Little Cayman Beach Resort May 29th – June 5th
I started the trip actually on May 28th, arrived in Miami and overnighted there at the Embassy Suites. Caught the 10AM Flight from Miami to Grand Cayman and then caught Cayman Air from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac.
Arrived safely, checked into the resort, went to my room, unpacked, got gear together for the next morning’s pickup and then headed to the bar. I did something I rarely do, I had a glass of wine and just relaxed from the trip and contemplated doing diving the next day and was I really up to it under the circumstances? I decided going out and trying was better than sitting around thinking and second guessing, so I went on over to the dive shop and signed up for the diving the next morning. I then went to dinner, and the food was good, but surprisingly, the resort seemed almost deserted and there really was almost no one at dinner. After dinner I headed to the room to read and get some sleep.
Dive Day 1, Sunday:
There were very few people on the boat the next day, just me and 5 guys from the New York area who were on a 4 day vacation sans wives. My fist dive was without a camera, on standard air and since I had no buddy, I dove with the DM, Ian. The first dive was of the Tibetts, and since I really am not into wrecks, I stayed above 75 feet, and just looked around for whatever was inhabiting the upper decks of the wreck. I found secretary blennies, small barracuda, and beautiful social featherdusters. On the swim to the wreck from the mooring, I saw razor fish, garden eels, a sting ray with attendant amber jack, sandtile fish and yellowtail snappers. Total time was 46 minutes and depth was 71.
The second dive was also without a camera, dive buddy was Paul. We did the Plymouth Rock, time was 1 hour 1 minute, depth was 44 FSW. There was a huge very pale lionfish in an opening under coral head right at the start of the dive. Paul was unable to net it. On this dive I found flamingo tongues, a diamond blenny hiding in a anemone, scorpion fish, juvenile drum, lettuce nudibranchs, puffer fish, cleaner shrimp, blue tangs being cleaned, French and grey angelfish, large social featherdusters, and of course, barracuda.
3rd dive, afternoon, Ian buddy. Depth 63 FSW, and time was 52 minutes.
Another sting ray with attendant amber jack – I have never seen this anywhere else but i9n the Cayman Islands. Adult spotted drum, flamingo tongues, 4 different turtles on this dive, lots of soldierfish, Hugh schools of Spanish Grunts, Chubs, French Grunts Spanish Hogfish and 2 HUGE lobsters just walking around in broad daylight. This was the 5 guys’ last dive of their trip, what an odd bunch – but very funny.
After attending to my equipment, hanging the dive skin, booties, BCD up to dry, I took my regulator for a good rinse to the room, cleaned up and then wrote up my log. Diving appeared to be good therapy, it did take me away from my immediate problems that I would have to deal with upon returning to the states. I spent time thinking about how much Bob would have loved this place. However, knowing what I did, I knew he would never have made the walks to the dive shop or the restaurant without problems. I made peace with the fact that he died at home, in his sleep, without me there and that it was nothing anyone could have prevented. That was what this week was for, in addition to the diving and remembering the beauty of life, I spent time coming to terms with what had happened and coming to peace with myself.
Dive Day 2, Monday:
First Dive – Cemetery Reef, so named because there is a small family cemetery on the short directly in front of the reef. Dive Buddy was Paul, the DM. This dive was to 100 FSW, for 51 minutes. This was my first dive with a camera. We found 5 lionfish on this dive, none were caught. The usual tropicals were seen, the reefs here seem to be rather beat up, probably from the hurricane (Paoloma) that went through 2 years ago?
Second dive, - Dive buddy, Ian at The Fisheries. Depth 62 FSW, time 53 minutes. Ian found 2 lionfish on this dive and managed to net and kill one of them. He then attempted to feed the lionfish to a Nassau grouper who just wasn’t interested in it. Lots of lettuce nudibranchs, usual tropicals schooling.
Third dive – Sergeant Major Reef. Dive buddy was Paul. Depth 42FSW, 58 minutes, Found and shot a sting ray immediately after dropping down on the reef. I found a large dark lionfish, which Paul attempted to net, but failed. Those lionfish are quick and seem to know that they are being targeted. 2 turtle shots, yellowheaded jawfish, and lots of creole wrasse. Funny thing, no Sergeant Major fish were to be found on this dive.
Dive Day 3, Tuesday, we went to Little Cayman to dive the morning dives:
First Dive – Donna’s Delight, 67 FSW and 51 minutes. Ian was my dive buddy. Ian caught a lionfish and this time was successful in getting the group to eat it. 2nd lionfish found eluded capture. There were the usual friendly Nassau grouper, who loved to be petted. Several really nice anemones were found and some really nice looking greenish yellow vase sponges.
