1 November - Bare Island Deep Wall, Sydney
First dive in 9 weeks, first in Sydney since 18 April. Good to be back in water, although I need a new wetsuit! Went off W point and SW to wall, then back normal way. No sea horses or sea dragons and only one PPH that Kelly found on Deep Wall. Three RIF, all W of SHR. One dwarf firefish, a spindle cowrie on 15 Metre Reef. A nice easy dive to get back into it. Visibility good.
11 November - Pizza Reef
First dive on Le Scat for about 7 months. Also Les's first dive since we left 7 months ago. Both went okay. Quite a strong S wind blowing and some quite large swells from S. However, not too bad. Water 19C on top but 16.7 on bottom which later dropped to 15.5 when a current came in from W. Anchor was jammed in a small slit, took about 5 mins to get it out. Bastard trumpeters in normal place near cave, a large school of trevallies here as well. Back near anchor on S side, a blue devilfish. Nice dive. Visibility good.
12 November - Bare Island Deep Wall
First night dive for 7 months, 5 members. Went off W point and SW to wall, then back normal way. No sea horses or sea dragons and only one PPH that I found found on Deep Wall. Five RIF, all shallower than 13 m. Some squid at the end. Also 2 fine-lined tamjas. Visibility good for most of dive.
15 November - Shiprock
Did normal dive, most divers here went in about 45 mins too early! Saw a couple of moray eels, a bunch of small cuttlefish, one very large flathead. Cleaned the plaque, I doubt anyone has done this since we went away in May. Not many nudibranchs, a few yellow gobies. Nice easy dive, quite warm at 19.3C. Visibility fair.
17 November - SS Tuggerah
First dive on Tuggerah since February. No current on surface but a slight one on bottom from N. Anchored in front of boiler. Cleaned toilet and then went to stern. A few medium cuttlefish and a large wobbegong (that I did not see). Went to go along hull bottom but as current was strong here, came back W side. Went to bow and then back. Probably 20 bailer shells laying eggs along here. Normal fishlife. A really great dive, even though only 15.3C on bottom (19.6C on deco). Visibility good.
18 November - Barrens Hut/The Split
Much calmer than yesterday, took three goes to anchor. Did the northa, route via The Split and back to anchor and then to Cave and back. Bastard trumpeters in normal places, lots of floating stuff in the water so visibility not that great at times. Plenty of small jellyfish etc. Some saw 2 pineapplefish but I did not. Nice relaxing dive. Visibility fair.
19 November - Marys Reef
Similar seas to yesterday but cleaner, not as much muck in the water. Went E first and saw a few black reef leatherjackets and also a six-spined leatherjacket. On the way back three very large squid. A few nudibranchs, but nothing special. Went W past anchor and then back again. No current and a very nice dive. Visibility good.
19 November - Bare Island Isolated Reefs
Club night dive, 4 attending. Very hot day but NE here cooling it down. Went off W point and NW to IR1. Reasonable current with us along N side of IR1 and IR2, strange, it should have been running out and against us. Very dirty, saw three RIF and a sea horse (IR2). Once around end of IR2 current was still against us, so it was not eddying. Very hard swim back as air usage will show (more than 25% more than normal). Into current all the way back till near exit!! Saw some squid, moray eel, cuttlefish, orange spiky nudibranchs but not much else. Not a great dive due to current. Visibility poor.
22 November - Middle Ground
Was supposed to be dive to SS Tuggerah but was a bit rough. Anchor came off reef so had to surface and reanchor. Visibility fair.
22 November - Middle Ground
Second attempt, this time with Aidan as Jane had gear problems. Was anchored off E side on the rocks. Took me a while to figure out where we were. Ended up on the main reef. Not a great dive, should have stayed at home. Visibility fair.
25 November - Barrens Hut/The Split
Club boat dive. Anchored S of Split and followed usual route, up Split to N end, back along the sand edge to anchor, then to Tunnel, Cave and back via Second Split. Nothing really special seen, but more than 30 bastard trumpeters near anchor and more in Cave. Very cold on bottom, 16C compared to almost 20C at 5 m. Much better dive than Sunday. Visibility fair.
26 November - Shiprock
Did normal dive but current was very strong so ended up at the boat piles to W. Saw five pineapplefish, two right at W end and two in normal spot. not many nudibranchs. A small estuary cod towards W. Lots of seapike, trevally and various leatherjackets. Cooler at 17.7C. Visibility fair.
