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Dive Review of Spirit of Freedom in
Australia/Great Barrier Reef

Spirit of Freedom, Dec, 2012,

by Steve Dussault, NH, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6822.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving North America, Central America, South America, Micronesia, Indonesia,
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deeper than 40 meters, NDL less than 5 minutes, 60-70 minute bottom time
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments Large fresh water camera tank on the dive deck and a camera area inside. The camera area is a bit crowded with laptops and the charging receptacles are underneath a table and can be difficult to get to. The crew will transport your camera to you after have entered the water.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We did the 7-day trip to Cod Hole and Osprey Reef. The 7-day trip really consists of 2 trips - Monday to Thursday to the Cod Hole and Thursday to Monday at Osprey Reef. Divers who have signed up for the 3-day trip fly back on Thursday from Lizard Island and the divers who have signed up for the 4-day trip arrive by plane from Cairns. Thursday morning we did a short nature walk on Lizard Island and went swimming in the bay while waiting for the airplane to arrive. Those on the 7-day trip lose two dives on Thursday morning due to the diver switchover and orientation.

Diving in Australia: According to the Spirit of Freedom crew, the state of Queensland, Australia has the most and strictest regulations in the world for SCUBA diving (www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/resources/pdfs/recreational-diving-recreational-technical-diving-snorkelling-cop-2011.pdf). For example, you have to report your max depth and bottom time upon returning to the live aboard and sign the sheet acknowledging that you are back on board. The SoF provides to each diver a Nautilus Lifeline (www.nautiluslifeline.com/) to carry with you while diving. Due to the popularity of the Great Barrier Reef, divers ranging from beginners to experienced dive via a live aboard. The crew does a great job adapting to the wide range of abilities and experience.

Front Office and Online Booking: The office staff at SoF are very professional, helpful, and prompt to respond to e-mail inquiries and questions.

Boat: The Spirit of Freedom is a good sized live aboard vessel with ample space everywhere but the dive deck. They can accommodate a maximum of 26 divers. During our 7-day trip there were 25 divers, and the dive deck was very crowded and can be difficult to move around at times. The dive platform is large and easy to enter and exit the water. Typically the boat is moored at the stern and all you have to do is follow the mooring line to the dive site. The boat is well maintained and in great shape with independent air conditioning in each state room. The food is freshly prepared, there were many different types of dishes and the meals were very good. They serve a continental breakfast at 6:30 am. First dive is at 7 am. There is a hot breakfast served and another morning dive at 10. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style. Afternoon dives are at 1 and 4. Dinner is served individually to your table at 7 pm. There are evening BBQs at the end of the 3-day trip Wednesday night and again at the end of the 4-day trip on Sunday night.

Upon boarding the boat your photo is taken then posted on a central bulletin board with the other guests and crew so you can try to learn the names of all the guest and crew.

Diving: The diving on the trip is very diverse. You get to dive with the large cods, sharks, turtles, and lots of fish. Depending upon where you have dived before you may not find the coral (soft and hard) as healthy and colorful as other locations. There are 4 to 5 dives a day. There is one night dive during the 3-day trip and one during the 4-day trip. Maximum depth allowed is 40 meters with an average bottom time of 60 minutes. NITROX (30%) is available and is recommended for the multiple dives. If you are flying immediately the day after the trip you may be limited to the number of dives you can do on the last day. SoF enforces 24 hours of no diving before flying so plan accordingly.

Ecological Awareness and Diver Etiquette: The policy on the SoF is that gloves are discretionary. I would hope that the use of gloves would be banned to help protect the health of the reef. Also the use of the reef sticks should be banned. Dive Operators should provide recommendations to divers how to be neutrally buoyant and streamline their equipment so that they do not drag their loose and flailing equipment through the coral.

Summary: The Spirit of Freedom is a very good diving experience on a live aboard for new and limited experience divers. For experienced divers looking for challenging diving and drift dives along the outside wall, this trip may not fulfill all your expectations.



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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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