Byron Bay goes TEK - or does it !?
Contributed by Tim Hochgrebe
Well the plan was to go to Windara banks or the Cod Grounds how they call it a deep dive that isn't done a lot around Byron Bay anymore. Everyone was excited as tales of sharks galore, and not just Grey Nurses, were told during the days approaching the dive.
Unfortunately, the plan had to be canned last minute as 3-4 metre swells were predicted for that day. The new plan was to dive the Cape Pinnacle, a reasonably deep dive site just off Cape Byron. As the name suggests the site is a rocky reef pinnacle, and its top is at 27m going down to 42m. Generally this is a challenging dive site used quite a bit for Dive Master training in Byron Bay with loads of current, often low viz, but a fun change from diving Julian Rocks.
Being the resident Video man I rocked up what I thought was early 45 minutes before, the dive camera in hand. Little did I know everybody was already there. The backend of Sundive was packed with shiny white tanks saying NITROX, pony bottles, reels, torches, back-up torches and back-up torches for the back-up torches. The DiveOz crew was ready to go TEK with twin tanks, rebreathers, drysuits you name it. And there I was with my single tank of plain AIR.
Launching off the beach at Byron Bay is always heaps of fun however, this time the boat was overloaded with tanks, and taking in lots of water but we managed to get there. Usually Rod just wacks on a bottle and jumps overboard with the anchor, this time the anchor went first and Rod and Glen followed in boardies to make sure the anchor was set properly.
The anchor is at 42m, viz is low and not much current was the verdict. Tekkies first as they all had 3 bottles some of them with 3 different gases, so obviously they could stay under much longer.
Watching everybody get into their gear was quite amazing. It literally took 40 minutes before the first group was in the water. It looked like astronauts were getting dressed on their way to their mission to Mars the current got stronger and due to the huge drag produced by drysuits, twin tanks and extra bottles most Tekkies needed to be pulled to the front of the boat with a rope.
I decided to abandon the idea of filming this dive due to the current, low viz and the fact I had rigged up big lights for the deep dive. The last group was just three non-tekkies, Sundive's Giac, Lyle and me now degraded from VideoMan to plain Tim. By now the current was raging and it was a hard bit of pulling and finning to get to 42 metres. Once down there and out of the current behind 'the pin' it was actually quite a pleasant dive. The pinnacle is overgrown with beautiful soft corals and sponges, loads of fish about as well. Apart from one huge bullray sitting on the sand at 42 metres there was not much big life around.
Bottom time is severly limited at such depths and our dive plan was to start coming up when the first computer was one minute out of deco which worked, we made it back to the anchor line just following the current and came up after a total 35 minutes.
The TEK crew had a hard time getting down to the bottom with all that gear they said, but everyone had a safe and fun dive, even those that didn't get back to the line!
I decided today that I am quite happy with my single tank of air. I really dive for the fish and other marine life and not because I think diving should be a technical challenge I guess that's why I drive a car that gets me from A to B with no D-Rings. But I have great respect for people that try to go "where no man has gone before" and push the boundaries, so please - all you Tekkies out there, no offence!
The second dive of the day went to good old Julian Rocks and even though not very technically challenging, this is my favourite dive site in the world. Check out the Grey Nurse sharks you'll meet there at this time of year.
All in all another successful mission accomplished by the capable Sundive crew. Keep your eyes peeled and read about new diving adventures with Sundive soon!
I have to go and look up some of those gadgets the DiveOz Tekkies had I have to get my hand on one of those spare tanks you can strap to your BCD as a Video man you often end up somewhere by yourself oblivious to the whereabouts of your buddy staring into the blue, hoping for the ultimate angle on that shot you have been chasing for years.
Story and photos by Tim Hochgrebe PLANULA Divers Retreat and 'Video Man' of Byron Bay www.planula.com.au