Diving in Perth and getting lost

I am an experienced underwater photographer and have spent the last five years diving in the tropical waters of South East Asia. I recently moved to Perth, Australia and it wasn’t long before I needed to get wet again. So I decided to check out the diving in Perth.

Options for Diving in Perth

After a little bit of internet research, I quickly ruled out an organised trip with a dive company because they were too expensive. My best option was to rent some tanks and do shore dives. My boyfriend was open water certified but hadn’t dived in a few years, but was eager to be my buddy.

Howies Scuba  provides detailed information on the shore dives around Perth, including maximum depths, maps, entry and exit procedures and marine life. I spent some time studying the information before deciding on Point Peron. The location has a few different areas to dive giving us options depending on the conditions. The maximum depth was 10 meters but with and average of 5 meter, and there was a carpark nearby. 

Dive 1

Upon entering the water I discovered that my dive computer was flashing up an error message. I singled to my buddy and we surfaced. After a short discussion we decided to continue the dive and I would just look at his computer when I needed to. It was a shallow dive, close to the shore I figured I would be ok. 

We headed into the southern of the two bays, and followed the coast line south. Staying at about 3 meters we passed over a lot of sea grass and found a couple of caves but there was not much interesting happening. At the end of a group of rocks I checked my buddies compass and lead us back across a sandy patch to the entrance/exit point. 

The visibility was not great but I was proud that I had still managed to find my way around a new dive site, even without a dive computer or compass. 

Dive 2

During the surface interval we spoke to a couple of other divers who recommended we headed to the north bay. On the northern point there were some underwater pinnacles with a few swim throughs. They said this was where people normally dived.

So we walked to the northern beach and did the 100 meter surface swim to the rocks the other divers had pointed out. The visibility was even worse than on the first dive. I started following the outside of the pinnacles. We soon found many swim throughs and small caves. The water was a little deeper than the first dive, around 7 meters. There was a lot more coral life and it didn’t take long to find my first weedy sea dragon. I followed him around the pinnacle trying to get a good picture.

After swimming around in a wiggly pattern amongst the pinnacles, I checked my buddies computer. It was time to start heading back. I followed what appeared to be a gently rising sandy slope. I could still see the pinnacle to my left and had sea grass to my right.

We swam this way for about 20 minutes when my buddy singled he was low on air. I figured we must be close to the beach by now so singled to go up.

 

The long swim back

Only once on the surface did I realise that we had been swimming in completely the wrong direction. The beach was about half a kilometre behind us. It was going to be a long swim back and the falling tide didn’t help.  

Half way back we found ourselves being thrown against almost submerged rocks. These were the pinnacles where we had spent the first half of our dive. The safest way to get around these pinnacles was under the water. The now shallower water had become very surgey and we had to time our swims through the narrow gaps perfectly so as not to break coral or ourselves.  

Once through this obstacle we surfaced again to swim the last 100 meters to the beach.

However once on the shore line we were not greeted with sand. It was a long line of flat rock. The top was only a centimetre below the surface but the bottom of the rock was about 1m. We would have to climb up here with all our dive gear and camera. We were both tired from the long swim but somehow managed to pull each other out. 

 

Moral of the story

Simply don’t dive a new site without all the correct equipment. If I had of had a compass I would have known that we were going in the wrong direction. If I had of had a working dive computer or depth gauge I would have been able to see that we were actually getting deeper, not shallower. 

Always check your equipment before you leave the dive shop/home. Take spares in the car and carry a back up computer under the water. 

We were lucky that there was not a strong current pushing us further out to sea…

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