The Coral Sea

Holmes Reef

Rum Runner I



The first thing I noticed about ' Rum Runner I ' was that there was no gangplank.

The boat left Cairns at about 5pm and we arrived at Holmes Reef about 10am the next day.

The boat is about three times as big as any dive boat you will find in Sydney. But it must be the smallest out of Cairns.

I guess it was an omen that they killed a lot of vegetarians to go into the pasta for the first meal.

Close your eyes and imaging this:
You're lying in a rather confining bed. As you close your eyes you hear whoosh, slosh, whoosh, slosh, bang. As the waves hit the side of the boat right next to your ears. You feel your stomach go up and down and the boat rises and falls. The fall is often quite rapid. But do you think that action on your stomach is enough. No it is not! You actually feel your stomach spinning around and around and up and down. This goes on all night!!

Some people actually fell out of their bunks

About 17 hours being tossed around in a boat with two masts, but only one sail, finds us at the reef. The good news, for us, was that this was the best weather for three weeks!

Yes the boat left a little to be desired. But other things helped. Plenty of food. And Ali and Peter were a delight.

Dive 26 Cathedral

Our Dive Rating

Entry

**

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.6

Out of three

Our first dive from Rum Runner.

I got down to 40.3 metres. And it seemed like 10 metres in Sydney. The water was so clear! And the descent was so easy.

I saw my first shark. A white tip reef shark.

The coral and the fish are so pretty! Just magic!




Dive 27 Nonki

Our Dive Rating

Entry

**

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.6

Out of three




Down to 31 metres. And then wound our way around and back up a massive hill of coral.

The Coral ferns were magnificent and it was so relaxing.

We saw a school of Big Eyed Trevally that live there.







Dive 28 Amazing

Our Dive Rating

Entry

**

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.6

Out of three

Down to 25 metres

More sharks, fancy that.

Here's what Illana had to say:

Nice spot - lots of swim throughs. We only go to 25 metres. Col and Margie do this one with us as well. I spot a huge bull ray sitting in the sand. We go through some swim throughs into the "fish bowl" which is very nice. Lots of reef sharks about on this dive - they do not come in close to us. A big barracuda follows us around for a while. See barramundi , yellow fish blue fish, soft sponges, sea cucumbers, big fish and little - all in that deep blue water. Blissful.





Dive 29 The Abyss

Our Dive Rating

Entry

***

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.8

Out of three

My first drift dive! And I discovered I don't particularly like drift dives. It might be because I prefer to know where the boat is. I don't think it was swimming through the bubbles from those below me. I enjoyed seeing these 6 inch bubbles.

The brief was not to go below 35 metres. And to follow me. Well I was following when I got down to 40 metres! And there the leaders were about 20 metres below me. The bottom is at about 1,000 metres. And to be fair it did not seem like 40 metres where I was. Once again the views were magnificent.

Here's what Illana had to say:

We go down to 36 metres. I level off, Stephen a tad below me (later find out he is on 40m). Nearly all other divers except Col and Margie are a long!!! way below Stephen. Their bubbles are coming up and preventing me seeing the coral, so many of them and so large. Big tiger shark in distance. Lots of yellow fish, fan coral, sponges. Walls of bubbles coming up from below that we have to swim inside. Coral wall on one side and wall of bubbles on the other side.

Dive 30 Turtles Graveyard

Our Dive Rating

Entry

***

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.8

Out of three

The turtles' graveyard. I don't know why it is called that. The only turtles there were yellow backs!

There were lots of pretty fish ( including little iridescent purple ones ) and swim throughs. Of course there was also coral and sharks.

This is the dive where Illana almost crippled herself getting from the ladder to the boat.

Here's what Illana had to say:

This for some reason was my favourite of the trip. By now putting on the wetsuit is really hurting my elbow. But too much good diving awaits me.

This is a shallow dive of only 18 metres. Lots of pretty fish. The one that takes my eye the most is one that is yellow on top, black and white polka dots on the bottom. Fair size fish - just looks funny with the polka dots.

Three really good swim throughs - in and out of coral outcrops- looking up and the blue water above you and seeing sun's rays cutting the water.

Really enjoy this dive, the swim throughs, the peace, the fish. Everything seems so right. Back to Rum Runner to ladder. No one there to take fins, so I go up a few steps and hurl them in myself. Top step I am thinking about how good the dive was and I turn to make that awful step on to the boat. Twist - forget the knee I have been babying since the first fall. Crunch and ping. Being polite I say oh golly gosh . In suspended animation I wonder if I will ever get off the ladder. Help arrives and I make that final step. I collapse in heap and ask them for help with dive gear. Knee is totally stuffed. I know I have done in ligament. No deep heat or other creams on board.

Dive 31 Predators

Our Dive Rating

Entry

***

Scenery

***

Navigation

***

Exit

**

Crew Friendliness

***

Over all

2.8

Out of three

This was the last dive at Holmes Reef. The shark feed. As you can see from the pictures this is quite popular, with the fish. It happens twice a week, for them.

We sit on the bottom and wait for the sharks to swim between us, on their way to the food that is lowered from the boat. The sharks have a nice little feeding frenzy. As they finish the other fish have their turn, smallest ones last.

The sharks swim out between us as they have had enough. One that swam past me at about 3 ft had a lovely big yawn, you should have seen his teeth! Later another swam right up to me and looked in my mask. Another did the same to Illana. They acted like they thought we were other sharks. Till they saw our eyes!

Here's what Illana had to say:

The next dive is called predators. It is next to the Amazing site. They do the dive every trip. They throw heaps of fish heads over the boat, then they load up steel poles with more. Sharks circle the boat. Lots of pretty other fish too - particularly the sword or garfish. Visibility is great. The instructor manages to haul up a reef shark on board. He is holding it in his arms and the dive con has its tail. The dive con lets go of the tail which the shark flips around and smacks the instructor on the back. Peter ends up with a huge red mark the exact imprint of a reef shark's tail on his back.

Only 8 metres down. Crystal clear. We sit in horseshoe around bow of boat. Sharks everywhere, waiting for food. They drop the metal rods over and the sharks and big fish and little fish all go into feeding frenzy. Amazing to watch. We are to sit very still, far enough apart to let the sharks swim around us. They do this a lot. I lie on my tummy cos knee is sore. One shark comes up and looks in my mask at me. I look back at it - off it goes.









Our Dive Site Ratings

Scenery

3

Navigation

3

Over all

2.7

Out of three



Back to Scuba Page


Last Updated 29-5-0