West Bay, 18 September 1996
Itís another beautiful day in the Cayman Islands. From my vantage point on Northwest
Point, I can see calm seas and blue skies all the way to George Town.
It is the rainy season though, so itís best to be prepared for frequent afternoon
showers. They can be locally heavy, but they are generally brief. Itís a typical day for
this time of year, with daytime temperatures generally in the upper 80ís and humidity
in the 80-90% range. Itís a great day to enjoy the beautiful waters surrounding Cayman,
and I can see from the number of dive boats moored between here and town, that many
folks are doing just that.
Itís relatively quiet in Cayman this time of year. The cruise ships are still away
touring the coasts of Alaska and the Mediterranean, and many people stay away because
they know that June to November is hurricane season in the Caribbean.
What they donít know (and what those of us who enjoy this peace and quiet arenít
telling them) is that Cayman lies outside the normal hurricane routes.
Those that form off the coast of Africa generally cross the Atlantic on a more or less
northwesterly course until they reach the Windward and Leeward Islands.
Most storms tend to bounce off this chain of islands, extending from just east of Cuba
all the way down to South America, and head north up the Atlantic coast of the U.S. or
northwest into the Gulf of Mexico.
Historically, about every fifty (50) years or so, a big storm will jump across the island
chain and head into the Caribbean, as Hurricane Gilbert did in 1988.
Then we batten down the hatches and ride out the storm.
I was here when the eye of Gilbert passed about 25 miles south of Grand Cayman early on
a Tuesday in mid-September. We were out diving on the Sunday before, and had we not been
reparing for the storm on Monday, could easily have gone diving then, too, the seas were
so calm on the west side of the island that day.
Although the visibility was not at its best, we were back diving
again on the Saturday after the storm, which was when there were enough tourists back on
the island to make a commercial dive trip worthwhile.
If history repeats itself, I figure weíve got another forty-two (42) years before we have to
worry about another hurricane in Cayman.
Although hurricanes sometimes form in the Caribbean, they generally do so northwest
of the Cayman Islands and continue on in a northerly direction away from Cayman.
Our prevailing winds here are easterly, but when bad weather develops to the northwest
of us, the winds shift around and we experience a Noríwester for a few days.
What that means is that our usually calm lee side of the island gets churned up,
the seas get rough on the west side, and we just move around to the south side of
the island or to East End to dive and snorkel.
Thatís one of the many things that makes the diving and snorkeling so enjoyable in Cayman.
There is superb scenery on all sides of the islands, so there is always a great place to
dive or snorkel, regardless of which way the wind blows!
Unlike other islands, where there is good diving on only one side, you will dive in
Cayman instead of spending your entire vacation sitting in the hotel bar waiting for the
weather to cooperate. You may not get to dive or snorkel the specific sites you had planned,
but it is almost impossible to get "blown out" in Cayman.
I can assure you, however, that you are likely to be "blown away" by the fantasy land
that is the beneath the waters of the Cayman Islands. Iíve been diving and snorkeling here
for almost eleven years, and I never get tired of it.
But thatís another story entirely, and Iíve prattled on long enough.
I can see the dive boats moving from the wall dive moorings to the shallow dive sites, and
that means itís time for me to get on with my modern-day pillaging and plundering
(also known as work).
Thanks for stopping by to chat with this old West Bay wench.
Stop in again anytime! Youíre always welcome in the Cayman Islands.
In addition to these essays, the wench also posts frequent short writings about her
View from West Bay.
Check out the latest post!