Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?

10 months 2 days ago #302819 by Stonius
Stonius created the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Hey all,

Because the water is always moving in and out of the heads, im wondering how people arrange a days diving?

Do you do a slackwater dive in the morning, then a drift dive, lunch, then maybe head out for another slackwater dive? Or are some of the walls and things out of the current?

Id like to try and start out, as much as possible, with less current because i want to concentrate on getting comfortable with my gear before moving into dynamic envoronments. Too many new things going on just leads to stress and mistakes, so I want to take it pretty easy.

So if i were looking to go out (at this stage, Id go with a group or at least an instructor) what sort of 'dive schedule' should I be aiming for? Yes, the instructor/group will have a plan, but since im not particularly affiliated with any particular dive school round here, im taking my pick of the trips that suit me, but i dont know which ones they are.

Apologies for the noob questions. At least I wont be able to ask any questions once i finally get underwater :-D

Markus

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 2 days ago - 10 months 2 days ago #302821 by AB
AB replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Markus,
You are a wise man to seek advice before jumping in. There are a number of options for getting into Melbourne diving safely and easily. We are blessed with many great shore dives around the bay, both on the east and west sides. There are also some good reef sites close to the city, but most are shallow. Ocean Divers and Snorkel and Dive safari have clubs and run shore dives if you would like to ease in under the eye of an instructor.

There is an enthusiastic bunch of shore divers, mainly diving piers on the east side, and you can join their Facebook group, Scuba Dive Melbourne if you wish to hook up. There are a number of dive boat charters which service the Port Phillip Heads Area, and the main two are Dive Victoria and Redboats. These charters have over 100 dive sites on their itineraries, catering for all interests and levels of divers.

The other option is independent dive clubs. These are clubs with no association with a shop and are operated by the divers themselves. Look up Victorian Sub aqua group, Getunder Dive Club, Black rock underwater Dive Group, and some of the uni have dive clubs as well. Club diving generally takes place out of members own boats, and everyone contributes to the running of the days, i.e you are expected to help launch, crew, retrieve and clean the boats, and help other divers get ready.

Look at the options which suit for your situation and contact groups/shops/clubs to get going. You will gain some great friends and have some amazing experiences this summer!

Alan
Last Edit: 10 months 2 days ago by AB. Reason: spell check!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 1 day ago #302822 by Stan Bugg
Stan Bugg replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
G,day Markus,
I endorse all that Alan has said. You are right in assuming that the tidal currents have a huge influence on diving in the Port Phillip Heads region, and divers need to plan around its variations.
As tidal predictions are somewhat variable and even controversial ( See Packo's discussion on this site)
In your formative early diving I suggest you hook up with a group which will advise you on when to dive with regard to the tides.
This can be a club ( Alan has listed several) or a dive shop which runs regular charters. After all, they have to get their tide times (close to) right, or they would not keep too many customers.
And above all, ask a lot of questions when you are diving with the group you choose.
Good luck with it.
Regards,
Stan

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 19 hours ago #302823 by Stonius
Stonius replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Thanks, Stan and Alan,

yes, going with a group is totally what I intend to do. The thing I'm interested in is what is a good strategy for an awesome day's diving in these parts? How do people plan their days? I see the boats go pretty much all the time, which means the majority of the dives will be done in strong currents, right? Does that mean most of the dives will be drift dives? If so, I'll brush up on those skills. Or are there sites that are less prone to current? I'm still going to go with a group, of course, I just want to know what to expect.

Yes, I did bump into Packo's thread during my searches. Wow! I had no idea tide times were so nuanced and contraversial!

Cheers

Markus

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 5 hours ago #302824 by bergersau
bergersau replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
2-3 dives in a day is easily achievable with the charter operators.
Simply hit up their websites to check their schedules, you can let them worry about the site vs tides equation until you're more experienced and familiar with diving Port Phillip Bay. They know the local conditions and won't typically schedule dives when the tides are unfavourable for a given site. That's a part of what you're paying them for..

Here's two links to get you going. Though there are others.
www.divevictoria.com.au/boat-diving/local-schedule.html
secure.netbookings.com.au/tourism/1934/viewtours

I don't know what you experience level is but, make sure you carry a DSMB and learn how to properly use one if you don't know already. They're essential gear around the heads.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stonius

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 5 hours ago - 10 months 5 hours ago #302825 by AB
AB replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Markus,,
Between incoming and outgoing tides at the heads are periods of slack water where you have a 30 to 40 minute window to dive with relatively little to no current. This really affects sites close to Port Phillip heads, and there are dozens of sites away from the currents.. Boat dives take place outside the heads on the many wrecks and sandstone reef sites dotted along the coast, and usually there is negligible current.

Drift dives are also carried out between slack waters and can be an exhilarating way to see large sections of the bay. You can typically travel well over a kilometre, seemingly flying over rich sponge gardens and kelp covered reef which forms Bommies, huge overhangs, arches and plummeting walls.

If you have only done warm water dives, I'd suggest you arrange a guided dive with a shop to make sure you have the correct wetsuit and are weighted correctly. The thicker wetsuits require more lead, and more buoyancy adjustment through the dives, and you need to get that right before tackling a slack water or drift dive. Suggest your first boat dives should be Pope's Eye, Castle Rock, and Lonsdale Arches, but do a couple of shore dives to sort gear first.

