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Oh what a night…

with Lee & Joey

With the anticipation of an awesome Night dive at Rotto on Wednesday, I packed up my dive gear (and Joeys of course – it’s what us guys do for our other halves right?), and charged up the torches for what was going to be Perth Scuba Night Dive The Coombe by Johanna Pool2our first night dive at Rottnest Island for the season. I went through the check list, Dive Gear, Smirnoff Reds, Torches, Beam & Cokes, Camera (or in Joey’s case the Praying Mantis) and finally and most importantly the Canadian Club and Dry. With all of the important dive and post dive stuff organized for the troops it was time to sit back and wait for the dive. What a fantastic day… it must have been at least 35 degrees and not a breath of wind… The forecast (what would Sea Breeze know?) was for 25 knot Southerly winds and a 2.5m swell yeah right! 15 minutes later… there’s the call… the most unexpected call… The dive is off!!!! After shaking off the disappointment, I was told by our Skipper John that Sea Breeze had in fact got it right and that it was already blowing a gail at Rottnest Island. I took one of the JBs out of the esky and sat down to ponder what we would do now…

I thought about what could possibly be the next best thing to diving Rotto at night on a full moon… the Coombe!! Ok that certainly wasn’t the first thing but it came in a close 157th place. So that was it – The Coombe – a river dive like no other! I advised the guys at the shop to let everyone know that we’d be there instead and we’d meet them there.Perth Scuba Night Dive at The Coombe by Johanna Pool

By 7pm – the arranged T.O.D (time of dive), there were 9 of us, not bad really considering the comparison of dive sites and what was on offer. The crew were still quite excited and as most of them had never dived the Coombe, there was the anticipation of a cool new dive site to play with for them. We threw out the flag and kitted up. Torches flicking on and off everywhere and the sound of purging regulators meant that we were ready to go. After a short dive briefing (ok well maybe not that short but at least we knew where we were going – and as you’ll read in a minute – that’s not a bad thing), we headed out into the water. This time of year is very good in the river, with water temperatures of 26 degrees common and tonight was no exception. We waded into the water and eagerly put our faces under to see what the visibility was like. I can’t put into this blog what we all thought initially but let’s just say – it wasn’t that good at this stage. I watched as everyone did a double take, pulled their masks off cleaned them again and stuck their faces back in… almost as if they expected the water to immediately become crystal clear… it didn’t. Still we were here, and we were now wet also so what the hell, so off we went. I can honestly say that I have never experienced visibility as bad as this. No such thing as 1 metre visibility – this was 15cm at best. Still… we were here and we were wet… (so I thought.. again!), we descended as surely the water would be clear at the bottom and once we got away from our entry point. It wasn’t. I hit the bottom after a feet first descent and looked up to see if I could see my buddy or her torch. Nope. She was there though because all of a sudden I was X rayed by the 2 strobes on the Praying Mantis. So I signalled towards where the white light came from that I was ok… blinded but ok… we headed out to 12m where the plan was to turn left and swim straight towards the wreck. After contending with jelly fish hitting my mask before I saw them and the occasional cluster of even more silt as I disturbed an angry crab or two, I suddenly felt my head compress into my shoulders as I hit front on, a mooring engine mounting block which funny enough didn’t flinch anywhere as much as I did. – after the dive Joey said she saw me stop suddenly and then back up. Funny that – the backing up part was me pulling my head back out from my [email protected]@! We continued as at least now I could see something albeit the stars pinging around my head.

erth Scuba Night Dive The Coombe by Johanna Pool7Soon enough though, all was forgotten as we came across the wreck. Instantly a Sea Horse came into view… then another… then another… Joey is going to be very happy I thought – so there she was snapping away for a few minutes then she signalled to me that things were not quite working out… funny signals she uses when things aren’t working out… I’ve seen those signals before… sometimes even when she’s driving. I signalled to her to go up and she agreed… now completely against everything I’d said in the briefing, we decided to go up there and then… without even heading to the shallower water. We surfaced not too far from our entry point and had a bit of a giggle as we looked over to see a couple of our guys already on the beach. Well, that had to be the shortest dive I have ever done. But as they say, We went (why we just don’t know), We Saw (not much) and We Conquered (my head felt like a conker – if you are an Aussie you might want to look that one up), and thankfully I can log that one as the dive I’d like to forget. Hang on… PADI won’t even let me log that dive either… Too short a dive… We waited for the others to come to the surface and watched eagerly, their smiles as they surfaced… THAT part was funny, and we still had one buddy team who dived for the full hour we had planned assuring us that the visibility doubled as they got around the point… WOW to 30cm?? That’s gotta be a record! We think the real reason they did the hour was because they’d paid for a baby sitter for the night and wanted to get their money’s worth… well guys, next time you decide to dive the Coombe – I’ll baby sit for you.

A special thanks goes out to the wonderful people who continue to dredge our harbours and make Pea Soup look good to dive in and to the crew who stuck by us and came along for the night dive to remember (or forget), Here’s to next Thursday night – I’m going to pack the JB’s, Canadian Clubs and Smirnoff Reds… might even take the dive gear.

See you there… (at least I can say that for Rotto). I mentioned earlier that the others had never dived the Coombe…& I think they are unlikely to dive it ever again now…Oh what a night!

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