I was up and out by 7am, walking to the marina for my reef trip. Half way there I realised I’d forgotten my towel, but decided it was OK because I had my sarong. Checked in at the counter, boarded, got my coffee and muffins, and we were off by 8am.

It’s a pretty small boat (by comparison), and there were only about 40 of us. I sat in on the scuba diving talk on the journey out, then, as it was very choppy, I went out onto deck. Both a good idea and a bad idea. The fresh air was great, but we got soaked by the occasional wave that crashed into the boat, and then it started raining really hard.

We all moved round to the back of the boat, where it was sheltered, and then they decided to offer us wetsuits to keep us warm. So we suited up, and it really made a difference, and then went back to the front of the boat.

We reached Michaelmas cay by about 10.30am, suited up with flippers, snorkels and floatation belts, and they took us to shore in smaller groups on a smaller boat. Then water was calmer, but still not calm, and I didn’t feel confident swimming out to the coral, so I joined a “guided reef trip”. This basically involved a crew member pulling an orange lifesaver around, as a few of us grabbed on. It was nice because it meant we only had to concentrate on kicking our feet and looking at the coral, and not worry about what direction we were going in. So I went twice, and saw a lot more on the second go.

I got back on board at 11.30am, got the wetsuit off and mostly dried off in the wind. Then I had lunch. There was loads, and I had loads. Too much in fact. Then the crew fed the fish off the boat, so we saw some sharks and big fish that look a bit like sharks. We were supposed to go to another location, but because of the conditions, they decided we were better off staying at Michaelmas cay, where it was sheltered. So they did guided trips off the boat.

We had to jump into the water right off the boat, and we could hold onto the lifesaver, or just swim around the group. We were in about four or five metres of water, and we could see loads more – lots of fish and coral, much more than close to shore. I decided against the dive – figured I should get the hang of snorkelling first. I did manage to swim without holding on, and keep up with everyone though. My only problem was that I tried looking at things that were travelling the other way, and kept getting my snorkel under the water.

One of the crew take photos of you on the cay and in the water, and of the fish, so I got those on the way back, and fell asleep for about an hour. We were back in Cairns by 5pm, where it was raining. I walked back to the hostel, showered and changed, got the shuttle bus into town and went on the internet. I was going to go for my free dinner at The Woolshed, but the queue was coming out the door, so got something at Coffee Club instead.

Started my new book today – The Lizard’s Bite by David Hewson. Supposedly better than Da Vinci Code.

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