Jun 032015
Over the Cambridge

Over the Cambridge


About the wreck

The SS Cambridge went down in 1940 to a German mine laid by the Passat. She was the first Allied vessel to be lost in Australian waters during WWII. Of the 58 crew on board when the mine exploded, 57 survived and were picked up and taken ashore at Port Welshpool. The wreck sits upright in 67m on a sandy bottom. After Steve’s tales of limitless vis and huge props from a dive back in November, I was looking forward to an awesome dive on her as the highlight of a weekend diving around Wilson’s Prom.

About the dive

Our original intentions were to hit the wreck at about 9am for the morning slack water. The weather was meant to be dropping off through Friday night to relatively flat seas on Saturday. Unfortunately it was still running large when we arrived on site Saturday morning. So after spending most of the day hiding in Waterloo Bay from the swell, we decided to have another go on the afternoon slack. The weather wasn’t exactly flat but it did seem doable.

Sponges on the Cambridge

I dropped off the back of the heaving deck and grabbed the shot. The current was relatively strong and I was glad the rEvo made it easy for me to go hang out at 5m while I waited for my buddies to join me. Open circuit diving would have meant waiting on the surface to conserve gas – not great fun in current and waves. Once we were all on the shot I started down the line, hand over hand with the camera clipped off.

It took half of our twenty minute bottom time to make it to the bottom in about 60m. Luckily the shot was hooked in to the top of the wreck. As you can see from the photos, the vis wasn’t great but once we were in amongst the superstructure we were protected from the current. I spent a couple of minutes adjusting strobes to try and get some slightly clearer photos, then headed off along the wreck.

About the photos

I had optimistically given Steve an off camera strobe before the dive, though the conditions on the boat meant it was clipped onto a D-ring rather than duct taped onto his tanks. Nevertheless he managed to unclip and turn it on. This first photo has both buddies, some light and only moderate amounts of silty backscatter in it. Given the conditions and the very limited bottom time, I’m choosing to call it a winner.

The second shot was one of a series I took of bits of wreck as I swam past them. Guessing that I wouldn’t remember too much of the very short dive, I thought a few happy snaps would help with appreciating the wreck from back on the surface. Certainly this one shows up some very nice pink, yellow and orange sponges. It also tells me that I’d love to dive the Cambridge again. Preferably in 30m vis and no current….but as it’s taken me a decade and half a dozen failed attempts to dive Wilson’s Prom at all, I won’t be too surprised if it takes a few more years to return.

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