Mon 9th October 2017 – Mon 16th October 2017
25 guests boarded Spirit of Freedom for a 7-day Ribbon Reefs & Coral Sea adventure. On board we have our American friends all the way from Portland Oregon, and a couple from China. We departed Cairns and set out for Norman Reef, Troppos. for a late afternoon dive, followed by a dusk dive were we saw some sharks, parrot Fish, Moray Eels, and GT’s. For many it was the first dive on the GBR.
We then cruised further up north over night; and awoke on RR#3, at Steve’s Bommie. Of course it was an impressive dive for all. Turtles, Sharks, Stonefish, and a few guests were quite excited to have found little Nemo this early in the trip.
We headed up to RR#5 for a go at Crack a Jack. We dropped down and circled our way around this awesome bommie, filled with beautiful Gorgonian fans and soft corals. As well as schools of Jacks and fusiliers, a turtle and a shy leafy scorpion fish.
We continued our voyage further up north to Tower of Tomoko, a nice leisurely dive around a shallow reef, the sun was shining and conditions were pleasant. Barracuda, fusiliers, giant grouper and some cool Nudis were spotted along the way.
Challenger by day is always a wonderful dive, no current so it was good to get some depth and check out the deeper coral structures, then shallowing up to look for the smaller things, like nudibranchs and pipefish. The white Leafy Scorpion Fish was hanging out on the fist coral again, which instructor Matty spotted.
The night dive at Challenger was CRAZY!. As we descended down into the darkness of challenger bay, we were greeted by some hungry GT’s, many Grey and white tip reef sharks and Red Basse. All of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of an awesome night feeding frenzy where we got to play god with our torchlight as the predators found their prey. Definitely a highlight of the day.
Waking up on RR#9 we started our day at Google Gardens, when the tides are right it makes for an awesome experience. Eagle rays, Cuttle fish, sweetlips and the most beautiful hard and soft corals around this area. It really gives us something to marvel at. Pixie Pinnacle was next on the agenda, some nice coral cod, trigger fish and electric clams! Awesome!
We jumped in for a dive at Lighthouse were we were met by a few big Olive Sea Snakes and a group of Bumphead parrot fish, as we corkscrewed our way up the bommie, some great barracuda were hanging out in the blue. The vis wasn’t the best but the fish were definitely out and about.
Next stop was the Code Hole for our usual Cod Feed dive, after an in depth briefing about our friend Mr Potato Cod and the feeding procedures. Well… we all dropped down ready to meet our friend however they were NOWHERE TO BE SEEN! Talk about getting stood up! No cod nevertheless the red bass were they’re being as annoying as usual. So the Cod feed turned into a normal dive at the Cod Hole, with a school of red bass in toe. It was Grace’s 200th dive so it was memorable in its own way
Thursday morning, everyone was happy to have a little sleep in, so instead of a 6.30am wake up, we woke up at 7am! (Aren’t we nice) No better way to start your morning at Lizard Island than a walk up across Chinamans ridge.
Guests enjoyed putting their toes in the sand and the diverse scenery that Lizard Island offers.
We headed out to Coral Princess bommie for 2 afternoon dives, where we took up the challenge to dive all the way around the bommie that is notorious for divers getting lost. The A-team arose to the challenge and took it on. Terry was waiting for the radio call to jump in the tender to pick up the lost divers however everyone made it back to Spirit without a beer fine! Good work guys!
Round 2… for those who didn’t quite make it around had another chance to give it ago so off we went for our second dive at Coral Princess. We saw some mackerel, pipefish and nudibranchs! Also WE FOUND DORY!
We battened down the hatches and prepared for our steam out to Osprey Reef. While its blowing 20knots I handed out the seasickness pills and most people took them down with a glass of wine or beer. These guys have the right attitude!
A few bumps and rolls for our crossing however nothing the A-Team couldn’t handle and of course very worth the ride to wake up at Osprey Reef.
We said goodbye to the bottom of the ocean and prepared for our first dive out here.
The Gap was a nice way to start with an epic wall dive, we found the swim throughs along the way and enjoyed the feeling of a bottomless ocean beneath us. Then on to Nautulis Caves which offered some more depth and adventure. Some tried to find the caves and crevasses while others enjoyed the wall dive.
Due to conditions we decided to do ATB for our 3rd dive, which turned into a not so drift dive but nevertheless no one was disappointed. Dropping down onto the cleaning station plateau at 32m/108ft and watching all the big stuff cruise past has to be one of the coolest feelings. The visibility was 50+m. A few big Grey reef sharks, a group of baby sharks, tuna, mangrove jack and beautiful corals.
We then made our way to Admiralty for our last 2 dives of the day. The visibility has been superb for us here. Everyone enjoyed navigating around the swim throughs and channels in search of Admiralty Anchor.
After another outstanding dinner prepared by chef-legend-aire Sam we were back in the water for our night dive.
We have come to the highlight of Osprey reef, its Saturday and its 3 dive North Horn day! For even the most experienced diver this part of Osprey is something to talk about.
Starting things off with Blue Marlin Wall for a morning drift dive to wake us up. This wall never ceases to amaze us. Niek and his tender group spotted a HAMMERHEAD SHARK and Schools of Bump Head Parrot fish coming off the reef. Very good start to our Saturday in the Coral Sea.
After 2nd breaky is was time to jump in a feed the sharks. It always an adrenalin filled dive. We all geared up together and in true James Bond style… giant stride off the side of the boat straight down into the sea of Grey Reef sharks waiting eagerly for their breaky. After the cage came down and the sharks were getting excited, guess who decided to make a guest appearance… MR BLOODY POTATO COD! He is not a mythical creature and very much exists even if he is a few days late and 100NM or so away from the Cod Hole. Trip director Lucy opened the cage with the help of Instructor/ninja Sola and without a hitch the cage pooped open with no troubles.. just bubbles and a lot of happy divers and joyful sharks.
We did a tender drop dive down Soft Coral Wall for our 3rd dive, a beautiful vertical garden of colourful gorgonian fans and soft corals that light up the wall… a photographers dream. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty this wall has to offer. Looking out into the blue a small school of tuna and the odd Grey Reefie still hanging about. Up in the shallows we spotted a leafy scorpion fish sitting next to an enemonie
We then moved on to Castles once again the topography is what it’s all about from tall structures to hidden pathways and swim throughs making an entertaining dive with the divers putting their navigational skills to the test. This is always a great spot to finish off our osprey dives. All aboard and off we go back out into the Coral Sea heading for the Ribbon Reefs of the GBR.
A lovely smooth steam back into RR#3 we awoke at a familiar spot for a double dive at Steve Bommie. With a slight current that brought in a lot of life it was no disappointment as per usual. GT’s, Schools of fusiliers, grey reef sharks, white tips, turtles, stonefish, Nemos, nudis, garden gnomes, you name it we got it here at Steve’s.
Then a quick cruise over to Flair Point where we enjoyed a nice relaxing dive, spotting 5 Cuttle Fish, Nudibranchs, pipefish and some fusiliers.
To finish off the last dive of our 7 day adventure we jumped in for our final descent at Joanies Joy. There were tears filling our masks as we dived our last dive on the GBR, but what a beautiful site with nice corals ands good visibility.
That brings us to the end of our week long venture on the GBR and beyond, its been a lot of fun with many diving milestones reached…Dawn & Marissa got up to over 50 dives, Orla hit her 100th dive at Steve’s Bommie, Matt, Grace & Kelly did their 200th dive, and Jason & Jeanette reached 600th dive.
No Troubles… Just Bubbles
SOF Trip Director