This is a story about my first Scuba Diving vacation a Live Aboard Trip, and it’s going to be the first of many trips. I loved it!! We arrived at the boat about 9 pm on a Monday night, and loaded all our gear on board. I found a bunk in the “ladies” room – 14 berths in each room downstairs. The crew sleep upstairs in part of the wheel house. Here’s a picture of the boat we went on – The Big Cat Reality.
Not much unpacking to do and the beds were all made up. I climbed into bed a couple of hours after the boat took off, wanting to get a good nights sleep ready for diving the next day.
Funny, I’ve never gone to sleep on a boat and I let the movement rock me to sleep.
I was woken up at 1 am by some weird noise, and thought it must be time to wake up. The boat stopped in a safe haven for a few hours, then at 5:30 am the engines started up and we took off for our first dive spot. I just lay back in bed enjoying the rocking and waiting for the rooster alarm I’d been told about.
The “rooster” came on at 7 o’clock, then music – “who Let the Dogs Out”. It was so funny!!!
The First Dive of the day was at Laurie Land ( named after the cook/diver/doctor)
My buddies for the first dive were Ruth, my advanced dive instructor, Paul, and Manuel. Paul was fairly new to diving, although confident, and fun to be with. Manuel was also doing his Advanced Open Water course.
I took awhile to descend and did some strange upside down and round about tricks, which Manuel and Paul had a good laugh about later on.
Paul said that Manuel used up a lot of air because he kept saying ” F-off” through his regulator. We noticed that Manuel said that a LOT – every time he got excited about something ( which was most of the time on that trip ). It’s understandable because there was LOTS to get excited about!!
We swam round for awhile looking at all the fish! At one stage, I noticed the other 3 hanging round watching me and I wondered what strange thing I was doing! They were making signals, pointing under me. I looked down and there was the biggest green turtle I’d ever seen. He was about 1.3 metres in diameter.
Paul was having a good laugh afterwards and said they were waiting for me to step on the turtle and for him to snap at me. He was beautiful and I’m so pleased I didn’t step on him:-)
We also saw a Wobbegong shark, Xmas tree worms and LOTS of other fish.
There’s a picture of a huge Wobbegong down further.
When we got back, Laurie had our breakfast ready, then after a couple of hours, we did our second dive.
Laurie, the Cook ( also a doctor in his real job) on the boat LOVES to dive. Laurie and his brother Peter ( the other of the 3 crew ) go off for a dive before all of us and come back with a detailed report, sometimes some video or photos and they draw a map for us. Then, Laurie cooks a meal or a snack.
Here’s Peter giving one of his reports!
The second dive was at Mary’s Lair, which was a fantastic spot. Ruth, Manuel and I went together. We did a giant leap from the higher side of the boat. ( I don’t like those giant leaps ). I ended up doing a belly flop and lost my mask for a minute.
I became much better at leaping into the water by the end of the trip!
There was an interesting cave at this location, about 15 metres long, so we swam through it.
We ascended very slowly, hung onto the bar for our 5 metre safety stop, and made our way to the stairs upto the boat.
My third dive of the day was at JJJ named after the radio station we were listening to.
I went down with another instructor this time – Megan this time. She is great!!! There was a really strong current and we had to hang onto the ropes on the side of the ship to swim over to the anchor chain. Then, we made a quick descent to get off the surface.
We got to the bottom and I could hardly believe what I saw. This gorgeous purple and white garden, so much prettier than I’d ever seen on the land. And, this very long bright yellow fish swimming next to the purple plants. Other smaller bright yellow fish swimming nearby. It was like I was in a dream with this pretty picture in front of me. And, most of the area was like that – all these pretty purple broccoli type plants everywhere.
We saw a HUGE Shovel Nose Ray – a silver colour. He just sauntered on past us!! Also some pink jelly fish.
Our ascent was a bit weird. Because of the current, Megan navigated so we went up towards the boat, then ascended way down 21 metres ( the deepest I’d ever been) below the anchor chain, and up to the bar.
The current was very strong by this time, so we hung on tight to the bar for 3 minutes, then made our slow ascent to the steps.
Megan was fantastic!!
I skipped the 4th dive and the night dive because of the current. It was fun watching the 7 other divers go off for their night dive, with all their little colored lights twinkling as they went off into the dark.
The Big Cat is a great boat for diving at night time, because there’s a huge beam of light coming from the boat, so divers can easily navigate their way back to the boat.
The second day I awoke to complete stillness!! The first day, the boat was just rocking all the time, and we walked about like we were drunk.
Ruth told Manuel and I we would do the Deep Dive towards our Advanced course first!
Another instructor, Ian would take both of us down and do some skills. We were going down about 26 metres, so the maximum time we could stay down was 20 minutes. The name of this dive site is Robert’s Shoal.
