Thu 24th August 2017 – Mon 28th August 2017
Coral sea trips for the past few months have had one thing in common. The wind, this trip would be the first change in the season moving us away from winter and into summer conditions. Lower winds mean flatter waters and we all like that. We left Lizard Island with barely a ripple on the surface and stopped in at Coral Princess Bommie for our first dive.
With the first dive come a calm relaxed “holiday” mode on the boat and you can see the sparkle come to people eyes as they get to do something that for many of them, having been thinking about for up to two years. The first dive on the GBR is always an “iron out the kinks” dive. We get everyone comfortable with their equipment, get their weights set and away they go. This particular day everyone was comfortable enough that we moved down to Google Gardens for a drift dive.
With the drift we used the Tenders to drop us in the water 300 meters from the boat and we swam slowly with a gentle current pushing us back to the boat. The hard corals here are incredible and the whole distance of the dive we were treated by a display of spectacular reef for the afternoon.
We arrived at North Horn at 6am on Friday morning after a very calm a pleasant overnight trip. We started out with a drift dive down Blue Marlin Wall and watched as the sharks of Osprey shook the sleep out of their eyes and got into their day.
The second dive we gave the sharks breakfast. The food cage was been a little fickle and with some underwater adjustments we soon had the food out and the sharks charging around playing catch me if you can as the swam at ballistic speeds with tuna heads hanging from their mouths.
The third dive of the day we did a drift along Soft Coral Wall. The sharks had gathered along here for a nap after the action of playing tuna head tango earlier in the morning. The corals were out in full bloom with all the colors of the rainbow as we drifted at a nice pace. Toward the end of the dive a rather large potato cod was seen hanging out down deep in a crack just waiting for something to venture too close.
We finished of Friday with a double dive at Admiralty Anchor, day dive then night dive after dinner. Lots of tunnels and overhangs to explore and with only having ten people on board the dive groups were nice a small allowing us to get into some smaller tighter areas and not getting us all spread out all over the place. A little outgoing tide made the vis a little lower than we had earlier in the day but a really nice couple of dives all the same.
Saturday and the current had bent to our Jedi ways and was running the right way at the right speed to dive ATB for the first dive of the day. Baby Grey Reefies have taken over here recently and it is great to watch them each week as they get a bit bigger and a bit more curious and venture closer to us as we cruise on past.
False Entrance for dive two and the sleeping white tips were glaring at us for disturbing their slumber. A big dog tooth tuna could be seen hanging out in the blue with a school of jacks and Barracuda mixed together circling around down at 20 meters.
For the afternoon we did a double dive at Castles posing with sea fans and watching garden eels disappear back into their holes, as we would get closer to them. It is never an easy task getting a photo of a garden eel but with a little ingenuity it is possible. I had some requests for as many swim throughs as possible so I gave the job to Matty to go through as many holes in the reef as possible in one dive. Needles to say he took up this challenge with a great smile on his face and I am pretty sure after the dive the reef looked more like Swiss cheese than reef.
After a little rocky exit from Osprey Reef we headed back towards land and the Great Barrier Reef. Waking up for a morning dive at the awesome Crack a Jack! Dropping down right on top of a marbled ray, lots of big schools of trevally, Barracuda and GT’s. However in Crack A Jack’s case big is not always better, we also saw many nudibranches, ghost pipefish and beautiful soft corals.
We then had an epic 2nd breakfast as we cruised over to the famous Steve’s Bommie for a double dive. Great conditions for the dive, clear blue skies, 30m visibility and no current. Steve’s Bommie was booming with life, white tip reef sharks sleeping on the sand, schools of fusiliers, barracuda and its always good to see our resident local leaf scorpion fish chilling in his usual spot. Time for a nice long surface interval while we bask in the sun and enjoy a relaxing lunch before a second dive in this most incredible of dive sites.
Flair Point was the last dive of the trip, 6 Cuttlefish were certainly the highlight but we also had a large Thorny Ray and crystal clear waters to enjoy it all in. Overall the whole trip was really amazing with our divers not only enjoying every dive but also learning from the crew about marine life as well as dive techniques to help better their diving in the future.
Another trip done, another beer down, another sunset watched. Never gets old.
Angus Rowe & Lucy Hutchinson
Trip Director and TD to be.