By Dave Moran
Happy birthday, Dive New Zealand! Youâve reached the grand age of 50 issues.
On January 7, at the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club in Tutukaka, over 500 people listened respectfully as some old mates related the antics they got up to with their hard-case mate, Bryan Bell. New Zealand divers knew Bryan as the owner, builder and skipper of the Pacific Hideaway. My memory must have something to do with my taste buds, because the first thing I remember when thinking of Bryan and the Pacific Hideaway is a cup of homemade soup from a huge steaming pot in the galley. That soup really hit the spot after a winterâs day dive at the Poor Knights. Bryan reckoned he was the master brewer of this heavenly soup, but we knew Eve, his wife, was the real soup connoisseur in their house. Bryan was one of lifeâs characters, who had that mischievous twinkle in his eyes and wasnât afraid to call a spade a spade. Eve, from divers here in New Zealand, and from around the world, our thoughts are with you for the loss of your best mate.
Some Luxfer scuba cylinders remain in the âwill not touchâ category by many dive shop owners after the accident late last year in Tairua. Released through OSHâs Explosives and Dangerous Goods Division, Luxfer have issued a replacement programme for cylinders with specifications DOT SP & E6498 and SP6498 â 3000. See page 39 for details. Auckland Dive Centre owner and manager Guy Kidd was recently filling an in-test tank when air started to release through two opposing cracks in the neck area. Guy immediately evacuated his shop while the leaking tank was disconnected. This incident was a very fine line away from being another major accident. Guy, his staff and his customers were very lucky. There seem to be indications that neck cracks are occurring and becoming major cracks between annual inspections. In other words, a tank that is in test may still be dangerous to fill. Dive Centre has put in place a system which will hopefully allow safe filling for customers who have these particular Luxfer tanks: after your tank has passed an initial test, it will only be refilled if it has had a visual in the last 30 days. The tank will have a sticker showing the date of the last visual. This system will hopefully allow cracks to be detected before they affect the structural strength of the tank. Congratulations to Dive Centre for providing a service to their customers at a greatly reduced fee, while not compromising safety. Guy is happy to discuss this system with interested shop owners.
February 20, 1999 will be a historic day for New Zealand diving. The New Zealand navy ship, HMNZS Tui will finish her 37 years of travelling the ocean waves when she finally comes to rest at 32 metres, two nautical miles north of the Tutukaka Harbour entrance. Congratulations to the Tutukaka Coast Promotions Inc Society committee for making it happen. The Tui will be recognised worldwide as a dive destination not to be missed. The follow-on benefits for New Zealand and our diving industry will be many. From the divers of New Zealand, and Iâm sure worldwide, thanks to all those businesses and individuals who contributed financial assistance to make this dream a reality. See page 15 for details of the sinking and associated celebrations.
Also scheduled for this year is the Niagara 1999 Project – wow, this is exciting stuff! A team of technical divers from New Zealand and Australia are planning to make diving history by diving the wreck of RMS Niagara, which lies in 120 metres of water just north of the Hen & Chicken Islands off the east coast of the North Island. The project is the dream of one of our regular contributors, Keith Gordon. In June 1988 Keith brought to the world, for the first time, stunning pictures of the Niagara through the camera lens of his Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). To dive the Niagara has been the ultimate dream for many New Zealand divers who hail from the era of the late Kelly Tarlton. In 1941, 541 bars of gold were salvaged. A few remain! Keith with his ROV, and the team of divers, have been working up to the âbig oneâ over recent months, doing dives to over 90 metres at the Poor Knights, and on the wreck of the HMNZS Puriri at 98 metres – the first divers to dive this other casualty of a German mine in 1941. As we go to press, the team is waiting for a suitable weather window to make this historic dive. We wish them well. We are planning to bring you a detailed article about this ambitious dive of men and machines in our April/May issue.
What a summer we are having. You canât complain about the water temperature. I hear itâs 24Â°C in Auckland, and a tropical 15Â°C in Dunedin in the deep south. These conditions should continue through to Easter. Fantastic! Diving – itâs a great sport!
- Dave Moran