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is a Mike Ball trip and I'm a Mike Ball junkie. My fourth trip with
his team. Obviously I like the company. YMMV
Cod hole trip is now the shortest trip run by Mike Ball and has 3
diving days. You can take it from Cairns to Lizard island or vice
versa. I booked onto the lizard island to cairns version.
complete group of passengers met at the Cairns Colonial Club at 7 am
on Monday for check in, review of C cards and general briefing.
We then loaded onto a mini bus for a brief (15min) trip to the airport
where we boarded one of three 10 seater plans to fly to Lizard island.
The flight is low level ( 200 meters) in recognition of people who may
have been diving recently.
En-route we had a great look at the reef
and also got a good view of a wreck that had run aground a couple of
we stepped of the plane on arrival at Lizard, we were greeted by a
video camera and a couple of the crew. The departing passengers who
had just come from cairns were waiting to take the same flights back.
were quickly loaded onto Zodiacs for the trip out to Super Sport in
the Lizard island bay. Top
all Mike Ball boats Super Sport is a purpose built catamaran that is
around 100 feet long. It takes up to 26 passengers and has a good crew
complement. There are three main decks. The top sun deck, the lower
cabins and alfresco deck and the main dive deck with more cabins,
dining area kitchen etc. There is also a lower deck that has some of
the economy cabins ( bunks) crew quarters engine room etc.
are good. The deluxe cabins have their own showers/toilets. The others
share around 6 bathrooms. Each room is air-conditioned BUT be warned.
The aircon can be mighty fierce! Its NOT adjustable in the cabins. I
wasn't cold at night but some of my camera gear fogged upon leaving
is plentiful and good quality with wine being provided at dinner.
Additional alcohol can be purchased from the bar which runs on an honour
system. The rule is - you drink - the days diving is over - also applies
to snorkelers. Top
boat is set up with a large dive deck, Camera table and plenty of room
to stow your dive stuff. It's the routine of putting your gear together
once for the trip and your tanks get filled in situ. Very convenient.
is available for a small extra cost (AUS$20 / day) and Nitrox courses
are available. I dive Nitrox and got a consistent fill at 31.4% so a
MOD approx 30m - more than enough for this trip.
dive briefings are given at every new site, buddies arranged if
required and the offer of a Guide frequently made. If there are any
particular things to look out for, these are highlighted during the
briefing and often the crew will place a cylume stick near unusual
critters when they find them.
are "required" to do your deepest dive first and a max depth
of around 40 meters (not an issue here - can't get that deep without a
shovel :-) ).
is great assistance in getting in and out of the water as required, a
lookout on deck at all times and a rigorous rollcall recording system.
Clean towels after every dive and warm showers. Drinking water available and
offered frequently. Top
first dive for us was at the cod hole itself. A checkout dive really,
so the crew could identify those who were going to kill themselves :-)
quite shallow ( 20 m) and, of course, the main attraction are the
giant potato cod. ( Imagine a Volkswagen with fins).
second dive on the same site is the Cod feed which is a set piece that
is video'ed. Not really my cup-of-tea and it does get silty as people
flounder on the bottom but - its a big attraction.
off for a night dive at a local reef. Only 3 dives the first day.
next few days were great, with sites like Lighthouse Bommie and
Vertical gardens. There is massive growth on these places and heaps of
hard and soft corals. Fish life is plentiful and some of the bigger pelagics
turn up. Not as many sharks as you would hope - but that's the arena
of the coral sea. Nudibranchs abounded and lots of anemones with attendant
was between 20 and 35 meters and water temperature 26 Celsius.
I wore a 3mm full length wet suit but was chilly toward evening after
a number of dives. 5mm shorties are available on the boat for a nominal
fee ( as well as all other equipment). Top
boat is pretty well set up.
of power points ( 240V mainly but 110V available in rooms).
table is centrally located and - in general- kept clean of clutter (
stressed by the trip director during briefing). There is an air gun on
the table if you want one.
tubs are available on both side of the deck ( by the exit/entry
points) and are kept filled with clean fresh water. The crew are
camera savvy and more than willing to hand you your gear / collect the
gear from you on each dive. There is a TV in the main dining area that
you could hook your camera up to to review shots if you want. Top
Photographer / non diver
is the trip to take if you only recently qualified. Easy diving in
spectacular places. Warm water and great visibility. The currents are
infrequent / mild ( in my experience) and the seas calm.
the non-diver, snorkelers are well catered for and not treated as
second class citizens. Top
as I said - my 4th trip with Mike Ball, and 2nd on this itinerary
(others were in the coral sea). I like the atmosphere and ease of
diving. The food is good, the accommodation excellent and the crew
brilliant. The visibility never fails to please and there as soooo
many critters to photograph!