Sunday 22nd August 2016
Today we headed out from Caloundra on Bruce’s boat to dive the USS Pike. A wreck that was once a World War Two landing craft for soldiers, and due to its depth and isolation had only been dived by six divers that we knew of before.
I was excited to be one of the few people to dive the wreck, and also one of the few to be able to film it.
After about forty minutes we arrived where the marks suggested the USS Pike lay in fifty two to fifty three metres of water. We searched for some time but nothing was showing on the sounder. Some time led to more time and we were starting to get cold out there. It was very exposed to the chilly wind and we had already gotten wet on the way out.
As the boys decided to open Jepu’s magic chilli pumpkin soup to warm up, Bruce, a man on a mission decided to check out another mark a few miles away. After a few minutes we got a big hit on the sounder and it was obvious a wreck of some kind was down there and sticking up from fifty metres to about forty.
As Nick and I were diving open circuit, aka bubble blowers, we were of course the Guinea pigs, to dive down and see what, if any, Wreck it was. We headed down the anchor line and as I approached forty metres I didn’t see any Wreck or structure. I proceeded down thinking it may be the visibility but nothing but sand at the bottom and a stupid Guppy that seemed to smile at me as if to take the piss.
Nick signalled to go up so we ascended to where the Shot line intercepted the Anchor line and decided to try our luck down the shot line instead. By now we already had four minutes of decompression racked up.
We ascended down and I saw a Spotted Eagle Ray and managed to get quite close to it. It didn’t seem very phased by me but I didn’t want to drift off the line too far so I returned to where Nick was and I could make out a shadow that looked like it was moving. As we got closer I could tell it was the USS Pike! You could clearly see the landing gear at the back of the wreck, the wreck still very much in tact with thousands of fish swarming over it.
Large Goldspotted Rockcod, one, two, three, a dozen and then some on the sand and inside the wreck! Curious by our presence, either that or blinded by the 20,000 lumens from my video lights I was shining down on them. Probably the first time they had seen sunlight down there!
The visibility was blue, and fifteen metres. There were some colourful purple, orange, white and yellow soft corals and fans on the wreck. Lionfish, Puffer fish, Moorish Idols, Moses Snapper, and a couple of varieties of Baitfish in their thousands making quite an epic fish soup of the place.
As we looked around through the fish soup I could make out some Pelagics on the sand. They were large Jewfish. We went out on the sand to film them and shoot back onto the wreck when I noticed a big Queensland Grouper come staunchly by. It swept in eyeballing us before it swam out of visibility again.
Time wasn’t our friend as we had already eaten into some of the run time looking for the wreck by the anchor, so we headed back to the bow to start our ascent. As we swam over the wreck the Baitfish were darting around like crazy. Peering through them I could see the Jewfish coming. They were hunting and it was quite a spectacle with them attacking swiftly right in front of us, my lights bouncing off their shiny bodies.
Back up the line and super happy, what an epic dive! We finished our decompression stops then back to the boat to allow the CCR divers a turn whilst we celebrated with a Tiger beer.
The CCR divers enjoyed an epic one hour and fifteen minute dive, getting to see not one but a dozen Queensland Grouper that surrounded the wreck. At one time alone Bruce counted seven Queensland Groupers together. They also spotted a Bull Ray.
Heading back into Caloundra on low tide was an absolute nightmare. Its a labyrinth of sand bars where the depth is less than half a metre in many areas. We had to push the boat a couple of times but with all hands on deck navigating we eventually made it back in! It was a long day due to searching for the wreck and getting in and out of Caloundra, but it was all worth it because we got to dive the USS Pike and it was awesome!
Dive time 55 minutes. Maximum depth 49 metres.
Still frame grab taken from 4k footage
4k compressed video shot on Red Scarlet-X in DeepX Housing with Mangrove and Keldan lights (20,000 lumens).