Second Dive – Jackson’s Reef, Depth 62 and time was 1 hour and 1 minute. Dive buddy was Paul. Paul caught his first lionfish ever! Then, we found a second lionfish, but this one managed to get away under the coral head. I got 2 more turtle shots. Nassau Grouper was so into me petting it, that he wouldn’t leave me alone when I was ready to stop. Large terminal phase rainbow parrotfish.
Third Dive – back on Cayman Brac, Charlie’s Reef. Depth 62 FSW and 1 hour. Ian was my dive buddy. 3 lionfish found and dispatched by Ian. He attempted to feed one to a large channel crab, who did not seem at all interested. Saw Tiger Grouper, juvenile spotted drum, lots of mutton snappers and many more schooling fishes. The site seemed even worse than the ones before, or maybe it was because we had been on Little Cayman that morning and the reefs there are not beaten up at all.
Dive Day 4, Wednesday:
First Dive – West Chute to Double Wall, 79 FSE, 53 minutes. Dive buddy was Paul.
This was a very slow drift dive. If all drift diving was like this, I might even learn to enjoy drift dives. It was easy to reverse into the current and take shots if you wanted to. I got a couple more shots of turtles and saw some very interesting dark red sponges. This was the first dive where we did not see any lionfish at all.
Second Dive – Preacher’s Barge, 40 FSW, 1 hour 4 minutes. Brett was my dive buddy. Found 2 more turtles, and one was sleeping. Hopefully got good shots. Lots of social featherdusters and tons of lettuce leaf nudibranchs were out and about. This was the 2nd dive that we found no lionfish at all.
Third Dive – Tarpon Reef, 59 FSW, 1 hour 3 minutes. Paul was my dive buddy.
Queen Triggerfish, busy eating and I tried (but failed) to get a good shot of her. 3 large tarpon on this dive and again, lots of lettuce leaf nudibranchs out and about. 3rd dive without seeing any lionfish at all.
Dive Day 5, Thursday:
First Dive – Tibbett’s Wreck, 66 FSW and 52 minutes, Brett was my buddy.
This is the place where I got my best turtle shot, over the sand. This turtle was very friendly and stayed until one of the divers got too close and drove him directly into me. 1 lionfish caught and dispatched, and 1 got away. Large scorpionfish 10 feet down below me, flared his fins beautifully and swam away rapidly.
Second Dive – Tombstone Reef, 48 FSW,1 hour 6 minutes. BJ was my buddy.
Several Southern Sting Rays, 1 yellow ray, Queen Triggerfish, flamingo tongue, a large channel crab and we found 2 lionfish, 1 was caught and killed, the other managed to elude capture.
Third Dive – Patches Reef, 46 FSW, 1 hour. Brett was my buddy on this dive.
This reef was totally covered in silt. 1 very large red lionfish. Large porcupine fish, what was once a beautiful bunch of sponges were obviously dying under all the silt. Lots of coral bleaching here as well. Brett exited the water after 30 minutes, and I hung around with Stella and Rich.
Dive Day 6, Friday, my last day:
First Dive – Piper’s Wall, 84 FSW, 58 minutes. BJ was my buddy.
We found 9 lionfish on this dive. 2 were killed, 3 were wounded and 4 got away. There is no way that netting and killing these fish is going to work, there are way too many of them. At this point the DM’s should be allowed to spear them, this is their only chance (and not a good one) to try and keep them in check. Found a very nice sized Green Moray, several adult spotted spotted drum and 2 very large channel crabs.
Second Dive – Plymouth Rock, 52 FSW, 1 hour and 10 minutes. Stella and Rich were my buddies on this dive, as Brett was likely to leave the water anytime after 25 minutes.
Lots of silt on this reef, we were in a different area of this reef than we were on Sunday.
2 large lionfish, none killed. Juvenile spotted drum, lots of Creole wrasse and blue chromis. Many barred hamlets, 1 butter hamlet, large French angelfish, and Sting ray hunting in sand. Not the best last dive, but a nice long and slow, easy dive.
Totals for the week – 17 dives, 16 hours and 17 minutes in the water.
I think, if I were to contemplate another trip to the Caymans, my choices would be Little Cayman or Grand Cayman. The reefs here are dying from silting and just general destruction, that was probably a result of Paoloma. I preferred the beautiful reefs and walls of Little Cayman, as well as the resort itself. I need to go back to Grand Cayman again, since when first I went there, I was such a newbie, I was in awe of everything and did not really concentrate on anything other than not killing myself.
Link to my pics from this trip: