Bermagui - Aug 2010

After touch and go with weather, we finally did get a dive on the WTF and what a great dive it was.

The four of us that went: Dave Apperley, Craig Challen, Stephen Loneregan and I, were still rather worried about the strong winds on Friday, but decided that the only way to check this is by getting out there, and assess the conditions on open water.

The seas were a bit sloppy, but not bad, so it was full steam ahead. We arrived in around 30 minutes, and sounded the wreck within 5 minutes of getting there. We let the boat drift for a few minutes to see which way the wind and current was going, but there was no current on the surface, and boat was basically pushed by the wind. Once we were happy with position of the wreck and boat, we let the shot go. We sounded the wreck again, to make sure all was in the right place, and were happy to start rigging the deco station.

All four of us got the deco station in the water very quickly, with all bailouts and sharkpods. Then it was time to get ready. Craig and I were first in the water, followed by Dave and Steve. Unfortunately as soon as Steve jumped in the water, he had his inflator on the drysuit fail, and drysuit started to flood. Dave also had to go back to the boat to fix a problem he had. ( Now take note guys, lots of divers have died because they felt embarrassed, to get out of the water to fix a problem and have others wait on them, instead continued to dive with a known problem. This is when egos should be put a side. We didn’t mind waiting as long it was needed, to make sure we are all safe).

Once Dave returned to the water, we started to descend. The first 30m or so had lots of algae and jelly’s, and visibility was not that great, but below that it was blue and very clear. The shot line could not have landed in a better place; we virtually swam over the gun, and just landed next to it.

In the first couple of minutes Dave did some lighting with his HMI light, for me to get some really nice shots of the gun, and then he put it down to start working on the gun. Craig as this stage started to measure the length of the wreck. There was slight current on the bottom, and was great to wash away any muck when Dave was cleaning the plate, and made for clear video.

Dave first started to work on the mount plate, and then gave the serial number on the breach an attempt. The serial number he gave up on very quickly, as it will be virtually impossible to uncover with such time limit. It’s heavily incrusted, and will not be easy to get to, if at all. So Dave went back to the mount plate.

We managed to get the info we needed of the plate. We can now confirm 100% that this is a 12 pounder High Angle/Low Mark 9 Angle gun. The wreck length is roughly 90m.

So we have proof this is not the I.K, and we are closer to know what this might be. We are waiting on some records from Tim Smith to check some further info. But we are closer to saying that this may be the Recina or similar, but still need to go through records to make sure there was nothing else with this set up and layout in the area.

After 25 minutes bottom time at 126m, it was up to do the five and a half hours of deco! And when we surfaced finally, we could not have timed it any worst for winds, right at this time the winds blew to 30 knots, and the flash backs from Wear dive came back. Thank Christ for Steve helping each of us to get back on the boat, as he stood on the ladder. Copped a beating and pulled us all into the boat one by one. Thanks again mate.

We did remember to cut off the railway line this time, and shot line was brought back on board quickly, as was the deco station. Again this was a great effort by all the guys. On the way back the winds actually dropped!! So go figure.

Tired as hell, we showered, dressed, and went to the pub for dinner with Crusty (Brett), and then Steve left home that night.

The rest of us had lazy Sunday morning packing, since we cancelled the Bega dive due to strong winds.

The weekend was amazing, Craig managed to get 3 dives on 100m+ wrecks in two weekends, and we achieved what we set out to do, and got the info of the plate. I do believe someone promised me something if we managed to get that info off the wreck? I will not mention any names!!!

So we will give WTF a rest for now, and next trip we going back the William Dawes. For now it’s time to wait for the records to arrive, and find what we looking for with what we know. So stand by, we nearly got it nailed.

Thanks to Dave for driving all the gear, getting deco set up, and basically organise all logistics, and doing the great work with the plate. Thanks to Steve for pulling us out of the water in some really crappy seas, and making sure everyone was OK, despite not diving and getting soaked inside out. Thanks to Craig for taking the time to help us with our task, and he was not fussed to go look at the wreck, and was back from his run with the reel to help Dave with the plate. That’s what I call focused on the task at hand. Again, thanks to all of you for making a most enjoyable weekend.



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