Before I get started showing you all the people I was on the boat trip with—it was only two weeks ago but it feels like two years ago, now, as I sit on my bed with my down comforter wrapped around me and the heater on—let me show you my Adventure Diver card.
It’s one of those things that could have gone either way, I guess, in terms of the people. We spent every single minute together and it wasn’t that big of a boat. We were either getting ready to dive or actually diving or lining up for our one-minute post-dive showers in the bathrooms or sitting at the big tables eating cake or laying out on the top deck or squeezed into our tiny little rooms, always with other people. And, also, you know, it’s not like there was a train from the Great Barrier Reef back to Cairns, the way there was from the wallaby project when things got rough. To say I was nervous about what the social scene was going to be like on the boat is stating it mildly, especially when I had just come off a really fun week sitting around doing nothing in Cairns.
And…it was great. It was three days and two nights of so much fun, like all the best things about being at camp. Everyone was funny and good-looking and friendly and generous and interesting, and I fell in love with about eighteen people within the space of those three days. It’s hard to think, now, shivering in Wellington with the tail end of my chest cold bubbling through my poor sore nose, whether I liked the parts underwater or on the boat best. I give up. It was all awesome, and everyone should immediately book tickets to Australia and go on a trip just like it because you will have the best fun ever.
And if you’re lucky, there will be as many cute boys on your boat as there were on mine, although frankly I doubt it. Let’s check them out, shall we?
Photo by Mark Fallon
Okay, seriously, these dive instructors, man. This is Dave, who did all the lectures our first two days of the course, and was also the leader of Team Dave. Dave was very cool and some sort of dive master extraordinaire, and everything out of his mouth was all “Tri-mix this” and “We had to crack the ice to get in the water that” and “The shark came right at me and tapped me on the mask the other thing,” and if you think the ladies on the boat had a collective crush on this man? It was nothing compared to that which burned within the bosom of all the guys on board.
And here is the beautiful Masa, leader of the clearly superior Team Masa, of which I was a humble member. Masa cut quite a fine figure underwater in his slim-fitting wetsuit, I have to say.
Here is Guillaume, a dude from France who gave me the nicest compliment by telling me he wished his English was as good as my French—he spoke completely fluently, of course, and I speak not-at-all-fluently, but still. Here he is jammin’ out to some French-Canadian pop that he shared with me; we switched iPods for a while and I think he just listened to my Justin Timberlake songs. We also had an interesting discussion about charcuterie. I was a big fan of Guillaume’s.
My buddy Tom from Holland takes break from charming us all with his ready wit and scintillating conversation by taking a picture of something only he can see.
And here is Trouble himself, Mark, the person responsible for all those great underwater photos from the other day. I got most of my shots of cute boys by claiming to the innocent dears that, uh, I was taking photos? For a Men Of Scuba calendar? And they could be Mr. August or whatever? Mark totally fell for it, as you can see, to all of our benefits. Line forms to the left, y’all.
And here is Mark’s friend Lee, who turned out to be quite the booty-shaker later that week, bless his heart.
Replete with the fine specimens of robust manhood as we were on this boat, don’t think that we weren’t also bursting at the seams with the lovely ladies as well. Here’s the extremely fun Dani, patiently accepting her punishment of having to eat a cracker loaded with the noxious vegemite. She was paying—and dearly, I might add—for the crime of descending below 15 meters on one of our dives (Masa was wanting us to use our dive computers a little more on that one). Even the heinous flavor of vegemite, though, cannot dim the wattage of her hotness, but that’s Dani for you.
Here’s my lovely dive buddy, Jill from Canada, showing off her new wetsuit booties and a hint of the evil lurking juuuust below the surface.
And here is the unstoppably gorgeous Pauline, my roommate in the awesome Room Fifteen. This wasn’t taken on the boat but by the lagoon back in Cairns, where she and I met on the day after we got off the boat to debrief the events of the night we got off the boat.
Speaking of going out the night we got off the boat, here are Rachel and Sam, two of the few Australians on the boat and an absolutely lovely couple. The Friday we got back we all went out in Cairns, and we were at some terrible bar with these sort of raised platforms in the middle of the dance floor…and there was Sam, shakin’ it and shakin’ it and shakin’ it in a very efficient manner, which kind of threw a whole new light on the quiet and shy boy from Tasmania we’d all come to know and love on the boat.
Here’s almost everyone on the trip during lunch, recovering from one dive—note Tom in the bottom left corner, assiduously recording his pressure group and surface interval in his dive log–and getting ready for the next by shoveling in great quantities of excellent food. The cook, Cara, whom I sadly do not have a picture of, was a lovely Kiwi girl who won my heart with her accent and her discussion of her work at Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland, as well as her willingness to cater specially and deliciously for the vegetarians on board. Whenever you got back from a dive she’d have a new cake freshly made. Could you die?
When not diving or eating, we all just kind of lounged around on the top deck during the day, slip-slap-slopping and telling dirty jokes. It was pretty great.
Here Pauline and Jill get some impromptu lessons in juggling (with Pro Dive water bottles) and poi-spinning from someone most of us referred to as “the Swedish dude.” Later that evening I couldn’t help myself and gave those same two girls a bellydance lesson; the skipper plugged my iPod in to the ship speakers so we could all listen to Stevie and Marvin and Al and Thriller-and-before Michael for a while, and later let me play some dance music as well, which prompted a tiny bit of a Great Barrier Reef boogie up on the deck. You see how you must always have many good playlists ready to go on your iPod, just in case you are called up in the line of party-music duty?
The sun rises over my tank, BCD, and hideously uncomfortable and difficult-to-put on wetsuit flung over the railing.
Here I am wearing the aforementioned wetsuit, which not only takes fifteen minutes to struggle into but also neatly obliterates my secondary sexual characteristics. Those things were the worst, man, and so not designed for women. We’d all go to start getting ready and they guys would be all “Zzzzip!” and be done with it and all the girls would start cursing and tugging and going “There’s room for a lot of balls over here” and then cursing some more. We ended up running around trying to help each other take them and off, yelling “Can you just strip this off me?” and “Just rip it off, okay?” One poor boobularly-gifted girl actually needed a support team to pack everything in when it was time to suit up, and when it was time to take it off? It was everything I could do not to scream “Be free, girls! BE FREE!” when she was released from the neoprene.
Here’s tiny Room Fifteen, the most awesome room on the whole boat because it had, I don’t know if you can see it in the picture there, a karaoke machine, a disco ball, and a hot tub. Pauline is out in the hallway to take this because two people can’t stand in that room at the same time.
Photo by Mark Fallon.
Here are all the people who went ahead and got the Adventure Diver certification, thrilled at the prospect of being able to go to 30 meters.
And here’s me being pretty much perfectly happy, because the sun is shining and I am on holiday in Australia and I have just seen some amazing underwater creatures and now I’m going to lay out in the sun with fabulous people and eat some cake. It was such a fun trip. It was just such a fun trip.