3 March 2018 - The Split
Wind turned NW while here. Very calm. Went to big cave via the N swim-thru, then to Double Decker Cave. Kelly found a small blue devilfish. Lots of seapike in main cave, some big eyes in caves and swim-thrus, yellowtail outside. Viz varied a lot, water warm at 21.8C. A nice dive. Visibility good.
Next dives at North Solitary Island, NSW.
12 March 2018 - The Circuit
No wind but a bit sloppy as seas from all directions. Camera flooded about 5 minutes into the dive! Totally gone within a few minutes. Went from mooring outside gap between parts to N to The Canyons. Saw a leopard shark there and a turtle on the way back. Spent the rest of the dive cleaning the interpretative blocks. Very nice dive. Visibility excellent.
12 March 2018 - Anemone Bay
Wind from S but still bit sloppy here. Went from inside mooring around the reef "edge" to the outside mooring and then further E. Lots and lots of fish all over the place here. Bream, drummer and many other species. Headed back across shallower reef, saw a shark or perhaps banjo shark. Back to main part and then up. Very good dive. Visibility very good.
13 March 2018 - Anemone Bay
Calmer than yesterday, moored on outer mooring. Went SE and E, huge numbers of silver sweep, trevally, surgeonfish and bream in the area around the mooring. Saw the large black cod we saw yesterday. Then N out along ridge, saw a turtle that only used left flipper to swim. Back around end to mooring. Saw two more cod (one black and one white) under mooring. Then another turtle. Also a wobbegong. Spent rest of dive near mooring. Lots of Moorish idols, blue tangs, butterflyfish, bannerfish and wrasse as well. Very good dive. Visibility very good.
13 March 2018 - Elbow Cave
Went thru Elbow Cave, two crays here. Then over the W side of gully, two more crays and two large wobbegongs under the overhangs. Then S and SE to island. Saw three eagle rays along the way. Into the sinkholes, nothing of real interest in either. Back to NW around the W side of the shallower reef to N and then back to mooring. Saw another couple of large turtles. Spent rest of dive near mooring. Lots of Moorish idols, butterflyfish, wrasse and plenty of small trevally. Good dive. Visibility excellent.
14 March 2018 - The Canyons
Were supposed to go to Pimpernel Rock, but wind was up mush higher than forecast and seas much bigger, so went to North Solitary. Hairy coming out bar, had to wait five minutes to get out. Couple of waves broke but okay. Went N from mooring into a slight current so turned around. Saw a largish turtle. Later saw two very large eagle rays S of mooring. Then back towards mooring. Lots of fish around, plenty of silver sweep, mado, trevally, a few medium sized kingfish. A really nice dive. Visibility very good.
14 March 2018 - Bubble Cave
Went to Bubble Cave, very surgy and ears had to be equalised every 20 seconds. A turtle came out when we were inside. Then W over a couple of ridges. Lots of wrasse eating eggs, very hectic. They were everywhere. Then found a very small clown triggerfish, black with white spots, yellow on top and near mouth, little bit near tail. Very cute. Back to E near mooring, found four tiny yellow boxfish all in one spot. Lots of fish again, tropical and otherwise. Another really nice dive. Visibility very good.
15 March 2018 - Mackerel Run
Much calmer than yesterday, even though forecast a few days ago was awful. Started off NW point. Saw a turtle, then a large school of tuna, then six large barracuda. Soon we saw a leopard shark, came past us a number of times. In the end saw three separate leopards, all quite friendly. Also saw a guitar shark and a smallish bullray. Plenty of other fish, sweep, mado, surgeonfish and various wrasse. Fantastic dive, best of the trip. Visibility excellent.
15 March 2018 - Elbow Cave
Went thru Elbow Cave, still two crayfish in there. Then to the other cave, a very large turtle in there on top of a wobbegong (two there). It came out and within a metre of us. Two more crays in there too. Then to sinkholes, two Spanish dancers outside. Went into the Window, got shot back out! Then across to W and saw anothe turtle, some more tuna, some saw a leopard shark too. Then back to mooring. Lots of fish again all along this wall. Also saw an octopus, aq magniificent chrom nudi. Very good dive. Visibility very good.
Back in Sydney
17 March 2018 - M & K Reef
Tried to do By Pass Reef but current was over 3 knots. Large powerful swell meant here it was quite surgy. Visibility was better than expected, 10 m. Saw two blue devilfish, two six-spined leatherjackets, three PPH, a large cuttlefish that hassled Kelly, two sea dragons and more. A very nice dive, better than expected. Visibility fair.
18 March 2018 - The Leap
After yesterday's powerful and large swell, today was almost millpond. Quite cold (18.8C) and dirty, especially deeper than 20 metres. Also a huge amount of kelp on the sand edge in this area, hard to see where the edge was in spots. Not a great deal seen, two sea dragons and quite a few species of nudibranch. Some yellowtail and garfish at the exit. Average dive. Visibility fair but poor deeper than 20 metres.Â
28 March 2018 - Marys Reef
A bit sloppy and much bigger swell than expected. Surgy too and dirty below 15 m. Went W and it got surgier and dirtier. A few six-spined leatherjackets and a few other large fish. Back near anchor saw a small pipefish in an overhang. Also a small moray eel. To the E the surge was less and water cleaner. Not the best dive. Visibility poor.
30 March 2018 - Middle Ground
Little wind but some very small slop from NE. Anchored first go on NE corner. Visibility much better than last Wednsday, close to 20 m. Went around reef, two wobbegongs, one very large. Also a blue devilfish and plenty of purple dragons and some other nudibranchs. The whole reef was covered in fish, especially yellowtail (thousands), seapike and small trevally. Also a few medium kingfish and at least two medium sized cuttlefish. Most of the dive the fish blacked out the sky. Kelly also heard dolphins during the dive. Fantastic dive. Visibility very good.
1 April 2018 - Big Saigon
No wind and very small swell, but north of Potter Point it got very sloppy. Mostly due to waves bouncing back off the cliff face. Water much warmer than Friday (18.8C v 17.0C) but viz much the same, could see the boat clearly from 24 m. Went N along wall, not a lot of fish, but saw a huge cuttlefish, a very large blackfish and some one-spot pullers. Kelly found two sea spiders black with yellow knuckles. A few different species of nudibranch as well. Still a nice dive. Visibility very good.Â
2 April 2018 - M & K Reef
Tried to dive By Pass Reef again but was a relatively strong current there. Here there was a slight current on surface from N but on bottom a very slight current from S. Used a fair bit of air at start moving the anchor with Kelly. It was only holding onto some kelp, had to move it a fair distance to find a small ledge. Water warmer at 20C. Then went N along wall. Kelly found two pygmy pipehorses (PPH). There were two cuttlefish, one was huge! On the way back I found a sea dragon and Kelly a small blue devilfish. She also found a Moorish idol, a bit lost from the tropics. Next group saw a wobbegong shark as well as another cuttlefish. Visibility very good.
3 April 2018 - The Leap
A big southerly last night so seas a bit rougher this morning. Visibility 20 m till 20 mins into dive when it dropped to 12 or so. At the same time the temperature went from 21.7C to 20.8C. Huge numbers of yellowtail, ladder-finned pomfret and mado at the start. Saw two sea dragons, quite a few cuttlefish, from small to medium. A few six-spined leatherjackets. We caught up to Mike S and he showed us three PPH and two Bare Island anglerfish, one yellow and one grey. Very well hidden in about 13 m. Went into deco we went so slow (79 mins). Ended up with only 15 bar once I exited which was a little rough, but not too bad. A great dive. Visibility very good then good.Â Â
4 April 2018 - The Split Gully
Southerly was stronger than forecast at about 10 kts, but not too bad. Took two goes to anchor but even then we drifted to NW and ended up in the gully. On the way down and on bottom viz was about 20 m. Went to E to outside of reef but encountered a wall of sand! Very, very dirty. Instead went to W along gully. Saw three cuttlefish, two sea dragons and a few nudibranchs. When we turned around to come back, we again ran into the wall of sand. Viz dropped to under 5 m and water temp went down 0.5C. Once back at anchor we decided to ascend. The second group had very bad viz, down to 1 m in spots. Wow, how things can change. Not a great dive. Visibility very good but then very poor.
6 April 2018 - Hull Cleaning
Catlypso's hulls were covered in barnacles. None were there three months ago, but warm water and little movement seems to have encouraged growth. We motored to Jibbon Beach and I did from dinghy as far as I could reach down. Then dived on port hull. What a job! Needed a paint scraper to get them off. Props were not too bad, but the whole of both hulls were terrible. I am pretty sure that it took longer than the 45 mins shown by computer due to the shallowness. When I got out I could hardly walk as legs were weak. I was covered in barnacle remains as well as skeleton shrimp. They even got into my wetsuit! Bloody awful job. Visibility good.
7 April 2018 - Hull Cleaning
Cleaned starboard hull of Catlypso. As bad as port hull, very messy like yesterday. Terrible job. Visibility fair.
