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ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns Appear Resolved
Community News VARS News Update: 30 April 2009

In Brief:
  • Ship preparation is well advanced and looking great.
  • Concerns regarding the proposed site appear to be resolved.
  • Scuttling date is yet to be confirmed – however formal project timelines being worked to by Government agencies indicate mid-July.
  • Site management process being worked through by Parks Victoria.
  • VARS has expressed our strong concern about lack of consultation

For the full details see:

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Fri, 01 May 2009 11:04 AM (1430 reads)
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Abalone Virus Update
Community News Extract from the current Monthly Report from VRFish:

The Victorian Abalone Divers Association (VADA) organised for commercial divers to locate the abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) front in early April 2009. All abalone at Rotten point are strong and healthy and there is no signs of the AVG Virus at that location. It appears at this stage that the virus has not been able to cir(edited)vent the sandy area to Rotten Point naturally. It is still of major concern that human activity will transport the virus over the sand areas and it has remained active in the White Cliffs area since November, 2008.

The active AVG front was located in essentially the same area as reported on in late February 2009. There appears to have been minimal movement further east along the Whitecliffs area. Samples have been taken and forwarded off for testing. At the same time as locating the virus front the divers trialled a new survey method for the assessment of AVG viral impacts on the abalone at specific locations.

The development of this method assesses the current live animals at a location as well as the sick and dead animals, etc. The survey showed that the mortality impacts at the surveyed sites were up to 70% of the abalone at those locations. It is intended to do further work to further refine the method. There have been no further reports of the AVG virus front having moved further west than Cape Bridgewater since December 2007.

Posted by BUBBLEDIVER on Mon, 13 Apr 2009 10:05 PM (1522 reads)
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Ex-HMAS Canberra Project Update
Community News The February edition of Dive Log (page 22) carries an extensive update on the Ex-HMAS Canberra Project and some pics.

Dive Log is available free from most Scuba diving outlets

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 08:36 PM (1453 reads)
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ex HMAS Canberra Information Update - VARS
Community News Sink the ex-HMAS Canberra!

Information Update Forum

VARS invites all interested parties to attend an Information Update Forum.

Date: Monday 8th September 2008
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Venue: Bells Hotel, 157 Moray St, South Melbourne

Members of the VARS Committee will be on hand to provide you with an update on progress towards sinking of the ex-HMAS Canberra. We will also have representatives from the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and from the Birdon Group (responsible for ship preparation and scuttling).

For those wishing to have dinner at Bells Hotel prior to the forum, we suggest arriving no later than 7:00 p.m.

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:58 AM (1356 reads)
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Community News In response to an important and informative article on Dive Safety contributed by Mick Jeacle, our VSAG President has endorsed a posting on our website.

VSAG is committed to Dive Safety in line with the club motto "Safety In Diving"

Please read on.

When there's trouble on the water, will you be part of the lifesaving solution--or part of the problem?

It could happen to you: As you wait your turn on the back of the boat, the diver on the platform struggles to get comfortable in his gear before awkwardly stepping into the water. As you move to the edge of the swim step, he starts screaming for help a few yards off the stern. He throws away his mask and dips beneath the surface. Popping up, he sputters saltwater, screaming again, and bobs under once more.

In a dive emergency like this, everyone on the dive boat falls into one of two categories: part of the lifesaving solution or part of the problem. Which one are you?

To help you find out, we've outlined four common emergency scenarios and the proper responses to them. But before we continue, let's be clear: While many of the techniques and procedures covered here are taught in a rescue diver course, no magazine article is a substitute for proper training (see "Rescue Certified," p. 81).

Our goal here is to show you the importance of rescue certification, help you understand how dive accidents happen, provide practical advice on how you can avoid being a victim, but most of all, to stress the importance of a calm, rational response in a crisis. When dive accidents turn fatal, the root cause is almost always panic--that highly charged state where rational thought is replaced by adrenaline-fueled instincts. Panic can overwhelm victims and bystanders, which is why the common reaction among untrained divers to an emergency is to stand there shocked as the crew pushes them out of the way. Even if you aren't directly involved in an emergency, flailing about in the water ineffectively or standing on the deck of the boat like a deer in the headlights certainly doesn't help, and in fact, may even hinder a rescue.

Scenario I: Panic on the Surface

Let's start with the unfortunate diver above, who stepped off the boat before turning his air on. He's sucking saltwater, and he can't get his BC to inflate. He's obviously in a full-blown panic. What do you do?

