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Diving Information

Below you’ll find answers to diving related questions you might have.  For more general travel information and details about our liveaboard facilities please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Weather and Marine Life


Tropical storms (cyclones) can occur between December and April. If a cyclone threatens the safety of an expedition it will be cancelled. Statistically 1 week of diving is affected every 2 years. Trip cancellation insurance is recommended.

Coral Sea Access:  The most reliable Coral Sea access is from September to January. Access is prevented only 9% of the time but if weather forces an itinerary change we divert to the best safe and accessible sites to ensure you experience the best scuba diving available. A refund is not provided if Coral Sea is not accessed.

‘Fair Weather’ Itinerary: Weather permitting, our best selection of Coral Sea dives at Holmes, Bougainville & Osprey. Access is achieved 68% of the time, September to January.

Weather

Marine Life


Medical Fitness and Evacuation Statement


The following statement appears on all Mike Ball Dive Expeditions ‘Booking Form’:
I state that I am in good health for diving. I have no medical history of heart or lung disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or narcolepsy.

I understand if I have any medical condition contrary to safe diving I will not be permitted to dive unless I produce a diving medical certificate from a Physician that addresses my condition.

In addition I will not dive on your expedition if I am feeling unwell or I have a chest cold or respiratory congestion.

You are authorized to make medical and transport arrangements as may be determined in my best interest. I agree to pay expenses incurred on my behalf which may be charged against my credit card.

For Dive Course Medicals read more.

Orientation and Refresher Dives


Divers who have completed less than 15 dives, less than 5 ocean dives or less than 5 dives in the last 12 months are required to complete a complimentary onboard orientation dive. In addition, divers over 65 years old, who have completed less than 50 dives are required to complete the complimentary onboard orientation dive.

If you have not dived in the last 5 years we recommend you complete a Refresher Course to maximize your comfort, enjoyment and the number of dives that may be undertaken with us. ProDive Cairns can complete a private 2 hour PADI Refresher Course (AUD$159) before your expedition. This will need to be booked in advance.

If you have not dived in the last 10 years you will need to be either re-certified, or complete a Refresher Course and show proof of two logged ocean dives to dive with us. If this requirement cannot be met prior to travel we provide one Discover Scuba Dive per day with a depth limit of 12 metres. Additional Discover Scuba Dives will be dependent upon staff availability and will be charged at $50 per dive.

Exemptions for both of the above exist for divers with more than 200 dives or if Dive Master certified or higher.

Alcohol


Consumption of alcohol is restricted until after your last dive of the day.  You must have a minimum of 8 hours interval between your last alcoholic drink and your next dive.

Coral Spawning


Coral Spawning normally takes place when the water temperature is approximately 27 degrees, between the 2nd and 6th day after the November full moon. Warmer than median temperatures can cause the date to coincide with an earlier full moon, cooler conditions can cause spawning to coincide with a later full moon.

Decompression Diving


Decompression diving is allowed on special Deep Reef Expeditions and for special groups on application. Decompression diving is not permitted on standard expeditions without prior arrangement.

Depth Guidelines


Depth guidelines are based on the diver’s experience and industry standards. The maximum recommended depth for divers with appropriate experience is 40 metres (132ft).

Dives in excess of 40 metres (132ft)
1. Can only be undertaken by suitably qualified technical divers to the maximum depth as stipulated by the certifying agency.
2. Please advise the reservations staff as additional administration, procedures and technical support will be required.

Disabled Divers


Dive sites may be quite exposed which can create comfort and safety issues for disabled divers. Spoilsport was not designed to cater to disabled divers and is not suitable for divers who cannot make their own way around the vessel.
Prior to booking, please complete and return the Disabled Dive Questionnaire.

  • Cabins, bathrooms and diving are accessed from the main deck. Entry to the accommodation companionway has a step 23.5cm high and 12cm across. Door width is 61.5cm.
  • Dining and lounge areas are one deck up with 11 steps (21.5cm high & 65cm wide). Entry to the saloon has a step 26cm high and 10cm across. Door width is 61.5cm.
  • Dive entry is via a platform 170cm above the water or by 8 steps (24cm high and 57.5cm wide).
  • Premium, standard and club cabins have private adjoining bathrooms. Cabin doors are 57cm wide. Step height into bathrooms is 4cm. All showers have a sunken tray of 5cm.
  • Forward premium cabins standard double bed and rear premium have a queen bed. Standard cabins have twin single beds. The smaller Club and Budget cabins are less convenient with bunk style beds and very small bathrooms.

