Boys and Girls how’s your winter been?

After building and running Rusthunter Dive Charters for about 4 years Pete and I have finally had time to dive again. With that time we thought it time to update some of the skills we were pushing.

Firstly Big Ben Walton (our largest deckie) has joined the ranks as a CDAA Deep cavern diver, completing the course some weeks ago and I’m told did very well, Congrats mate.

Back in Easter, Pete shone as a stand out in his advanced cave program. Pete, along with Marc Saunders was exemplary in every dive and as critical as I can be, both kept me quiet for the whole 7 days. I tip my cap to both of them. And I’ve done a GUE DPV 1 course, which sounds easier than it was.

Since then all of us have been jumping into the fresh water puddles as often as we can, we have planned a trip to wellington caves NSW in November to dive the infamous Mc Cavity cave one of the only caves in the mainland of Australia with dry cave features under water. The Mikhail Lermontov is on the board again although fully booked out this will again be a fantastic trip to New Zealand. Dive trips to Fish Rock NSW, the wreck of “The Nord” in SE Tasmania, Junee Cave and the so-so very spooky” Kubla Kahn” cave in Tasmania. All before March! Most trips are open for all so make contact through the book now tab on the web to put your name down.

The latest training program is up and we have courses running all over the world! (Well our part of the world). Melbourne, Sydney, Mt Gambier, New Zealand, how cool is that! PADI first aid and Rescue diver courses, CDAA Deep cavern and Cave courses are listed along with GUE fundamentals, Tech 1, and if we play our cards right GUE Training Director, Christophe Lemaliot will come over from Mexico and run a GUE Cave 1 course. Also Lamar from DIVE RITE USA will be here teaching a side mount workshop for CDAA members.

These are exiting times and were only just getting started…

Cheers

Rob lee

Rain, rain go away!

Rain, rain go away! While that’s been the story for the last few weeks, the Christmas period and January blessed us with some fantastic diving conditions - with a number of days of 20m+ visibility, and some lake-like surface conditions. Fish life has been prolific, and after a pretty rugged Winter the ever changing face of the wreck of the George Kermode has revealed even more nooks and crannies for divers to explore…

 The lead up to Autumn typically provides the best conditions for diving around Phillip Island, so things are only going to get better – so come join us for some of the best diving Victoria has to offer!

 From all indications, 2011 is shaping up to be the best cray season we’ve had in the last 5 years. With crayfish on almost all our reef sites, it’s a better time than ever to try your hand at catching yourself a tasty crustacean for the perfect Summer BBQ. True, it’s not always easy, and you may often feel like you are getting outsmarted by a creature with a brain the size of a pea, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun!

Santa sucks nitrox

Christmas is upon us, and while it is a little cliché – it feels like this year has flown by! We’ve had a lot of memorable moments throughout the last 12 months, met plenty of new faces, and developed a steadfast bunch of regular patrons who we can now call great friends. 
 
Looking back, we have many things to be happy about. A multitude of tasty crustaceans have found their way onto dinner tables, the changing face of the George Kermode has continued to show why it is Victoria’s best shallow wreck, and our growing list of fantastic temperate reef dive sites has continued to produce fish and wildlife encounters that will remain etched in memory for years to come. Importantly, we’ve also maintained our 100% safety record.
 
So we’d like to thank everyone who has joined us during the last year, and wish you all an enjoyable Christmas and fun-filled and safe New Year. We will be running a few charters over the break, so come join us for some more good times as Summer kicks into gear!

July is here…along with the cold

As the colder months are now upon us, it’s almost time for the boat to come out of the water for a few weeks for its annual maintenance and survey requirements. That doesn’t mean, however, that the diving will stop! To ensure the dive gear doesn’t dry out completely, we’ll be organising a few dives in Port Phillip Bay over this time, so if you’d be interested in joining us, please let us know.

