Tauchkreuzfahrt ‚Spirit of Freedom‘

DSC06951Die Spirit of Freedom ist ein tolles Schiff, auf dem ich die Tour durch die Ribbon Reefs bis zum Osprey Reef von Cairns aus gebucht hatte. Die Tour beginnt und endet Montags in Cairns. Man kann aber auch Mo-Do die Ribbon Reefs Tour haben, oder Do-Mo die Tour zum Osprey Reef. Donnerstags endet die eine und beginnt die andere Tour dann auf Lizard Island. Es lohnt sich auf jeden Fall die ganzen 7 Tage zu buchen, was allerdings bei den Preisen in Australien nicht ganz billig ist. Für mich eine ‚once in a lifetime‘ Erfahrung, die jeden Cent wert war. Die Überfahrt zum Osprey Reef – und auch die Rückfahrt – waren sehr rau und wenn man nicht ganz seefest ist, braucht man viele Tabletten, die die Crew gerne zur Verfügung stellt.

Während meiner Reise vom 01. bis zum 08.07.2013 – also im australischen Winter – habe ich Zwerg-Mink-Wale erleben dürfen (nur zwischen Juni und August möglich) und ich habe zum ersten Mal am Osprey Reef einen Hammerhai gesehen. Die Wassertemperatur lag bei 23 – 24 Grad. Die Anzahl der möglichen Tauchgänge pro Tag schwankt zwischen 1 und 5. Für Anfänger würde ich die Tour nicht empfehlen. Es wird oft an Drop Offs getaucht und der Sicherheitsstopp ist oft im Blauwasser durchzuführen. Allerdings sind die Tauchlehrer und Guides an Bord sehr hilfsbereit.

Hier sind die beiden Berichte von Renee, der Crewleiterin zu der Kreuzfahrt:

Spirit of Freedom – TRIP Gallery

Mon 1st July 2013 – Thu 4th July 2013

A glistening sun and calm sea conditions await the 23 newest divers and snorkelers from all corners of the globe aboard the almighty spirit of freedom and after a warm welcome from our amazing captain Tony we disembark cairns harbour and set sail for Norman reef for orientation dives and a chance to explore the local area.

We arrive at Norman reef ready for action, two afternoon dives at Caves were the dives planned for day one of our adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. Close encounters with white tip reef sharks and Giant trevally were had and some great macro critters were also seen in and around the reef such as: nudibranchs, pipefish stone fish and tiny commensal shrimps cleverly disguised around the reef. The second dive was a nice contrast with the fading sunlight adding a level of ambience to the reef and giving everyone a taste of the nightlife. After the days diving and a few well-deserved wines we begin our overnight steam towards the Cod Hole and the ribbon reefs.

Bright and early we arrive at the cod hole to begin our five-dive day the cod hole was harbouring some very exciting marine life such as: the resident Potato cod, Grey whaler sharks in the shallows hunting amongst the school of paddle tail snapper, giant clams, Flowery cod trying to disguise themselves amongst the reef, the local and very Inquisitive napoleon wrasse and many different variety of clown and anemone fish and many more. So far the exploratory dive at the cod hole and the Cod feed were the two favourites of the trip. After the cod hole we get underway and head towards two towers a very possible Minke Whale location and a great chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful mammals that grace the ribbon reefs with their presence every June and July, and it lived up to its expectations with up to 7 whales coming up very close to all the divers and snorkelers for over an hour, this was a truly special dive for everyone.The afternoon was spent at challenger bay for the afternoon & night dive. The dives were spectacular and plenty of marine life was out and about putting on a great show for everyone. Giant trevally and sharks cruising around the shallows and moray eel’s free swimming in between stag horn coral in search of some un suspecting fish to feast on added an element of action to the night dive which was a first for the lovley Monica who is also on her way to completing her PADI Advanced Open water.

Our last day of diving the ribbon reefs started off at pixie pinnacle and such a beautiful dive site with large schools of fish such as trevally, surgeon fish and barracuda hanging out in the blue contrasted perfectly with the orb of purple & orange Anthias and the nice variety of soft and hard corals and this was the location of the Deep dive portion of our PADI advanced open water course being conducted by our awesome course instructor Jack. This was yet another amazing dive for everyone to get up close and personal with Dwarf minke whales. Pixie wall was the next dive and after a very satisfying hot breakfast everyone was keen to get in to explore the nooks and crannies inside the reef and a few surprise minke whales came in close to the dive site. The last two dives of the trip were at rods rock & Dynamite pass, rods gave all the snorkelers and divers yet another magical minke whale experience and some close encounters with olive sea snakes  and dynamite was another exciting drift dive offering some close encounters with turtles sharks and a stunningly beautiful lagoon well worth exploring.

