Sunday, June 11, 2006

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

It's our first morning in Cairns, and we woke up a little early, had breakfast in the hotel restaurant (the first reasonably priced breakfast we've had this trip). Then waited for our tour bus to take us to the wharf. We were on our way, and very close to the boat when we had to stop and watch a triathlon go by. We were trying to make a right across the intersection and the cops were in no mood to let us go. If there weren't bikes coming straight at us, there was traffic passing across in front of us.

So when we finally arrived to the Quicksilver Tour desk, they pointed us to the boat , we boarded, and were under way. The weather started getting rough. Our diving ship was tossed. Over half the passengers got sick. We didn't. The 1.5 hour trip out was really choppy,  and there was little to be seen out the windows besides wash and spray.

We had full wetsuits (with hoods and mittens) but the water was too warm for me to use them. We stepped over the side and descended the line to the sandy sea floor. We saw a stingray straight off, and all sorts of fish and coral all around us. We went down to around 15m, exploring all the colorful sea life. It's really hard to describe it all, so we bought the DVD video that our tour had, even if it was kind of annoying to have the photographer bumping into us as she scurried around getting pictures. I thought I was going to run low of air...Queensland requires 50 bars (1/4 tank). Saw a big barracuda right at the end of the dive. The boat was rolling around quite a bit, so the ladder was a challenge. Kacey hurt her finger, I hurt my toe.

We found Nemo

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We moved to our second dive site in the rain. Many people took off their wetsuits to get warm, but I was comfy in mine. The rain washed the salt off of me, which was quite refreshing. Our second dive was equally cool. Saw some weird, long fish...guide said it was the biggest he'd seen. Our lunch was waiting for us at the end of the second dive. Some sushi, rice, and curry chicken. Great stuff for the seasick crowd. We'd originally signed up for two dives and one snorkel, but with the waves the way they were, a third dive was the smarter option. The snorkelers were all worn out.


The third dive was really shallow, but it forced a whole bunch of fish into a small area. Schools everywhere. Dark coral branches with bright blue tips. Brain coral as big as me. Our ride back was also bumpy, but we got to see our dives on video (no editing) and purchase an edited version to be delivered to the hotel by 2100. Not a bad turn around time.


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One funny incident: A girl from South Carolina was snorkeling with way too much mascara and it made her look like Tammy Faye Baker after a crying session.
This was one of the tour's photographer's photos on the CD we bought.
After the boat docked, we walked along the esplanade back to our hotel. Had dinner at a place called Red Ochre Grill, traditional/modern Aussie cooking.

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