As we’ve come to expect, Autumn provided us with fantastic conditions and some of the best visibility of the year. As a result, we had some very memorable dives. We managed to get to some of our furthest sites – the Arches and the wreck of the Speke – in what was a day of outstanding weather and calm conditions. We also ran a couple of exploration dives and have now added two new sites to the itinerary – Four Crew Bommie, and Rock Lobster Reef - the naming rights of which went to the divers who were the first to explore these very scenic (and on the culinary front – successful!) dive sites. It would be remiss of me not to mention the fantastic dives we’ve had on some of our equally spectacular regular sites – you can see by the photos in the latest newsletter why we think the George Kermode is the best wreck within recreational limits in Victoria!

Thankfully, some exceptional underwater photographers joined us on a number of these dives, so we are able to provide you with some beautiful images that will hopefully motivate you to keep getting wet through the rest of Winter!

Easters almost here…Already..

What a couple of months we have had! With some of the best Summer visibility we’ve ever seen around the island, we’ve had some cracking dives to start off 2010!

 Some of our divers have kindly donated their photos taken during the last couple of months. I’d like to thank everyone who has submitted pictures – for those of us who are stuck driving the boat (hmmmmph!) it’s always a pleasure to see some of these fantastic images. Most notably, the photos submitted by Tony Dragon, a member of the BSAC group who joined us recently, were exceptionally good. For his efforts, Tony receives a double dive at HALF PRICE the next time he joins us aboard Rusthunter.

 For those interested in the more appetising aspect of the sport, the crays have been abundant, and a select number of our divers seem to honing their catching skills, consistently coming up with some very tasty looking crustaceans. If you’ve never caught a cray, get in before it’s too late as it’s the best season we’ve had for a number of years.

 The Easter long weekend is nearly upon us. What does this mean? No work and more play! With Autumn traditionally bringing the best conditions for diving with small swells and light winds, we’ve put some of our best sites on the itinerary for the Easter weekend. So come join us for a splash, and make the most of the warm water and sunshine while it lasts! (If that isn’t tempting enough, we might even have a choccy egg on board to share…) Hope to see you soon!

December 09

Summer has come early! Over November we’ve gotten wet every weekend with some of the best conditions of the entire year.  The wildlife has been in abundance, with seals joining divers on multiple weekends diving the George Kermode, and large schools of salmon greeting divers on the Pinnacles and even Kingfish at the Gardens. Sunshine, 20 metre viz and calm seas are just what the doctor ordered to get back into diving after the Winter hibernation!

On the news front not a great deal has happened because everyone’s been too busy diving! We had a BBQ on the San Remo foreshore to celebrate us surviving our first year as a dive charter – thanks to everyone that attended! It was nice to sit back and catch up with some of the good friends we have made this past year.  Cray season is now open - so if you think you’d enjoy the flavour of a tasty crustacean for your Christmas BBQ, you can find them on most of our dive sites – though they can be a real challenge to catch! Come along for a dive and see if you can get one for yourself.

News update - 11 Oct

NEWS

Hi Everyone. Spring in Victoria is living up to its reputation with some tumultuous weather but we’ve still managed to keep busy. We’ve run a number of charters making the most of the good cold water vis, as well as a trip to NZ to dive the wreck of the Mikhail Lermontov. And to cap it all off, yesterday we took the boat from Phillip Island to Ocean Grove to watch the ex-HMAS Canberra be sunk as Victoria’s newest and best dive wreck.

 Now that October is upon us the water is starting to warm up again and all the divers seem to be coming out of hibernation! Over the coming weeks we have plenty of great dives booked, as well as an Open Water Course, and to top it off a bit of a celebration because Rusthunter Dive Charter’s are having their first birthday!!! So join us for a dive, but get in early because it looks like it’s going to be a cracker of a Summer!

Rusthunter Dive Charters First Birthday!!!

I’m sure I heard somewhere that 80% of new businesses don’t last a year – so I guess that makes this a big reason to celebrate! On Sunday the 1st of November we will be celebrating our first birthday with a BBQ on the San Remo foreshore. We will be providing the food and drink and would love for everyone who has supported us this past year to join us for a bevy, bite to eat and a chat! So bring your family and friends and join us for some laughs. Starting at 12:30 onwards, festivities will be held at the BBQ area overlooking the pier. We would love to see you there!

