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On the 17 November 2001 I took my son, Chris, down to Dunsborough, located a little over 300 kilometres south of Perth, for the weekend. I was doing my Deep, Wreck and Enriched Air Nitrox Instructor Speciality courses with Tim Marshall of Dolphin Scuba Diving and I was doing them diving on the HMAS Swan. The Swan was purposely sunk in 1997 as a dive wreck and lies upright in 32 meters of water, it is over 113 meters long and over 20 meters wide.
We were to meet at Cape Dive in Dunsborough at 7:30am on Saturday 17 November, being a three odd hour drive from Perth that would mean I would have to leave my place at around 4am in the Morning!!! Not liking that option too much we decided to venture down on Friday night, Chris wasn't diving, but he came along to have a look around. We arrived at about 7pm Friday night and booked a room for the weekend at the Dunsborough Inn, the rooms were very basic and the amenities are of the shared type (TV, Toilet, Kitchen etc. are shared by all guests) but it does the job and it is cheap. We woke early and met Tim in the Dinning room for a brief of the day's events and to plan our Enriched Air Nitrox dives. It was then off to Cape Dive to analyse our Nitrox fills, kit up and load our gear onto the boat.
Our two dives today would be going through the 4 deep specialty dives we would be teaching students in the near future. The instructor course not only consisted of the dives but also included preparing a dive brief, debrief and a classroom presentation. After a short trip to the beach we donned our wets suits (or Dry suits in my case, hee hee) and boarded the Zodiac, Cygnet II, for a 7 minute ride to the wreck site. Getting our gear on was a little tight, especially with integrated weights in our BC's, but the crew helped out heaps. The first dive would be to 32 meters to assess the effect pressure has on certain objects, a tennis ball, air filled container and some neoprene. We also did the navigation portion of the course before we had a quick look around and then headed to the crows nest at about 10Meters for a safety stop. We then went to the 5meter mark for another (a bit excessive but better to be safe than sorry!). During the dive if you listened hard enough between bubbles you could hear the songs of Whales in the distance, a very soothing experience. The average visibility in this area is 18-25 meters, although it was only about 10 meters when we went. The Swan has already become home to a large number of fish and coral has started to cover the hull.
It was then back to the beach for our surface interval and to relax under the trees while enjoying our lunch. We then boarded the boat and headed out past the small breakers for our second dive of the day, this involved viewing how coloured objects appeared at depth, this was done with coloured neoprene patches. The red one, as most will have learned in there open water course, lost the most colour and appeared brown when viewed at 32 meters. We were also required to complete one minute on a Deco bottle during our safety stop, this was more of a need for some in the group due to lack of air in their own tank! It was then off to the shop to do our presentations and debriefs.
Dinner consisted of takeaway from the local deli which was consumed back at the hotel before retiring for an early night as tomorrow was a 6:30am start. We woke with the sun and Chris grabbed me a Pie from the bakery for breakfast before we met Tim and the others in the dinning room. We planned our dives for the day, this time it was the Wreck diver speciality we were being shown how to teach. Today we would be going on the bigger boat, Cygnet I, which had a lot more room but was moored a far distance further away then the smaller boat of yesterday, all this meant was a longer wait to get in the water and start our dive. Luckily for Chris he was allowed to come along for the ride and help out with the decky work, which consisted of helping divers in and out of the water and making sure all the gear was safely stored away. The first dive of the day was to consist of the mapping portion of the wreck speciality, this involved indicating potential penetration points and any danger areas, we decided to map the bow section of the deck, as there was no way we could do the whole boat on one dive. Since there were three of us we sectioned the desk so we each had our own portion to map, once this was done it was up to the crows nest for our safety stop. While there we were greeted by the resident school of eleven bat fish, which have made the crows nest their home. They seem to be use to divers being around as they came up very close and hung what seemed motionless around us. We finished off the dive then headed to the beach for lunch, this time however we remained on the boat in the shelter of one of the many bays on the foreshore, and enjoyed our soup and a ham & salad roll. Returning to Swan our exercises for the afternoon was to be, practising tying off the penetration line and then finally penetrating the wreck.
We examined our maps to attain the best entrance point and decided to enter via a hole in front of the bridge and practise tying off our penetration line along what is called "The Boardwalk". This was a long passageway that went a reasonable way into the ship and aloud us to have a look around while we were at it. Unfortunately this was to be our last dive, so it was now back to Cape Dive to do our debriefs and then start the long journey home. We left Cape dive at around 13:30 (1:30pm) for the 3 hour long drive home, which was made even longer by an over heating engine about one hour into our journey. We made it home safe and sound feeling better than usual and thinking maybe they are wrong when they say Nitrox doesn't make you feel better after a dive.