Published: March 4th 2009September 3rd 2008
Yes, bollocks, it's been bloody ages I know! I had sooooo much to do that it seemed too much to wade through, I'm sure it's a state that many bloggers have been in and I'm sure my family won't mind! But now I have the time and renewed passion so here we go again ;) ......
Yet again I arrive in a place too early in the morning, after a pain in the arse journey, in the pouring rain ... grumble grumble ... then I realise it's still better than a day in the office back home! Airlie Beach is home of the Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach, one of the top ten ranked beaches in the world. So of course I was looking forward to some pristine beaches and sunshine whilst on a gorgeous yacht; you know, That fantasy! So while I tried to get my bearings after 19 hours on the coach (which included a 'disagreement' between a bleached blonde English girl and the bus driver that lasted from Hervey Bay all the way to Airlie!) I looked around in the down pour for some kind of sign as to where I should go or what I should
do. In my usual 'Allie way' I had of course not booked ahead for even looked at a map and had no guide book; so when a very lovely girl stood with fag in hand looking like she too had no idea we soon agreed on staying at the Beaches hostel (coz that was the only pick up van left at the bus stop ;) but I wouldn't recommend it!) The day was spent sipping tea and scoffing cakes with Kally and talking to the girls at Tribal travel where I found out that 'annoying aggy girl from the bus' was actually on my boat the next day, wasn't entirely sure how I was going to deal with this but luckily the other people I met who were the boat seemed OK; and as Kally booked her PADI course on a fancy yacht I was super jealous but sooooo excited about my free fun dive that was included on my trip - I was going to dive the Great Barrier Reef! Yes actually one of the things that is on my 'to do before I die list' .. which still unfortunately remains to be crossed off.....
dreams by Mean, Mean Scuba Man
I got up ridiculously early to walk down to the marina for the Whitsunday's lift off, luckily meeting up with a nice girl from my trip to guide me there, coz yet again I had absolutely no clue! We were suited and booted with our ever so sexy stinger suits, do I look good in rubber? Hells Yeah! ... can you hear the sarcasm? ;) We were introduced to the crew and our boat 'Apollo', a very fancy racing yacht, which was to be our home for the next 3 days. (please note you get what you pay for on these tours, Apollo wasn't crazy expensive but was more than others and I've heard some horror stories!) We headed straight for Whitehaven and on the way even got in a bit of whale watching! As Apollo was so fast our trip included a couple of hours on the beach as well as learning our scuba skills here. Que 'mean, mean scuba man' and one of the worst parts of my trip. I have always dreamed of scuba diving, I wanted to be a mermaid when I was little and would hold my breath for
as long as I could in the swimming pool so I cold float around under the water's surface. I missed opportunities in Asia to get my certification but when I was able to get a Whitsunday trip that had a free dive thrown in I was so happy and figured it would be a great way to wet my feet, so to speak, before going for the full course. We were only meant to learn the basics before doing the dive - clearing our mask, taking out our regulator and finding it again etc - we did this just off the shore of Whitehaven beach and while I was waiting for the other groups to go through the motions a few of us messed about in the shallows and it was at this point that I suddenly squealed with delight at the sight of a massive Stingray swimming in and around our feet as we talked. I couldn't believe it came up so close to us in such shallow water and then wizzed away as quick as he'd come. Pretty bloody amazing!
