...and other misconceptions I made 07-11-23
2007 Nov 23
January 31st 2011
Day Three of the Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard

Posted by D under scuba

This morning started early. Really early. Wake up at 5:45am for the morning dive briefing. The weather had cleared up over night (it actually had been nice already on Sunday evening) and we were all happy to see the sun again.

We were still at our fourth dive site, but swam in a different direction to a new part of the reef. Visibility was really bad, possibly the worst of all dives from a visibility point of view. We saw lots of large fish – I’m not good at identifying fish on a clear day and in this environment I won’t even try, but we saw several fish that were clearly 4-5 ft long and big all around – certainly a couple hundred pounds and more. I had some equalization issues with my right ear so L took over navigation – and at less than 10 ft visibility brought us back exactly to the back of the boat after a 55 minute dive. Very impressive (and this is the guy who claims to have no sense of direction…).

We moved to our fifth and final dive site. Did the briefing where we got compass directions and rough distances and water depths to help us find the way to a beautiful wall. This time it was my turn to navigate. There were three buddy pairs navigating independently and we all ended up swimming around the same area which was beautiful and a really cool dive (tons of fish, beautiful reef formations, etc), but there was no wall and the water depth was less than half of what we were told to expect. We all got very uncertain and in each of the teams at some point the navigator swam up to the surface to get a bearing on the boat. We were clearly in the right spot. Only it wasn’t the right spot.

We got back on the boat after a wonderful 58 minute dive and were asking the instructors. At first they were very defensive. “You guys got lost”. “Of course there’s a beautiful wall, of course it’s 20m deep there”. Etc. But since three buddy pairs insisted that they swam the right direction and there was nothing that looked as they described it, the skipper of the boat geared up to take a look for himself.

We had our snack and shortly thereafter we did the briefing for the third morning dive (the boat has to be back in Cairns by 3:30pm; that’s why the day starts so early and why the three dives are a bit close together). At the beginning of the dive the supervising instructor (who had done the previous briefing) was a lot less defensive and told us what happened. Apparently the huge concrete blocks (or as they call it, the “box”) to which the boat is tied down had been moved two weeks earlier after a storm ripped them lose and as none of the instructors had been to this site since that happened they all forgot about that minor detail. So instead of swimming 120° from the port side box (which gets you into the shallowest part of the reef), one now had to swim 180° from that box.

Oops.

I felt a lot better about my navigation skills and we did our third dive to the aforementioned wall. Which was indeed very nice and a spectacular site for the last dive. Since the visibility had been bad all morning I didn’t take my camera which turned out to be mistake as it had cleared up a bit and I would have had a chance to take pictures of a real Nemo and a quite a few other reef fish and sea life that we found, but it was just as well, I think this way I enjoyed the dive even more.

After another 58 minute dive we returned to the boat where the crew was already in the middle of preparations to get going. The other passengers who had rented gear dropped that in buckets, L and I went ahead and rinsed our own gear and hung things out to dry on the upper deck. A quick lunch and then everyone went packing to their rooms.

On the way back in we sat in the dining area and talked and I posted the first two reports, this one is now from our hotel in Cairns where we need to stay for 36 hours before it is safe for us to fly given all the scuba diving we have done the last three days.

It was an amazing trip. A few hiccups, not the weather or visibility that we might have wished for and not all dives were perfect. But still, a three day liveaboard is an amazing thing to do and I’m very glad that we went.

We met nice people, had a lot of fun, got some good diving in and didn’t even get sunburned. What else could we ask for.

Oh yeah, I have an idea. We could ask that the second cyclone that’s approaching Cairns right now turns somewhere else and that our flight back to Sydney (and then on to Vancouver, B.C. and finally home to Portland) doesn’t get canceled.

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