July 2015 on the Great Barrier Reef
What the Darkness was Hiding
Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain
Years ago I forged a career out of finding things on the seafloor that no-one had found before. Enough wrecks to write a book about. But to be fair I’d have to say, it’s a rarity in recent times. Finding an interesting place on the earth that hasn’t already been thoroughly worked over, well it’s not something that happens every day. Sometimes though, when you least expect it, something pops up.
Late one afternoon, on a recent expedition to the SS Yongala, our radar was picking up a small fishing boat that had been sitting…dead still…all day. This was probably for one, of the following two reasons:
1. She was broken down
2. She was catching fish non-stop.
Since there hadn’t been any calls to the local coastguard for most of the day, we had to assume that this little boat was on to a real good fishing spot… and that in itself was a mystery. A careful look at a chart of the surrounds would have the observer wondering what they could have been on, there were no reefs in the area, just miles and miles of sandy grit bottom. For me, these little cues led to only one conclusion… “That fishing boat is probably sitting on a wreck!”
With the aid of some nifty modern electronics, I calculated its position as best I could.
Well into the evening that night, the little boat was gone and darkness had set in… Trip Director Nick and Dive Master Vinnie were geared up on the back deck brimming with excitement… theirs was the task of discovery.
The depth sounder had been inconclusive. We hadn’t seen any structure, but there were inklings of life showing… I asked the guys if they were willing to take a punt and just “swim around with a torch and try to find something?”… they didn’t take much convincing.
Back on deck an hour later, Nick was grinning… “We searched out to about 100 metres radius but found nothing. We were nearly into deco when we came upon the remains of a wreck, right under Spoilsport… She’s crushed on the bottom with old style rigging like a small tall ship or a pearling lugger, probably about 25 metres long… That’s all I can tell you. We ran out of time.”
We had also run out of time. We had to make it to Townsville by morning and it was time to get going. As fate would have it, we never got back to the ‘small tallship’ before it was time to head north back to Cairns. But next time we’re in Yongala territory, we’ll be putting some lucky divers in at that position and they will have that rarest of opportunities to figure out, just what the darkness was hiding.