Thursday, 27 May 2010

Merimbula Divers Lodge - Eden Tugs

After Jervis Bay we headed down to Merimbula (4hrs) to stay at the Diver's Lodge and dive the Eden Tugs. The Tasman Hauler and Henry Bolte tugs were sunk as artificial reefs back in the mid 1980's in 25 to 30m. The Tasman Hauler is intact while the Henry Bolte has collapsed but boasts more fish life. They're only a 5min boat ride from Eden wharf and about 150m apart.

The diver's lodge has 3 large two bedroom apartments for $29/person, 4 bunks per room. Absolute luxury as dive lodges go, and walking distance to great restaurants and the main shopping drag. We've stayed there twice and always had an apartment to ourselves. Excellent washing and gear storage facilities are provided.

Dive time was 8.30 at the Eden wharf, 20min drive, where we geared up with a Pro Dive mob from Sydney. They were also staying at the diver's lodge and doing a wreck course. The dive boat is a Niiad RIB with just enough space for 12 divers and 2 crew. It's a fast narrow boat that has no storage space for cameras, have to be very vigilant to protect cameras in the pre dive melee.

The vis was 15 to 20m allowing for great wide angle shots. A big school of 60cm kingfish provided thrills on the Henry Bolte. Much better than the 5m green snot we had last visit.

First dive was on the Tasman Hauler then back to Eden for the surface interval, then back out to the Henry Bolte.

$120 for the double dive with your own gear.

Tug dive photos here

For this trip I really wanted to concentrate on wide angle and video. I used my Nikon D80 in Ikelite with 2 Inon Z220 strobes all on manual and Sigma 15mm fisheye, and Virg's Panasonic Lumix LX3 in my old Coolpix 5000 Ikelite housing with a UK Light Cannon HID torch for video.

I took Virg's Macbook and edited video as the trip progressed. This gave me something to do during down time and show off to the non photographers each night.

Rich and I used drysuits, highly recommended, and although the water temp was 20c in JB and 18c on the Tugs, it made the between dive times warm and comfortable. Wetsuit divers shivered.

Next time I'll take my ali backplate rather than heavier SS just for easier handling out of the water, and use an occy neck sling or velcro retainer rather than the useless mouthpece plug.

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