Our second group excursion – diving on The Great Barrier Reef. Our day started out with rain and heavy winds greeting us as we left the hotel to walk to the pier. There was a major storm system over southern to middle Queensland that was predicted to dump a full month’s worth of rain on Brisbane (well south of us) over a 3 day period.
As we boarded the boat, it was obvious we were going to be in for a somewhat rough ride. The tour company had coffee and tea on board for us, along with a variety of fruits and pastries. We stowed our things and the crew prepared the boat for our journey out the reef.
Once we were out of the marina area, the sea was a bit rough and with the winds, even the enclosed salon are of the boat were being sprayed with ocean spray. The crew gave safety presentations and diving briefings as we traveled. After a ride of a little over an hour, we reached our destination.
There were swells of up to 3 feet and a relatively steady 30 mph wind, which made even getting on or off the boat a challenge.
Everyone made it into the water and away from the boat – some snorkelers for only a few minutes, others were out for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Those who did the SCUBA dive were able to get around pretty well once they were away from the boat and underwater. Moving around in rough seas like this was much more of a physical workout to just get around than you might expect!
All throughout the day there was the opportunity to view the reef in glass bottom boat with one member of the crew providing information and entertaining commentary about the marine life on the reef and the reef itself.
We had a nice lunch on board and after another short period of time to get into the water again, we took up anchor and went to a second location on the reef.
By now the winds had picked up a fair amount and the sea was rougher here. Those who were diving were taken out to an area by boat and dropped off to drift back to the big boat.
Due to the rough seas the water was rather cloudy, making it difficult to see much. We were served more fruit to snack on throughout the day and then it was time to head back to shore.
Unfortunately, the glass bottom boat had some engine problems and had to be anchored and left to wait for a bigger boat to come out to pick it up. Because of that, we had to tow the smaller transport boat back to shore with us. The Captain told us that the seas were rough and we would be travelling back a bit slower.
After an “exciting” 90-minute ride back, we finally arrive at the pier and said goodbye to each member of the crew.
Even with the inclement weather, it was an amazing experience to say the least. The students seemed to have fun and were really excited to get to see this amazing place. I personally would love to return here and dive on a day that has good weather and calm seas!
Time now to pack up and prepare for our trip down to the southern coast of Australia to Melbourne – a VERY different town and area from here… Stay tuned!