 Victoria’s newest dive wreck

On Sunday 4th of October we steamed the boat across to Ocean Grove to witness the sinking of the ex-HMAS Canberra, Victoria’s newest dive wreck. It was certainly a day to remember, and probably a-once-in-a-lifetime spectacle for most dive enthusiasts. Despite the actual sinking being delayed for over 5 hours, it was a fantastic, fun filled day on the water. Relatively calm seas, and unseasonably warm sunshine greeted the hundreds of boats that made the trip out to see the Canberra sink. We got to catch up with many friends and colleagues out on the water, and the sinking itself was a great success with the ship going down on an even keel and by all reports setting perfectly upright on the sandy bottom. The return journey was equally enjoyable, the conditions were even flatter, and with tens of thousands of gannets flying just above the water’s surface alongside the boat,  two pods of dolphins riding in the bow wave, and the odd seal sunbaking on the surface it was a beautiful way to spend a Spring day!

Mikhail Lermontov Trip – Sept 09

The Mikhail Lermontov was a 20,000 tonne luxury Russian cruise liner which sank in 1986 after striking submerged rocks on the Northern end of New Zealand’s South Island.  Sinking in 36 metres of water, the wreck is not particularly deep, but its enormous size makes it a technical diver’s paradise! Lying on her starboard side, with 12 deck levels, the largest covering 3500 square metres(!) this wreck is simply massive. Behind Titanic and the Andrea Doria, the Lermontov is the third largest ship ever to sink outside of times of war!

 In late September three Rusthunter members made the journey across to the land of the long white cloud to dive the wreck. True to its reputation, the NZ weather was damn cold, so it’s easy to understand why the locals like to cuddle up to their woolly friends for warmth!  Temperature aside, the trip was fantastic, and an adventure in every sense of the word – from start to finish.

  Arriving in Wellington, we boarded Sweet Georgia, our home-on-water for the next five days, and began the 6 hour crossing of the notorious Cook Strait during the night - in some pretty average conditions. A number of the 12 divers on board took turns in praying at the Porcelain Alter during the voyage– and their prayers must have been answered! Upon reaching the Sounds of the South Island, we entered a different world. Majestic high cliffs towered all around, and oily calm water lapped gently at the sides of Sweet Georgia. We anchored for the night and after a massive feed we got some sleep in anticipation of the next day’s dives.

 After a short steam through the Sounds the next morning we arrived at Port Gore, a secluded and very isolated little bay which is now home to the wreck of the Mikhail Lermontov.  From the very first dive we were blown away. Not only is the size of the wreck startling, it is so intact that many of the curtains still hang down eerily in your way, and the rooms are littered with personal belongings such as suitcases and clothing! After several orientation dives around the superstructure we started to get our bearings, and carefully studying a set of deck plans made some exciting penetrations to some of the lesser visited areas inside the wreck.  There are bars, lounges, shopping areas, a restaurant, a barbers, a swimming pool, a library, a cinema, kitchens, a gym, a sauna and literally countless accommodations that make this wreck a literal labyrinth of rooms and passages, not to mention the engine room, which when the ship was upright stood six stories high! On our longest penetration we laid over 600 feet of line at an average depth of 37 metres (actually below the seabed outside the wreck!)

 That said, we were very respectful of the potential dangers, and our forays within were gradual in their nature.  Once you are off the beaten track, to say this wreck is silty is a gross understatement. A diver’s exhaust bubbles alone can cause the silt to rain down from the ceiling turning the visibility to zero. Add to this the countless wires that hang down in many of the corridors, the huge rolls of carpet which hang precariously from what is now a wall, webs of improperly laid cave line left abandoned in the wreck, and a confusing array of staircases a diver must swim “up” to go “down” into the ship, there are constant reminders to dive well within your limits and exercise caution at every turn!

 However it’s not all for the technical minded. There is simply so much to see from the outside as well, and the wreck has something to offer divers of all levels.  A casual swim along the winter garden lets you peer into many of the areas mentioned above, natural light flooding in through the myriad of broken windows above. The huge props, lifeboat deck, bridge, deck cranes, and the crack in the ship’s hull where it struck the rocks are all exciting places we visited, and all within reach of divers who prefer open water.