28 November - Henrys Sponge Garden
Club boat dive, was supposed to be Wedding Cake Island but NE wind too strong and also large swells from SE and NE. Dave tried By Pass and Minmi Trench but too rough. Too strong a current at Henrys Head, so went just inside head out of it. Headed S till we hit the current, a bit further and back and then N. Very nice reef to S, five sea dragons, lots of leatherjackets, heaps of purple dragons and some other nudibranchs. Mike H saw a huge crayfish. Nice dive, but cold at 17.3C. Visibility fair.
9 December - Pizza Reef
First dive with new Seatec Semi Dry, fantastic to be warm the whole dive! No wind but a strong low swell from NE meant surge on bottom. Water 18C on top but 16.5 on bottom. Went right around reef but saw no bastard trumpeters at all, the first time ever this has happened. Some large schools of small yellowtail and one spot pullers over reef. A few friendly black reef leatherjackets and a blue groper. Lots of small jellyfish on S side but none elsewhere. A nice dive. Visibility fair to good.
10 December - Bare Island RIF Reef
Club night dive, 7 attending. Too rough to go in off W point, so went in near Carol's plaque. Went to SH Corner and then across to 15 Metre Reef and then RIF Reef. Followed the outer edge around and then to start of IR1. Then a short way along N side and back to exit. Water temperature varied from 20C down to 17.8C, some cleaner patches but quite dirty. Five RIF, a few small squid, two spiny gurnards, one tiny PPH on last rock on way back. Nice last (?) night dive of the year. Visibility poor.
12 December - The Leap
Club boat dive. Too rough to go outside Botany Bay, so dived The Leap, but a bit to the E where we have boat dived before. Anchored on top of reef in 14 m and dropped over to sand at 21 m. Headed E for 10 mins. Saw 4 pygmy pipehorses, 3 tiny ones. Also 2 eastern blue devilfish. A few small cuttlefish, lots of mado and other reef fish. Very surgy but a nice dive. Visibility poor.
13 December - Shiprock
Not a club dive but ended up with 10 members diving. Found a tiny black anglerfish NE of the first real bommie. maybe 20 mm long. Brilliant. The moray eel with deformed lower jaw is back on last bommie, let me scratch it. Lots of large octopus, dozens of Sydney cardinalfish with eggs in mouth. Three pineapplefish, only 2 in normal place. Also plenty of fan-bellied leatherjackets. Really a nice dive, quite warm at 19.6C and great viz. Visibility good.
14 December - Bare Island Right
My nephew Pat McFadyen's first dive out of his Open Water course. Went in off W point and headed WNW and came to main reef at SHR. Went to SHC and then 15 Metre Reef. Found a RIF there. Then back to exit. Found an upsidedown pipefish under SHR, then Kim and Andrew showed us 2 PPH just to N of here. Saw a huge flathead, lots of nudibranchs and some large black reef leatherjackets. Pat went great, did 56 mins and was pretty relaxed. A very good dive. Visibility good.
15 December - Marys Reef
Club boat dive. Went to Marley Point but 2 boats fishing on the site. Went back to Marys Reef. Lots of nudibranchs, a very large squid (later seen laying eggs), a six-spined leatherjacket, plenty of trevally. A really nice dive. Visibility good.
19 December - Marys Reef
Club boat dive. We went to Marys as per plan but the other two boats dived Barrens as they thought the NE wind would be stronger. Calm and clean. Saw plenty of trevally like last Tuesday. As we turned around, a very large grey nurse shark swam close to us. Fantastic! On the way back Kelly found a great nudibranch and I found 2 tiny upsidedown pipefish near the anchor. A really good dive. Visibility very good.
23 December - Middle Ground
Club boat dive. Pretty sloppy but not too bad. Water blue. Anchored on SE corner. Water a bit dirty on the way down but much better on the bottom. Went around the whole reef. Thousands of yellowtail and hundreds of seapike hovering over the reef. A few black reef leatherjackets and a six-spined leatherjacket. Lots of other fish as well, including blue and red morwong. No wobbegongs but a couple of large cuttlefish. An extremely nice dive, a fantastic way to end the diving year. Visibility very good.
Well, this year was the worst in terms of numbers of dives I did in a year, only 85, well under my previous worst year and only the second time in 27 years I did less than 100 dives. I suppose our sailing trip (six months) made up for this.
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