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Live aboard GBR

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Maryland
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Live aboard GBR

We're headed to Cairns in early October and want to dive for 2 days and are thinking of staying on a live aboard for the 1 night in between. Does anyone have any recommendations on a good live aboard?

Right now we are considering S.V. Atlantic Clipper by Down Under Dives. It is a sail boat that you are transferred to from a catamaran that gets you out to the reef.

Does anyone know how the water conditions are in early October -- we'd be diving October 3 and 4?

We appreciate any recommendations. Thanks,Robin

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1. Re: Live aboard GBR

Hello Robin - I know the Clipper well. The photos make her look really nice but in fact, it is a very old boat that gets tons of guests per year - 40 guests on board at a time in very small dark and a bit musty cabins. There are better options than this one, and the all run about the same price. Here are a few ideas, you do the additional research and you are sure to have a good time. By the way, for diving, Oct is text book! The live-aboard boats fill well in advance so I suggest you get this in the works asap.

If you can stretch it to 2 nights/3 days, the way to go is Pro Dive Cairns - HANDS DOWN.

Atlantic Clipper - Probably my least favorite of the 1-3 night offerings - really bad dive deck and party reputation

Ocean Quest - she is large and sea worthy - has good dive deck, the upper deck cabins with private bath are the way to go.

Reef Encounter - nice boat but they shuttle you out to the boat on literally an old tug - takes days.....this, too, is the most expensive of the offerings.

Kangaroo Explorer - the boat is older but is really roomy, with almost all cabins with private baths. Probably my top pick in this 1 night category.

Also, all of these operators will offer a daily departure and utilize a shuttle boat of some sort, to get you to/from Cairns.

Hope this helps!

Maryland
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2. Re: Live aboard GBR

Thanks so much bigfishlittlefish -- your input is invaluable. As you've pointed out, the advertisements and pictures can disguise older boats. We'll definitely check out your suggestions. Delighted to hear that October should be prime time for diving.

Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. Robin

Maryland
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3. Re: Live aboard GBR

bigfishlittlefish -- a few more questions -- is a live aboard the best way to go for 2 days of diving vs. taking a daily dive boat?

Since it seems like a fair amount of time to get to and from the reef, I assumed a live-aboard would make sense. I also thought the live-aboard might offer a higher standard of diving (not as crowded and not mixed with the snorklers).

We only have two days to dive (back-to-back) in order to allow ourselves a day to chill following too long of an international flight from US and we can't dive our last day in Cairns area as we'll be flying to Sydney the next day.

We can either go back and forth to the reef each day or do the 1 night live aboard. Thoughts?

I looked at the Cairns Dive Center website for the Kangaroo Explorer live aboard -- looks like the transport is on the M.V. Sun-kist with other day divers/snorklers. Do you know if the live-aboard divers then continue on the Kangaroo without the

day divers and snorklers or does everyone transfer and then transfer back at the end of the day if you're not staying overnight on the Kangaroo.

Trying to get a feel for how big the diving group will be?

Thanks, Robin

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4. Re: Live aboard GBR

You are most welcome - in the live-aboard game, you can go sooo wrong, so glad to help!

Live-aboard vs day dives - Day diving will take 4 hrs total from your day to get to/from the reef via Cairns or Port Douglas. They will take smaller numbers if you go with the right companies - my top pick is Tusa Dive Cairns as they take only 25 x 2 boats. Most will be divers, but they will allow snorkellers as many times a friend or partner are non-diver, but the bottom line is they cater to divers. They will break away from the crowds - the other large day boats and the 1,2,3 night live-aboards will stop at Hastings, Michalemas, Norman, Saxon reefs - so you can imagine they are not only busy sites, but in my eyes, a bit over-dived. So Tusa has the advantage to roam anywhere on the GBReef to take advantage of conditions, marine activity and/or to suit the profiles of the diver's on board that day.

Live-aboards- I have mentioned the reefs they visit in the area, so regardless of the boat you select, they will visit these reefs - now, on that exception, Kangaroo Explorer will visit Milln, Briggs, Moore and Thetford Reefs, so they break away from the pack - so you may see an occasional day boat, but they are not in the cluster of all the other 1,2,3 night boats.

Kangaroo Explorer will use the Sunkist for a shuttle - they will load up crew, supplies and divers/snorkellers (and your luggage) and will head off early morning. That boat will carry 48, usually stop for a morning dive then head to the Kang Exp for lunch - they will off-load you and get you settled in to your cabin, then you will have your afternoon and night dives, dinner, breakfast and morning dives on board the big boat. The next day the Sunkist will collect you after lunch - you may or may not be offered another dive or will go directly back to Cairns arriving around 4pm. The advantage is sleeping on the water, the stars, a new experience, the smell of the sea air. So if you are a night diver and/or want more than 2 dives a day - go with the live-aboard.

Honestly with only 1 night, you dont really settle in and it seems all youare doing is shuttling anyway....so weigh out the costs and how you will best utilize your time, then select one or the other. Just too bad you dont have longer to really get out to the reef and DIVE. So start planning your next trip, start by booking the live-aboard then build the rest of your trip around that - you wont regret it - guarantee.

Maryland
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5. Re: Live aboard GBR

bigfishlittlefish - once again, thanks for your welcomed advice. We'll think about the pros and cons you've mentioned and then make our plans. Yes, I can see already, we'll need to find time for a return trip. So many things to do...so little time....

Thanks, Robin

Maryland
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6. Re: Live aboard GBR

bigfishlittlefish -- one more question -- we've not stayed on a live-aboard before -- I think I read somewhere that the Kangaroo Explorer is about 25 meters long. Are the waters relatively calm at the beginning of October? The idea of a night on the water is very appealing -- assuming the water is reasonably calm.

I hope other readers will also benefit from your advice.

Thanks, Robin

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7. Re: Live aboard GBR

Robin, Oct is springtime in Aust, so the storm activity is very light, if any. That time of year I have had some of my fondest live-aboard experiences.(and night's sleeps ever) Take a look at this web site, as they have made a chart of water temps, rain amts, winds, land temps etc etc.....geared totally for divers on the Great Barrier Reef. www.ozdive.com, then click Info&Weather button.

Dallas, TX
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8. Re: Live aboard GBR

BigFish,

Your advice on this has helped me out too. Thanks for the great information! One question. I'm tempted to do a live aboard instead of a day dive now. Would I be able to do my first dive (uncertified) on a overnight live aboard, or is that not something they do?? It may be that the live aboards are only for experienced divers. Thanks!

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9. Re: Live aboard GBR

Blaisdell, you are most welcome!

Nearly all live-aboards, whether short stay or longer stay, will usually have instructors on board and with advance notice (some will not require notice) will offer intro-diving or 'resort course'. You will be given a lengthy overview of diving, then in small groups, taken to 30 feet with an instructor. This not only gives you an idea if you wish to persue getting certified, but will also give you one heck of an experience other than snorkelling. You will not be allowed to night dive - which is offered on live-aboards, but you will have the option of 2 intro dives per day, and then all the snorkelling your little heart desires - a GREAT way to experience the reef, most definately.

If you have more questions, you may wish to start a new thread?

Maryland
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10. Re: Live aboard GBR

Thanks, Bigfishlittlefish. I've received informative emails from Rick at the Cairns Dive Center giving me the detailed itinerary for both day and live-aboard trips.

This dive center is very organized and helpful. Thanks so much for the advice. Robin