Traveling around the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns, Northern Queensland

Contrary to our brochure promises of radiant sunshine, we spent a rather rainy couple of weeks travelling North along the East Coast of Australia. By the time we arrived in Cairns the weather had improved dramatically and so had our spirits.

We were here for one reason, and one reason only; to see the sea. We were here to experience the elusive big blue and its great barrier. Seahorses have always fascinated me. Their trumpet noses and gnarly tails always leapt out at me from school books in the reading corner. And for one moment, my childhood fascination came flooding back for it was a small boat named Seahorse that we chose to sail on that day.

As we boarded, I noted our skipper surveying his boat before setting sail. The scene before me reminded me of a parent and their baby. The boat was clearly his. I waved my hand in the cool water as I hung over the side, letting the spray splash my warm face as we left the harbour in the distance. The noise of the engine chugged along slowly in the background as the broken waves took on a Soprano role. The song was electrifying as we bounced like a baby in its cradle, out towards the horizon.

The skipper told us that on one expedition a dugong had kept him and his colleagues company as they conducted their research on clams. Apparently, this was very rare and something he as a skipper, was lucky to have witnessed. I knew that seafarers years ago mistook dugongs for mermaids so I asked him what he thought about that.

Although his crystal blue eyes laughed back at me, I knew there was a hidden meaning he wasn't willing to share with me. Time passed quickly. I awoke to the sound of the anchor chain running over the edge of the boat into the water. It would soon be our turn to cross that boundary into the other world I thought. We prepared to descend by using the boat as our stabiliser as we entered the rough waves and floated down into the soundless water.

There were giant clams dotted all over the seabed that resembled volcanic rocks. They stood tall next to the brilliant blue starfish with their long fingers outstretched. It was silent deep down by the starfish. Dancing clown fish, orange and white moved elegantly between my hands. I really did have nature in my hands.

The turtle that glided by vanished just as quickly as he had appeared. By the time I had readjusted my mask, all I saw was the vague outline of his shell merging into bubbled sky blue water. But in contrast to the thousands of fish who wanted to meet us, it seemed that not all the creatures of the sea were happy to show who they really were.

After spiralling upwards and gaining light along the way, we surfaced and grew accustomed to the surroundings above. We noticed a single, pure white sand island only a short swim away. It was brilliant white. It was whiter than a unicorn's mane. I think I called it paradise.

Tiny horsetail waves lapped quietly around my shoulders while we tread water before submerging again. Swimming through the dense gardens of coral, our bodies moved in rhythm in time with the waves. Because of this, my body no longer felt my own; I had no control. I swayed and glided around as the rays of sun penetrated the water and illuminated the coral before me. The light made a path for us so we could explore the island. Its effect was mesmerising.

Rising from the water and moving towards the sand, I gasped at the millions of tiny white shells that lay before me. However, their vibrant colour prevented me from looking down for too long. But by glancing up and beyond the white layer the view was even better. For miles and miles all I could see was blue and it was wonderful.

Back on our transport home and with a manmade structure beneath our feet, waves gushed from side to side. Even though we were above the water it still had us in its power. We were tipped this was and that, this way and that. We rocked comfortingly in our Seahorse, just like a baby in its cradle.

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