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Published: March 7th 2023
After two days at sea we are tendered at Airlie Beach. During those two days there was a medical emergency on board the ship and a helicopter was sent from Cairns to collect the seriously ill guest. This procedure was carried out efficiently and while the ship was moving.
Airlie beach is the gateway to Queensland’s pristine Whitsunday Islands. James Cook named the islands in 1770 as he believed he passed through the area on Whit Sunday. It is now widely accepted that he didn’t actually pass through on that date as he failed to take account the yet to be bought into existence International Date Line. Each year the residents of Airlie beach celebrate the blessing of the fleet on Whit Sunday
There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays and they are in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Only 8 islands are inhabited with resorts.
Humpback whales migrate here every winter to breed (May to September).
We are going on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We are collected by a catamaran and taken 90 kilometres (2 hours) to a pontoon on the barrier reef where we can ,snorkel, scuba dive or just sunbath.
There is also a glass bottomed boat and underwater chamber with glass walls to observe the reef.
We go on the glass bottomed boat and see the coral, thousands of little silver fish, some huge black fish ,angel fish and parrot fish amongst others that you would see in a tropical fish tank at home!
We then find a place where I can enjoy the sun and Ian changes to go into the sea. All those going into the sea are advised to wear ‘stinger suits’. These are tight fitting nylon suits, with gloves and a balaclava for your head. This is because it is the season for box jellyfish and one sting from them can be fatal! Then he puts on a buoyancy aid and flippers finally choosing a snorkel before going to the area where he enters the sea. He spends about 15 to 20 minutes swimming over the reef observing the coral and colourful array of fish. He spots some giant clams, something he’s not seen before.
He stops for lunch and his excitement at seeing this marine life rubs off on me and I decide I want to go in. I an no longer a confident swimmer and don’t like being outside my depth. This is definitely outside my depth but I still want to give it a go. I struggle into the stinger suit,flippers and the other equipment and sit on the edge of the pontoon. I drop into the warm water (28 degrees) and the first thing I notice is the strong current.
I put my face in the sea and immediately swallow a load of salty water.
I struggle to swim and panic despite Ian trying to help me and take on more water. I feel disappointed that I’m not going to be able to do this when one of the dive team comes over to me with a floatation ring and says she will help me. I put my face into the water and swimming just below me is a green turtle.Then from behind two more turtles about a metre across appear and come up to the surface beside me. We then move over to the reef where o can see the coral and various breeds of fish.
I am happy with what I have seen and go back to the pontoon and Ian continues to snorkel over the reef.
When Ian has had enough snorkelling he joins me and we go to the underwater chamber and watch the fish.
It is a wonderful way to spend the day. Warm water and sun, pleasant food and lovely marine life to watch. But as ever someone finds something to complain about, I heard one person moaning “they don’t have any Wi-Fi here.” What can you say?
All too soon our time is up and we return to our ship on the catamaran
It has been a lovely day and we have one day at sea before reaching Brisbane.
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