Cool your jets and dive from a smaller vessel
  |  First Published: March 2017

In 2005 I made a decision that profoundly altered the way I approached diving and spearfishing. I had been mulling over a new vessel and it had to be small. It had to be insanely seaworthy, fast and with a long range. I bought a three seat SeaDoo. Yep, a jet ski. I haven’t looked back. It (they – I’m on my second now) was the best investment I have ever made.

A three seat ski has ample room for two divers to blast across the ocean in search of prey. However, it is much more fun if everyone has their own, allowing you the added comfort of going ‘one up.’ I have at least 15 friends in Victoria who now conduct their dive activities from the back of their jet skis. The movement is growing and why not? There is no more seaworthy vessel on the ocean. If the weather comes up rough, getting home will still be a breeze, allowing you to stay that little bit longer or get there a little bit earlier.

A ski will also allow you to get into some of those places that a boat simply can’t or to locales too far to swim. Much of the middle ground has now been opened. The skis have the range for serious offshore work, allowing the islands of Bass Strait to be visited as well as the continental shelf or areas along the coast, far from boat ramps. My boat has a 60L fuel tank. This is good for about 150km, depending on speed and sea state. I have a removable rack that can hold more fuel, an esky, or both.

Range and reliability are paramount, so we favour skis with small to mid-sized engines. We also prefer no superchargers or turbos. Economy is the important issue. I can still blast across the water at 100km/h, but I can go twice the distance at 50km/h. They are also economical to tow. I don’t need a Land Cruiser to tow my vessel. My old Falcon wagon doesn’t even know it’s there. This means that long road trips are not going to break my bank.

At the dive site you can anchor like a boat and work the area. If you want to move, simply pull up the little grapnel and tow it to the next hotspot. They are quite easy to tow behind you. When I am at the Prom looking for kingfish, or out wide looking for tuna, I simply connect my rigline directly to the ski with the other end attached to the gun. I hook my flashers to the bow, allowing the natural movement of the vessel to work the flashers for me.

All I have to do is float alongside and relax between dives and drift along. No hard swimming need be involved. At the end of the drift run, it’s a simple matter to climb back on and motor back to the start. An added bonus is that if you have any nasty visitors, safety is close at hand. As I am predominantly a solo diver, my ski has become my de facto dive buddy, always close at hand to offer aid and comfort if need be. I never have to worry about where it is. It’s the perfect dive vessel.

I suppose I had better do a little dive report. The weather is still a little up and down. At least it’s warm and the fish are in reasonable abundance. The visibility has been odd this year with crystal waters one day, filth the next and then back to clear again. Kings appear to be everywhere and those bluefin are still being seen at various locations throughout the State.

Nathan Watson managed to spear a 10kg+ southern bluefin tuna in 8m of water near Point Lonsdale while looking for crayfish. I am just a little jealous. There is still bait in abundance, which is holding these good fish close to the coast. Other predators are also increasing. Be careful out there, as there appears to be an increase in shark activity close to shore. Not all of the sharks are of the friendly variety. Stay vigilant.

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