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.
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.