11 April 2018 - Middle Ground
Swell was much bigger than forecast, two of them, 3 m from SE and 2 m from NE as well as sea from N. Wind also much stronger, over 15 kts from NW. Despite this, conditions were okay on top, no current. Anchore on NW corner and went around reef. Could see boat from 27 m on top of reef. A bit dirtier on S and E sides and quite surgy at times when SE swell rolled in (seemed to be every 5 mins). Saw 3 cuttlefish, 5 wobbegong sharks (most for ages), a spiny gurnard, a six-spined leatherjackets and large school of yellowtail on NE corner. A pretty good dive. Visibility fair.Â
13 April 2018 -Â Bare Island Isolated Reefs
A bit rough but able to go in from W point. Outgoing tide but little current. Viz poor on top but better deeper and a little colder (18.5C). Went to 15 Metre Reef, saw heaps of red-lined flabellina (saw over 50 on dive, most ever). Also two spiny gurnards (and one more later). Then along N side of IR1 and IR2, back on S side. Lots of pink okenias, over 10. Also saw some flabellinas on the pink okenia sponges. Also a few opera house nudibranchs, two PPH, a six-spined leatherjacket. Followed first half of dive by a blue groper and another larger one the second half. Both very friendly. A really good dive, 76 mins. Visibility fair.
14 April 2018 - Barrens Hut
Wind NW at 10 kts but when we came up it was over 20 and later 25. Anchored second go right on edge of reef near N cave. Went S to Tunnel and then Cave. Saw a donut nembrotha not on a purple ascidan. Others saw two. Lots of fish around, especially in the Barrens Crack where heaps of bastard trumpeters. red morwong and a few blue morwong and some other species. Saw the biggest cuttlefish I have ever seen N of the N cave. So big!! Then back to anchor area before ascending. A very nice dive, despite the water being under 17C and only 18C at top. Visibility fair.
15 April 2018 - Bare Island Left
Wind W and over 20 kts so too rough to go in on right side. First dive here for years. Went from near back SE corner and then SE till sand. Then S for a bit and back to shore. Saw one sea dragon, lots of nudibranchs, but no really interesting ones. No wonder I have not dived here for so long! It used to be better than the other side of Bare Island but not for 15 years. Visibility good.
16 April 2018 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Weather conditions much better than yesterday, although some very large waves meant we could not go in at W point. Instead went in near Carol's Plaque. Then cut up the gully and across the reef top (saw a very large kingfish here), coming out at S end of 15 Metre Reef. There was some current here, so did not go deeper as originally planned. A huge snapper here. Heaps of red-lined flabellinas and another similar species. One pink okenia, a tiny yellow boxfish and a small cowfish. The blue devilfish was back in the first cave from shore. One PPH (the white one). Lots of other stuff, including some shrimp on starfish. An excellent dive, warmer than last two dives here (19.4C). Visibility very good.
21 April 2018 - Pizza Reef
Wind stronger than forecast, 15 kts S. Very sloppy, very slight current from N top to bottom. Anchored SE corner. Went around reef, quite a few black reef leatherjackets and one six-spined leatherjacket. A sleeping blue groper near anchor. A dozen bastard trumeters N of the crack and 20 more near cave. Also a few hundred seapike near cave. On S flat rock 2 donut nembrotha nudibranchs. A really nice relaxing dive. Visibility good but milky.
22 April 2018 - Xanadu Reef
My 1000th dive with Kelly!! Once again the wind was much stronger than forecast, gusting to 17 kts when it should have been under 8. A bit bumpy, but not as bad as yesterday. Took two goes to anchor, ended up about 100 m N of the normal anchor spot but still on reef edge. Went S and then E. Cool 17.9C on bottom but quite clean. Kelly found two spiders and a PPH. A few small trevally, some yellowtail and seapike. This is a nice deeper reef with excellent sponges and gorgonias. A nice easy dive. Visibility fair.
25 April 2018 - Middle Ground
We tried to dive SS Tuggerah, but wind stronger than forecast (13 kt v 7 kt). Tried to anchor 3 times, but not even a feel of the wreck. A current from some direction seemed to impact on the attempt. When seas got a bit worse, we decided to abandon dive to go to Middle Ground. Anchored first go. No current except perhaps at 10 to 20 m level. Was anchored E of SE corner, so just dived E and S side of reef. Saw a few schools of kingfish. lots of seapike and yellowtail. One Blue devilfish, four wobbegong sharks, some black reef leatherjackets and one six-spined leatherjacket. A really nice dive. After dive could not get get anchor up so Peter T had to dive again to release. Visibility fair.