Also to be taken into consideration is the Lizard Island transfer in an inflatable dinghy, the walk from the airstrip to the beach (approx 400m with 30 across the beach) and the dimensions of our chartered aircraft which range from 5 to 12 seaters.

Supervision / Dive Buddy – A disabled diver must be completely independent or have an able-bodied buddy who can provide assistance for various conditions in and out of the water. We can provide an additional crew member to provide some assistance at an additional cost (refer Personal Guide Costs). This does not include physically maneuvering guests around the vessel or lifting from water.

Dive Site Selection


Dive site selection is based on the best dive sites available. Less experienced divers receive complimentary ‘site orientations’ as necessary, while experienced divers are given the freedom to plan their own dives.

Diving Insurance


You should ensure you have travel insurance which specifies medical evacuation and emergency support for scuba diving. DiveAssure offers cover for both Australian Residents & non-residents traveling to Australia. Australian and Asia Pacific divers can apply for DAN Membership and insurance at www.danap.org. Australian residents can also check to see if their ambulance service will pay the cost of a diver evacuation.

Equipment

  • Nautilus Lifeline – All divers are required to use a Nautilus Lifeline GPS (supplied free on loan).
  • Dive Cylinders – We have 42 tanks onboard. All are Air and Nitrox compatible; two thirds average 10.3 L (80 cuft) and one third average 11.3L (88 cuft).
  • Large Dive Cylinders – We have 4 x 120 cuf (15L) Nitrox & Din/K valve compatible, steel tanks available for hire (AUD$25/day).
  • Cylinder Valves – Valves are compatible with both US yoke (UK A clamp) and European DIN style regulators.
  • Pony Bottle and Regulator – We have 4x 13cuf (2L) Pony bottles and regulator sets available for hire (AUD$15/day).
  • Hire Gear Pricing – Please click here.

Equipment - Wetsuits


Please see the weather chart for water temperatures. We recommend a 3mm full wetsuit in the warmer months (Nov – Feb) and a 5mm full wetsuit in the cooler months (Mar – Oct). Minimum requirement when diving – wrist to knee coverage. For rental wetsuit sizes, please click here.

Flying after Diving


The flights between Lizard Island and Cairns included in our Fly-Dive itineraries are at an altitude of 200 to 300 metres and are safe to do after diving (they do not exceed the ‘600 metre’ ‘Flying after Diving’ ceiling).  For your onward commercial flight however we recommend maintaining a 24 hour interval before you fly.  The last dive on offer is completed at approximately 4pm however you should finish your diving earlier if needed based on your onward flight.

Dive Computer Considerations: Dive computers keep track of your ‘No Fly’ time. You must not fly while any ‘no fly time’ remains. Plan your diving to ensure your ‘no fly time’ does not exceed the time remaining before flying to an altitude in excess of 600m. ‘No fly times’ can vary from a few hours to 24 hours. We recommend planning for a surface interval of 18-24hrs before flying and carefully monitoring your ‘no fly time’ to ensure ‘zero no fly time’ remains before flying.

Risk: If you fail to comply with the flying after diving procedures you are likely to get decompression sickness. Decompression sickness can be fatal.

Guided Dives


It is not our policy for all dives to be divemaster led. We provide complimentary orientation dives to enhance skills; a scheduled morning & afternoon guided group dive and the opportunity to dive with our staff on an ad hoc basis. Dive site briefs include maps with topography, depths, currents and marine life. This service does not provide continuous personal or group guided dives, however Private Dive Guides can be booked.

Private Dive Guides

  • Dive by dive basis: For 1-3  people. Subject to availability, by request.  Per dive/ 1 person,  $50,  2-3 people $30 each.
  • Full expedition basis: Solely onboard to dive with you on all dives. AUD$350/day. Subject to berth & crew availablity. Not available during Minke Whale Season. Must confirm prior to final balance.

