The Captain’s Blog: Safety First!


Orangutan Crab by Julia Sumerling

Another Blog from Mike Ball Dive Expedition’s Captain Trevor Jackson

It’s important, occasionally, to take a good long hard look at yourself. As an individual, you might do this sitting in front of a mirror, or with a spouse. You might want to review your career, your finances or your fitness level (especially after New Years).  Sometimes this exercise might seem pointless and then in the process, you discover some things that might need a bit of a tweak. Companies do the same thing all the time, sometimes its a scheduled thing, other times as a result of an external event that requires a company to adapt or strategize in a new direction.

Collecting marine debris on Stanley Island by Gary Farr

For us, such an event took place in California in September of last year, when the dive liveaboard, MV Conception, caught fire in the middle of the night. 33 lives were lost. I think I can say with some certainty that there isn’t a single dive boat in the world that didn’t do some type of self-examination following the Conception fire. Every one of them would have asked the same questions: Could it happen here? What can we do to make it safer?

The answer to the first question has to be yes… otherwise you’re just kidding yourself. The second question is where the thought and effort are needed to be applied.

Coral Hermit Crab by Gary Farr

At Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, the first thing we did was ensure that every system for fighting or preventing fires was compliant with the current legislation and functioning in perfect condition. Spoilsport is immaculately maintained, so that was a fairly straight forward process with all boxes being ticked. Next, we checked procedures, documentation, and training, again finding we were shipshape and squared away across the board.

There wasn’t a single person in the company however, that was willing to accept that we were perfect. There must be room for improvement, a way to make it even SAFER. There was. After some serious, ‘what if’ style reflection, we found that, in exceptional circumstances,  there were two areas on board that offered only one escape path should a fire erupt. For us, this presented an opportunity to not only improve ourselves and our vessel but also to make everyone who comes on board even more safe. Some procedures were changed, some new ones were invented, equipment bought and tested, engineering solutions applied. We soul searched… ‘Are we as safe as we can be?’

Indigenous artwork on Stanley Island by Gary Farr

I take Spoilsport to sea for a week at a time. We go 100s of miles offshore. There’s no quick fix for any issue out there. I’m responsible for the ship and its crew. We, in turn, are responsible for you. It’s our job to constantly ask that question of our ship, its crew, its procedures… Are we as safe as we can be? The answer is no. The answer will always be no. If we were ever to say yes, we’d be letting you down.  It’s our pledge to the people that dive with us, our duty in fact, that we never stop looking into that mirror and asking, ‘what can we do to make it safer?’

Find the expedition you are looking for at:

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions operates exciting scuba diving expeditions on custom-built, award-winning liveaboard Spoilsport, to some of the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Enjoy spectacular biodiversity on the northern Great Barrier Reef including the world famous Cod Hole, or venture out into the remote Coral Sea for exciting big fish action, shark encounters and excellent visibility. Find out more at

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