Contributed by Scramble
Saltwater dripped down the inside of my mask, forming a comfortable puddle just below my nose. Beyond the puddle, the blue water of the Gneerings disappeared, with the only other activity visible being my buddy's bubbles rising around me. I took a deep, cool breath.
I removed the hair in my mask and gave a quick snort to clear the remaining water. Phil was below me. The anchor rope slipped easily through his fingers as he made his gentle decent to the approaching bottom near the Pinnacles. From the looks of it, I had dropped the pick just south of the main feature. The two main rocks were silhouetted to my right, with the old trawler cable still where it was lost a few years back. It draped lazily over the smaller rock, wrapped around an outcrop and then disappeared east. I would not have like to be on the trawler when they ran on, but it makes a great navigation tool.
Phil had made a textbook touchdown and was tightening his weight belt, as I settled onto a sandy patch next to him. A few gear adjustments, a bit of a look around and it was time to explore one of the best dive sites on the Sunshine Coast. The Pinnacles is a granite feature about four miles from Point Cartwright. I checked my gauges and with 180 bar of clean air, I knew we had about forty minutes of bottom time to find something new. The two main pinnacles were well explored but I knew that further west was another huge boulder with a small cave. But we have never been past that one, so today was the day to check it out. There are so many interesting features around here that we sometimes forget to look at the amazing benthic life and the schools of pelagic fish that come here for a rest. A school of spotty mackerel made an appearance from the north and decided that we were quite interesting, circling us with a common, dark eye. They flowed easily around and over the pinnacles as they went overhead, silhouetting against the morning sun. Rock, our other mate who doesn't dive, was up top with a line in. Maybe these guys would give us a feed for dinner?
Time to get going, so I checked a compass bearing and signaled Phil who was rearing to go. We headed off slightly to the north west, stopping occasionally to check a nudibranch, enjoy the returning cowrie shells and just generally feel good about it all. I guessed we had about fifteen meters of horizontal visibility today, which was more than enough to get the feel of the site. This is a high point, with the pinnacle peaks in sixteen meters. They loomed beside us as we passed to their right, in twenty-two meters. Off to our left, the bottom stepped down in numerous ridges, heading south and out into thirty meters. There is nothing out there that we know off or that the sounder has detected, but it might make an interesting dive one day.
We were skimming across the bottom, about a meter up. I passed over two enourmous plate corals, as Phil headed over to put his head in a large crevice. He indicated that he wished he had brought his torch with a strange signal that looked a bit like an obnoxious gesture, so I finned over trying to choke down a chuckle. Then I realised I didn't bring mine either. There was a magnificant cluster of what I know are yellow and pink anenomes, but they just look grey and brown at this depth. Not to worry, he whipped out his digital camera and snapped a couple of macro shots. As he put the camera back in his BC, I checked my gauges and signalled that we have about twenty five minutes left.
The furthest west pinnacle was just ahead, so we dropped some air and finned over the top. This was as far as we had gone previously. I took another bearing and we had a brief guage check and dropped down the other side into a fairly deep, sand bottomed crevice. This pinnacle had a nice overhang on the western side with more anenomes and a rare and massive cray fish fiddling about in one corner. He looked very tasty as I imagined him on a plate, but was I happy with the thought that we may have a spotty mackerel, courtesy a-la Rock, and I left him there.
Further west and we dropped down another ridge. This looks ominously like the southern slope, and I suspected that this may be the western limits of this site and it turns out that we were right. A couple more steps down and we were on the sand, sitting there like a couple of shovelnose rays staring and blinking. Bummer. Phil gave me a quick signal that he would swim out a little to see if there was anything else to see and that was fine with me. He moved off to the east and I drifted just enough to keep him in sight.
Like a flash he came back with a huge grin on his face, just as my computer let me know it was time to go back. Double bummer. Phil has a habit of speaking underwater when excited, but even after all these dives, I still can't understand him. After realising that I just sat there with a blank look, he signalled another large boulder was ahead. But it was time to go, so we took two bearings to it and started to trace our steps back to the pick.
That was great! Another dive here, for sure. Maybe two. But first things first. We were pushing the computer just a little, both being in the yellow. As we headed around the main pinnacles, I saw the anchor rope dropping from the sky and headed to it. A final gauge check and we were both just on the red-line. We dumped air and finned gently up the rope, the water lightening around us. We went through a brief thermocline and settled into a five minute safety stop at three meters. It was a nice and calm day, with the boat barely moving above us. A few jellies were wobbling their way somewhere as we made the final short trip to the surface, inflating the bc's when we broke out.
Rock was standing in the boat with a huge grin on his face, holding up the perfect spotty mackerel! Could it get any better?