Charter 19-26 March 2016
Air Temp 70-85F Water Temp 27C/80F
Saturday. A classic Cayman day, sunshine and a light breeze as the crew prepared the Cayman Aggressor IV. 3pm and it was all happening 17 folks boarding for a week of fun and Diving. Peter and Brenda from the UK, Gerald and Lisa from Vancouver, Azin and Chase all the way from Florida! We were also very happy to welcome the McNeese Family. Doug McNeese the President of SSI and his lovely wife Kathy, along with their four daughters, inlaws and outlaws and the twins Reagan and Taylor…. Double Trouble! Once we were all settled and had purchased some extra Vino, we headed out to the first site of the week, Dinner and Briefing on the way.
Sunday. With yet another wintery blast heading our way from Florida and Cuba mid week, we made the most of the calm before the storm! Doc Poulson was first up, a cute wreck in 50ft of water. Lots of soft corals and critters, all divers equipment checked out and an Eagle Ray to top of the start of the week, the girls and Cody snorkeled around the boat, inspecting the wreck from above! Motoring around to the North Side, Sting Ray City. Super Fun Dive in 12ft. After some quick instruction, Doug had the girls and Cody ready to ‘dive’, everyone else got the Stingray Wrangling 101, we jumped in to a whirlwind of Rays and Snapper. An amazing interaction was had by all, Lisa got the best souvenir, Reagan was just over the moon with touching the rays, all divers had a great time, we can’t stay all day tho… its off to Rum Point for some Wall Diving! The afternoon was spent exploring the knarly wall dropping away into the never ending blue! A Turtle swam near us for 15mins, Lionfish, Lobsters, File Fish and lots of Angel Fish. The twins got to snorkel out and look over the wall, very impressed! The day was done, dinner, dessert and a few wines. Ready for another day tomorrow!
Monday. An early start as we shifted down to Hammerhead Hill. A stunning sunrise over the Mirror like flat calm water. The only ripple was our wake! Crystal clear water, we were looking at the bottom in 60ft! With all divers keen to splash we descended out off the wall. We worked our way along the wall into a nice current . A large Green Moray appeared slithering in and out of the reef hunting! He was chasing a lionfish! Awesome! A large Channel Crab, lots of Trumpet fish, a school of Creole Wrasse, as well Blue Chromis feeding in the gentle current. Turning around we all enjoyed the free ride back to the boat – yeehaa! Yummy lunch and wonderful siesta, it was time to Dive in on Babylon. On the North East of Grand Cayman this wall is spectacular. Soft corals, beautiful sea whips and sea fans waited for us. Travelling along the wall we ended up at the key feature of this site, a majestic pillar to slowly spiral around, looking at the different levels of corals making our way to the top where some beautiful yellow tube sponges gathered. With the front fast approaching we zipped around to the South Side of the Island. The Tunnel of Love. The namesake feature being a swim through that will shoot you out onto the wall at 100ft. Gerald and Jan were graced by the continuing presence of a Reef Shark, a large Black Grouper, as well as a turtle! More food and more wine as everyone relaxed for the evening.
Tuesday. A busy day on Grand Cayman today with the Tunnel of Love first on the menu. A spectacular dive, gliding down through the Tunnel, to see a large reef shark swim past the entrance! Some folks needed convincing to swim up the tunnel of ‘divorce’, daunting on the outside looking in, but a fun swim through. Back up on the reef, close encounters with two sharks and a large free swimming Moray Eel. Wow. As Doug put it.. “that was Cayman diving right there!” Another couple of dives on Kelly’s Caverns, getting lost in the shallow maze, dropping out over the wall to see the pinnacles, a nurse shark, flounders, black and white eels, and lots of reef fish before ending the day on Pedro’s Castle. Reagan and Taylor entertained us all with a Brand New story of how the dive site got it’s name and features! Thanks to Bob and Bobalina. After the tale, we jumped on in and ventured out to the undersea mountains on Pedro’s. Beautiful dive, a sleeping ray in the sand, a few lionfish hunting out in the deep, fun photos and time to explore the canyons. After making our way through a dark canyon we ascended into a sunlight bathed shallow reef, Elk Horn Corals and a rainbow of reef fish! Perfect.