NB: Junior divers and those limited in depth experience may not be able to join all group guided dives.

Jellyfish


A variety of jellyfish inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. The majority of jellyfish stings are irritable to painful. The box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) can be present in inshore waters and estuaries in North Queensland from November to May and their sting can be fatal in extreme cases. Fortunately these are not seen at the outer reefs we frequent.

The small Irukandji box jellyfish (Carukia Barnesi) can be found on the offshore reefs. Stings are very painful however are rare and rarely life threatening. Since 1969 we have evacuated 2 guests with ‘Irukandji Syndrome’, no treatment was required.

Spoilsport has radio contact with emergency services.

Prevention: Wrist to ankle coverage with a full wetsuit or stinger suit is recommended.

Junior Divers


Age 12 to 14 years:

  • Diving service not available for children less than 12 years old.
  • Junior Open Water Diver Certification, less than 12 years old, not available.
  • Please review Rental Equipment Sizes (we recommended children bring their own equipment),
  • Junior divers requiring supervision are charged a ‘Dive Guide’ fee,
  • Participation on some dives may be prevented due to conditions,
  • Junior diver depth restrictions are not compatible with Coral Sea conditions.

Age Depth Conditions:

  • Junior Scuba Diver 12-14 years: Depth limited to 12 meters (40ft). Must dive with an instructor. Includes rental equipment (see note above) and one dive per day; extra dives $50 each.
  • Junior Open Water Diver & Junior Adventure Open Water Diver 12-14 years: Depth limited to 18 meters (60ft). Dive with parent/guardian or adult (18yrs+).
  • Junior Advanced Open Water Diver 12-14 years: Depth limited to 21 meters (70ft). Dive with parent/guardian or adult (18yrs+).
  • Depth limits for junior divers aged 15yr+ are the same as a regular adult certifications

Luggage Allowance

Maximum weight of any bag on any expedition = 25kgs (55lbs). Multiple bags allowed on non fly dive itineraries.

‘Fly Dive’ Luggage Allowance = 25kgs (55lbs) per person. 3 kg (6.5lbs) carry-on or 10 kg (22lbs) for professional photo/video housed systems.

If necessary you can freight excess items to be onboard Spoilsport for your Monday arrival at Lizard Island or we can on-freight excess items if you are on the Monday return flight.

Hand Luggage is limited to camera, wallet/purse, jumper or coat. Backpacks and camera bags are included in the luggage allowance and stored in the cargo hold.

If you would like more information please refer to here.

Main Vessel or Tender Dives


Most of our dives are from the main vessel while moored over the dive site. Each vessel has two rigid inflatables for use when conditions require, including drift and night dives. The inflatables are large and stable with substantial rear entry ladders.

Nitrox - Solo Diving - Rebreathers


We offer nitrox, solo diving and a rebreather service. Nitrox fills are EAN32 (32% oxygen) with a maximum 1.6bar PO2 at 40metres depth. Nitrox divers are required to dive with a nitrox computer. A complimentary computer workshop is offered to those hiring a computer. FREE nitrox fills during the expedition are included with the Nitrox course.

Solo Diving: Requires solo certification (available onboard)
Rebreather Divers: See Rebreather Service

Snorkeling


Snorkelers are required to snorkel with a buddy and follow MBDE snorkeling procedures.

Fly Dive Cod Hole Itinerary – Sites are suitable for competent snorkelers, weather/sea conditions allowing.

Fly Dive Coral Sea Itinerary – Not suitable.

Coral Sea Safari Itinerary – Days 4, 5 & 6 are suitable for snorkeling, weather/sea conditions allowing.

Unlimited Diving


There is no rush or limit placed on your dive time. Standard itineraries usually provide 3 dive sites per day. Normally we have an ‘open deck’ at a single site in the morning and visit 2 sites in the afternoon (this may be reversed). This provides divers with the freedom to dive as much or as little as they want. Those seeking a relaxed holiday may choose to do one dive at each new dive site while keener divers might choose to do up to 5 dives per day.