An Excellent Diving Weekend!

I just had a brilliant weekend. I was booked onto a PADI Nitrox course at Nepean Dive Centre in Rye, which was due to start on Saturday morning. I loaded up the bike with all my dive gear (including weightbelt, that's a bugger to carry!), and left at about 6.30am on Saturday.

It was blowing a gale on the way down, and at times the ride was interesting, keeping 235kg of motorcycle and 100kg of rider on the road with a big crosswind is a handful at the best of times, but with a further 35kg in a big sausage bag on my back adding to the sail area of the assembly, it was hard work!

I arrived safely, a little early, and zipped off to grab a bit of breakfast before startig the theory part of the course. PADI stuff is very spoon-fed, and as I'd done all the exercises in the book (and some of the TDI stuff as well) it was a doddle. I ended up getting 49/50 on the test, because I made a rounding error on one question.

We finished at about 1pm, and as it was blowing a Northerly, one of the other people doing the course and I decided to go for a shore dive off one of the Sorrento back beaches. An interesting little bay called Diamond Bay, but a bit too much silt and surge to be a good dive. Still, plenty of exercise carrying all the gear up and down long staircases.

Then, I trundled off to my Dad's for dinner and free accomodation. I helped his wife feed the horses, and had a nice dinner before dossing down for the night. I had to be at Portsea at 8am on Sunday for two dives on Nitrox (EAN 32 and EAN36, in theory!).

When we all arrived at Portsea we found that the dive shop we were getting our fills from had done the wrong blends, and we were going to have to use EAN33 instead of 36 for our dive on the 27m submarine. The dive boat was a small one, but well organised, and the trip out through the heads was mostly uneventful, and we arrived at the dive site at about 9.45am.

Gear on, and down we went. As we arrived at the hull of the submarine, I spotted a pod of dolphins about 4 metres away, swimming around and watching us (at 26m). I pointed frantically so everyone else could have a look, but they turned too slowly, and just saw a school of fish. Figuring they must have thoughht I was narced, I shrugged, then the dolphins were back again, and this time the lads looked in time, and we spent about 2 minutes just kneeling on the hull watching these dolphins swim around and check out these funny animals blowing lots of bubbles!

After the dolphins swam off , we went inside the wreck and had a good poke around through it. I'd only been around the outside of it before, and the inside of the sub is quite different. Lots of fish have made homes in the nooks and crannies, and it's dark and quite silty, so you have to be careful moving around not to stir up the silt and kill your visability. I had a poke of my head down a torpedo tube for a laugh (maybe I was a little narced?!), before running low on air and starting to ascend.

The afternoon's dive was on the Lonsdale wall, a big shelf and ledge that drops down some hundred or so metres into the main channel out through the heads, we were on EAN37 for this dive, so couldn't go deeper than 25m. Our instructor was using an air computer rather than a nitrox one, and he was showing us how it went into deco mode while we were using nitrox, so we could ignore it. Now I know what a Uwatek looks like when it says you need to decompress!

The wall is teeming with fish, but we didn't see anycrayfish, so no dinner after this dive.

On the way back in the boat I foolishly stripped off my wetsuit to warm up and managed to get sunburnt. "sun-dumb". I ran into a friend back at Portsea, and we chatted for a few minutes before I had to head back to Rye to finish the paperwork for the course. With that all done, I hooted off back home, grabbed my ice hockey gear and shot straight back to Ringwood to play a scratch match. I was pretty tired so took the game pretty easy, and afterwards went home, then had a pizza and some Thai at the local pub, before colapsing into bed, still buzzing about having seen the dolphins in their own environment, on their terms.

All up, an excellent weekend!

Copyright Carl Brewer
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