With Australia Day falling on a Tuesday it was the perfect excuse for a four day weekend and a trip further afield, so where better than Eden, deep in the NSW South Coast. The cunning plan of leaving early Saturday morning and going via Canberra worked a treat and bypassed the Friday night traffic leaving Sydney. We were staying at the Merimbula Divers Lodge and had one of their bunkroom apartments to ourselves. Situated above the dive shop and complete with handy dive gear store room it couldnt get easier. Which was more than could be said for getting a late lunch in Merimbula town...luckily the Cantina Tapas Wine Bar came to our rescue.
The diving started in earnest on Sunday morning with a few suffering the after effects of the worlds hottest Mexican pizza which had been yesterdays dinner, but the fresh 19C water sorted that out. We started on the more broken up of the two tugs, the Henry Bolte, which sits in 22m of water just off Ben Boyd point marked by the tower of the same n...
Mudgee Wine Tasting Weekend
When it was booked back in October, the group who volunteered to go wine tasting in Mudgee did so ONLY because the weather would be good and the roads would be quiet after the school holidays, not for any other reasons like the pursuit of personal pleasure!
How wrong can you be? the weather was diabolical and consequently the roads were dire - but the personal pleasure was excellent!!
Travelling over the Blue Mountains in the worst rain NSW has seen for a long time was not recommended, particularly after work on a Friday. At this juncture I feel I should add the reflections of one car passenger who shared her observations of some of the more interesting facets of her journey with me (thanks Tash!)..
Al announcing his guts are rather lively and he's had 5 gastro stop tablets but we could still be making unscheduled stops (at which point I notice the emergency bog roll in the centre console)
Al announcing to the car that he's not really a ver...
A few of use in the club decided to pop up and visit Paul 'n Lynn in Lemon Tree Passage to see their new gaff and have a day out on their boat, White Hawk. The weekend started for me slugging it out with the rush hour traffic, I should have known better than to hit the Pacific Highway at 5pm on a Friday! However, when Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, it was all worth it. We loaded up the dive gear and motored down Nelson Bay (as there was barely a breath of wind) we made good time on the out going tide and were soon out of the heads and approaching Cabbage Tree Island. The SS Oakland is just on the North of the Island and marked with a buoy. As soon as we jumped in you could tell it was going to be a cracking tide the vis as fantastic, and wreck was teaming with life.
After the dive we ducked back inside the heads for a spot of lunch and a swim. The wind had picked up to a respectable 15 knots so we had a beautiful sail back to Lemon Tree Passage, followed by a quick sho...
Well, the day started early for some with 3 out of the 4 SSAC divers kitted up and on the boat by 0645. For others, the day was more relaxed as having realised a social engagement clash with diving, Diver X decided not to come along... no names mentioned. For Ben, the bail-out alarm clock failed and so he tried to get as many speeding fines as possible to get on the boat (which he managed by 2 minutes, well done Ben).
A lumpy ride was had out to the Meggol and with some surface current we made it down to the wreck at 46m. The viz was good(ish) and overall a very mellow dive was had by those on the wreck; especially me as I had 2 novel experiences... (1) a dry dive, thanks to Baz and (2) a dry camera housing.. yippee
Sadly, though the mellowness was not shared. Mike had a bad day... the current picked up whilst we were dropping in and he didn't get to the shot (he can tell the rest of the story if you ask him), then sanding under the coldwater shower to rinse his suit he somehow de...
Of the 5 (6) people from the club signed up for the trip (should let Al off really, he was already signed up privately), 3 came up with really lame excuses.. overseas for work, sent interstate for work and leg amputation not to go. Nevertheless, 2 intrepid souls got up at sparrow-fart to get to Baz's shop ready for the off.
It was a top day... less than 1m swell with a really long wave period so was as flat as sydney ever gets, withclear blue skies and warm air. The water was 22 on the surface and clear and even though Baz's sounder had packed up he managed to get into the Coloolli easily. There was so little current that the anchor line was straight up and down.. how easy. The coloolli was as fun as ever, lots of the crap inside has been dispersed so it was easy to get in and about, viz was 15m ish on the bottom. I was the only bubbler on the dive so I was happy to see various Inspo.s making noises and refusing to change set points instead of me getting grief about noise and gas c...
Wednesday 19th May 2010
Heavy rain, chance of nothing nice at all..
Thursday 20th May 2010
More heavy rain, possible chance of misery and woe
Friday 21st May 2010
Heavy rain with patches of severe disappointment in the afternoon. It was about this time I was expecting an email from Mike announcing the weekend was off, perhaps even a final wrap up but nothing came. Against the odds, and better judgement, it sounded like it was going ahead.
