Curtin Reef – Blue Meanie – 3 November 2013

After a bit of a change in plans (thanks to the 20knot Northerlies!) we altered our site to Curtin Artificial Reef from our original Gotham City/Flinders plan. The run out was smoother than  I expected given the swell, and was great practice for learning to make the ride smoother for my passengers (not sure they’d agree).

Once onsite we sounded around for a promising wreck to the Northern end of the reef and dropped anchor. There was absolutely 0 current at the beginning. We staggered the divers, Josh, Emma and Matthius dropped in first with a 50 minute limit, Ashton launched for his 2 hour deco solo 10 minutes later, and Geoff and I waited our turn on the boat (munching on the goodies 😉 ) for team 1 to return.

Team 1 were all smiles on return, visibility was down but we’d lucked out with the spot dropping on one of the larger wrecks with swim throughs and the prop/rudder area out of the sand. Curtin reef is an excellent site, with so much to offer any level of diver. It’s a shame that it really needs to be dived at high slack, or setup as a drift…

Fishy..

Geoff and I descended on the anchor to find a great wreck to explore. We found a couple of places to penetrate (more like swim throughs) and some great features to poke around in. Fish life was abundant, and the wrecks are well coated with weeds and other life (little coral though). Rather disappointingly my camera housing started to flood early on so not many pictures were taken (camera is fine). After looping around the main wreck and jumping over to explore a couple of others we found some lost anchors tangled on the wreck and set one up for recovery should we have time towards the end of the dive. As we turned for home we realised the change of tide had brought a ripping current with it and getting back to the boat was a bit of an effort. I sat out the safety stop sailing from the anchor line like a flag, and wondering how Ashton (who we’d spotted briefly on wreck 2) would go with a blue water deco at the end of his 2 hour dive…. Here's one we prepared earlier... What are you two up to?

Our extra anchor :D

Once back aboard the Blue Meanie the true force of the current was evident and we started keeping a close eye out for Ashton’s SMB as he came up for his stop. We spotted him well off to the North, probably around 4-500 m up the island from our anchorage. After a couple of minutes of trying to free the anchor we made the call to leave it with a float attached and grab Ashton before he headed off toward Flinders…

We attached a dive float and flag to the end of the anchor line and took off. By the time we reached Ashton and he’d completed the 10m deco he’d racked up we were around a kilometre from our anchor site.

We hauled him aboard and headed back for the anchor, hoping to beat the Northerly change predicted for the early afternoon. Alas it was not to be, when we got back to the GPS mark the buoy was nowhere to be seen, we spotted a dodgy old dude and his mate sitting right next to our spot and asked if they’d “seen” anything. In true dodgy old bearded bogan style they waved us off and mumbled something about a big white cruiser which had drifted through the area a couple of minutes earlier and headed off “that way”.

After some swearing we gave them the benefit of the doubt and started hunting for the buoy, after a few sweeps Emma spotted it about 1.5m down. The current had picked up so much it was forcing the buoy below the surface!!! After losing sight of it and dragging Matthius and Josh behind the boat for about 20 minutes Josh (bless his little heart) found it again and dragged it back to the surface. We still couldn’t free it from the wreck with the boat however, so Matt and Josh dropped back down on spare tanks to recover my $250 plow for me.

After about 10 minutes on the bottom a couple of heavily loaded SMB’s popped up and the boys shortly followed after a safety stop. With the anchor floating free we quickly dragged it in, only to find the lads had outdone themselves and also retrieved the anchor that Geoff and I had prepared earlier!!! Thanks to Josh and Matt my shitty day had turned out fantastic!!

The run home was pretty uneventful with the promised Northerly kicking up the swell as we rode a trailing sea back in from the island. Coming in through the channel (my lesson was learned on the slow and finicky outbound trip through the mud beds to the south of the boat ramp, so I brought us home through the channel and under the bridge) was like crossing a bar and Meanie took a couple over the bow (drenching the poor buggers on the starboard side 😛 ). By 3 PM we were on dry land and breaking down the gear.

Thanks to Matt and Geoff for keeping me company and helping me wash her down at home over a couple of beers. It was great to dive with a relaxed crew who know their stuff.

Lessons Learned:

Dive Curtin on slack, plan for only one dive, or one static and one drift dive.
Get some binoculars and a stopwatch for the surface watchers.
Anchor a little away from the wrecks, it may make it harder for divers, but MUCH easier to get underway at the end.
Use a MUCH bigger anchor buoy when in a roaring current.

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