Monday, March 18, 2013

Airlie Beach and the Great Barrier Reef

March 17th
The drive to Airlie Beach can be summed up in a word sugarcane. We see field after field stretching to the hills.

 We drive past a huge sugar mill in Proserpine.
Not my picture. I missed the shot.

 I see few cattle although this area is supposed to be cane and cows.
also not my pic. But similar to what I did see. This picture was taken a bit north of here.

We mostly rest and take a few walks. Our big day is coming.

This boat didn't make it.
The salt water pools. They aim to keep people out of the way of the killer jellyfish.

March 18th
We catch a bus to the harbor at 7:25. We are going out to the Hardy Reef on the Great Barrier Reef.
 I am ready to go.

Here's the boat. The big one

water looks fine so far

After a stop on Hamilton Island to pick up more guests, 84  by my count, we head far out to the reef. It is windy and the wind will pick up in the afternoon.  So we decide to go snorkeling first.
getting ready. sting suit, life jacket and trying to untangle my snorkel gear

William has his water camera. Taking a picture looking back at the pontoon boat they keep anchored off the reef.

Under water looking at the reef
Same guy who helped me out, also helped William out.

William does not stay out long as he has trouble with the waves, but I stay out for around an hour. I was going to stay out longer when I realize I am exhausted. I could hardly climb out and had trouble standing up. William helped me out of all my gear.
After lunch on the big boat we go back to the pontoon boat to try out the viewing room and the semi-submersible. The ride on the "sub" seems too short, but they have to get back for the last riders. It is nearly time to head back.
really windy

As we leave the relative shelter of the reef, the waves and swell pick up. We are on a roller coaster ride, up and smack splash and roll.  Thankfully I don't get sick. Though it looks and sounds like about a third of the guests get sick. The staff runs around as the boat pitches and yaws handing out fresh sick bags and taking away used ones and handing out cloths and ice chips.
Look at those waves. Almost like the rapids in the Colorado.

Finally we are back to the shelter of the islands and the boat and sickness settles down.  A staff member says they will not go out tomorrow since the weather will be worse.
We plan to just rest and relax in the beach pools.

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