RUNIC wreck. Middleton Reef (1974)

ABout 1974 during a Coralita voyage. Cyclone "Colin" proved a hazard.
About April in 1974 during a Coralita (charter boat) voyage. Cyclone “Colin” proved a hazard.
Cyclone dive in lagoon to check anchor.
Coralita in 1974

1- RUNIC_20140529_0004-001 We encountered cyclone Colin on this voyage which departed Port Macquarie and returned to Coffs Harbour due to high seas along the coast.

With the cyclone approaching fast, Captain Wally Muller took precautions with his anchorage. An antique iron anchor was removed from a nearby unknown shipwreck and transferred to the sandy lagoon floor where his own anchor and chain were lashed to it.

Even so, during the height of the cyclone which passed nearby, Coralita dragged both anchors 150 meters.

1- RUNIC_20140529_0003Cyclone. The lagoon

Southern section, The Coral Sea


We made two visits to Lord Howe Island and Middleton Reef while aboard Coralita – and as fate would have it, a bad cyclone arrived at Middleton Reef on both occasions.

Captain Wally Muller was concerned and kept his cool. A Captain sets the mood for the rest to follow. A nervous skipper would be a bit of a worry.

Wally got us through some very difficult days – years later confessing that it would not have been a good outcome without our help.

Ron Taylor has good technical suggestions. He anchored his 15 foot aluminum dinghy a hundred meters away to provide a reference point as Coralita was predicted to drag anchor in the shallow sandy lagoon.

A deep water lagoon would allow extra anchor chain and a spring effect to be possible eliminating drag. This is not possible in the shallows of Middleton, therefore it’s not a safe anchorage for large boats in strong winds.

Pictured may be Runic (the 10,000 ton shipwreck of Middleton Reef) or, more likely one of the international long liner fishing boats aground out there.

There are many shipwrecks at Middleton Reef – a legacy from the era pre satellites when strong currents played havoc with old style navigation methods.

(Cyclones in the southern hemisphere – typhoon and hurricane above the equator. All the same things).

The southernmost Coral Sea boundary is south of Middleton Reef – Lord Howe Island misses being a part of The Coral Sea by less than 100 km.

BIRCHGROVE PARK …….. 50 meters deep

skippy.jpg (29k image)
 Diver swims with a speargun around the wreck. A tangled anchor line is visible. At the conclusion of this dive a young white pointer shark had Bob making a quit exit back aboard the 14 foot boat we were working out of. It was 1967. Wally Gibbins was nearby with his boat. Getting decent pictures on the wreck was a challenge in those days, and probably still is.

Wal Gibbins was first to discover the long-lost shipwreck after a lot of searching with a “rare as hen’s teeth” echo sounder circa 1964. The wreck was eventually found .5 of one nautical mile from where it was positioned on the charts.

Adventure journalist Pat Burgess wrote of his dive with Wally on the wreck, which was published in a mid week edition of Sydney’s  The Daily Telegraph.A great gift to scuba divers.