Another great trip with a really good operator.
This was a 8 day live aboard 'The Spirit of Freedom' which operates out of Cairns travelling to the outer reef as far north as Osprey Reef.
We left Cairns on the Monday at midday, motoring out of the harbour in sunshine with the city of Cairns fast disappearing to the west. We were on our way! Introductions to all the staff aboard the boat and to our diving companions for the next 4 days over, we repaired to our cabins to unpack and get our gear up to the dive deck and logged in ready for the first dive of the day.
The Spirit of Freedom is a very well oiled operation with every staff member well trained to make your dive holiday one to remember.
First dives were along the Ribbon Reefs which was fantastic. Good viz. Although the wind was blowing a bit on top it didn't bother us below. Next stop was Lizard Is. where we stayed in the lee of the island for a couple of days going from dive site to dive site and then, of course, to the Cod Hole. Unfortunately, the cod numbers have diminished a little over the 20 years that we have dived this spot but there were at least half a dozen willing cod that made the dive site as good as ever. Everyone enjoyed this site.
Then we headed into the main bay at Lizard Is. to drop off half our crew and several of the guests who were headed back to Cairns to continue their holiday elsewhere. The guest list for this trip included travellers from Germany, United States, Spain and of course, us Aussies. A good mix.
We left Lizard Is. to head north up to Osprey Reef for the next couple of days' diving. The weather deteriorated considerably and we were given the choice on whether to go on, knowing it was going to be rough or stay closer to land and in the shelter of the islands along the coast. Everyone opted to go on - that is what we came for! The rough weather made for interesting sailing during the night. Everyone came up fine in the morning so it wasn't too bad.
It is hard to imagine that we were about 120 kilometres off shore on the edge of the continental shelf diving in very deep open ocean. The wall diving here is spectacular and the fish life big and plenty of it. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much that 4 or 5 dives a day became the normal routine.
Our chef for the trip was the quiet silent type who cooked up a storm every night with his varied menu from his cubby of a galley. We started the day at 6.30 with 1st breakfast which was healthy cereal and fruit. Then off for the first dive of the day. Return and have 2nd breakfast - this time a full cooked choice! Bacon, eggs, chorizo, baked beans, hash browns, etc. Have a little (much needed after that meal) rest, check gear, write up the log and then off for the second dive of the day. Lunch which was always a beautiful smorgasbord of fresh salads, hot and cold meats, fruit platters and cheese. Rest up for an hour or so, have a read and then off for the third dive. Back for afternoon tea - fresh cakes or scones and fruit. Fourth dive for the day around 5p.m. then back for a lovely 3 course a-la-carte dinner. After all this diving and food there was always someone wanting to do another dive before bed!
This part of the world is really world class which is evident by the amount of people who travel from overseas to do it. We are very lucky in Australia to have such good diving right on our doorstep.
We can highly recommend the 'Sprifit of Freedom' operation for the professionalism, great staff chosen no doubt for their personalities and the high service we received.
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