Monday, May 29, 2006

Grand Cayman - Part 5

During the next few days Sean took his SCUBA classes and pool lessons at Tortuga Divers on the East End of Grand Cayman and I read all three books I brought with me plus a few in the bungalow we stayed in at Cayman Kai. Finally the storm had passed enough that it was okay to go out in the water on the leeward side of the island. We had stayed on the windward side. So, off we drove to Sunset House for Sean’s first open water dive with his instructor, Julie. Sunset House was just 2 miles south of Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman on the southwest side of the island.

There was still a stiff breeze driving the waves into white caps on the windward side of the island, but the leeward side was visibly much calmer. This was to be a shore dive. The pier at Sunset House is rock and concrete with a ladder that leads into 80 feet (24.4 meters) of water. Julia helped Sean into his equipment at the pier while she explained the dive. Their plan was to swim down and out to the red buoy and then come back. She explained to me that the red buoy was the cruise boat channel and therefore not safe for snorkeling.

You can actually see the buoys in this photo, but they are really far away.

I snapped pictures of Sean and Julia stepping off the pier and into the water. They swam out a bit and dove out of sight. I was ready to go. I put my fins on, held onto my mask, and followed them in by taking that big step off the pier. Off I went. Right away a school of sergeant major fish swam up to me checking me out. I think they wanted a handout. But alas, I hadn’t brought them anything. Many divers will bring squirting cheese in a can, but I didn’t. They figured that out pretty quickly and swam away.

I searched in vain for sight of Sean or Julia by swimming in the general direction of the buoys. I could see straight down to the bottom. Suddenly, I got this weird fear of falling feeling. Here I was miraculously suspended in this invisible substance, some 80 feet in the air. How was that possible? I regained my bearings quickly and moved on. I noticed that on the bottom, there were bands of white sandy shoals broken by bands of coral. I could see huge fish on the bottom, but they were to far away to identify. I could also look outwards and see that the water was filled with fish in all directions. It really was a living sea.

I lifted my head out of the water and noticed that I had drifted into the cruise ship channel. Shit! There really was quite a current here. So I started swimming like hell to get out of the channel. I saw a dive boat coming and flipped a hot pink fin out of the water so that they would see me as I swam away. I looked back at the pier and Sean and Julia were already out. When I got to the ladder, I took my fins off and handed them up to Sean while he regaled me with stories of what they had seen. They had seen tube coral

A gray angel fish

A sea turtle

A Nassau grouper

The mermaid.

We had a beer with Julie by the dock. Our next shore dive was tomorrow morning from Coconut Harbour's beach. Stay tuned…


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