How this all started?
The idea was hatched on a deserted island on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia about 20 years ago.
I used to give a case of beer to any old fisherman to drop me off to whatever island he was passing on his fishing trips. I would take very little with me: 2 spearguns, a tarp, some food, few clothes and about 120 litres of water and see how long I could go for. Sometimes I would go for up to 2.5 months and on one occasion they forgot to pick me up but that is another story but it was one of the best trips ever.
Initially I used to be alone but on one of these trips I ran into a group of divers fro UNSW (the University of NSW) on one of these islands. I invited them over for some battered fish and I ended staying on longer with them. Year after year we would meet up and on one of these trips a group of 5 of us made a pact to buy boats and to go sailing and visit amazing places like the island we were on.
Did we have a Catamaran originally and crash it upon a reef? Yes
How did that happen? Watch it here > Shipwreck
What is my favourite spot on earth and the story behind it?
There are so many but I would say Broomfield Reef on the lower Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
I first got to know about this reef with the University of NSW dive club and their diveboat. One day, on the way to a dive site we helped some professional fisherman to get their boat started and in the conversation it popped up that I was very fond of a particular type of fish, Spangled Emperor. The fisherman then began to describe this amazing place where there were schools of these fish trapped in a lagoon at low tide. Whoa! I had to go there. His explanation on how to get there was not very scientific but early the next morning we followed his directions and travelled about 20 miles and I was dropped off on this tiny reef while the divers went elsewhere. They would be back to pick me up 5 or 6 hours later. I had 2 spearguns, about a litre of water, some food bars and a fish float. The first issue was that I was dropped off in about 4 or 5 feet of water on the reef itself with a hefty current trying to throw me back into the deep. The only land I could see was a low sand bank about 500m away further into the reef. Once I realized I could swim against the current I waved off the dive boat and set about trying find this magical lagoon. I knew the current would probably get stronger as the tide dropped further but I wasn´t overly worried because I could probably drag myself along with handholds along the bottom. So I swam.
The second issue was at the back of my mind I didn´t even know I was at the right reef or indeed if the fisherman story was true but I kept at it until I saw in the distance the the telltale blue colour of deeper water. At this stage the water was about 2 feet deep and I didn´t want to rush the lagoon because the emperor might get spooked and scatter out of it. So I very carefully pulled myself along the dead coral until I got to the edge of the lagoon and peered inside. Spangled emperor are a curious fish and will feel you in the water and will take a look but they have an uncanny knack of knowing how close they can get to you without getting speared. So I peered in. Try to imagine a perfect aquarium with crystal clear water, fringing reefs, white white sand and tens of thousands of fish….this place was indeed magical and there were thousands of spangled emperors just casually swimming right before my eyes. And yes of course all outside my range. Ha. But not to worry, in 20 minutes or so the tide would trap them completely and then we would have some fun.
Overall the lagoon is huge, probably the size of a football field but very irregular. It traps massive sharks and rays, turtles and huge schools of fish. It is an awesome place to snorkel and to this day when I visit there I still get that tingly feeling of expectation that I had that very first time.
Where will the journey end? We’ll be stuffed if we know.
Why the “no fridge/freezer policy”?
On Long Reef I ripped both the fridge and freezer out but on Freedom there is a fridge albeit a dodgy one. I would have preferred not to have a fridge but do you know how hard it is to find a boat without a fridge? From time to time we keep it running because of the Patrons that visit us. We can’t make it too crappy on the boat for the people that support us. But when we are by ourselves, we turn it off and fill it with tinned goods.
I try not to eat dairy and if I eat meat, I believe I should be the one to do the deed so really there is no need for a fridge. We spear only what we need and if we ever catch a large fish that we can’t throw back, we simply salt it and smoke it or pickle it. So there really isn’t any need for a fridge.