VOYAGE LOG: Outerknown Advetures on the Great Barrier Reef – CORAL DISCOVERER
Cairns to Cairns | 23 November 2022 – 30 November 2022
This trip diary was compiled by: Chris Cook
Day 1: Cairns
23 November 22
We had all come from far and wide, but we were all very happy to see and board the Coral Discoverer. It was a hot day in Cairns as to be expected at this time of year, but the prospect of the ocean breeze when under sail was a very exciting one.
Immediately upon joining the vessel it was obvious the ship had a wonderful crew that would be looking after us in every way possible, a fantastic voyage was ahead of us.
After getting through all the necessary drills and procedures an amazing dinner was put on by our chefs. After a beautiful meal we were all very happy to retire after a big day of joining the ship.
Let the adventure begin.
Day 2: Fitzroy Island
24 November 2022
Our adventure started straight away; it was wonderful to wake up at our destination of Fitzroy Island. The weather was predicted to be great, with the possibility of slight showers throughout, with all signs already pointing to great conditions. Being tucked in behind the island also gave us even smoother conditions on the vessel for the night.
After breakfast, we all transferred across to the island in the “Explorer,” a perfect boat to get us across to shore in one go. The ship “Coral Discoverer” has a platform on the back which allows all of the guests to simply walk straight onto the transfer vessel, the Explorer is lowered and raised from the water and “off she goes,” it’s almost too easy.
On Fitzroy Island, we were able to hike around the island including over to “Nudey Beach,” named after beautiful animals “nudibranchs” that can be found here underwater. After returning to the original spot on the beach, some of us opted to visit the turtle rehab centre on the island and most of us opted to get in the water, getting comfortable with our snorkelling gear.
After returning to Coral Discoverer we were already off to our next destination, Sudbury Cay. It was here we were able to feel as though we are beginning our very own expedition, as we were no longer seeing anyone else other than our fellow travellers. The cay was stunning with perfectly white sand, surrounded by turquoise waters with a lot of reef life to see.
The day was ended by “Captains Welcome Drinks” on the top deck and a wonderful dinner.
Day 3: Escape & Mackay Reef
25 November 2022
The voyage into the Great Barrier Reef was already in full swing and today was not a day for it to slow down at all. The explorer was used in a different way at this location, yes it was our transport out to Escape Reef, but it was also our “snorkel platform” for all operations to be conducted from. Most of us opted to go for a swim or a snorkel, we were able to enjoy the reef and see all the wonderful creatures for ourselves.
Leading into lunch our Guest Lecturer Chris Cook gave a presentation on “Coral Reef Ecology” which gave us a great overview of this complex ecosystem which is exploding with various life forms.
Whilst watching presentations and enjoying our lunch, the deck team were busy relocating the vessel to our next destination of Mackay Reef. We transported across to a cay where we able to enjoy this beautiful location and access the reef directly from the beach. We had a short amount of time to get back on board and freshened up, which no one was wasted a second of as we were having sunset drinks back on the cay. What a wonderful experience, to watch the sunset, drink in hand, from our very own sand cay out on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Hospitality team on board this voyage are amazing. We have all been taken care of so well, this dinner no exception, with the whole team working so hard to look after us and always done with a bright smile.
Day 4: Cooktown
26 November 2022
Today we were back to being “Land Lovers,” our destination Cooktown. After a hearty breakfast we set off. The Coral Discoverer dropped anchor offshore and we headed into town in the “Explorer.” We all had different plans for our visit, but most of us ventured towards the museum either by bus or on foot. Some of us visited the botanical gardens, others the local markets. The region is steeped with history, both indigenous and colonial and it was great opportunity to learn about all the diverse cultures that have contributed to this town having seen many changes over the years including a huge gold rush.
After returning to the vessel and having a lovely lunch we joined Katie for a marine quiz, the competition was fierce but at the end of the day, the real winner was the marine quiz itself. Just kidding, the best team won, they will be known through the ages, people will sing songs of the greatness and conquests.
Later in the afternoon our Guest Lecturer Chris Cook gave a presentation on Fish Identification which left us all effectively as budding marine biologists, ready to identify most of the fish species we will be encountering on this voyage and future trips to come.
A sure highlight of the trip, we had a BBQ on the top deck of Coral Discoverer, the weather was fantastic, the company great and the meal equally as enjoyable.
Day 5: Lizard island
27 November 2022
As with each day so far, we started with a beautiful sunrise. The difference with today’s sunrise was that it broke over the incredible Lizard Island. We had stayed in Watsons Bay, with the intention of spending the day exploring the island both above and below water. Unfortunately, it had rained overnight which meant we couldn’t climb Cooks Look, but all of the hikers were able to cross the island and head over to Blue Lagoon and back. The snorkelling was good, but just being on the island was a real treat.
We transferred back to the island for lunch and freshened up to head back onto the island.
Whilst we were away, the conditions had changed, and very much for the better. The water was a little murky after the rains in the morning, but the water was incredibly clear for our afternoon and we were able to enjoy snorkelling in the crystal-clear blue waters, visiting the huge amount of giant clams and back to back glass bottom boat tours. Lizard Island is an absolutely beautiful gem of the Great Barrier Reef.
A wonderful dinner put on by the hospitality team, followed by the suitable viewing of “Finding Nemo” before bed.
Day 6: Osprey Reef
28 November 2022
After an action-packed trip so far, Expedition Leader Karla gifted us with a sleep in, Breakfast at 8am. We were refreshed now and ready for a wonderful day on the reef.
We had travelled over 100 nautical miles from the mainland to get out to Osprey Reef, being so far from “anything” that most people are familiar with, giving us high hopes of a reef teaming with life. The hype of Osprey Reef didn’t let us down, there was coral and fish everywhere to be seen. The conditions were a little challenging at times, with currents, but this being the reason that the reef was so healthy. We were all able to visit the reef and enjoy being so far away from the mainland and getting to experience this very unique part of the world.
In between our two ventures out on the reef Guest Lecturer Chris gave a presentation on his Wildlife Photography from around the world. This was filled with tips for all of us to improve the images we take on this and future adventures.
Another great trip out onto Osprey Reef. The day wrapped up with sunset drinks on the top deck, the weather was kind to us once again so we could be out in the elements, all to be wrapped up by a lovely dinner.
Day 7: Ribbon Reef 10
29 November 2022
Our final full day, and for the weather at least it looked to be a great day. We started with yet another fantastic breakfast put on by the incredible hospitality crew and shortly after we were setting off in the Explorer out to the reef. We used the Explorer not only as transport but also as our snorkelling platform, which worked extremely well. The conditions were perfect, the sun was out, the water was clear and there were more fish and coral than we could possibly see in one day. After a great morning in the water, we returned to the ship for lunch.
In the afternoon we relocated to a different spot and found the conditions had only improved. The visits to all of the reefs along the way only got better and better, a lot of us were saying that the ribbon reefs were the highlight of the trip because of all the amazing life we were able to see including a plethora of different fish, giant clams, moray eels and some very shy sharks.
A fantastic day out on the reef topped off with “Captains Drinks” on the top of the Coral Discoverer.
We have had a fantastic voyage, with great conditions and locations. All of course possible because of the ever-smiling crew working tirelessly on the Coral Discoverer, a trip none of us will forget.