We have plans to dive the S.S. Yongala later in the year, but an Open Water certification won’t be enough for that dive. With 10 days of spare time between jobs, and a need to further our education in diving, Thomas and I signed up for an Advanced Open Water course.
Compared to diving somewhere up north, Adelaide wasn’t exactly ideal. The dive sites were beautiful, but it was like jumping into a washing machine full of ice water. Temperatures were between 9 and 14 degrees Celsius, and the water was choppy enough to give the most experienced diver a hard time moving or seeing anything.
Our first 3 dives were at Port Nuangola. After being shown the basics and given our gear, we headed out. You haul your equipment down the pier and enter the water right by the reef. Jumping in was a shock. It was like the end of titanic, except we were all Jack. Our first day consisted of classes in Buoyancy, Navigation, and Search & Recovery.
Buoyancy basically consisted of learning how to control your breathing underwater so you can float. This would be a lot easier if the water wasn’t whipping you around like an overenthusiastic bull.
Navigation taught us how to use a compass underwater. Our instructor set up a course underwater for us, where we had to find two floating buoys. It was quite cool, and incredibly challenging. Visibility was a meter or two so we had to completely rely on the compass. We only ended up finding one of the two buoys. Which was disappointing until we realized the dive instructor even had trouble placing the damned thing.
Search & Recovery consisted of building on the skills we learned in the navigation sampler to find a weight belt. Once we found the weight belt, we had to use 3 different knots to tie it to a surface marker buoy (SMB). We then had to inflate the SMB and bring the weights to the surface. It was dope as hell. Definitely the highlight of the day.
Day 2 was more fun stuff, but also like diving on Hoth. We woke up early and met at the port. We then headed out by boat to some shipwrecks. The water on day 2 made the water the first day seem still as can be. It was difficult to even put on the equipment because the entire boat was rocking back and forth. On our first dive we went down 25 meters to a shipwreck called the Claris. The shipwreck itself was pretty small. We were unable to spend much time observing the ship because our air depleted so quickly. On our way up we had to hold onto the anchor chain for a safety stop at 5 meters. The chain completely made me its bitch, it threw me around like a quaffle and caused me to ascend too fast. It is the first time diving where I actually felt some fear and it taught me a valuable lesson.
The second shipwreck of the day was the Dredge at 15 meters. The Dredge is 40 meters long and it was incredible. We were able to swim through parts of the wreck and observe new life that’s developed on this old ship. Coral covered the hull and curious little fishies darted around us. I ascended without the chain and had much better luck.
Overall, they were five exhausting dives. The conditions weren’t ideal but we had a complete blast. I would 10/10 do it again. It really helped us gain new confidence in the water and has helped us prepared for the Yongala in the coming months.