Saturday – Great Barrier Reef

April 12, 2006 at 2:59 am (Australia, Report)

Well, this was meant to be one of the highlight tours during our visit to Queensland – a day of snorkeling on the reef.

We were originally going to go with Quicksilver, but ended up being tempted by the HABA boat "Evolution". Take a look at http://www.habadive.com.au/evolution.htm and the pictures on Flickr. They were cheaper (especially when throwing in yesterday's boat trip too), but not quite so many things for small children. If we went again with Sam at this age, I'd probably choose QuickSilver, but apart from that aspect, the HABA tour was fine.

Sue & Ann started snorkeling at the morning site ('Snow' site on the Opal reef), so managed to get their photo taken by the boat's photographer. I looked after Sam, and helped her to swim around in her stinger suit & wetsuit, along with a flotation noodle under her arms. She was OK with the goggles & snorkel in her mouth, but never quite got confident enough to put her face in the water.

When Ann came back to look after Sam, I went off with Sue. Almost immediately we were investigated by a huge wrasse, that came to see us, and let us touch it. It was very friendly, and would turn back to us after it had passed. Fortunately, the boat's photographer was around at the time, so we got some excellent photos – see Flickr.

There were 2 downsides to the morning snorkel though… The boat was moored a short way away from the reef, and there was some current to counter when swimming back to the boat, even though the flippers made easy work of getting through the water. The main problem was that my mask was leaking sufficiently to let a fair amount of water into the mask. Enough that I would often pull water into my nose and the back of my throat. The combined effect of the salt-water, the frequent stops, and the current dragging me away at each stop, was enough to make the first part thoroughly dis-heartening.

Sue & I made it back to the main boat in enough time for Sue to join Sam & Ann on the glass-bottomed boat. While the threee of them had that tour, I recovered, and started lunch.

During lunch, the main boat moved to a new site, and while the food settled, all of us went on the second glass-bottomed boat tour.

On return from that, Sue and I went back out for snorkel; this time equipped with a new mask. This time, the swim was much more pleasant. The water was clearer; the boat was closer to decent reef; there was little current (but occasionally the waves were a little larger). It was much calmer just snorkelling around, looking at the various fish & reefs.

Then… just as we were thinking about maybe heading back towards the boat, a large turtle swam underneath us. All of a sudden there was a pack of 5 snorkellers following this turtle off along the reef… An excellent sight, but the photographer was nowhere to be seen 😦

That let us spend some more time snorkelling, and we finally headed for the boat amonst the last out of the water. Maybe 20 yards from the boat, I got a small sting – probably from a jellyfish – on on of the few bits of my skin not covered by the stinger suit. A shame I spent the last few minutes sitting with ice on my wrist, as I think Samantha would have liked one last swim, and Ann couldn't find her stuff to get changed into.

Samantha enjoyed what she did, and the boat & crew were excellent. The second swim made the trip for me – and I'm glad we got a few decent photo out of the trip. Shame there weren't any of Sam though!

We got back to the apartment at around 5pm, and dallied a little too long – the rain started before we were ready – so we orded a Thai take-away instead. The rain really does arrive at that time, and can bucket it down.

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4 Comments

  1. Shirley said,

    I enjoyed your post so much–sounds like such fun. I’m 67 years old now, and will never do anything like that–but I wish I had.

    Blessings,

    shirley

  2. Margaret Wilcox marphil said,

    What a wonderful time you are having. I only wish I could be there. Pity about no snaps of the turtle, or of Sam and Spencer. I bet HE doesn’t go into the water. Have just received Ann’s e-mail. so glad mine got there on her birthday – more good luck than judgement, I think!!
    Who is Sylvia ? I haven’t heard of her before.
    Continue with the good times, and take care.
    Love. Mum & Dad

  3. coppertop said,

    Shirley – it was indeed fun – although the first swim left me pretty non-plussed. Swimming with the turtle was the unexpected thing, and definitely a treat – apparently there was a pod of dolphins around the day before, too!

    I hope you do get the opportunity to do something like this – at the reef here, some of the boats (like Quicksilver) are well set-up for the non-swimmers. The main boat moors at a pontoon, from which you see things from a semi-submersible boat, or from an underwater viewing area.

    Our boat had a couple of grandparents out with the family, but I don’t know whether they actually did any snorkelling, or just helped with the kids on the boat.

  4. coppertop said,

    Mum – definitely having fun – but the bank manager is probably wincing at all the things we’re doing. Glad it’s a quiet day today.

    Spencer went along, but he wisely stayed in the air-conditioned cabin all the time. The best place for a bear…

    As for Shirley – I have no idea. That’s the beauty of the blogs though – anyone in the world can read what you’ve been writing. And if your writing is any good, they might just come back!

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