Deep sea diver, ocean lover, skipper of Mike Ball’s MV Spoilsport
While Captain Hook spends his days planning to take over Neverland and the Seven Seas, Capt. Trevor Jackson is plotting a course to the very best dive sites of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.
Jackson doesn’t duel with crocodiles, he faces off with sharks and the plummeting depths of a volcanic marine landscape. He’s Skipper of Australia’s most award winning liveaboard dive boat, MV Spoilsport operated by Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, as well as being the maker of dreams come true for his guests and crew. Now come fly with me, as we check out his treasure trove of dive sites.
BEST WRECK DIVE: SS YONGALA
She’s not a Spanish Galleon and there’s no casket of gold hiding here, but what you will find at the SS Yongala is the world’s very best wreck dive. Capt. Jackson describes this as being like Las Vegas underwater. Everything here is bigger, meaner and faster! He was the Yongala consultant for David Attenborough’s crew and helped them create what will be some of the best moments in the Great Barrier Reef documentary being released early next year. It was an honour for Trevor and a mind blowing experience for the BBC crew, ‘even those guys could not believe the Yongala’s spectrum of life,’ Jackson says.
OSPREY REEF, CORAL SEA
Walk the plank (well not really, giant stride entry) and splash down into a wild frontier of sharks in the Coral Sea! This is a world class shark diving site and you have a front row seat to the frenzied, explosive shark feeding action! People come for the sharks, and trust me, they’re everywhere, but Captain Jackson prefers to hang at ‘Deep Sea Arcade’ about 60m down. Here in the quiet, deep blue he found a 400m ‘arcade’ of some of the most concentrated and colourful sea fans found anywhere.
COD HOLE, LIZARD ISLAND
Ahoy my hearties, take the plunge with some man-sized fish at the Cod Hole. This world famous Great Barrier Reef dive site provides face to face encounters with giant Potato Cod. Captain Trevor visits twice a week and trust me, it never gets boring looking down a Potato Cod’s throat while they show you their choppers.
STEVE’S BOMMIE, RIBBON REEFS
Surely Tinker Bell has been here with some Pixie Dust. This is a magical place, where dreams really do come true. Steve’s Bommie is the quintessential postcard dive site. Home to pretty much everything you might see in a Great Barrier Reef brochure. Nemo (of course), turtles, massive schools of fish, beautiful corals, snakes, barracuda and even the odd tiger shark are all here. Steve’s is an isolated coral bommie located in the Ribbon Reefs, well north of Cairns and only accessible on a liveaboard dive trip.
CAPTAIN JACKSON’S FAVOURITE: NORTH HORN, OSPREY REEF
When asked to rank his favourite place to visit on the Great Barrier Reef, Jackson nominates somewhere in the shark-inhabited waters of the Coral Sea. Of course it does. He’s the captain of a dive ship! He loves clear water, deep diving and exploring the final frontier. So, what’s the attraction of North Horn? ‘The spectacular vertical wall dropping away to 1,000 plus metres, covered in sea fans and often visited by silvertips and hammerheads’ (we’re talking sharks, not people!).
THE MAN BEHIND THE MISSION
To be clear, Capt Jackson is not the villain of this story, and he does not skipper the Jolly Roger and a crew of pirates. But he’s a legend just the same. He’s been Master of MV Spoilsport since 2007. He’s descended into the blue for more than 3,000 dives and taken his crew and guests on more than 170 week long trips. So when he says you should take a liveaboard trip to see the best of the GBR, then he probably knows what he’s talking about.
Now here’s a word from your captain. “A liveaboard trip will give you the chance to completely immerse yourself in the Great Barrier Reef experience. A liveaboard vessel will typically move to remote places that offer untouched pristine reefs and a greater concentration of marine life. Since food and accommodation are provided on site, the entire package offers the easiest way to see and experience the best of what the reef has to offer,” says Capt Jackson.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions is based in Cairns and has three trips departing each week. Regular expeditions include a 3 night Fly Dive Cod Hole (12 dives), 4 night Fly Dive Coral Sea (14 dives) and 7 night Coral Sea Safari (26 dives). A special series of scheduled exploratory dive trips occur throughout the year, visiting the SS Yongala and various other wreck and marine life encounters.