Friday evening, August 14th:The trip began very well, I managed to get the dog to the kennel on my lunch hour without too many issues (he actually behaved until he knew I was leaving him.) I manage to get out of the office on time, a minor miracle! I even made it to the airport in plenty of time to do the check in and leisurely make my way to the gate. I arrived in Miami on time, and grabbed my luggage and a cab and went to the hotel without any issues whatever. The hotel in Miami was nice, and since I was extremely hungry, I ordered a nice shrimp cocktail for dinner.
Saturday morning: I got up, went to breakfast, than arranged to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of my scheduled 12:05 PM flight from Miami to Grand Cayman. Now things begin to go wrong. The flight leaves the gate 1 hour late, we were told we were waiting on 3 late passengers and if they did not arrive, their luggage would be removed from the cargo hold before we took off. Well, after an hour, no one appeared and the plane finally left the gate. I was sitting right above the cargo hold area, and never saw any baggage removed…so I have no idea the real reason we sat at the gate so long (and I have since asked AA, but as yet have not received a response to my query.) Now came the wait on the tarmac to take off – another 45 minutes before we got to be first in line…so now we are leaving 1 hour and 45 minutes late. But wait! Weather comes in and we have to wait another 15 minutes. We finally take off 2 hours late. We were due to be in GCM at 12:30 PM, looks like it will be 2:30 PM. Now my layover in Grand Cayman is not going to be enough time to make my 3PM flight to Little Cayman. We land at 2:20 PM and I get my luggage, move through CusRoys and RUN for the Cayman Air ticket area. DARN – the Little Cayman Window is unmanned! I ask the agents at the windows next door (to my left) if I can be next in order to check in for my 3:00 PM flight to Little Cayman. They say go to next available agent, which I do. (Now, a little history: I was supposed to have taken this trip in May but a health issue caused me to change it to August 15th. Cayman Air changed my flight, as requested but there was to be a $25.00 fee assessed when I checked in for the flight on Grand Cayman.) I check in for my flight and I get charged the $25.00, which I pay via my American Express Credit Card. The gate agent takes my all of my luggage, including my carryon bag, which she claimed was too big for the plane. She assures me it will make the 3:00 flight with me and tells me to run for Gate 5, she will let them know I am on the way. I ran for the gate, made it then ran to the plane and boarded. I did not see my luggage loaded, and we took off within 5 minutes of my arrival on the plane. The plane flies directly to Little Cayman, the original itinerary shows it should have gone to Cayman Brac first, but they tell me they had no one on the plane going to Cayman Brac so they decided to fly directly to Little Cayman. I think “COOL!” I’ll get there early and be able to take it easy a bit earlier than I thought I would. We land in Little Cayman, and no luggage for me. This would not have been an issue, but when the gate agent so rapidly separated me from my carryon, I did not remember that my hotel vouchers, etc were in that carryon. So, I waited for the next plane to come in (hopefully) with my luggage aboard. In between, an airport employee, a nice young man named Jerry (who also does the magic show at the Little Cayman Beach Resort) gave me a briefing of where EVERYTHING on the island was to be found. This covered the booby nesting grounds, where all the iguanas were, the stores, the bars, and he informed that rush hour on the island consisted of 3 cars on the road at the same time! Imagine that!!! An hour later, the plane arrived and lo and behold, my luggage was on it! I meet Roy, Tammy and Judy. Roy tells me he has been diving since 1970 all over the world. He states that Tammy, his daughter, just certified in Cancun about a month ago and is a natural in the water…such a GREAT diver, it makes him proud. Judy does not dive. I just listen and say to him at various times, that’s nice, you must be proud, and how interesting (this to everywhere he has gone in the Pacific.) He also saw fit to inform me that he was a retired Psychology professor from NC and that his wife was a marital counselor and that his daughter was a senior in HS and sings in the choir and on and on – it made for a LONG ride to the hotel from the airport. Once at the hotel, I check in and then head to my room to unpack quickly. I find that the danged battery in my dive computer is showing that it is low. I head to the dive shop to hand in the paperwork they need and ask if they have a battery that would fit my computer. They do, I have it installed and am ready for the morning’s diving. The room is very nice. I get my gear into a carry bag ready to place in front of my room in the morning. I head to dinner (when the dinner bell rings.) More history: I am by myself for this trip since the hubs did not come along on the trip. His work scheduled a conversion the week of this planned vacation, and since we had moved this once already, we could not move it again, so after much discussion between the two of us, I end up taking the vacation alone.
