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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
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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 boat.

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 current.

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 return trip.

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 boat!

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!

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Last update: 3 July 1997
Copyright © 1997 Don Backstrom


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