Mike Ball – Spoilsport: Cod Hole & Coral Sea Trip (7-Nights)
A scuba divers paradise! Departing Cairns at 6:00 pm on Thursdays and returning to Cairns at 8:00 am Thursdays. One week (7-Nights) spent exploring everything from the depths of Osprey Reef on the Coral Sea, with its 1,000m wall drop-offs and amazing visibility, to the very best of the Great Barrier Reef on the far northern Ribbon Reefs.
This dive expedition can only be done on a liveaboard trip and due to the distances involved, one week is required to ensure you enjoy maximum dive time, balanced against the travel time. What can you expect to see scuba diving this area? A little of everything: more reef sharks than you can handle (The North Horn Shark Dive is spectacular), giant potato cod, schools of trevally, schools of barracuda, swarms of basslets, giant clams, sea turtles, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, flame file shells, sea turtles and much, much more.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions are world famous, they provide a 7-days / 7-night dive adventure, departing Cairns every Thursday. This 7-Night dive trip does involve some remote area diving, the dive locations and dive safety are paramount: this trip is recommended for those with advanced certification. All divers are fitted with a Nautilus Lifeline a small GPS location device. This is stored in your BCD pocket.
Mike Ball’s boat Spoilsport is the only Cairns liveaboard dive boat to offer solo scuba diving and rebreather services (for more information on this, please see the diving tab below). The tour price includes Cairns city hotel transfers and seven nights accommodation, all chef prepared meals, and bed linen on Spoilsport. Diving equipment hire is an extra cost. You can hire individual components or full dive gear (i.e. BCD, Regs, Snorkel, Fins, Mask, Dive Computer, and Wetsuit). Just make a note in the comments section of the booking form if you require this.
Spoilsport is Australia’s most awarded, liveaboard dive boat. This 30m twin-hull vessel takes a maximum of 28 guests, accommodated in 14 cabins which are serviced daily and configured to suit a range of budget and dive itinerary options.
Budget Cabins have twin bunk beds (shared bathroom); Club Cabins have twin bunk beds with private ensuite bathroom; Standard Cabins have twin beds with ocean views and private ensuite bathroom; Premium Cabins have a queen bed, ocean views, and private ensuite bathrooms.
Located over three levels Spoil Sport offers an air-conditioned spacious lounge, saloon, and outdoor sundeck to relax between dives. Grab a cold drink at the bar and relax in comfort. All meals are provided by Mike Balls permanent full-time chef. Crew to guest ratio is 12 Crew to 28 Guests.
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Please Note: Spoilsport will be out of the water on her annual buff and polish from (Thursday 09th February) – (Wednesday – 08th March 2017). As such it will not be operating any expeditions during this period.
Inclusions: Accommodation, all meals, all dives.
Optional Extras: 7 Day Full Equipment rental – $308, 7 Day Nitrox package – $150, PADI Advanced Course – $215, SDI Nitrox Course – $275, PADI Open Water Referral – $245
Reef Tax: $45.50 per person Marine Park Fee is payable direct to Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. This is included in the price table above.
|Prices are shown in Australian dollars and include GST. Prices subject to change without notice.|
Departs Cairns: 6:00pm – Thursdays
Returns Cairns: 8:00am – Thursdays
Detailed below is a basic itinerary, based on a standard trip. Please note, the itinerary may vary, pending weather and conditions. We have included highlights, as well as detailed trip information, for ease of reading. Please contact us for more information.
THURSDAY. Highlights: Checking-in, exploring Spoilsport and motoring overnight to the Ribbon Reefs.
MORE DETAIL: Your 7 day / 7 night Mike Ball Dive Expedition begins with luggage check-in at 2/3 Abbott Street, Cairns, prior to 4pm. Today you can explore Cairns city, its Esplanade, Lagoon pool, art galleries and restaurants. There is a reserved table at Mondos for Mike Ball guests available from 4pm. This gives you time to have dinner (at your own expense) and meet fellow divers before meeting the Spoilsport crew who will arrive at Mondos Cafe / Restaurant (under the Hilton) at 6pm.
From here, you will be escorted on the short walk to Trinity Wharf, where Spoilsport is berthed awaiting your arrival. The friendly crew will welcome you aboard and provide an orientation, as the vessel departs Cairns and commences its 120km journey north to the pristine Ribbon Reefs. Tropical fruits, meats and cheeses are served as you settle in to your comfortable surrounds, getting to know your fellow passengers and learning more about the Great Barrier Reef.
FRIDAY. Highlights: Exploring some of the fabulous dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs, including the world famous Cod Hole (weather permitting).
MORE DETAIL: Wake up on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs and prepare to start your scuba diving adventures! The Ribbon Reefs offer many fabulous dive sites, including the world famous Cod Hole, all bursting with a vast array of Great Barrier Reef fishes and marine life.
Some of the creatures you can expect to see on the Ribbon Reefs include, several varieties of Anemonefish, Trumpetfish, Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles, Nudibranchs, Giant Clams, Diagonal-banded Sweetlips, Groupers, Parrotfish, Wrasse, Trout, Damsels, Basslets and more.
Pending conditions, a highlight will definitely be the world famous Cod Hole! Crystal clear waters support shallow, sunlight coral gardens and are home to giant Potato Cod, who are used to divers visiting and happy to ‘pose’ for photographs.
Your first day of diving ends with a night dive, where you will get a completely different perspective of the reef. As you go to sleep, Spoilsport continues your journey, making its way north-east beyond the sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef into the Coral Sea.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY. Highlights: Scuba diving Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, with its 1,000m wall drop-offs, reef sharks, coral fans, amazing visibility and much, much more!
