We are still floating around in South East Queensland, exploring new to us anchorages along the Broadwater and engaging in activities that will get us ready for the Reef.
Walks, swims, drone fun
We have discovered a nice spot along the mainland side of South Stradbroke Island: The Dux Anchorage. Although busy on weekends, during the week it is quiet and very protected. We have spent over a week there, keeping ourselves physically active: daily walks through the bush and along the ocean beach, body surfing in the warm sea, fun playing with the drone… all good practice for what will come later when we head off. Here are a few aerial shots of our surroundings:
We were finding that some of the drone images were a bit blown out on bright sunny days so got some Neutral Density Filters (a set of three: 4 stop, 8 stop and 16 stop) from PolarPro. The photos above were all taken with the ND8.
You are probably wondering why we have not headed further north yet! It is not maintenance nor the weather holding us here now. This time, it is something much more exciting! Let us explain.
Learning new tricks
As you know, we have been readying ourselves for what promises to be a mega season at the Reef. For a while now, we have been debating whether to get scuba gear on Anui. We both have scuba diving certification, but have been reluctant to get the equipment and compressor because they are bulky, heavy, expensive and a bit of a hassle to store on board and maintain. This is why to date we have stuck to snorkeling – simple, convenient and easy. And yet it would be nice to be able to go deeper and stay longer underwater: Wade for spearfishing, Chris for underwater photography and for either of us to clear the anchor chain from entanglements around coral outcrops beyond a 10 meter depth, which could be necessary! Well we have found a solution: learning to free dive.
At the suggestion of one of our followers, Bill Gardyne, we contacted Freediving Gold Coast who run a range of programs and decided to stay back and enrol on the next available Ocean Freediving course! The 3 day training over a couple of weekends will enable us to learn techniques to hold our breath longer and dive down much deeper without the need for the full scuba gear so we are very excited… and a wee bit scared!
Wade being a reasonably fit and healthy specimen did not need a medical prior to starting, but Chris with Type 1 Diabetes had to get the all clear from a medico to enrol. Unfortunately the local GP was not happy to do so. Telling her what she can and can’t do is like waving a red flag in front of a bull…. Not to be beaten, she contacted her specialist to take advice and he gave the okay – should have gone straight to him in the first place!
To gain free-diving certification there are some demanding requirements to meet (depth, time, distance under water on one breath) but the most important thing is the ability to relax, focus and use good technique. It is a mental game as well as a physical challenge. We don’t know whether we will be able to achieve everything the course requires as we are not exactly spring chickens, but as far as we are concerned any improvement on our current abilities will be a plus so we are focused on that rather than the numbers. We start our Ocean Freediver training tonight in Southport – wish us luck! More on what’s involved in the next post!
Underwater camera gear
The other preparation for the reef relates to underwater photography. There are instances when photographing marine critters and seascapes would yield better results if strobes were attached to the existing Ikelite Housing for the Olympus TG6.
And with the opportunity to get down deeper, lights will certainly be required. So Chris ordered two Olympus strobes and their attachments from Digital Diver in Cairns who had supplied the housing and dome lens in the first place. The gear was posted to us. This is what the full kit looks like. Now we’ve just got to learn how to use it!
With photographic equipment and dive skills improved, hopefully two eager beavers will soon be certified as well (some people think we already are) and be able to head north afterwards – six weeks later than we thought, but worth the delay. Don’t you love it when everything works together for good?!