Up early (again) to go diving. Stopped for coffee then walked through the rain to the pier. I was a little early, but it seemed strange that no one was around. Twenty minutes later two girls showed up, but no sign of crew. After the tree of us waited another twenty minutes someone from an adjacent reef boat came over and said that Noah's Ark (the boat we were waiting for) weren't going out today. I really anoyed that they didn't bother to call me at the hostel, or even send someone down to the boat to tell us, but I felt worse for the girls who only had the one day and now weren't going to get to se the reef at all. I talked to the dive boat next door - a large catamaran - and they had space for me so I still got to go - though it cost a bit more.
The weather was horrible - lots of wind and two meter seas. It turned out that of the thirty or forty people on board there were only four divers. Most of the people ended up on the back of the boad being sick, but none of the divers. It took ablmost two hours to get out to the reef, and even tied up in the protection of the reef it was still pretty bumpy.
The first dive was pretty good. The visibility was about fourteen meters (46 feet) so not as fantastic as I had hoped, but a lot better than the last dive in Darwin! Saw lot's of corals (though there were lots of obvious dead parts), tons of brightly colored and weirdly shaped anemones with their attendant clown fish, a good selection of bright tropical fish (though not nearly as many as I expected), and a few different types of nudie-brachs (one kind was very beautfiul - all neon blue and red). The higlight was a huge Ras - apparantly he's always on the reef but normally very friendly. The conditions were far from ideal - lot's of surge - even at 18 m - meant a lot of work getting around. We all went with the dive master instead of heading out on our own. The disadvantage was that he was pretty slow and I didn't think his treatment of the reef and it's inhabitants was very good (he did a lot of touching and prying). The advantage is he knew his way around so we ended up back at the boat and didn't have to swim in the mess on the surface.
After the first dive there was a fantastic lunch - barbecued steak and sausages, four kinds of salad and fruit. Then we hung out, I tried to write in my dive log but it was still too bumpy. After an hour and a half out of the water we headed back in. The tide was lower, so the surge was even worse. The visibility changed a lot on the dive, but I think about seven meters was as good as it got. Saw a lot more of the same as the first dive. The highlight was definitely a decent sized loggerhead turtle (his shell was about three feet across). He was beautiful - no scars and good color - and he didn't seem to mind us being there. It was amazing how much he looked like he was flying when he did decide to leave us - very graceful. There was also a nice swim through where the visibility was a lot nicer.
After we finished the second dive we still had another hour on the reef. I tried to go for a snorkle but gave it up after half an hour - it was to much of a fight on the surface. The ride back was a little longer and a lot rougher. It occured to me that it would have been very unpleasant in the other boat (the one I was signed up to go on) as it was a lot smaller and not a catamaran. Back in Cairns went for a beer, then headed back to the hostel. Complained and got my money back for the no show this morning, prepaid for tomorrow night (so I can finally sleep in) then had dinner. Later met up with some of the divers and had a night out. Nothing too exciting, just bars and pubs, but still managed to stay out until nearly five!