About the wreck
The Pioneer was built in 1905 and worked as a dredge ship. She was scuttled in the Ship’s Graveyard off the Barwon coastline in 1950. She sits on the sand in approximately 45m with much of hull still intact. The twin propellors, the stern and the bow are still there, covered in sponges and sealife.
About the dive
Despite flat seas up top it was green and murky in the water. The sunshine was percolating down through the dark water so we had a bit of light on the bottom. We dropped down the shot near the stern and I ducked under the back of the boat. Down on the sand there was a touch of current running and it was hard to get a single propellor lined up for a good shot.
I was also diving with one functioning strobe after a bulkhead pin snapped off inside my housing. Having two bulkheads is handy – I was able to plug the defective one and get in the water anyway. But it did leave me at a slight disadvantage for light coverage across the pictures. I compensated by slinging extra strobes at my buddies for a little extra light.
About the shot
The first image here was taken towards the end of our bottom time, as we swam back down the deck of the ship. I like the hidden light factor of the off camera strobe here and the way it brings colour to the corals without also creating a giant hotspot. The twisted arch overhead and the backlighting of the orange sponge fingers on the right make it work, even in terrible vis.
The second shot was taken by aiming between the rudder and the hull of the ship. Probably wondering what I was up to, a diver pointed their torch back at me. The light is split by the top blade of the port propellor.
In clear water this would have been an amazing dive. In murky water it was still quite fun – there are always some photos to be taken, whatever the conditions.