Sebis photo blog

Sebis photo blog

Sailing… – or not! :(

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Last weekend we went on a 2-day “sail & snorkeling/dive the Great Barrier Reef”-cruise departing from Cairns. We originally were booked on the “Vagabond” sailing boat, which we specifically chose because it’s a sail boat and Barbara wanted to sail a bit. They promised hands-on sailing which sounded like a great opportunity for her. A day before the trip they called us to cancel the cruise, because we were the only two people booked and they wouldn’t go out with just too people. Fair enough. They offered to put us on an other boat, which sounded okay, but turned out to be close to a disaster. The boats name was “RumRunner” and that pretty much says it all.

We were greeted by a crew that had way too much to drink the night before and you could still smell the alcohol. 10 minutes after leaving the docks, they told us that their sail was only to “stabilize” the vessel and that we would be motoring all the way out to the reef (25 nautical miles – about 3 hours). No real sailing experience at all. A rip off… :( If we had known that just a little earlier we would have pulled out.
The dive and snorkel sites at “Thedford Reef” were okay. I did one dive on the first day and two on the seconds. As they were offering 6 dive opportunities in total, I went snorkeling with Barbara the rest of the time. The reef itself was quite nice, although the visibility at this time of year usually isn’t as good as from July to November. Because of the South Queensland flooding disaster it actually was under average at just around 12-20 meters. We did see quite a lot of wood floating around which supposedly was coming from the floodwaters.
I wasn’t too happy about the crews ambitions for fishing. They did several things: spear fishing, normal fishing and they even used one of they 50cm fish as a bait to catch a shark – what they failed to do. Thank god.
Our dive guide didn’t really care about any of the safety rules that apply to divers. No clearly assigned buddies, no real body-checks (all equipment was checked by the crew though).
Me being on the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD), I could take care of myself (as part of the group), but there were some younger OWDs that just got carried away diving after fish, turtles and coral and they certainly didn’t stick to their limit of 18m. Nor did they do any kind of safety stop on they way back up (I did mine independently of course and just got weird looks why it took me so look to surface).
The diving profile on most dives was against any recommended profile: going up and down and up to 4 meters, then down to 22m again – just 5 minutes before surfacing… Definitely a fail and PADI will get a copy of this post.

Back in Cairns I decided that I really would love a new underwater camera, because the pictures I took were okay, but not excellent. We checked one shop and they had two interesting products:
A Canon IXUS 130 including an underwater case for AUD 600 (quick lookup on the internet showed that the market price for both is around AUD 500).
And then they had a waterproof snorkeling case (‘plastic bag’ probably is a more accurate description) for DSLRs for AUD 150. Unfortunately it was pretty tight for my 7D and the usability of the camera under water would be restricted to pressing a couple of buttons. I couldn’t even zoom with the lens I had on.
In the end I didn’t get any of it, but I certainly will keep my eyes open and maybe order something to Wellington, so I’ve got it on Bali in February/March. Barbara and I did get new masks and snorkels however because we weren’t happy with the rental equipment.

We had booked ourselves into the “Callypso” backpackers – which turned out to have several flaws: being located a bit out of town towards the airport it was directly underneath the flight path of landing airplanes. That didn’t annoy us as much as we thought, because the traffic into Cairns Airport is rather limited. Annoying was the hostel-bar which our room was facing. That meant loud music and drunk people yelling until well after midnight. Our request to move into another room was turned down with the comment it wouldn’t happen again. yeah, right. Such a di…..

We spend our last day in Northern Queensland going up to Port Douglas – a small, posh village at the edge of the rain forest and the Reef. Visiting the rainforest habitat, we saw heaps of Wallabies, Kangaroos, Crocodiles, Koalas and lots of birds.
Unfortunately it was raining almost all day, so the pictures aren’t the best – and my camera was really wet afterwards :(

Right now we are on a flight down to Brisbane – where we will stay for probably a couple of nights and then quickly head out of the flooded area towards Gold Coast and Sydney.
We actually considered offering a week of our vacation to help cleaning up the city, but the services are overwhelmed by volunteers already and some people already have ben turned down as they have more than 50.000 helpers – they were expecting around 6000!


2 comments for 'Sailing… – or not! :('

    January 19, 2011 | 15:00

    Hi Sebi,
    your travel sounds really nice and very interessting. I would be very jealous if I could …
    Hope you and Barbara have a goog time and lots of fun.

    Hope we are going to meet again sometime.

    Wish you the Best.

    January 23, 2011 | 14:46

    Hey, wir freuen uns auf euch – sagt einfach Bescheid, wann ihr kommt.

Leave a comment



Regarding the comments
Your email will not be displayed.

To format your comment, use the buttons.

RSS Feed for this post | TrackBack URI