Monday, 8 October 2012

The trip to the reef that nearly didn't happen.

Mike and I have wanted to get the kids snorkelling for ages.  We both did our dive tickets in Dahab on the Red Sea in the Sinai.  And yes, if you have heard about Dahab it is just like you've heard.  Those of you who have been there probably can't remember very well.

Tomorrow I will post on why I can remember Dahab.  Today I will stick to my snorkelling tale.

We got Sarah snorkelling in Fiji when she was 7.  Josh tried it but didn't like it.  We found out later he was running a fever.  Oops.

So with high hopes, we booked a day on the reef.  We were warned away from the long distance journey to the pontoon at the far easternmost point of the reef, (I believe it is imaginatively named: Reefworld) due to it being a long day for the kids, possibly too rough, and a bit confining for Issy sized people who did like boats, let alone ones like Issy who would rather not travel in this manner.

So we opted for Green Island.  A little coral island 40 minutes from Cairns.  Reached by the reassuringly fast (by name anyway) Reef Rocket.

We booked for Wednesday, and awoke to pouring rain and gale force winds.  They kindly changed the booking to Friday, which dawned sunny but still windy.  Somewhere during the booking process I had received the impression that our tour went out from Port Douglas, so that's where I drove us.  This had alarming repercussions because:

1.  The road travels right along the coastline for a good part of the Palm Cove/Port Douglas journey.  It is stunningly beautiful with the deep green hills coming right down to the sea.  But you can also see how rough the ocean is.  On Friday morning, it was bloody rough.  Mike (not a sailor) began to look uncomfortable and started checking the bag for the seasickness tablets I'd purchased and kept reading and re reading the instructions.

2.  We were going the wrong way.  The tours go out from Cairns.  And I am an idiot.

Mike nearly whooped for joy when he realised we wouldn't make the tour.  He rang up the company and begged them to change us to Saturday, which they did.  And when we drove the right way to Cairns the following morning the road doesn't go past the water so what he didn't see didn't hurt him.

Until of course we started lurching all over the ocean once out of Cairns Harbour, but by then it was too late and we all had the charmingly named Kwells, in our system.  Issy shrieked, shivered, clung and wailed.  Many people turned a nasty shade.  Some clutched vomit bags provided by the friendly staff.

I saw no vom.  I was glad.  The Kwells were good but I'm not sure if they cover sympathy situations.

So we finally made it to Green Island.  The wind was dropping but the clouds were grey.  It was still warm and we were happy.  Even happier when we lined up for the semi submarine, which promised us loads of fish, up close.

And it didn't disappoint.  I let Josh loose with the camera and the photos below are about one millionth of the ones he took.  My poor iphone now has no free memory.

One of Josh's million photos.

Coral and fish, taken by Josh.  
The semi sub was the highlight of the day, but the glass bottomed boat was pretty cool too.  The mad Irish dude who was our guide and driver chucked out bits of fish food and they all rose to the surface to fight it out.
Feeding frenzy from the glass bottomed boat.
Finally, in a lather of excitement because we were about to get up close and personal with the fishies, we all set off to the beach for our own snorkelling adventure.  

But things seldom work out the way you plan do they?

Issy: insisted on putting on flippers 15m from water, flicked up sand all over peaceful sunbakers, cried because her snorkel wasn't pink, cried because her snorkel got water in it, quivered in fear when a wave gently lifted her feet off the ground (I was holding her), put her face in the water for 10 seconds before she got water in her mask, cried.  Got out of water.

Josh: same flipper story as Issy, kept taking his mask off and fiddling with his snorkel, inhaled quite a lot of sea water when a wave slapped over his snorkel (poor guy), cried, lost a flipper, found it, tried again, saw one fish. Got out of water.  

Sarah: snorkelled like a champion but only saw 4 fish.  Same as me and Mike.  It just wasn't very fishy.

Josh and Issy not snorkelling. 
But like most holiday experiences, we cast away the disappointment and embraced the wonderful and declared it the "BEST DAY EVER".  And on the way back the wind had dropped significantly so the trip was smooth and beautiful.

One day we will have them all out there, snorkelling and seeing amazing underwater worlds.  One day.