Bruce and Jan

Bruce and Jan
Dancin' Through Life Together

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 23: Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef

Rain, rain, go away!  PLEEEEEEEZE!  The weather has certainly not been our friend on this trip.  We arrived in Cairns at 8:00 AM - in the rain.  The clouds were low and really set in.  They assured us our excursion to the Reef was still going and the weather was better out there.  

At $225 each, this is one of the most expensive excursions we’ve done.  Our expectations were very high.  And once again we were disappointed.  You’d think we’d have learned our lesson by now about setting those expectations after our Tahiti disappointment. 

We got up early, had a light breakfast, and went to the theater for our departure.  I heeded the advice to take seasick meds one hour prior.  I was on the fence about it since I’ve gotten more immune to it after all the nasty weather we’ve sailed through.  But I surely didn’t want to risk ruining our day at the Reef, so I took it.  Good decision!

Our catamaran came alongside the ship and we went directly from one to the other.  I knew I wanted a forward-facing seat near at the back of the boat just to protect my back from getting thrashed about.  Another good decision.

There were over 100 people on the tour.  We headed out of the harbor for open seas and within 10 minutes probably 80% of them were sick.  The crew did nothing but distribute and collect barf bags.  Imagine the job description for this position:  must not get sea sick; must not get sick when everyone around you is; must be able to clean up after others who are sick…

Yeah, it was a really rough ride for an hour and a half to reach the Reef.  It was pouring rain, 25 knot winds, and huge swells.  Boy was I glad I had taken my Bonine!  Neither of us got sick at all.  We sat with a nice couple from New Jersey and enjoyed visiting with them.  The weather sure wasn’t getting any better.

Finally we arrived at our platform on the Great Barrier Reef.  It’s a floating pontoon with a tarp cover.  It was still raining and blowing, but lots of people dove in anyway.  We thought the rain was letting up and we’d wait a bit to get in.  We opted to go on the semi-sub first.  The stormy seas had churned up all the sand and silt so the visibility was not much.  But we were able to see a wide variety of coral and fish.  Very beautiful.

Next we did the glass-bottom boat ride.  It was also very cool.  It was a different perspective than the semi-sub’s view.  However, the rain and wind picked up and it was blowing in on us.  We got soaked.  When they brought us back to the platform, the wind blew us right past it.  The driver had to take another approach and barely made it the second time.  After that they closed down both the semi-sub and the glass boats saying it was too dangerous.  The wind was up to 35 knots at this point and it was pouring rain.

We decided to have lunch and see if it would clear up a bit.  They served a really nice lunch on board.  The rain just kept getting worse and worse and the wind was really getting wicked.  I was still determined to get in the water just for the braggin’ rights, so we waded onto a little platform that the SCUBA divers launch from.  The water was warm, but the rain was so cold.  Right after we did that, they announced that they were cutting our day short and heading in.  Apparently the forecast was for even worse weather and they wanted to get ahead of it.  Luckily the ride back was better than the ride out.  The waves were coming from behind the boat making it much smoother. 

We got back on the Rhapsody, took showers, and went to Happy Hour.  The buzz with all the experienced cruisers (and I’m talking people with more than 100 credits) is that we all need to write up the excursion and petition to get our money refunded (or at least some of it).  So we’ll see how that goes.

We’ll remain here in Cairns overnight tonight and leave around 4:00 tomorrow.  Our plan is to just walk around in town and see whatever there is to see from close by the ship.  But, of course, it depends on the weather gods as to whether it stops raining long enough to do that.  Let the sun shine in!!

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