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Capts Report, Charter date 24 Sept – 4 Oct 2016 – 10 Day Charter.
Air Temp 86F, Water Temp 85F/31C
Exposure Protection Shorts and Rash Guard!
Capt Kiwi with Alan, Kingsley, Rodel, Aubri and Ty
Divers: Riley & John, Sharon, Sonya & Joe, Sharon, Libbey & Brian, Gary & Joy, Kay, Jim, Tammy, Lore, Alan, David, Mollie & Hugh
Saturday. Another day in Cayman Paradise as our guests arrived from the airport or from hotels on Island. All 18 divers were on board, unpacked and settled in nice and early. A couple of familiar faces this week with Sonya, Joe, Sharon and Jim, welcome back, great to see returnees. A welcome drink as we pulled off the dock and headed over to West Bay - Dinner and drinks on the way and a great night’s sleep… dreaming of wall diving in the morning, and the next day, and the next… for the whole 10 day charter!
Sunday. Ready to dive! Waking up to a hearty breakfast, coffee, stunning sunrise and the wreck of the USS Kittiwake right under our stern. A large submarine support vessel sunk in only 50ft of water, right next the reef and the old Caribbean Club Sand Chutes dive site, being the first dive of the week all divers were keen to explore! An Eagle Ray as we first splashed! John and Riley went from Bow to Stern, all the way inside down to the shaft and also the recompression chambers. Super fun dive. Back on board for a jaunt over to the North Side and Sting Ray City! Perfect conditions and lots of friendly Southern Sting Rays swirling around us in 12ft of water. This truly is a fantastic experience to be up close and personal on the Stingray’s terms! We think Brian preferred playing with the small Yellow Tailed Snappers. Cameras ready for the next iconic Cayman Dive on the Dramatic North Wall – Babylon. Famous for the Pinnacle and the Black Corals that live here, not to mention the rivers of Chromis and Wrasse, Eels, Lobsters and Giant Snapper lurking under the boat. Happy Hour already, as we secure the dive deck and get underway to Little Cayman!
Monday. Woke up this morning to a wonderful sunrise on Bloody Bay Wall, North Side of Little Cayman. Our first location here is Randy’s Gazebo – Here to welcome us in we have chimneys, overhangs, the Gazebo buzzing with life, amazing friendly groupers, laid back turtles, lobsters, giant crabs and little critters everywhere, if you take the time to stop and smell the roses! The afternoon was spent exploring Meadows and keeping one eye out for the Caribbean Reef Shark on the wall. Cosmo the large Grouper was there to escort us all over the site, Green Moray Eels, Drum Fish, , and plenty of macro life right under the boat! The 9 brave divers who avoided a wine with Chef Kingsley’s delicious Fish Steak and Gnocchi dinner had a great night dive. Lots of Blood Worms being fed to the corals, basket stars, lobsters and of course Octopus!
Tuesday. After a great night’s sleep divers were ready yet again for another full day of Scuba Diving. First on our itinerary is a less frequented but equally stunning site called Joy’s Joy- a dramatic stair step wall smattered with chimneys and swim throughs. While we may not know the groupers here by first name they still treated us all like close friends and hung around divers throughout the whole dive. Also spotted were turtles and a green moray hanging out right by an impressive patch of pillar coral. After diving into a buffet of sub sandwiches and indulging in an afternoon siesta we set our sights for the iconic 3 Fathom Wall/Mixing Bowl. When we think of Little Cayman Diving this site is it with its bright colors and massive schools of fish. Divers were even treated to a show of spawning Octopus Sponges, a rare event that divers would not soon forget. Our guests enjoyed a Sunset Dinner Cruise over to Cayman Brac. Ready to Night Dive on the 356 Capt. Keith Tibbets Russian Koni Class Frigate! The wreck is always a favorite night dive for its eerie green and yellow sponges that look to be dripping down the wreckage and abundance in creatures which included Octopus of course, Neck Crabs, Stingrays hunting out in the sand, large Red Shrimp walking about, beautiful tube dwelling anemonies and a large Venus Girdle dancing in the light at the back of the boat! Hot Towels and Hot Chocolate on the deck. Mmm mmm.
Wednesday. Yet another incredible sunrise over the Bluffs on Cayman Brac, impressive towering clouds with sun gleaming through. Breakfast and now we were ready to explore this 20yr old wreck in the Daylight. This 330 ft long ship was sank in 96 and has a lot of growth, she is smothered in sponge life, scattered corals, and tunicates. Beautiful colours transforming this naval vessel into a haven of life. We met one of the resident turtles who sleep in the wreck, as the hawksbill turtle cruised up the side of the wreck and disappeared off into the blue. Our divers modeled gracefully on the stern gun, getting that perfect diver and gun photo!! After a morning cruise back to Little Cayman we stopped at Great Wall to dive with Freddy, our oldest and most loyal Grouper. The wall here is covered in life, and is a vertical drop into the abyss – a true wall! The top of the wall and reef is an aquarium with cleaning stations, nurse sharks snoozing, filefish feeding, 5 lobsters in the same hole. WOW. Next up was Bus Stop which has it all, Sharks, swim through’s, groupers, turtles, nudibranchs, sail fin blennies and the elusive Jaw Fish with Eggs spotted by our eagle eye dive guide Aubrey. With Hurricane Matthew lurking elsewhere in the Caribbean, our winds changing, unfortunately we had to make the trek too soon back to Grand Cayman. So dinner and a few wines along the way.