General stuff: On your first morning at the resort, you put out your gear at 7AM in front of your room and they gather it up and put it on the boat you will be on for the week. They also handle your gear for the entire week, (the BCD and regulator.) Everything is set up for you when you come onto the boat. You of course, need to take care of fins, mask and wetsuit/skins, etc. yourself and I always checked my gear set up to ensure it was the way I like it to be set up and that everything is working as I expect. This was my first dive trip using my new Aqua Lung Titan LX regulator and I am hoping it performs as well in the blue water as it did in the pool (it did!). Diving is 3 dives a day with my package, and since I am alone, I will be following the DM and then buddying up with whomever they assign me when they have to go up to the boat (at 35 minutes into the dive.) All first dives of the day are limited to 50 minutes and a depth of 110 feet. All second and third dives of the day are limited to 60 minutes and 60 feet. They do allow you, if diving with a buddy, to dive your own profile.
This is a small island and there is not much to do other than eat, sleep and dive. You can walk around, see the iguanas, go to the booby nesting area, walk to the bars, etc. You can rent a bike and bike the island, there are some really nice snorkeling beaches further down the road from the resort, or so I am told.
For the purposes of this story, I have changed some people’s names to protect the not so innocent! If a person was an innocent, their real names were used!
First Day - On the boat: Sunday, 8/16/2009. We set up our own gear, you must do this the first time, so they can see how you like things set up. We were told at the dive shop the pervious evening, to be on the boat at 8AM, so of course, I arrive at 7:50 AM and await an invitation to board. Lots of people arrive and we proceed to set up our gear. Roy and Tammy (a father and daughter team) show up late (around 8:10 AM) – well, stuff happens I think. Tammy begins to set up, but has no idea how to set up the regulator, which she proceeds, with her father’s help, to hook up to the tank, and then wonders how to get the BCD on there. Once that is straightened out and we are asked if we have everything, Roy says, I thought I had packed and brought my dive bag with me, but I did not see it in the room, so, I don’t have a BCD. The DM checks him for size and runs to get him a BCD. Once back, the DM ensures it fits Roy, he puts in on the tank when Roy says, I don’t have a regulator. The DM runs to get him a regulator. Once back with it he again asks if we have everything we need and Roy says I don’t have a dive computer. Off the DM goes (again) to get Roy a dive computer from the dive shop. Once the DM returns, he explains how the computer works to Roy and Tammy and then he again asks us if we are ready and have everything, to which Roy replies, “I don’t have fins, could you get me some?” The DM is a bit wiser now and asks, how about a mask, do you have one? Roy replies that that he has (never once getting the sarcasm of the question.) Off the DM goes to get him some fins. Once back, the boat is finally ready to leave (at 8:35 AM) only twenty five minutes late, so I guess that is not too bad. We arrive at the first dive site and since I am alone, I tell the DM I will be following him on this dive, he is OK with that, but tells me when he has to ascend that he will assign me a dive buddy from the ones that are following him, I am good with that. At this point Roy says he doesn’t have a weight belt. The decision is made to put his weights (from the extra weights carried on the boat) into his BCD pockets.