Here's a dive we did at Lonsdale arches earlier this year vimeo.com/154398345

Alan
Last Edit: 10 months 5 hours ago by AB. Reason: spell checker
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stonius

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 5 hours ago #302826 by Stan Bugg
Stan Bugg replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
G,day again Markus,
Sorry I did not directly address your query.
On some days the slack water times begin early, and you get several opportunities to do a slack water dive in a day. At other times it is not so simple, and you need to chase drift dives, or locations not tide affected.
I have been known to be at Portsea at 0600 for a dive that particularly interested me. At Other times, I know it will not be worth arriving until 10 or 11AM.
But it is possible to have a great day's diving.
Options for areas that are not critically tide dependent include most of the jetties, and several of the sites just outside the heads....the 26m sub, for example.

Your own level of training will be a factor in choosing where you go, but while you work it out for yourself, latch onto others who ( allegedly) know what they are doing, and learn from them.
I support Bergersau's suggestion to check out the schedule for Dive Victoria. Even if you don't actually book with them, it will give you a feel for what they offer at certain stages in the tidal range, and what they fall back on when the tide is running.
Regards,
Stan
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stonius

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 months 3 hours ago - 10 months 3 hours ago #302827 by packo
packo replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Hello Marcus,

Yes on the one hand tidal streams are a pain, but without them this biological wonderland would be vastly less so. About 5nm NE of "The Fort" there is another "old Yarra canyon" with drops from 15m to 30m. It is north of the Great Sands where there is negligible current 24/7. In comparison it is "dead" - silt, mud, sandworms, flatties and not a lot else.

So you have to learn to love the current for the life it brings. Just learn to accurately know when its below half a knot - because the current can also take life away!

To Stan,
Sorry for the all the reading of the ( allegedly ) long packo posts! - good on you for hanging in there! The Port of Melbourne Harbour Master called me the other day. They are closing ranks behind their consultant and claiming their tables are "fit for purpose". (Ha! I've watched snoozing seals drifting in through the Rip on the start of the flood tide when the Pilot Control room guys at Queenscliff say: "the current is outward at 1.01 knot")

I think the consultant whispered in his ear that the Pt Nepean eddie might nullify my "bad times" claim, because it was near the buoy I was using to get actual tide reversal times. Disappointed the consultant neglected to mention that this eddie only forms after flood tide gets going. It is entirely absent during the ebb & following slack where I captured most of the photographic evidence of PoMC errors. I'm working up the 2017 "packo predictions" at the moment and I'll soon be claiming "bigger and better" PoMC errors ahead for 2017.

The Pt Nepean flood tide eddie does however allow diving during the flood phase on the shallow reefs in Nepean Bay. There will still be current but manageable. Those with strong nerves can even do the Lady Cheryl at full flood because the "eye" of the eddie is usually fairly near by.

The NE side of Pope's Eye has been "de-sanded" by the CDP and can be dived over a small section in flood tide conditions. Close inshore in Lonsdale bight is also possible then.

On the Ebb tide the SW edge of Pope's Eye is always accessible and relatively sheltered. Many commercial dive charters do "The Fort" on the Ebb too, but if its running hard the better areas under the outer arm of the jetty might not be comfortably accessible. Turbulence over the shallow sand banks not far upstream will also throw a lot of sand into the water column at that time giving poorer vis.

If the ocean swell isn't too bad the whole coastline Pt Lonsdale - Barwon Heads can offer excellent diving locations without needing any special timing. On the ebb tide, close up behind either Lonsdale or Nepean reefs is diveable too. Blairgowrie Marina is a great site too - no shame in doing it by boat!

Markus I wish the best for your dives in this region.

packo
Last Edit: 10 months 3 hours ago by packo.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stonius

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
9 months 4 weeks ago #302829 by Stonius
Stonius replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Thanks, Bergersa,

Yeh, pretty new to it. Avanced/Nitrox, but only around 35 dives so far. Still getting the hang of it. Funny you mention it, I just got a DSMB recently because, you know, safety :-)

Alan, thanks again - wow those huge drift dives sound amazing! And thanks for suggesting the cold water orientation. I did go out last weekend to Pope's Eye just using my 5mm to see if it was enough, which it was - until I got out of the water! :-) The Instructor took me through a hole in the wall where the current was channeling and we went on a little drift dive out the back where there was a lot more to see. Not sure if that's a common way to do that site or not, but it sure was fun!

But you're right, I had issues with too much new gear needing sorting, so I wasn't happy with my performance, which is why I'm looking for simpler dives to start. Nice video, BTW. Does that tunnel thing require a basic cave diving qualification? I mean, that's ingress, isn't it?

Stan, Thanks for the avice - I did happen to go out with dive victoria before, and was very happy. And yes, I'm thinking shore dives / piers and maybe some outside the heads if the swell is not too big.

And Packo - thanks man. I'm looking forward to getting myself sorted out so I can feel confident out in the more pristine areas. Thanks for the site suggestions, I'll definitely check them out. And thanks for that interesting thread on the tides.

Cheers!

Markus

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
9 months 4 weeks ago #302832 by AB
AB replied the topic: Best strategy for diving Port Phillip Bay?
Markus,
That tunnel isn't cave rated and like many more in the heads area, is accessible to OW/Advanced divers. Most operators will let you dive the J4 Submarine with theses certs as well, and that has up to 60 metres of penetration! vimeo.com/77898257

So much to experience!

Alan

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
  • Not Allowed: to create new topic.
  • Not Allowed: to reply.
  • Not Allowed: to add attachements.
  • Not Allowed: to edit your message.