Rescue Plan: A rescuer's best course of action with a panicked diver at the surface is to help the victim without getting into the water. All dive vessels should have safety floats of some type, usually a life ring or float ball, and most have long-handled boat hooks, all of which can be thrown or held out to a diver in the water. If for some reason those objects are not immediately available, or the victim is too freaked out to grab them, enter the water and grab the diver without becoming a victim yourself. Always go in the water with some sort of flotation device. If you're already wearing your scuba gear, your BC will work--inflate before approaching the victim.

Approaching a panicked diver from the front puts you within his tunnel vision, the same tunnel vision that may cause him to scramble onto anything or anyone in an attempt to keep his head above water. Always approach a panic victim from the side or from behind so you can keep control of the situation. Once you reach the diver, grab his tank valve and hold on securely. That way, if he attempts to twist around, you stay behind him and he can't grab you and force you under. If necessary, you can even grip the sides of the tank with your knees. When you do this, fully inflate his BC--the reason for his panic may be that the tank isn't turned on, so crack the tank valve to inflate his BC if this is the case. Next, lean back so your body is partially beneath him and his face is out of the water. Speak to the diver firmly, in reassuring terms like "Relax," or "I'm here to help you." Don't yell or show your own level of excitement because this will add to his anxiety. Once you are firmly in control, swim him back to the boat and help him get on board.

Prevention Tips: Victims in this type of situation often ask, "How did I get here?" The answer to that question is usually a lack of preparation. For example, scrambling to get in the water and jumping in without your fins or, more frequently, without your air turned on. Rushing through your gear setup or your pre-dive checks, or waiting until the last minute to find a missing mask or fix a rotted fin strap can cause you to overlook important aspects of your preparation. Before your next giant stride, be sure to:

• Inspect all of your equipment before you pack it for your dive trip.

• Have any equipment problems repaired before you go diving.

• Arrive at the boat on time so you can assemble your primary equipment before you even leave the dock.

• Once you're suited up, safety check your own equipment as well as your buddy's.

• Enter the water completely geared up: BC inflated, fins on your feet, mask on your face and regulator in your mouth.

• Most important: Don't panic. If you make a mistake and step off the boat unprepared, swim immediately back to the boat and grab the ladder. Air not turned on? Reach back and crack the tank, or have another diver do it. Even in the most drastic situations, you can always drop your weights, inflate your BC (normally or orally) and alert someone on the boat. Clear-cut, simple actions like these are the difference between minor embarrassments and tragic accidents.

Scenario II: A Panicked, Out-of-Air Buddy

You're swimming along a wreck when, suddenly, the regulator is ripped from your mouth and your mask is flooded or knocked from your face as your frantic buddy makes a mad grab for your air supply. When an out-of-air diver panics, it's not uncommon for him to do whatever seems necessary to preserve his own life, even if that means putting someone else's at risk.

Rescue Plan: Many divers make the mistake of trying to take their regulator back--a virtually impossible task when the out-of-air diver has reached this stage of anxiety. Your first priority here is self-rescue, and that means getting something to breathe. Fortunately, your octopus works as well for you as it does the other diver. Retrieve it, clear it and breathe. Then, clear your mask and assess the situation. Generally speaking, at this point it's best to make a slow and controlled ascent to the surface holding on to the out-of-air diver. Once you reach the surface, remember that the diver's BC cannot be inflated from the empty tank so assist him by either orally inflating his BC or dumping his weights. Safety stops are a judgment call in this scenario. With a limited air supply and a diver in a full-blown panic, skipping the stop is probably the safer of the two options.

Prevention Tips: Monitor your air supply--and your buddy's. Make it a habit to check your gauges every 10 breaths or so on deeper dives. Many advanced divers will also crosscheck their buddy's air supply every five to 10 minutes, depending on the depth of the dive and the diver's usual air consumption rate. Start heading back to your ascent point when you've used up one-third of your air supply and try to be on or near the ascent line with at least a third of your tank remaining for the ascent and safety stop. As a backup plan, you should routinely practice controlled air-sharing exercises with your buddy so an out-of-air situation can be effectively handled.

Scenario III: The Bolting Diver

So, your dive is over. Your BC is inflated and you're waiting patiently for your turn to board the dive boat when, suddenly, a panicked diver surfaces in Polaris missile mode just 10 feet to your left. Choking and coughing, he rips off his mask and attempts to scream for help, but a choking gurgle is all that comes out before he becomes passive in the water and drops face-down. It's clear the diver has bolted to the surface--an all too common scenario often precipitated by running out of air, inhaling water from a flooded mask or extreme overexertion.

Rescue Plan: If the diver is conscious and continues panicking, your response should be the same as Scenario I. A runaway ascent can also lead to other problems, however, like an air embolism or severe decompression sickness, which can rapidly result in unconsciousness and even death. If the diver is unconscious, your first order of business is protecting the airway. Approach the diver and roll him face-up. Ditch his weight belt and inflate his BC. Grab the diver by the head, keeping his face above water, and check that he is breathing. If not, there are two schools of thought: One is immediately getting the diver breathing again through in-water rescue breathing--one of the important skills taught in a rescue diving class. The other is to swim the diver to the boat as quickly as possible so traditional CPR can be performed on the deck. Both plans have merit, and which one you use will usually depend on the circumstances. Within a few yards of the boat, ditch the diver's BC and get him aboard as quickly as possible. If it's a long swim to the boat or shore, in-water resuscitation makes more sense.

If you experience this scenario underwater, proceed with caution. Trying to grab a bolting diver has two potentially hazardous results: 1) You hold the diver on the bottom (if you can hold a diver in full panic), potentially drowning him if he is out of air or has malfunctioning equipment. 2) He drags you to the surface, risking the bends or an embolism yourself. Divemasters and instructors receive special training in dealing with these problems underwater, but even for them, this scenario can be deadly, and they'll often let a diver go if he's out of control. Following the diver to the surface using a controlled ascent is usually the best plan. If the diver is having a runaway ascent, you may try to dump the air from his BC. But watch that the panicked diver doesn't grab you (or your hoses) and drag you to the surface if he continues upward.

There's a self-rescue scenario to consider here, too. If you find yourself in an uncontrolled ascent that results from excess buoyancy, stay calm and slow your ascent any way you can until you regain control. Dump air from your BC using as many valves as possible. If your inflator is stuck open, disconnect it or hold the dump valve up and open so the air will vent with no effect on your buoyancy. You can also slow your ascent by laying face-down in the water and flaring your arms and legs to increase resistance. Try kicking back toward the bottom, and if you are close enough to an ascent line, grab it until you can regain control. Exhale forcefully all the way up to avoid injury.

Prevention Tips: The most important step in preventing panic is being aware of those things that may push you beyond the limit and being prepared to avoid or deal with them. Fatigue from excessive physical activity or a lack of sleep and dehydration cause physiological stress and this stress can mentally take you off your game. Any diver who enters the water physically or mentally stressed is predisposed to panic, sometimes in response to what would otherwise be a minor problem. The best methods of prevention are to avoid cir(edited)stances you--and your buddy--are not comfortable in, maintaining your gear and checking it carefully before every dive and monitoring your air supply carefully throughout the dive.

Scenario IV: The Suddenly Unconscious Diver

You and your buddy are swimming along and everything seems fine--until he suddenly becomes nonresponsive and sinks to the bottom, motionless. Divers experiencing heart attacks or other major medical problems underwater can be rendered incapacitated or unconscious in this manner.

The Rescue Plan: Approach the diver and ensure that he is actually in peril by waving a hand in front of his face and checking for air bubbles coming out of his regulator. If the diver is incapacitated or unconscious, you must get him to the surface quickly without causing an embolism, causing him to drown or injuring yourself. Hold the regulator in the diver's mouth, and tilt the head back so that the airway is open and the diver's lungs can vent. It is quite simple to accomplish both tasks by holding the diver under the chin with one hand and using your forefinger to secure the second stage in place. You can only control one BC effectively so dump either yours or the victim's of all its air. Use the other BC to control your ascent. Make a direct ascent to the surface, slowly and in control, and ensure that the victim's airway remains open all the way to the surface. Once you are on the surface, drop the victim's weights, inflate his BC, signal for help and start towing the diver to the exit point while making sure his airway is open and protected from splashing water. Begin in-water resuscitation if necessary.

Prevention Tips: Regular personal health maintenance can make all the difference. Get an annual physical, maintain a healthy weight, do regular cardiovascular exercise and always dive well rested and adequately hydrated. You should also keep your water skills current and never dive if you feel ill. If you do have a medical emergency underwater, the most important thing you can do is to be honest with yourself about your medical status and any symptoms you experience. Signal your buddy early on and abort the dive safely before you become a casualty.

Rescue certified

For a complete understanding of the rescue techniques covered here, there is simply no substitute for a stress and rescue class. When an accident occurs, you don't want to be afraid to take action, whether that means carrying out the rescue, providing backup support or simply getting out of the way. Rescue certification is also an incredible confidence booster that will make you a more relaxed, self-assured diver. Every major training agency offers a course in self- and buddy rescue.

Posted by BUBBLEDIVER on Tue, 22 Jul 2008 02:15 PM (1263 reads)
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Flying and Diving - courtesy Mick Jeacle and DAN
Community News Flying and Diving

Cautionary tales about going to altitude after diving describe one of the core rules taught in any open-water course. But divers often have questions about specific recommendations because the rules occasionally change. Here at DAN, we've made the relationship between altitude and diving one of our primary studies for many years, and if we do say so ourselves, we're experts on the subject, regularly helping to analyze and update the flying-after-diving rules taught by training agencies worldwide. Here are answers--using the most scientifically up-to-date information our researchers can provide--to the three most common altitude and diving questions we're asked on our emergency hotline and medical information lines.

Can I dive immediately after flying?

Sometimes. But if you don't, it won't be for nitrogen-related reasons. There are no set guidelines for when to make your first dive. The issue here is fitness. Air travel can leave divers mildly dehydrated, fatigued, improperly nourished and generally stressed. Long-distance travel compounds the problem; the more time zones you cross, the more these factors affect your general condition. And the more you are affected, the more you need to factor this into your early dive planning.

Do this by building some pre-dive flight recovery time into your travel plans, allowing you to rehydrate, rest and eat. Dehydration is thought to contribute to DCS risk, so it's critically important not to start diving with a hydration deficit. Fatigue can also be a performance and safety issue--if you're tired or lacking energy, you might not respond normally to strenuous or emergency cir(edited)stances--so make sure you're well rested.

Of course, if you're traveling on a shorter flight and you arrive at your destination rested, hydrated and properly nourished, then diving may be possible. You need to assess your condition honestly and objectively. It isn't worth compromising your safety--or ruining your whole trip--because you're in a hurry to make the first dive.

How long do I have to wait before flying after diving?

The concerns of heading to altitude too soon after diving are the same as those when you ascend from your dive too quickly because the same scientific principles apply: Going to altitude takes you to an area of lower outside pressure, meaning residual nitrogen still dissolved in your blood can come out of solution as bubbles if the ascent isn't slow enough to let your body off-gas. This is why it's so important to ensure you've off-gassed any nitrogen in your system before going to altitude. The more diving you do, the more residual nitrogen you'll amass, so the amount of time you should wait relates directly to the type of diving and how many dives you make in a given period of time.

We recommend waiting at least 24 hours before flying after diving--better safe than sorry--but if that's not possible, the following shows the minimum guidelines for different diving cir(edited)stances, based on flying in commercial aircraft.
• A single dive within recreational limits: 12 hours
• Multiple days/multiple recreational dives: 18 hours
• Decompression diving (planned or unplanned): 24 to 48 hours

These guidelines are not infallible, and they apply only to divers who haven't experienced any DCS symptoms. If you've experienced DCS symptoms during your dive trip, don't fly at all. Instead, call DAN's emergency hotline (919-684-4DAN) immediately, and get checked out by a doctor familiar with diving.

Just as we are taught not to "push the tables" in reference to our bottom times, don't "push the recommendations" when it comes to your diving and flying interval. Leaving time between your last dive and your flight home is part of dive planning, and it's a part you should take seriously.

No plane, no problem--right?

Wrong. Many dive destinations offer a variety of activities below and above the water. In the Hawaiian Islands, for example, you could dive in the morning and spend the afternoon 10,000 feet above sea level at the crater of a volcano. Most divers wouldn't even think about boarding a plane so soon after diving, but many don't think twice about heading up a mountain to enjoy the view.

Consider this: The cabin of an airliner is usually pressurized to the equivalent of between 2,000 and 8,000 feet--even if the plane's cruising altitude is 30,000 feet or more. So if a pressurized equivalent of 2,000 feet is enough to cause post-dive health concerns, a 10,000-foot mountain poses as much, if not more, of a risk.

Also consider the trip home when you're diving by car. Divers sometimes drive through mountain passes or higher elevations to access a dive site. The altitude shift that caused no problems on the way to the site can do exactly the opposite on the way home at the end of the day. If you know that you'll be driving through a mountainous area, or any area that causes you to experience a change in altitude, be sure to factor the altitude change and the subsequent considerations into your overall plan. If you're going to an altitude higher than the highest pressure of an airliner cabin (8,000 feet), wait at least 24 hours after diving.

