The other weekend I was out on a dive boat filled with divemaster candidates, they were doing their deep and search and recovery dives as part of the course. As I knew everyone I tagged along.
For the deep dive we headed to the Sand Chute. A break in the reef leading down to the tongue of the ocean. However, although this dive was great and we saw turtles, barracuda and the biggest stone crab ever, this was not the best dive. It was the second dive that was the best.
Rich, took us to the yellow buoy. The yellow buoy is located at the coral nursery and apart from the trees that the coral grows on there isn’t much to see. Rather than hang around and watch the guys practice their search and recovery skills I decided to go for a swim, on my own.
Close to the yellow buoy are the James Bond Wrecks: the Tears of Allah and the Vulcan Bomber. So I jumped in to the water and navigated across to them. It wasn’t a very long swim. I bimbled about the Tears of Allah, entering through the torpedo hole in it’s side before exploring the engine room and then exiting through the deck.
Now, there is another wreck close by to the James Bond Wrecks, this wreck is called the David Tucker. A fishing boat that had been sunk specifically as a dive site. I took a guess at the direction it was in (set my compass so that I could easily navigate back if I got lost) and started to swim towards it. It transpired that my guess was correct and the wreck soon came into view.
Since I first saw the tucker back in 2013, it has started to learn more to its starboard side. It also seems a lot smaller than it was when I first encountered it. I explored through its familiar passageways and corridors. It makes it sound like a huge wreck, but there are only two passageways that you can actually explore. There are 7/8 rooms inside it, but most of them you do not want to enter as they are dead ends and there isn’t really anything to see inside them.
There is a sponge on the port bow of the David Tucker, that when I first saw it was amazing and had arrowhead crabs in it. However know it is full of holes and it probably on its last legs. I had been 20 minutes and with a total allowable dive time of 45 minutes I decided to head back.
On the reef between David Tucker and James Bond I encountered six squid. The swam around me and interacted with me for a good five minutes. I cursed myself for not bringing my camera, as I could have gotten some great shots. They were amazing and made the dive totally worthwhile. I could easily have stayed longer with them but I didn’t want to be late, so I continued towards the Bond wrecks. My navigation was a little off and I arrived at the Vulcan Bomber rather than the Tears of Allah.
A quick swim through the remaining structure and on to the coral nursery. I arrived just as they were finishing their last lift bag exercise. We did a safety stop and soon we were on our way back to the dock.
This has to be one of my top ten dives. Why? Well it posed several problems.
Firstly, I was diving solo. Solo diving is dangerous and is not without its own problems or concerns. You have to have a redundant air source – I dive sidemount. You have to have good in water skills – I am exceptionally comfortable, it takes a lot to rattle me these days. You have to have the right equipment – I always carry several different signalling devices, from audible to visual. You also have to have a plan, and someone needs to know the plan – Rich knew what I was doing, and so did the captain of the boat. They knew that if I had an issue I would surface and wait to be picked up.
Secondly, I had never navigated between these three sites before. I had been guided between the the coral nursery and the James Bond wrecks but I had not done it myself. I could easily set a bearing from the nursery to James Bond before getting into the water as I could see the buoys. But getting a bearing from Bond to the Tucker was a different story. I looked at the alignment of the buoys before getting in, and I could see where the Tucker was. Visualising it, I had a rough idea of how to swim between them. So I was taking a chance swimming out into the “unknown.”
So what was it that made it so enjoyable? It was the challenge. It was me being alone, navigating based on my instinct and natural ability. It was seeing those squid and playing with them.
I would love to do this dive again, perhaps even extend it. There is the DC3 wreck nearby and there is another boat. Perhaps it is possible to link them all up in an underwater treasure hunt. I am sure it can be done. The sites are not deep, around 12-16m so air can last a long time. I just wonder if I can do it before I leave.