Hello people. I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you the ending first: No one died on the Great Barrier Reef today.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to what did happen: We had a really great day.
Starting at the beginning: We left on the boat with about 50 other intrepid adventurers, most of whom appeared to be 20-something European backpackers, all tanned and toned.
After a 75 minute cruise from the shore to the reef — about 20 miles or so — we reached our first stopping point where we would spend a few hours snorkeling, diving, or watching the activities from the safety of the boat. After that, we’d move on to a second stopping point for a couple of hours.
Pete and Ellie were pretty keen to get out in the water.
Grace and I hung back, not sure if we were going to get in or not. She’s like me, in that she is completely unnerved by water and all that could be in it. However, after seeing how much fun Pete and El were having, Grace decided that she’d give it a try. We spent a solid ten minutes putting on our wetsuits, adjusting our masks, and getting our flippers on. We got in the water and pushed off from the boat…
… and within a minute, we were both VERY ready to get out of the water. A minute, I tell you.
I haven’t talked with Grace yet about what she was feeling, but I can tell you that even though I was reasonably calm getting into the water, as soon as I was in there, I started to panic. I had just learned that the water was 40′ deep, which is a lot of who-knows-what under my feet. I couldn’t breath through my nose because of the mask, but didn’t quite get the hang of mouth breathing through the snorkel, so I started to feel like I was suffocating. Add to that the light chop in the water, so that I was constantly bobbing up and down, and it was really damn disconcerting. So much so that I couldn’t even force myself to put my be-masked face in the water to see the reef. As soon as Grace said that she wanted to get out of the water NOW, I was with her, in mind and body and spirit.
I could feel upset about the whole thing, but I’m not. I wasn’t sure that Grace and I would even be able to get into the water at all, so I give us huge props for giving it a try.
We dried off a bit and enjoyed the day. It was in the upper 70s with a light breeze. We hung out on the top deck and did some people watching. The boat’s crew served us lunch and then we moved to a second reef for more adventures.
The water was much shallower at the second reef and the chop was calmer, but I didn’t know that until much later. Even still, I don’t think I could have forced myself into the water again.
At the second reef, both girls and I went into a glass-bottomed boat and got a pretty good — and quite dry — look at the reef.
The colors were brighter than the photos show, although they were not as bright in general as we all were expecting. It turns out that the reef’s colors fade and brighten over time, in response to various factors, including water and air temperatures.
While the girls and I were looking at the ocean floor through a window, Pete was having his first-ever experience scuba diving.
After his lesson was over, he and Ellie went snorkeling again. They were having a great time, when suddenly Ellie turned to Pete and said that she was cold and ready to get out of the water. Only after she was back on the boat did she confess that while she was indeed cold (the water was around 20C), she had also just seen a barracuda.
Around 3:00, the boat started to head back to land. We got in around 5:00 and walked back to our apartment. We all had warm showers and a yummy dinner and have been having a quiet evening.
Tomorrow is another adventure.
Updated to add: I would like to try snorkeling in the clear shallow waters of the Caribbean or some place like that. I think that if I could easily move around in the water and see what was around me, I would like it more.