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MY EXCITING NEW CAREER WITH QUICKSILVER - GREAT BARRIER REEF

For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Friday, 2 September 2016

POSEIDON - DIVE & SNORKEL AGINCOURT RIBBON REEFS


Definition (Greek Mythology): The God of the sea, water, earthquakes and horses. Son of Cronus & Rhea, brother of Zeus. He is often depicted with a trident in his hand. The Roman equivalent of Neptune.
Photo of Poseidon from the water by Tara Reynolds.

I felt like I was about to conquer something, challenge something… maybe win something? I wasn’t sure, but all I knew is I was about to visit a part of the Great Barrier Reef I hadn’t been to before. I was about to embark on another adventure into the unknown, somewhere to a far far far away land ruled by accent water gods, sea serpents and underwater cities of old. This all sounds pretty fanciful but it is actually true to point! I wonder if this is how an overseas visitor feels, heading out to the Great Barrier Reef for the first time, memories about to be written, the bucket list about to be ticked off…. pure adventure! YES! This must be that feeling! Time to visit somewhere new! Time to board POSEIDON and snorkel the ancient cities below and become the adventure hero in my own exploration story.

Departing from Port Douglas (approximately 1 hour north from Cairns at the Port Douglas Marina) Poseidon is a fast cat vessel part of the Quicksilver Group. They market themselves as a trip for “die hard” Snorkelers and Certified Scuba Divers with dedicated staff allocated for both activities. (If you don’t snorkel/swim much or don’t have your certification for Scuba Diving… this is not the boat for you). Cue my happy face!
Photo's for die hard snorkelers & divers by Tara Reynolds.

I was a snorkeler on this journey. The cool thing was how you have a “snorkeler” area and “diver area” on the vessel which is where we were introduced to our snorkel specialist Lizzy. She ran through all the ins and outs of the snorkelling equipment and how we are going to roll for the day. We had a small intimate group on board, probably the best set up for a day of snorkelling you can imagine, no crowds on this boat! By the end of the brief we already felt like a little snorkel family of like-mined people.  That’s what makes heading out with Poseidon so special and unique… it’s a tailor made trip for the die hards!!!

We were heading out to the drop off (yes… that is not only fiction or in Finding Nemo but for real, the Australian edge of the Continental shelf around 70kms from Port Douglas) which is a major draw card for most. The reef is called Agincourt & Ribbon Reefs where we were going to visit 3 reef sites with a minimum of an hour at each which is an amazing amount of water time! The journey out there only took 90 minutes. PLUS… it was Minke Whale Season and Poseidon have a permit so you can swim with them.  Alas… the planets didn't aline this day and by gods will, no Minke's appeared. It wasn't much of a loss as when we moored at our first site we realised how blessed and lucky we were with good stable conditions and fantastic visibility!

So....much....awesome-ness!

The Beauty at the first site. Photo's by Tara Reynolds (on a Lumix).
I have only few words to say… the reef sites we visited on this day blew me away! Talk about underwater cities…. more like underwater WORLDS! 

There is much talk about coral bleaching and I have had many people ask me at my workplace "How bad is it actually?". I am by no means an expert, so I can't comment on the effect bleaching has had on the Great Barrier Reef and can only speak of what I have personally seen. I can see patches of bleaching here and there. I mostly can see staghorn coral bleached and also some soft corals (like anemones) effected. I am to be told a larger portion of reef north of all the Cairns and Port Douglas sites was damaged more so. On this snorkel, the colours and conditions of most of the corals were stunning, healthy and vibrant. You can rest assured that if you head out with Poseidon or another vessel to this region you will share the same amount of awe that I hold for this section of reef. It is, quiet simply.... MAJESTIC! 

The variety of colours and shapes. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.
One of the highlights of the day was spotting a herd of Buffalo Parrot Fish. They are the size of Maori Wrasse and I hadn’t even heard of them before this day. They have a very distinctive flat nose and big beak (for eating algae off hard corals). They are a dark green colour (hence them being called Green Humphead Parrot Fish) as well. They live in large groups and the older ones protect their young and keep them in the middle of the group. 
The link to check out the Parrot Fish by Tara Reynolds
After the first site we relocated to the second, only a short distance away. After a site briefing, the divers were off before we had time to even think about putting on our gear! We decided to have lunch first, like many vessels lunch is included and it didn't disappoint. On arrival was breakfast focaccia's and muffins, tea and coffee. For lunch was a buffet or cold cut meats, fresh prawns, an array of salads and fresh fruits. 

YUMMO!
The colours of a good buffet lunch. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.
The second site was just as mind-blowingly beautiful than the first. Lizzy took us on a free guided snorkel tour. Another great inclusion on this day (most boats will charge extra for a tour).

Lizzy in the water, free guided snorkel. Photo on my hired Lumix camera by Tara Reynolds.

Saving the best for last, I enjoyed the third site the most. Since I got in the water for my first snorkel when I was a little girl it's hard to get me out of the water! With good conditions and a sunny warm tropical day I was the last person out of the water, they had to drag me outta there!

Amazing reef site, the best for last at low tide. Photo by Tara Reynolds.

It was a super low tide on this day making for great snorkelling! The colours were off the hook (the photo's do not do it justice!). Bright yellows, hot pinks and purple hues.... just like an oil painting.

Unfortunately the Lumix couldn't capture the variety of bright colours in the coral. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

I am going to be honest with you, out of many vessels/products I have been out on for a day trip to the reef, Poseidon was one of my faves! It suits me as I am a very strong swimmer and love to snorkel my little heart out. I don't shy away from exploring and veering away from the group or others and do not fear the depth of the deep blue. This day out may not suit everyone. You really want to swim the entire time and get out amongst it otherwise you are wasting your hard earned cash. If you don't swim you will see absolutely nada! There are plenty of other day trips that will suit non-swimmers or those who want to try to snorkel or try and introduction dive. For families who want to visit this reef site you can by heading out to Quicksilver's pontoon. 

Poseidon have multiple mooring sites out at Agincourt & Ribbon Reefs departing from Port Douglas Marina. I will definitely be back to explore some more!

MASSIVE THANKS to Calypso Camera's for the use of the Lumix underwater camera. You can hire a camera from Calypso from their shop in Cairns at the Reef Fleet Terminal. A camera from them is cheaper than any of the boats.


HARD FACTS…

Visit time:
Whole day trip

Times:
08:30am - 4:30pm (From Port Douglas Marina)

Suitable for: 
  • Happy strong swimmers
  • PADI Divers
Fitness level (out of 5):
  •  💪 💪 💪  
Time of year:
  • All year round (Stinger season is from October through to April)
  • Lycra suits provided (Wet suits included for divers)
Price:

  • $232 + $6.50/Adult levy SNORKEL
  • $164 + $6.50/Child SNORKEL
  • $46 for first PADI dive on top of snorkel price








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