As I was watching the weather forecast for the Far North Region, I certainly had my doubts that our 4 day Coral Sea trip may only consist of diving the Ribbon Reefs. With a 30-35 knot wind predicted and a 3-4 meter swell we were warned that we most likely, would not make the 10 hour overnight crossing to Osprey Reef. With this in mind our Captain of the Spirit of Freedom (Tony) certainly wasn’t going to call it too soon and gave the weather every opportunity to settle.
After arriving at Lizard Island by plane, only a short 1 hour scenic flight, we boarded the SOF .With all the introductions and a through tour of the ship, it was time for some diving. An afternoon and night dive at Pixie Gardens a very nice an easy way to get everyone started.
Day 2 saw us stay in the Ribbon Reefs for the days diving and the Famous Cod Hole was on our agenda, an amazing dive with the giant Potato Cod, these guys are extremely large and very curious, they also make for great photo opportunities and personal interaction which a few of us had. By mid-afternoon the news started spread that the weather was calming and our Captain Tony was keen to make a crossing to Osprey Reef. Giddy up!!
Saturday morning we awoke to find we were at Osprey Reef a slightly bumpy night but not too bad considering. 4 dives for the day, with 2 at North Horn, this is the most Northern tip of Osprey and also where we get to watch the famous shark feed. With approximately 30 sharks in our close proximity the tuna heads used for the feed did not last very long, after the feed a handful of our group dropped down to the drop off at 40m and having a large Manta Ray swim by on queue was simply an amazing experience.
Last dive on Osprey was at Admiralty, this is one of my favourite sites to enjoy small caves an swim throughs and incredible under water geometry, a great way to finish the days diving.
Day 4 saw us back to the Ribbon Reefs with the first dive at Gorgonian Bommie, it was six years since SOF have dived here and I had the pleasure of diving it back then. Pristine Fan corals, soft corals, sponges and gorgonian’s cover this site. A single bommie rising from a depth of 38m with a diameter of 20m, this is truly a stunning little dive site and one they only bring very experienced divers to enjoy. Finishing of the day we had 2 dives on the famous Steve’s Bommie and with three Steve’s in our group the only thing missing was an Alan.(sorry trip joke).
Diving the Coral Sea is an extremely rewarding experience and one that every serious diver should be putting on their to-do list. Having a reef system that is so close to us and nearly on our door step, you really start to appreciate it when fellow divers from overseas remind you of this. The SOF crew have been looking after our Scuba World groups for over 7 years and their professionalism and effort to please their customers certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you to Tony (captain) and Simon (Tour Director) for all your efforts.
To my underwater explorers, with early doubts about the weather, change of dive sites and broken moorings, I think we got to see some of the best the Coral Sea had to offer. So on that note I would personally like to thank all my tour guests it was a pleasure to be your tour leader,14 dives over 4 days, an outstanding effort.
For anyone thinking of diving on a live aboard, you will certainly not find a more professional and friendly outfit than the Spirit of Freedom.
Thank you for a truly fantastic trip, looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
Tour guests included; Steve Ambrose, Steve Bowtell, Steve Coates, Chris Duffy, Cliff Ford, Kylie Burnett-Brady, Matt Hook, Grant Guyomar, Ian McLeod, Judy Fogarty.
P.S Next time you see Steve Ambrose around Scuba World ask him about the new “recreational divers flag”, I know he would love to tell you all about it!!!!