2 January 2021 - The Leap
Large number of divers here and at Inscrirption Point. Also more fishers here than I have ever seen. Blue water, 30 m viz for first 25 mins, then gradually dropped to about 15 m at exit, 20.8C. Quite a string current for first 40 mins. Saw 5 sea dragons, 5 big belly sea horses, 3 PPH (Paul saw 4 more), a black painted anglerfish, a purple-lined nembrotha and much more. A fantastic dive!. Visibility excellent.
3 January 2021 - Henry Head
Too rough outside, wind from NE stronger than the forecast and also some rain around. Over 2 degrees colder than yesterday but almost as good viz, 25 m. Strongish incoming tide. Went S, two sea dragons, one with eggs (second group saw two more). Some small kingfish, lots of black reef-leatherjackets, some nice nudibranchs, a few small crab like species in sponges. Another great dive. Visibility very good.
4 January 2021 - M & K Reef
Tried to dive Bypass Reef but there was current there. Even here there was some on the surface. Blue water, 20.4C, about 20 m viz. Dropped to bottom rather than fight the current and went to anchor. Could see boat from here. Straight off S cave, a blue devilfish in there (second group again saw two). Went N and around end, a large wobbegong shark in the cave there. Probably 20 to 30 medium sized kingfish circling this spot as thousands of yellowtail here. Back to main reef and S. Could not find the sea dragon from last week, but Ian found it out wider later. Back to anchor and up. Another great dive. Visibility very good.
5 January 2021 - Bare Island Isolated Reefs
Went in off W point, slipped and hit my left thigh, hurt a lot but no bruise after the dive. Went WNW to near SHC, then on S side of IR1. Viz out here about 10 m, but in spots on N side, less than 4 m, 19.2C here but warmer 20.4C shallower. Lots of yellowtail on IR2, some large kingfish as well. All up 6 RIF seen, no PPH, a few moray eels, the pineapplefish and small painted anglerfish on way back but no sea horses. A dozen medium sized squid too. Quite a few interesting nudibranchs, including pink okenia and red-lined flabellina. A nice, relaxed dive. Visibility good.
6 January 2021 - The Monuments
Calm seas, bluish milky water, about 10 m at best, 20.4C. Went NE to edge then E and then W and back to exit. Saw two PPH (others saw two more), four sea dragons, one with eggs. One Bare Island anglerfish, quite a few rarer nudibranchs, a spindle cowrie. A really nice relaxing 78 mins. Visibility fair.
10 January 2021 - The Split
Cancelled yesterday's Tuggerah dive due to wind. Today no wind, smooth seas. Anchored in normal spot, went up Split to N end, then N along wall to the Donut Rock. Saw 10 donut nembrothas here, plus another 4 seen on way back to boat. A PPH, two pipefish and an upsidedown pipefish, a dozen large squid, black reef and a very friendly six-spined leatherjacket and lots more. A really good dive. Visibility good.
12 January 2021 - Bare Island Isolated Reef 1
A total of 11 members on dive, most went this way. Quite good viz below 12m, over 10 m. However, very cold at 16.8C. Off W point to reef edge, then to SHC and over to N side of IR1. Reasonable outgoing tide before SHC, but then little on IR1 except when coming back on S side. No PPH, one RIF, one small wobbegong, no sea hroses or the small pineapplefish and painted anglerfish. They seem to have moved away. Some interesting nudibranchs, especially Trinchesia (orange, black and white) and Elyssia species. Lots of yellowtail on IR1, a large sole and a tiny flathead on way back. One person saw a leopard shark. Much warmer back shallower. Another very good dive. Visibility good.
13 January 2021 - Yellow Rock
Tried to dive Bypass again but current from N. Went to Yellow Rock and anchored and discovered there was a reasonable current here too. Dived anyway, not too hard to get down, slight current on bottom too. Went N a bit off wall and then came back along wall. Not much on the way N, but on the way back lots of yellowtail, luderick, some large blackfish, a large wobbegong shark, a few squid, leatherjackets and one-spot pullers. Some interesting nudibranchs too. There are a few large overhangs, some swim-throughs and bays along the rock platform. Back past anchor and then back to anchor. Then E a bit deeper to 23 m, a large cuttlefish here, but much colder, dropped at least a degree to 17.2C or even lower. Not the best dive I have had here. Visibility good.
