I arrived in Cairns from Sydney after what felt like a VERY long day!
The sole reason for being in Cairns is that Cairns is the nearest land to the Great Barrier Reef. I have booked a two day live-aboard trip on a 20m motorsailing schooner called Rum Runner. You may think that a boat trip before what I am about to do is a bit of a Busman’s holiday but this boat doesn’t really sail, alright the mainsail is up but the only wind filling it is the apparent wind we are generating with the engine. And once I join Henri Lloyd I am not intending to go in the water at all.
A 7am start – not a problem I had been awake since 4 – was followed by a quick brief and a 3 hour journey out to the reef. Toasties for breakfast on the way. Among the 13 passengers some were certified divers, some still in training, some willing to do a trial dive and others like myself who were just interested in the snorkelling. We were from a range of countries too – Germany, Kenya, Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, oh and the UK.
The days alternated snorkelling or diving with eating. We, or rather, the crew moved the boat from one dive site to the next while we passengers were eating so that we experienced a range of different sites. However all were on the Thetford part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Three were on the first day with an additional night dive for the certified divers and then one before breakfast and the last before lunch on the Sunday.
Saturday night was spent on deck talking and drinking. It started with a beautiful sunset. It was cloudy so there was not much chance of catching my first glimpse of the night sky in the southern hemisphere. The deck lights were also on. Unable to keep my eyes open, I put myself to bed at 8pm. Once in bed, however, I was unable to sleep.
So when I heard the engine go off and knowing that this meant the deck light would also be off, I grabbed a jacket and headed back on deck. The skipper had arranged for the cloud to be blown away so we could see the stars. The wind that had cleared the cloud also brought a thunderstorm over Cairns. It was wonderful to watch and just to lie looking at the stars in puzzlement. Why could I see Orion? So many other questions too. Hopefully Eric and the round-the-world crew members will be able to teach me.
I went back to bed at about 10pm when I had had my fill and this time managed to sleep on and off till 6.15!
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