Alone on the Great Barrier Reef – Cruise/dive Townsville -posted May 2016

                  An occasional solo trip gave me the taste for alone time in the middle of nowhere.

2011. 125cf tank are heavy,

                Home alone in January 2011.                   125cf tanks are dammed heavy but are great for an extended diving time.

But as I stood on the back step of Flash Dancer kitted up with scuba gear and stared out at the stormy sky and the black deserted ocean I wondered at the wisdom of what I was doing. Solo boating amongst reefs is tricky. Solo diving requires careful planning — but solo diving in current prone waters with nobody on the boat as back up was a little daunting. Maybe just plain Dumb??? Shit!!! I extended my” swept away rope” out the back the boat to 75 meters and double checked tides and current. Anyhow now I look down I feel better, the waters aqua clear, my feeling of stupidity is replaced by awe and I drop in to feel the 29c water wash over my body and uplift my soul. WOW!

Alone on the reef townsville anchored

                 Vibrant marine life was close by.

 

Eighty kilometers out to sea from Townsville the diving is fantastic. I was anchored on a small sand patch in 18me of water; the boat wasn’t going anywhere. Eighty meters on one side was a glorious bommie rising from 33 me to within seven me of the surface, pelagics of all sorts cruised thru the bait fish in nature’s dance of survival. On the other side, 50 meters away brought me to the edge of a  spectacular reef and in 5-10 meters depth with every sort of coral formation, reef fish, turtles and reef sharks in abundance.

I stayed there for seven days, got hit with two short storms bringing gusty winds and welcome torrential rain that washed the decks clear of bird droppings from the hundred odd noddy terns that called my boat home each night. I spent 13 hours diving and took about 1000 pics….I love my underwater digital camera set up….It was worth spending the kids inheritance to get it 🙂

 When these got serious the deck was covered in birds, poop and they chattered all night.

      When these got serious the deck was covered in birds, poop, and their chatter went on all night.

Looking back now. 

I was just looking back over my Flickr photographic website when I came across the above little solo adventure back in  2011. Before the trip, I had thought to be by myself totally immersed in nature would give me the space to gain an expanded insightful view of life. Like a watery Buddhist monk coming up with the meaning of life.  Perhaps if I had of sat quietly, watching the changing currents all around me, that might have been the case. But in fact, I  had no spare time to think of anything. In between diving twice a day, filling cylinders, cooking, sorting my camera and general maintenance jobs my day was full.  I slept like a log. However returning to port eight days later I did feel somewhat renewed and didn’t sweat the small stuff. I have pleasant memories of a unique experience, and I can see why there are so many solo sailors.

Filling the cylinders with my little bayer compressor. Takes about 30 minutes per cylinder.

                      Filling the cylinders with my little Bayer compressor. Takes about 30 minutes per cylinder.

Cruising around Townsville

I spend three years exploring around Townsville. It’s a beautiful area not only on the reef but also along the coast where interesting islands like Magnetic, the Palms, and Hinchinbrook make for excellent coastal cruising. Click here to see more of the pics of  Wheeler Reef, which was my favorite place before cyclone Yasi created havoc in February 2011.

 

Around Townsville.

                                            Exploring around Townsville.

Alone on the reef townsville whip coral

alone on the reef regal angelfish

 

alone onn the reef blue spotted ray

 

alone onn the reef cleaning fish

 

alone on the reef plate coral

alone on the reef noddy hitch hiker

This noddy traveled with me for 60km on my way back to Townsville. He may have had a nice rest, but it was a long flight back to his feeding grounds. Despite their mess, I couldn’t help feel a certain connection with my feathery friends. I still do.

Diving on the Yongala Ship Wreck  45nm SE of Townsville

I have also marked on the map the Yongala shipwreck. (Click to see a few of our images) It’s recognized as possibly the best dive site in Australia. There is no diving access inside the wreck itself, but the diversity of marine life around it in just 110m is incredible. If you want to moor your vessel right next to the wreck, you will need a permit, which from memory several years back was about $200. Several commercial dive boats visit regularly.

 

A super shot of SS Yongala's stern captured by Sylin 2013.

           A super shot of SS Yongala’s Stern captured by Syl in 2013. 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. BarbaraBanks on May 31, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    your writing is getting better and better, takes us on the journey with you.

    • Robin Jeffries on June 1, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thx Barb, trying to provide useful information plus capture the atmosphere of exploring these grandiose places is a bit tricky. So it’s good to know I am improving 🙂

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