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 Sir John Young Banks

26-28 May 2018 

Coordinator: Jeremy Weinman and Torsten Schwich 

Torsten and I decided a little while ago it's once again time to spend a long weekend in May checking out the Banks and the other more gentle sites you can get to from Currarong on the north side of JB. Thus, in order to let people get their leave applications in and arrange their lives so they can get away to join us, here's an advance notice! *Please don't start signing up this far out, though we'd love to hear that you are intending to come - we will send out a specific call 3-4 weeks prior. This notice is just so we can tantalize some of you into arranging your leave to be able to get away and to ask which option below you're most keen on.*

The site (the SJYB and JB) This long weekend divefest has two aims - the first is to further explore the technically challenging Sir John Young Banks. An added incentive is that we are hoping to have our new boat in the water which will give us side-scan sonar to really see the structure of the underwater reefs of the Banks and generate some accurate underwater contour maps. The second is to enjoy the gentler JB dives accessible from Currarong in the afternoons. So you don't need to be a tech-head diver to come on the trip. You can sleep in and take a leisurely breakfast and then join the crew for some relaxed afternoon dives. But a bit more about the Banks first....

The Sir John Young Banks is one of the most distant, challenging and rewarding sites the club visits. It's a line of reefs (the red dot on the map attached) running roughly north-east off Currarong. It's a much further run than to Montague to give you some idea. Being far offshore, it's washed by the East Australia Current and the water is often very clear, there's great underwater topography and there's a very real possibility of bumping into big pelagics. We usually see grey nurse sharks, good fish life, and there can be big schools of kingfish or tuna and interesting seabirds. You can be sitting not far from the anchor in a crevice, with a parade of grey nurse sharks and huge smooth (a.k.a. bull) stingrays, with PJs and wobbies everywhere too, and the cuttlefish are some of the largest ever seen and are often free swimming. Seals are not uncommon. We (ANUSC) have used a lot of dives, and lovely tech gear to see and explore the Banks and have great tales to tell.

However, diving at the Banks is not for the inexperienced. We often end up diving quite deep (say, up to 45m) and most importantly, the currents are often very, very strong. Divers thinking of doing Banks runs need to be confident and happy descending and ascending in fierce current, they need to be OK with deep diving and its associated narcosis and decompression considerations, and they need to be happy with their equipment. Most club divers on the Banks intentionally run-up some deco to get reasonable bottom time. Some also dive with pony bottles, twins and O2/rich mixes, or rebreathers for longer bottom time and accelerated deco - though this is definitely not mandatory. Some are happy diving with single tanks and this has the advantage of less drag whilst being buffeted by the currents.

Returning to the anchor and ascending on the anchor line is vital. Thus we send two divers down with the anchor to get it well set, dive in shifts and, for safety reasons, have one boat 'live' as a chase boat in case something happens. This also means we need a minimum of two boats, 6 divers and at least 3 skippers to be able to do the Banks by our safety procedures. A few more is advantageous and makes everything easier.

For the Banks, it's best to sort out who you'll buddy with before the trip. We might be able to assist in listing who needs a buddy etc.

Some pics from some previous trips:

2008 - http://scuba.club.anu.edu.au/trips/2008/0502_sjyb/
2009 - http://scuba.club.anu.edu.au/trips/2009/0502_sjyb/
2010 - http://scuba.club.anu.edu.au/trips/2010/0501_sjyb/
or a video from 2016 -
https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.weinman.3/videos/10209938893573623/
and more from 2017 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/6m7qpTGf3CyqOkrF2
https://photos.app.goo.gl/6m7qpTGf3CyqOkrF2

Safety
The ANUSC is a keen proponent of safe diving practices and actively encourages all our divers to:

This list is not exhaustive, and more information on the club's safe diving guidelines can be found on our safety website http://scuba.club.anu.edu.au/safety/. The ANUSC also actively encourages all members to become familiar with the operation of all the Club's boats and safety equipment. If in doubt, ask.

While the Club requires all divers to accept responsibility for their own diving and self-regulate, we will only feel comfortable arranging your place on a boat intending to dive the Banks if you are either known to us (or other divers on the trip we know and trust) as a safe and capable deep diver. Alternatively, you can convince us that you will be able to dive safely at a site such as this. For instance, that you are experienced in diving at depths of 40 meters and preferably deeper, have good air consumption, have dived in severe currents, have experience with strong narcosis and can navigate at depths, have the training or experience to undertake decompression diving, and we have a very strong preference that you have previously dived with the buddy you'll be with on the day. We will not allocate you a buddy as for deep diving it is important that you both are comfortable to be diving with each other - thus your buddy will be up to you to arrange, though we can assist with suggestions. It is also important for divers to be familiar with your equipment set-up - the Banks is not the place to try out a new gear combination for the first time. All SJYB divers must carry a SMB and whistle.

3 or 4 days?
At the moment we are committing to a 3 day trip - Saturday 19th - Monday 21st May. However, if there's demand and another tower for the return journey we should be able to extend the trip by a day with a return after diving on the Tuesday 22nd. There's a few configurations this could take as one tower/skipper coming early needs to go back after diving on Monday: (1) There may be lots of interest for 4-day option giving us enough skippers/divers on the fourth day - and the extra tower we need to be able to get both boats home after the SJYB on the Tuesday. (2) Not quite enough for SJYB on day 4 - use day 4 for diving the nearby JB sites but not the SJYB, potentially with one boat only if the second boat has to go back to Canberra early. (3) Mainly interest for 3-day option - we'll dive SJYB in the morning of days 1-3 and then all go back. Please let us know now which option you'd prefer (and if you're a (potential) tower/skipper that would be needed for some of these to work).

Fills
I've just been in touch with David Frost who has a membrane separation system on his lovely new compressor in Currarong. He banks air, but also should be able to provide up to ~38% ntx off the membrane.

To sign on (not just yet - we're still planning)
When we email the call for you to sign on for the trip, we need to hear from you (email jw.bwds@tpg.com.au and torstenschwich@gmail.com) with some details... Specifically, we'll need to know:

For the SJYB Thanks
Jeremy & Torsten


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