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Fog Diving – Not to be Mist

The forecast was S-SE 3-4, but in reality it was < 1 and flat no fowl weather at all, not even a duck or chicken. The lack of wind meant the mist and fog was lingering and making navigation for even the locals difficult. The technique is to keep in sight of land and follow the coast and then guess at the direction. Our chosen dive location was Po Toi and a visitation of “the site”. All the wonders of technology and pilotage is from headland to island hopping from one spot to the next, behind round island , past Stanley and Toward Cape D’Aguilar before a bee line south to Beaufort and Po Toi. To be fair it was foggy and low viz in patches, so better to keep out of the shipping lanes. It was too foggy to see whether Mike’s boat was still afloat. Most boats are declared lost and assumed wrecked after a period of disappearance, we should find out next week if it is still there. The Middle Island triangle is notorious.

We had a magnificent seven on-board, all rusty with a prolonged hiatus since the last dive. 180 days was the longest period for one. We eventually found the site and anchored close by. We tried to keep at 15 metre’s or less underwater, which prolonged the diving with the tiny 8.5 litre tanks we had. The water temperature was 17 degrees on the surface, but there was a thermocline down to 16 degrees underneath. Most dry-suits were able to cope, with one farmer John retro suit testing the thermal limits in the water. The initial splash was a bit nippy, but not hideous.

Dive one confirmed that the baseline was a bit shorted and wrapped around what looks like smaller line, a job for another day. It looks like it has been cut or just badly tied J. The metal work is still there and divers reported a cauldron shaped object, a box, the stock for the “stockless anchor and some pottery. The other stuff was still there but a lot of the tags are missing. There was a lot of nudibranch activity with a white bumpy one with alternating yellow spots along the side. Probably not new to science, but new to Alex. Temporarily named Maculosus veteris vir, or spotty old man in his honour. There were Chromis, small grouper, lion fish and a puffer spotted along with the usual suspects. The bottom has soft coral, whip, sunset cup corals, feather stars in a variety of colours. The site is wedding cake style around the islet with rocks and boulders inshore with patches of rough sand running seaward from 17+ metres on the site to 5 close in to the cliff.

On the surface the fog rolled in and out and we were some sort of magnet for fishing boats racing along and using the land as a visual reference, flying between the dive boat and land. This was were we were diving and it made little difference that there were drift lines and SMB’s tethered to the site. One boat even laid a ghost net within 5 metres of the marker buoy tied as a mark. Luckily for them it was moved before wave 2 and the master class in shears , line cutters and knives. The second wave also had a near miss with a fishing boat zooming straight for their buoy when they were surfacing. Not a great day for safety and common sense from the fishing fraternity. Dive flags and buoys were ignored. On the final dive of the day, Maddy and I used the anchor and reeled out to use it coming back. Swimming back along the line and then swimming reciprocal bearings at 90 degrees to the line to extend the dive from the string. It meant we could at least use the anchor line away from Boaty McBoatface speeding around to come back up on and a high navigation score. Apparently the correct call as another series of boats sped through. We did a lot of whistling, horn blowing and shouting.

Visibility on the day was around 2 metres with snotites drifting slowly in the water column along with some jelly fish. Nicola got one on the ear and then became a magnet for a huge amount of mozzies that were hanging around the boat. I have no idea why this phenomena happened, but Nicola tastes better. Simon became Mr Rentakill, clapping and swatting in some sort of dervish. Patrick rested from his labours and snoozed. Maddy dived her dry-suit for the first time but has some sort of pencil neck issue and has a slight leak from the seal. I wont mention clearing ears too vigorously and other biological effects. Otherwise it was a good day. We were out of the water by 3 and back at the ABC around 4.

Thanks everyone for making it a chilled day without anyone getting chilled.

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