 Trips are organised during September and October by Pete Mesley (www.petemesley.com) and I couldn’t say a bad word about the whole trip. Sweet Georgia is super comfortable, and makes an excellent dive platform, food is plentiful and delicious, the crew are friendly and professional, and the diving is brilliant. I guess that’s why we’re already planning next year’s trip…

We’re back…

Hi Guys & Gals,
What an absolutely awesome Winter it has been! With light Northerlies blowing for the majority of the last two months the conditions have been consistently epic, with calm seas and 20m+ visibility. For those unwilling to brave the cold water you truly don’t know what you are missing!

The Queen’s Birthday weekend back in June was where it all started. The diving was so spectacular in fact one of our divers took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend! Since then we have had a number of outstanding dives on the George Kermode and Pinnacles, as well as Squash Courts, Budgie Smugglers, The Gardens, White Gates and Steve’s Cave at Pyramid Rock.

With a bit of luck thse great conditions will continue throughout Spring, & we hope to see some of you on the water soon!

Safe Diving,
Pete & Rob
& the Crew at Rusthunters

PS> Check out the Photos of some of the improvements we have recently made to the boat.

Queens Birthday Weekend ‘09

Queens birthday weekend

Well the wind was down for about two weeks but the bureau was threatening a change to come. With this in mind the dives were planned around the Cape so if it all turned bad we could get back to harbor quickly.  I was sure it the weather was going to destroy the weekend. How wrong I was. Saturday’s dive started with “Squash Courts” and the group from Latrobe Valley SCUBA club had a blast with two divers coming back with some great photos. With no swell the second dive was the infamous “Budgie smugglers” where our rusty deckie Ben got to go for a dive for the first time on that site. He’s diving quite a lot lately; I think we need to adjust the roster a bit. Budgie’s was great with all the team having a ball. The afternoon was filled with fish and chips on the jetty and sharing a few stories in the sun.

              On Saturday night we made a last minute decision to go for a night dive at the San Remo jetty. You wont believe this but Pete pulled a 4kg Cray from under our boat at the jetty on a dive that lasted about 40 min before the tide changed. Sorry - I’m getting sidetracked - Sunday came and we saw some of yesterday’s crew back for another dose Philip island dive sites.

The “Pinnacles, written up as one of the best dives in Victoria, was on the cards, followed by “the Gardens” on the Cape. Steaming over the pinnacles I could see the water darken as the outline of the rock grew closer to the surface, when Pete gave the nod I dropped the shot - and what do you know I got it right!  After the site briefing everybody stepped in with cameras loaded and after they had dragged every last drop of gas from their tanks they surfaced with smiles. The cave, the wall, the fish, the fans, the list goes on with this place, and it really has to be dived again to get an idea of the size of it. The surface interval after a 40m dive is a good time to kick back in the sun and have a hot cup of coco and a bickie. We sat in the little bay where Gull Island stands and with the sun shining and the water this good we could have sold tickets as a tour alone.

After the last diver stepped off the boat it was time for me to give the hull a little clean so on with the dry suit and mask, and in I go. After about 20 min I looked down and saw a flash of colour, my jaw dropped when I looked again. 30 meters away in 15 meters of water I could not only see divers, but I could read the name on their tanks! I stuck my head up and yelled out to Pete “there are divers down here”. He looked at me with the typical “you idiot” look on his face then looked across at the patch of bubbles on the surface and what do you know - I wasn’t an idiot after all. It was great, like watching a dive documentary with the volume turned down. I watched three divers communicate with each other as they enjoyed the terrific conditions and they were totally oblivious to my presence. By this stage some of the guys had had four dives in water that belongs in the Bahamas more than Victoria, so we took them back before it all was forgotten.

I hope every one had as much fun as we did this weekend - two days of good divers, calm seas and great water clarity. You can’t ask for better.

See you down here soon

Rob lee