First Dive: Into the water we go: you sit at the back, don your fins and mask, and they bring your tank to you, then you stand and giant stride off the back of the boat. I am carrying 18 lbs of weight, which since I have lost 12 pounds, I am not sure is right. However, in Cozumel in May it took 22 pounds (while wearing a shorty wetsuit and 12 pounds heavier) to sink me. This time I am wearing a dive-skin, so I figure 4 pounds off for the shorty and we will see what I need to do about the weight loss. Of course, once in the water I realize I am way too heavy (I sink like a rock!) but inflating the BCD for this dive will work to achieve the correct buoyancy. Off we go on a tour of the reef/wall. All is going well on this dive until I notice Roy rising rapidly for the surface and seeming unable to get back down (we are now 30 minutes into the dive.) The DM chases after Roy and tries to help him back down – to no avail. He returns to the group, and signals that I am to be paired up with Tammy, oh joy – I get the newbie! BTW – Tammy made no attempt to stay with her dive buddy (her father) as he rose to the surface. She had no intention of ending her dive because he could not descend, and appeared to not even realize that he was gone. I check my air, I have 1800 and am good to go for the next 20 minutes. We continue the tour the reef around the boat. I did have to remove her fins from the reef several times during our 10 minute tour. I tried to show her garden eels, she did not appear to be interested. I tried to show her some blennies I found, again no interest. I pointed out angelfish, grunts, and all manner of the usual Caribbean animals, no apparent interest on her part. At 40 minutes into the dive, I again check my air, then I tell Tammy how much air I have remaining (1500) and ask for her numbers. She gives me the WHAT? signal. I again look at my gauges, indicate how much air I have, ask for her numbers, again the WHAT? signal. I swim over to her, and look at her numbers. She is at 750, so I tell her time to head up, she shakes her head no. OK, they did say we needed to have 500 when returning to the boat, and we need to do a 3 minute safety stop, so I insist that we return and do a safety stop. She doesn’t like it, but complies. BTW – she never once appeared to check her air, or her dive computer, or realize what depth she was at, where she was, or stay off the reef. We get back on the boat and I am a bit miffed about having to shepherd her around, but it is a dive and beats the heck out of work, right? Roy thanks me for taking care of Tammy and tells me that she has an issue with swim-throughs (she is claustrophobic) and so when they went over the top of the swim through (while the rest of us went through it) he lost buoyancy and rose to the surface. I wondered why he did not dump air from the BCD, or if he was that light on weight? He then said that he was down to 750 at the 30 minute mark. First dive was a Jackson’s Reef, maximum depth was 75 feet, viz was 80 feet.
Second dive: Roy decides he is feeling too ill to dive, so I am told up front that I am to shepherd Tammy around. I know she isn’t going to check her air, her buoyancy is bad (not unusual for a newbie, heck mine was awful), she doesn’t check her depth and I need to make sure she doesn’t damage the reef. I know that pointing out the life on the reef is pointless with her, so I wonder why it is she is diving at all. The dive goes uneventfully, since I did not have high hopes in the first place. When I find her air at 750, I make her go up. I really feel bad returning to the boat with over 1500 in the tank, but I am buddied with her, so I must return as well. This dive was 55 minutes long, including the safety stop. We get back to the dock, we are very late returning (of course we were very late leaving) and the lunch bell has already been rung. I head to the room to get the salt off me and out of my hair and get into dry clothes. I head to lunch and grab a quick bite. We need to be back to the boat for the afternoon dives at 1:50 PM. This dive was at Marilyn’s Cut, maximum depth of 60 feet, viz was about 80 feet. There were lots of Nassau grouper on this dive which liked to have their chins scratched and seemed to beg for you to pet them (which of course, I did.)
Third dive: I arrive at the boat at 1:40PM. Roy and Tammy are not going out on the afternoon dives, so that’s a relief. I drop my weights to 16 pounds to see how that does for me (still too much, so note to self: move down to 14 pounds tomorrow.) I get paired up with someone who is doing their last dive of their trip. Good diver and I get to spend 1 hour and 3 minutes in the water and I return to the boat with 1400, but the time limit was 60 minutes, and I used an extra 3 minutes on the safety stop. The wall is incredible, so much life and the deep blue is enthralling to look at. Lots of life, nothing seems afraid of divers and of course, while all the fish are posing, I have no camera, since my personal rules are that the first day of diving, no camera, get used to being wet again, do weight checks, double check buoyancy and remember what fun this is. Of course, on this first day I saw turtles and nurse sharks and all sorts of groupers, and all the usual Caribbean fish you expect to see, which I was sure, would disappear once I had a camera with me on the second day. This dive was at Barracuda Bight, depth was 59 feet, viz was 80.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I take my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. I take a 30 minute nap and then head to the bar. I get a glass of white wine and sit and just relax. A young lady comes in with the most beautiful long naturally wavy hair, I compliment her on it (I wish my hair was that thick, wavy and long – I am so envious!) She and I begin to chat. She is with a large dive group from Arkansas and asks whom I am with (I reply no one) and where I am from (currently New Orleans) and then she decides she wants to get her dive group to “adopt” me. During her dinner with her group, they apparently agree to “adopt me”. So, she comes over to me (where I am eating alone) and tells me I am adopted and need to take meals with her group. How sweet of them. This diver’s name is Natalie, and I have promised her that I would send her a CD of any good shots I have so she can scrapbook her trip with pictures, rather than just a write up. After dinner, I headed to the room to read and fall asleep (which I was by 9:00 PM.)
