Diving the wreck’s stern section, marked with yellow buoys, is NOT recommended due to the depths at that location, except for qualified PADI technical divers.
Astrolabe Reef has always been regarded as an advanced dive site, therefore divers wanting to inspect the wreck site are encouraged to dive sites 1 and 2 only – marked by the orange buoys.
It is also strongly recommended that people wanting to dive do so with a local dive club or dive charter operator. Check out a list of local clubs and charters.
Do NOT attempt to dive the wreck unless you have the right experience, training, equipment and fitness. Divers should hold, as a minimum, a PADI Open Water certificate and be suitably experienced for an advanced dive site like Astrolabe Reef.
Skippers can moor at the orange mooring buoys while divers are in the water. If all moorings are occupied, then vessels can either ‘raft’ to other vessels in appropriate conditions or wait until a moored vessel has moved off. If the Reef is particularly busy consider returning later or even another day.
Diving is an inherently risky activity and wreck diving has a number of specific risks to be aware of. It is important that divers follow these recommendations:
- Divers are encouraged to dive the two dive sites marked with orange buoys (see illustrations below).
- Ensure your boat is flying an A Flag (dive flag) and stay within 200m of the flag.
- All divers must carry a whistle, inflatable safety sausage or similar device to alert your skipper to your whereabouts on the water’s surface.
- Due to the strong currents, plan to be collected by the skipper immediately following your ascent and hold onto the float line while waiting.
- Always dive with a buddy and adhere to safe diving practices, including planning your dive and diving your plan.
- Check the currents, including their strength, before entering the water. Anything greater than 1m in swell, 1 knot of current and / or 15 knots wind is considered unsafe for diving.
- Water temperatures generally range from 20-22° in summer and 12-13° in winter. Due to water clarity and the gradual incline of wreckage, judging depths can be difficult. Take care not to exceed your safe depth.
- Be aware of potential snagging obstacles and always carry a knife.
- Do NOT remove cargo or objects – some may be heavy and compromise your ability to resurface safely.
- Safety stops at -5m have been marked on each buoy line – these should be used for your ascent but not relied upon.
- Snorkelers should have an A Flag attached at all times.
DIVE SITE 1
This site is marked by an orange mooring buoy at the outer bow piece, with the label ‘Dive Site 1 -18m’.
It is an advanced dive site due to depth, but is in an area subject to less surge as it is in a sheltered section of the Reef.
Divers can explore the separated bow pieces (including the bow thruster) by descending at the buoy down the shotline. Head northeast following the wreck pieces along to the next piece, with the Reef wall on your right-side. Here you can explore the marine environment in the natural gullies, then return to ascend the same buoy.
A safety stop marker at -5m on the buoy’s shotline should assist divers with their ascent, but it should not be relied upon.
DIVE TRAIL VIDEO
DIVE SITE 2
This site is also identified by an orange mooring buoy, with the label ‘Dive Site 2 -14m’. Due to its location near the peak of the Reef, it is in an area subject to greater surge that divers should be aware of.
The dive is set into three loops, with each trail beginning and ending at the shotline. Divers are encouraged to follow the order of trail 2A (deepest first), followed by trail 2B, and finally 2C. Please note that you may not be able to complete all three trails in one dive.
Trail 2A ‘The Wall’: From the shotline follow the topography on a decline with the Reef wall on your left side until you come upon a piece of wreckage that is not illustrated in the Dive Site 2 image, but at 0:46 minutes into the Dive Site 2 video you can see it. From here, return on the open side of the wreckage and loop back with the Reef wall on your right to the shotline.
Trail 2B ‘Double Bottom’: From the shotline head south as the depth drops down into a bowl. Ignoring the topography, swim at a depth no more than -18m until you come across the double hull section which is laying against the southern face of the Reef. There are many crevasses to explore within the Reef structure. At the double bottom hull section, traverse the wreckage and head north towards the shotline.
Trail 2C ‘Bow Structure’: From the shotline head northwest following the topography upwards with the Reef wall on your right. Rising up the Reef you will eventually see the section of bow structure. Subject to conditions, aim to swim around the structure in an anticlockwise rotation (keeping the wreckage on your left), before following the topography back down toward the shotline.
Divers should return to the shotline to ascend. It is also marked at -5m to help divers conduct their recommended safety stops.
DIVE TRAIL VIDEO
FORMER DEBRIS FIELD
Dive trail 2 starts near the top of the former debris field. The following two videos illustrate the nature and scale of the work undertaken over several years to clear large amounts of container based debris from this area.