Monday, February 9

Steve: Today's weather again brought sunshine and moderate winds - perfect for our last day of activities and a relatively easy ride back to Cairns. We started with a fish around Irene Reef. We trolled from the Rubber Duck, and brought up two Trevallys and a Shark Mackeral. Similar to when we fish on the Cape, the trick when fishing on a reef is to look for surface action and birds that are "working". We saw much of this today, but each time we reached the area with the birds, the action seemed to suddenly stop. This reminded us even more of several days on the Cape where we have spent endless hours chasing the birds - it's great fun!

The total cruising time back to Cairns was going to take about four hours, so we continued heading south with plans to stop back at Opal Reef for a snorkel and lunch. Opal Reef is a protected area, which means fishing is not allowed. This was immediately apparent as we saw numerous and very large Coral Reef Trout. These fish are definitely used to divers and snorkelers, and let us get very close. I think even I could have speared one of these beauties! The trout that we saw other places would swim away as soon as they spotted us.

This was our last snorkel on the reef, which made us all a little sad. Seeing the underwater life here is very special, and we hope to experience it again someday. I am also very happy to see how much David and Katie have enjoyed the snorkeling. It has always been one of my favorite things to do, and I find it extremely fascinating and relaxing. David and Katie were extremely comfortable in the water, and just loved seeing all the ocean life. At no time were they scared, even when swimming with the sharks.

After enjoying Steph's cooking for the last time (stuffed ravioli!), we began cruising back to Cairns. The ride was a little rough - the seas are still being stirred by 15-20 knot winds - but not as bad as on our first day. Speaking of winds, Peter and Steph told us that there's a cyclone warning in effect for Wednesday and Thursday! They haven't had a cyclone here in several years. I guess we can't call ourselves too unlucky…

This evening we took care of some errands in Cairns before heading back to the Ruben Jane for the night. We stayed on the boat in the harbor, with plans for being picked up by a taxi at 4:30AM for our 5:30 flight to Melbourne (through Brisbane). If all goes as planned, we should be meeting Paula at the Melbourne airport at 12:30 when she arrives from Sydney.












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