West Bay, 23 June 1997
The wench returns ... and dives Little Cayman ...
Hello, there! Sorry to be out of touch for so long, but this old wench
had a few chores to attend to that required a couple of weeks of traveling off
this rock that we call home. The good news is that I managed to squeeze in
a two-tank dive with Reef Divers in Little Cayman! I was hoping you'd stop
by today, so I could tell you about it.
I've really got to hand it to the folks at Reef Divers at the Little
Cayman Beach Resort. They certainly know how to run a first class dive
operation: great boats, personable and capable staff, a terrific set-up,
and just the right mix of freedom and safety. I don't know how they could
make it any better for the customer.
My dive buddy and I were assigned to "Cayman Sister," one of the two
Newton dive boats that are operated by Reef Divers. (They also have a
Pro 42 jet boat, and their sister operation on the Brac at the Brac Reef
Beach Resort has the same complement of boats.) Since we were the only two
on board who were not staying at the resort, we were the only two lugging our
equipment aboard and setting it up. Everyone else had their gear picked up
outside their rooms on the first day and stored in the resort's airy dive
locker for the remainder of their stay. The crew is responsible for
collecting the gear for their passengers and setting it up onboard for each
dive. Talk about easy diving!
Since we were the only two "newbies" in the group, Capt. Coco gave us our
own private Reef Divers briefing before the rest of the guests came aboard.
There was a marine head, ice water, a cooler full of snacks, and a dry
place to store what you didn't want to get wet on board, as well as plenty
of room to move around on both the upper and main decks of the spacious
Capt. Coco explained that divers with fins and mask in hand, take a seat
on one of the two seats on the stern dive platform. The crew brings your
tank and BC, helps you into it, and all you do is put on mask and fins,
stand up, and take a giant stride into the blue! It just doesn't get any
easier than that, and for this old wench, the easier they make it, the
better I like it.
When you return to the boat after your dive, you simply hand up your fins,
climb up one of the two ladders, and sit back down on the seat. The crew
removes your BC and regulator right there and sets a tank up for your next
dive. A convenient fresh water shower is available to rinse off the salt,
and then you're ready to relax until the next dive.
And speaking of diving, let me tell you about diving in Little Cayman!
Most of the resorts are on the *south side of the island, which is pretty
much surrounded by a barrier reef. The boats zip out one of the channels
in the reef and usually head for the *north side of the island, depending on
current weather conditions. Although it was a little rough on the *south
side, Capt Coco and the broad, heavy Newton gave us a fairly smooth ride
around to the *north side. There the seas were flat calm, and we hooked up
to the Eagle Ray Round-Up mooring, after rejecting another because of
Capt. Coco gave us a look at the site by drawing it on the boat's dry
erase board, describing it to us, and telling us what special features to
look for. The profile for divers with computers was a maximum of 110' for
45 minutes, and we were offered the option of a guided dive by one of the
divemasters or an unguided dive with our buddies. Then we were off!
My buddy and I spent a fascinating 3/4 of an hour exploring the wall on
our own. The water temperature was 80 degrees and the visibility was about
100 feet. I encountered a Nassau grouper, who had obviously just finished
breakfast. He still had antenna sticking out of his mouth! And he came
close enough to touch. Then it was over the top of the wall and down the
side of that vast underwater mountain. I never tire of the beautiful and
varied collection of fish, corals, and sponges that make up the walls in
Cayman or of watching the walls tumble down, down, down, until they
disappear in the blue.
After soaking up some sun during the surface interval and exchanging
sighting with our fellow divers, we moved down a couple of moorings to
Mixing Bowl, where the dive briefing procedure was repeated. We computer
divers were turned loose for 50 minutes, with a maximum depth of 60 feet.
As you know, shallow dives are generally not my favorites, but shallow
dives in Little Cayman are the exception, because they are still wall
dives! In fact, as my buddy and I moved down the wall past where the
Little Cayman Diver was moored, the top of the wall seemed so close to the
bottom of the boat, I would have been hesitant to swim under it! Now this
is my idea of what a shallow dive should be.
Although my buddy and I generally did our own thing, we kept Coco in
sight, because she had promised to show us a couple of things, and she
delivered! The best of them was my first Cayman seahorse, and Coco knew
right where to find it. What a treat! I could have spent the rest of the
day just watching that little seahorse move from branch to branch on the
soft coral that was its current hang-out. And he was so well camouflaged
that I couldn't even find him again when we swam back down the wall on our
It was fun to hear the litany of "finds" from the other divers as we
headed back to the resort: a turtle, a pair of very friendly grouper (Ben
and Jerry), moray eels, spotted cleaner shrimp, decorator crabs, arrow
crabs, lobster, and on and on. In short, everybody, including this old
wench, thoroughly enjoyed those two dives, and a large portion of the
reason was Capt. Coco and her crew. I hope to get back to Little Cayman
again soon, and if I do, you can be sure I'll want to be on Capt. Coco's
I hope I'll see you there...
In addition to these essays, the wench also posts infrequent short writings about her
View from West Bay.
Check out her latest post!