Second Day: Monday, 8/17/2009. We have a new DM today. I approach her and basically beg to NOT be paired with either Roy or Tammy during today’s dives. She says she will try to put me with someone who is more “my style” of diver, based on what she observes about me OK, well, that would be someone who trolls the reef/wall very, very slowly. I also have my camera today and of course I am sure that I will see nothing worth taking pictures (of.) – how wrong I was! I remove two pounds of weight from my weight pockets and am ready to dive. Roy and Tammy are late again – we were supposed to be here at 8:00 AM and they finally show up at 8:15. The DM asks if everyone has their stuff, and that if they dove yesterday, the stuff should be on the boat, all they need to check are fins, masks that kind of thing. We head out. Susan’s boyfriend Dave is feeling very “green” by which I do not mean environmentally. I tell him that at lunch I will give him a sleeve of Bonnine, which will help with his queasy stomach.
Dive four: We get to the dive site and Roy states that he has no weight belt. Laura (the DM) decides to see if she can find an extra belt on the boat. She finds one, pulls his weights from the BCD pockets and puts them on the belt – she doesn’t look happy at this point. In we go, I wait on the surface for the DM to enter before heading down – at her request. During the course of this dive, I see Laura rushing around pulling both Roy and Tammy off the coral heads, off the sand where the yellowheaded blennies and garden eels live and in general trying desperately to keep rein on these two. At the end of this dive, she pairs me up with a new diver on the boat, a Canadian whose name is Glenn (that is his real name – very nice guy.) I loved diving with him – he is slow on the reef and so super calm and relaxed in the water. In talking with him after the dive I find out he is re-breather certified, has well over a thousand dives, a lot of them technical dives – no wonder he is so relaxed and calm!!! He used to do underwater photography, but has given it up, so he understands when I stop to sneak up on something or stay and take multiple shots of a subject. How cool is that? What wonderful luck – it is finally changing to the good side! We see 3 turtles on this dive, a queen triggerfish, a nurse shark swimming across the reef and many large groupers and tons of other stuff. This was at The Mixing Bowl, max depth was 75 feet and viz was 80 feet.
Dive five: Glenn and I decide to head away from the others in the group, kind of dive our own profiles. They turn right on the wall, we turn left. During this dive, Tammy is paired with a young photographer who works in the film industry. Roy is sitting on the boat, he says his stomach is queasy and he has a headache. Largely an uneventful dive for Glenn and myself, we see more Queen triggerfish, lots of juvenile spotted drums, and at the end of the dive there is a squadron of reef squid – how wonderful to see them! This dive was at Ringer’s Cut, maximum depth was 56 feet and the viz was around 90 feet. After this dive, Tammy loudly announces to the boat and the DM that she does not wish to dive with her father as her buddy anymore.
