My Recent Dives - July, August and September 2020
Posted by Michael on 01 July 2020 00:00
24 July 2020 - Barrens Hut/The Split
First dive for 5 weeks as away in western NSW. A few problems before the dive, including loosing a wheel from trailer on the way to the ramp (did not know I lost till at RMYC!). Never found it. Anyway, flat seas and blue water, no wind. Was supposed to be rainy till yesterday but the forecast pushed it back to noon (came later at 1600). Les watched boat, we went up Split to outside, a few PJs along the way. Then outside to N and found three donut nembrothas which Natalia wanted to see. Then back to anchor and Cave, bastard trumpeters here and also then at their normal spot. Here I saw a seal and then a minunte later, it came back and the others saw as well. Back up after this. A really good dive, making up for all the problems earlier (and later a flat tyre on trailer!). Visibility very good.

1 August 2020 - Bypass Reef
Club boat dive, three boats, 12 divers. Botany Bay very dirty and a bit dirty and cold on top (15.7C) but much better and warmer (17.4C) on bottom. Little current but surgy as large swell on longsih period. Anchored right on corner and went N and then back and S. Lots of silver sweep at N end, quite a few pairs of black reef leatherjackets, plenty of red morwong in a cave and a few PJs. Some on one boat saw a blue devilfish but they were a bit deeper. Whales heard and one surfaced between the boats! Much better than expected considering the rain at the start of the week. Visibility fair.

2 August 2020 - Middle Ground North 
Swell dropped a lot since yesterday, no surge at all at 32 m. Water again drity and cold on top but on bottom 17.4C and 7-8 m viz. Fishers on main reef so came over here. Anchored on W side and went to E along a crack. Then NW. Lots of yellowtail and silver sweep up over the reef. Plenty of leatherjackets of different species. A few small octopus. Back across to W side and back to anchor and then S a little. Lots of wandering anemones on sea whips here, some tiger anemones. Another surprisingly good dive. Visibility fair.

5 August 2020 - Middle Ground 
Club boat dive. Wind was a bit stronger than forecast, NW at 15 kts, but not too rough. Wind dropped to under 10 kts while we were diving. Viz on bottom 5-7 m but much better above 18 m. Anchored first go on rock off NW corner of reef. Went E and on NE corner saw a large grey nurse shark, the first I have seen here. Brilliant! Then S to SE corner and back again, hoping we could see the shark again. No luck. Thousands of yellowtail and seapike over the reef and plenty of silver sweep too. Also lots of black reef leatherjackets. A great dive. Visibility fair.

15 August 2020 - Bypass Reef
First dive for 10 days due to rotten weather. Bay was filthy, but not too bad on surface here. Outgoing tide, but 10 m down cleared up to a cold 16.6C and 7-8 metres viz. Flat seas and W wind. Anchored again on corner cave, went N. Lots of red morwong and some bastard trumpeters in cave. Plenty of silver sweep and one-spot pullers at N end. Back to cave, a Port Jackson shark along way. Kelly found some saw-tooth pipefish near anchor and there were a few swimming anemones S of here. 

16 August 2020 - The Colours
Club boat dive, only my boat. Wind W but less than 5 kts but at boat ramp 20 kts. Swell much more than yesterday but okay. Viz really good at surface but dark on bottom as cloudy. Anchored on sand edge at 28 m. Went N along sand edge for 8 mins and then back to anchor. Then S for a few mins and back to anchor. Lots of silver sweep at N end, some black reef leatherjackets. One cuttlefish, lots of nudibranchs. Nice dive despite everything . Visibility fair.

19 August 2020 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive. No wind at all when we got out there but it came up to about 12 kts NNW at the end. A bit of current from N top to bottom, and a bit of surge, warmer again at 17.2C. Anchored on top of cave, hard to work hard to pull anchor forward a bit to put it in a better spot. A few bastard trumpeters in cave with two blue morwong. Hundreds of seapike over the cave. Went S and saw a spiny gurnard and then Lynne found a donut nembrotha in normal spot, on sand. Back around to anchor, a blue devilfish in normal spot near anchor. A few six-spined leatherjackets, lots of silver sweep, old wives and a few small trevally. A very nice dive. Visibility fair.

