quite dark deeper down. Limited light and visibility were not the best conditions for photography, but otherwise this was a very moody dive. We even found a large cave entrance on the way back up. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough bottom time left to explore. I really need to come back here properly equipped so I can spend more time exploring the site!

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