9-6 Australia Part 1: Diving!

On the boat!

The highlight of this trip was the diving and the dive tour. We booked it well in advance after reading about a bunch of different dive operators. We went with Deep Sea Diver’s Den because it was PADI certified (as opposed to one of the other international certifications), had good reviews and was in the cheap side of the mid-range of prices. We made a good choice.

They picked us up on Monday morning and took us to the wharf where we boarded the first boat. The boat left the harbor and headed for the reef. After about an hour and a half, we stopped at the first dive site. I was glad the dive master who was guiding us made us run through basic skills, since it had been a few months. The other two people we were diving with hadn’t gone in a few years and it showed.

The dive itself was nice. Not the most impressive one we went on, but still, anything on the Great Barrier Reef is pretty much bound to be cool.

We left from that dive site and went further out on the reef where we dove again. After that dive, we joined up with the big, live-aboard boat. Jason and I and a few other people changed boats and put our stuff away. We had about ten minutes to sit down before we were back on the dive deck for dive three.

The fish really liked the ship’s light at night.

At this point some of the dives start running together. I’m not sure which one it was that I spotted the fire fish/ lion fish sleeping under the anchor blocks. (I was having problems equalizing and was going down slower than everyone, so I spotted it.) Then we swam over a turtle, though not a big guy. Only about two feet long. (Different ideas of big turtles started applying on the next dive.) We also saw a black-tipped reef shark that was about five feet long.

We returned to the boat around 5 and had an hour to chill out. I went up top and watched the water. That is a whole lot of blue. We ate tasty food and then went diving again. (Jason would like me to point out that the food was fantastic.)

I watched the sunrise.  It was a good one.

The night dive was very cool. There were big gray fish that have learned to hunt by the light of the torches. If we pointed a torch at a fish, the big fish would swoop in and eat it. It was almost as much fun to watch the other divers as to watch the fish. Each diver became a little pinpoint of light as we swam. It was like watching moving constellations. During our safety stop, (every dive there is a saftey stop before you go all the way up to let your body reacclimate) we covered our flashlights and waved our fingers through the air. There was a full moon and the bioluminescence made trails of sparkles through the water. I had a magic wand in my fingers.

Jason and I were the last group to head up. The boat had a flood light on the back and a bunch of fish were attracted to it. We watched the silhouette of the other divers and the fish in the light as we ascended. We could see little rainbow sparkles in the their bubbles, too.

Dawn over the live-aboard boat.

They fed us again once we were dry. The cook made too much dessert so we had to have two. In the morning, we ate breakfast and immediately got back in the water. We saw a turtle who’s shell was more than a meter long. We saw another turtle and a few more sharks. (Just reef sharks, don’t freak out.)

We moved from that mooring to one closer to shore where we did two dives. The last dive was my favorite. We went in caves. Our dive guide knew which caves popped out at the other end, so he led us through them. In one, the first exit we were heading for was blocked by a giant sea turtle, so we went further in. The second one was really dark and so neat. (Jason was much less impressed. I thought it was awesome.) Also, we swam under a turtle and saw a sleeping shark that was over 2 meters long.

Sleepy head. 

We transfered boats again after lunch and headed back to shore. (Again, Jason would like to say that the food was delicious.) We both napped on the way back in. Diving that much is exhausting, but really cool.

It had been a few months since we’d been diving, so it was good to go again. I had a few rough dives in the middle where I really struggled to keep my buoyancy right. I was pleased with my last two dives where I felt much more in control and calm about it. I still need to stay pretty aware of it, but at least I feel like I can control it and not have it be the only thing I do during my dive.

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