Monday, July 9, 2012

Grueling Great Barrier Reef

Sunday July 8, 2012
Cayla and I were up at the crack of dawn, ready for our highly anticipated day of scuba diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.  We waited outside Queens Court Accommodations for the shuttle to the pier.  It was another cloudy day, and several people joked that underwater it doesn’t matter, but it would be quite a rough journey.  We settled into the few remaining seats on the top deck of Compass, our boat for the day.  I immediately took medication to prevent seasickness, since I learned about my sensitive stomach the hard way on a fishing trip last year.  
We left the pier, and I got a briefing with the other certified divers about what to expect and where to report once at the outer reef.  An older man who had 60 dives under his belt and I would be led by a crew member on an underwater journey around the reef.  I got fitted for equipment then rejoined Cayla upstairs.  A cheery woman from the crew with a smile plastered to her face notified us that it would take 2 1/2 hours to get to our destination...that’s when I got a headache.
Despite taking medication to avoid getting sick on the ship, I was in the fetal position for entire sail out.  The ocean was rougher than it has been in months and it took us longer than usual to reach our dive location.  Breakfast wasn’t as good the second time around, but after an eternity we arrived.  I quickly suited up, grabbed my tank, and hopped in the water.  The guide, the experienced diver, and myself followed a rope down to the bottom of the sea.  Unfortunately the visibility was terrible, but it was still much better than any of the dives I made in New York.  Our guide has been diving several times a week for the past four months and said he had never seen it this bad.  However, the reef was absolutely spectacular.  I saw a colorful array of small fish, zipping in and out of crevices in the coral.  The underwater world is incredible.  I met a few characters from Finding Nemo, including Shark bait (woo ha ha), but Nemo himself was nowhere to be found. I snapped photos with my underwater camera along the way.  Physically, I felt much healthier 16 meters underwater than I did on the ship.  It is so calming to glide around the reef listening to the sound of your own bubbles.  All too soon, it was time to surface.  We swam back to the boat and returned our tanks.  I jumped right back in to snorkel.  The visibility snorkeling was better than I expected, and I got a full viewing of more exotic sea life.  The waves were rolling, however, so I was thrown back and forth with the fish and the current.  From the rainforest in Cape Tribulation to the Great Barrier Reef, I have been so lucky to witness the wonders of nature on land and in the water over the past week.  God’s creation is unbelievable.  
I kicked back to the boat and found Cayla who had just completed an introductory dive!  She was nervous beforehand, and so proud of her accomplishment.  Once on the Compass I was down for the count...again.  Cayla hopped in for one more guided snorkel while I curled up on a bench.  We soon turned back for land, and I concentrated on breathing for the next 3 hours.  Mom, I missed you.  With just under an hour left of the journey, I got sick again.  A few members of the crew found it very entertaining to check up on me and joke about how far we were from land.  I felt a lot better once we were out of the open water, and chatted with a few friends Cayla made for the rest of the journey.  Relieved to set foot on land, we got back to our room and took a much needed showers.  We went to an Italian restaurant next door to get a little food in our stomachs.  As soon as I hit the mattress, I was in a full sleep.  Another eventful day and lessons learned.  Next time I’ll have to be jetted out to the reef on a helicopter.

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