Dive six: Glenn and I have decided that our buddying up is a good match and we will continue the rest of the week together. Roy arrives at the boat at 2PM and argues that he missed yesterday’s second dive and today’s second dive, so he should be able to do the afternoon dive (at no extra charge to him.) The DM heads to the dive shop to discuss this with the manager. DM returns and says, this one time it will be allowed, but if you miss the 2nd dive tomorrow, there will be no afternoon dive to compensate, unless you pay extra for it. I have no idea what happened with Roy on that dive, but the DM that went into the water did not seem very happy when I got back on board. On this third dive, we had a new diver, just off the plane join us for, she is a photographer, and she has a delightful British accent. She was BFF with Susan who was on vacation with her boyfriend , Dave, and they did tons of diving together until Susan met Dave. Georgia is a very good photographer and was a delight to get to know. She has been diving just about everywhere and had great stories to share regarding different places to which she had been. Once again, Glenn and I headed in the opposite direction from the group to do our dive in less “crowded” waters. Saw tons of creole wrasse, HUGE lobster’s who had massive attitude – they knew they were in a marine park and safe from us! This dive was at Joy’s Joy, maximum depth was 59 feet, viz was about 85 feet.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I take my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. I can’t sleep, so I head to the bar. I get a glass of white wine, sit there and enjoy the views and relax. Natalie and two other women from her group join me and we have fun chatting. We start to discuss the diving and I tell them the Roy/Tammy saga from Day one through today. They are surprised that on Day one, the DMs didn’t just make Roy head to the shop for gear and that they put up with the arriving late on Day two. They stated if it had been their boat, the group would have decided to leave the dock on time, which would have left them behind. They said doing that once, would prevent further lateness from happening in the future. We head to dinner and after dinner I head to the room to read and fall asleep (which I was by 9:00 PM.)
Third Day: Tuesday, 8/18/2009. I arrive at 7:30 AM and remove two more pounds from the weight pockets of my BCD. I am now down to 12 pounds, and hopefully that will be enough weight for me to descend. Once again, Roy and Tammy are late arriving to the boat. They show up at 8:15. This time Roy has a weight belt but he can’t seem to remember which BCD and regulator is his. Neither can Tammy locate her stuff…so DM runs to the shop to look up BCD numbers for them. We take off at 8:20 AM for the dive sites.
Dive Seven: Glenn and I repeat our now formed habit of heading in the opposite direction from the general group. I had no issues with descending – I went down slowly, which allowed me plenty of time to clear. Calm quiet dive, we see 3 turtles, and I swam with a small one for quite a distance, wonderful experience. We are get ready to turn back to head for the boat, when at 35 feet, in from the deep blue (to my right) swims a 7 foot reef shark. I have never seen a shark (other than nurse sharks) while diving, so I am in awe, thinking how wonderful and majestic…then I remember to signal my buddy – I shake my rattler, he spins around I make the shark signal and point, he turns again, but by this time the shark has melted away down and to our left and he misses seeing it. I am so stoked by this encounter…it is only after the shark leaves that I remember my camera, and it was at one point close enough for me to get a relatively recognizable shot. How dumb of me (cringing at my stupidity here.) I get told when we get back on the boat that they are almost never seen on these dives, and that I am mistaken, it must have been a nurse shark…well, I do know the difference in the body types – it was, indeed, a reef shark. Having no witness, I really had no way to argue my point. This dive was at Donna’s Delight for a maximum depth of 80 feet, viz was about 85 feet.
Once we were back onboard, I start looking at some shots I took at the camera table. The DM for the first dive approaches Roy (who is sitting right by the camera table) and begins speaking to him. Basically the conversation went like this – I am not sure I can let you dive anymore. You were at 120 and dropping, you appeared confused and disoriented and had no idea of what you were doing. I brought you back up to 60, and checked on my (other) divers and when I looked for you again you were at 80 and dropping fast. I am afraid that you are a danger to yourself. The marine park’s rules state, and you agreed to, that no dives were to be deeper than 110. I am afraid you might kill yourself, or me or both of us, or someone else in the group who may be trying to help you. Roy replies that he had issues dumping air from his BCD – could not get rid of the extra aid, and that is why he was dropping so rapidly. Further, as he wasn’t feeling well, he and Tammy would sit out the 2nd dive (she was almost green from seasickness.) I leave to the reader to decide if Roy’s explanation made any kind of sense. I personally have never heard a DM talk like that to a diver, although I fully understand why he did it.
Dive Eight: This dive was at Coconut Wall, maximum depth of 73 feet with viz at about 80 feet. We saw lots of little stuff and a White Spotted filefish in the orange phase. This was not one of my favorite dives.