14 January 2021 - Bare Island Right
Club night dive, 13 divers. First one I have really done for perhaps 5 years. Big S change came hours early, so had to go in past Carol's plaque. Went to Cave and back. Dirty above 8 m but warm, cold (18.1C) and cleaner below, perhaps 7 m. Lots seen, including two mating octopus plus others, a small fiddler-ray, two RIF, a wobbegong shark, some flathead and sole, two squid, one of which had caught a king prawn, nudibranchs, a tiny boxfish and a larger one. Some also saw two PPH. BBQ afterwards. A great night out. Visibility fair.
17 January 2021 - The Colours
Chaos at the boat ramp before and after, so many people have no idea about protocol or how to launch or retrieve their boat. Packed parking area, but I got a spot when a boat came back in. Large swell from SE, surgy even on bottom. Quite cold but some warm patches. A boarfish, 8 frogfish, one PPH, two sawtooth pipefish, lots of yellowtail, one-spot pullers and small trevallies. A cuttlefish too. A nice dive, but not the best we have had here. Visibility fair.
23 January 2021 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Club shore dive, too windy to do a boat dive. Forgot to put camera in housing, but noticed before diving! Huge seas all week, amazing that conditions today were so good. Visibility 10 m outward bound and about 7 m on way back. In from past plaque. Went to SHC and then to 15 Metre Reef and to end and back. Saw a small wobbegong, lots of red-lined flabellina, a few pink okenia, two razor pipefish, one upsidedown pipefish, one big belly seahorse on last rocks (Ron saw the other one), a RIF and more. Chantelle joined us from another club group as we returned as low on air. A very good dive. Visibility good then fair.
24 January 2021 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Seas a bit bigger than yesterday and more surge, even at 15 metres. Visibility also worse, perhaps 7 m at the best. In from past plaque. Went to SHC and then to halfway of 15 Metre Reef via main reef and then back. Saw another small wobbegong, lots of red-lined flabellina, a few pink okenia, three razor pipefish, one upsidedown pipefish (different to yesterday), two big belly seahorse at Sea Tulip Rocks, same RIF. Lots of ladder-finned pomfrets, small seapike, small squid and plenty of leatherjackets. Saw Marco Bordieri underwater doing his mapping, met him after the dive. Finally found the turtle again in the shallows. A very good dive. Visibility fair.
26 January 2021 - The Monuments
Club Australia Day Dive and BBQ, 13 divers. Was a bit rough when I arrived at 7:20 am, but eased off and was no problem getting in or out. Went NE to reef then back into the outgoing tide which was not too strong. At least 10 m viz for first 20 mins then 7 m. No sea dragons but two who dived last saw five! No anglerfish either. Lots of nudibranchs, hermit crabs, a large school of medium sized kingfish, four yellow boxfish and more. A really good dive. Visibility good then fair.
27 January 2021 - Shiprock
Very windy and big seas means only spot for next three days. Went N and then back to start and normal dive. not many nudibranchs, a few octopus, one large friendly moray on last bommie, two smaller spotted ones, a frogfish to N, two pineapplefish in normal spot, lots of small whiting and bream, normal leatherjackets. Very relaxing, if uninspiring, dive. Visibility fair.
30 January 2021 - Henry Head
Too windy to go anywhere else and also a large rolling NE swell. Dirty water on top but clean 15 m on bottom but cold 18.3C. Reasonable current too as incoming tide. Wetsuit zip broke again, I think it is time to get it replaced. Went S as normal but not as far as most times. One sea dragon near anchor, lots of nudibranchs, heaps of yellow sea spiders. All the normal fish, especially leatherjackets. Nice dive. Visibility very good.