Thursday. Back in Grand Cayman and eager to see what critters are waiting for us at Neptune’s Wall! Divers explored the ins and outs of swim throughs, encrusted in black corals and elephant ear sponges, then made their way up to the fingering corals on top of the wall. Along the way we were joined by an Eel, Turtles, and the resident Lion Fish. Everyone loved the swim throughs so much that we decided to head over to Devil’s Grotto for some of the best that Grand Cayman has to offer. After visiting the Tarpon and successfully navigating through the labyrinth of the grotto, divers explored some of the concrete sculptures on the neighboring dive sites. Our final dive of the day would be a dusk dive on the USS Kittiwake which divers had familiarized themselves with on the first dive of the week. Turtles were out and about looking for a place to lay their heads for the evening and as day turned to night on this impressive wreck, massive schools of silversides started to spill out of the wreck and hunt in the night. Needless to say it was a great day on Grand Cayman followed by a delicious dinner accompanied with some wine for our weary divers.
Friday. Starting early with a trek down to the SW corner of the island, and a crew favourite, Eagle Ray Rock. This gem is not dived a lot by day boats, as it is too far to travel. So we are spoilt with a healthy forest of soft corals, giant ‘trees’ of plume corals, a great mix of hard corals and an artists palate of colour. It seems we were in on the Turtle Highway this morning as a few turtles came towards us along the edge of the wall.. all heading in the same direction! A few stingrays hunting, schools of mahogany snapper and grunts, a swim through full of glassy eyed sweepers! For the afternoon and night dives we tied up to the wreck of the Oro Verde. A great story and a wreck of a wreck, settled in an Aquarium of a reef system along 7 Mile Beach. Upon entry there was a large turtle, picking on a smaller turtle “get out of my turf”, the little guy headed off and the large turtle took one sniff at the sponge the other was eating and ‘turned his nose up at it’. We followed the large turtle towards the reef to meet and greet with the Resident Nassau Grouper who was intent on hunting a Lionfish tucked inside the wreckage! Yellow Headed Jaw Fish, another tiny Turtle busy feeding, so we got really close and snapped some photos, a good sized nurse shark patrolled all around us for a good 15mins, it was just encounter after encounter – the kind of dive you just don’t want to end. The band of fearless night divers were rewarded with the largest Parrotfish ever seen! Lobsters, Crabs, an Eel but the Octopus seemed elusive tonight. Never the less we all had a great day, happy hour and a snack of left over cheese cake.
Saturday. October already! We kicked off our October with a couple of early dives on Round Rock/Trinity Caves. A great tour of canyons, swim throughs, pinnacles and tunnels. We were delighted with numerous Spotted lobsters peering out of the honeycomb walls, a large barrel sponge had a huge Rock Lobster nestled inside and a large Turtle was happily feeding on a sponge right under the boat, with an entourage of Angel Fish for company! The afternoon and dusk dives were on Angel Fish Reef, yes we did actually see Angel Fish – Thank you John! This shallow finger formation system is a haven for life. We had Nurse Sharks, turtles, yellow headed jaw fish, a lobster eating a lionfish! And another lobster along with Muttons Snappers trying to steal it away! Fire worms and as the sun went down, the Nudibranchs came out!
Sunday. Our last full day of diving and conditions are improving as Hurricane Matthew stalls down South. The wreck of the Doc Poulson and Marty’s Wall is our first stop of the day. Fantastic formations and wall structures dropping out into the blue. Right under the boat we had stingrays feeding, schooling jacks around a soft coral encrusted wreck, the Doc Poulson. Marco life central! With the current dropping off we headed down to Bonnies Arch – a very special dive site here in Grand Cayman. This place was just humming. Hugh and Mollie didn’t even leave the Arch for the two dives here. It is mesmerizing with colour, life, this arch way is just so photogenic – always a favourite. Soft corals, trunkfish, groupers, huge Trumpet Fish, schools of vivid yellow grunts and snapper, yellow rays a turtle.. it was all here! Our final big dinner, slide show and Ty’s Video before jumping in for a night dive. Those who splashed were rewarded with Eels, Crabs, Lobsters, Nudi Branchs, Pufferfish, an Octopus and a Nurse Shark Snooping around!
Monday. We spent our last morning on Lost Treasure, swimming down to a 16th century anchor, a turtle encounter and Tammy found some Spotted Goat Fish! Little wind and crystal clear cayman water. Has it really been ten days!? We have been to all three islands this trip, seen, witnessed and encountered many creatures, spawning sponges, nurse shark tangos, turtle tangles, stingray wrangling… we have had a great week of Cayman Diving. Even with a hurricane lurking out there!
Thanks to everyone this week for keeping it safe and fun. Some folks learnt this week that it is much more efficient to dive with fins and masks and even having air turned on or even attached! Kingsley fed us all like Kings and all the Crew made it happen this charter.
Thanks again to all, hope to see you again to Eat, Sleep and Dive.
Safe Travels and safe diving.
Cayman Aggressor Capt and Crew