Saturday 22nd May 2010
Sam arrived at my house at an ungodly 6am, although this is the time we agreed I can't help feeling resentment toward everything that has ever happened before 7am breakfast will not be served on this flight, not for a while. By 6:45 we've got Dave and we're underway down to Kangaroo 'Deliverance' Valley (insert the sounds of a banjo here). You wouldn't believe it but the weather was good, or at least was looking good from such a ridiculously early vantage.
The Kayaking was scheduled for 9:30am, or '9:30am LATE...
Having lost a few club members to Melbourne over the years, I thought it was time to go down there and see what all the fuss was about. The trip got off to a great start with an excellent Italian meal and visit to some of Brunswick Streets pubs and bars to catch up with current SSAC members in residence Rick, Steve and Etsuko. Unfortunately this had a proportional negative effect on enthusiasm levels come 8am when Rick I are set off to Torquay in the grey light of dawn to the swish of windscreen wipers. Two hours later we are at the beach, armed with a cuppa a muffin, the rain has eased to a light drizzle and the sea is flat as a tack. Things were looking up. We kit up and fall in to conversation with the diver setting up a rebeather next to us, who turns out to be none other than Stuart Cannon, the BSAC Coach for Australia!
Just as we are beginning to worry where the boat has got to it finally arrives...the tractor gearbox died on the way down and so Jeff (the skipper, from Scu...
The curse of Swansea struck again. This time the boat skipper suffered a family problem so was unavailable, never mind... it was a chance to get out of Sydney and do some fun diving based on improvisation. The dive shop made some useful suggestions and so off we went for the first dive. This was a sheltered beach site at the mouth of the channel. Steve did his first ever sydney dive and sorted out his weighting for wetsuit diving with his Evo, Sam did the 'I am here so I may as well dive' moment and wandered off with twin 12s for a 9m dive and Bec played around with weighting/waiting and was support diver for Steve. Becky and I started knocking off her dive leader drills. The site was avereage; a good teaching site but lets leave it at that. The next dive was a favourite from the last Swansea visit, the bridge. After sorting out the difference between the tide tables and slacks, we hopped in (possibly an hour early). It were lovely, good vis, octopus out feeding, lots of fish. It wa...
Maddie's and Rowan's training starts here.
This was a joint effort by about half the club and Rowans dad Graham.
Members lent kit, cylinders and their time
Jill had a word with him upstairs for descent weather and despite all the forecasts she managed to pull it off - good weather throughout.
A BBQ turned up plus loads of food - Cheers Tash and Ben
Plenty of members turned up for shore cover
Owen came along and helped with the instructing - Cheers Owen.
So many people helped to make this day happen there is a good chance I have forgotten someone If so please accept my apologies.
It was a great team effort and I was delighted to see such a good turn out by the club.
A great day outto have a dive or two, training dives or not this was a good days diving in anyones book.
Maddies and Rowans Training adventures continue.
This was more of the same.
Rowans dad Graham was taxi driver and chief labourer (well dive kit is heavy stuff you know.)
More borrowed kit and cylinders.
Jill had yet another word with him upstairs and again a glorious day if not a little cooler than the previous weekend.
This time we used the BBQs provided by the council for the feast in the surface interval, sausages and roo burgers were the order of the day.
A few faithful diehards turned up and generally helped out with the days events.
Owen came along and did some instructing, thanks much better that Dads first killing of a student.
It was another great team effort resulting in a great days diving with Wobbies, Groupers and Rays.
When it was all over we drove home drinking lashings of ginger beer.
Maddies and Rowans Training adventures part 3.
This was simply the funniest thing I have seen in years.
We announced we would be down at Bazs this weekend but nobody seemed interested in joining us this time. Well it was their loss.
We pitched up at Bazs and carried all the dive gear down to his boat and RIB which he had very kindly agreed to lend us for this brilliant spectacle. After a quick brief Maddie kitted up (we could only do one trainee at a time as we were down to one set of kit.) This just added to chaos that followed. I briefed and demonstrated the Giant Stride Entry from the pier and then swam round to the back of the boat and up the ladder and back on board. Maddie then followed and got back on board to then remove the kit and hand it to Rowan who then also followed suit. This looked like an episode of Its a knockout all we needed was a slippy Shute and some men in polystyrene shoes throwing custard tarts at us. We were going great guns when Baz came out and informe...
After a couple of years doing Christmas in July at the homestead in Megalong Valley, our valiant organiser Rob had, this time, laid on a more luxurious venue; Eagle Reach Resort near Barrington Tops. Sadly, teaching committments meant I couldn't make the first night and I was more than useless the next night, so instead I have reporduced Jill's summary of events. Now I wish I had escaped teaching and come here instead.. far more fun!
