Monday, April 7, 2008

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Well, even though I am not posting this today, I am writing it today while it is still fresh in my mind...

Today, (Sunday) I went to the great barrier reef to do some snorkeling. I could have taken an introductory dive (scuba diving!) for an additional 70 dollars, but I decided to stick with snorkeling, I figured I'd see good stuff anyway (and I really didn't want to spend that additional 70 dollars...)

So, I woke up bright and early in the morning, and walked over to the place I was supposed to meet the boat. As it turned out, one of the girls who were on my Alice to Cairns trip was taking the same boat as me, so I had a ready-made friend!

The weather seemed to be perfect for diving and snorkeling... and we were in a great looking sail/type boat (it had a motor, but it also had sails and was fairly small... I guess that makes it a sail boat?)

We had about an hour and a half boat ride to get to the place where we were snorkeling (right next to an island called 'Green Island') so we settled down with coffee and muffins and looked eagerly forward to the days events. The crew was awesome and entertaining...

and our captain was pretty good at steering the boat with his feet...
About 45 minutes into the ride, I had to go down under the deck to use the bathroom... and that was when things took a complete turn for the worse. The wind had started to pick up, (although it was still bright and sunny) so when I went down below, I was rocking like CRAZY. I started to feel really queasy so I used the bathroom and got back up on deck as quickly as possible. I hoped that when I was back on fresh air I would start to feel better, but the boat was still rocking a lot, and I wasn't feeling any better. It got to the point where people were talking to me, and I had to apologize and tell them I couldn't talk because I was concentrating on not getting ill... they understood, of course... (well, I hope they did!)

We got to our snorkeling spot without me getting physically sick, but I was still pretty queasy. The snorkeling instructors told me they were sure that once I got into the water, I would feel better... so I got myself prepared and got into the water as quickly as possible.

It really did look pretty cool down there... the water was maybe not as clear as it could have been if it was a still (non-windy) day, but I saw some pretty neat fish. Unfortunately, it was REALLY windy... and the waves were bouncing me up and down in the water to the point where it was hard to keep my face under water to look at everything, I kept bouncing up and down, left and right, and the water was going into my ears everytime a wave crashed on me... which started to make me feel even more nauseous. The waves weren't DANGEROUS level, of course, and I am probably making them seem worse than they were, but they were just wavy enough to make it difficult for me to snorkel, especially because I was already feeling sick.

I was out there for maybe half an hour before I knew I couldn't do anymore, so I came in. While I was out in the water, I tried to snap everything I could. I wasn't able to see what I was taking pictures of on the view finder of my camera because it was hard to see it from underwater, and I was just taking pictures in the general direction of the fish, without thinking, because I was busy concentrating on not being sick.

Pretty much, this was the only good shot I got. And no fish are even in it.... as you can see, the water really wasn't that clear...

So, I got out of the boat, and sat in the sun where the wind could blow on my face. The instructors told me that as soon as we got to dry land I would feel better... And after about an hour we headed towards Green Island. Everyone else had lunch on the boat before we went to the island, but I figured that eating would probably not be such a good idea... so the instructor made me up a plate for me to eat when I got to the island. We reached the island by speedboat (a boat which was dragged along by our sail boat) and when I got onto land, I admit, I felt a LOT better. I went right to a picnic table and ate my lunch... where I had some unwelcome company.
This little bird I at first thought was adorable and I took a picture of one when I saw it... but as soon as I took the plastic wrap off my food, it became annoying! The island was FULL of these birds, they were conniving when it came to food. all over where people were eating. Check out the video of how bold this thing was....

And as soon as I turned off my camera, it ran in while I was (for a second) pre-disposed and it STOLE my bread! I was so mad, because I really wanted that bread! Then another one came by and took a bite of my chicken wing while I was eating the salad... darn birds.

The island was really nice... but was a complete tourist-trap type place. Most people will come there and spend a bit of time on the beaches or at the beach bar or gift shops... maybe take a ocean-plane ride or a helicopter ride... but the REALLY rich will stay there overnight in a swanky resort for 500 dollars a night! This is where I would be staying if I missed the final speedboat trip back to our sailboat! (they told us that the speedboat would be returning at 1:30, at 2:00, and 2:30... if you wanted to snorkel/dive again you would have to be there for the 1:30 or 2:00).

