Certainly that’s not too much to ask after we’ve traveled so far to get here. We’ve dreamed about snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef for a long time and planned two weeks to be in Far North Queensland to ensure we got the perfect day.
Three problems stood in our way: wind (turbulence in the water brings on seasickness), clouds, and cool weather (Beth really hates to swim in cold air or cold water). Our first days in Port Douglas were all the same: temperatures below normal, breezy, with intermittent rain. We needed a break in the weather pattern.
We studied the week’s forecast. Every day for the next week was forecast as partly rainy. Of those, the next day was predicted to be the calmest. We hesitated and then decided that, since we’d come this far, we should do it now, before the weather deteriorated.
Rain woke us up the next morning. Certainly the stormy skies would clear (we hoped). The rain did stop, then started again, then stopped as the ship cruised the 90 minutes to get out to the Agincourt ribbon reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.
Since we were worried about seasickness while snorkeling, we chose the Outer Reef full-day trip because the ship docks at a stable “activity platform.” We planned to spend as much time in the water as we could and welcomed the option to rest on the platform or do other activities if we chose or conditions worsened.
As soon as the ship docked at the outer reef platform, we found the changing rooms to put on our swimsuits and full lycra suits (for jellyfish and sun protection). We picked up fins, mask and snorkels from the boxes of cleaned and disinfected gear.
Our previous experience was to snorkel from beaches or off the side of a boat. We much preferred the ease of the Quicksilver snorkel platform. Metal steps led to the snorkel platform – covered with about 6 inches of water. We sat on the bench and, while our feet were in the water, put our fins on before we sat on the floor of the platform with water chest deep. We put on our mask and snorkels. Joe didn’t hesitate and dropped quickly off the platform and into the water. Beth hung back. The water was colder than she had expected. Joe said, “I know you. You’ll get in because you paid a lot of money to do this. So, just slide in”…and she did.
We had expected the snorkeling to be brilliant, and it was! The coral was varied, large, and colorful. The fish swam all around us as we effortlessly floated by. At one point, we felt rain pouring down on our backs like a strange massage. We snorkeled, and then snorkeled some more, until the cold finally was too much.
We weren’t disappointed to take a break. After all, a buffet lunch awaited us, followed by a ride on a semi-submersible to view more coral and fish.
We spent our last minutes viewing fish in the underwater observatory.
The next morning we woke up to a sizzling warm day and brilliant sunshine. Today would have been the perfect day to go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. The weather forecast had led us astray! So, a warm and calm day had been awaiting us after all. Impatience caused us to miss it. But, as they say in Australia, “No worries.”