Catterthun & Satara - Feb 2011

Mate, I think you better take the suit off and go for it!!

And so the weekend began with a bang, after some hassles with organising the boat and accommodation in Forster, on arrival and it was smooth sailing.

NSW was suffering a heat wave during that week, and originally the dive operator was going to book us into a motel, which we found out before leaving Sydney had broken air-conditioning.  Michael Kalman and Damian quickly jumped on the net and booked us an alternative place, which turned out to be quite good and comfortable. But with early wake up to load the boat at 6A.M, they were not in a hurry to go to sleep, with Louis yet to arrive from Brisbane.

Next morning very early, 9 divers were at the dive shop to load the boat! Once we loaded everything, signed the forms and off we went to have breakfast at the local golden arches.

It was then to Seal Rocks by car to meet the boat. We didn’t expect the boat to be quick as the weather was not the best, and it was questionable even before we left Sydney. The winds were already blowing hard with plenty of white caps on the water.

As the boat left the beach at Seal Rocks, loaded with all the gear to do two deep dives, we noticed that Louis our Brisbane visitor was not looking rather well. At first I assumed he was getting sea sick, as it was rather rough out there. But when I asked him, he mentioned that he’s been suffering a stomach bug and only 2 days before the trip he felt OK. But it seems at that moment it started to cause him some issues. This meant he needed the use of a toilet!!

Where was the toilet - back in Seal Rocks of course!

Louis was dressed in a drysuit that didn’t even have a pee valve. He decided to wait and see if this urge would go away! It didn’t.

As the boat arrived on site, Nick sounded the wreck and dropped the anchor. Looking at Louis at this stage, he hands shaking and his face looks like a haemorrhoid that is about to explode, I had to suggest he get out of the suit and jump in the water.

The drysuit came off in seconds, and at the wheel house Louis proceeded to take off all his undergarments, and started to remove his underwear! To Nick’s horror, he shouted for him to go to the back of the boat before he did this, to avoid that orange sausage from being brushed against everyone as the boat rocketed from side to side!!

With underwear off and laughter filling the morning air, Louis proceeded down the ladder chest deep in the water, but not before parting his butt cheeks to reveal his chocolate starfish!! A vision still causing me to feel sick!! He stayed on that ladder for a good 20 minutes. That was the end of diving for him that day.

With the heat wave and summer in Forster, I have always dived wearing wetsuits. Previously, I have dived the Catt and water temp was around 16C. This is something I can handle for around 20 min bottom time, though what was to come was a total surprise. Michael Match had the same idea as me and used a wetsuit.

There was a fairly strong current all the way down to the wreck, and water was not looking clean. The algae that came with deep-water upwelling made it look like soup. Thankfully this visibility cleared as you neared the wreck, and with starting temperature of 19C on the surface quickly dropped to just 13.5C!  Even urinating in the wetsuit didn’t help at all!! I felt like someone kicked me in the nuts, and pushed them inside my body. I lasted 10 min being comfortable enough, after that it was like someone pouring ice water down the wetsuit and shaking me at the same time. Even though it was so cold, it was a very enjoyable dive, total bottom time 20min and it was a shame I couldn’t stay longer. The worst have passed…..So I thought!!

The others had a longer dive with Nipper and Damian buzzing around with scooters. Ozzy was doing very well with a single tank and a stage! The man just doesn’t use any gas!! Incredible!

Deco went with no issues, and we even had dolphins for company. It was then off to Satara while we did our surface interval.

The water looked a lot more inviting with a blue colour to it. But as we descended it was only the first 5 metres that was blue, after that it was that bloody algae again!! Though water cleared near the bottom, and my worst nightmare was realised!! It was 12.5C and I was already getting cold @#$%^!!!

This was going to be a quick dive for me, by the time it was 19min I was going up the anchor line, praying and cursing at the same time at my computer to get me to the warmer water!! It was not getting any warmer until 4m! My last stop was in 4.5m!! Someone was playing a cruel joke that day!!

Once everyone on board and Nick in a hurry to pick up his next punters, he attempted to pull up the anchor only for it to get stuck hard!! No one has picked it off the wreck! Doh. With a few tries we decided it was time to go down to free it. Since I was dressed in my wetsuit and ready to go, I decided to do that. By the time we got back, it was too late for Nick to take the other divers.

We met the boat back at the shop later in the evening; it was so rough for them on the way back, at one stage they had to slow down to 7 Knots! Back at the shop we washed our gear and got it ready for next day.

The next day was looking rather bleak with bigger seas and stronger wind, but by morning it seems to be possible to dive and we went out to the Catt. This time around Louis got to dive the wreck, and he joined Garry in being seas sick on the day. I really admired his dedication after a horrible day on Saturday standing butt naked on a ladder in the middle of the ocean!!

The water was warmer at 15.5C on Catt and 14C on Satara, but still didn’t make it any more comfortable in a wetsuit!! Damian took some great images of the Catt, and we all had amazing dives both days.

This was one of the most enjoyable trips I did to Forster/Seal Rocks, with a great bunch of guys and divers. I would like to thank Michael Kalman for organising the whole weekend and Damian for that wonderful accommodation.

Until next time, bubble free diving.


Images from the Trip

Thanks to Damien Siviero for all images

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