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

Mike Ball Spoilsport, Feb, 2003,

by David Reubush, VA, USA (Top Contributor Top Contributor 62 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 1246.

No photos available at this time

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
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.

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 83-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 5-100 Ft/ 2-30 M

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
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
UW Photo Comments Photographers had a camera table on the dive deck for their exclusive use. Lots of space. Boat photo pro was very helpful.
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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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