One of our main plans in going to Australia was to visit another one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World . . . that being the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
We were all set to take a tour that gave us accommodations at a lodge with a short flight onto one of the islands in the GBR. But then someone at one of the campsites told us of a more cost efficient route by taking a boat out to one of the islands. So we decided to ditch the small plane and take a boat instead. This new plan also had us driving farther north giving us a chance to see more of the countryside. We ended up driving to the town of 1770, which is where Captain James Cook discovered Australia . . . yeah it’s kind of the same way Christopher Columbus discovered America.
The boat facilities were good; we had a full agenda with snorkeling, a land tour of Lady Musgrave Island, semi-submarine boat for observations, fishing, glass bottom boat, lunch and morning and afternoon tea. The GBR is the worlds largest coral reef system with over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 1600 miles . . . its huge! It was simply amazing to be snorkeling within the reef and among the sea life; at one point the four of us were swimming with these huge sea turtles . . . highlight of the day. The water was so clear, which made the coral amazing and the sea was full of dazzling shades of blue. That’s as good as I can explain how awesome it was . . . which I know doesn’t do it the justice it deserves.
THE NOT SO GOOD
I know myself and I know I don’t take chances when it comes to 90 minute boat rides in the open water so I picked up some Kwells at the first opportunity (thanks Karina for telling us about Kwells). That morning before we left I had Keegan take a half a pill, Kendal take one and I took two. Amy doesn’t really get seasick so she decided to only take one.
As I started reading the brochure a little closer I noticed 3 areas where they mention sea sickness and taking precautions and then when we got on the boat I saw that they had multiple sea sickness bags in every seat (uh oh!!). Before we got underway we received our briefing and agenda for the day, the last part of the briefing went over specific instructions on what to do in case you possibly get seasick . . . this was so not looking good. But I thought no biggie, it’s a 90 minute ride so I started my stopwatch. I figured it would take at least 30 minutes to troll out to open water and then maybe we’ll hit some waves but we would need to slow down once again as we got close to the reef . . . maybe 20-30 minutes tops for rough water. So I thought. Five minutes into the ride and we hit very, very rough water. I immediately went into the fetal position not wanting to hear, see or think about anything other than not getting sick and praying for the captain to slow down. When it’s this rough you don’t care what anyone thinks of you so the fetal position seemed to work for me.
Before we took-off Amy was waving happily at the kids who were on the other side of the boat. When you’re together with your kids for 12 months non-stop you take advantage (and so do they) of having freedom in a safe environment so they were together on the other side of the boat. The boat had 2 seats on one side, 5 in the middle and another 2 on the other side, all separated by an aisle – sitting down Amy and I couldn’t see the kids and we sure hoped they were okay because neither one of us could stand up after we started. As big as this boat was no one could stand up due to the swells throwing the boat around. So at exactly 10 minutes (I know because I opened one eye long enough to see my watch) we hit a huge wave and came smashing down and all I heard was my poor little Amy saying, “Oh sh*t!!” . . . and then it really started to get bad.
So here’s the procedure from the briefing: if someone were to get sick, you were to very carefully fill your sickness bag and then raise your hand, there were attendants lined up in the back of the boat with rubber gloves on that would come to you and take your bag and give you another one (kind of like this has happened many times over). Every once in a while I would peek open one of my eyes and all I saw were hands going up all over the boat and these attendants running back and forth with these bags filled with “sickness”. A few times when I opened my eye I tried to help Amy by giving her a quick rub on her back as she was bent over on the chair in front of her, she looked miserable. Her hand went up about 10 times . . . ouch! These waves were relentless and as time went by I kept looking at my watch – it ended up being a 2-hour ride from hell! Luckily the kids were fine watching a documentary on the GBR on the TV that was hanging on the other side of the boat.
Amy knew we only had the day out there so she forced a quick recovery once we hit the island and participated in all activities, unfortunately a number of other tour participants just sat and watched the day go by fearing the ride back (it took Amy a few days to completely recover). We found out after, that a man the day before got so sick and was so upset that he said he wouldn’t go back on the boat and said he would pay anything to get a helicopter out there to pick him up. The Captain actually tried but in the end this guy had to endure the ride back. Luckily the ride back was slightly smoother (more Kwells) but I did see a number of people with their hands up. Amy and I just kept talking as a distraction and that worked.
Moral of the story – take a plane!