Wednesday. Head back to West Bay, a quick stop in at Eagle Ray Rock, a forest of soft coral awaited on giant coral heads all along the edge of the wall, the Cayman Trench! Schools of snapper and wrasse, giant ‘trees’ of plume corals a beautiful first dive. A busy day on West Bay with 7 Cruise Ships in town! A great day to Not be in town. The Oro Verde wreck was the site before lunch, it is also the extreme underwater mountain biking capital of the world! With lots of divers having fun goofing around getting great video and photos. A Shy Grouper peered out at us from inside the Bow of the Oro Verde, Yellow Headed Jaw Fish danced in the rubble, along with the aquarium of fish life on top of the reef. A new dive site for Doug today (which doesn’t happen very often any more) the Kittiwake! Purpose sunk over 5 years ago she is a ‘Disney’ Wreck! A Massive School of Horse Eye Jacks swirled overhead as we toured in and out of the engine room, crew mess, wheel house and recompression chambers! An inquisitive Turtle came close to divers, even bumping Gerald’s camera lens! Family photo by Doug’s SSI plaque, and a goliath grouper! Steak night for dinner and a night dive back on the Oro Verde. Spectacular Octopus and night life tonight, which is perfect as this was Chase’s first ever night dive! Hot Towels, hot Chocolate and a few drinks to end the day.
Thursday. Our favourite Big Tunnels for a dawn dive. A good turnout this morning with 7 divers splashing on in as the Sun was about to rise, a very special place with deep archways, swim throughs and stunning sections of reef smothered in black coral sea fans, orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges and whip corals. A couple of turtles ambled their way through the divers, as though they were waking up with the rest of us, another green moray eel and loads of file fish! A special cake on the swim platform for Jan and her 100th Dive!! Well done! L unch time and another cake for Chase’s Birthday! We cruised up around the corner of the island to check out Tarpon Alley, unfortunately she was green so we turned about to dive Neptune’s Wall. Always a great dive, another turtle encounter, mutton snappers following us closely, cleaning stations with Banded Coral Shrimp, Orange Spotted File Fish… you name it we probably saw it on this dive. A very special place, we do not get to dive often enough was up next for the late afternoon and dusk dives. Bonnie’s Arch. 30-60ft of lush corals, colours and fish life. A breathtaking Arch, decorated in corals. When the first thing you see on a dive is a Turtle chowing down on a sponge accompanied by an Angel Fish, you know you’re in a wonderland. While the divers were in for the dusk dive, Ashley and Adam, supported by their wonderful family had a very special celebration of life as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was perfect.
Friday. Already, the week has gone by too fast! We are on the last two dives of the week. Kicking off with a two for one special, Round Rock and Trinity Caves. Brilliant topography, with numerous channels and cracks to swim down, under and around. A great place for turtles again, and always keeping an eye out for the local Eagle Rays and Moray Eels. Devil’s Grotto as always ends our week, one of the best dives of the week. A shallow maze of tunnels under the reef, schools of Tarpon, Chubbs and Snapper. Light filtering down through the ceiling in the Grotto, makes for fantastic photos! Doug took the girls in for a spin and they are hooked!
Thank you everyone for an amazing week. Congratulations to Chase, Azin, Jody, Kristy and Shannon on completing your SSI Nitrox Course! Jan for clocking her 100 Dives! We are all the richer for having met all ya’ll wonderful people! We all had a great time, guests and crew alike. Be safe out there and happy diving. We hope see you all again one day.
Till Then Safe Diving
Cayman Aggressor IV Capt and Crew