Big Cat Reality Weekend

After a week of strong winds, large ocean swells and a lot of rain, the group were not too enthusiastic about our weekend liveaboard trip on Big Cat Reality. We arrived at Newport Marina on Friday 22 Feb at 7:30pm, loaded the vessel, set up our equipment, and completed the necessary paperwork. After meeting the other divers from Snorkel Safari Brisbane and the Big Cat crew, we had a briefing from the skipper and we were under way.  We anchored on the North Western side of Moreton Island for the night.

clowns sun_coral We woke up at 6am to a magical sunrise on route to Flinders Reef. After a dive site brief from Laurie we entered the water for our first dive. Dive 1 was Mary’s Lair (9-16m), visibility was 15-20m, water temp 25 degrees, no current, and a moderate surge. We entered the large swim through; saw a turtle, three octopi, lots of healthy coral and many species of fish.

lobster

nudi After breakfast and a 90 minute surface interval, we relocated to dive site 2, middle mountain. This site was 15-27m, a little deeper and much more to see; there was a beautiful, huge blue anemone with two large clown fish. A little further ahead was a bed of anemones with about twenty clown fish of all different colors and sizes.

Dive 3 was called Purple Patch, 9-18m, with lots of crevasse and drop off’s to explore. We found a turtle sleeping under a ledge; our bubbles must have woken him up as he swam around with us for 2-3 minutes.

turtles trumpet_fish Turtle

We moved to the Western side of Flinders reef for dive 4 (Turtle Cleaning Station). This site was 4-17m deep, and running North-South was staghorn coral for as far as the eye could see… after swimming over the staghorn and closer to the top of Flinders, you come to a turtle cleaning station. We had 6 turtles swimming around us at 5m, you could stay there for the entire dive just watching their peaceful nature.

As the wind was picking up, we travelled back to the Western side of Moreton Island for our night dive. We waited until high tide at 8pm before entering the water. I would like to congratulate, Don, Witon, and Scott for completing their first night dive. They all did very well in the challenging conditions (surface current, 3-5m visibility and a pitching anchor line). We saw a huge Nudibranch, large wobbygong, black and white eel, big pelagic fish under the stern of the wreck, crayfish and much more.

After dinner, everyone was lights out at 9:30pm, what a massive day!!

Our first dive on Sunday 24 Feb was the famous Gotham City (22-36m). A big congratulations to Don, Witon, and Scott for completing their deepest dive to date (32m). As we were doing our deep skills we did not get a chance to explore much of the site. A few other divers saw an Eagle Ray, grouper, and gorgonian fans.

The plan for dive 7 was the Cemento wreck, however after assessing the conditions the dive crew decided to move to an alternate location due to the 2-3 knot current. We dived middle mountain again for dive 7, which gave us a chance to explore more of the site. We found a swim through and lots of cool critters.

 

BCR_group

Our last dive for the weekend was at the SE buoy on Flinders, ranging from 8-16m. An easy, relaxing way to finish off a great weekend of diving. We decided to ditch the wetsuits and dive in boardies… after the 30 minutes Brenton and I were shivering. The site was easy to navigate, with plenty of swim throughs, an eel, heaps clown fish, and again the visibility was 15-20m. Congratulations to Don for completing your 50th dive on Big Cat Reality!

We had a three hour steam back to Newport Marina which gave us time to wash our dive gear, and pack our bags. We docked at 6pm and were given a big thank you and farewell from the crew.

Big Cat Reality runs a very good diving operation and I would recommend them to anyone. If you are looking for great value diving, great food, comfortable accommodation, and a friendly crew, it is hard to go past the Big Cat Reality.

Congratulations to Witon, Scott, and Don for completing their Advanced Adventurer program (Night, Deep, Nav, Boat, computer). Witon and Scott also completed their Navigation speciality, and Don clocked his 50th dive. Ashleigh and Brenton were having a fantastic time ‘fun diving’ while we were completing the necessary skills for the courses. I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly, competent group of divers. From a tour leaders perspective, it is fantastic when everyone follows instructions and dives safely and responsibly. Keep up the good work!!

 

Mike McKinnon

SSI AOWI #22306

All photos courtesy & copyright Ashleigh Newton