January Dive Report

Our new Rear Commodore, Sindy, has brought great energy to the role and one of the many things she has done is reintroduce club dives, which is great for those of us who do not have a boat as well as for bringing us all together on, and under, the water.
We started the season back in November with a shore dive on the Ammo Jetty at Woodman Point and in January we had our first boat dive. In a partnership with PDA Hillarys we took over their boat Wildflower and 15 of us (minus one walking wounded) headed over to Rottnest for a couple of dives. We were on the boat and leaving Hillarys Boat Harbour by 8am and were all thankful to Sindy for not just organising the boat but also the weather. It took us about an hour to steam over to our first dive site, Jackson Rock, giving us plenty of time to set up dive gear, have a catch up, hydrate and take some team photos.
160116_Rotto_IMG_3601I buddied up with Daz with his cray loop while I took my camera. This was my favourite dive of the day as there was no current and visibility was quite clear. It was really good ground with lots of swim-throughs and caves. As soon as we descended to the bottom, there waiting to greet us was the Port Jackson shark after which the site is presumably named? Unfortunately either me rushing to get my camera set up or Daz’s Sharkshield spooked it away. There was at least a nice little ray right next to it who obliged me my photo. Daz managed to find a few crays including one jumbo that I am sure tasted good on the barbie that night. I managed some photos of the usual suspects: western blue devils and the crays that Daz missed but this was only my second dive playing with manual mode on the camera, which made it more of a training shoot as I explored camera / strobe settings. We did find the shark again mid-dive and I spent 5 minutes just lying there taking his picture while trying to eliminate as much backscatter as possible. When Daz started to run low on air I watched him back on to the boat before tagging along with Sindy and Graham. Of course, I saw loads more crays after this point, almost directly under the boat.
160116_Rotto_IMG_3588Everyone agreed it was an excellent dive. Those with loops caught a few crays and those with cameras got a few good shots. There is always one “Doh!” moment on every dive trip and the honour this time went to Ben’s son Brendon who dropped his Go Pro as soon as he got in the water, though thankfully he found it immediately. The skipper Grant had trouble recovering the anchor; it was completely wrapped around some reef so Davey was sent down to disentangle it. This provided not just entertainment but also time to have lunch and share stories.
The second dive was at Swirl Reef round on the opposite side of Rotto. The sea conditions which 160116_Rotto_IMG_3653were nigh on perfect before were now just about ideal; the sea shimmering like glass and the mermaid line hanging loose on the surface due to the lack of wind. However, the old adage about never judging a book by its cover proved apt as once we got to the bottom there was a fairly strong current. This time I was greeted by a large western blue devil at the bottom of my descent but had to dig in with my muck stick to take photos. By the time I looked up everyone else was 20m away and it was a good work out just to catch up with them against the current. There were a few more western blues to see and photo for the rest of the dive plus the usual Rotto populations of leatherbacks, boxfish, sweetlips and so on. Mike found me a few nudibranchs on which to practice my macro shots and the last groups to get out of the water also reported a huge ray swimming around.
After de-kitting we headed back to Hillarys where many of the group got their cylinders refilled then popped into the club for a beer. I made my excuses, saying I had a number of chores to get through when I got home, but in reality I washed down my gear and then had a nana nap!
So, well done Sindy for organising the trip, thanks to Davey and Grant from PDA for looking after us so well and here’s to some more excellent club dives over the rest of the season.
Iain Worrall (Advanced diver and Photographer)

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