how not to rock your great barrier reef dive trip (but have a good time anyway)

You’re going to Australia!! Yippee! Book your dive trip without checking out the diving conditions or weather at this time of year. You lived in Australia for 13 years, and December is summer and summer is swimming weather. You’re going diving, dammit.

Neglect to check the weather when you pack for your Australia trip. (It won’t matter, as the weather will turn to shit the second you got there anyway.)

Don’t look up what it will be like living on a dive boat. Don’t pack quick drying towels, warm clothes, or anything waterproof (though the sunshirts you packed will come in handy).

Spend a lot — a lot — of money on a really magnificent underwater housing set up for your DSLR. Borrow strobes from a mate. Do not test the set up in a pool before you dive. Do not read up on best practices for underwater photography. You’ve done this before.

Definitely do not explore what you can expect to see on the Great Barrier Reef at this time of year, or in general. You’ve seen the pictures online. You know it will be a veritable cornucopia of brightly colored corals, rainbow fish, and crystal-clear visibility.


or — er — not

Take sea sickness medication — even though you firmly assert that you never get seasick. (Thanks to this, you get to keep saying that.)

Flood the main strobe to your underwater camera set up on your first dive. Ascend quickly and do your best damage control on super corroded, borrowed, entirely necessary piece of equipment for underwater photography. Marvel somewhat at the amount of corrosion that is possible when salt water comes into contact with sensitive electronics and you run electricity through them.

Listen to the skipper as he explains that the weather should get better on the afternoon of your second day on the dive boat — there’s just a little cyclone forming up in the coral sea that is causing some weather inside the reef right now.

Fall asleep to the slightly aggressive rocking of the boat in a rainy season squall. It’s lovely.

camouflage!

First thing in the morning, thankfully after coffee, get really lost on a really navigationally-simple dive to a reef formation not 20 meters away from the boat. It’s a nice dive — just not at all where you’re supposed to be. Realize that together, you and your dive buddy absolutely suck at navigation.

Listen to the skipper as he explains that the small cyclone in the coral sea has become a full on cyclone. Not to worry — it’s always wet underwater. Plus, cyclones almost never make it as far as Cairns, and they never cancel dives unless they have to. The visibility will not get better (lots of particulate floating around because of the high seas), but the boat is moored in an excellent spot for some great dives.

Figure out how to rig up the remaining strobe so it will work on its own, and finally get the camera going under water. Take some mediocre pictures while you try not to get lost again.

See a huge turtle sleeping in his cave on your night dive. Like, as big as you are huge. His name is Bryan.


not Bryan — but still very close and very cool

Win a pop quiz about the reef. Because duh.

this is a terrible picture, but parrotfish wedge themselves into little hidey holes at night and go to sleep and it is about the cutest damn thing i’ve ever seen a fish do

First thing in the morning, listen to the skipper as he tells you that the full blown cyclone has dissipated, but now “ex-tropical cyclone Owen” is headed straight your way, and we’re in for a rough ride back to Cairns. The rest of the dives are cancelled, but sea sickness medication is on the house!

(Really, we had a lot of fun and some great dives. But next time I go, it will be solidly outside of the wet season!)

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7 thoughts on “how not to rock your great barrier reef dive trip (but have a good time anyway)

  1. Gorgeous! There’s a lot to be said for adventures that maybe are a little more unplanned/in the moment. (Particularly when you’re the one in a warm dry home reading a fantastically funny recap :D)

    Like

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