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Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Meeting new friends from all over

overcast 27 °C

The weather wasn't looking to good but I was determined to get some real dives in on the GBR. I found out that there are no night dives on the reef unless you spend the night on a live aboard. So, since I had planned to dive on both Saturday and Sunday it was decided to stretch the trip into an overnight visit. A live-aboard is a great way to dive. This was my first live aboard dive trip but certainly won't be my last. I met a guy from Boston on the shuttle to the boat and we ended up diving and rooming together.

The ride out the the reef is done on a day boat. We did two dives on Norman reef and had time for a snorkel as well before we were transferred to the overnight boat. The overnight boat names the Ocean Quest stands on station in the ocean for up to three months at a time! They rotate passengers and crew with the day boat but otherwise they stay out until they need to refuel and get more fresh water.

Diving on a boat isn't much different from normal diving but on a live-aboard its a very condensed. I did seven dives on the reef at four different sites including a night dive. The dives were very similar due the rain and rough weather except for the night dives and the last dive.

While the surface was choppy once you hit about 10 feet or so it smoothed out but the visibility wasn't great. Still the water was warm and I saw many types of coral, lots and lots of fish and some other wild life as well.

The topper was probably the night dive. They turn on the lights and the night starts around 7:30. While this might not seem too late it was the 4th dive of the night. But the was the possibility of sharks! And Grand Trevallier's sp? The latter are huge fish that we were warned would 'fish' using our lights. ;-)

We were not disappointed on either score. There were black tipped reef sharks right off the boat and more down below. I met many folks on the boat but one in particular was an Israeli, going to school in Australia named Alon. He did the night dive with me and had not seen sharks before while diving. While he was an experienced diver it was fun to see his expression when the sharks arrived.

The Grand Trevallier's, true to form followed our lights and tried to eat anything we highlighted with our lights. We moved the lights around so as not to make it too easy for them to get their fill.

At the bottom of an opening in the reef we ran into another group the had descended just before Alon and I. They were led by on of the boat crew and she motioned us all to the bottom. We all knelled on the bottom and covered our lights. The darkness was total and immense but very liberating at the same time.

As Alon and I headed back to the boat he saw another shark and disappeared from sight. Not good to loose a buddy in sight of the boat! But I followed procedure and sure enough he came up right below me. As I waited two sharks swam within arms reach of me. Very cool.

The first dive of the morning (6:30am) wasn't too spectacular due to the weather. It had rained all night and the viz was not good. But we did get to see a lion fish and the was good.

The next dive was number 50 for me and helped me qualify for my Master's Dive certificate but was, again, not great.

The last dive however, did turn out to be very good. With the tide changing the water cleared and the surge settled so it was a very good dive allowing my buddy and I to 'camp' in different places and just watch the action on the reef unfold.

After the last dive we hooked up with the Reef Quest, the day boat the brought many of us out the day before for the ride home. There was talk about a front coming in with a possible cyclone headed towards Cairns in a day or so. The right home was at a steady 18 knots and was kind of exciting.

I hope return to the reef again when the weather is nicer. When I do, I will be doing it on a live-aboard. There is just no other way to do it!

Tomorrow, we head down into the Daintree Rainforest.

Posted by garciamag 16:35 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites

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