|SS Undola 13-07-13|
Conditions have not been good in 2013 for deep dives and we thought that July 13 would be better. We first tried the Tug but the current was too strong so we hauled the anchor back up and headed down to the Undola hoping for better conditions. We had Heinz, Wayne and myself on board. Heinz would sit out this dive - he's not a fan of deep dives.
Still windy at the Undola and we didn't think that the current was too strong. We put out all the deco bar, the mermaid and the cross over. The deco bar was being pushed back from the boat a bit but we didn't think it was OK.
I was first in and as I hit the water I instinctively grabbed the cross over line. Good that I did as I could pull myself up to the anchor line. I wasn't going to hang around at the surface so dropped down a few meters where I thought it would be calmer. The water was really clear - viz was great. I looked back and saw Wayne swimming forward. I turned and headed down. The current was really strong and it was a struggle to get down at all. It took me nearly 7 minutes to get to the bottom at 43m Worse, down to 35m the water was crystal clear, but at 35m it turned to a silty brown colour and the viz was only 2 to 3 meters.
I assumed Wayne was coming down so I dragged the anchor, which was deep in the sand across to the wreck and secured it in one of the ribs. A nice wobbie rested nearby. There was still current at the bottom and with the viz being poor I really did not know where on the wreck I was. I've dived the Undola 29 times before so I'm no stranger to the wreck.
Having waited 7 minutes for Wayne and no sign I decided to head back up. I had no idea what had happened to him.
Meanwhile at the surface, Wayne had tried to swim forward after dropping over the side. For a short while he finned as hard as he could but with split fins not much power and he was losing the battle. He was going backwards under the water away from the boat and by the time he had surfaced he had missed the mermaid line as well. He put up his safety sausage but was quickly being pushed south by the current.
Now Heinz had a dilemna, one diver on the wreck at the bottom and the other drifting off towards Wollongong and would soon be out of sight. The best option was to pull up the deco bar, pull in the mermaid line and put a buoy on the anchor line. Rudy could still come up the anchor line to the buoy and the boat was free to go and recover Wayne. Just as Heinz was pondering this another boat came along. They asked who the diver was that drifting away and when Heinz told them they had a good laugh. But they did go down and pick up him and get him back to the boat.
I had moved the anchor off the wreck and place it on the sand and was heading up to the surface. Unfortunately, the anchor dug in and I was again working against the current, this time trying to stop it from pushing me up too quickly. Once I got up to the cross over line I was able to hang onto the deco bar. But with me and the bar and the current I could barely hold my depth at 3m. It was a very uncomfortable deco stop.
During my time on the deco bar Wayne had decided that he needed to recover the anchor so with the use of a pull rope he headed down the anchor line to put the lift bag on the anchor.
We have a number of safety devices and things that we do in case of this type of problem. We carry 2 torches, 2 cutting implements, a signalling device, safety sausage and whistle. We carry several short ropes and double clips. We also carry Nautilus Lifelines which would enable us to hail our boat or any other boat and give our status and GPS co-ordinates. We also log into Marine Rescue so they will come looking for us in time.
I was very glad that Heinz was on the boat and that another boat came past as I would have had to go and rescue Wayne without knowing what had happened to him.
Chalk it all down to experience.
This site was last updated 18/07/13