Working on a Live Aboard

Recently I had the opportunity to work on one of the top live aboard dive boats in Australia, The Spirit of Freedom. For those of you who are unaware of the Spirit of Freedom Operation, Jase Morden has been running annual trips to Osprey Reef for over 7 years. I now understand why we consistently get the numbers for this trip, many of which are return customers.

The Spirit of Freedom operates out on the word famous Ribbon Reefs as well as Osprey Reef, making a detour at Lizard Island during the course of the trip. These locations are the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, a place nearly every diver has somewhere high up on their ‘dives to complete’ list. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience this, these are the guys who are doing it in style, from the incredible quality (and quantity) of food, the dive staff, the hostess, the boat crew, onboard facilities, and probably the most important factor of all- the crew behind the scenes.


A view of Lizard Island from the helm.

My role on this 7 day journey was to shadow first mate Mick Chee and to absorb as much information as I could. My goal was to gain hands on experience on a larger vessel and in a different area of operation.

For those who don’t know me, I am one of the Skippers in the Scuba World team, and my license allows me to be the Master / Skipper of vessels up to 12m in length. My next goal is to work towards being skipper of vessels up to 24m in length. While I was there I hope that I was of some use to the crew, as they clearly had all of their bases covered at all times. By day two, I felt like my sponge of a brain had been dipped in a bucket of water, absorbed everything it could hold, then wanted to take on the remainder. These guys really know their stuff and have a lot of knowledge behind them. The skippers and Mates on board had not only loaded me up with a great deal of information, but provided me with the artillery to use it and the advice which I required to follow my intended career path.

Some of the main tasks on board which I was either learning or putting to practice included:

  • Operation and maintenance of complicated bilge systems
  • Engine room monitoring and maintenance
  • Watch duties
  • Radar monitoring
  • Chart fixing
  • Anchoring and mooring
  • Doing the dishes

I was most impressed with the efficiency of the crew in all tasks at hand, as I even witnessed the skipper himself drying dishes on more than one occasion.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Jo in administration, as well as all of the staff on board, all whom I learned something off, and unfortunately this article is far too small to mention everything I wish to. You know who you are and you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to be a part of your team for the week. I learned an incredible amount which I need for the continuation in my career path, and hopefully I can pass this on to help other people in the industry make their way through the ranks one day.

Chris Williams.

potato cod

Up close and personal with a potato cod at Osprey Reef