Latest Dive ReviewsOct 22, 2015 - Bicheno
"Over the Hobart Show “long weekend” we headed to Bicheno, with Andrew G, Andreas K, Wayne M and I heading up Thursday, Mark K joining us Friday and Brando A and Justin V joining us for the weekend. With the weather looking great for the duration of the trip the possibilities for all the sorts of dives we could do began to mount up.
Thursday began with Andrew, Andreas and I meeting at the club boat before setting off for Bicheno. In Bicheno we met Wayne and considered our options it was decided to push on up to White Sands to have a go at diving the wreck of the Marcon Esprance a work barge that sank off Iron House point in 55m, this proved to be rather futile so headed into the headland to do a dive on a bommy out off Iron House Point, having dived this spot before I ran the boat whilst Andrew, Andreas and Wayne dived. They reported a rather poor dive with exceptionally poor vis of less than 5m. With that dive over we headed in, dragged the boat out and finished the day with a pint of the Iron House Brewery’s best.
The next day Mark K joined us for a dive out of the club boat. Andreas and I planned a dive on Joe’s reef, a large patch of deep reef some 6NM SE of Bicheno, which rises up from 80m to 58m, a reef I have been keen to dive since I did my trimix course some years ago. With perfect weather we decided to give it ago. We set a shot on the sallowest part of the reef we could find (58m) which indicated very little current. With our rebreathers, a rich trimix diluent and appropriate bailout tanks we headed off down the shot. On the reef we found rather gloomy conditions but vis was ok at around 15-20m and the reef carpentered in rich diversity of colorful invert life. We pottered around the top of the reef, jumped across a narrow ravine and descended down to around 68m. Fish life was sparse with butterfly perch darting about, a few leather jacket species and jackass morwong, a school of pilchards swept by at one stage. The highlight of the dive was coming across a number of black coral trees with basket stars entwined amongst the branches, also thick mats of what looked like a pink soft coral species, which I had not seen before. I took the opportunity to take a sample of the black coral for identification as these corals have not been recorded as occurring in Tassie waters. With our planned 20 minute bottom time coming to an end we headed back to the shot to begin our assent and decompression stops, surfacing after spending 77minutes in the water.
We then headed in to Cape Lodi where Mark had some GPS marks for a variety of dives, Andrew, Wayne and Mark jumped in on a spot called the Magic Garden, an expansive sponge garden at the base of a wall that rises up from 40m to around 15m through a series of swim throughs. They reported a nice dive but would have been better if the vis was not so poor which became the catch cry for the weekend.
On Saturday with Brando and Justin joining us, we planned on diving the Nuggets Pinnacle a large reef that rises up from 70m to 38m about 1NM east of the Nuggets of Cape Tourville. Mark offered to take us out in his home built 8m behemoth of a craft powered by twin 225 Mercs. We loaded gear for seven divers which consisted of rebreathers, twin sets and stage tanks which soon swallowed up by the massive deck space. After launching in the gulch we settled into the 14NM run south to the nuggets. At the nuggets we had sloppy conditions, but Marks boat was providing a stable platform for the dive. With a shot line placed on the north pinnacle Andreas and I jumped in with rebreathers, we followed the shot down to the top of the pinnacle in 38m and then over the side to around 55m keeping an out eye out for the black coral tree we had seen when dived here earlier in the year, on this dive we found another four black coral trees. The grandeur of this site is something that has to be seen to be believed, with massive walls chasms and pinnacles rising up. With every surface carpeted in a rich diversity of colorful marine life. Masses of butterfly perch swarmed around, with a few stripped trumpeter cruising by along with all the usual reef species seen.
Heading back up the shot Andrew, Wayne and Mark passed us on the way down. With everyone back in the boat it was great to see all raving about the great dive they had just done. We headed closer into the nuggets for Brando and Justin to have a dive, we found a spot that dropped from around 20m to 40m. They reported that vis was very poor, but the site had potential. For a second dive we headed back up to Cape Lodi and jumped in on the Lodi bommy which rises up from 30m to around 3m, would have been a great dive had it not been for the poor vis of around 5m, masses of fish life, nice walls and swim throughs.
Sunday, any plans of diving quickly dissipated with thoughts of the terrible vis and a strengthening northerly, diving out in the reserve was just pointless in such conditions. Anyhow despite the such poor vis inshore we managed to find some acceptable vis and some spectacular diving. A big thanks must got Mark for providing his boat as we would not have got down to the Nuggets in the club boat with the sloppy conditions.
By James P
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