After nearly 12 months in the planning, the time had arrived for our annual trip to the Coral Sea aboard the amazing Live aboard ‘Spirit of Freedom’. Our trip started out from Cairns on Thursday morning at 7.30 with the early morning pick up from our hotel. It wasn’t to long after that we were flying north from Cairns 600 meters above the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island.
This is a fantastic scenic flight that only takes about 1 hour. Once on Lizard Island we were warmly greeted by the Spirit staff, which had us quickly on the tenders and aboard the SOF. This was going to be our home for the next 4 days and with all the introductions out the way and a complete tour of the boat, everyone had started to settle in and was very excited to start diving.
After lunch we had arrived at Ribbon reef no 9 this was our dive site for the afternoon. 2 dives done, then dinner. After that we were on our way for the overnight steam to Osprey Reef. The excitement was definitely growing and the weather forecast was looking good.
Friday morning dawned with 10-15 knots. First dive at Osprey Reef was at North Horn, a slow drift dive along the eastern wall, this turned out to be a massive hit with everyone. After a breakfast that could rival any 5 star restaurant it was time for the world famous Shark feed! Once the cage was attached to the rope, it was quickly pulled into position; the pin was pulled, and out came the tuna heads and in came the circling sharks.
These consisted of grey whalers, white tips, and the resident Potato Cod. The cod certainly uses its weight to out muscle the sharks to say the least, even the resident moray eel got in on the action. A truly, awesome site to behold, to watch these creatures doing their thing in the wild is incredible.
After lunch we completed a nice drift dive along the Soft Coral Wall. This site is famous for its beautiful fans that grow to amazing size on the protected side of North Horn. These, coupled with the deep blue dropping to 1000 meters below – this is a very cool experience.
The afternoon and night dive saw us relocated to a new spot called Admiralty. One of my favorite’s, with beautiful coral and fantastic maze of bommies to explore, a very easy and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. This was also our location for the night dive. Just before everyone jumped in a large hammerhead shark was seen chasing schools of trevally – very exciting!
The next morning saw us at a site called Silver City. The visibility was easily 60 meters. This site is known for its shark action and regular sightings of silver tip sharks. One of my favorite sites at Osprey Reef with the towering walls of coral and fans and a great place to do your deep dive certification. Everyone dropped down to the 35-40 meter mark and the fish life was majestic. The rest of the day saw us diving along the western side of Osprey reef, it is approximately 20kms long and 10kms wide at its widest point. I think the isolation of this reef system is what makes it so special.
Dinner on the Saturday night, the Spirit was steaming back to the ribbon reefs, for our last day of diving. Early Sunday we found ourselves moored up at the Famous Steve’s Bombie. This pinnacle is a photographers dream. The macro life is amazing with many types of nudibranchs, pipefish, octopus, eels and mantis shrimp. Large pelagic like barracuda and big eye trevally drift like a shimmering curtain hanging in mid water. After lunch we were at our new site Century Bay, a great place to finish the trip on a high.
If you have never dived on a live aboard dive vessel you are truly missing out on what can be an adventurous dive experience. Many locations to dive, 5 star dinning and accommodation and a reef system that is truly incredible – I suppose that is why it is called the GREAT Barrier Reef.
To all of my underwater explorers that joined me, thank you all. It was an absolute pleasure to be your tour guide and a truly amazing trip to remember.
Thank you to Jeremy, Steve A, John, Paul, Ian, Grant, Steve K, Ray, Lynne and Darren.
PSS. Scuba World is taking bookings for the SOF 2015, November/December trip. This trip will be for scuba world patrons only and will be limited to 22 guests. So don’t miss out.
Tour leaders will be Jason Morden and Brett Colley.