What a difference Airlie Beach is to Mackay the sun was shining when we arrived and the scenery is just beautiful. We headed for the dive shop and spent the morning learning theory before spending the afternoon in the swimming pool with our diving kit on, learning and practising the skills we would need for ocean diving
. On the first day the teaching finished at about 3pm so we headed to an internet shop, to put up our advertisement for our campervan, then we had to go get something for tea and find a campsite.
The second day in Airlie Beach was another early start as we had to visit the medical centre to have a dive medical to assess if we are fit to dive. All passed which meant the diving was on. Spent the morning once again going over theory, but spent most of day in the pool doing our skills. We have to be able to fill our mask with water and then empty them, take out our breathing piece, retrieve our breathing piece if it gets pulled put, take off our jacket and weight belt and the worse one is taking off eye mask and mouth piece out at the same time. Both me and Alex found the stuff pretty easy and I was pleased with myself for not freaking out under water when all the stuff was off. We finished about 3pm as our boat was departing at 7pm. We went to Coles to get some snacks for our 3 days away and we had an Eagle Boys Pizza (in my opinion better than dominos). We then packed our little bags and headed to Abel Point Marina for our 7pm departure. The boat is really nice, its a 30m long sailing boat and has 32 passengers, me and ALex had our own private cabin which was a nice surprise as we thought we were in a dorm. On the first night we sat up on deck talking to the other passengers and we were sailing out towards White Haven Beach, which is reportedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world
We were up early the next morning as us dive students had our first dive at about 7.30, it was beautiful to walk up on the deck as the sun was still rising and look out over White Haven Beach. The first dive was not a scenic one it was the skills dive, when we had to put everything we had learnt in the pool into action in the ocean, 5m down. The dive went well and we all completed the skills. Then we had to do our swim test back to the boat which was about 200m away. I am not the best swimmer and was slightly concerned about it, but it turned out I was fine-the snorkel and fins definately helped!!! We then joined the rest of the passengers on White Haven Beach, we stayed here for about 2 hours it was beautiful. Take a look at the pics. We then got back on the boat and headed to Luncheon Bay, which was the setting for our second dive, like our first we had to do a few skills the hardest was having to take our belts off and do the energency ascent which was fine, I just couldn't sink again without the belt it took bloody ages-I'm a floater!! The second half of the dive was more of a normal dive were we got to see some marine life. The boat then headed out to the Great Barrier Reef, this is where we stayed for the night.
The next day was another early start as our third dive was a dawn dive on Bait Reef
. This was our fun dive, where we didn't have to do any skills we just got to enjoy the reef and see the reef coming to life as the sun rose. On that dive we saw a lion fish which was cool and I was lucky enough to see a reef shark, Alex missed it because he was behind me and the shark swam off. Alex also got his mask caught on a piece of coral so he pulled himself free, simon (dive instructor) checked he was ok-but he put his skills to test. When diving you are supposeto reach the surface with 50ATM of air, I signalled to Simon that i was at that point, I think we were still pretty deep, because as a precaution I had to go to the surface using Simon's back up regulator, so again I was having to put the skills to the test. It was a good dive. Shortly after we had our fourth dive, which was our test dive, I was slightly nervous, I thought Simon was going to be horrible to us under there, but he really wasn't he only tested me on one skill. We saw another reef shark, he was just lying on the bottom, I thought I would be scared when I saw one but there was really nothing to be scared they were actually quite nice looking. I had to go up to the surface slightly early again as I go through my air quite quickly. Alex was down there a few minutes longer than I was and he finished the whole of the set route. The good news is both me and Alex PASSED!!!! So we our now certified divers. We weren't going to do any more dives, due to money, but once yopu start you don't want to stop so we did one more dive. It was probably the best dive, we didn't have to worry about any of the skills we just used them through the dive when needed
. We saw loads on this dive, about 4 white tip reef sharks, clown fish (Nemo), leopard eel and so many other fish! The only thing we didn't see and we would of loved to of seen was turtles, they saw them on the night dive but we couldn't afford to do another. We both loved doing our diving course, it was so great to learn something new and be able to now do that activity anywhere in the world. We had such beautiful weather for the majority of our trip, which was so amazing as we worried that we would have alot of rain, it just wouldn't of been the same if it had been rubbish weather for the full trip. The weather did change on the last night, we were in the middle of the reef miles from land and the wind picked up to 30knots. The captain decided we needed to head towards the islands, it was the most awful 3 hours. The boat was rocking at like a 50 degree angle, I felt pretty sick straight away, then it started raining and I was shivering. We were all up on the deck, I felt really sick and was concentrating hard on trying not to be. Then to top it all I need the toilet which is below deck which always make you feel worse because you can't see the horizon, Simon helped me up, sort of, when he pulled me up the boat really rolled and he took me and another lad out and we went flying across the deck, it hurt. When I came back from the toilet I couldn't find Alex, he had moved and there he was hanging over the side of the boat being sick!!! Bless him, I thought he was fine and I was the one who was going to be ill, but it turned out I wasn't sick.Finally the boat made it back to the sanctuary of the bay and the waters calmed, Alex just crawled into bed.
The next morning it was still cloudy, me and Alex went for a short snorkel there was quite a few fish, one was really big who the crew had made Elvis
. But snorkelling you could free the stingers much more than when you were diving and one got me on the tiny bit of skin showing on my foot and got Alex on the neck. The rain then came back and it rained all the way back into port.
We really enjoyed our Whitsundays trip and was so glad the weather was fine for the majority because if it had been like that 3rd night the whole time it would of been hell. Once we got back to land we chilled at the campsite for the afternoon, it never stopped raining, then we went to meet people from the boat for a few drinks. It was really fun, I loved being out dancing and I think Alex really enjoyed the beer!
We left Hervey Bay and set off for Airlie Beach to do our sailing trip on the Whitsundays. We knew it would be a long drive, but didn't realise how long. We thought we could maybe get to Airle Beach in a day but after 10 hours of driving we made it to Mackay which is a couple of hours short of Airle Beach. We stayed the night at Mackay, it rained all night, the campsite was waterlogged. We had to be up early the next day as we needed to be in Airle Beach for 9.30am to start our AUSI Open Water Diving Course. So we left the campsite at 7.30am and arrived in time.