The Coral Sea

The ocean and sky always appear in a different form, everyday.

Over the next 4 months, I will be on 6 cruises in the South Pacific, all on the Celebrity Solstice.  The first one began on January 2 from Sydney Harbour, and as I write this we have left Airlie Beach, a self proclaimed gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and are an hour or 2 away from Cairns.  When Caroline was sailing in Europe last year, I used this website to track her progress traveling to different destinations.  It works for this cruise as well.

I’ve visited Cairns once in the past.  I was giving a presentation at an international conference on fertility control in wildlife management on Great Keppel Island in 1996, and after the conference my goal was to visit Cairns and book a trip deeper into the Great Barrier Reef.  Unfortunately for me, about an hour after the conference ended, and before I left the island, I stepped on a buried and broken plastic stake while playing volleyball on the beach, splitting the skin between my big toe and its neighbor.  I limped to the resort’s nurse, who bound it up with tape and told me to leave the tape in place for 3 days and... don’t get it wet.  

I probably should have had stitches, but there I was... limping to Cairns (well, taking a train).  Day 3 post injury had me on a boat to the reef, and I went snorkeling, then asked a staffer on the boat for new bandages.  Weird... I remember the circumstances of the injury more than the snorkeling experience!  Maybe I had a World Heritage class injury!  Well, that’s not true, but blame it on my neuron decay rate.

Yesterday was our stop to Airlie Beach, and many of the 2800 passengers (but few of the 1200 crew) got off.  Airlie Beach was hammered by Cyclone Debbie early in 2017, but it seems to have recovered.  Those hundreds and hundreds of tourists disembarked and left on Segway tours, jet ski trips, sailboat trips, and more.  Because Caroline and I are, well, “different,” we went looking for a snorkeling area.  We walked along the coast about 4 miles with a big backpack containing fins, masks, snorkels, towels, and water.  Every local we talked to said this was not a place to snorkel.  The nearshore water was not particularly clean (in a number of places, the water had a rotten or sulfur odor).  And although I didn’t believe the croc warnings, I did have a healthy respect for box jellys, and we heard this was box jellyfish “season.”

“Stingers” is the local term for stinging jellyfish
It is hot and humid, and I got more sun than I wanted yesterday, even with a liberal application of sunscreen.  We never did find a place to snorkel, but Airlie Beach has a wonderful artificial freshwater lagoon, and when we returned after our walk the water was amazingly refreshing.
Caroline standing at one end of the Airlie Beach Lagoon.


The evolution of SUP. 
Caroline works while I look for feral cats!  Zero (!) to date.


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