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Dive Review of Mike Ball Spoilsport in
Australia/Great Barrier Reef

February, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by David Reubush, VA, USA
Top Contributor   (45 reports, with 8 Helpful votes)
Report Number 1246
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Galapagos, Red Sea, Caymans, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Bonaire, Curacao,
St. Thomas etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
cloudy  
Seas
choppy  
Water Temp
83   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
0
Water Visibility
5   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
We were asked to come back with 500 psi and not exceed 130 ft., but nobody
checked.  I believe that this was a result of the crew's finding out early
in the trip that all of the divers were experienced and handled themselves
very well.  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Photographers had a camera table on the dive deck for their exclusive use. 
Lots of space.  Boat photo pro was very helpful.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
2 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
The good:  The Spoilsport is a large, stable catamaran with comfortable
cabins, great dive deck, a large eating/lounge area, good food, and a great
crew.  I had a business trip scheduled for February to Australia and, after
travelling all that way, I was determined to dive the Great Barrier Reef. 
The Mike Ball reservations folks made making arrangements very easy.  I
used both telephone and email to correspond with them and everything went
very smoothly.  The boat can accomodate 29, for our trip there were only 11
(with 2 of them non-divers) and a crew of 10.  Needless to say, we got very
personal service.  Also, all of the single guests got private cabins. 
During diving operations the crew was perhaps the most safety aware of any
live-aboard I have been on.  There was always a look-out on the upper deck
to make sure that, should anyone have trouble, the response would be quick.
 They also checked everyone into and out of the water to insure nobody got
left.  The diving was generally very good, with healthy coral and a
generous variety of fish.  Of particular note were large numbers of
crinoids, various varieties of anenome fish, and large stands of staghorn
and plate coral.  They do a shark dive in the Coral Sea at a site called
"Scuba Zoo."  They have 3 cages set up in a U shape with a
garbage can of fish parts in the center of the U.  They agitate the can for
about 30-35 minutes to attract the sharks (almost all gray reef) during
which time you are allowed to stay on top of the cages.  Just prior to the
opening of the can you are sent into the cages and then the can is opened. 
The fish is gone in about 20 seconds and the sharks disburse.  I counted 28
sharks in one of the photos I took.  A really hoot of a dive.

The bad:  The only bad thing about the trip was the weather.  It stormed a
significant part of the week and there was always lots of sand in the
water.  We made the 7+ hour trip to the Coral Sea in a raging storm.  There
were crashes and bangs all night long.  I do not believe anyone got any
sleep.  The next morning the galley was a real mess, but breakfast went off
as scheduled.  Also, the first dive after reaching the Coral Sea was
supposed to be a wall, drift dive.  It was the only dive where we used the
tender.  The tender took us what was supposed to be up-current from the
boat and we were to drift the wall back to the boat.  Unfortunately, we
back rolled off the tender into a total white-out.  After surfacing to get
our cameras the photo-pro and I got separated from the rest of the group
and we couldn't even find the wall.  After surfacing again to get our
bearings we eventually found the wall and discovered that the current was
running against us so we had to work hard to get back to the boat.  We did
not make a second dive on this site.  The weather also prevented us from
diving the Yongala at the end of the trip.

What I wished I had known before I left home:  It is hard to imagine the
tiredness that comes from travelling 36 hours to get to Australia in
combination with the jet lag.  If I were doing this again I would make sure
I had ample time to rest and become acclimated to the time change before
getting on the boat.  As it was I did not dive all the dives at the
beginning of the week as I was just too tired.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.


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