Oh my God - Kristine went diving! I really thought she wouldn't do it, partly because having done it in 1995, I know how technical it is and it was freaking me out more than it was freaking her out! The free introductory dive came with our Whitsunday sailing trip, so it was part of the deal, and she decided she wanted to go. Being the chicken that I am I didn't go, but the high blood pressure thing gave me a good excuse anyway because the instructors won't take you down. So, I just snorkelled above them all...
The Whitsunday trip was just fantastic - about the only issue is that the boat was sold with air conditioned berths, but there was a generator problem on the boat which meant that we had to conserve power, so no aircon. Eventually many of us just slept up on deck where it was cooler - which was fantastic with all the stars. We went on a boat called Peagasus. She is a 75' Ketch with a main sail and genoa. The weather was fantastic, but unfortunately this meant little wind, so we were mainly under power most of the trip. We motored around the Whitsundays for almost 4 days seeing some of the most beautiful beaches and coral in the world. The snorkelling was fantastic.
We were crewed by a crusty old Kiwi named Roger and a NON-Italian crew named Tony, Tony, and Marco (oddly enough). OK, Marco was really Italian, and the other three kept calling him "Luigi from the Tuscan bush" just to make fun of him because he was the greenhorn. The crew was pretty good (especially Tony #2, who was a pretty good cook), but the skipper was decidedly more experienced than the others, and came complete with a skipper's sometimes forceful attitude - it made for interesting boating for sure.
At Whitehaven beach (reputably the 4th best beach in the world), where the white silica sand is positively blinding, we saw several large manta rays and small sharks patrolling the beach. You gotta keep your eyes open! There were also a few dolphins around. Under the water, the coral was just amazing with all the colours and the millions of different kinds of fish. There are some you can feed literally right out of you hand on the beach as you sit in the water. And yes, we found Nemo (The orange and white striped clown fish you see in all the cartoons). They are actually rather elusive little numbers.
This time of the year the Queensland coast is infested with box jelly fish and much smaller ones called irukanji - both of which have lethal stinging tentacles! For this reason, you have to wear a "stinger suit" when you go in the water complete with hood and gloves to stay protected. The irukanji are so small you can't even see them and yet they can kill you! Pretty amazing. Anyway, we were in the water many times and never really saw a thing and we're out safe and sound every time.
Kristine of course came up with all the winner lines for the trip through. Here's the story. Marty - you're gonna love this one, being a sailor and all... The transfers from the boat to snorkelling involve climbing down the side of the boat into a zodiac, and then transferring to a beach or snorkelling location near the coral. The boat stays moored a little further out. Anyway, we're always discussing the tides and the currents so as to best plan our snorkel. This one time, we were going out during a rising tide, so when we came back to the boat the tide was higher over the coral. There are 8 of us on the Zodiac. As Kristine was getting out of the boat, she said "Wow, it sure is a lot easier getting out of the zodiac and up into the boat when the tide is higher!" I'm pretty sure she meant it. Everyone else just sort of looked at each other for just a few seconds working out the physics to try and decide if this would in fact be possible, but that really didn't last too long. And then everyone started to laugh uncontrollably - even the crew. Who is the crazy Canadian chick?