Dive Nine: This dive was at Susan’s Set for a maximum depth of 70 feet, viz was about 80 feet. Lots of growth on the walls, and saw many very large sponges. Saw yet another turtle at the end of the dive. Saw lettuce Leaf nudibranchs and more Queen Triggerfish, but am not seeing very many Angelfish. Interesting…this was a beautiful dive.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I take my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. I have given up on the idea of taking a nap, so I head to the bar and cash in my coupon for a free bottle of wine that was part of my dive package. I have them pour one glass of wine from the bottle, mark it with my room number and store it for tomorrow’s glass of wine. I sit, drink, people watch and just in general, relax. Natalie and two other women from her group join me and we have fun chatting, and I tell them the latest in the Roy/Tammy saga. After dinner, I headed to the room to read and fall asleep (which I was by 9:00 PM.)
Fourth Day: Wednesday, 8/19/2009. Roy and Tammy do not appear. We wait about 10 minutes to see if they are going to show. They don’t so we head on out without them.
Dive Ten: We had a great dive…saw lots of turtles and I got a shot of one that had a tag on the flipper, which, when blown up shows the id number as WE578. From what I have found, this is a tag from an Atlantic tagging, and this turtle appears to be living on the Little Cayman wall now. I will be reporting the sighting to a turtle tag.tracking site. Saw Queen triggerfish and lots of the usual Caribbean stuff (blue and brown chromis, etc.) A very nice dive. This was at Lea Lea’s Lookout. Max depth was 71 feet and viz was about 75 feet.
Dive Eleven: Another great dive. We saw several Southern Stingrays which always had a bar jack accompanying them as they skimmed over the sand. Saw several peacock flounders, another turtle, this time overhead, and there was a huge school of bar jacks on the wall. This was at Eagle Ray Roundup (no we did not see any Eagle Rays) max depth of 60 with viz of about 85 feet.
Dive Twelve: Saw a large porcupinefish, sand divers, another small turtle, small grouper at a cleaning station. Tons of juvenile fish everywhere. This was at Busch Gardens, max depth of 42 feet, viz was about 75 feet.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I take my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. I head to the bar and I have them pour me a glass of wine from the bottle marked with my room number and store the rest for tomorrow’s glass of wine. I get a glass of white wine and sit and just relax. Natalie and two other women from her group join me and we have fun chatting, and I tell them the latest in the Roy/Tammy saga, about their not showing up. Roy and Judy show up at the bar, they have (each of them) two double shot burbon and cokes, followed by a margarita, followed by a mudslide, followed by getting a bottle of Verve Cliqueot (which they took to their room.) We spotted them at dinner, and they had a bottle of red wine at the table, which they killed, then they went to the bar and started in on double shot burbon and cokes again. This may account for the disorientation (aka a hangover) of Roy the day before on his diving, since Natalie said she had noticed the amount he was drinking on Monday and Tuesday nights. I left the bar at 8:30 PM and headed to the room to read and fall asleep (which I was by 9:00 PM.)
Fifth Day: Thursday, 8/20/2009. Roy and Tammy do not appear. We wait about 10 minutes to see if they are going to show. They don’t so we head on out without them.
Dive Thirteen: Lots of chop on the water, lots of current. You could see the “green stuff” coming into the area. Lots of wind and swells over 3 feet. Had a turtle swim above me, fairly large with a shell of about 3 foot in length. This dive was at Black Tip Blvd, max depth of 90 feet and viz of about 60 and dropping when we came in. The other divers who went left on the wall when Glenn and I went right, saw a lion fish at about 80 feet. Yes, the GPS coordinates were given and someone went back out to try and find it and remove it from the reef. Needless to say, Glenn and I did not see it, but we saw the video taken by the dive shop, and there it was – a very dark one, and appeared to be full grown.
Dive Fourteen: Still lots of wind and very choppy, lots of swells, which makes exiting the water a bit dicey. We see feather duster worms, fire bristle worms, lots of anenomes, many very large sponges and a diamond blenny, which was a first for me – interesting and cute creature. This was a Cumber’s Caves, max depth of 65 feet, viz at the beginning of the dive was about 50 feet, viz at the end of the dive was maybe 25 feet. Really hazy as that green stuff moved in.
After our second dive, the DM (Laura) announces that we need to be at the boat by 8:10 AM. She also says that she had only stated that we needed to be there at 8:00 AM to try and compensate for Roy and Tammy’s constant/consistent lateness.
Dive Fifteen: Still windy and choppy, and we are not running to the other side of the island this afternoon. We go to Pirate’s Point, max depth of 65 with about 50 feet of viz. We see a very long barracuda, but he is so thin that it looks like he is malnourished, but there are not bite marks or anything apparent to account for his poor condition. We again see lots of Southern Stingrays with their attendant bar jacks.
After our last dive, the DM (Laura) reminds us that we need to be at the boat by 8:10 AM, not 8:00 AM.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I take my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. There is a note on the desk that asks that I have my bags packed and ready for early pickup at 3PM Tomorrow, so they can be sent over to Grand Cayman early. Apparently, there are a lot of people leaving, and they try to get as much of the luggage over on Friday night, so that people’s bags are with them when they get to GCM and head back home to their respective countries. I pack as much as I can ahead of time, so I will have less to do tomorrow and then I head to the bar and I have them to pour me a glass of wine from the bottle marked with my room number and store the rest for tomorrow’s glass of wine. The group of ladies from Rick’s Divers show up, we chat and then head to dinner. After dinner, I head to the room to read and fall asleep.
Sixth Day: Friday, 8/21/2009. Roy and Tammy do not appear. We wait about 10 minutes to see if they are going to show. They don’t so we head on out without them. This is my last day of diving in Little Cayman, and due to the agreements we had to sign, I will not be able to dive the afternoon dive.
Dive Sixteen: We again dive The Mixing Bowl, max depth of 76 feet, viz was about 85 feet. This is a beautiful dive, tons of reef life, turtles, and all the usual Caribbean reef fishes. There is still a lot of chop on the water, but not as bad as the previous day.
Dive Seventeen: We dive Great Wall West, max depth of 57 feet and viz of about 80 feet. This is my last dive of the trip and I am wanting to go really, really slow and savor the experience. You can only go so slow, and you have to turn back. We were at 50 feet, ready to turn back, when once again from my right I see motion in the blue. Another reef shark, this one was only about 4.5 to 5 feet long. Way too far away for a shot of him. I shake my rattle and get Glen’s attention and sign shark and point to it. He spins around and sees it! Give me a double thumbs up. I get told when we get back on the boat that they are almost never seen on these dives, and that I am mistaken, it must have been a nurse shark. Glenn speaks up and says, yes it was a reef shark, he thought it was 5 foot long (I think it was 4.5 feet.) Now I had a witness and everyone congratulated us on seeing the animal.
After dive activity: I rinse my gear (fins, dive skin, booties) and hang them up to dry. I wash out (as much as possible) my BCD, air it up and hope it will dry enough in 2.5 hours before 3PM. I take the regulator to the room with my mask and computer to the room for soaking/cleaning. I take a shower and get the salt out of my hair (washing it twice) and then I write up the dives in my log. I finish packing, everything is in either my carryon bag or my dive bag, except the items that are drying. I head to lunch and Natalie and I decide that after lunch we will check our gear, flip it over, whatever we can do to make it dry faster (it is out in the sunlight, in a place where there is a fairly nice breeze.) At 2:30 PM things are as dry as they are going to get before the 3PM deadline, I pack everything up into the dive bag and get it outside the door by the 3:00 PM deadline. WooHoo!!! I am not happy to be leaving, but I did make the deadline. I head to the bar and I have them to pour me a glass of wine from the bottle marked with my room number, which is now empty. The group of ladies from Rick’s divers show up, we chat and then head to dinner. After dinner, I head to the room and worry about the return flight tomorrow. I have to make the 2:15 PM flight from GCM to Miami. My flight time of 12:05 from Little Cayman to GCM should arrive in plenty of time to make that flight. I read awhile and then fall asleep.
Total dive time on this trip – 16 hours and 20 minutes in 17 dives. I notice that my air consumption has gone way down, probably due to carrying less weight and not having the hubs around to criticize every move I make in the water. I know he means well and intends to educate, but sheesh, it makes me get the jitters and I constantly worry about what he is going to lecture me on next. I resolve to discuss this issue with him when I return to New Orleans (which I did and he is now promising to not give me a dive critique every time we are done with a dive.)
