As you probally remember I decided to volunteer on a liveaboard dive trip because I was dissapointed with the divesites at the Great Barrier Reef – and was told, that the really good stuff were to be found in the Northern part of the Reef. So I flew to Cairns and reported for duty on the vessel TAKA.
TAKA duties for a volunteer
Little did I know, what awaited me as a volunteer on the ship. I thought there would be 20 guests and I had to do the dishes.
I had to do the dishes, but there were 28 guests and 12 crew. Double. On top of that, there was only 40 mugs and no way of identifying them, so whenever someone would take a drink, there was more to dish. Did I mention that diving makes you thirsty and wanting water, coffee and tea?
Oh – of course you also get hungry after diving, so of course there was also snacks between meals – and hence even more to dish.
Further I had to vaccum the boat every morning and hence not do the first dive (of 4 in a day). On the last day I had to clean all 7 ensuite showers and toilets.
So all in all a learning experience. Basically I spent all time not in the water diving in the kitchen doing the chores!
Was it worth it? Well. See below.
The diving… world class
The first location was the Cod hole in the northern Great Barrier Reef – close to the Lizard island. A divesite, where only few ships come, and hence the site was prestine… There was major Potato Cods and they were almost tame. You could pat them as a puppy… Phenomenal diving… In one dive I saw several majestic Cods, several sharks, stingrays and beautiful corals… But this was not the best divesite.
We visited more great sites on our way back from the Cod Hole to Cairns. Among these the sites were: Clam Garden, Temple of Doom, 2 2/3, caves and …
This site is very small. One bommie only. But on one side it is a wall with like 30 m depth, and on the other it is shallow. I has beautiful corals, lots of life, and even turtles, sharks and stingrays. I have been told, that even Manta Rays have been spotted here. Phenomenal site. From all the diving I have been doing around the world, this site is on my top 5!
Unfortunately I was doing the dishes after breakfast when the other divers experienced the Minkey Whale up close under water. But I got to see the whale from the boat as I circled for a long time…. Waau, so beautiful and graceful.
On our way to the next divesite, a 4 hour trip, we had company of Dolphins more or less the whole way… Like you see in movies. Amazing.
All in all
The Great Barrier Reef certainly have phenomenal dive sites and are worht a trip. But if you are experienced, or accustomed to great diving in ex. the Rred Sea or Indonesia – do not bother going to the Saxon or Hastings or other reefs close to Cairns. Go to the Northern part of the reef. It is extremely expensive, but worth it.
Also: The dive sites Troppos and Caves are actually located on the Norman and Saxon Reef – and are available for daytrips and liveaboards.
Finally a note about the liveaboards I experienced.
Deep Sea Divers Den
I went with Deep Sea Divers Den. A very professional and organised company I can highly recommend. Great people, good security and equipment, good service.
They have two liveaboard boats/ships: TAKA, which is going to the North Great barrier Reef and Reef Encountes, which is permanently stationed at Saxon/Norman reef.
Is a “real” liveaboard boat and not very comfy or spaceous. The cabins are primarily shared with shower/toilets on the dive deck. If you go, there is almost no difference between twin or 4 share. The equipment is very good (new BCDs were delivered as I arrived). There are 6 staterooms with own toilet/shower and they are located on the top floor (less motor noice). They are all ok, but stateroom 2 is in my opinion the best. On TAKA guides are free of charge. TAKA has Nitrox tanks and equipment.
The Reef Encounter is a big catamaran and it is very spaceous and luxurious. A great boat to spend more days… Even twin rooms (2 share) are great and all have ensuite toilet/showers… The price/quality is amazing and quality and preparation of food is very good. Defintely a good buy (if you can convince the crew to go to the named locations!). The only “bad” thing I can say about this – apart from the dive sites – is that customers arrive and leave every day, and this creates some commotion. Also guided dives are extra AUD 15 per diver per dive, which is horrendously expensive!
All in all
It was a great experience. Great fun. Exceptional diving and a lot of hard work. So would I do it again? The trip yes, the volunteer – I seriously doubt it.
So my plan is to complete my SCUBA instructor certification (in Thailand in August/september) and then volunteer as an instructor – or better still. Become a paid instructor on staff and get paid to dive the best sites! YEAAH!
Saturday I flew out of Cairns to Nadi in Fiji via Brisbane…