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Any thoughts about Mike Ball


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#1 Grayscale

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:59 AM

Hi.
Seems like I'm going down to Australia for a couple of weeks in Nov/Dec with my family.
While they stay on land, I thought that I'll go for a liveaboard for a few days.
I've been recommended Mike Ball from a few friends and just thought I'd ask you guys here what you think about them?

The last topic about them was made i Nov-09, but I'm sure someone has some fresh info.

Anyone?

Thanks

#2 BrendanS

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 12:11 PM

Hi.
Seems like I'm going down to Australia for a couple of weeks in Nov/Dec with my family.
While they stay on land, I thought that I'll go for a liveaboard for a few days.
I've been recommended Mike Ball from a few friends and just thought I'd ask you guys here what you think about them?

The last topic about them was made i Nov-09, but I'm sure someone has some fresh info.

Anyone?

Thanks

Having done number of trips over a 12 year period(both 4 & 7 night) with the other operators, my next trip will be with Mike Ball.

#3 Alex_Tattersall

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:33 PM

Fully recommended, although caveat I went with them 8 years ago.
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#4 wobby

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:57 PM

Can highly recommend Mike Ball's Spoilsport, one of the best liveaboards in the world. Can also recommend Spirit of Freedom both have great crew, food, cabins and diving.

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#5 eyu

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:42 AM

When I did a coral sea live-a-board we were timed from entry on the dive until return to the boat and were warned if we were over 50 minutes that we would no be allowed to dive the rest of the trip. Is this practice still in effect?

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#6 NWDiver

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:50 AM

It has been a while since we dove with them but really enjoyed both trips, GBR and PNG. We did not find them restrictive with time. In fact they use to have a Solo Diver checkout dive you could do. We would go out with them again, no problem.

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Edited by NWDiver, 08 February 2011 - 06:53 AM.


#7 SimonSpear

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 09:03 AM

When I did a coral sea live-a-board we were timed from entry on the dive until return to the boat and were warned if we were over 50 minutes that we would no be allowed to dive the rest of the trip. Is this practice still in effect?


:( That's almost Caribbean style draconian diving! I guess that would have been me banned after the first dive then! :D

#8 eyu

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 05:12 AM

:( That's almost Caribbean style draconian diving! I guess that would have been me banned after the first dive then! :D


Yea, it was a real bummer. Could not enjoy the dives with the time limit and the threat of not being allowed to dive.
Had I known about this prior, I would spent my money on a live-a-board in Indonesia, Raja Amput or PNG instead.

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#9 AllisonFinch

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:59 AM

When I did a coral sea live-a-board we were timed from entry on the dive until return to the boat and were warned if we were over 50 minutes that we would no be allowed to dive the rest of the trip. Is this practice still in effect?



Holey tamale!!

I would totally avoid diving with an operation like that! On my last liveaboard, I consistently logged from 60-118 minute dives. As long as it didn't interfere with departure times, the crew had no problem with it.

#10 Grayscale

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 12:00 PM

When I did a coral sea live-a-board we were timed from entry on the dive until return to the boat and were warned if we were over 50 minutes that we would no be allowed to dive the rest of the trip. Is this practice still in effect?


When was this? Even though I won't go until nov 24 (if I go with them) I'd still like to book everything now just while it's not fully booked.

#11 eyu

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:02 PM

When was this? Even though I won't go until nov 24 (if I go with them) I'd still like to book everything now just while it's not fully booked.


2007. We were told that they were Australian Government regulations to prevent divers being left behind on the Great Barrier Reef.

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#12 Grayscale

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 09:00 AM

I asked them about this. They have an open deck policy now (according to Dorothy Johnson at Mike Ball). Dive now, dive later, just as long as you come back before the boat leaves.

From her reply to me:
"We do not have a 50min dive time we say unlimited it is your computer/air consumption/dive buddy that will dictate we run an open deck - once we arrive at a site there is a very comprehensive briefing done and the deck opened the trip director advises for how long ( hours) we will be at the site and will give a time that everyone needs to be back onboard either for a meal or for the vessel to move. You can then get in the water straight away or go have coffee etc and dive when you are ready you might do a dive enjoy it come back .. have a 20min surface interval and go back again it depends on how long you want to/can be in the water . I hope that makes sense. Other vessels/operators do have very strict rules limiting their divers to 40-50min dives only. Because our trips are one way by boat one way flight it does mean we do have much more time at dive sites as well."

