Into the blue

My day begins a little earlier than I’d prefer. My mate Woodsy, who has moved to Cairns for work, graciously drives me to Divers Den in Cairns city, to commence my next adventure, my advanced open water dive course. From the dive shop, I’m hustled into a van filled filled with backpackers and shuttled down to the Cairns marina, to board a dive boat called, “Sea Quest”.

First issue encountered is that I’m literally swimming in my assigned wetsuit, without entering the water (meaning they don’t have one small enough for me). Second issue, all the fins are too big, with none small enough for my Asian sized feet (strange, considering the Asian tourism market is strong here). I end up with what I would deem as… body boarding fins. Sina, one of the dive instructors, assures me there will be suitable gear on the live aboard boat out on the reef.

Sea Quest pulls away from the dock and we embark on our trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. Being on a boat, watching the land disappear into the distance, my mind is transported back to my most recent trip to Bali, boating across to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. The boat cuts through the ocean, sea spray misting over the already salt frosted windows I gaze out of. It all looks and feels the same… Seems like yesterday I was adventuring around the Nusa islands, not a care in the world (except for where I could acquire a spare camera battery), my future/ life on course and sailing smoothly on to happily ever after… Until that ship ran aground and unexpectedly burst into flames. Some might say it was an insurance job. Others might say the captain fell asleep at the wheel and lacked navigational skills. I’ll never know and now, I’m back at the helm, captaining my own ship, on a new course.

Two hours off shore, the boat stops out on the reef. I’ll be doing two “fun dives” on Sea Quest. At the dive briefing, most other divers elect to get a guide. Not me (typical) and also not Riley, who is now my dive buddy. Riley is a Canadian fellow and a seasoned diver, on holiday in Cairns for a week. Two quickly become three, with the addition of Matt, a young lad from Tennessee, working for his keep on the Sea Quest with his cute German girlfriend.
It’s time to get down and deep on fun dive number one and two. The current is strong and my fins are proving more ornamental than anything else. Like a black man wearing spray tan. Pointless. We do see a sizeable school of beautiful, spotted sweet lip. At our 3 minute dive stop before surfacing, Matt makes underwater smoke circles with air bubbles and his hands. He’s like a scuba magician #skills

It’s around 2:30pm when we pull up alongside Ocean Quest. A four story live-aboard vessel a few of us, myself included, will be calling home for the next 24 hours.

I’m in a cabin with Zoë. A Swiss Au Pair who lives in Darwin. A voice calls over the PA directing us to the sun deck for a dive briefing. Good news, they have xs wetsuits and small, but adult fins. After the third dive, it’s dinner time and then, out to do my first night dive. At the back of the boat are schools of fish and sharks giving chase. I’m giddy with excitement, I love sharks. I also enjoy being warm, thus, I wear 2 wetsuits for the occasion, to guard against hypothermia and unwanted sexual contact (joking… about the sexual contact part) #doublebanger. The cold, wet, blackness of the barrier reef is now illuminated by divers torches. I’m part of an exclusive, silent, underwater disco.
Double banger
Zoë and I have theory to complete for our course before bed. Finally, the book work is done and so am I. Ocean Quest gently rocks me back and forth to sleep… my floating water bed guides me to a dream state and on to morning.

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