I came away with some excellent dives logged, some great photographs taken and great memories and fondness for the close personal relationships and humor that developed during the trip.
I can whole heartedly recommend
the Go Dive Marlborough’s Fiordland Dive Trip
to any diver who wishes to visit a world class dive
site, which will provide a unique and rewarding experience.
BSAC Open Water Instructor
Phil Lagias and I joined members of Dive Club Marlborough for a two night live-a-board trip to the wreck of the Lermontov and Chetwode Island. Our home for two nights was the 45 foot steel charter launch TOPAZ II, a very spacious and comfortable boat moored in Waikawa. We met at Go-Dive around 6PM and set off in TOPAZ around 7PM for an overnight stay in Ship Cove. There were 8 on board, Brent McFadden and Nine from Go-Dive, Phil Lagias, Guy and myself from Christchurch, Sue from Nelson, Alex and Gabrielle who are visiting NZ on their OE's from Germany and France.
We set out from Ship Cove at day break, rounded Cape Jackson and were tied up to the mooring on the Lermontov and in the water for our first dive before 9AM. Nine, Guy, Phil and myself took the first dive, with Brent, Sue, Alex and Gabrielle taking the second. Nine took the lead and guided us into the wreck, passing a hair salon, some shops then into the indoor pool - Although I have dived the Lermontov a few times, I did not know that there was an indoor pool with an awesome glass roof over it. Visibility was great for the whole weekend with ~8m viz on the Lermontov dives.
After a surface interval (and some jam sandwiches - thanks Nine) Phil and I went in for another dive, this time on our own. We headed to the mast head of the ship at first, saw the DF antennae and Satcom Radome, then followed the superstructure to the Bow. There we went a bit deeper until we came across the bow thruster. I was hoping to work back along the hull to find the tears in the belly of the ship caused when it hit the rocks at Cape Jackson. Thing got a bit boring however, so we ascended a bit to find the companion ways, and followed them back to the centre of the wreck and the mooring. We managed to miss the mooring line, and continued along the wreck until we came to the stern. We made quick about face, back along the way we came - but this time we found the mooring and a good sized Octopus - Phil had a quick play with this fellow, then we had to follow the mooring line up to the 5M safety stop that Brent had set up with a spare scuba unit.
Back on board for a nice hot cup of tea and smiles all around. Nine took Guy for a penetration dive into the engine room - Back on deck, they were both fizzing with excitement after what must have been an awesome dive. Mid afternoon, we cast off from the Lermontov mooring and motored around towards Titi Island. Brent dropped us of in a nicely sheltered bay for a forage, where Phil and I found some Cray's for dinner.
Brent took the TOPAZ around to Deepwater Bay (I think that is what it was called), where we found a mooring and settled for the night. Brent cooked up a great dinner and the Cray's were soon demolished. Stories of the sea and a beer or two followed the dinner, followed by a very good nights sleep. Sunday morning Brent took us to Chetwode Island, where we found a sheltered bay and all jumped in for another dive. Alex and Gabrielle came across some carpet sharks and some stingrays - smiles all around as we got back on the boat. We made another dive in another bay - more great scenery and some big Cray's were spotted.
Early afternoon, we motored back to Cape Jackson where Brent put us directly over the wreck of the Lastingham, A 220 foot sailing ship that was put on the rocks by bad weather in 1884. This was the dive of the trip for me. 10m visibility and big, big animals wherever you looked. The Lastingham is laid flat in 15m of water, with masts clearly visible and steel plates lying on top of one another (with some neat creatures underneath). Some big Moki and a very big Blue Cod were spotted, along with some monster Cray's deep in a crack in a massive boulder.
We set off back to Waikawa as soon as the last diver was back on board, and made it to the berth at 7PM.
Big thanks must go out to Brent (great food Brent!!) and Nine of Go Dive and Dive Club Marlborough, and to the other divers who made the whole trip so enjoyable—I will be back for another trip like this!!
Check out the Go Dive web site for details of more trips like this and a very good source of info on the wrecks around the Marlborough Sounds. www.godive.co.nz or call 0800 GODIVE
Richie Kohler and John Chatterton, of Deep Sea Detectives and Shadow Divers fame have just completed their first trip, to what they say is one of the worlds great shipwreck dives, the Mikhail Lermontov. Along with 12 other keen wreck divers we spent 5 days exploring the wreck, experiencing visibility of up to 20 metres (60 feet plus) and winds gusts of up to 60 knots. Read the testimonials from two of the worlds great wreck diving explorers, as John and Richie quote, this is a wreck for every one and unlike many other great wreck dives, this one can be dived in even the worst weather conditions due to its remote, although protected location. If you are a keen wrecky and want to explore this wreck, then live-a-board is the only way to go about it. Go Dive Marlborough has a number of options ranging from small to large groups; we specialise in catering for technical divers with on board enriched air fills and twin cylinders, sling tanks available on request.
See live-a-board page for dates.
have been diving shipwrecks all over the world and I
must say that the Lermontov hits the top of my chart
as one of the best wreck dives I have ever made. The
potential for exploration and discovery is only limited
by your bottom time! The wreck is huge and intact and
has something for divers of all skill levels, and has
already become a vibrant and thriving reef on the outside.
Go Dive Marlborough has put together an excellent dive
charter with great accommodation and support and I am
already looking forward to my return next year to this
world class wreck dive!
I am looking forward to seeing you again next year!
I think the Lermontov is a world class wreck dive. It is a true gem in the rough, offering dives that can be as simple, or as complex as you want to make them. Where else can you find an amazingly intact liner in 120 feet of water?. New Zealand is a fantastic destination with wonderful people, and Brent McFadden at Go Dive Marlborough put together a memorable trip. We are definitely coming back to NZ, and the Lermy!
Check out www.diveportaldvd.com
I have been sport diving for nearly 20 years and, about a month ago I was given a book on the” 60 Best Dive Sites in the World”. I was surprised to find that I have dived over a quarter of these sites! I was even more surprised to find that the only New Zealand dive sites mentioned were Poor Knight’s and the Mikhail Lermontov. The South Island’s Fiordland should surely have been included.
Diving Fiordland is unique in a number of ways: the clarity of the seas, the effects of the fresh water layer on marine life and, above all, the feeling that may be diving a location where very few people have ever dived before. Go Dive Marlborough’s visit to Doubtful Sound this June was a great adventure and unlike any other dive trip I have ever been on. With the remote and ruggedly beautiful scenery, you soon become part of the landscape and at one with the mountains and the sea. The diving is excellent and, although challenging at times, Brent McFadden’s leadership ensured that our safety was never compromised.