4 February 2021 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive, a day late due to better conditions today. First time out of Yowie Bay since at least September 2020. Virtually no wind when we anchored but came up a little when leaving. Had to use old wetsuit as current one put in to replace zipper. Anchored in front of cave. A donut nembrotha here and two others to south. Huge numbers of fish over cave, ladder-finned pomfret and seapike, thousands of them. Also here and at S end, large numbers of silver sweep and yellowtail. Bastard trumpeters were mostly N of cave towards KFC, but some near cave. Went right around. A really great dive. Visibility good to very good.
5 February 2021 - Bare Island RIF Reef
Went in off W point, flat seas and no wind. Warm 22.0C, viz at least 10 m deeper. Went to RIF then 15 Metre Reef and back normal way. Aim was to show Leon and Carole the deeper concrete block and Donna the one near SHC. All said they have never seen before. Found a fiddler-ray on RIF Reef with hook in mouth, Leon and I removed it. Lots of interesting nudibranchs, a few rare. Saw two wobbegong sharks, a small moray eel, four pipefish, one big belly sea horse near Sea Tulip Rocks, yellowtail over Cave, lots more. A really great dive, two in a row, see if we can get four! Visibility good.
6 February 2021 - Bare Island RIF Reef
This was the 10th anniversary of Carol Martin's death here (well 3/2). Ten divers, lost Kelly as she could not descend but she refound us later at Cave. Went in off W point again and down to sand and then to RIF and back normal way. Wow, what a difference to yesterday! Water 22C up high but a thermocline at about 13 metres dropped temperature to 18.4C. Not too bad considering my holey wetsuit. Viz was better at more than 10 metres. I found a large brown striated anglerfish near SHR. Saw more interesting nudibranchs, four pipefish, one tiny upsidedown pipefish. A few octopus, lots of yellowtail and shallower, small snapper and other fish. Could not find the turtle again and the big belly sea horse was missing. A very good dive. Visibility good.
7 February 2021 - Bare Island Isolated Reef 1
Huge crowd here at 7:20! Must have been a couple of hundred divers while we were there. Went in thru Pool then up Channel to top of ridge and followed this roughly W. Water temperature dropped from 22C to about 16C below 10 m, but very clear, in spots almost 20 m. Then past SHC to IR1 N side. A reasonable current here (outgoing), so decided to not go to IR2. Went along W side of the gap, saw the big basin for the first time (my new name for it is Super Bowl since it is on tomorrow). It is a large sandy bowl with reef on all sides, bigger on N and W. Then back normal way. Saw lots of yellowtail and ladder-finned pomfret, a couple of large snapper near SHC (first time), 3 RIF (all on IR2 E side), many nudibranchs again. Found the big belly sea horse near Sea Tulip Rocks, could not find the anglerfish from yesterday. Got a better photo of the tiny crab on the swimming anemone at SHR. Three pipefish, one PPH (same as yesterday). Very cold but great dive. Visibility very good.
10 February 2021 - Fly Point
Short trip to Nelson Bay with some members of the club. Went in 5 mins before high, drifted for about 35 mins, then back. Not much current at all. A few interesting nudibranchs, a small wobbegong shark and a small fiddler-ray. One pineapplefish, plenty of bream, yellowtail etc. Quite a few butterfly fish, some octopus and rays. A really nice easy dive. Visibility fair.¬†
11 February 2021 - The Pipeline
Went in right on high Fort Denison. Tide did not turn till 65 mins later, current mild anyway. Went NE first to sea horse houses. None on them, but saw three Whites near there. I found a black striated anglerfish near there too. Also some spindle cowries and a few nudibranchs. A couple of dozen huge silver drummer there as well. Then to W. A Couple more sea horses and spindles. Dozens of small cuttlefish and pygmy leatherjackets all over. Past Pipeline for at least 50 metres. Donna found a small ornate ghost pipefish and a nice nudibranch and I found a yellow and black spindle cowrie. Back to exit. Great dive. Visibility good.¬†
12 February 2021 - The Pipeline
Went in 10 minutes before high Fort Denison. Tide did not turn till 60 mins later, current mild anyway. A little cooler at 20.7C today and viz down to 7 m or so. Went N then W at 9-10 m. Three small Whites sea horses. Lots of interesting nudibranchs, a few spindle cowries. Went past Pipeline looking for the small ornate ghost pipefish. I found the marker Donna left and we found it again. Got much better photos today as it was above the weed. Slowly back to exit, found 4 pineapplefish under a block next to pipe, at about 10 m (apparently 5 there). Another great dive. Visibility fair.
