Port Douglas - Day Three

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Apr 10, 2006

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yup, early in the morning again we arose, stole a few pool towels and boarded yet another coach. This one took us to a new part of Port Douglas, the marina, which we hadn't visited to date. Looking around, we couldn't figure out why - the area is great and the shopping centre appealed very much!

Everyone in this place seems determined to take my picture. I can't imagine what for unless there is a shortage of dartboard backs in the area! Regardless, we submitted to several shots of Dad and I, against the boat, against the sea, against the sky - with hat, without hat, with wave... You'd have thought it was a photoshoot in the true sense as I kept expecting Austin Powers to materalise. "You're a lemur! Burrow! Burrow!" Pah.

Anyway, we set sail from the marina with the ominous presence of 1-2 metre high waves on the forecast. The boat offers sea sickness pills for a nominal fee (no, really - $2 AUS), and I for one was glad I took them. It was impossible to sit inside without feeling seasick and I only tried to make blog notes for about ten minutes before I staggered outside for some fresh air. A nice big seat beckoned to me and I collapsed into it. Minor mistake on my part as it became increasingly clear that this was the seat in which you would get very damp - the spray caught you right across the shoulders as the boat went up and down. However, it did mean that you had zero time for worrying about feeling ill - you were too busy trying to dry your sunglasses before the next splash! Particularly as we got closer to the reef itself, there was a definite bucking bronco element...

We had elected to travel with Calypso, and they were certainly very good. We hit the first site (of three) at about half ten, eleven o'clock and were swiftly presented with a fruit buffet for nibbling and cups of tea. Then after a brief snorkelling run down, we all clambered into our lycra suits (yes, even me - I figured I was never going to see these people again and I could edit the rest of the shots) and masks/fins etc and plunged into the water.

As I might have mentioned on an earlier entry, this time of year is "stinger season" for the north of Queensland and box jellyfish litter the coastline. They don't come out to the far corners of the reef and the lycra suits are just to protect against the smaller jellyfish which we saw in the waters. You won't die from these but they can give you a nasty nip. I'm sure I looked dazzling in mine... tragically no photos seem to have survived...

The snorkelling was brilliant, clear water and you just can't believe how many colours and fish there are. We had an hour at each site, and I think that I will let our pictures do the talking once Dad gets back to London.

One of the nice aspects of going with a smaller firm is that we were only about 20 people on the boat, if that, and so we were able to have short snorkelling guides around the rock. One of the girls who had just joined the team was actually a marine biologist and so she added a lot to the experience. I managed to duck holding the sea cucumber (ick) but as you will see from the photos shortly Dad was not so fortunate! Quite a bit of time was spent dodging the small jellyfish which seemed to like lurking near the boat. I can only assume this is because the bigger fish tended to hide underneath it and the jellyfish had eyes bigger than their stomachs!

We were exceptionally lucky in our weather for this trip - the sun shone and the waves really weren't that bad once you were used to them. Both Dad and I came back with red arms and hands despite suncream - I guess that is the part which is most exposed since all the rest of you is inside the stinger suit! Gloves next time, perhaps.

All that swimming tuckered me out and I crawled into bed almost as soon as we got back to the hotel (7.30pm, oh dear!) This left Dad to party around the town without his chaperone...very dangerous.
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