Seventh Day: Saturday, 8/22/2009 – departure day. I get up at 6:30 AM, my dive bag has already gone to Grand Cayman. I go have breakfast. I ensure that my carryon is ready to go. All travel documents are now in my purse. I have until 10:30 to relax and then I need to check out and go to the Little Cayman airport. At 10:30 I go to the office to check out, and ask if the shuttle will be leaving at 10:45 or 11:00 for the 12:05 flight. I am informed that the next flight out is at 1:30 PM (and if that is true, there is NO way I am going to make by 2:15 PM connection to Miami on AA.) I show my itinerary to the desk clerk, she calls the airport with my Cayman Airways confirmation number. She tells me they tell her the flight was cancelled. We try to find out why the hotel was not informed of that fact, they tell her no one was on that flight from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman. I ask how can that be, they have no answer, other than to contact Cayman Air in Grand Cayman once I get there to get things straightened out. I call AA to find out if there is another, later flight out from GCM to Miami, there isn’t. AA tells me that Cayman Air has a flight from GCM to MIA at 5:15, and if I get that flight, I will be in plenty of time to make my connection from MIA to MSY (New Orleans.) However, I need to contact Cayman Air and tell them, since they had cancelled my flight they needed to put me on their flight to be able to make the connection. Now the fun was about to begin. We call Cayman Air (this ends up being a 1.5 hour call.) I find out that no only was my flight cancelled, but that I was a “NO SHOW” for my 3:00 pm FLIGHT ON August 15th, so they had no need to inform the hotel of the flight cancellation, since I obviously was not on Little Cayman. I ask the agent how I could be a no show when they had collected the 25.00 ticket transfer fee from me on August 15th? He puts me on hold, after 20 minutes he comes back and says that he has found the transaction and yes it was collected from me on Grand Cayman and I should not have been listed as a no show. What he says he will do for me is to put me on the 1:30 flight to GCM and then it is on me to cancel my flight with AA for the 22nd and reschedule it for the 16th and stay on GCM at my own expense. I say, no that is not how this is going to go down, they are going to either put me up for the night in GCM and contact AA to change my flights for me, since it was their error, or they could put me, again at their expense on their 5:15 PM flight to Miami. He says he needs to speak with a supervisor. 15 minutes later he returns and says, that I have to pay for all the changes, they are not going to do anything about their mistake. I say, no you messed up, you will make it right. He replies that he needs to go back to the supervisor, and I say quickly that I will talk to the supervisor, and he needs to put me on the line with them ASAP. I get the supervisor, a Ms. Berry to whom I quickly relate what has happened, and my frustration with Cayman Air and their handling of a problem that they had caused me. I tell her than an unhappy passenger with internet access can become a real pain. I give her to option to put me on the 5:15 flight from GCM to MIA. She says she needs to talk to AA, takes my frequent flyer id number and puts me on hold. After 20 minutes, she comes back on the line and tells me that she and AA are making arrangements to get me on Cayman Air’s 5:15 flight to MIA. I inform her that the last leg of my trip, from MIA to MSY leaves MIA at 11:00 PM and that I do not want that cancelled or changed in anyway. She says she will ensure that that flight is left intact. About 20 minutes later she gets back on the line with me and says everything is arranged. I am on the flight to GCM at 1:30. I am on the Cayman Air flight to MIA at 5:15, and that my last leg from MIA to MSY with AA is still the 11PM flight. She gives me numbers and names of people at GCM in case I have any issues at check-in there, who will handle getting any problems I have fixed ASAP. At this point it is 12:30 PM, and I have to leave immediately to make the flight from Little Cayman to GCM, but I am (finally) on my way back home. I don’t like losing my cool or having to be nasty to get people to fix problems they have created, but the fact that I stuck to my guns and would not take no for an answer is the reason why I managed to get home on Saturday (well, actually early Sunday morning) and be on time picking up my dog from the kennel. I guess all’s well that ends well.
I truly enjoyed the time I spent at Little Cayman Beach Resort. The food there was good and the room was very, very nice. The renovation was successful. The diving was very good and the weather held out until the last two days. This is a place that is now on the list for return trips. The people of Little Cayman were very friendly and welcoming and I truly enjoyed the week I spent there.