In whatever form it comes, the bottom line is that altitude exposure is altitude exposure. There is no dodging the considerations they require, and ignoring them significantly increases your risk of being injured. So remember to keep your feet on the ground after you dive--if only for a little while. Flying After Diving Study DAN is currently conducting Phase II of its Flying After Diving study and is always looking for a few good divers. If you are a healthy, certified diver between 18 and 60 years of age, consider participating in research every traveling diver needs. For more information, visit

Posted by BUBBLEDIVER on Tue, 24 Jun 2008 12:16 AM (1421 reads)
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ex HMAS Canberra Reef - VARS Update - March 2008
Community News VARS Update - 29th March 2008

In Brief
The Deed of Gift is moving closer to signature by both State and Federal Governments. A major milestone has now been achieved with the site position now agreed between all parties. This agreement was required prior to the signing of the Deed do(edited)ent. It is expected that this second major milestone is now only weeks from being completed.

Sub-Committee Reports

Site Management - Convenor: Alan Beckhurst
A white paper has now been prepared outlining a possible site management plan. Input was sought from across the dive industry in preparation of this white paper. Government authorities have now appointed a consultant to further investigate and provide a report.

Ship Preparation - Convenor: Jason Salter
As outline in the last update the bulk of this work will occur once the tenderer has been formally announced. At this stage the key tasks will be to coordinate with the successful tenderer to ensure that ship is correctly prepared to maximise diving enjoyment and safety.

Fund Raising / Membership - Convenor: Warrick McDonald
VARS is now approaching the stage when volunteers will be able to become active. Additionally, it is also the time when further funds are likely to be required as the work ramps up.

Marketing / Promotion - Convenor: Bryan McGoldrick
The groundwork for a marketing plan has been put together. Activities are now underway to secure appropriate funding to put the plan into action.

Site Location
Agreement on a resting place for the Canberra has now been reached between all stakeholders. The agreed site is in an area about 1 nautical mile WNW of the J4. Average depth is 28 metres. This will mean that the wreck will be able to be accessed by all levels of divers as the main deck will be in 18 metres.

### ENDS ###

About VARS

The Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) is the non-profit, volunteer Victorian dive community group behind the push to secure, prepare, sink and dive the ex HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef and wreck dive site for Victoria. All major groups in the Victorian scuba diving industry, plus the Victorian sport diving club, have recognised VARS as their voice on all matters relating to the ex HMAS Canberra Reef.

For more information on VARS and the ex HMAS Canberra Reef project, please visit

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Sat, 05 Apr 2008 06:06 PM (1308 reads)
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VARS Annual Report 2007
Community News The Annual Report of the Victorian Artificial Reef Society for 2007 is now available online at

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Tue, 28 Aug 2007 03:40 AM (1578 reads)
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VARS Meets With Tourism Minister
Community News Friday, 20 July 2007: Victorian Artificial Reef Society News Update
Today, VARS members John Lawler, Alan Beckhurst and Lloyd Borrett met with Tim Holding, Victorian Minister of Tourism, at his Springvale office to continue discussions about the ex HMAS Canberra project.

VARS also put out a Media Release titled "Warship Still In Limbo" which you can view at or download from

VARS will be having its Annual General Meeting at 8 pm on Tuesday the 11th September 2007 at Bells Hotel, corner of Moray and Coventry Streets, South Melbourne (Melway 1D L12). Anyone interested in the ex HMAS Canberra project is welcome to attend.

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Fri, 20 Jul 2007 06:17 AM (1444 reads)
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Skeletal Remains Found in Sunken War Planes
Community News Human skeletal remains were found along with the wrecks of two British war planes missing for 60 years in Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay.

Two divers came across the remains during a recent dive between Mornington and Frankston.

The two British aircraft crashed into the bay during a training exercise in July, 1947.

Four people were killed but only one body was recovered at the time, but divers Paul Roadknight and Steve Boneham located the remains of one pilot still inside one of the wrecked aircraft about 20m below the surface of the bay.

They found the remains of another pilot next to the wreck of the second aircraft.

There was no information about the possible whereabouts of the fourth victim.

The wreckage of the two British Royal Navy single engined Fairy Firefly trainers is considered a significant archaeological find.

Mr Roadknight has tracked down the families of the dead pilots and a memorial is planned for next week, on the 60th anniversary of the crash.

Britain's Ministry of Defence is believed to support plans not to disturb the pilots' remains.

A permanent memorial to the victims could be built onshore, close to the crash site.

Heritage Victoria warns that tampering with wrecks is an offence that carries a heavy fine.

Posted by lloyd_borrett on Fri, 13 Jul 2007 11:51 AM (2011 reads)
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