Cape Schanck or Cape Canaveral?
Over two days a clump of Melbourne Freedivers hit the washing machine waters of Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
Friday saw the inviting bluish waters off the Cape adorned in sunshine, blue skies and little wind. An early start was taken in order to be in and out of the water before the wind shifted from Northerly to Southerly around 11am.
Hitting the water at 8am, the super long 500m + swim to get out the back was a massive workout on the legs. On arrival, we shared the waters with a couple of fishing boats and were delighted by 8-10m visibility and typically turbulent conditions.
For the first time, the sport of spear-surfing was undertaken. After a couple of hours in the water, the return swim took advantage of the motivated South Westerly swell, southern wind, and the thrust of the water between the Cape and the southern most rock bommie.
Can’t say the sight of a spear-float, diver and spear rising up in the air 5 metres behind you and being tipped like a dinghy launching down the wave like the launch of a Cape Canaveral shuttle is anything approaching normal, but damn it’s impressive.
Not reaching space, but certainly reaching spaces and crevices, Friday’s launch captured an alien in the form of a beautiful Crayfish.
The next day, a small squadron of washing-machine keen freedivers launched into the front loader for more of the Cape’s beauty.
A long 20-30 minute transition from beach-launch to fight the current to get out the back was again rewarded with 6-8m visibility, amazing views of the spectacular rock formations, crevices and marine life decorating the Cape.
The mad sea took its toll though and faces turned from sun drenched to pale to green. With personal safety paramount in such a potentially treacherous location, depth gave way to distance and we commenced the return through the atmosphere to dry land.
Navigating past the south eastern point, we watched as unwary fishermen almost got swept off the rocks as waves drenched hopes and spirits. The orange reflective glare of life-jackets beaming from the rocky shores was encouraging.
Entering the secluded SE bay, we took time to recover and rest.
After a while the washing machine in stomaches turned off and in the shallower waters of the bay we poked around the rocky reef along with some snorkelling hawaiian-slingers.
The sighting of families of Port Jackson friendlies sleeping under caverns was fascinating and engaging.
Meanwhile a couple of patrolling Stingrays kept us entertained and amazed by their sheer gracefulness.
Cape Schanck really is, as described in the dive site reports, an epic location. As much for the challenging conditions as the wonderment below the surface. The rock bommies and formations are spectacular, covered in swaying sea weeds that play back and forward like ribbons of whips. They’re cool to watch but demonstrate just how little progress you make kicking like hell, until the current and swell shove you forward that is.
Worth a visit – with a safe, fit and strong buddy.
- Air Temp: 25 – 35c
- Water Temp: 18 – 19c
- Freedive Duration: Fri 2.5hrs & Sat 4hrs (in the water)
- Depth: 5m in close, 10-15m way way out the back
- Difficulty: HIGH / EXTREME (due to sea conditions)
- Distance Carpark to Shore: 1km hike
- Drive from Melbourne: 1.5hrs
- Nearby Treats? Flinders Bakehouse