Marion Bay – Easter – April 2021
Upon arriving at Marion Bay on the Friday evening I was enthused by the glass-like conditions of the ocean that looked promising for the next day.
Friday morning did not disappoint – the ocean was like glass (yippee). Sonya was our full time boat person for the weekend – great for us, but no so good for her – as she was unable to dive over the weekend due to an ear issue.
As the conditions were so calm, we took the opportunity to do some reccy (reconnaissance) dives to places that we had only just dreamed about in the past. As you travel around past Cape Spencer lighthouse around to the Pinnacle, there is a small outcrop of rocks just over 800m directly out from the Pinnacle. Over the years, we had looked at these and always said that if it was calm enough that would be a good spot. We anchored on the land side of the rocks as it was more sheltered from the small swell that was still present. These rock came up from about 15m and protrude out from the surface on a lower tide. So with high hopes, cray snares and catch bags ready we descended to the bottom only to be disappointed finding most of it covered with long flat seaweed. We swam around this area for about 45min without seeing much of interest but it did answer some questions that we had been asking for many years – now we know the answers, while it looks good from the surface doesn’t mean it will be good underneath.
Our second dive of the day was along the cliff line just west of the Pinnacle, and while this spot looked a lot better from the view point of the environment with many small caves, ledges and holes the crayfish were eluding us. In between dives Nic was dropping in a fishing line and providing entertainment by pulling up a variety of fish, most of which were thrown back but some large Whiting were kept for a meal.
After our surface interval and lunch our 3rd dive was in the same spot only slightly further to the right of where we had just been. Again, it was a very nice dive with lots of coloured sponges, soft corals small Gorgonia fans. Both of these dives didn’t exceed 12m so we had plenty of bottom time to explore the area. Again, the reef was good with more coral encrusted caves and plenty of ledges but we only saw a few small crayfish.
Friday night was pizza night and along with Sonya’s nice salad, provided us with the energy to be up early and diving on Saturday morning.
Saturday morning was possibly even calmer than Friday and we were being spoilt as we could have gone anywhere in these conditions. What we decided on was to do another reccy dive, this time at another spot we had viewed for years. This location was not far from Friday mornings dive, approx 4.3km out from the Pinnacle is a rocky outcrop called Emmes Reef. This reef rises up steeply from 30m and is only about 1m out of the water. Normally you see the huge swells breaking over this with the reef barely visible. Again we went in with high expectations but again this reef was covered with long kelp-type seaweed. We started our dive at around 22m and slowly made our way up the reef to about 6m but it didn’t improve, another reccy to cross off the list.
The second dive we went into the Pinnacle and again the reef was perfect for crayfish with lots of ledges, small caves and plenty of holes where they should have been but they just weren’t home! The 3rd dive was in the small bay just below Cape Spencer Lighthouse and this was becoming a repeat, a good area but no luck with crays. As we were having a BBQ for dinner, there was no hurry to get back and with the ocean still so calm we went out to Haystack island to do a spot of fishing to finish off the day. Some fun was had catching large Sweep and Rock Cod and we didn’t get back until about 6.30. A nice BBQ was had, washed down with selected wines and beers followed by an early night.
Sunday morning the conditions at the boat ramp were so calm the only ripples were made by the Pelicans swimming past. There were people water skiing on the other side of the jetty! Today we decided to head north up towards Butlers Beach and check out some areas there.
Fabulous conditions at the Boat Ramp
The first dive was just at the start of the cliffs at the end of the long beach from Marion Bay. It was only about 6-8m and some areas were very pretty, one cave that was easily entered was completely covered in colourful sponges and coral and would have made a great photo. After nearly an hour there, we moved up to Butlers beach to stop for lunch. Nic dropped in his squid jag and straight away had a huge squid, there was a couple of others there but after seeing what happened to their friend didn’t touch the jag. The second dive was going to be an experiment and we descended onto a spot that looked ok on the echo sounder but after 5min we aborted the dive as it was not what we were looking for. We sounded the area until we came across an area that had some small boulders and drop offs. Just Tim and myself did this dive and while there was now a bit of surface current once we go down to the bottom at about 8m it was ok with just a little bit of swell. We moved along the reef for nearly an hour and while it didn’t initially look that promising ended up providing the best results for the weekend crayfish wise. There were no takers for the 3 dive so we headed back to the house where Nic turned the large squid into an entrée for us all before we went to the hotel for dinner.
The diving was beautiful but these were an added bonus
A special thank you to Tim & Sonya for organising the weekend, bringing the boat and to Nic for helping out and providing fish meals. At one stage of the weekend I was standing in the boat with Tim and I asked the question “Is this the calmest you have ever seen this in 30 years?” The answer was a definitive “Yes!”. We have to be lucky some times for all our persistence.
Article by David Boyle