I spent the last 3 days living aboard the Scubapro II, one of Pro Dive Cairns’ multi-million dollar dive boats. At first I was not planning to do my Advanced Open Water Diver course with Pro Dive Cairns, because they are quite a bit more expensive than the competition. However, I could get a standby rate (A$550 = 315 euro) for the course, making Pro Dive just as expensive as the competition, so it was an easy decision to go with the best company. On Saturday I got all my dive gear fitted and studied a bit of the course materials. I also sorted out all the photos I made since Darwin and burned them on CDs (I always burn my photos on two CDs, cannot risk the chance of losing them).
Sunday morning I got picked up from the hostel at 6.15 and transferred to the dive boat. I am glad I decided to get some anti-seasickness medication, because the 3-hour trip to the reef was far from smooth. The next 3 days I made 11 dives on the Great Barrier Reef, almost continuously changing in and out of the wetsuit, so it was fairly tiring. We were looked after really well though, with 3 buffet meals a day and snacks in between. The group consisted of only 20 divers (and 1 snorkeller), so there was lots of space (the boat has a capacity of 32). Of the 11 dives that I did 5 were for the Advanced Open Water Diver course, and consisted of a Navigation Dive (trying not to get lost underwater), Night Dive (in complete darkness), Deep Dive (up to 30m deep), Photography Dive (making lots of photos) and Naturalist Dive (trying to recognise the fish and coral). The course turned out to be fairly easy, but lots of fun to do. During the course I dived with David from Italy, but the 5 dives afterwards I did with Sarah from Switzerland. She had just completed her Open Water Diver course, so it was entirely up to me to make sure we would not get lost. Not that it is actually possible to get lost while diving, because it is always possible to surface to find out where the boat is. But being “geographically embarrased” (as getting lost is called) is not fun, because we might have had to snorkel back to the boat for a long way. Luckily my scout skills also worked underwater, so we never had to snorkel too far.
The last 5 dives were also the best for spotting aquatic life (with the exception of the night dive, just cannot see much in the dark). We spotted a whitetip reef shark and swam along a turtle for a while! In the end I was really glad I booked the 3-day liveaboard trip with Pro Dive, because everything was organised perfectly, and the safety procedures on the boat were really good. After the trip on Tuesday evening we all had dinner together in the city, and checked out some of the underwater photographs.