Published: June 3rd 2008June 3rd 2008
The sun wasnt even up, for goodness sakes.
While Lauren's away diving the GBR with her friend Sabrina, Simon squeezed in a tech dive in on the tugboat 'Himma' that lies in the open ocean at at 52m, just outside Sydney harbour.
The Wreck of the 'Himma' lies alongside several other wrecks sunk as part of an artificial reef in an effort to bolster the declining quantity of fish life near Sydney. Although relatively unsuccessful as a reef, the 'Himma' and other nearby wrecks have become a great attraction for advanced and technical divers. The following is a brief description of the 'Himma' from Michael Mcfadyen Scuba
"The Himma was built by Cochrane and Sons in Selby, UK, as the Empire Pat (Lloyd's Register 168788) for the Royal Navy (British Ministry of Transport). Launched in August 1942, the Empire Pat displaced 274 tons and was 34.0 metres long overall and 8.1 wide. The ship was powered by a triple expansion steam engine. The ship first moved to Kuwait (in 1949) where it was owned by the Kuwait Oil Company Limited and was renamed the Himma. In January 1951 it was sold to J. Fenwick and Co in Sydney and became one of the working tugs on
Motoring out to the 'Himma'
The sun just breaks the horizon and lights up Sydney harbour quite nicely.
The Himma remained in service on Sydney Harbour until 1972. In 1972 it was sold to Pimco Shipping Pty Ltd of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). It may then have been onsold to another Port Moresby shipping company, W.J. Byers. One source (the Australian Government Environment Web Site) says that it was to be converted to a small cargo ship for use in New Guinea but during conversion she was damaged by a collision with a berthing containership. It is reported that the new owner died and she never left Sydney and remained derelict until scuttled 30 August 1977 at the artificial reef off Long Reef.
If judged on its originally intended purpose as an artificial reef for fishers, the reef must be viewed as a dismal failure (at least to date) as the quantity and quality of fishlife to be found on the wrecks is very poor. However, its real success lies with the excellent wreck diving the Himma and the other wrecks provide. The only real problem is that the wrecks are at a depth beyond the magical 40 metre sportdiving limit".
To dive the 'Himma', a few more articles of equipment were required
Dan by the Rudder
at 52m, everything is blurry.
over the standard single-tank, wetsuit, and jacket BCD that may be sufficient for a wreck in shallower water. Twin tanks were a necessity not just due to the depth (and hence the rate at which air is consumed) but because of the added safety that the redundancy of two separate tanks on your back brings. In addition, another tank of Nitrox (air enriched with a higher percentage of Oxygen) would be necessary to complete the required decompression at a sensibly expedient rate. Too long in the water and hypothermia would become a problem, even though the divers wore drysuits (it was a balmy 19ºC on the surface).
Waking at a ridiculous 5:30am, Simon and Ed (Simon's crazy Ozzy dive buddy) piled the gear into Ed's Disco and drove to the pier for pickup. They joined approximately 20 other divers with eclectic backgrounds - Simon was excited to see several Insipration Rebreather divers on board, but slightly concerned at the same time to see divers with single tanks also climbing onto the boat... No one has died on the 'Himma' since 1991, and Simon, Ed and Dan all hope this trip will keep it that way...
Ed met with Dan
Anemones on the rudder of the 'Himma'
Moving to the back of the wreck, the underside of the 'Himma' is covered in marinelife.
- yet another crazy guy - this time from Brazil. Ed and Dan are part of a secret occult organisation known as "GUE
" which seems an innocent acronym for "Global Underwater Explorers".
Driving out of Sydney harbour in time to catch the sunrise over the ocean, the atmosphere on board the vessel was one of bustle and excitement. Ed mentions he's never seen such a large group and the wreck of the 'Himma' is probably too small to accommodate such a group, but Simon is excited because such a gathering of experienced divers (and expensive equipment) is pretty much unheard of in New Zealand. Anchoring at the 'Himma', Ed, Dan and Simon rush to be the first into the water and thus gain the privilege of having the wreck to themselves for a few minutes until the hordes descend with their cacophonous exhalation roaring to the surface above them. The 'Himma' comes into view from around 20m depth, the water being quite blue and clear but the view occluded by the abundance of plankton in suspension. Simon, Ed and Dan descend to the upper deck and Simon relishes the familiar, euphoric effect of narcosis numbing his safety conscience. The
Deco in the Morning
8am, just enough sun angle so that it shines through the water...
squares with him dive with completely clear heads due to the 21/35 Trimix (21% Oxygen, 35% Helium, the rest Nitrogen) in their tanks. She lies upright on the bottom, the superstructure clearly visible and still intact. The wreck is covered with a layer of brown algal growth, and some areas are encrusted with bryozoan colonies. Small schools of fish swim slowly within and above the wreck. Simon sees the species are similar to those found in deeper waters off New Zealand, but at the same time small differences in colouration and shape remind him that this is no longer the water with which he is familiar.
After 25 minutes on the wreck, Ed, Dan and Simon begin their ascent. Simon follows his decompression profile on his dive computers while Ed and Dan practice "Ratio Deco" - a GUE term for mentally calculating, sorry, guessing a safe decompression profile :). They ascend through blue water whilst keeping the anchor line in view at a distance and soon all three divers are static at 6m and breathing from their 'Nitrox' tanks, positioned with neutral buoyancy and watching the other divers decompress on the anchor line ahead. The sun shines through snell's
window and illuminates the water, silhouetting the remaining divers on the anchor line as Simon swims slowly to the surface and reaches the stern ladder. Total dive time: 74 mins. An amazing dive.
There are more photos below