19 February 2021 - Bare Island Right
Rotten weather past week so no diving. Went in at Carol's plaque as swell over point. Clean down to 11 m then a bit dirtier. Still okay. Went slowly down to SHC and then back. No PPH, one new baby pineapplefish before First Cave. A couple of pipefish, one upsidedown pipefish, two wobbegong sharks, one fiddler-ray. A few interesting nudibranchs, a skeleton shrimp. A good dive, my longest ever at 103 minutes. Visibility fair.¬†
20 February 2021 - Xanadu
Club boat dive, only my boat. Decided to take scooter to explore how far the site goes. Large swell but no wind, surge or current. Warm and dirty on top and cold 16.3C on bottom with 5-7 m viz. Went north for 5 minutes, reef much the same as GPS spot. Goes N then E for a short bit then N again. Back to anchor and south for 2 minutes. Have been this way before. Not so many fish this dive, but a school of bream and seapike at N end. A good dive, only because I explored. Visibility fair.
21 February 2021 - Bare Island Right
Impromptu shore dive arranged via email, 15 members attending, dived in four groups. Probably 200 divers here, and police and 4 ambulances arrived after when a group panicked and called 000 when three divers did not ascend when they became separated. Seas down from Friday but not good enough to go off W point. Went in at Carol's Plaque and did same dive as Friday, down to SHC. Viz much worse, perhaps 5 m above 10 m and then only 3 m. Saw two pipefish, one upsidedown pipefish, no RIF or PPH, the small pineapplefish near cave, quite a few octopus, a small sole, two big belly sea horses at Sea Tulip Rocks, a small moray eel, a dozen large squid and a large flathead. A few interesting nudibranchs, including the largest red-lined flabbelina I have ever seen. A good dive. Visibility poor.
26 February 2021 - Bare Island Right
Terrible weather again the past few days, but today sunny and no wind, little swell. High tide 0800 and all over rock platform, so went in well before Carol's plaque. Kim and Steve also on dive. Went very slowly down, did not even get to Cave. Saw the 2 PPH I could not find the other day, near first Orange Sponge. Lots of nudibranchs including some pink okenia, 2 pipefish and 2 upsidedown pipefish near SHR. The new pineapplefish is still there, lots of octopus, a wobbegong shark from the other day, flathead, a large founder, the 2 big belly sea horses and much more. A really good dive considering what people had yesterday. Visibility fair.
27 February 2021 - Middle Ground
First dive here since August 2020. A bit of swell, bluish water, no wind, very slight current from west. Heaps of schooling fish on surface. Anchored off eastern wall on rocks. Hard work dragging anchor over nearer to wall. Went around reef, lots of seapike, yellowtail and ladder-finned pomfrets. Also two lots of kingfish. One wobbegong shark, a small tiger pipefish, leatherjackets and more. A really good dive. Visibility good.
28 February 2021 - Bare Island Deep Wall Drift
Wind much stronger than forecast, over 15 kts SE. There were a few waves coming over the rock platform but when we went it, none. Went S and then SW to start of Deep Wall. Viz here was 15 m and then along wall 10 to 12 m minimum. Current for first bit but then little or none along wall. A large fiddler-ray in gully, a huge ball of catfish, some yellowtail and seapike. At normal Deep Wall dropoff (now called Deep Sea Horse Rocks), there were three big belly sea horses. One was free swimming. Shown to us by Vicki S. Then back normal way, although we cut some corners as we had went a lot slower deeper. Back near Cave the viz dropped to 3 to 5 m. Lots of divers here including Carole, Leon and Kim. Back to exit, two more sea horses at Sea Tulip Rocks. No pipefish at all, the pineapplefish seen. Very high tide at exit, water totally under bridge and near steps. Visibility good overall.
