The sailing catamaran Reef Dragon recently spent 3 weeks conducting RLS surveys in Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, as part of the planned circumnavigation of Australia by yacht.
With almost perfect weather right from leaving Hobart until we returned 3 weeks later, we were able to complete all of the priority surveys in Port Davey and the channel, as well as several lesser priority exploratory dives in Bathurst Harbour. The more exposed sites in Port Davey still presented some problems even in the low swell and several tape measures were either lost or damaged, but by taking advantage of the conditions at various sites we were able to dive for 21 days straight, sometimes up to 3 dives per day. Four volunteers, Nicole Hill, Caroline Mason, Sam Griffith and Ian Shaw along with Graham Edgar took part in the surveys, with partial crew changeover taking place at Melaleuca twice during the trip.
Days were spent sailing to the first dive site, with shifts of divers completing the surveys and photo quadrats while
evenings were spent in one of the many sheltered anchorages, filling tanks and preparing evening meals. All of the Port Davey – Bathurst Harbour area is scenic but some of the still evenings and mornings at anchor in Bramble Cove and Spain Bay are very memorable and photos taken from the top of nearby peaks during afternoon shore walks give a glimpse of the unique character of the area.
Highlights of the trip? Above water scenery was absolutely stunning, great skies with mountain backdrops; first dive in tannin stained water, eerie but fascinating, looking up and seeing the sun as an orange red pinprick on the water’s surface only 5 metres away; diving the walls at The Narrows, absolutely pitch black at 25 metres with the near vertical wall covered in anemones and zoanthids; Basque tuna stew with a bottle of red wine in the cockpit at dusk. It rarely gets better than that!
Reef Dragon is a superb dive platform with spacious covered cockpit area, easy access to the water from both hulls and an inflatable dive tender. As well there is a good size saloon for the dreaded data entry, a well-equipped galley and four comfortable state rooms. With two
engines and a full complement of sails, Reef Dragon is well set up for ocean sailing, as she proved on her trip across the Pacific from Panama last year.
Reef Dragon is currently on her way up the east coast, hopefully arriving in northern NSW later in April or early May. If she is in a port near you pop down and say hello to the crew, or better still, take advantage of a survey dive or two with her in your area. If you have more time, consider a longer spell of 2 or 3 weeks as she goes around Australia’s
coastline. Definitely an opportunity not to be missed as she plans to visit dive sites most of us only dream about.