Seasick at the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Grief may be more accurate....
August 2008. Standing in sunny Cairns outside the booking office, the moment had come. I said to my husband," I don't want a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. You go with the lads." Mark looked astonished, and said, " But we've talked about it for ages!" Just as I suspected, he hadn't registered my previous comments about not wanting the ninety minute sea journey.
"When have I ever said I wanted to go?" I asked him." You know I hate swimming.You want to, that's fine. I'll chill out at the villa."
15-year old son,Sam, immediately back tracked. "I'll stay with Mum," he said. But he'd been practising snorkeling during our fabulous stay in an Australian zoo. Older brother Josh looked doubtful, saying," It is way more expensive than I thought..." Mark's face fell. His dream was slipping away. Time to take one for the team. " Okay," I said. "There's a luxury buffet on the dive pontoon, and I could go on the glass bottom boat. Just don't ask me to go in the water."
The ship looked reassuringly large and expensive, so, buoyed by travel pills, we went on board. Smiling dive instructors greeted us with white paper bags. If anyone was sick, we were told, use the bag and throw it overboard. The paper would bio-degrade, and the fish could have a snack. Yum.
We set sail, and all too soon the ship was rolling around the waters, out-swirling a corkscrew ride at a funfair. Mark turned deathly pale. Sam staggered off somewhere. Josh looked on in amusement. And I was living the nightmare. Dive girls helpfully hurled white bags out to sea, over the shoulders of hunched passengers. My intestines made a valiant effort to burst forth and lay like a quivering jellyfish on the deck. I hobbled off to the loos, unsure which way things would go. Cringing in a cubicle, for all I knew the rest of my family had been washed overboard.
Eventually, the ship slowed to a halt. We had reached the middle of nowhere. I decided to risk another travel pill - what harm in a mild overdose? Everyone disembarked onto the large dive pontoon, and that's when I realised a mistake on my part. I had thought the pontoon would be stable. It was floating. Doh!
Passengers, minus one, grappled with dive suits, turning themselves into shiny sea monsters. Our trio were allocated a pretty little instructor and followed her happily into the sea. I hugged a bench, pondering painless death.
After a little while, I managed to stagger over to the railings to watch the snorkel-fest. The lads had taken to it like ducks to...water. Mark was trying to fend off a large maouri wrasse that wanted to eat his insect bite scabs. Fish pedicure, anyone?
Soon, the dinner gong sounded. Rubberised humans scuttled back onto the decking and launched into lunch. I studiously ignored all food. The guys gabbled excitedly between mouthfuls about the fabulous corals and a stunning array of fish. Then the raft of eager swimmers merged once more back into the sea.
My little overdose had started to kick in, so I risked a trip on the glass bottom boat. Okay, my belly wished I hadn't, but the views of fish, coral, and undersea-scape were fascinating. I was glad that Mark had hired an underwater camera, and would be taking pictures while diving.
Before long, it was time for people to leave the water. Now came the hardest part - peeling themselves out of the dive suits. Grunts and groans all round.
Mercifully, the sea had calmed for the journey back, and I managed to suck on a piece of watermelon. Luxury lunch! My menfolk were tired, but so, so happy. I watched them, and thought, this day will stay with them forever.....
Recently, I asked Sam his memories of our trip to the Great Barrier Reef. For a moment, I swear I could see the reflection of the pretty dive instructor in his eyes. Then he shrugged. " Dunno," he said.
Tips to help with seasickness
Try to stay outdoors as fresh air will help
Take a few big deep breaths
Stand at the back of the boat where there's less movement
Keep your eyes on the horizon
Take travel tablets in good time if you're prone to sickness
Have a light meal before travelling