Oct 2nd I went to Coffs harbor and dove the famous South Solitary Islands. I must admit the diving was nicer than Cook Island but not nearly as nice as I was expecting from the description of “Worlds densest population of clown fish”. Apparently the best diving here is off of North Solitary Islands which was nixed due the building Wind. (story of my life…”you should have been here yesterday”).
On the dive we did see clown fish and even a gray nurse shark as far as stand out species we did see a bunch of stark white cowries with black mantles I had seen before and a small shark that would have guessed to be a bamboo shark that the upon description the dive master called a cat shark. Sadly the highlights of the dive where the two female divers I was paired with –despite puking they still got in the water had great dives….
Nov 12th and 14th me and Nick Schoeffler got on the dive boat Big Cat Reality and steamed out to Moreton Island Friday evening –this was my third trip on this live aboard. The first 4 dives reconfirmed what bargain this boat is; warm water nice reefs and good visibility good camaraderie. Unfortunately the Wind came up and we were blown off the reefs for the night dive which as done on an old school bus. The dive started off a bit rough with me jumping in with out my weight belt but once down saw a couple of Wobbies, some tusk fish and big Lion Fish and I found a new use for my new dive light -a fish stunner. I found out if I turned the wattage to 100watts and shine it at baitfish in the water column it causes them to swim into the bottom stunned twitching -at which point I could pick them up and feed them to the lionfish… The highlight of the dive was clearly when a moray came of no where and stole the lion fish’s dinner. Sunday unfortunately was spent on the wrecks and sand to due the weather
Pictures can be seen at:
Byron BayNov 20th. We arrived to the dive shop around midnight on a Friday night where I had reserved a room for me and George to stay. I don’t know if it was because it was Schoolies or just a typical Friday night in Byron Bay but that town was hoping! After a too early a start I got my first taste of a beach entry boat dive. They drive the truck and fully loaded boat right down the beach (amongst the surfers) and back the trailer right into the into the breaking surf – but not quite deep enough to float, that is left to the divers. After the boat is floated into waste deep water all the divers scramble on board to pound through the surf. The dives we did were the north side of Julian Rocks. It is quite a nice dive particularly the gutters that cut into the island with lots of turtles some VERY impressive Queensland Groupers…Meter and half in length at the very least.
Nov 21st. The day started off as a disaster, we left late, my phone stopped working, we missed the first ferry to the island, we grabbed the second & thanfully my phone started working again so I call the dive shop to let them know we were on the way….at which point the person at the shop indicated “oh yeah I guess we should have called you…the tractor is broken so no diving today” AHHHHHHHHHHHH. On the ferry there were two other divers so I ask them where they were going and if we could join them. They indicated they knew some guy that had a boat and sure we could tag along to his house – no promises. Turns out they took us to Ken Holzheimer of Point Lookout Scuba 0409489957 and two of the best dives I have done in Australia. The first was Shag rock where we had 80 feet of visibility in a purple tinged water and saw a bunch gray nurse sharks, eagle rays, turtles puffers, shovel nose sharks and some big mackerel. The second dive was Manta Ray bommie where it lived up to it’s name with manta rays big schools of reef fish, cobia and lots of shovel nose sharks and wobbies. Very very very nice dives!
Pictures can be seen at:http://www.scubageorge.com/gallery/Default.asp?mode=browse&album=oz2k4c-byron
Sept 26 went out to Cook Island. This is located on the VERY northern Border of NSW. With lack of context on dive shops I resorted to tried and proven “Dart Board” method of choosing a dive boat and ended up with Australian Diving Institute (first on the phone book) or as their website refers to them Blue Juice Diving Centre interesting shop…Looks like their primary source of income is schools. Their prices are bit spendy $110 for a double, particularly considering the boat – a very large inflatable (Guessing 20’) and the fact I was told to be their at 8:00am and we didn’t end up leaving till 9:00.
Thankfully we only had 6 on the trip (sounded like they typically run a LOT more) and the run out was a bit bumpy between the bar and being on a duck but the water was glass when we got to the island and looked like we were going to get huge visibility – ended up only being around 7 meters with a temp of 21. The dives were nice with a Rock wall with Coral at about 12 meters and several turtles, hunting reef squid, Wobbys, and LOTs of clown fish.
I was diving with a bunch of new gear this trip:The Wetsuit was a new XSS titanium 3ml (plus my old/trusty 5 ml hooded vest) http://www.xsscuba.com/mens_wetsuits.php seemed fine (nothing special) maybe a bit on the cold side for 21 degrees and had a little bit water flow in the legs and arms...will probably have it taken in at some point but not critical
My new reg is an Atomic B2 / IDI Seaira tri metal (They are the same regulator -mine is branded IDI) it breathed fine but the adjustment knob didn’t take it as close to free flow as I would have liked. The spare octopus is a bit silly in the design in that if worn on the right hand side (the regulators are worn on!) the yellow regulator cover is facing the diver so your buddy will just see the black underside (which works well against my black BC and black wetsuit-not)…One thing I had forgotten to do was change the mouth piece to one of the many comfobite mouth pieces I have on my other regulators. Man what a difference! If you haven’t tried one of these mouthpieces do yourself a favor get one ( I bought a couple made by Mirage for ~$5 in a dive shop in Brisbane)
Last but not least, my typical Dive buddy Gray passed his instructors exam last week!!!!! So if you see him around either congratulate him on becoming an instructor or offer your condolences on his recent promotion to upper middle management!
I am hoping to catch up with him and Nick on the Big Cat Reality Nov 12th-14th. Next weekend Solitary Islands, Coffs Harbor and hopefully getting wet with Michael Lane in Queensland the weekend after that.
One of my passions is diving and thought folks might be interested in what the diving in Sydney is like: Camp Cove Sydney:Saturday we ended up doing a Night Dive instead of the scheduled boat dive (we didn’t get that needed 4th person) and got to try out my New dive light http://www.taucherlampen.de/kowalen/index2.htm on a “Real” night dive. (My wife refers to this light as the portable sun) and I have to admit having 100 watts underwater is pretty cool ( and you can boil water on the lens!)-Typical dive lights run about 10 watts.
The Vis was only about 5 meters but the fish life was pretty cool....Animal Highlights of the dive:
1. A large Ocotupus hunt down and catch a smaller octupos and eat it!
2. Lion fish
3. Toad fish
4. Saw 2 Large Esturine Catfish
5. Lots of Mackeral
Shiprock SydneyMonday being a holiday we decided to go to a place called "ShipRock" south of Sydney- Clearly one of the coolest shore dives in Sydney. It is a 10 meter wall starting in about 7 meters of water about 30 meters from shore with Very very rich/dense fish life and many species you don't see else here ...Animal Highlights of the dive: