Friday, March 8, 2013

The Great Barrier Reef

On Sunday, March 3 we headed to the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkeling and an introduction to scuba diving. A little background for those who don't's been about 7 years since my last intro to scuba lesson. I've completed the intro course twice; once in Thailand in 2004 and a second time in Australia in 2005. Although scuba diving is a really, really cool experience, I found that I had to concentrate really hard to breathe through the regulator and not think about the fact that I am submersed in water, about 30 feet deep. So do I like it? Yes, if I could get over being afraid. Each time I have had to overcome my fear but each time I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to experiencing it with Paul.

The weather in Cairns wasn't great but we were hoping that it would clear up towards the reef. During the boat ride we filled out the necessary paperwork and learned scuba 101. Basically, don't hold your breath, just breathe through your mouth. While under water, there are 3 things (blowing your mask out, taking your regulator out, and cleaning your regulator by blowing out) that you get tested on and once you pass, you're all set. When we reached our first dive site, Flynn Reef, we were in the intro group that got to snorkel first before heading down.

Getting our snorkel on at Flynn Reef

Schools of fish everywhere

A view of the boat and Paul sticking his head out

More fish and reef

Our group number was called and we headed back to the boat to get our gear, get into the water with the instructor and pass the tests...But, I was a little nervous so my breathing was shallow. I had also told the instructor that I wasn't sure if I was congested because I started a sore throat the day before (probably a result of the Funk House environment and the Cairns hostel). There were two other people in our group - only one of which was a newbie like us and she seemed to pass the tests quickly. Paul was next and he went through the first test pretty quickly while I was trying to just get used to being underwater with the regulator again. After a couple minutes, I was able to blow out my mask after two tries. Then I was onto the second test - taking my regulator out. I forgot to mention that you also have to equalize your ears as you descend. As the instructor was bringing me further down, I was having trouble equalizing, which distracted me...I didn't even get to the second test before I needed to go back up.

During this time, Paul finished his second test and moved onto the third. He got stuck on the third while I got stuck not being able to equalize. As I continued to try, Paul came up and said he wasn't going to go down - he wasn't breathing right which freaked him out. As he went up, I tried to descend again. I knew I had the physical capacity to do this because I'd done it twice before but for whatever reason that day, it just wasn't going to happen. The equalizing threw me off, then it was my mask too, then I just gave up. I'm not sure it I was really congested but I know I was having trouble breathing too. My throat was dry and sore and when I breathed through the regulator, wasn't swallowing, which made my throat even drier. I eventually gave up and headed back to the boat too.

At the second dive site, Horseshoe Reef, we accepted our defeat and just snorkeled...and still got to see a few cool things.

Paul had to grease his beard with Vaseline so he could properly fit the mask on his face

Getting ready to jump in

Yay, we're underwater!

I don't know why I'm anxiously holding Paul's hand


I followed this sea turtle for a few minutes

More colorful coral and fish

We found Nemo

I followed this guy for a little bit too

All in all, it was a cool trip to the Great Barrier Reef even though I was seasick for more than half the time. I even got sick from snorkeling because the water was so rough (which Paul tells me was actually not that rough).

I'm still determined to try the intro course at another scuba dive spot. So, until next time...Scuba - 1, Loria - 0.


  1. I love the turtle. They're cute in a weird sort of way...kinda like a turtle.

    1. Exactly, they are cute in a weird sort of way. You have a way of explaining things that make sense Manny.

  2. What did you use to take the underwater pictures? The obvious answer is a camera, but what type? I'd like to take snapshots of my underwater adventures in the bathtub, but I need the right equipment.

    1. It's a Rubber Ducky Cam made by GoPro so it would be perfect for you to use in the bathtub.


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