Was back in the water yesterday for first time in months. Between travel, work and other stuff I was at serious risk of drying out completely. After the big storm here in Wellington a couple of weeks ago I was very keen to head out on the Dive Wellington charter to have a look at the F69. The last really big storm is the one which broke the wreck into three pieces so we feared the worst.
Dave Drane knows his way around out there and we dropped right onto the bridge section. Much to my surprise it was pretty much as it was on my last visit except there was a LOT less plant life growing on the metal and most of the small animal and fish life was no longer there. No cray, very few triplefins, tarakihi, and the other usual suspects. My personal favourites the nudibranchs were nowhere to be found. It was a poor day up top so light wasnt great and the weather hasnt been that sweet since the storm went away so the viz wasnt flash making photography challenging. The relatively large blue moki and blue cod that were around werent in the mood for posing so I was glad to find a sea perch who was only a wee bit skittish. We managed to have a swim through most of the intact sections left of the bridge section and even the inside has lost a lot of its ertwhile covering of weed and sponges. After squeezing as much no stop time as we could we headed for the surface and a welcome cup of hot soup.
After the interval Dave dropped us on the bow section, again spot on. From the anchor chain at the prow right back to just aft of the gun turret was again pretty much as I have ever seen it. A bit less weed and the usual huge packs of crayfish were nowhere to be seen. After swimming the length and inspecting the barrels we went to south facing side of the wreckage to find it was all but sandblasted back down to the metal along the entire length of this part of the wreck. Bottom time was running out but plenty of gas left so we ascended to the shallowest part of the wreck several metres above us to get the most out of the dive. Another careful scan for nudis, cray or anything other than the moki and I found one very beautiful anenome, my buddy patiently waited while I got a few frames of it.
Time was up so we ascended to do our safety stop. After four months without a dive I was chuffed that my stop was relaxed and easy, not up to GUE standards I am sure but I was able to review the images I had captured waiting for my computer to count down.
Back on the surface it was only past midday but was already getting dark as the weather closed in. We swapped stories on the short run in and discussed our pleasure that the F69 was still in good shape over a quick sausage from BBQ at the shop before lunch and a great coffee at the Bach cafe next door. Looking forward to cleaner water and another visit to the wreck very soon.
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