MORE DETAIL: The next two days of the trip are spent exploring Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea. Reef sites and dive times will vary, pending weather and conditions, but a highlight will be visiting the famous North Horn site for a shark feed dive.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions keeps all guests informed of the boat’s movements and reef sites, via comprehensive daily briefings. There are two things you can be assured of: the diving will be excellent and the meals and snacks will be plentiful.
Highlights of diving Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea include: sheer walls descending 1,000m, which are home to an amazing variety of life including man-sized soft coral trees and gorgeous gorgonian fans. Crystal clear waters generally have visibility up to 40m, allowing you to easily see the many residents of the reef, including green sea turtles, grey whaler sharks, silvertip sharks and hammerhead sharks, to name just a few.
Sunday night is party time aboard Spoilsport (no work for you tomorrow!), celebrated with an international BBQ feast. Remember to pack your loudest tropical shirt and prepare to feast on steaks, sausages, salads and more, all washed down with the complimentary red and white house wine. As you sleep tonight, Spoilsport makes its way back to the Great Barrier Reef and Lizard Island.
MONDAY. Highlights: Time to explore Lizard Island, farewell some friends and welcome some new guests aboard.
MORE DETAIL: Monday is a changeover day on Spoilsport. Today you farewell those guests who booked the Coral Sea Trip and welcome new friends, who are booked on the Cod Hole trip. It’s also a great opportunity to get off Spoilsport and stretch your legs on the scenic Lizard Island.
Passenger transfers and island trips are all made in the morning, you can expect to back in the water again just after lunch. Spend the rest of today exploring more dive sites in the Ribbon Reefs and weather permitting, a return to the spectacular Cod Hole. Option for a night dive tonight.
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY. Highlights: More amazing scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs. Certified scuba divers can enjoy up to nine (9) dives, including early morning and night dives. Chef prepared meals, cruising the Ribbon Reefs and sun rise and sun set over the Great Barrier Reef.
MORE DETAIL: The next two days of the trip are spent exploring the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs. Reef site sequence and dive / snorkel times will vary, pending weather and conditions. Some of the dive sites you may visit include: Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Pinnacle, Andy’s Postcard, Clam Beds, Vertical Gardens, Flare Point and Steve’s Bommie (an excellent dive site!).
The day to day diving aboard Spoilsport will run much the same as the first part of the week, with the dive crew keeping everyone informed of the ship’s movements and dive sites.
Wednesday is your last night in the Ribbon Reefs and aboard Spoilsport, so it’s party time again with another international BBQ. Fare includes steak with pepper sauce, spiced lamb lion chops, kangaroo, baked potatoes, salads, sausages and much more. Overnight, Spoilsport makes its way back to Cairns.
THURSDAY. Highlights: Arriving back into Cairns.
MORE DETAIL: There is no water action today. You will wake up to find Spoilsport docked in Cairns’ Trinity Inlet. A light breakfast is served aboard the boat, before you disembark at 8am with courtesy coach transfers back to your city accommodation.
This trip is recommended to advanced certified divers: open water certification is a minimum requirement, but please note that some of the Coral Sea reef sites do not even start until 18m beneath the surface.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions does allow solo diving, but only for divers with a Solo Certification (you can complete one of these on board, but must have an Advanced Certification and evidence of at least 100 logged dives).
Scuba divers travelling on their own will be paired up with other divers on board, who have similar experience / skill levels. Most of the diving is unguided, however, if you want personalised dive guides this service is available on Mike Ball Dive Expeditions at extra cost ($250 per day + berth cost for the guide). Contact us for more information.
The Coral Sea dive sites have 1,000m wall drop-offs. In regards to maximum dive depths on Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, depth guidelines are based on individual diver experience and industry standards. The maximum depth, for divers with appropriate certification and experience, is 40m. Dives in excess of 40 metres (132ft) to a maximum of 50 metres (165ft) can only be undertaken by divers with a minimum experience of 100 dives with 25 deeper than 30 metres (100ft) including one to a depth within 3 metres of dive being undertaken.
Dive safety is paramount on these trips, especially given the remote location of some of these reef sites. There is no reverse profiling. There are no set limits on dive time: although divers must return to the boat with a minimum of 50 bar of air left in their tanks.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions has an open dive deck policy, allowing you to dive as much, or as little, as you like. Most certified divers will do up to five (5) dives per day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon plus a night dive). On a normal itinerary, Spoilsport will visit up to three (3) different dive sites per day.
Diving equipment is not included in the tour price. You are welcome to bring your own or hire it on the boat ($280 for 7 day full equipment rental). All divers are required to use a Nautilus Lifeline GPS (these are included). Extras include: Nitrox and the choice to participate in some dive courses (PADI Advanced or Nitrox).
Certified divers can enjoy up to 26 dives on this trip: you do not have to do all of the dives, do as many or as few as you like.
Certified divers will be required to show evidence of their certification: through current dive licenses and log books. All divers will be required to sign a Waiver Release and Indemnity Deed on board the boat. You will also be required to complete dive medical paperwork on board.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions are just that, dive trips. However, snorkelers and non-diving partners are more than welcome to join in. Please note that the Coral Sea does not really have any suitable snorkel sites, although some snorkelling may be enjoyed on the Ribbon Reefs. Discounts apply for snorkelers: contact us for more information on prices.