Tuesday, February 10

Steve: Today we reunited with Paula in Melbourne! David, Katie and I took a 5:30AM flight (required us to get up at 3:45AM!) flight from Cairns, connected in Brisbane, and arrived in Melbourne at Noon. Paula's flight from Sydney arrived at 12:30. Perfect! We were so excited to see Paula again and most importantly to hear about how well her dad is now doing. We're all thrilled that after such a difficult experience, everything is fine again.

This afternoon we went into Melbourne, both to see the city and to take care of errands. We didn't have much time, because we all needed a chance to relax in our hotel room before our 1:15AM flight tonight to Bangkok. The flight is nine hours, and then we connect to Delhi. So we have a long trip ahead, but are very excited about beginning our exploration of Asia.

We have posted several photos we took with our underwater camera. The shots didn't come out as well as we hoped (I've had better luck with these cameras before), and certainly don't do justice to what we saw. However, many do give at least a little sense of the types of things we saw while snorkeling. We also posted this photo which was our final shot on the Ruben Jane with Peter and Steph.

Our next posting will be from Delhi!




Katie's Komments: Our Experience on the Great Barrier Reef.

Over the past week we have spent a truly unforgettable five days on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It included all of the elements that great trips have: exploration, fun, relaxation, and even a little thrill. The next few paragraphs describe my feelings about this remarkable experience, and what I learned from it.

At the start it wasn't looking too great…
The boats generator burnt out, then Mom had to go home - I wasn't sure if things were really going to work out. As soon as we got on the reef, however, my feelings completely changed.

Jumping into that refreshing water, I didn't know what to expect. To tell you the truth, I envisioned something completely different from what I now know about The Great Barrier Reef. I pictured snorkeling in deep water, looking down on fish and coral, and seeing intimidating looking sharks circling underneath. I had no idea we would ever get so close to the wildlife. I got so close to an extent that I felt "lost within it." I love being in the water and always have, but being in the midst of all of this life and beauty brought an especially magical touch to my senses. You are part of the ocean. You can't help but feel caught up in the magic when you are being surrounded by thousands of small silver fish, when you're hovering over soft, moving coral, and pulled in by the contractions of the wonderful Giant Clams. Even the peaceful sounds of the Parrot fish pecking at coral adds to the mix of brilliance in the reefs. What more can I say…it was amazing!!!

So there you go, a little of the exploration element. Our captain, Pete, also made the snorkeling fun by pointing out cool fish, starfish, coral, and sea cucumbers. There was one incident in particular when Pete dove down and picked up a Leopard Sea Cucumber to show us. As we began to touch it, much to our surprise, some beautiful white string-like things came out of its underside. Pete told us that if you touch the strings it acts like super glue, and took many days to get off. In addition to some fun snorkeling experiences, we had a lot of fun fishing as well. Fishing here in The Great Barrier Reef, we learned, is very different from fishing on Cape Cod. We did a lot of what we call "trolling": dragging a line behind the boat as we move, off of Ruben Jane as well as off the boat's Zodiac. We caught a large variety of fish doing this, including Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally, Tuna, Rainbow Runner, and Shark Mackerel. We also had a lot of fun doing what they call "Bottom Fishing," which is basically putting fresh bait down with a line and spool. This was a new concept for us, which we very much enjoyed. While doing this kind of fishing, we caught mostly Red and Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout, along with many small bait fish. That's a lot of fresh fish, and it tasted delicious!

Don't even get me started with the food…aaaaaaahhhhhh! Here is where the luxurious and relaxing aspect of the boat kicked in. It was a great routine: getting back from an evening snorkel, rinsing off, changing, looking in books at new wildlife we saw that day, being called for dinner and peering into the dining room for a sneak peek of that night's dinner surprises. We would then eat a fantastic meal, artistically arranged on the plate. That truly is the life. The food was cooked by Steph, a professional Canadian chef, one of the most warm-hearted chefs you'll ever meet. I can't say enough about the friendliness and experience of the crew. We would go over the weather forecast and plan for the next day, look up any fish we weren't sure about with Pete…we now feel like we have a pretty basic understanding of at least a little of the ocean life of the Great Barrier Reef. It was all very relaxing and made us feel at home right away.

Last but not least, comes the much dreaded thrill aspect of The Great Barrier Reef. Even though many TV shows give viewers the impression that the reef is dangerous and haunted by Great White Sharks, the only impression I got of the reef was beauty and eternal peace. With the exception of a few small slightly intimidating sharks, I felt extremely comfortable here. Even as a person very much afraid of animals with teeth, I am proud to say that I have faced my fear and successfully touch a small cat shark, and become an official shark spotter on the reef. Wow!!! Who would have thought I'd have this much courage and confidence, when a year ago I didn't want to place a finger in that water! We also had a couple of adventurous experiences on deserted islands, crawling through dead trees, and exploring a shipwreck with poisonous fish and jellyfish. If the beauty of the reef pushed someone like me to go swimming with jellyfish and dangerous fish, that really tells you something about The Great Barrier Reef.

As you can see I had a great experience on the Great Barrier Reef, and hope to be back someday to further explore this incredible world of magic.

David's Download: Our Experience on the Great Barrier Reef.

Living on a boat for a week and exploring the Great Barrier Reef has definitely been one of the highlights of our year-long trip. The fishing, snorkeling, and island-hopping was unbelievable!! It was an experience that I would do all over again, even if it meant getting seasick and forgetting what it's like to be on land!

Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef was something I was looking forward to the day dad booked the trip (a year in advance). Dad had told me story after story about how great the fishing was and how much I would love it. There were so many different ways of catching beautiful and tasty fish. You could troll for mackerel and tuna, bottom fish for trout and red emperors, or spear fish for anything you saw hidden in the coral.

Trolling from the boat and Zodiac was lots of fun. I will always remember the day when the weather finally subsided and we were able to go to High Rock, which had great snorkeling and fishing. It turned out that the captain was understating what the fishing was really like at High Rock. We must have caught seven huge fish within half an hour! It was crazy! If you didn't hear the sudden "bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" of the reel spinning within five minutes of putting the line out something was wrong. We caught Spanish mackerel, Rainbow Runners, Shark Mackerel, and even Tuna!! It was great! We filled the fridge with enough fish and bait to last a month!

Bottom fishing was also a lot of fun. You basically just had a spool of fishing line with a hunk of squid or fish on the end. You let it sink to the bottom and wait for the fish to hit. I caught a lot of things ranging from big pieces of coral to four-foot white tip sharks!!

The snorkeling was unbelievable. I can't say enough about it. I know that Dad, Katie and I have all written a lot about the reef, but it is truly amazing. One of the things that I found to be really cool besides what you see in the water was how the reef looked from the outside. You are in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, when suddenly you are surrounded by patches of bright green water. Islands surrounded by reef pop out in the distance from nowhere! Even though you are so far out at sea, the water is very shallow and as warm as a bath! Literally, you don't even have to get used to the water it is so warm. I love it when you just get in the water, put your mask in, and dip your head in. The sensation is incredible as you peer down into this magnificent underwater world!

Of course the only way you can really understand what the reef is all about is by seeing it for yourself. The beauty of this World Wonder can not be described in words.












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