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Pirate Day on the Lena

written by Ryan Bradley – Perth Scuba Instructor

Ten of us assembled behind Ocky’s Water World in Bunbury to take our short ride out to the site of the Lena with salty dog and Skipper of the Cross Country – Kim.Lena Wreck Diving Bunbury Ryan Bradley

The Lena was sunk in December 2003 after being apprehended for illegally fishing Patagonian Toothfish in Australian waters, and the Bunbury Chamber of Commerce successfully petitioned to have the vessel sunk as a dive wreck. It now sits 3 nautical miles off the coast of Bunbury, in 17 metres. Conveniently accessible to all levels of diver.

As we rounded the tip of Koombana Bay and headed south, the chop of the seas became evident. Some might argue that it wasn’t rough (for the QEII), but it would make your morning yoga difficult, and it was enough to hit a few of us as the day progressed.

A short trip later, and the command was given to throw the dive flag and descent line overboard. As we zigged and zagged to get the lay of the site, we passed over the wreck several times, and you could tell, despite the movement on top, that the vis was great and the dive was going to be spectacular. You could clearly see the wreck gleaming and beckoning us to finish getting our gear on, and come on down. It was right… there.

Positioned nicely about 25m off the bow port-side, we received a quick site briefing from the salty dog, punctuated with “OK. It’s flat as a skillet and 20m vis. If you can’t see the wreck when you get in the water, come back on the boat and I’ll take you home – aaargh.” I don’t think he actually made a pirate sound, but it wouldn’t have been out of place.

One of the last in the water, all I had to do was follow the bubble curtain left by the preceding divers all the way to the wreck. It’s like someone had just popped the cork on some Champers and we were swimming right through it. Bright blue water in the background, glistening, bright aqua bubbles in the foreground, and between, the looming Lena.

It was one of the slowest descents I think I’ve ever made. I was utterly mesmerised. Coming to rest near the bottom, we were greeted by a Port Jackson shark – one of four we saw on the dive – and a cuttlefish which gave the photographers plenty of time to get their eye in before continuing on to explore the surrounds of the hull in its entirety. On the exterior, the stern of the vessel was where all the marine life was. A big school of globe/puffer fish (it looked like a kid’s ball pit), Bullseye, a big ‘Sambo’ and lots more…

From there, we ascended and either penetrated the wreck at the lower levels and made our way up and through, or took the express lift to the lower, outer deck. Due to the shallow depth of the top of the wreck, the attached corals had not been robbed of their natural colour, and the ship looked like a scene from Alice in Wonderland – meticulously sculpted out of hedges. Lots of green, white and yellow gave the impression we were floating through a manicured garden rather than diving on a wreck.

It was all too soon, before we were floating up and away from the wreck to start our safety stop.

Given how accessible the wreck is – in terms of both proximity to Perth and depth, this really is a ‘must dive’!

Thanks to Kim for being a great Skipper and not actually making anyone walk the plank, and all attending divers who as always, helped each other have a fantastic experience, and also did their bit for Project Aware and returning divers by cleaning up any fishing line that they saw on the wreck.

See you again soon!

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