So, Collina Lodge. What happened there? Well apart from the disappearance of the Chairman and Treasurer on the Friday night (the other housemates couldn't decide if they had gone for a secret tryst or whether they had gone in pursuit of the raw cow which had jumped off the barbeque and run away before we could eat it; the setting on fire of the logs OUTSIDE the wood burner or the amazing heat which clearly caused so many bottles of alcohol to evaporate both nights (the cleaners will have had the eight of us down as raging alcoholics when they had to br...
Maddies and Rowans Training adventures part 4.
This was more of the same.
Rowans dad Graham was taxi driver and chief labourer again (the dive kit had not got any lighter yet.)
Again another glorious day despite all the forecasts (I am getting good at this, Kayaking weekend was supposed to be awful weather and turned out brilliant and every training trip since has been glorious weather. I had better go and fill out the lottery coupon.
This time it was going to be two dives, one doing drills and the second one was to be a pleasure dive with a bit more depth. We were into some serious on gassing as we reached a depth of 5.2m.
Again the council BBQs provided the feast in the surface interval thanks to Rob and Jill who cooked enough food for the other thirty members who may have turned up but didnt.
A few members turned up and generally helped out with the days events and offered support when required which basically consisted of standing on the beach pointing and laughing at the ...
Report courtesy of Rob Jones:
Anne had mentioned the possibility of diving with seals around the heads at Jervis Bay and arranged a trip down over the weekend around the 28-29th August to have a swim, take pictures, and generally have a fun if relaxed weekend of diving.
The party ended up in two houses in Vincentia, and after an early night by some, and a late arrival from Stuart we were up early(ish) the next morning to get down to the boat. Owen had helpfully delegated himself as chef and provided a fine selection of bacon rolls and scrambled eggs to get everyone going.
The convoy headed down to Huskisson where we met our skipper for the day, John, on the boat Genesis from Jervis Bay Dive Center. As much as it was a nice day with some warm sun, the wind was blowing, and there was a good 2-3m swell out on the north head. The wind was coming from the South, so getting out might not have been so bad, but getting back might have been a bit too much of a bumpy ride!
Well the weather crapped on us so by Sat morning we had people changing their minds. Yves finally pulled the dive as Michelle and I were on route to Rose Bay , so we quickly diverted to Baz's where a club dive was quickly resurrected by us being joined by Mike and Jonathon. So we all had mellow bimbles off the back of the shop. Ross played around with his YBOD and remembered that a compass is a good idea as he did the walk of shame along the beach. Michelle did a try dive on my YBOD and is now trying to buy one. Mike ventured in with his now working YBOD and Jonathon played around with diferent rigs. So in terms of great diving... a big fat nah! Was it mellow? Yes? Did we learn stuff about the kit and practice better diving? Yes. So yet again, a big thanks to Baz for supporting us; mind you we did all buy stuff and get fills there so its all good really.
Golden Anchor Award nominee! (with a silent W)
We all (Rob Jones, Jonathan and I) met up at Mosman and boarded Yvess boat, two other divers bailed when they saw these real divers turn up so we had the boat to ourselves, I really didnt understand that but who cares (Yves probably did.)
We did a reef dive first just out of South Head, it was okay with reasonable vis but Rob made this a truly memorable dive. He found an Anchor dragged it round with him for the remainder of the dive. At the end of the dive he bagged it off and the Anchor hit him in the face as it ascended. Jonathan and I was coming up my line but it was very hard to operate, when we got to 10m we found out why Rob had managed to wrap his line around mine. I was nearly hit on the head by the Anchor which was suspended mid water as was Rob. He had managed to tie himself in Knots, I wanted to leave him there but Jonathan was the hero. We ascended to the surface where it was Jonathans turn to get wrapped up in Robs line. ...
The good folk Brisbane BSAC decided it would be a nice idea to have a Oz-BSAC get together on Straddie Island, so a bunch of us skived off work early on the Friday arvo and jumped on the plane up to Brisbane. The hospitality was first class from being met at the airport, to the excellent diving, impeccable catering and magnificent location.
They have written a full trip report which you can view on their website, and here are a couple of pictures of the apres-diving activities:
Jonathan, Lisa, Jill and I turned up on Friday night for a look around and a fresh start for the morning. Oops missed the target, drinking until 2.30 am did not feel like a fresh start the next morning. We met Alex and Dorota at the dive shop. We had tea and biscuits before climbing on board a rocking boat. We were warned there may be a slight surge but it will ease with depth and they were right it dropped to a 8 10m surge at 30m (maybe if we had dropped to 100m+ it may have calmed down a bit by then. We had two good dives with lots of tea and biscuits and lots of laughs. We had a great weekend but the stars of the show were the Port Jackson sharks that were stacked that high in a gulley we could not count them. Possibly 40 60 we will never know Great Weekend.