4 March 2021 - The Monuments
A few waves at entry and blue water, 22.7C. John is up from Melbourne before our club trip to Wooli. He was using his brand new Seatec wetsuit, ended up underweighted. I gave him a weight and I ended up too light too. Okay deeper than 6 m but shallower a problem. John used a lot of air in first five minutes till we got deeper and I gave him the weight. We went alone as we knew we would have a shorter dive. Saw one sea dragon, two big belly sea horses (same ones we have seen before), a wobbegong shark, some octopus, a few nudibranchs and a small firefish lots of normal fish too. Had to surface at end and swim back on surface as too hard to stay down. Nice dive despite all this. Visibility good.
Next 8 dives at North Solitary Island
8 March 2021 - The Canyons
Largish SE swell and also swells from N and E. Very sloppy even here. Viz 12 to 15 m at least here and well over 20 N. Went N into slight current towards Mackeral Run, saw an eagle rayt and then a large leopard shark swimming and then on sand. Back to mooring. Here I saw a small manta ray high up. Lots of fish, only a few nudibranchs, all the usual fish for here. Very nice dive. Visibility excellent.
8 March 2021 - Elbow Cave
Went S and then E but not into the sinkholes as way too surgy. Then back to mooring, then SW and behind the reef and back. A few turtles, lots of fish, a huge crayfish, some small crabs, again, all the usual fish. A good dive. Visibility very good.
9 March 2021 - Bubble Cave
Went E over past the gullies and then N up one and back to mooring. Saw two turtles, lots of wrasse eating eggs, a huge ball of tiny silver fish, some porcelain crabs, a couple of nudibranchs. Another very nice dive. Visibility very good.
9 March 2021 - Mackeral Run
Dropped in near W point of Anemone Bay. Swam east to sand and then roughly S till we hit the rocks. Saw a leopard shark swim past and then another leopard shark on sand, different one. Then back along wall to mooring and then around mooring. A few large firefish, a small spotted eel, more crabs, all the usual fish. Saw a small manta ray up high, got some photos. Another good dive. Visibility very good.
10 March 2021 - Anemone Bay
Wind over 15 kts, supposed to be 10-12. Rough trip. Calm here. Went from inner mooring to outer mooring. Viz at least 30 m. Saw one leopard shark many times or many separate ones. At least half a dozen eagle rays, three turtles. Back along slope and saw another leopard shark. Back to mooring and then over to the sand gutter to east. Nice gorgonias here. Back to mooring. Excellent dive. Visibility excellent.
10 March 2021 -¬†Anemone Bay
This time went to W point, at least six leopard sharks, a few eagle rays, one huge shovelnosed ray, a few turtles. Went back around the edge of the bay and over to the sand gutter again. This time went a fair way up it. Back to mooring. Another excellent dive. Visibility excellent.
11 March 2021 - Fish Soup
Too windy to go to Pimpernel Rock. Little surge so went thru gap easily. Lots of fish on E side, large bream, tarwhine, some medium snapper, two huge GTs, some trevallies, pretty good. Also a leopard shark and some saw eagle rays. Hung around there till about 25 mins then back to W side. Another excellent dive. Visibility excellent.
11 March 2021 - Mackeral Run
Went in off N end of W point of Anemone Bay. A leopard shark as we went down. Followed reef edge, say a large turtle. Some nice gorgonias, lots of fish. Ended up at Canyons Mooring. In the hole to N, found two white leaf fish! Another leopard shark here and others saw more halfway along. A great dive to end the trip. Visibility excellent.
17 March 2021 - Bare Island Right
Strong winds forecast for next week or so and rain and big seas, so probably only dive we will do for a while. Went in at Carol's plaque, easy entry but by end of dive, higher tide and much bigger swell made it harder to get out at ramp. Quite surgy. Slowly down, over 30 mins to get to Sea Horse Rock. One PPH before first orange sponge, a big belly sea horse near where small anglerfish was, upsidedown pipefish to N of SHR, two RIF, some nice nudibranchs, including orange flat ones on the flat orange sponges. The two big belly sea horses were at Sea Tulip Rocks, one very skinny. Quite a few large flathead too. Nice dive despite visibility. Poor to fair visibility.
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