Shell Harbour

I took the Friday off work to clear out the car, check everything twice and pack our dive gear. You can imagine my surprise when it all fitted in the club car. Soon Janet was home and we set off for Shell Harbour. We went down the M2, M7, M5, M31 and B88 Picton road to come out just short of Mt Ousley and Mt Kiera. It was then all down hill in 2nd gear in the truck lane to Wollongong. On arrival 3 hours after leaving at the AirBNB that Denise had found the issue was parking a trailer in a residential street. The house looked suburban but once inside the space was great and views of the Minamurra River and green hills all the way to the escarpment were spectacular. It was then off to the golf club for their $12.50 T bone special and a beer/wine to discuss diving.

The next morning we met Kris at the ramp, spoke with the local fisho/marine rescue about the weather and headed off to Bass Point for a double dive in flat calm conditions. The idea was to photograph ID and DNA some weedy sea dragons. Shell Harbour Dive had advised that weedys were at The Gutter. So we anchored off the site in deeper water and headed down. The advantage of the boat was more time in the deeper Weedy zone.

Photo by Denise Lawler

Photo by Denise Lawler

On the first dive we found 1 weedy who had a couple of his fins missing, must have been a target of a bigger fish and now he had to endure us doing the research tasks. As well as looking like seaweed, seadragons move in a similar swaying motion as seaweed would in the water current. This enables them to camouflage themselves and hide from prey and us. This was very kelpy area with lots of eckolonia radiata (technically brown algae) and some cray weed too, also broken kelp, sand patches and lots of clouds of small fry like fish/crutaceans ideal for weedys who eat Plankton, sea lice, larval fishes and small shrimp‐like crustaceans called mysids.

On the second dive we failed to find any more weedys. Bloody camouflage. The fun started when the comeback line started to tug me away from the group. I gave the reel to my buddy and raced back to find the anchor had 3 straight prongs and the last 2 not looking great. So we got the team together and headed up. Half way up we could hear the engines running.

Photo by Denise Lawler

Photo by Denise Lawler

Lucky John was on the boat as he now needed to manoeuvre to keep off the rocks. We left the line and headed away from the boat. Up went the SMB on the reel and we all safely ascended away from the moving boat. The NE was blowing 20 knots and seas now up to 1 meter. After some drama everyone was back on the boat and we did the short run back to the safety of the harbour. No problems. It would have been a different story without a competent person on the boat. URG never leave our boat unattended.

So back to the dive shop for fills and then fish and chips for lunch. That night Yolana joined us at the house and we stayed in and had a lovely BBQ on the deck. After talking diving and solving some of the world’s problems over a bottle of wine or 2 we retired for a well-earned sleep.

bulletin-shell-harbour-3

Photo by Denise Lawler

The next morning the sea was up and the NE was predicted again by Marine Rescue. So we discussed our options and decided that a shore dive at Bushrangers Bay was the safest bet. This was a nice dive with lots of very friendly wrasse and again a kelpy spot down at 18 M that looked like it could hold weedys. But none found. Any way a nice dive even if not from the boat. We then headed back to the ramp to use the boat wash area to wash gear and enjoyed a coffee and biscuits on the grass overlooking the harbour and sea.

We departed company with our buddies and headed up the big hill i.e Mt Ousley in The Big Red Car at the break neck speed of 35-40 kilometres an hour to get home.. Why don’t we do these more often anymore? The Club at one stage went away every 4-6 weeks. Anyway it was a plesaant URG weekend away.

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