West Bay, 19 April 1997
The wench rediscovers the east end of Grand Cayman ...
With old friends on the island for a visit this past week, the West Bay
Wench took a day off to go diving. The winds were calm and the seas were
flat all around the island, so we took advantage of that unusual situation
to dive Cayman's East End with
In eleven years of diving in Cayman, this two-tank afternoon dive trip made
only the second and third dives on East End for this old wench. I make no
bones about it; I'm strictly a fair weather diver who likes clear, calm,
warm water to dive in. Anything else just isn't fun to me, and when you
live on an island where these are the norm, you can be very choosy about
where and when you dive. Although I have vividly remembered for years the
beauty of the one dive I had done heretofore on East End, I also remembered
the rough seas that day, and have not been anxious to repeat the
East End is generally the windward side of the island (which also accounts
for some of the amazing things to be seen there), but on occasion, it can
be the lee side of the island - particularly when a nor'wester is blowing.
And on other occasions (like this past Thursday), there is no wind, and the
seas are calm on all sides of the island.
At any rate, Mo, Steve, and Steve (the guys at Ocean Frontiers) welcomed us
to their end of the island and took us aboard their custom-built aluminum
She's a roomy vessel, perfectly laid out for
diving, and by the time one Steve had shown us around and handed out
weights, the other Steve had her fired up and headed for the cut in the
reef and the flat open sea beyond.
In no time at all, we arrived at our first stop, a dive site called Pat's
Wall. The Steves illustrated the site for us on a dry erase board, and we
were off! Ocean Frontiers allows customers to opt for either a guided or
unguided dive, so the three of us took off with our computers on our own.
Half way down the mooring line, someone began banging on his tank and
giving the shark sign, but I must confess that I missed that one.
With the barrel sponges and the parrotfish spawning, the visibility was
considerably less than the normal 100+ feet, but it was certainly good
enough for me to see the large hawksbill turtle just over the edge of the
wall beyond the mooring. He (or she) seemed totally unconcerned about the
group, and those with cameras snapped away. It was then that the second
gray reef shark appeared out of the blue and cruised up the cut below us.
It was hard to decide which creature to watch!
After cruising down the wall for 20 minutes of so, admiring the geography
and taking in the abundant black coral, a big barracuda, a spotted drum,
and loads of other fish, we headed back toward the mooring line and spotted
two more sharks! This pair looked like mom and baby, so we watched them
awhile as we ascended to our safety stop. In thirty-one minutes, I had
just seen three reef sharks after having completed over 300 dives in Cayman
without ever seeing one!
While we rinsed off in the fresh water shower and took advantage of the dry
towels, fruit, water, and lemonade supplied by Ocean Frontiers, Steve fired
up the Nauti-Cat's engines and headed for the second dive site. By the
time we arrived at Snapper Hole, we had plenty of surface interval and were
ready for the next adventure.
We spent the better part of an hour exploring the maze of tunnels, caverns,
and canyons in a mini-wall that make up Snapper Hole. As you might expect
from the name, there were plenty of snappers: gray, yellowtail,
schoolmaster, lane, and mahogany. There were loads of grunts, sergeant
majors, damsels, and others, too. But the real stars of the show were the
tarpon - dozens upon dozens of them just hanging around and gliding in and
out of the labyrinth with their shiny silver scales flashing in the dimness
of the caverns. Incredible! The only fast-moving creature was the 7-foot
green moray eel that passed us in the opposite direction as we moved
through yet another passageway.
What a way to spend an afternoon! You can bet that the next time I have
the opportunity to go diving, I'll be heading back out to East End!
See you soon, guys!
[For more information about Ocean Frontiers,
check out their page
or send e-mail to
You might also want to check out the
reported by Ocean Frontiers earlier this month.]
In addition to these essays, the wench also posts infrequent short writings about her
View from West Bay.
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