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Latest Dive Reviews

May 24, 2014 - Bicheno

"Over the weekend of the 24-25th of May members of the TSDC headed up to Bicheno for a weekend of diving with a more of an exploratory emphases. The aim of the weekend was to dive some sights that are a bit deeper and further afield, with a large pinnacle off shore from Cape Tourville and the wreck of the Marcon Esperance which sank off Iron House Point in 2007 being the primary targets.

The weekend started with Michael P, Jon B, Andrew G and myself meeting at the White Sands Resort to get the key to access their boat ramp. The plan for the day was to head out and look for and dive the wreck of the Marcon Espernce. The Marcon Espernce is a 16m construction barge that sank in 56m off Iron House Point whilst under tow. We had the GPS marks of the sinking from the position of the tow vessel from a MAST incident report and had been advised by Bruce of the BDC that the vessel lies around 75m north of that position. We had perfect weather conditions for our trip out off shore to search for the wreck with only a long period 2.5m southerly swell disturbing the sea surface. We spent four or so hours plotting back and forth for the wreck but were largely thwarted by the poor sounder reading in the club boat. Pax and Andrew G jumped in for a speculative dive in the middle of the search area and found nothing. After considering our options Jon and I decided have a dive on Pulfer’s Break, a large area of reef four miles north of us and four miles off Scamander. The reef rises up from around 50m to 10m and is around the size of a soccer pitch on top. Jon and I geared up in our rebreathers and jumped in on top of the reef. Descending down on top of the reef we found it covered in thick kelp bed and good vis of around 20m. We swam east and descended over a drop off into around 30m, here the lush kelp reef gave way to vast urchin barren, dotted with the occasional sponge and patch of golden zoanthids. But what the reef lacked in colourful invert life it made up for with the abundance of fish life, where we were soon surrounded by a large school of butterfly perch and had a school of mackerel schooling around us. Making our way along the base of the drop off we poked around large boulders and rock out crops, where a few carys were seen including one walking about in the open. But the most notable thing about the dive was the diversity of fish life which was who’s, who of Redmap with damsel fish, pairs of old wives, blue morwong, maori wrasse all spotted as well as the usual reef species including banded morwong, boarfish, sea sweep, leather jackets and the occasional bastard trumpeter. As we started going into deco we made our way back up onto the reef top as I was feeling cold from a slowly flooding drysuit. We sent our DSMB to the surface to do our decompression stops away from the powerful surge created by a 2.5m swell, here we soon had a few seals hanging around and taking interest in us, I had them pulling at my SMB and rushing in at me with mouths open, bearing teeth and veering off at the last moment, which was a little unnerving.

The next day we were joined by Eric F and Bob B and near perfect sea conditions for the long 14nm trip down to Cape Tourville to dive a large offshore pinnacle which rises up from 70 to 38m. Arriving at our dive destination we sounded out the pinnacle establishing that it had two peaks coming up to of 38 and 42m respectively and separated by a distance of 40m and dropping down to a depth 55m between the two peaks. We set a shot on the northern peak and found a moderate current running north to south. Jon, Eric and I geared up in our rebreathers for the first dive, to be the guineapigs on this, to our knowledge, unexplored dive site. We descended pulling ourselves down the shot line against the moderate current, and soon the massive top of the pinnacle loomed into visibility, settling down onto its top where we were immediately engulfed in a massive school of butterfly perch, which was one of the thickest I have seen. The top of the pinnacle was carpeted with a vast array of colourful sponge and other invertebrate life. I settled on top of the bommy checking my rebreather operation and taking in this marvellous sight. We then made my way over the drop off down into the wide saddle between the two peaks, hear we found ourselves nicely sheltered from the current at 53m, I made my way across the bottom of the saddle to the face of the towering wall of the north peak, this was a magnificent sight looking up this massif. I spent a few moments poking around the large boulders and rocky out crops littering the floor carpeted in the rich diversity of invertebrate life. With deco time racking up starting to feel a little chilled in my wet suit I ascended to the top of the southern peak and began my assent up the shot line completing the mandatory deco stops along the way, hanging on to the shot in the moderate current. Once we were all in the boat Andrew G and Bob B geared up in sidemount twins for their dive. For them the current looked to drop off significantly. As expected they reported a fantastic dive and all agreed this is spot worth returning to for further exploration. We contemplated doing a second dive off the Nuggets but with time marching on and the long boat ride back to the boat ramp and then the drive back to Hobart it was decided to give it a miss and were satisfied with the great dive we had just done.

Back at the boat ramp we unloaded the dive gear and found Andrew G had to be cut out of his dry suit, with a broken section of zip jamming and trapping him in his suit. A pear paramedic shears were put into service.
By James P

Who Dived it?
Bob Blaauw James Andrew Eric Jon Pax