22 August 2020 - Fly Point, Port Stephens 
Club Boys Weekend. Extremely windy, boat dives cancelled, wind 20-30 kts W. Went S just before we went in but came back W. Current did not change whole dive. A few interesting nudibranchs, one small wobbegong, a few Gunther's butterflyfish, huge numbers of bream, snapper, yellowtail and more. Pretty good dive. Visibility good.

26 August 2020 - Bare Island Right
Could not get a crew for boat dive, so had to do a shore dive. First dive here for over 10 weeks! A reasonable SE swell running so went it past Carol's plaque. A bit surgy whole dive. Viz was 3 m at most. Only went down to before first cave. Kim showed us a tiny orange anglerfish near SHR. A few tiny firefish, a tiny Vercos tambja, a tiny fine-lined tambja, both on first large rock on way down. A small yellow big belly sea horse that I found here too. One PPH near turn around point. Quite a few other nudibranchs and shells. A large flathead. Hard getting out as high tide and swell coming right in and I had cramps in both legs! Very good dive despite all this. Visibility poor. 

29 August 2020 - Middle Ground
Club boat dive, two boats. Was supposed to be Underwater Wilderness but seas too big, at least 2 m. Little wind and very slight current from S. Anchored on NW corner. Went clockwise around whole reef. Very, very dirty, top to bottom and cold 15.9C. Like a night dive. Saw lots of fish but all very flighty and disappeared when torch hit them. Mostly yellowtail I think. Saw a PJ, a six-spined leatherjacket, Lachlan saw two spiny gurnards. Not much else of note really. Pretty terrible dive. Visibility very poor.

30 August 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Club shore dive, organised yesterday, 7 members plus 1. Went off W point, ended up near RIF. Quite a few PJs. Came back normal way. Viz only 2-3 m deep, about 3-4 shallower. One person saw a RIF, I found the anglerfish, PPH, big belly sea horse from Wednesday. Also two small Vercos tambjas, two small fine-lined tambjas. Apparently another big belly on same rock but did not see it. A nice dive despite the visibility. Visibility poor.

2 September 2020 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive. Slight wind from N and very slight current from N. Port engine did not run at full revs for first few minutes of each time I tried to use. Why? Pretty calm. Anchored near cave. Visibility so much better than Saturday, 8-10 m. No blue devilfish and no bastard trumpeters. Where are they? Only one donut nembrotha, on S reef. Lots of seapike over cave area. All the normal fish elsewhere. Nice dive. Visibility fair.

3 September 2020 - Bare Island Right
Club night shore dive, first for five years (?). Went in off W point, went to bottom, swam W for 2.5 mins when a loud bang and my reg free flowed. Swam over to Simon, took his octopus and signalled to surface. We swam back to pool and exited. First stage high pressure seat failure according to Don K. Was going to put in for service on Sunday anyway! Visibility fair.

5 September 2020 - M & K Reef
Little wind and small NE swell when we went out. Port engine mucked up again, need to fix before any more diving. Anchored in front of S cave. Looked for Kelly's torch that she lost 13 June, no luck. Went N, Kelly found two PPH. We did not see blue devilfish, but second group saw two to the S. Lots of silver sweep and one-spot pullers to N. Back past anchor to S and then back. A few nudibranchs, but nothing special. When others went up I looked for the torch under where the boat was last time, no luck. Back on boat, wind now over 15 kts W or SSW, rough trip back across bay. A nice dive. Visibility good.

6 September 2020 - SS Tuggerah
Went out on Peter F's boat. Very sloppy seas and larger SE swell than yesterday. Little wind from E. Anchored first go in front of boiler. No current. When I rolled in my tank came loose, I went to bottom and Phil fixed. On the way down a small seal came rushing up to me. Also saw it on the bottom a few times. Dirty on top and way down but 8-10 m on bottom, dark though. Went to stern and then to bow. Lots of PJs at bow and at least six large wobbegong sharks. Plenty of fish around, including very large seapike and at least 20 reasonable sized bream, first I have ever seen here. Visibility fair.