OW2 and OW3 - The training continues.
Maddie, Rowan and I set off for some more Ocean Diver training dives, this time outside Bazs at the Spit.
A BIG thanks to Baz for helping out as well as running his business, lots of cups of tea, surface cover, fills and inflating his RIB for us to climb into for the kit removal.
When we got there Michelle was doing her Evo course and we were later joined by Anne and Al, Al was playing with his rebreather and his configuration.
It was a dull day but the water was warm enough for the wet suit to get an airing, not a pretty site. There are few people who can look good in Neoprene and I am not one of them.
Unfortunately Maddie has bailed on her training for the moment but Rowan is still keen, so we kitted up and did OW2 and OW3, we did all the drills after we did a nice fluffy dive to 10m. Rowan was very cool about itso I started to turn the pressure up.
For OW3 I decided Rowan could be the dive leader in full control of everything except ...
OW4 and OW5 - The practical training concludes.
Maddie, Rowan and I set off for some more Ocean Diver training dives hopefully the last; it was to be outside Bazs again at the Spit.
When we got there Michelle was finishing off her Evo course - WELL DONE.
It was a public holiday so as tradition dictates it was a dull wet day.
The water was still warm enough for the wet suit to get another outing.
I decided we would do all the sessions components but not in the order specified so the first dive was OW5 with the depth element of 20m+ added.
I also added an extra mask clearing plus breathing off a free flowing regulator, BC inflator stuck open drill, securing a casualty and towing a casualty just to keep him alert.
I thought I would add them in just for good measure as well as I was playing the part of a useless diver (yes - I know you don't have to say it.) to see what his dive leading was like.
The boy done good.
This just left OW4 but without the depth element as that was ac...
Jonathan and I turned up at Bazs for a little kit configuration work on Jonathans new twinset with matching pearls. Before we got in the water Baz asked us to keep an eye out for his glasses that fell overboard earlier. Yes of course Baz we said to him knowing the chances were nil. Five minutes into the dive Jonathan finds his pair of glasses!!
We did lots of drills for buoyancy, gas switching, shutdowns and many of the drills Jonathan would require for his upcoming Normoxic Trimix course. He was very smooth so I threw him a hard ball. Close eyes, remove mask, unclip both side mounts, lay them on the seabed, swim round with eyes shut, find side mounts and re attach them on the correct side. Bugger he did good at that as well - time to finish this dive.
We were back in Bazs having a brew when the Maritime Rescue came over and asked if we could remove a rope wrapped round the prop of a 57ft boat at Balmoral. We were dispatched in Bazs inflatable like the A team, we turned out to be ...
WAHAY.. a proper club trip in that we filled the boat; or we would have done had not someone had a memory lapse about going diving.
The plan was to do 2 dives but the early morning divers had reported that the viz was perhaps less than desirable. So, after all had assembled and in some cases (Stu, Pete and Tash) blown the cobwebs off their kit, we embarked on the good ship XXX (does Baz's boat have a name?). Baz took us to the inside of North Head as this was the best place to shelter from the northerly swell. Plenty of other dive boats had taken the same decision so it was crowded. Baz dropped us on the edge of the boulders; it was all very mellow... lots of Port Jackson sharks, a few wobbegongs and quite a few fish. The tide was on the turn and when the ebb started a load of shitty water arrived and the viz went from a borderline 8-10m down to 2.. yuk. So some of us made it back to the boat but others popped a blob up and then went on a drifting mission to New Zealand... luckily ...
Three brave and hardy SSAC members got out of bed early for a Baz dive with Southern Cross. Dorota and Alex were using their shiny new kit and tec qualifications in anger and Ross was hoping he would not kill himself on his YBOD. We ventured out to the Dee Why and Meggol. In spite of the fact that the viz was utter shite, we all had a very relaxing dive. The soup and tabasco went down a treat.
More a social event than diving as 2 members turned up without diving kit, but since these kind souls fired up the barbie whilst the divers were in the water... we will ofer thm thanks rather than castigating for not getting into the water.
6 divers got wet (I get wetter than most as my drysuit zip is still leaking!). The viz was pretty average but between us we had a good list of beasties seen on the dive.. octopus, seahorses etc.
As we got out of the dive we were passed a cold beer... how good is that. It was agreed that more of these events should happen.