I was confident about the deep dive because I’d gone deep the day before. It didn’t seem much different really!
Ian showed us some different colours of felt that we would look at in the deep as well, just to compare the difference.
He also got Manuel and I to write our names on a slate, both forward and backward, and timed us. My name is VERY long ( middle one too )!
When we got to the 26 metres, we had a bit of a swim, then sat on the bottom and wrote on the slate again. Ian timed us again. I wrote my name forwards, and it took me so long, I forgot to write it backwards. Then, I remembered and took the slate back from Ian. He timed me from the beginning, including the “missed time”. Maybe I was a little “narced”!
After that, we’d been there 16 minutes ( time goes so quick under water ) and we made our way back to the anchor chain, and ascended very slowly, stopping at the bar for 5 minutes on the way back to the steps.
The second dive of the day was Charlie’s Chapel. This was a good place to dive too!! Lots of places to explore over the little rocks and choral. Some little caves to look through and very pretty plants again!!
This time, I went with Gary and Graham, a couple of guys who had already done their Advanced Open Water course.
For the 3rd dive, we went back to Charlie’s Chapel to do the advanced Navigation Dive We set a compass heading and swam 30 kicks, then set a reciprocal heading and went back the other way! Then, we did a square and practised natural navigation.
Ruth left Manuel and I at the anchor chain, and we were going to swim around a bit on our own. However, we both got low on air very quickly ( used up a lot of air while navigating ), so we ascended very slowly up to the bar again.
I missed the next dive and the night dive because I went off for a power nap. I woke up to this loud rock ‘n roll music and somebody making farting noises in the microphone. I went out onto the deck, and there’s 8 people all kitted up in their diving gear, singing and tapping their feet, some doing a kind of dance!!
Not easy to dance with all that stuff on their backs! It looked like Scuba Disco. They all had little colored lights on their tanks!!!
Off they went to the exit and did their giant leap into the dark sea!!! I’m not going to miss out on that ever again!!
On the 3rd day, we went down to one of the numerous wrecks around Moreton Bay. This one is named Cemento. This picture’s a bit weird, but then again the wreck did look a bit weird to me!
There was a strong Easterly current going across the boat and I had problems descending and started drifting off over the other side of the boat, away from the others.
Ruth swam over and helped me down. Thanks again Ruth! We met up with Melanie, Paul and Manuel at the wreck, 26 metres down.
Afterwards, the crew told me they were watching me drift away, and had the “Little Tender” ( a small inflatable boat ) out ready to rescue me on the surface! The crew do a great job of looking after divers!
The wreck was a 50 to 60 metre ship named Cemento. It actually sunk before it was meant to, so ended up upside down. The had to cut the doors off, so divers could see stuff inside!!
Ruth went in and out some door openings and came back and up again, while the rest of us watched. There were a few fish to look at!! It all looked a bit weird to me – first wreck I had visited.
The last dive of the trip was Flinders Reef, and was absolutely the most beautiful and BEST dive of all!!! Peter ( one of the crew ) took
Ruth, Manuel and I over to the reef, on the “Little Tender”.
We donned our fins and masks and fell back into the water, descended quickly, and the reef was absolutely breathtaking. It was covered almost completely with the most gorgeous coloured chorals, there were pretty little fish everywhere, and enormous turtles, sometimes in groups of 2 or 3.
A couple of times, I thought Manuel was going to run off with the turtles. He seemed mesmerised by them!!!
We drifted right along the reef, ascended, and there was Peter waiting for us in the “Little Tender”. He towed Manuel back to the Big Cat, then came back and got me, while Ruth went back for a dive on her own!!
The crew told me there are 240 species of choral on that reef, many more than they’ve identified on the Great Barrier Reef!
I recommend this Live Aboard Trip to anyone. I know, it’s my first, and I’m bound to be impressed. Some of the divers on this trip have dived all over the world, and say Moreton Bay is one of the best places to dive.
There’s rock, wreck and reef. There are over 20 different wrecks around Moreton Bay, with the Brisbane Tram, Chase Boat Whaling stations, Tugs, Old Sand Dredgers and Barges, and more..
After that Grand Finale, it was time to start packing up ready to go home.
On the way home, we had an amazing display of Whales!!!
At first, we saw one or two of them breeching and playing in the water from a distance. Then, one passed us very close ( about 10 metres away ).
We went back inside, then Jeremy ( the Skipper ) called out “whales at the bow. There were about 4 or 5 plus a calf playing in the distance. Going up and down, up and down, with their tails in the air. Put on quite a performance for all of us!!
What a way to leave Moreton Bay.
We had a wonderful time and I’m going on LOTS more Live Aboards!!!