I was pretty hungry still since the bird ate my bread, so to make up for it, I got some chips and gravy and some ice-cream, and had a yummy meal on the beach. Then to kill some time (and not spend more money) I took a walk around the island (I was told by the tour guides that you could walk around it in half an hour - it is that small of an island).

So, I did think for a while about it, but I finally decided against going back for more snorkeling... it was still really windy, and I just was so worried that I would just get sick again. I just don't understand it... I have never gotten sick on a boat before, though I admit that I haven't been on many of them. I guess things like that happen... you get sick during times when you never had before... I actually remember that when I was younger, I always used to be able to read in the car, until one trip, when I was reading, I started getting sick... and ever since then I couldn't read in a car. I even remember the book... it was Cheryl's book of fairy tales... it had stories about Rupunzel and Puss in Boots and Jack and the beanstalk... it was a wonderful book! Unfortunately, I could never even read that book again after that, because I would remember how it made me sick, and I would start to get sick. Weird, huh?

Oh, and an interesting fact that I may have told some of you before, but I like to tell everyone this every time the subject of motion sickness comes up, because I think it's neat... the reason that people get motion sickness is because when you are driving (or in a boat), your body feels the movement, but if you are doing something like reading or looking at someone who is standing still, your brain gets confused because your eyes are saying that you are standing still, but your body feels the motion of movement. Your brain then decides, 'huh, this is weird, and not right. I must be poisoned!' so it makes you feel sick to get rid of the 'toxin' that you must have ate. The really sensitive people (me now I guess) get sea sick even though your eyes see that you are on a boat... because the up and down movements of the waves aren't really natural to us.

Anyway, a few pics of the island...

OK, so we got back to the boat (I wasn't the only one that took the 2:30 one!) and headed back to the port, an hour and a half ride. At first, I thought I would be OK... but then the wind started picking up, and the boat started rocking... a lot. Way harder than it was before... the captain said the wind was at something like 30 knots... I don't know what that means, but I do know that it meant that our boat was sideways for almost the entire ride back... and everyone on one side (my side) was constantly splashed, while the other side was holding on to keep from falling onto OUR side. Yep, I started feeling ill again... and even though I was getting soaked where I was sitting, I didn't want to get up to move because I was concentrating so hard (don't throw up!).

Eventually the crew convinced me to move to a better area (where I wouldn't feel as sick) and I did start feeling a little better... a little, but I just really wanted to be back on dry land. I couldn't understand how 5 of the people on our trip were really partying it up on the way back, drinking beer after beer... there was no way I could have any alcohol now! (even though I was offered a complimentary glass of wine). One other guy was beginning to feel sick too, so he ended up sitting next to me for most of the ride home... and the other few people who weren't drinking were just looking out into sea with fear in their eyes because the waves were so big and rough, and water kept splashing into our boat.

Of course, we made it in one piece (and the boat was in one piece as well) but I have to say I have never been so happy to be off a boat. I am kind of sad that my reef experience was like that... since it could have been awesome if it was a nicer day, or if I had taken a motion sickness pill beforehand... but I guess you live and learn! Now that I know that I get sea-sick, I can try to do something to prevent it on my next boat ride.

Now I am back in my hostel (noisy hostel with drunk people running around on a SUNDAY! I
will definitely have to check into these hostels better before I book them...)

I am about to go to bed, because I have to wake up early for white water rafting... but you know how when you spend a day doing something with weird motions (like if you spend the day in the water or in an amusement park) you feel the motion of movement when you are still and in bed? I feel it now, and it is not fun... oh well, at least I know that I won't get sick on white water rafting, I just might fall out of the boat!


PMH said...

I loved that little bird. Bring him home for me. :-)

Hey Bear....up and down and all around...hehehe

Know what's funny? When your dad and I went snorkling in the Bahamas, we had a bad or should I say funny experience too. The motor died on our boat and when the captain was trying to fix it, acid splashed in his face and everyone was freaking out. Someone poured milk on his face, and he was okay and we did eventually get back okay.

Cheryl said...

I have that book sitting on my stairs right now!!!

Karen said...

Burn it!!! BURN IT!!

And mom, did he grow up to become the phantom of the opera?

stacy is amazing said...

Mom, I never knew that story! That's awful!!
Great pics Karen!! I will def. need to blow some of these up and frame them.

stacy is amazing said...

Oh, and Cheryl...PLEASE give me that book! I want it!