Today was my snorkel trip day. They picked up Josh and I from the hotel and took us down to the boat. Sign in, take off your shoes, get a pair of fins, get a mask and snorkel, get a wet suit, get a seat.
Boat briefing: here's the head, here's the upper deck. Motion will be worse in the head and on the upper deck. if you're fealing queasy, go to the stern, look at the horizon, grab a bag. If you have a regurgitation event, aim in the bag, then hand the bag to your favorite crewman, who will dispose of it for you. Winds are at 15kt which means we'll have some seas. If you're standing, keep a hand on one of the grab rails, else you will fall and we all take pictures and laugh at you. If someone goes overboard, keep your eyes on them and yell "Man overboard! Man overboard" until a crewmember tells you to do otherwise. Then you can get your camera, take pictures and laugh at them, but do the yelling part first.
About a two hour ride to the reef. I'd taken scopolamine, which is supposed to prevent motion sickness, or in my case, tone it down to bearable levels. I got queasy, clammy skin, sweats, and had to stay determinedly focussed on the horizon and the thought "I Will Not Get Sick. I Can Make It. Not Sick At All"; but I've been a lot sicker on a lot shorter and smoother ride, so all told, I'd count that as a success. Not a success I want to repeat, but a success. Some of the others actually used their bags; one poor girl just lay there on the stern deck, obviously miserable. Josh, of course, has a cast iron stomach. Despite being queasy, I am coherent enough to chat with a Finnish couple in the next seats. He did his military service in the Hakkapaalita corps, which I think is exceedingly cool. There are also people there from tthe US, Switzerland, and Germany, possibly other countries as well.
We make it out to the MV Kangaroo Explorer, which is stationed at the reef, and the scuba trip people (including Josh) transfer over. This leaves us with about twelve snorkellers.
Safety briefing: Don't touch the coral. The coral will cut your suit and you, and most of it is related to jellyfish so it will sting you. Don't touch the coral. Your guide will go with you and he has a life ring if you need it.
Don your wet suit. This version goes down to the wrists, down to the knees, leaves the head, hands, and lower legs bare. (Not coincidentally, I now have sunburned calves). The wet suit keeps you tolerably warm, as long as you don't get influxes of water down your wrists (so swim with your arms down at your sides) or down your neck. Spit in the mask and rub the glass to keep it from fogging; get your fins on, mask down, and "you, get off the boat!" Jump in. The first thing you notice is gosh that water is cold! It had rained as we were going out and that top layer sure was....brisk. Refreshing. Second thing you notice, when you put your face in the water, is that you can't see the bottom. However, it's shallow enough that you're staring into green depths rather than inky black. Third thing is, the waves are sloshing back and forth, continually, and you are sloshing with them. No matter what you do, you're moving; you may not be moving much but it's very difficult to stay in exactly one place.
The guide points us over to a reef, and it's obvious where he wants us to go; the water is sandy brown rather than green. We swim over, and then we can see the bottom, maybe five meters deep, and then suddenly there's a wall of coral ahead. The top of the reef is covered by about a meter of water so we swim over it, careful not to touch anything. The colors are mostly tans and browns, in a profusion of shapes. Some lpaces there are just a few fish, some places there are clouds of them, yellow, green rainbow, black, striped, electric blue. Go back to the boat, lunch, second swim. This time I'm taking pictures and don't notice the cold as much. None of the fish seem to be chasing each other; the only ones who are eating seem to be scraping at rocks and coral. There was a clam over a meter long, its shell edged in green and bright blue; something bright purple, which might have been an eel. I saw a distinctive shape--"Cool! There's a shark!"--a white tip shark, about 1.5 meters long, lazing on the bottom maybe 10m away.
Going back to the boat, I noticed one of the girls had kicked off her fins and was having a problem. I got her under my arm and swam her to the lifesaver ring, massaged her feet for a minute--foot cramps hurt a lot--then went back and retrieved her fins and made sure she got back to the boat safely.
Strip off the gear and rinse it. One more visit to the Kangaroo Explorer to take on people who were coming back after finishing their scuba trip. Then it was time to settle in for the trip back; the wind had died down so it was much smoother cruising. Turn in the underwater camera for processing, and then back to the hotel.