Thursday, May 10

The Great Barrier Reef

This page has turned to WHITE from the normal green background I've been using for daily pages in honor of the clearness of the water at the reef.  It's too clear to be described.  It's stunning.  You walk into it from the white sand and you can see everything.  Bathtub water at home is less clear than the Reef.

We went out on a 100' catamaran called "Ocean Spirit".  A top notch outfit- highly recommended.  The crew was really cool, the food was great, their boat handling superb, and the day trip was just a blast.  Things started with a safety briefing which covered everything you needed to know, and some that were good to know: "In case of Emergency, I'm in charge of life raft #1 which is filled with Alcohol.  Life raft #3 has chocolate..."

Here's the boat (or is it a ship if it carries its own tender?):

We got to Michaelmas Cay, which is an island formed by coral deposits.  This Cay happens to have about 6000 birds living on it.  It's much smaller than we expected, but in reality we didn't need a lot of room for snorkeling.  The island:

The fish are so tame that they feed them from the boat: 

 It also amazes us familiar with Long Island Sound that you can actually SEE something in the water other than junk.  We went on a semi-submersible boat ride when we got there which let us see the reef.  We saw thousands of fish, and the coral is amazing.  The colors are somewhat blue-green in these pix because of the filtering of the sun but it gives you an idea of what we saw:

The Reef: 

A Giant Clam (about 4 feet across!): 
The colors of the reef from shore - this picture doesn't do it justice: 

There are lots of birds on the island and they're used to people coming up and saying hi.  This tern let me get about 2 feet from it before it decided to take off:

We snorkeled the reef after we got there - about 1.5 hours, and we got kind of sunburned.  But it was really amazing seeing these creatures live, whereas we'd only imagined them from TV.  They are as amazing as TV makes them look, maybe more.

The trip back was great with some of the crew singing songs, we drank champagne, and had an overall great time.  Recommended.  Here's some of the crew (in striped shirts), Karen and Made (Ma-day):

After showering off and trying to cool some of the sunburn we went to dinner, where Alex ate "bugs" - they're a kind of crayfish found around here, and they're very mild.  And tasty in a creamy pesto sauce....

When at the Monsoon in Cairns be sure to ask for James - the most conscientious waiter we've ever seen.   Everyone down here (except some Japanese tourists) has a great smile on their face, and it's really genuine.  It makes you really want to stay down here forever...

Of course, the American Navy sent 2000 troops here today for shore leave, so things may get a bit more crowded for the next few days.  But it's been a great time so far.  Tomorrow it's off to the Kuranda Rain forest via train and skyrail.  Looking forward to it-


BTW - can anyone tell us what kind of american ship this is?