Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Norman Reef

Note to self: Despite beautifully calm weather and an available mooring, it is not a good idea to spend the night on the Great Barrier Reef with no protection from the swell.
We're a bit weary this morning after a lumpy night but it's another glorious day and we're making the most of it.
We left Low Isles yesterday morning and headed out on the high tide to the passage between Batt and Tongue Reefs.It was very peaceful but quite eerie out there. We were the only boat and because the tide was over two metres, the reef either side of us was not apparent - so no land marks and only the haziest outline of the mainland. As the tide starred to drop the waves started to roll over the reef edges giving some definition to our surrounds.
We were spat out on the other side of the reef into the Coral Sea. Again a different experience for us with a widely spaced rolling swell at the mouth of Trinity Passage, one of several shipping passages through the Barrier Reef.
Norman Reef - again my little camera doesn't do the colours justice, plus there's a water blob in the middle of the lens I've just noticed. Not surprising cos it's just come out of the water!
Our destination was Norman Reef which, we realised as we neared, was the end point of one of the big day-trip companies so there was a huge lunch platform and a helipad as well as two big boats. 
Fortunately the one public mooring was a long way from the commercial operation - and the mooring was unoccupied.
After a quick lunch we hit the water. It was stunning. Sea Piper was in 13 meters of water and it was crystal clear right to the bottom. The bommies and reef were full of fish and turtles - and my accomplished `Merman' had a ball diving down and rustling up some action.
The Merman of Norman Reef
Bommie - Norman Reef

Pick the little shape that is a turtle.

We reluctantly climbed back on Sea Piper when we could swim no more.
It was tempting to stay out at Norman Reef for the night but we decided to head for a little more protection at Michaelmas Cay which has a couple of moorings adjacent a sandspit.
There were so many coral heads and bommies it was like picking our way through a minefield to reach the mooring at Michaelmas only to find it was tagged for a smaller boat than ours and that we would swing out over some very big coral heads if we stayed put. One large mooring was already taken and the second large one, listed on the Marine Parks website, was nowhere to be found.
So we picked our way out of there again and headed to Upolu to rock and roll the night away with the turn of the tide sending the swell right through us and the slight breeze turning us side on to it. Blah.


  1. The snorkelling sounds amazing....the swell not so much xxxleigh

  2. Note to self... Don't read about rolling boats and blah when already feeling like crap! The diving/snorkelling fish and turtles sounds awesome though. We should have taken up that offer of coming this week as a "do over"!! Cris

  3. What a wonderful time you are having. Out on the big seas all alone except for the wildlife. ps. hope you didn't have to feed it leaning over the side.
    x Rose and Steve