Here at Gold Coast Dive adventures we offer an array of PADI speciality courses. One of our favourite courses to teach is the deep diver course, as we get the opportunity to explore sites that we don’t usually get to spend much time on. One of our lovely divers Kate, joined us on our last PADI Deep Diver Speciality Course and was kind enough to write us a blog about her experience. Here it is…
PADI Deep Diver specialty – exploring the ocean depths by Kate Moore
I’ve dived many of the picturesque sites (vis permitting or course!) that dot the Gold Coast’s shoreline. But when the chance to explore some of the lesser known or visited sites came up – it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Deep Dive 1 – Campos Reef
Our quick descent along the anchor line had us arrive at the bottom in no time. At 30 metres and in 1-2m visibility, we observed pressure and colour change. After checking out everyone’s dive computers to see the variation in NDL time I was quickly introduced to one of the realities of deep diving – little bottom time – and how air consumption at this depth does not dictate your bottom time!
Two of us were sent up after our computers indicated our NDL was too low. A slow ascent along the anchor line and regular safety stop had us reaching the surface with a dive time of 23 minutes and 150 bar remaining.
Deep Dive 2 – Mermaid Reef
To try and find some better visibility, now that we had seen Campos’, our dive plan changed, and we decided to go exploring a new dive site – one known by local fishermen and women. Another quick but this time a free descent alongside the anchor line took us to around 25 metres. We were met again with low vis!
Exploring this new dive site, there’s some real potential for some good diving with the right conditions. The gutters and formations reminded me of Palm Beach Reef. Diving here reveals gropers, yellow-tail scad, butter brim, as well as green or hawksbill turtles. I’m looking forward to getting back here when the water is a little cooler to see who makes Mermaid Reef their home.
A free ascent, mid water safety stop, and a little bit of a surface swim had us back at the boat with 40 minutes dive time under our belt.
The boat trip back across the bar was one of the most gnarly, but fun I have experienced, with 2 metre swell at relatively short intervals.
Deep Dive 3 – Deep Pinnacle
As with all things diving, we rely on the weather. After about a week’s postponement on our remaining two dives, I was pretty keen to get out to Deep Pinnacle the following week. The first 5 metres of our descent along the anchor line had no vis! But the ocean is unpredictable and at 5 metres it opened up and we had some of the clearest water I’ve had at the Coast. There was something surreal about seeing the ocean floor nearly 40 metres below us as we descended.
At the bottom we timed ourselves playing a counting game to see how depth affected our concentration compared to on the surface. My results were slower by 15 seconds! Being narced was like being drunk: everything funny, a little slower and a hazy.
We all continued to watch the NDL limits on our computers and then ended the dive. A free ascent alongside the anchor line was made. At our safety stop it was my turn to breathe from the staged tank. After unclipping the tank and attaching it to one of my BCDs D rings, I swapped from my regulator to the other one.
Since my Open Water back in 2018 I had not removed a reg underwater. And for me, this was the most difficult part of the Deep Dive course! For some reason my brain did not want me to remove the reg from my mouth! Cradling the tank in my arms, Harry and I swam a few fin kicks away from the line, turned and swam back, and then reattached the tank to the line.
Deep Dive 4 – Deep Pinnacle
Because of our dive’s 40 metre depth we had a long surface interval. Computers were useful here in showing the variation to surface time and what sort of bottom time we could expect on our second dive.
Even knowing the ocean floor would appear as I descended below 5 metres did not in any way take away from how awesome it was.
To get the most out of our bottom time, we descended again quickly. For those who have trouble equalizing, I would not recommend deep diving!
No games this time. Instead we explored Deep Pinnacle’s rock formations, soft corals and amazing sea life such as slipper lobsters, cruising pelagic fish like mackerel, pineapple fish, and deeper species of nudibranchs.
As one of our last skills, we simulated a decompression stop on our ascent. The water temperature on this dive was much cooler – 17 degrees. The cold was definitely felt during the lengthy decompression stop and on a 40-minute dive, compared with around 20 minutes on the first dive of the day.
For anyone wanting to check out some new dive sites, be introduced to the more technical side of diving, or gain confidence in using their dive equipment and diving at depth, then I definitely recommend giving this PADI course a go!