15 Feb 2008 - Rod in Cairns: The Dive


Pick up and run to marina in Port Douglas uneventful though some lovely scenery on the way. The Poseiden is a diving boat which goes out to various parts of the Great Barrier Reef, the more spectacular and unspoilt Outer Reef. They were still loading up so out came the bberry. One thing about my job there always an email to answer its easy to pass time even if you don't have a newspaper to read! I was hoping (forlornly as it happened) that it may not work at sea.

When I visited up here before I wasn't a certified diver, just a pool beginner who could go to about 25ft in controlled circumstances and under close supervision. And we dove on the inner reef in a real tourist trap so not at all the real thing. I did my PADI in Barbados in 2002 having waited for my eldest son,Tom, to reach 12 which at the time was the minimum age to qualify for PADI Open Water Cert. In 2005 I did my Advanced Open Water at Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea and have done 5 speciality courses too like wreck diving, navigation, advanced buoyancy. You need Advanced and any five specs plus your water rescue course to be a master diver. The water rescue is very thorough and takes 3 days but I will try to get round to it soon. I will soon be on my 100th dive which make me reasonably experienced I guess. Most of my diving has been in Barbados plus a week in Sharm and some dives in Chile and Vancouver Island, Canada and a few cold ones off Brighton at home.

We went about 2 hours out to the Agincourt Reef and did 3 dives, The Point , The Chapel and Phil's Backside. No , l have no idea why its Agincourt, or, indeed, Phil's Backside. Between dives you take a reasonable break, the time depending on how deep you went on the previous dive and how long you were under -- Bottom Time that is called. (OK OK don't be bloody anal! It just a coincidence not a diving obsession I can assure you. ) This is all down to nitrogen absorbtion in the blood but I wont go into the science here. There are dive tables to help you work out the required intervals between dives, although computer watches are being used more and more now which really is the easy way. Our dive max depths were 21m, 18.7m and 19m respect, with bottom times of 42, 40 and 42 min. Generally speaking, in a series of dives, each dive gets a bit shallower but here we stayed pretty much within the same depth parameters as we weren't going that deep (max depth you should do is supposed to be about 30m, 100ft, but you do go deeper. My deepest is 151 ft in Sharm but this is not something you play with or go for records with -- try free diving to do that. It was just on a particular dive it happened to be that deep. Diving is done with care and deep respect for Nature, you don't mess around). As the weather was ok but a bit overcast and the sea was a bit churned up probably cos of all the storms our visibility wasn't fantastic -- it must be incredible with full vis.

But there was enough, on the first dive, to see four sharks roving around above us under the boat about 30-40 ft from us. They were decent sized Grey Reef Sharks but its ok, they are veggie. I have only seen one shark ever before and that was  White Tip Reef Shark in Sharm which was only about 20 feet away. Again a veggie but you never forget your first shark!! 

It is impossible to communicate just how beautiful the Reef itself is, and of course it is a living organism within a whole complex food chain. There is an abundance of fish, many species, many wonderful colours -- I will put a few pics up. Saw some good size clams; lots of Nemos (Clown fish) ; some large Parrot Fish, much bigger than Barbados where I do most of my diving, biting great chunks off the coral as that is what they live off -- you can ofter hear the chomp if you are close by and no other sounds; lots and lots of others too numerous to mention and of course  the myriad types and colours of the coral itself.

When diving in new waters you always should have a guide and always "buddy up" ie swim in pairs in case something goes wrong. My buddy was a nice Korean girl called Phyllis (I swear that's what she said!) who was a very decent diver. If you are with someone who can dive in a decent group of divers you tend to get to see a lot more, partly as you are more mobile and partly because more people have the experience to spot things someone less experienced may not be looking for. There were just 5 of us, the guide, Phylis and I and a couple of good guys from Adelaide.

One unusual thing I hadnt done before was the diving suit, as you will see emabassaingly in the pics. Normally in such warm water I would just wear shorts and T shirt, no need for dive suit, here they recommended stinger suits of very thin fabric to keep out the possiblity of coral or sihd etc stings, very attractive arent they, more ballet perhaps!!!

So a very fine day. Got back to the hotel at about 5.30, had a good shower, ordered room service and did some work to get media sorted out for South America and finalise press release you will have seen a couple of days ago on DVD, Within Temptation etc. Early start again tomorrow so crashed about 10 -- after a day at sea and diving its not hard!!! Another big day tomorrow!

- Rod

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