Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Great Barrier Reef: Last day :(

6am wake up call on Wednesday was my last day of diving. I dove with Owen and Anders who were the volunteers on the boat. Daniel gave me another camera as mine had died previously and I attempted to take some pictures. I haven't seen them yet, they're likely quite awful, but it made me realise which skills I still really needed to work on. Specifically maintaining buoyancy and rapid turns. I also for the first time inspected the sand for myself, for venomous creatures, before kneeling or standing to take certain shots. I chased one parrot fish around for a number of minutes before I realised both my buddies were quite a ways in front of me and caught up to them.

8am dive was also a fun dive, I buddied up with two older guys named Fernando and Robert. Fernando was a solid diver but Robert was much older and all over the place. I ran out of air so quickly on that dive as I couldn't stop laughing the whole time. Fernando would be hauling Robert down as he bobbed to the surface, or holding onto his first stage to make him swim in one direction or another, or just manhandling this dude to generally get him to go in any sort of reasonable direction. Most entertaining dive ever! I tried to take a number of pictures of fish and coral but had to keep catching up to Robert and Fernando as they bobbed and weaved all over the place.

11am dive was my last dive! It was also the dive I'd chosen to do a boat drop for my last skill to complete my advanced adventure course. I needed a buddy for this dive and asked Dana, a girl I'd met on the boat who had just become certified if she would go with me. She agreed, then Owen and Anders decided they also wanted to do a boat drop with us. Then another guy whose buddy was ditching him asked to join our group, then one of the instructors, whose last dive it also was volunteered to go with us. So our group of 6 set off in the boat for the boat drop. Dana and I both had large tanks still from our deep dives and they are SO heavy. We both had a great deal of difficulty balancing in the boat and our back and shoulders ached by the time we arrived to the Bommi we were going to dive at.

I was determined not to be the first one to run out of air on this dive, as I was the one who had instigated the whole deal. Daniel had told me to hum underwater as it forces air regulation to keep an even sound. I hummed from the first moment I entered the water and achieved my goal, I was not the first to run out of air, I surfaced at 80 bar! Dana asked afterwards if I had heard the whales singing, I had to burst her bubble and tell her it was me humming, sorry.

That final dive was the most incredible dive ever! Even Taka, the instructor, was on a high afterwards it was so great. We went down and swam around the bottom of the bommi for a little while, then we went through numerous tunnels through the coral reef from one side to the other. It is so difficult as the spaces are typically quite small and you can barely fit through with all the scuba gear. You're also not supposed to stir up the sand so the one behind you can still see, and also not to touch the coral as you can damage it, and it can be poisonous.

I hadn't seen a moray eel, and the whole time swimming through I was peering into every hole hoping to see one, still haven't seen one and so have extra incentive to dive again! A number of times I got stuck swimming through the tunnels. I bumped my head once, and my scuba tank kept getting stuck on coral overhangs. At one point my regulator cord was also stuck and I had to swim backwards and upwards slightly to unhook myself. I definitely scraped myself a great deal on my legs swimming through the tunnels and each time I emerged I checked to see if I was bleeding to ensure I wouldn't attract any sharks. Thankfully the water pressure also keeps the blood inside your body so I didn't bleed until I climbed out of the water.

Swimming through tunnel after tunnel and around the Bommi was the most incredible dive, I finally realised that I could in fact dive and had acquired so much control and confidence in the water. Plus, if I had done that dive on my own I would never have swum through the tunnels as you never know if they will emerge on the other side. Having Taka down there with us showed us so much more of the reef than any of us had discovered before.

We surfaced, swam back to the boat, took some pictures and put away all our gear. I then went up onto the sundeck for my last hour of sunbathing before we left the boat for the day boat to go back to shore.

Going onto the dayboat was such a sad moment, I felt like crying as we pulled away from the reefs and scuba gear. I am completely addicted and would love to return for a number of months to become dive master or just to continue diving.

Arriving to shore, Dana and I realised we had acquired sealegs, we kept tilting from side to side on the dock and it took me a good hour before I could walk steadily on land. The instructors threw a party for us last night and after a quick shower we all met up again and hung out. So much fun! I'll be meeting up with many of them again this evening :)

I still am not used to shore. Every time I shut my eyes I feel the rocking of the boat, and laying in bed last night I felt as though my bed were still swaying from side to side. I also woke up in the middle of the night convinced I had mask squeeze and had to feel my face to ensure that I was not underwater wearing my mask.

I don't want to become accustomed to shore, I slept in this morning to 11 after so many early morning wakeups and dives and when I awoke the first thing I thought of was that I should be in the water right now for my third dive of the day, or relaxing after having already completed two dives.

Cairns is still beautiful and warm, I miss the ocean and all the beautiful fish and corals and amazing creatures there to see and admire - and touch :)

No comments: