More diving… As I mentioned, I booked myself a 1-day, 3-dive trip with another company called Deep Sea Diver’s Den on their Reef Quest vessel. At $160 (plus taxes) it was the cheapest I could find, but once the journey got underway I couldn’t figure out how they managed it.
The staff were superb, the food delicious and generous and the kit top notch.
There were an odd number of people on board to do certified dives, which made things a little awkward. Two were very experienced – a youngish couple who both have Dive Master qualifications. Another two had little experience or were new to the reef – they ended up being buddied and taking a guided tour at an extra cost. I was buddied with the two “hosties” – volunteer staff on the boat. This suited me fine as they knew the reef and it didn’t cost me any more! They were a young Japanese couple with 75-or-so dives between them. Nice and relaxing and I saw my first turtle swim past while I was with them.
My second dive was with the Dive Master couple and to be honest I was a little nervous as I was sure they could use their air so much better than me. I’d feel rather guilty at bringing them back to the surface when they weren’t ready. No such problem. I had a wonderful dive and they spotted so many things I’d never have even known to look for. A black sea slug with jet blue markings, the tiniest jellyfish in the world ever, some kind of wavy thing… OK, I’m not an expert! I also stroked a Giant Napoleon Maori Wrass which was just sat on the seabed being “cleaned” by two other fish. Huge thing – about four feet long. Apparently they get bigger.
The only annoying thing was that we had to go into the water 10 minutes before lunch was served to ensure we had enough time for our dive. By the time we got back and changed, all the sandwiches were gone and I could only manage a fruit salad. Which was still delicious, but I fancied a roast beef sarnie!
During lunch, we moved to another part of the reef and I was buddied with a Dutch girl called Lisa who had just that morning passed her PADI Open Water. So this time, I was the one with the most experience. A novelty!
And another great dive. We managed to get away from the ship and back to it without getting lost… and I got to touch my first turtle! Lisa spotted it just above me and to my right, feeding off vegetation hanging off the coral. I didn’t try to ride it or anything stupid – it’s far too dangerous both for the diver and the poor animal – just stroked its shell before it floated off in search of more food.
There was tea and cake available for the journey back to Cairns and I snaffled loads of it to make up for not having my sandwiches!
Back in Cairns, I had a shower and caught the free bus to the Wool Shed. Outside, I bumped into Celeste who works for Down Under Dive who I’ve been studying with. We had dinner along with some of the other staff (I had a 300g rump steak for $7 – bargain) and then I headed home. After finishing my homework for tomorrow, I got talking to a girl staying in a room near where I access the internet and we popped out for a drink. She’d just got engaged when her work (she’s a nurse) foisted her up to Cairns for 3 weeks, leaving her fella behind. Nice to have a natter instead of spending the night alone.
I had an early night after that, as I had the final day of my Advanced Open Water in the morning.