Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great Barrier Reef

Today is the day! We are fortunate that the water is calm and the sun is shining. Pat helps us book a day on Ocean Spirit and we will be at Michaelmas Cay, a 2 hour cruise on a catamaran away. I am prepared with my dramamine. It is a beautiful boat and we meet a family from SJ. There are sure a lot of Californians out here on vacation! There is a youth group on board and they occupy pretty much the entire front deck out in the sun. By the end of the voyage, many of those kids will be bright red, some on one side of their body only! We are given directions as to the activities of the day; it is a bit confusing as there are a lot of choices and we try to maximize the amount of time snorkeling, not really interested in the submersible. At the last minute we thought we might try a scuba dive lesson but it is all filled up. We opt for a snorkel tour instead. I select a prescription mask as I did not wear my contacts. Finally we arrive. The cay is not big but the sand is white and the water bright blue. The reef consists of segments that are separated. We take our gear and get into the water buggy, which is anchored out at sea and brought over to the boat. Our tour is 6 people and a guide who shows us some fascinating facts about the corals and fish. We see a huge potato cod, which he said he has never seen there before. Giant clams have green irresescent edges and thing that look like big eyes inside. We are shown spaghetti coral and fire coral and get to hold a sea cucumber. it doesn't look like the sea cucumbers we eat in chinese restaurants! There is a variety of brightly colored fish, and many parrotfish. Did you know that the sand on the beach is actually the poop of parrotfish?

Ray and I continue to snorkel and I find that it is not as scary or intimidating as I thought it would be, primarily because the sights are so fascinating, you forget where you are. The sea floor does not look that far down and the life jackets and fins keep you afloat quite well. The only problem I had was my mask getting water seepage in it which caused me to get anxious. I later figured out how to turn and lie on my back. The day made me want to learn to swim better so that I can enjoy such activities more. I think scuba diving might actually be easier because you don't have to worry about the tube filling with water.
Back to the boat for a huge buffet lunch. We opted to not go on the submersible and went out snorkeling on our own in the afternoon. Ray saw a stingray and a lobster. It was such fun to be out there; it was an incredible day. We were all tired and sticky by departure time. Cake, coffee, then a glass of Australian wine left us all happy and relaxed. I sat on the side of the boat in the wind and just spaced out.

Back on land, we picked up sandwich fixings and took a cab back to the b&b. It was a relaxing ending to a lovely day.


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