More Australia Pictures: The Dive Trip
When we were in Cairns, we took a dive trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We both have our open water dive certification, which allows us to dive as deep as 60 ft. We hadn't been on real dive for over 18 months (if New Mexico counts as a real dive). However, it's just like riding a bicycle and it all comes back to you. Except on the first dive when Craig totally forgot to check his oxygen and ran out of air. In fact, he broke Queensland law by returning to the surface with less than the legal minimum air pressure. Oops.
Above: Len is really excited as we leave the port of Cairns to head out on our two day adventure.
Another view of the dingy we are pulling and the town of Cairns in the Distance.
This is the smaller that ferried us to and from the reef. It also carried people to came out to the Great Barrier Reef on day trips.
This is our dive boat, Reef Encounter, anchored at Hastings Reef. This large boat permanently stayed out at sea, twice a day switching reefs. We took a smaller boat out from the port of Cairns.
At first Craig and Len thought they would want a guide, having not been scuba diving for a while. But, after a couple "no worries" from the diver master Camp, they were ready to explore the reef guideless. A British bloke named Simon made it a dive group of three. Simon thought it was cool to have twice as much air when Craig and Len had to surface. Craig had a smaller oxygen tank than everyone else, but usually finished with the same pressure as Len because Len used up so mcuh (When you are new to SCUBA diving you take larger breaths than you need.) Len told Craig, "I used up so much oxygen because of my high V02 max." "No, you're just breathing too often," said Craig. "No, my lungs naturally take in more air."
Craig is near the surface right here. We had to descend slowly and do the val salva often in order to ensure that we did not hurt our ears with sudden pressure differences.
Above: Craig and Clam. Though it is difficult to see, Craig is upside down peering at a giant clam. If you waive your arms over the clams, they sometimes close their shell. They have primitive light receptors that sense light and they close their shells at night.
Looking up at the reef and surface of the ocean.
This was a random toilet nicely placed in a sand bed at about 30 meters depth at Hastings Reef.
Above: a giant fish named Wally. At Hastings Reef, there is one particularly friendly fish. It is a red grouper and the species is known for its curiosity and tendency to approach divers. On his last dive as Craig was surfacing, Wally approached. The divemaster said he likes to be tickled on the chin, so Craig did. This is kind of strange, you usually think of dogs and not fish enjoying tickles on the chin.
Between dives, we usually had enough time to relax on the deck. Craig is catching some south of the equator rays. It was pretty chilly here because of the wind.
This is our room onboard the Reef Encounter. It was much nicer than the sketchy hostels we stayed at before and after the dive trip.
We're entitled 3 minutes of showering per day. Craig decides to split his ration into 30 second intervals so he can shower after every dive. The crew recommended that we use the hot tub to rinse off the saltwater, but it was quickly filled after the dives, and it didn't seem quite as clean as the shower water.
The Reef Encounter had a Jacuzzi on the front deck. It wasn't the greatest. Not very warm. All the water spilled out on the rough seas.
The second day we wake up at 6:45 dive, eat breakfast, dive, and retreat to the hot tub. We stay in the hot tub as the boat moves to another reef. Craig and Len stay in the hot for about the first 20 minutes, because even though it's only a luke-warm temperature, it's still warmer than leaving. There are no towels nearby and you can't drip inside the boat. The boat rocks back and forth side to side spilling nearly half of the hot tub's contents. Craig thinks it's hilarious that the water spilled all over Len's only sweatshirt which is draped over a chair five feet away. Craig says to Len, "Come on, go and get a camera so you can take a picture of me in the hot tub, you have to go sometime." Len retreats to his room not to get a camera, but to down his remaining motion sickness pills. Craig goes on the last dive and Len sits it out because he's sick.
Here is the top deck of the Reef Encounter. That's me shivering. Notice the is a helicopter pad. If we had wanted to, we could have paid $275 each for a helicopter return trip back to Cairns. Well, we decided against that and instead took Compass back.
The return voyage on Compass. The seas were very rough. The boat was rolling and pitching around 30 degrees back and forth. That might be normal in a speed boat, but this was a 80 foot craft. As you can see, no one was one the back top deck. First of all, if you weren't holding on to the rail, you could easily be thrown overboard. Second, waves crashed over the bow of the boat and splashed clear over the forward top deck. Here is another side view of Compass...
At least two dozen people puked. Len was fine because he had taken motion sickness pills. He still sat down in the lower rear part of the boat which is the most difficult to get sick at. Craig went to the upper front part of the boat--what the crew termed the "washing machine" because it was bouncing all over the place so much.
Eventually, the seas calmed down when we got behind the headlands. This is a picture of the sunset when we were about 20 minutes from port.
Compass after we returned to port. As a reminder, the waves crashed over the front of the boat and splashed over the top deck on the return trip.