Captain Wally Muller navigated using a sextant, the era pre GPS
Divers, John M Harding (senior) and Roy Bisson (on right)
This was the longest voyage undertaken by the famous charter boat in 1971. Newly launched the boat was 79′ in length and had accommodation for 16 divers (later reduced to 12), plus a crew of four.
The lure for such a voyage was shell collecting, a search for the rare volute thatcheri. Half the charter cost was paid by shell collectors. I was sponsored by a tabloid newspaper to write and photograph five stories that could be serialized over one week.
Text written especially for divers would be published in Fathom No.6 issue. Art director and diver, Roy Bisson being on the voyage.
From San Francisco the late Dewey Bergman (Sea and Sea Travel) was scouting on this voyage for what would become regular parties of American divers and underwater cameramen. The world was about to discover diving Australian style. The future voyages would not involve so much traveling time.
Marion Reef was the new inshore destination, still in The Coral Sea and today almost unvisited due to fuel cost considerations.
The Chesterfield Reef trip was our most memorable. Near perfect weather and a good crew of professional divers. For further information, including names of shipwrecks at Chesterfield Reef, see Wikipedia.org
Roy Bisson swim fins (flippers) were filmed simultaneously by my movie camera and another by Richard Ibara. This was Chesterfield Reef at it’s best. Grey Reef sharks were territorial with these displays as they probably had not encountered divers before.
Seafood sausages, yes. There is also seafood flavored ICE CREAM. Octopus sausages – the darker colored ones, would work well in Australia. Quite spicy too.
Cooked while you wait and presented on a stick for AUD$1.50 or less.
There are other seafood ingredients available.
The website is in Chinese (only) www.seascream.com.tw – is that sea scream or seas cream?
This was being widely circulated in emails.
**Ben Cropp’s first boat, a 14 foot Quintrex, 20 HP Mercury outboard**
Ben and Van Laman (Mrs Ben Cropp, No.1 of 3 BC wives) in this simulated oil painting effect via computer.
The \\jewie\\ was speared at Shag Rock, not far off the beach at Point Lookout where 250kg giant Queensland groper could also be seen occasionally in that era.
Old time local fishermen told us stories about Shag Rock, of tons of red snapper (southern variety) being caught by hand line fishing in a single day at Shag Rock in the 1950′s. How times change things.
Further offshore is **Flat Rock**, a far better dive, and a fish sanctuary today.
For **Ron Taylor** (pictured here in South Australia’s fresh water springs) almost all his early diving and underwater photography was made free diving.
Scuba tank fills were not readily available and the sea was one giant aquarium in shallow waters. Especially distant locations like the Solitary Islands off Coffs Harbour and Wooli where a boat was required to get there.
Spear fishing competitions were taking their toll around the city – eliminating small reef fish. This wasn’t happening in country area’s.
Ron’s spear fishing skill was honed aboard \\Riversong\\ on Queensland’s remote Swain Reefs and elsewhere thanks to **Capt Wally Muller**, one of the few professional skippers prepared to take the risk of a diver aboard his boat – such was the perceived and potential risk of shark attack in the 1960′s.