There are days that you pretty much know you’ll remember for most of your years. The really good ones, right? The ones that actually live up to the hype.
Yesterday was one for me.
We were sailing out to the Great Barrier Reef to do some snorkelling. A few days earlier, we had been exposed to ocean snorkelling when we cruised the Whitsundays. Yes, the 3 of us were in the ocean, snorkelling, swimming, exploring, but to me it didn’t feel like the real thing. However, the boys loved it and it reassured me that they could handle much more. Afterwards, while talking to some new friends on our boat I was told that yes, we were snorkelling in the Great Barrier Marine Park, but it wasn’t what they would consider the ‘real Reef’. For that, we had to head to Cairns. And thankfully we were. My only decision needed to be which tour to choose. Should we visit the outer Reef which involves a much longer boat ride and possible sea sickness, or the inner reef, a shorter ride, but would we still see all we wanted to? Luckily, my friend Sarah (who allowed us to stay in her lovely vacation home in Goolwa - that seems like forever ago) had a friend who works on one of the boats. She contacted him and he said as long as the wind is averaging below 20knots, it wouldn’t matter where we chose to go snorkelling. His company had a sail boat that could dock just off of Green Island (a 2 hour ride) at the inner Reef. Having been exposed to sailing at Kitchi and since the Camira cruise was such a huge success the boys were keen to sail again, so that is what we chose. We set sail yesterday from a tropic port, aboard a mighty ship. 25 passengers set sail on a 2 hour tour…a 2 hour tour. Wait, what? Enough Gilligan’s.
Yes, only 25 passengers. Which was perfect.
And I’ll give you 1 guess who was first in the water once the boat was moored to the buoys, 400m off of Green Island. Starts with an S and ends in ullivan.
Yep, he’s been fired up about this for months. And those of you who know him, know there’s only 1 gear when he’s fired up about something! Full-on, over the top. Jee-zus. This was his, ‘I’m most excited about’ moment. And who can blame him really? The Great Barrier Reef is amazing! As he’s said many times, ‘you can see it from space!’. But that was only a small part of it. From the time he found out that it was also one of Jane’s most memorable moments from her trip around the world, it brought a whole meaning to him. Something special. It became another way for him to connect with his mom. To share something with her. He’s continually searching for those little pearls. Pieces of her that he can learn about and tuck away. Nuggets of a memory or story that he can cling to. This was one. A big one, because he was part of it. And frankly, the boys put a bit of pressure on themselves to make sure this day was perfect. Even as we were parking the car at the port, Max mentioned that he felt like he wanted to puke. That his stomach was in knots. Sully felt the same, but reassured Max by adding, “I have butterflies too, Max. Just like I get before a race. But they'll go away, they always do”.
And they did. As we listened to final instructions before getting in, I glanced over at Sully and his snorkel, mask and flippers were actually on. Insane. This was 10 minutes before we were allowed to get in!? He was geared up, ready to go. And of course, he kept talking. Talking while the damn snorkel was in his mouth. Finally, I told him to turn it down a notch, take the snorkel out of his mouth, clear his mask (so fogged up, I don’t know how he could see anything) and chill for a minute. Chill. He managed, like he always does...and then his moment arrived. We could see fish (big fish!) from the boat and he climbed down the ladder and jumped in. And I wished I remembered to video it, because the sounds that were coming out of his snorkel were hilarious! He was yelling and screaming with such exuberance! All I could make out was ‘Jay!’ about every 6th word. One of our guides came over to me laughing and said he needs to be quiet, all the fish will swim away! Well my friend, try and tell that to a boy who hasn’t learned how to whisper yet. It was a fantastic moment.
The entire day was. Even sailing back to Cairns, while the sun was going down, listening to Xavier Rudd. At one point, earlier in the day, Sully left the water and just watched from the boat. Max & I stayed in as he was keen to continue exploring. Besides the captain, Sully was the only one on the boat. I’m not sure why he got out. I haven’t asked him. But he likes to remove himself from situations and reflect upon them. Sometimes randomly, sometimes with a purpose. And if you ask me, I think this one had a purpose. He had been waiting for this one for a while and wanted to soak it all in. And it was perfect. Maybe the only person he wanted to share it with was his mom. Like when they used to fly kites at the cottage, or jump in rain puddles, or like that time she took him for a sail on her Laser. Or maybe he was just cold. But the optimist in me is certain it’s the former.
We did something special when we were out there. Just the 3 of us. And we’ll do more throughout the trip. We’ll get to that in later blogs, I’m sure. Or maybe we won’t. Who knows? I’ll leave that up to the boys. But my ‘most excited about moment’ happened again yesterday as it has many times on this trip already. I got to experience the Reef while watching them experience it. And it was me who ended the day with butterflies. Yep.