June 2016 on the Great Barrier Reef

Time Will Tell

Captain Trevor Jackson

The bridge on Spoilsport runs right across the entire length of the boat. Ten metres in total, with the central three metres being chock full of state of the art Navigation equipment. We’ve got a computer to tell us where we are going, a guidance system to steer us through the coral maze, even a computer that tells us about any other boats around – how big they are, how fast they are going and where they are going. When it’s lit up at night it’s like riding in the Space Shuttle!

The other night in the middle of a blissfully calm ocean, I glanced over and asked the helmsman to expand the screen out on the chart plotter so we could see ‘something other than just us in the middle of the screen’. He duly did this, and soon I could see Holmes Reef behind us and a blank canvas ahead. He then asked ‘Do you want to see where we’ve been or where we are going?”. I pondered this question for a minute before responding ‘it’s probably best to concentrate on what’s ahead rather than what’s behind’. He adjusted the screen up so that Holmes was lost from behind and Bougainville appeared ahead. Now things were as they should be, but I couldn’t get the question out of my head…’what’s ahead?’.

In the middle of the night out there, the mind can race and I was running with the whole past present future thing. I thought about where we were headed and where we had come from. When I started at Mike Ball Dive Expeditions 10 years ago we concentrated mainly on the Ribbon Reefs and Osprey Reef…two epic dive locations that were, back then, our whole world. Now there was a myriad of destinations, specialty trips, wreckstravaganzas…something for everyone. Our past was long behind us and we had simply kept evolving. But what of those two original destinations, what were they like now, how do they stack up?

A few days later we had made our way to Osprey Reef and the place was going off. Recent bleaching scares had largely abated and the sharks were in full force as usual. Same thing another day later at the Cod Hole, where things were making a huge comeback, further south the Ribbons were still blowing divers minds. It seemed that the present and the past were knitting nicely together. Tonight as I made my way south towards Cairns, I got back on the chart plotter and expanded the screen out to encompass it all…Yongala to the south, Torres Straits to the north, 500 miles of Reefs in between, sharks, whales, coral… all these things were now our present. What lies ahead?….Only time will tell.

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