Rowley Shoals 2006 - 2007
In October 2006 we were lucky enough to visit
the Rowley Shoals for five nights aboard
Kimberley Escape run by The Great Escape
Charter Co. The overnight trip was a bit rough
(especially in the forward cabins) but once you
got used to it and got some sleep it was OK. The
three atolls that make up the Rowely shoals are
Imperieuse Reef, Mermaid Reef and Clerke Reef
which we visited first and upon an early morning
arrival we had some breakfast and prepared for
the first dive. The water here is a balmy 28-29
degrees C and visibility usually 25m + with most
of the diving along the steep outer walls of the
atoll. We dived here for two days and on the
second night had a great barbecue on the sandy
island that is located here. On the third morning we had a quick wall dive and then steamed over to Mermaid Reef, which is the only one of
the three that is protected from fishing. Just prior to our arrival we stopped to do a shark dive they called Deep Blue. We were split into
groups of four or five and descended to 40m as the boat moved away. This is an eerie dive as every direction is a clear sparkling blue with
the occasional shark darting in to have a look. Several Oceanic Silvertip Sharks came in to investigate and we were lucky enough to see a
huge school of Hammerhead Sharks cruising along in the distance. A couple of these sharks broke off from the main group and circled us
for a short time. After a safety stop we surfaced and waited for the boat to come and pick us up and we
then moved to a mooring at a site called The Cod Hole. This site is one of my favourite here as it is home
to a couple of friendly Potato Cod as well as many reef sharks that sit on the sand at about 30m. Along
the walls here you can find many Anemones with their resident Anemone fish as well as schools of Trevally
and various reef fish as well as a sandy patch that has numerous garden eels poking out of the sand.
The crew on this boat are fantastic and made sure we had a great experience with trouble free diving and
if you had a problem they were there to help. 95 cubic ft aluminium Tanks are supplied along with weight
belts but the rest of the gear is up to you although I believe they can
arrange gear if given notice. The boat is always clean and is kept in tiptop
shape. We had fourteen divers on board and four crew with each day being
made up of four dives (either all day dives or three day and one night
dive) broken up by an almost endless supply of excellent food. All meals as
well as coffee, tea and soft drinks are supplied but if you want alcohol you
will need to organise it prior to departure and the crew will get it to the
boat for you.
In November 2007 we decided to return for a seven-night trip aboard the
same boat and once again we were treated to a great diving experience
with more great food. The first three days were spent at Clerke Reef where we had some fantastic wall
dives with great visibility. Marine life seamed to be more abundant than the previous year but that could
be due to the later time of the year. We then steamed over to Mermaid reef with a stop at deep blue,
which only produced a single Oceanic White Tip shark. We did a few dives at The Cod Hole on this trip,
which suited me as this site produces large cod, Sharks, Clown Fish and many species of fish, corals and
Feather Stars.
This was the second last trip for Kimberly Escape as she moves on to commercial work but her replacement
boat the Great Escape will be available for future trips. This boat is a large cat which is set up with a little more luxury but most of us will
miss Kimberly Escape. You can see all the photo’s from these two trips in the Northern Australia pre 2009 gallery.