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Honeymoon Day 3 April 8, 2009

Posted by Natasha in Honeymoon.
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Paul wakes me after his shower, it must be all of 6am. We make it to Cairns by 7:10, but we’re feeling the pressure to get to where we need to be. We seem to have brought Melbourne’s weather with us, as it can’t make up its mind whether it wants to rain or shine. We have our second breakfast aboard the boat, and Phil Lance the Whale Marine Biologist briefs us for our trip. Mr G turns a nasty shade of green, then heads to the back of the boat to become re-acquainted with his breakfasts.

After quite a lengthy trip out, we arrive at the reef. Getting our gear on, and plunging into the aquamarine sea, we are again amazed at the warmth of the water. We strike out toward the reef.

The darker blue water eventually gives way to a shimmering silver, as the rock formations became clear. More and more reefs rose to meet us, as an abundance of tropical fish dart about. Some people dive down for a closer look. I lost Mr G at one point, and feel like an intruder into another world, floating above the reef.

After finding Mr G again, it is almost time for our dive. We took a few photos, then it was time to get our gear on. We sat at the back of the boat, anticipating what we were about to experience. Plunging into the water, I am worried that I don’t seem to be sinking as much as I would have expected. As we head off, I try to swim down, but once I reach a certain point, my right ear simply won’t equalize. I could see that at the bottom there were coral formations and big fish. Every attempt to swim down is futile and painful, as I keep floating up, amidst painful squaking from my ear. All too soon, the steps up into the boat loomed in front of me, and our dive was over. I realised just how heavy the SCUBA gear was as I tried to get back out of the boat – standing up – FAIL. Ever the image of coordination, I had to get someone to haul me to my feet via the tank. Heading back into the boat, it was time for lunch, and the trip to the second site for the afternoon. Lunch was an amazing feast, enough to satisfy even Mr G’s now rabid hunger. Chicken, Ham, Lasagne, huge bread rolls, potato, pasta, garden and cheese salads and coleslaw. We settled down for the trip across the reef, and hoped that Mr G’s lunch wouldn’t request an encore.

After the briefing for the afternoon site, we were told about the coral gardens – visible across the reef as brilliant patches of turquoise – we were eager to get back into it. Mr G had decided to do the second introductory dive on offer, and we had both decided to take Phil the Whale biologist up on his offer of a guided snorkel tour.

Back in the water, we were yet again amazed by the temperature, a lukewarm 29 degrees. Diving in, we disturbed a school of reef Schnapper. They must have known that we couldn’t capture them – despite being told that they were delicious eating fish – they weren’t at all scared by the intrusion.  We linked hands and swam toward the reef 0 although it was somewhat awkward, as being low tide, it was too shallow to swim across and we had to go around the outskirts.

No matter – the brilliant coloured coral formations were still there, as was the myriad of fish – blue, yellow, purple, turquoise, red – and every colour variation possible. We were guided out to the the coral gardens – a sight to behold! The were a roughly bowl shaped formation, approx 10m across, absolutely filled with thousands of species of hard and soft coral, and the same abundance of fish. The 300 year old giant clams were a treat, and we were both able to swim down and touch them. Their response – closing up to avoid the intrusion. We swam around some more, spotting many different creatures, until such time as Mr G had to leave for his dive.

I swam around by myself for a bit longer,  but was too nervous to make the precarious shallow swim through the the coral formations, worried that I wouldn’t have room to turn around once on the other side. Of course, faced with all this beauty, all I can think of is horror stories of coral scratches and major systemic tropical infections and coral colonies growing inside me and OHNOES TEH CORAL IZ GONNA KILL MAH!

I swam back toward the boat and rejoined the guide, although I had grown tired of his tourist pleasing “Look at the Nemo Fish” babble, he was able to direct me from the edge of the reef back to the coral gardens.

Meeting up with Mr G again, I was a little upset to hear of his amazing underwater adventures. On the trip back, there were no sea sickness issues, and we arrived back in Cairns exhausted, but ready for another swim.



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