Islandive is proud that Ben Southall chose to be a regular on one of our boats.
Ben the 24 year old Briton who was successfully recruited for the “Greatest job in the world” to be caretaker of Hamilton Island, came onboard with our crew and passengers as a guest of Islandive on Emperors Wings on our 3 day, 3 night ultimate diving and sailing adventure.
Ben set sail with us on Emperors Wings which covered a multitude of locations, including an outer reef visit (Bait Reef) to our very own lagoon which our Islandive team affectionately nickname the “fishbowl” where we have our own mooring. The fishbowl is the size of an Olympic swimming pool and is a popular dive location for our team due to the clarity of the water, the quantity of the fish, and the surreal reef colour!
First up… Whitehaven Beach for some serious fun, where some of our guests swam ashore instead of being transported by dinghy, (Islandive vessels all offer closer anchorage to the shoreline).
Whitehaven Beach, the beautiful playground with spectacular white sand where everyone finds their inner child (we did). Some of us also resurrected our creative side using the pristine white sand to make a turtle. It was also a poignant moment later to watch the turtle slowly being washed away by the incoming tide, it reiterated our need to protect this endangered marine creature and look after its natural environment.
Mackerel Bay was next on our agenda where Emperors Wings linked up with Whitsunday Getaway and Powerplay, part of the fleet of our Islandive boats who were anchored and in dive action exploring the underwater world of this amazing dive site. Ben and other dive enthusiasts had 3 dives at Mackerel Bay.
Sociable Ben fresh from his dive, jumped on board Islandive’s boat Powerplay to introduce himself and meet the passengers and crew. Ben’s genuinely warm and outgoing personality led to a great photo opportunity with everyone before heading back onboard Emperors Wings for a freshly prepared gourmet lunch and off to our next destination.
Our “not to miss” next dive location was Stepping Stones at Bait Reef, the incredible feature here is the coral growing upwards in spirals creating an illusion of an underwater city some 60 foot high. Late afternoon we set sail towards our next anchorage and an anticipated night dive ahead for some brave divers… Swimming into inky blackness is not for the faint hearted!
Ben’s enthusiasm to experience his first night dive made him first in the queue. His enthusiasm was infectious and he was soon joined by a Canadian couple for his first night dive experience.
Glow sticks were attached to the dive tanks and our divers were given underwater torches. (Coral under night light automatically comes alive in a vibrant array of colours). Small marine creatures are attracted to the underwater light and some divers find the experience a little unnerving as this also attracts larger marine creatures to come and feed from the smaller marine life. 5 foot black tip reef sharks were sighted, (this shark is the most common of sharks found around the coral reefs and they feed primarily on octopuses and fish).
Experiencing a night dive also gives you the ability to play God with the torch, and watching the smaller marine life being attacked by larger predators is sometimes unsettling to divers but all part of the pecking order of marine life. The night dive was exhilarating and enjoyed by all who participated, an unforgettable experience!
Wrapping up Ben’s Islandive adventure, he joined the wheelhouse as Skipper with our Islandive crew to experience an enjoyable south easterly sail under Emperors Wings towering rigs. We happily let Ben call the shots and skipper the vessel home.
Next stop for Ben Southwell? Ben left Islandive’s vessel with newly made friends and headed off for a two day Peppers stay at Long Island. He informed us he will be back to complete his Rescue Course with the Islandive team and join our Twilight Flying 40 “Wild Thing” race boat.