I’ve done a lot of dives of late, but this was perhaps one of the more memorable ones, and for all the wrong reasons. After finally securing a babysitter, Sharon and I booked ourselves a double boat dive. We were slightly apprehensive since a fatal, white shark attack had taken place only 3 days prior, just 10 kms south of the dive site, but we decided to go for it anyway.
As planned, we met at the boat ramp at 7:30am, ready to head out at around 8am. We immediately ran into our divemaster, who happened to have run my Emergency First Responders course, and had a quick chat to him while we setup our gear.
Everyone arrived on time, so we were soon on the boat and headed for Bluefish Point, just outside of the harbour mouth. Strangely, and for the first time ever, I was experiencing some minor seasickness which I was less than happy about. Thankfully, however, it was short ride, so I would soon be in the cool, refreshing water…or so I thought.
We dropped anchor in around 20 meters of water and started getting ready for the dive. The skipper divided us into 2 groups, as we happened to have another divemaster on board, and the first group was soon on their way.
Meanwhile, Sharon and I were about to start our buddy checks when I heard a commotion in the water behind me. The other diver in our group had entered the water without doing their buddy checks, and had forgotten to attach their inflator hose to their BCD. As a result they were sinking, despite kicking vigorously, and they didn’t have their reg in their mouth. The skipper quickly reached overboard and grabbed them, but even with his help, the diver was struggling to keep their head above the water. I rushed over and pulled out the weight pocket closest to me, while the skipper pulled out the other. Thankfully this solved the problem and the diver was able to swim around to the ladder, and climb back aboard the boat.
After this small scare, the diver decided to sit the dive out, and so Sharon and I got into the water and swam over to our divemaster. However, just as we were about to descend, the diver changed their mind and asked us to wait for them. We floated around on the surface for a few minutes while they kitted up and swam over, and then finally started our dive.
We did Bluefish Point as a drift dive, keeping the wall and scattered rocks on our right, as we headed in a southerly direction. The water was a comfortable 21 degrees, with 15 meters of visibility, making for a very pleasant dive. In terms of fauna, we saw fiddler rays, wobbies, blue groper, kingfish, yakkas, and various other fish species. All in all, it was great, and I was feeling a lot better.
Around 45 minutes later we climbed back aboard the boat, only to be greeted by a diver with a gash in their wetsuit and a bleeding leg. As it turned out, he’d been casually swimming along when he’d felt a tug on his leg. He initially thought it was another diver trying to get his attention but, when he looked down, he had a wobbegong attached to his leg. Thankfully, after giving it a quick whack, it released him and swam back down to the ocean floor without doing too much damage. Never a dull moment!
Being close to shore, we headed back to Balmoral beach for our surface interval. There we were served a cup of hot soup, and nibbled on a few snakes and various other snacks which we’d brought along. The hour flew by, as we chatted about the dive and wobbie attack, and before we knew it we were climbing back onto the boat.
As was fast becoming the norm on this trip, the drama was far from over. One of the divers dropped their sunglasses overboard, and I was sent down to recover them before we could head off.
Our second site of the day was Rock Fall, which is also located just off of North Head. We anchored the boat below the cliffs, and were about to kit up when one of the divers announced, “my second tank has a din valve, but my regs are yoke.” I set about looking for my save a dive kit, while wondering why they hadn’t mentioned this back on shore. I’d only just pulled my kit out when they followed this up with, “actually, it’s fine, it’s a yoke valve.” We continued getting ready for the dive only to be interrupted again by a, “it’s leaking.” The next 10 minutes were spent removing a very stiff o-ring, bending my dive tool, and then replacing it with a new one. This was followed by a, “oh, the tank is empty anyway.” Sigh!
One diver down, we headed off for our second dive, which was fantastic. There was a lot more flora than at Bluefish Point, consisting of beautiful sponges and soft corals. And again, there were a lot of pelagics and fiddler rays, as well as the largest numb ray I’ve ever seen.
With all the diving done, we headed back to Spit West Reserve, where we experienced our final piece of drama for the day. After unloading the boat, one of the divers discovered they were missing a tank. Since there was no way we’d lost this overboard, we were all highly confused. After much hunting around we finally discovered it on the BCD of the diver who’d had an empty tank. As it turned out, they’d attached the wrong tank to their BCD, which explained why it was empty. And to make matters worse, we found their full tank, complete with a din valve, on the boat.
Despite the drama, it was an amazing day out. Always check your gear before heading out, and never think you’re too good for a buddy check.