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Titan and Shark Trip, North Haven

Saturday, 26 April 2003 | link | tag | / Diving / Australia / NSW - North Coast
8 of us made the 385 kilometre journey north of Sydney on the eve of a busy and raining ANZAC day long weekend to try and find two behemoths lurking quietly in the deep dark places of the world – one natural, one artificial. One fresh and new and ultimately a failure, one perfected by millions of years of evolution. The wreck of the Titan, and the Grey Nurse Shark.

The Titan lies in around 40 metres of water about 3.5 km of the coast of Laurieton and North Haven NSW, and definitely qualifies as a deep dark place. The Cod Grounds are further out from the Titan, lying 5km off shore in around 30 metres of water and is home to a large population of large Grey Nurse sharks.

Setting out from Sydney early Thursday I realised with a sense of dread that the weather was not about to be nice to me. The dark clouds building to the north may have told me, or it might have been the bucketing rain that soaked me the second I stepped out of the house with my first arm load of gear.

I was sadly right. Clouds and cold clinging rain was our companion for the weekend, but that Thursday just before picking up Sam was the last time it bothered me for 3 straight days – diving awaited, not just normal diving, but great diving.

Our drive down was uneventful and cheery, passing through the small townships of regional NSW, and arriving safely at Kew, which is some 25 km’s from the coast. We made our way to Laurieton, and finally North Haven and without much problem our accommodation at the North Haven Boat Motel – formerly the “Boat-O-Tel” (an infinitely more appealing name, I thought).

The rooms were large and neat, the beds comfortable, and very shortly, the fridge was adequately stoked with a plentiful supply of beer. First dive was at 8am. Needless to say we promptly found our beds.

Peter from Scuba Haven was at the motel jetty to pick us up when we made the leisurely 50 metre stroll from our rooms with our gear and in our wetsuits, our first destination would be the Titan. The boat ride out was uneventful with the exception of the bar crossing at the mouth of the river, a rollercoaster like thrill.

Gearing up and jumping in the water gave us an idea of what the rest of the weekends diving would be like, the water was warm and a clear sapphire blue all the way down to the Titan, clear enough to give you a healthy dose of sunlight at even 40 metres.

The Titan was lying almost completely on its back in the sand, and is obviously a new wreck, the level of growth on the hull was quite low. We stayed fairly close to the bow of the wreck to avoid an overly deep dive, probing into the pitch black shadow of the cave formed between the wreck and the sand. A pair of performing moray eels was the highlight of the dive, using old anchor chain guides as a new home, followed closely by a large wobbegong lazing on the top of the hull with his tail draped into one of the hatches. As is the way with deeper dives, we were very soon out of time and left the Titan to its rusting and headed for the surface.

While at the deco stop we were treated to a bittersweet show of the rain on the surface of the ocean viewed from underwater – quite a show but an assurance that we were about to be cold and wet on the boat.

The weather had turned a bit for the worse and Peter decided that it would be best to head back in, we would try Telegraph Rock on the way. It turned out to be rather disappointing after the description Peter gave us, but the current and swell forced us to abort the diving for the day.

After a night of social shenanigans and beer and pizza, we were back on the boat at 8am, with the cheering news of an improvement in the weather and the even more cheering news that we were heading for the Cod Grounds and the sharks.

If anything, the visibility had only improved and the sapphire blue water welcomed us back. We could see the vague outlines of rocks on the bottom in 25 metres water. We were soon at the bottom and immediately spied several large grey nurse’ slinking off into the distance. We headed off in the general direction they were heading and found a world of large boulders and rock pinnacles covered with sponges and weed.

We wandered a little way from the anchor line, and found a large cauldron shaped amphitheatre of rock full of sharks. Sam noticed that a few divers were not with us and went back to collect them, I perched on a rock in the centre and waited for him to return. There were already a few sharks around, but in the space of a minute or two that number rapidly grew to around 20 – sharks were leaving and joining the group all the time, but I could count at least that many at one point.

The rock in the centre of this amphitheatre made the perfect lap point for the sharks – they went around and around, the larger ones alone, the smaller ones in pairs. They got closer on each pass, so close that I couldn’t focus my camera on them anymore. I even got bumped by one. What a thrill.

Well, I think I’ll leave my story right there – it just doesn’t get any better than that. Peter and Scuba Haven were excellent and knowledgeable, the group of divers a fun bunch to be stuck with all weekend, and the sharks amazing. Thanks must go to Abyss for another trip away that allowed me to easily say “I had a truckload of fun, bet you’re miffed you missed it!” to anyone who asked.