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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Reef in decline

I suddenly realised the Kookaburras in Queensland have a totally different dialect to the ones down in NSW. All start with the laugh but the endings are changed. It was one of these Kookaburras that woke me up at 5 am. Lying in bed listening to it is when I came to that conclusion. Anyway enough of this drivel.

So now wide awake I grabbed a shower before 6 am.  On my return Ian suggested we make for Airlie Port, get parked and have breakfast there. Check-in for the Whitsunday cruise ship was at 7.30am and by 7 am we had found a parking spot which unfortunately wasn't a free one. That's when our plan went awry. We found the meter, coins or cards but as we needed to be there for 11 hours had to pay for the long stay. Trouble was we couldn't fathom out the ticketing. Press the orange, then the green and then the yellow only when prompted mind, and don't forget to put the credit card into the slot. Well, I'm sure a 5-year-old Aussie child could have worked it out but not being able to see the colours because the sun was directly on the glass and pressing wrong buttons, nearly drove Ian insane. We figured it out eventually, more by luck than judgement, and at last got the ticket. Time now was 7.20am. Yep...took us 20 minutes to work it out and as for breakfast......forget it!

The boat left dead on 8 am and the first port of call after an hour was Hamilton Island. Here another 100 passengers boarded all in under 10 minutes.

Airlie Beach

Showing the sting protecting nets swimming area.

Hamilton Island

Then a pleasant 2-hour cruise followed with very welcome tea, coffee and biscuits. I had at last got my appetite back although the miracle of a disappearing cough didn't materialise, but I did find Panadol helped suppress it somewhat. Anyway, I'm off on a tangent again so to contiune. The beauty of the reef from the boat has to be seen. Glorious emeralds and turquise shapes in the middle of the blue sea. A Pontoon was stationed for the boat to dock and tie up to and first thing we did was grab our sting suits (jellyfish) and enter the warm water.

Looking from the deck down.
 We must have been out there for well on 45 minutes swimming through shoals of fish and looking at the corals. I would love to say these were a sight to behold but both of us were a bit disappointed. 30 years ago we lived in Queensland for nearly a year and of course, we visited the reef during our stay, but then it was full of vibrancy and living colour. Now Staghorn coral has taken over and what corals that are around are very dull looking. One lady who went diving said the bottom is almost devoid of colour and everything is coated in a fine sand. The reason for the sand was explained by one of the guides. It was all to do with Parrot fish eating the coral and pooing out the bits! But on saying all this I just loved the whole experience so much so that when we decided to come in for lunch, and giving plenty of time for the food to settle by going on the semi-submersible, we donned our suits again and in we went for a second time.

The time went very quickly and before we knew it the horn sounded for us all to come back on board. Money well spent today but the rate things are changing on the reef I do hope it will still be enjoyed by our next generation.

Back in Hamilton as the sun was setting

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