Tuesday 20th November 2001, Yallingup Oz

Not really ‘up with the larks’ this time. Although a boat dive, we didn’t have to be at Cape Dive’s shop in Dunsborough until 10.30am. Nevertheless, we thought it would be a good idea to get there early – so after Brigid had had breakfast (just a ‘K’ muesli bar for John), and swept the sand out of the van, we went straight there.

Cape Dive’s hire equipment is some of the best we have seen. The BCDs were about 6 months old, and the 5mm, 2 piece, wet suits, didn’t look much older. The briefing was thorough, and all care seemed to have been taken to ensure we had a good day.

The water above the HMAS Swan wreck was relatively calm when we arrived, and with 4 exit points from the purpose-built dive boat (the “Cygnet”), we were all in the water with the minimum of fuss.

John’s ears whistled and squeaked a little for the first few metres of descent, and then gave a satisfying ‘pop’ – confirming that the course of antibiotics and decongestants had done their work.

The water was beautifully clear for this part of the world. From 5 meters, we could see all the way down to the deck (at approx 22m). Once we were all happy with our buoyancy, Shelley (the divemaster) swam over the guard rail and signalled us to enter the wreck.

The 112.8m River Class destroyer, HMAS Swan, has been wonderfully prepared for divers of all abilities, with large square holes cut at strategic intervals on both sides of the hull, at every deck level, allowing even the newest of divers to explore it safely.

At the end of the dive, we made two safety stops for 5 mins at 9m, and again at 5m for 3 mins. Brigid was amazed to discover that she still had 100 bar left in her tank after a bottom time of 36 minutes (a max depth of 20.2m). John puts this down to weight loss (though it could have been more efficient fins)!

After a longish surface interval moored off a quiet beach near Cape Naturaliste, we were back in the water. The plan of the dive was similar to the first with regard to depth and duration, except that we visited different parts of the ship. Unfortunately, successive dive parties had now stirred up the silt, and visibility was not as good. As we reached the main turret, a small school of friendly bat fish came close to check us out. Although the Swan was only sunk in 1997, it is already home to an incredible array of fish and coral.

By the time we surfaced, we were within 12 minutes of our no-decompression limits for a ‘computer-assisted multi-level dive” At the end of the day, John was delighted that his ears were now equalising quite easily, and Brigid was still crowing over her reduced air-consumption (surfacing from the second dive with 85 bar). A good day was had by all.

We arrived back at the Yallingup campsite around 5pm, showered, changed, and cooked dinner in the van. It was one of Brigid’s less successful offerings – seafood pasta. Seafood (other than the “see-food-and-eat-it” variety) does nothing for John. But somehow when Brigid picked up a large bag of frozen seafood ‘marinara’ at the supermarket, it did not occur to him that it would be stuffed with clams, mussels and little pink things with tentacles … He was more than a little unimpressed when a bucket load of rubbery little octopus and crustaceans landed on his plate. Having done his best to weed out the offending little suckers, he was quite grateful to accept Brigid’s rabbit-food salad!