4th day at cairns! we decided to take advice from another tour agent and booked ourselves on the Quicksilver tour to the Agincourt ribbon reefs right out there on the edge of the intercontinental shelf (imagine Nemo taking a step over to the deep side of 2000ft.) our day started with a nice scenic bus ride to Port Douglas where we disembarked to sea on their high-speed wavepiercer catamaran.
the boat itself is a huge luxurious vessel with plenty of room and the journey wasn’t choppy and was very comfortable. we sat together with a couple from the US, who were only planning to take the OceanWalker option when we reach the pontoon out on the GBR. reason being the girl couldn’t swim; kinda reminded me of a certain dearie. ^_^ my mom also took that option, which basically lets you walk on the ocean floor carrying a big air helmet over your head, because she wasn’t keen on diving again. my sister decided to sit out on all optionals and make full use of the facilities on the boat like free all-day snorkelling, underwater observatories, and tours out around the reef on semi-submersible vessels. food selection wasn’t too bad.
since i’ll be taking 2 dives for the day, i didn’t see much of my family, as the dive boat departed as soon as we arrived at the pontoon to take us certified divers closer to the edge of the shelf. it felt great being able to dive again after so long. the divemasters (Nick and Gerhard) were very helpful too, giving us a quick recap of the equipment and turning on our oxygen valves for us (no risk of me killing anyone!). my dive buddy was a pleasant gentleman named Mike. he’s from Texas and had a jolly laugh. turns out he’s also staying at our hotel. works in the computer business too, for Intel.
our first dive took us to this place called Barracuda Bommie. a bommie is basically a pillar of coral that appear out of the ocean bed. the place was supposed to be crawling with barracudas, but we didn’t see any. what we first did was swim circles around it from the bottom upwards. managed to catch glimpses of clownfish, and finger anemones, sea cucumbers, and starfish. not as many parrotfish as from my dive 2 days ago. as we spiraled, looking up gave us great views of huge schools of fish against the sunlight. managed to catch a glimpse of a dark purple-colored eel too. there was also a rare leafy scorpion fish, but i missed it due to my nearsightedness. need to get a pair of contacts quick.
after doing our rounds we explored the surrounding area and to our pleasant surprise we find a white-tipped reef shark resting on the sand bed. then a few moments later we discover a sea turtle resting beneath a coral ledge! now that really made my day~!
we were down below close to 40 mins. the dive boat zoomed back to the pontoon after the dive for a quick lunch (we had extra time) and to see the rest of the family.
the 2nd dive came after lunch, and this time we parked ourselves on the outer edge of the reef, right on top of the shelf edge. this place, the Wreck Bay, is named after an old oriental boat that tried to outrun a hurricane into the bay, but crashed into the reef instead. t’was a wooden thingie, so there weren’t much left, but we did notice the boiler, the anchor, and a few other things. the area is littered with bommies, so it was kinda like a mini underwater maze as we navigate in between them. we managed to see 2-3 white-tips, but didn’t see the hammerhead or the tiger shark that occasionally wander into the area. this dive took about 40 mins as well.
so that was it for the day. by the time we got back to the pontoon, it was already time to leave. again, another pleasant journey back to Port Douglas, and in the meantime we got to see our dive video that was shot by the resident photographer. was tempted to buy it, but it was a whopping $105! ouchies~ probably better to get myself a new digital camera and an underwater case to go with it. ^_^ it was an ok bus ride back to Cairns, but we pretty much slept all the way from fatigue. no thanks to the noisy young lady sitting in front of us. +_+