Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Part 2

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Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Cairns » open water
May 4th 2012
Published: May 4th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Thursday 26th of April, after arriving to Cairns, we took photos of the crew and the guests, took their luggage to shore and then went on to clean the boat. My tasks were cleaning curtain showers, emptying and cleaning rubbish bins, etc. I was done with the whole thing at around 12:30pm. After that, I took a shower and went to get lunch in town. I arrived at a small restaurant where I sat down and ordered a steak hamburger with chips. Here, like a lot of other places in Australia, you can bring your own alcohol, so I crossed the street to a liquor store and bought a cold 750mm beer to have with my lunch. While having lunch, I updated the blog.

After that, I went to a park to sit for about an hour, catch up on the blog and other stuff. At 4pm I had to be back at the boat and then the usual drill of luggage, meeting the passengers, etc.

As soon as the passengers were on board, we untied the ship and took off. Then everyone went to the dining area for the initial introductions. This time the boat was almost full, with 24 passengers. I’ve got to say that I liked this crew a lot more than the one that was on the previous week; a lot more interesting and more diverse as well. The main difference with this crew and the other one was that with the latter, not many seemed interested or keen to have a conversation; I tried, but there wasn’t much of a response. For this trip, from the previous crew, there was Lisa (dive instructor from New Zealand who I had met in Sydney), Levi the chef (very funny guy), Becks (hostess) and Nick, the trip director, all Australian. The other ones onboard were Lia (Danish, hostess under training), Taka (Japanese, engineer under training), James (French, volunteer), Anna (Polish-German, first mate), Laurence (American, photographer), Trevor (skipper), Brendon (engineer) and Dawn (dive instructor), all Australian. From the passengers, there was a Brazilian, South Africans, Australians, Swiss, a Polish, Germans, Canadians and Americans.

Thursday evening wasn’t very interesting, just making our way up north towards the Cod Hole in Ribbon Reef 10, so not much to tell on that. What I did more on this trip is get to talk with the crew and passengers on the time off and met some really cool people. On Thursday, I grabbed a couple of beers with James, the French/English volunteer. It turns out he’s been travelling with his girlfriend for a few years now and during this time they’ve sometimes been travelling together or separately, as was the case this time. Very interesting guy and it was fun to have conversations with him. Then, there was Anna, a Polish/German girl who quit her job in Germany, came to Cairns and has been living here for 6 years, mainly working in diving and sailboats. Excellent diver and really knows her way around a boat. Lisa, the dive instructor, lovely, funny girl, had a lot of laughs with her. Levi the Chef is a hyperactive fellow, always laughing and making jokes. He started a game called “the game”. It might be confusing, but I’ll try to explain it (it’s actually pretty stupid). Whenever you think about “the game”, you lose and say “I lost the game”. It may not make any sense, but it was actually funny as the days passed. Lia, the Danish hostess under training actually had a similar taste in music than mine and we talked about music from mainly the 90’s, which is a topic I enjoy a lot; it was good to be able to speak about music with somebody. The other crew members with whom I also got along really well with and had time to chat and everything were Becks, Brendon, Dawn and Taka. I didn’t get too much time to talk with Laurence, but he was a funny and eccentric person.

As far as the passengers, there was an American guy, Jarod, a surfer who had been to Chile for some time and had good friends there. He was with another friend of his on the trip, Jeffrey, a pilot cop, both from San Diego, where I lived for 5 months in 2003. There were also 2 Canadian Air Force helicopter pilots, Patrick and Andrew (one of them had been operating on board the HMCS “Calgary”, same ship I was on for a week in 2009), so another common topic there. Heike is a friendly German girl who was travelling for about a month in Australia with a friend. As I said, definitely met a lot of interesting people this time, so I was glad I stayed on for the second week.

On Friday, I did two dives; one at the Cod Hole with two of the passengers: Jim and Mike (both Australian). They went through their air a lot faster than I, so didn’t get as much bottom time as would’ve liked, but still enjoyed the dive and saw about 3 potato cods, which was really cool. The second dive was at a place called “The Snake Pit”, because it’s a usual spot to see olive sea snakes (these are very poisonous, but rarely attack humans). I went on this dive with James and we saw a couple of sea turtles, a rare puffer fish, lion fish, a couple of sea snakes, etc. We did however miss a large group of eagle rays and sharks which other divers saw.

There was a night dive as well, but I skipped it because I wasn’t feeling that well, I was starting to get a cold. That night, I stayed up chatting after dinner with Lisa, Levi, Becks and other people until about 11pm and then to bed.

Saturday morning the cold struck me hard and I felt sick the whole day. I didn’t do any dives which was very frustrating. I started taking medications and between the dives in the morning and lunch I had time to sleep which was really good. In the afternoon I stayed helping in the dive deck and got some time off at around 6pm. I still wasn’t feeling well and thinking that I wouldn’t do any dives the next day as well. That evening I stayed talking with Taka, Brendon (the engineers) and Anna, until about 10pm. Then I worked on the blog for a while and went to bed.

