St Paul and Cementco Wrecks make a great diving combination day. THIS COMBINATION IS FOR TEC DIVERS ONLY. Light lunch and refreshments are included in the price.
The wreck of the Saint Paul now lies
between 38 and 43 meters of water on a gentle sand slope due east of Smiths
Rock. She sits in an upright position, favouring her port side, with the bow
pointing westward to the rock that sent her there. Although deep enough to
escape substantial damage from storms and cyclones, nearly 90 years on the sea
floor have taken their toll on her remains. The superstructure and most of the
hull plates have now rusted away, leaving the wreckage of a once fine ship
collapsed on the sea floor. From a divers perspective this is a very
challenging dive. The Saint Paul lies in an exposed area of sea, at the maximum
depth limit for recreational “no decompression diving”. With an air
no decompression limit of approximately eight minutes, it’s not possible to
fully appreciate this wreck in just one dive. The wreck itself provides plenty
to see if you take your time, from encrusted deck winches and lift raft anchors
to nuggets of chromium ore, the careful observer is well rewarded. The wreck is
alive with marine life and although it is common practice to dive her early in
the day to escape the afternoon onshore winds, the life is more prevalent in
the early evening when large schools of snapper and yellowtail kingfish seem to
be settling in for the night .Underneath deck plates and around the bases of
the engine and boilers, large estuary cod can be found lurking in the shadows.
Like many dive sites the stakes go up when a slight current is prevalent,
bringing these huge cod out and above the wreck to compete with the pelagic for
any food coming down current.
As part of the Pacific war effort,
the Crusader 2 was commissioned by the Australian Army in 1944 to carry heavy
equipment and supplies to the troops stationed in New Guinea. After a short but
successful career, the Crusader was pensioned off to the Qld Cement and Lime
Co. to carry dead coral and sand from its mining operations in Moreton Bay, up
the river to Brisbane. In 1984, it was decided she had made her final journey
to the reaches of Brisbane, a long and distinguished sojourn above the water
had come to an end, and a new one below the surface was about to begin.
Wreckers towed the Crusader out to Flinders Reef, north of Cape Moreton,
intending to sink the ship close to the northern end of the reef as a kind of extension
if you like. The Crusader was to have the last laugh however, springing a leak
before she was positioned and sinking about 400 meters NE of Flinders Reef.