After all the diving we all scramble aboard and head towards Watson’s bay for a BBQ and a few celebratory beverages.

Congratulations Penny for completing her adventure diver course whilst on board and to Monica for completing her PADI Advanced open water course

Thanks to all aboard this week it was a blast

Until next time

Renee Brown

Trip Director



Spirit of Freedom – TRIP Gallery

Wed 4th July 2013 – Sun 8th July 2013,ht

After a glorious stroll around lizard island we wave good bye to captain tony and all our lovely cod hole passengers and welcome aboard captain Sam along with Elke and Mark from the previous trip and our 10 new e passengers just flown in from cairns. After some warm welcomes and an orientation to the vessel we set sail for ribbon reef 9 3/4

After disembarking lizard island we steam towards ribbon reef 9 2/3 to pixie gardens for the afternoon. Everyone enjoyed the checkout dives thoroughly as they were treated to crystal clear visibility and some exciting marine life such as the giant barracuda curiously hanging around waiting for all the divers to jump in giving everyone a bit of a surprise. Quite soon the sky turned from blue to purple and gold presenting one of the most beautiful sunsets to all the divers as they surfaced. Once everyone was back on board we pack up the deck and commence our steam towards osprey reef.

Good morning osprey reef as we arrive with the sun, and first up we dive castles to explore the lagoon and all its wonders. White tip reef sharks sleeping in the sand, a fusion of colourful fish and corals, garden eels waving around in unison and some exciting caves to explore. This really set the tone for the day and got everyone excited to dive silver city which was next on our agenda, a sheer drop off as far as the eye could see beautifully decorated by giant soft corals and gorgonian fans adding an element of mystery and wonder, the amazing lagoon inside of the wall was an excellent place to cruise around for a majority of the dive and 20 plus baby grey whaler sharks swimming around was nice surprise indeed and with one of our lovley divers Elke sighting her first hammerhead shark. Next up the Main Event! Our Shark Attraction Dive!!! All 20 divers followed the briefing with military style precision and before we knew it, the cage was open and up to 50 sharks, mostly Grey Whalers were competing with each other and 2 rather brave potato cod for their share of the tuna heads. Once all the food was devoured we explored the area cruising along both the blue marlin and soft coral walls. Our last dive at osprey was at half way wall a nice easy dive with some cool caves and swim throughs and really unusual coral formations keeping everyone busy for the afternoon exploring the almighty osprey reef. Unfortunately due to an increase in wind and rather sloppy surface conditions we had to leave osprey a day early and head back towards the ribbons to hopefully encounter a few dwarf minke whales.

The first stop on Saturday morning was the snake pit and a wonderful surprise awaits us as we enter the water, MINKE WHALES EVERYWHERE! Up to 5 at a time and very playful social behaviour was evident as these beautiful animals circled around very closely and came up very close to all the divers and snorkelers making this a true highlight for everyone and vey much a once in a lifetime experience. Sea snakes and a giant loggerhead turtle also made this a spectacular dive that kept everyone busily chatting and swapping photos and movies all morning. The other highlights for the day were the dives at the cod hole and pixie pinnacle. The cod hole was alive with very amorous potato cod hanging around for a few pilchards and up to 8 grey reef sharks circling around the shallow reef wall. Pixie pinnacle didn’t disappoint, as the divers spiralled around this monolithic structure amazed by the fusion of colour and explosion of life surrounding the reef making for a very colourful dive. In the afternoon we moved over to Wonderland gardens to enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon and evening dive. After the night dive we steam down to ribbon reef 3 to spend Sunday diving Steve’s bommie and flair point. The 2 dives at steves were amazing as usual and the dives at flair were also fantastic, two very chilled out drift dives were an excellent way to end an exceptional trip

Congratulations to Woody & Sarah for celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary we are so happy you decided to spend it with us we  hope we will see you for your 60th

And congratulations to sarah for completing her 400th dive while on board spirit of freedom

And to Jake & Isabel the lovely newly weds we wish you guys all the luck for the future

And to James for perfecting his buoyancy and completing his peak performance buoyancy specialty

Thank you to everyone on this trip, on behalf of all the spirit of freedom crew we wish you all the best and hope to see you in the not too distant future.

Until next time

Renee Brown

Trip Director



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