#13 eyu

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:00 PM

That is good news for you, hope you have a great dive trip.

Now that I have been burned, I always inquire about the ship's dive rules before booking.

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#14 Karl

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 04:30 PM

2007. We were told that they were Australian Government regulations to prevent divers being left behind on the Great Barrier Reef.


I can assure you tht this is not an Australian Govt Regulation - might be a local (i.e. State) regulation and their Work Safe rules.

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#15 PeteAtkinson

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 06:26 PM

Having lived in Cairns for 6 years I dived with Taka, Spirit of Freedom, Undesea Explorer and Mike Ball's Spoilsport. Some operators invoke "Queensland law" when they are just lazy - there is very little in the regulations (apparently) which restrict diving. (On one day-boat they refused to let me use a weightbelt while snorkelling - with a wet suit...)
I think Taka had a 50 minute rule at one time so they could adhere to their schedule; even I didn't find it too restrictive. They are geared more to the backpacker market.
What I love about Spoilsport (apart from the professionism of everything and a great crew) is that with a very modest try-out, they will let you dive alone with a pony bottle - a far better buddy than any photographer. So for photographers it's ideal, and at a place like Challenger Bay, I can sit at 6m for 75 minutes without a problem.
November/December would be my pick for the very best time of year. I wish I was going.
(Caveat - Mike is a pal of mine.)

#16 Grayscale

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 03:21 AM

It's just as you say Pete. The solo diving is one of the major reasons I choose them. I won't mind diving with someone else, but if I can "avoid" it I'll gladely do so. I have a group of firends that I'm diving with on a regular basis, but we're not buddy divers... We're "solo diving in a group" where we'll be apart from each other more than we'll be together. It's only if we search for a specific species we hold together for the "entire" dive or if we know there's a lot of boats at the surface.

It's the 7-night Coral sea liveaboard Nov24-Dec1 I'll go with if anyone from here is planning on joining them as well...

#17 BigJeff

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 04:14 AM

I've never dived with Mike Ball in Australia, but I have been on 7 (or so) trips on the Paradise Sport in PNG before that boat was sold.

The policy was the same then, open deck when on a mooring unless the site was further away and needed a dinghy.
I also took the pony bottle option and checked out as a "Solo" diver - but often it was better to follow the guide, he found a lot more than I did!

Overall found them very good to book & dive with, and had some of the best food ever on a live aboard.

I miss PNG, still the only place I've seen one of these.
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#18 Grayscale

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 05:57 AM

That's a really nice shot. Looks exactly as my belly button lint from last night...

#19 Sylar

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 12:20 AM

Nice photo Jeff.

I dived on Spirit of Freedom about 2yrs ago and we didn't have 50min time limits.
However if we were doing a second at the same site they did ask on the odd occasion if we could be back on the boat after 60mins so they could move to another site to set up for the afternoon & night dives.
Because you do 3-5 dives each day they did remind you to monitor your no deco time on your dive computer if you were doing longer dives.
I used Nitrox for the whole trip so it wasn't much of an issue for me.

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#20 ardy01

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 08:05 PM

I have done 4 trips to PNG on Paradise sport and 3 trips in Australia and they are excellent. The only exception was one DHead dive director in PNG who was about 22 and had an attitude you couldn't jump over. He was only there the one trip and the others have been open enough to allow experienced divers to get the most out of it and tight enough to look after some of the lesser trained.

Still miss the woman who ran the first 2 trips to PNG in the 90's can't remember her name but she ran a brilliant divers trip.

The best/worst was when we set up a choir to sing songs to respond to the local villagers singing. Sounded pretty bloody awful and during 'whim a wheh' they nearly wet themselves.

Edited by ardy01, 23 February 2011 - 08:07 PM.

Regards to all

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