The Boat Ride Back to Cairns

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While we were diving the skies started to get dark and we could see rain off in the distance. We could feel a few raindrops hit our backs when we were snorkeling and the overcast skies made the visibility a bit challenging in some spots. Doug, the captain, said that the sea was so calm up until the day before and the skies were clear so you could see forever. He said he didn’t even check the weather forecast because he just expected it to be the same as the weeks before, boy was he mistaken!

After leaving the second dive spot it started to rain a bit more and we started to head back to Cairns. The captain took control of the helm, he had let one of his deck hands steer on the way out. The seas started to rise and the chop turned into 3 – 4 foot swells. You need to understand that we were on this 1956 sail boat that was really old. It was modernized in 2004 with a more powerful engine, but it was still a sailboat. We started crashing over waves and rolling between swells and a couple of times it felt like the boat was about to roll, but I knew that it was a deep hulled boat and wasn’t going to roll, but it was still a bit unsettling. Noah spent most of the ride back right in front of Ilise as he looked a bit green. He didn’t lose his lunch on the way back but he didn’t enjoy the ride at all.

First Rainbow in Cairns from the Falla
First Rainbow in Cairns from the Falla

The funniest thing was the crew. They usually serve desert, fruit and wine and cheese on the ride home. Well, even with the boat crashing from side to side the crew kept up serving food. First came the cakes, then about 20 minutes later came some fruit and then another 20 minutes before the wine and cheese. By the time we had the wine and cheese we were out of the rough seas and into the body of water about 30 minutes from Cairns protected by land on three sides. Captain Doug gave a less than inspiring speech about the history of the Falla and kept toasting to this and that by saying ARRRRGH! To say that captain Doug was a bit different is pretty accurate. He was telling stories but never completing them. He would talk about how the boat sank in the late 90’s and that he rescued it and rebuilt it. We asked if he currently owned the boat and he didn’t give a clear answer. He said it depends on who you ask, which I guess means he doesn’t but he still operates it everyday.

Rainbow in the harbor in Cairns
Rainbow in the harbor in Cairns

When we were toasting with the wine the sun started to come out and we saw our first rainbow. We had seen so many dark skies when the sun was out and Ilise had been looking for a rainbow for a week. Well, this one went from one end of the sky to the other and at a few points there was a double rainbow. When we got back to port we saw an even stronger rainbow over the harbor. It was the perfect ending to an exciting day out on the Great Barrier Reef. As I said, I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time, and even though it was a memorable experience that I will soon not forget, it wasn’t the peaceful beautiful experience I expected. Well, so much for expectations 🙂

To a life well lived!


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