Friday, August 23, 2013

Our Update

Time has been flying by and I haven't been keeping up with this blog as I should. Dave has had a few days work fishing on a couple different local boats. He has caught his first Black Marlin, which was a little fella, but still an exciting catch on light tackle. The game fish season is approaching and he should get really busy over the next month. I have completed two 7-day shifts at my new job on Spirit of Freedom as a hostess. The job is cleaning, serving meals, tending to guests needs, and keeping the guests happy. The job is such a great opportunity and it has been very satisfying. Dives are allowed on the job, so that means I am getting to see the Great Barrier Reef and increasing my number of dives. The crew is awesome, so work is really fun, enjoyable, and rewarding. Both Dave and I get along great with the crew I work with, and we enjoy hanging out on my week off.
     We have taken a couple of small road trips over the last few weeks. Considering Dave will be getting busy with work, we have tried to do as much exploring as we can afford before he is full on fishing. We went north to Cooktown, where we fished for GT's and went croc spotting. We also went about an hour south to a couple of local parks. We have seen some fabulous places within a small radius around Cairns. Australia is such a big country, it overwhelms us to think of the many, many places we have yet to see. We are just starting to scratch the surface of this beautiful place, and that makes us both excited for the months to come.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fitzroy Island

OnTuesday July 23rd Dave had to go to Fitzroy Island for his instructor class. Jill was invited along to play the role of student. The island is about a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns and has a resort, along with day tripper amenities. We arrived in the morning, set up our dive gear, and got rolling. The little bits of reef are right off of the beach in relatively shallow water. After going through skills and training, we went on a short dive over a few coral heads, which proved to be a spectacular lil dive. Literally in 5 minutes we saw a lion fish, a sea turtle, a clown fish, and a purple starfish, all in about 12 feet of water. Wonderful! After our short dive, we had lunch, then the guys went back at it. They had more training to do, so Jill snorkeled around, then relaxed on the beach. We caught the ferry back in the late afternoon and concluded our trip. It was a really nice day trip and we would love to go back to the island for an overnight.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Open Water Jill and Dive Master Dave

Over the past 2 1/2 weeks Dave has been working on his Dive Master certification. Lots of classroom time and 2 trips out to the reef for 3 days at a time has gotten Dave 1 more step up the ladder. Jill spent 2 days in the classroom and 3 days at the reef to get her Open Water certification. It's been something on her mind for the past few years, but a bit of fear and procrastination has stood in the way. Since Dave was learning to teach, why not jump in and learn to dive with him helping out. Basically Dave was an assistant to the dive instructor, practicing some teaching techniques and demonstrating skills. He has also been building on the Rescue Diver skills by practicing more search and recovery techniques, along with onboard operation skills. We left on the boat on Wednesday July 10th to head out to the reef. The weather was crap, with winds blowing around 25 knots, which made for a rough ride out. Most of the 32 passengers spent the trip vomiting, while the other few stayed put holding on, as not to be thrown across the boat. Once we got to the reef, the boat didn't rock quite as much, since we were somewhat protected, but the wind was still howling. Jill did 2 training dives on the first day, while Dave did 4 dives. The second day Jill did 2 training dives, which then meant officially certified. In the afternoon we dove together for a fun dive. That evening Jill could have done the night dive, but didn't have any interest. On the third day, we had 3 more dives. Dave had to finsih up a few skills, then dove with Jill. All three days, while windy and choppy, were great dives. On the second day, we saw a huge green turtle about 4 feet long sitting on the bottom. Jill sat right down next to him on the sandy bottom for several minutes. We also saw a stingray and a lionfish, along with tons of other marine life. The abundance of fish is mind blowing. It is awesome. The visibility wasn't that great, only about 35 feet, but once you got close to something it was amazing. Of course a clearer sky and more settled waters would be better, but I guess that gives me something to look forward to for the next time. We really had a great trip together and met lots of people from all different places. The next step for Dave is Dive Instructor, which is underway now.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

On Thursday June 27th we rented a car and went out touring. We first went to Outback Opal Mine Store and learned about opal mining in Australia and looked at the beautiful stones they had for sale. Our next stop was Hartley's Crocodile Adventures which is not only a crocodile farm&park, but also home to some other animals. We walked around and saw loads of crocs, most of which were pretty motionless. The first pen we got to, Dave thought they were fake because they were so still. Then we took a tour of the farm, where they raise crocodiles for profit and saw the year old babies. The most valuable part is the skin and then the secondary parts are the meat. They use all the meat from their farm in their on-site restaurant, which we ate a crocodile burger at. All of the skins from this particular farm are sold to Louis Vuitton. We also saw a snake show and a crocodile attack show. During the attack show we saw the famous crocodile roll and the head shake to tear their victims apart. We went on a short 30 minute boat ride around the lagoon, where our guide fed the crocodiles from a wooden pole. It was really cool to see them jump out of the water to get the meat off the stick. They really do move quick and jump high to attack and eat. We also got to see koalas and the Australian Cassowary, which is the largest bird here standing at 6 1/2 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds. There were also lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, etc. Our favorite part was most definitely the kangaroos and wallabies. We were walking to get to the wallaby feeding at a certain time, and while following the path we arrived at a gate. The gate was closed, but not locked with a "push" sign on it. Then there was a second gate also. Over the fence we could see all these cute wallabies and kangaroos. There was no one else around and we weren't sure wether we were suppose to go through or not. After all the gate wasted locked and it said push, but we couldn't fathom the thought that anyone would be aloud to go into the pen with these animals. I mean could you imagine that at Jacksonville or Atlanta Zoo? We debated the topic for about 5 minutes, then went through the gate. After about 10 minutes of being alone, a park ranger came in with the food. We got to feed them right out of our hands and pet them all as much as we wanted. It was really cool. We loved the little guys. It was certainly the highlight of our day.
After the crocodile park, we drove up to Port Douglas, a small resort town north of Cairns. We walked around town for a bit, then had a yummy meal at one of the local restaurants. It was a lovely day for exploring.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rescue Diver Dave

Last week Dave completed his PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course, and this week he has completed his Rescue Diver Course. He has gotten to do 22 dives on the Great Barrier Reef and has loved every one. He is really enjoying upgrading his dive certifications. The Great Barrier is like nothing you've ever seen before. There is no comparison at all to the reef in the Florida Keys. They are like night and day to each other. It is beautiful and unbelievable!