Technical Diving Liveaboard in Australia
Cairns liveaboard “Spirit of Freedom” had the pleasure of having Michael Menduno and David Strike on board for our 4 day Coral Sea trip.
The vessel departed Lizard Island for Osprey Reef on the 17th of March. The sea conditions were excellent making it possible to voyage to Bougainville Reef on the last day. Bougainville is one of the best reefs within the Coral Sea where not many other vessels dive. During the trip we dived in 60m+ visibility on 1000m+ walls at a number of dive sites, making it impossible to miss the marine life that inhabits these reef systems, such as manta rays, hammerheads, silver tip sharks, groupers and turtles. Other interesting marine life sighted included many species of nudibranch, scorpion fish such as the lacey and various types eels and snakes.
One of the highlights of the trip was the shark feed. Osprey Reef has some of the healthiest shark populations in Australia. This shark feed benefits the local shark population by keeping them on our reefs and not on the back of commercial fishing boats. The feeding is simple. First the divers are directed to a patch of rubble on the reef where they are positioned on their knees around a reef pinnacle. After the divers are in position, a bin of tuna heads is taken underwater by a pulley system. When the bin is pulled down, Chris pulls a cord that releases the lid of the bin where a number a buoys are forced to the surface pulling out a chain attached with tuna heads.
During the feed this trip, over 30 sharks arose from the deep and violently destroyed the tuna heads. The feed made for some excellent photos and got the adrenaline pumping.
David and Michael both quoted that this was “one of the best liveaboard trips they had ever experienced”. It was an honor to have these two well respected and experienced technical divers on board Spirit of Freedom for this trip. They were great blokes and very modest. David and Michael have made many positive impacts in the technical diving world, helping to shape it into what it has become today. Cheers for an awesome trip guys. Below is a brief overview about Michael and David, and their contributions to the technical diving industry.
Responsible for coining the term “technical diving,” writer and
technologist Michael Menduno founded, published and served as
editor-in-chief for aquaCorps: The Journal for Technical Diving
(1990-1996), which helped usher tech diving into the mainstream of
sports diving. He also produced the tek, Eurotek and Asiatek
conferences, the forerunners of Oztek, and the Rebreather Forums 1.0
and 2.0 and edited, “Proceedings of Rebreather Forum 2.0,” published
by DSAT in 1996
Michael worked with Capt. Billy Deans to set up the first technical
diving training center at Key West Diver in Key West, Florida, which
quickly became a Mecca for tech divers from around the world and
helped write the first technical diving training manuals. He was
diving trimix before there were mix certifications, and studied,
trained and dived with industry notables including; Jim Baden, Ed
Betts, Jim Bowden, Stuart Clough, Capt. Billy Deans, Sheck Exley, Lalo
Fiorelli, Larry Green, Kevin Gurr, Lamar Hires, Jean-Pierre Imbert,
Jim King, Gary Gentile, Steve Gerrard, Dr. Bill Hamilton, Lad
Handelman, Tom Mount, Phil Nuytten, Rob Palmer, Richard Pyle, Peter
Readey, Tracy Robinette, Dick Rutkowsky , Joel Silverstein, Karl
Shreeves, Brian Skerry, and Wings Stocks and Hal Watts.
Learning to dive in the UK in 1961, David Strike has worked as a Royal
Navy diver; as an offshore commercial diver in the North Sea gas and
oil fields and – since emigrating to Australia with his wife and young
family in 1973 – has had an active involvement in recreational diving,
both as a recreational and technical diving Instructor and Instructor
Certifier. Certified (rather than ‘qualified’!) on open circuit, as
well as rebreathers, surface demand, and standard diving dress
apparatus, his training credentials include certifications from ANDI,
BSAC, GUE, IANTD, PADI and SSI, as well as the legendary diving
Establishing a successful, internationally-affiliated media
representation organisation while simultaneously continuing to teach
diving, he was one of the first divers in Australia to embrace
Technical Diving – and the first to dive recreationally with Nitrox.
Selling his interests in the media company in 1991, he joined the
embryonic Asian Diver magazine as its first Field Editor, since when
he has: assisted in the 1995 launch of the first Asian Dive Exhibition
& Conference (ADEC), and the first ‘Tek-Asia’ Conference; served as a
Board member of Dive Australia – the country’s former peak diving
industry body; was the co-publisher and editor of, ‘Professional Diver
Journal’ – a quarterly magazine for occupational, military and
technical diving enthusiasts; authored the world’s first book on
Live-aboard dive vessels; written a crisis management manual; and
penned several hundred articles covering all aspects of diving that
have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Having travelled and dived extensively throughout the European, Asian
and Pacific regions over five decades – and in a variety of roles –
Strike continues to maintain his passionate interest in an activity
that has dominated his life. He is currently the organiser of the
internationally acclaimed OZTeK Diving Technologies Conference and
Exhibition, and is a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York.