8 September 2020 - Bare Island RIF Reef
Went in from W point. Lot cleaner than last week, at least 12 m at depth and 8 m shallower. Despite forgetting my hood, not cold despite 16.5C. Went to RIF Reef, dozens of PJs on sand before it. Then to 15 Metre Reef and back. Two small RIF, no PPH, lots of nudibranchs, some dotos, one Vercos tampja (grown heaps since last week), one red-lined flabellina and the small orange anglerfish, also much bigger and moved about 200 mm. Could not find the sea horse. Really good dive. Visibility good.

12 September 2020 - Bushrangers Bay, Shellharbour
Club shore dive. Buddied Evan, Les's grandson, first dive out of dive course. Pretty good and relaxed, just needs to get weighting right. Went out to open sea, 15 m + viz here, perhaps 7 close to shore. Say 7 m here. Saw two grey nurse sharks on the way out, then three on the way back in, two very close. Perhaps three or four in total. Some yellowtail, bastard trumpeters, lots of Port Jackson sharks and horned sharks. A reasonable dive, but without GNS would have been boring. Evan went well. Visibility good.

13 September 2020 - Inscription Point
Was supposed to do club boat dive but my port engine not working and awaiting parts. Went in just before low tide, viz amazing at over 15 m. No current till on way back. One small sea dragon, one moray eel, a large spotted boxfish Zorka found a ting orange painted anglerfish. A few nudibranchs, but nothing special. All the usual other fish. Quite a few divers here towards the end. Nice dive. Visibility very good.

16 September 2020 - Bare Island Right
Club shore dive as my engine still not repaired. Went in before Carol's plaque. Found the big belly sea horse on first large rock and I also found a small pot belly sea horse. Two Vercos tambjas here and a PPH. Then towards SHR, found the tiny orange anglerfish, still in same area. Then to first cave. Lots of nudibranchs, especially pink okenias and also one opera house. A few other interesting bugs, two RIF. Had to come back from before SHR when I realised I only had 70 bar. Should have been 120, no idea what happened as started with 230 bar! Still did an hour. Very nice dive. Visibililty fair.

19 September 2020 - Bare Island Right
Shore dive as part has still not arrived for my boat's engine. No wind and little swell, but occasional larger ones. had problem with my mask the whole dive, kept fogging up despite cleaning it three times and also kept flooding! Made it an uncomfortable dive. Went in before plaque, similar dive to Wednesday. Found both sea horses, one is a southern big (pot) belly and the other an eastern pot belly. Kelly found a PPH and then I found the tiny anglerfish. Quite a few pipehorses and some upsidedown pipehorses. Also some interesting nudibranchs. Three or four RIF, a small horn shark, some small cuttlefish. Looked for a BI anglerfish near first cave but no luck. Back from here. By end of the dive, swell had come up a lot. Difficult to exit and I lost my strobe, but got it back. A good dive despite my problems. Visibility fair.

23 September 2020 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Boat still not fixed, Tuggerah dive cancelled due to change in forecast but this never happened till well over 3 hours later. Went off W point to wall. Camera would not fire strobe, cable probably. Kim found a small big belly sea horse on one of the low rocks. Back normal way. Lots of nudibranchs, including red-lined flabellina and opera house. A few RIF, no PPH. Back near first cave, I found the Bare Island anglerfish others had seen a week ago but which we could not find on Saturday. Refound the orange painted anglerfish, Vercos tambjas and a fine-lined tambja and the eastern pot belly sea horse. Could not find the big belly. A large stingray with huge tail past outboard. A really great dive. Visibility fair.

29 September 2020 - Clifton Gardens
Big seas and winds last few days and still today. Went inside pool and then outside around wharf, so many holes in net! Then to N to chains and anchors, back to wharf and then to (3 x 3) sea horse houses SE of pool. Camera did not work again, the flash would not fire despite thinking I fixed after last dive. Kim showed me the two small orange painted anglerfishes, one inside and a tiny one outside. Lots of interesting nudibranchs, including doto. Quite a few small cuttlefish, a lot of pygmy and fan-bellied leatherjackets. A large pipefish to N, one small Whites sea horse on house, only one I saw. A reasonable dive. Visibility poor inside pool but fair outside. 
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