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Dive Review of Nimrod Explorer in
Australia/great barrier reef

June, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by fiona rattray, on, canada (10 reports)
Report Number 3521

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Reporter
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
[Unspecified]

Dive Conditions

Weather
windy, rainy, cloudy  
Seas
calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents  
Water Temp
79   to 0    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
0
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
come back to boat with 500PSI  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Comments
I was able to rent a digital underwater camera from a shop in Cairns.
Nimord Explorer office recommended them. The camera shop owner came to the
Eplorer office and gave me a 1/2 hour mini workshop on using the camera. At
the end of the trip, I got a CD burned of all my pics. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
2 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
I chose Nimrod Explorer due to reports in Undercurrent and also other
on-line recommendations. This was my first ever liveaboard, and it will be
the measure of any other liveaboards I take. The office in Cairns was very
helpful both in booking and answering questions. I stayed at the Fig Tree
Inn in Cairns before and after the trip.

The Nimrod is a catamaran that was built as a reseach vessel. She can take
18 passengers, on this trip there were 12, 11 divers and a snorkeler
(partner of one of the divers). All divers were experienced, some with 30
years of diving under their belts.

What you see on the website is what you get in real life. I was lucky and
got a cabin to myself on the upper deck. My room had its own head and
shower. The A/C was a bit cold in my room, but the crew did adjust it after
I requested. It was not noisy in my room. Electrical  outlets had
Australian style plugs, bring an adapter if you're from elsewhere.

Up to five dives a day including night dives; on this itinerary 16 were
available and I did every one of them. I chose the Cairns to Cooktown, 4
nights, 5 days trip. The boat goes out to the reef overnight, works its way
up the reef to the Cod Hole, then back down to Cooktown. You get a cool
low-level flight back over the reef and the Daintree rainforest to return
you to Cairns. 

If you take this liveaboard, the crew may be different, and you may go on a
different itinerary. There were 7 crew: captain, engineer, chef
(AnneMarie), apprentice cook, houskeeper and two dive masters (Kelly and
Dan). I took a tour of the bridge and the engine room, saw where the water
was desalinated and the compressor lived. There are two double topside
cabins, and the rest are quads located in the two catamaran hulls, the
usual unique catamaran geometry. The "saloon" where dive
briefings and food was served also had a video for movies and a small
library. There was a front area for sunning, but the weather on this trip
was unusually cloudy: sunny only on the last day. The dive deck was
spacious, and entry usually off the platform at the back, although side
entries could be made if conditions warrented. A hang bar at 10 feet was in
place on all dives, though it could float up in a current.

The food was amazing. AnneMarie is a gem. She told me she had studied
nutrition for athletes, and chose foods that were more easily digested for
divers (ie, less grease). She had fresh herbs, locally grown meats and
fish, and veggies/fruit. Food was placed on a sidetable and you helped
yourself. A small breakfast was offered before the early morning dive, then
a "real" breakfast (eggs, fruit, toast, etc). Lunch was salads,
sandwiches etc. Dinner included fish, chicken, beef, stir fries, curries,
and on the last night, barbequed ribs. Snacks were available between dives,
tea, coffee, juice, soft drinks, and water always on hand. Hot muffins,
brownies after night dives (plus hot towels!). You got a new spring water
bottle and put your name on it on the first day, then refilled it (reduced
plastic waste: good idea). Beer and wine available, if you paid in US$,
alcohol was free. First alcoholic drink, last dive of the day.

Divemaster Kelly provided good drawings of the divesites, and had great
information on critters to see. She and Dan alternated dives, one would be
available for the chase boat if needed, the other led the dives. You could
dive with your buddy on your own, or follow the divemaster if you liked.
Training was available in everything from AOW to solo diving, availability
depended on if the divemasters on board could teach the course. Solo diving
permitted with solo card on most but not all dives (due to current and
other conditions).

Each diver was given a dive flag on a collapsable pole which went on your
tank. One quick snap and the shockcord locked the pole into a 5 foot high
dive flag to wave if you needed help on the surface. Safety stressed at all
times. Oxygen and first aid available. You're 30 km. off the coast and
Nimrod crew are prepared for any event. You signed in and out of every
dive, recording depth and PSI. Nitrox analyzer for those using nitrox.
Dedicated camera table. Your gear (mask, fins etc) went under a bench and
your tank and BC stayed where it was, and was refilled from a whip between
each dive. Wetsuits hung up. Full gear rental available.

I can't begin to describe all the critters I saw. Some of them weren't in
the guide books on board the ship. Cod hole dive with the giant groupers
(called Potato cods in Oz) was everything advertized. Saw a Minke whale at
the start of the second dive and surface snorkeled with it for 45 minutes
on trail lines out behind the boat. Only a few dive operations in Oz have
licenses to snorkel with the whales, and there are regulations on how this
can be done: bottom line, no harassing the whales.

I saw lots of whitetip sharks, an octopus, tons of healthy coral, leaf
scorpionfish, pipefish, stonefish, lionfish, a sea snake, hunting trevally,
schooling jacks, turtles, on and on. Divesites I liked were Pixie Pinnacle,
Cod Hole, Dali's Dream.  We did a dawn dive on the last day; amazing to
jump in the water in the dark, watch the sky getting rosy pink, look down
for the schools of fish in your dive light indicating the bommie was down
there, do the dive and watch the shift change from night to day on the
reef, and come up into the sunshine of the new day. Worth every penny.
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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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