Just as I thought, on Sunday I was still feeling like crap and all I wanted to do was sleep. I was in a foul mood and anybody who knows me will know I’m not easy going at all when I’m like that. On top of that, I wasn’t able to dive (which was my only motivation for being on the “Spoilsport”), which made me feel even more bitter. All this was a shame, because there were some really cool people among the guests, but I really wasn’t feeling like socializing. During the day, I helped in the dive deck and as a lookout during the dives. After lunch I got 2 hours of sleep which helped a little bit. In the evening it was barbeque night (it’s done every evening before there are guests departing). After dinner I stayed in the deck chatting with some of the guys from the crew and then went to bed at around 10pm. That night we navigated to Lizard Island and the shipped rocked quite a bit.

Monday morning we arrived at Lizard Island (this is where guests doing half a week on board get off and the others get on). On the way to Lizard Island we had 24 guests, 20 got off in the island and only 8 got on, so it was a lot more relaxed work-wise on the way back to Cairns. In the meantime the guests left and the others arrived, the crew members have to clean everything up in a timeframe of about 1 hour and a half. This day I was feeling much better (I had medication every 4 hours for 3 days), so I was in a better mood and looking to start diving again. We had the first dive at a site called Challenger Bay; a shallow site which goes no more than 25 meters and there was a bit of a current. For this dive I went with James and Helen (a guest who had just come on board). It was a really good dive; we saw a potato cod laying on the bottom, a white tip shark, moray eel, lots of bat fish, a lion fish, puffer fish, etc. The second dive was at a place called “Lighthouse Bommie”. For this one, I went with Becks and James. This site is a big bommie that goes from 25 to 6 meters. We descended straight to the bottom and swam between a large school of yellow fish; saw a couple of sea snakes, a shark nearby, another potato cod, another lion fish, sea turtles, etc. It was another excellent dive, I was feeling a lot better and I was in a very good mood. At the end, while I was doing the safety stop, I encountered Laurence, the boat’s photographer who signaled me to hover in a couple of places to take photos of a diver (me) with coral, fishes swimming nearby and the contrast with the light coming from the surface. After that, I went back to the boat and got changed. I didn’t go on the night dive because I had already done the first two dives after having a cold and I didn’t want to push it; so I was on lookout for this one. After the last dive, dinner time and then stayed chatting with a few people from the crew; got some advice on places to ask for jobs from Dawn and other people and then caught up on the blog again.

Tuesday I was feeling a lot better so I did 3 dives that day, including a night dive. We had a first dive at the Cod Hole (I went with James and Helen), then at another site called Pixie gardens in which I went with Helen and a night dive at Pixie Gardens again in which I had to dive with Mariuz, a Polish guy. During that day, I got to talk with Chris, a guy from Canada who worked in a research station in Alaska during the summer season and travelled for the rest of the year. He had been traveling in South America and spent a few months in Chile. Very interesting person and he had been doing this for about 6 years now.

After dinner, I stayed up talking with Todd (from Florida), Darren (From Australia), Levi, James and others. Todd and Darren both work as consultants for real estate businesses (mostly dealing with rents) and had some crude stories about "clients' revenges" to share. Todd was doing seminars in some parts of the world at the moment teaching how to set up these type of companies.

On Wednesday I did two dives; the first one at Steve’s Bommie with Stephen, an air traffic controller from Hong Kong and Helen. The last dive was at Flare Point and I dived in this one with Darren. For this dive, Todd lend me an underwater casing with a modified lens and a red filter (which compensates for the red colors being lost underwater) and the quality of the photos and videos with the GoPro camera I have are really good; much better than using the casing I have now.

That night I stayed talking with Cesar (a spanish guy who lived in Germany and was visiting his son in Australia), Darren, Todd, James, Jim (Australian) and Stephen.

Thursday morning we arrived, took photos with the guests, clean up the boat and leave the "Spoilsport". I went with James to Cairns to have lunch and a beer (he had to wait for his bus at 5pm to go back to Port Douglas). After that, we walked around for a while and I had to find a place to stay for the next days, so we went to a tourist information center and by coincidence, the girl working there (Sandra) had met James previously, so we stayed there talking for a while and I made a reservation in a Backpackers hostel (Global Backpackers). In the evening I didn't do much, I was dead tired, so I spent most of the time in the hostel.

Friday (today), I have to start looking for a job, I don't think I'll be flying back to Sydney for a while. I'll try to get something in the area and stay here for a few months. I have about 4 days to call, send e-mails, etc. and I'll probably go to Port Douglas and check that out as well. We'll see how everything goes...

Additional photos below
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4th May 2012

Hola Daniel, que entretenidos tus posts. ojala te vaya bien en tu busqueda de "pega" en Cairns. Aca todos bien. El Domingo esta de cumpleaños la Sofi. un abrazo Andres
5th May 2012

Saludos de vuelta
Hola Andrés, gracias por los comentarios y me alegro que estén todos bien por allá. Muchos saludos a todos, un abrazo a la Sofi por su cumpleaños y a ver si nos vemos en un par de venidimas más, un abrazo.

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