Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 3 Cairns: The Power and Beauty of Water...

It was another early morning.  With a breakfast of a croissant, yogurt and fruit I was off... but the shuttle was late.  So, I got to connect with folk at home for a few minutes as I waited... and waited.  Finally at 7:45am they arrived and the bus was pretty full.  I was somewhat worried as I read that more people make the experience a little more hectic... my fears were ill placed.  There were only 26 people on the boat and 14 crew.  There was going to be lots of individual attention.  But first we had to get to the reef!  And it was windy!!!

One by one folk started reaching for the barf bags... I'm proud to say I was not one of them.  There was however on young lady who was so very ill it was sad - and then her partner started berating her and thankfully one of the crew stepped in...  Men...

After an hour and twenty minutes of bouncing over waves we reached the lee side of the reef that we would be exploring.  It was considerably calmer - but there was still a significant swell!

I am too old to be putting on wet suits.  Oh my goodness!  Thankfully there was staff there to help or I'd still be struggling with my arms half in and it stuck around my waist!!  With the suit on - then I had to get the flippers on.  I don't bend that well anymore... and coupled with the fact that I was a little sore from yesterday... again, I'm glad there was a high crew to tourist ratio!

With camera in hand, flipper on feet, mask on face and snorkel in mouth I jumped - no slid into the water and was immediately stuck by how warm it was.  26 degrees Celsius.  Beautiful.  I can't say that I was that beautiful or graceful in the water.


Wetsuits are very buoyant... I didn't know this!  Coupled with the buoyancy of the suit and my ample flotation device (aka waist) I had trouble staying low enough in the water to make the flippers work - and then - when I was able to do that, a wave would break over the snorkel and I'd take a souvenir gulp...

I did get a few pictures and had a picture taken of me... Not my best moment - but priceless just the same.

After lunch (steak and salad) I had my introductory scuba diving experience.  Wow!  I can tell you that if I lived here I'd want to be a diver...beautiful.  This is not I think any worry of that happening or, of me diving at home as the water is just too bloody cold!!!

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... the beauty of the coral reef nurtured by warm waters...
















But that same water is also very powerful.  Tides, currents, wind and waves all contributed to making the snorkelling and diving experience a very physical challenge... and boy am I tired having used other muscles I'd not used in a long while!

By 2pm I'd had enough and found some folks to talk to.  Fred was wearing a motorcycle t-shirt advertising some dual sport event in Florida so I gravitated to him.  We had a great chat about bikes, my ride on Friday and roads we'd ridden in common in the United States.  When his partner convinced him to get back in the water I found myself at the bar with Bill from Toronto.  Canadians will always find each other.  Bill works in the safety industry and comes to Australia three or four times a year for two day meetings... I don't envy him that jet lag... wow!  We nursed our beers and talked about life and the day we'd just shared - then we exchanged email addresses so we could exchange pictures of the day.

At 3pm the captain announced we were leaving and advised people what side of the sun deck they should sit on if they wanted to stay dry...

It was even rougher going back in... 15 to 20 foot troughs... down and up.  Up and down.  I've never experienced seas as rough as that... and with a beautiful blue sky and sunshine.

Not soon enough for many we were back at the marina and rather than wait for the shuttle I decided to walk the Esplanade home.  It was a beautiful afternoon and a fine way to end a fine day...

I have now seen three of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world: Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon and now, the Great Barrier Reef.  I have also seen four of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Channel Tunnel, CN Tower, Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge... I'm a pretty lucky guy... but there are wonders waiting for me back home that are much more important than seeing any more on either of the two lists above... on the Sabbath Road...

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