I was in the last scuba group, at this point we were just getting through the skills
and would do the dive later in the arvo. I had the gear thrown on me by another member of the group, my weight belt falling off, the BCD wasn't secured and my tank was slipping down my back, basically everything was in a jumbled mess. This situation was made worse by the scuba instructor looking at his watch as we stumbled up and shouted out 'Well it's getting late, those other groups have taken ages; why don't we see if we can be the fastest group to get through this' ended with his patronising sneer. So already putting the rush on us and making us feel pressured. I had only ever snorkeled on this trip and had definitely never breathed through a regulator before so when we first went under I panicked a little but managed to keep calm and breathe slowly. But we were in really shallow water and when he asked us to get down on our knees under the water, our heads barely below the surface, I kept bobbing back up and struggled with all the gear and the ebb and flow of the tide. Couple this with a leaking mask and two rather large floatation
devices intergrated to my front ;) and things were going tits up with no-one who was wiling to help. I tried everything to stay under but couldn't and so I started to get frustrated and scared coz I was unable to see what he was doing in order to finish the skills. I could tell he was getting pissed off with me, he grabbed me and pulled me back down in to the water at which point I just stood up, I couldn't believe he was being so aggy. I explained what was happening so he put a whole load more weights on my belt and told me I could sink to the bottom of the ocean with that and promptly went back under the water. At this point I still couldn't stay under properly and because he had upset me I was starting to take the type of breaths you take when you're about to cry - not good when trying to breathe through machine under water! I stood back up again to try and regulate my breathing and stop being such a bloody girl when Tane the deckhand and a dive master himself saw me and asked what
was going on. Jono had previously pointed at the button on the BCD and said 'No touchy touchy! Only for me, No touchy touchy' but Tane said to push it as I went under the water and low and behold I went to the bottom! This was the point that Jono stood up (only about 10 minutes after we had started) told me the others had done it and he was finished, then looked at me with another sneer and said 'Oh well, diving's not for everyone'. Arse.
Yes, I cried and no, he didn't offer me or the other girl that had trouble another couple of minutes opportunity to try again, despite the fact that we had another 2 hours on the beach. I understand that it can be frustrating for a teacher when they know how to do something so well and can't figure out why it's so difficult for someone else, but when I used to help kids learn to ride I would sit patiently and explain over and over again the principles knowing that for some people it didn't come naturally even though I did for me. I always thought a diving instructor would be
someone that was patient and calm and understanding, this guy was none of these things and his behaviour only served to breed mistrust. You need to trust the guy that will be watching over you when you descend into the ocean and no-one did, in the 14 people that got through the skills section half ended up ascending early and not being confident enough to do their dive with him.
Sorry about the rant but it was soooo necessary!
Amazing snorkelling and a nudity charged boat race!
Even though I was upset about not being abel to dive and wondering whether I would in fact ever be able to do it we chilled out in the sun and played beach rounders on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. All was not lost! That arvo while people went out in groups of 4 for the dive the rest of us snorkeled around the area (without going on shore coz it was snake island! Gahhhhh!) To be honest I was incredibly disappointed because the water was murky and the coral and marine life was nothing compared to what I had seen in Asia. Overall I don't think
anyone was very impressed with the first day on the boat but that night the goon flowed and the food cooked on board was scrummy.
Luckily the rest of the trip was much more enjoyable! The next day we were woken up pretty early in order to get some snorkeling in before heading back towards Airlie Beach for the infamous Fun Race that afternoon. Snorkelling Coral Gardens was so much better than the site the day before, I was one of only a few people who could be bothered to get off the boat and into their stinger suits but it was so worth it. It's crazy how different all the coral and marine life is here to in Asia, every site is different and beautiful in it's own right. This led onto some serious drinking, boat racing and even some dolphin friends to be made! It was so incredible to racing back to Airlie to see the craziness of the annual Fun Race and have a whole pod of dolphins swim along at the bow of the yacht. I didn't have my camera with me and was too scared of missing it if I went below to get
it so it will just have to stay as an experience for me and you'll just have to trust me that it was a stunning sight! The Fun Race is just this crazy day where loads of the boats all race around the Airlie Beach area and lots of people get very drunk and naked! Including the 'Miss Figurehead' Competition which involved lots of ladies hanging out the front of the boats whilst flaunting their assets and a couple of creepy guys in a 'judging' capacity would sail around and give tickets to a party for the girls who became finalists - very interesting! After we left for a new beautiful place to set anchor for the night we all got very drunk and I passed out to the point where not even the air horn that my friend Emily set off in my ear wasn't enough to wake me up; but don't worry I was up again soon and back on the goon until 4 am. (P.S. 3 hours sleep and a cracking hangover are never fun when out in the middle of the ocean;) We spent another day at beautiful snorkelling sites and chilling on islands before heading
back to Airlie, I just kept my eyes on the horizon and tried not to vomit! Snorkelling definitely helps but it wasn't enough to get me bck on form for the party that evening, I was early to bed and had indeed learnt my lesson ..... well till next time ;)
There are more photos below