Trip Report Cayman Brac 8/16-23/ 2008
It had been two years since my last trip to Brac Reef Resort and diving with Reef Divers. This time I was making the trip with a new Dive Computer, New BC and a Octo that supposedly has been serviced. I was also making this trip without a camera, never had replaced since I dropped my Reefmaster on the deck in Cozumel. On the day of arrival I met 2 couples from Maine, Simon-Peter and Sheila with their Grand-daughter Hanna, and Bill and Charlene, and we ate together most days, but had been assigned to differerent boats. They were a wealth of information and advice on everything from places to dive, where to buy stuff, what to do when ears don’t equalize and even proper Hebrew pronounciations. ??? ?? ???? ?????
First day of diving, Sunday, 8/17 was called off because of concerns over Tropical Storm Fay. I did a shore dive in front of the resort only to discover that I was sucking water through the regulator. The diaphragm had not been seated properly during the unit’s “servicing”. A special thanks to Tim (aka. Mr. Fix-it) at the Brac Resort dive shop for correcting the problem and showing me how to Take care of it myself in the future.
out aboard Ocean Sister, in heavy seas, yet once we got around to the southern end we found calm water. My new BC (Sherwood Avid) performed well and I will be writing a good review of it later. But I sure do miss the old Seaquest I have been using the last ten years, it was well broken in since I had bought it used, but eventually it just broke. Do not miss the camera though. I think I make better use of my air without it. Plus, without it, I don’t have some “helpful” dive buddy banging on their tank to show me something that I already have a dozen pictures of.
Sadly, on the way back into the resort’s lagoon Ocean Sister was overcome by a rogue wave, that threw our petit dive master Susie out of her seat , across the deck and wedged her under a bench. Almost immediately, this tough British girl got up and went about her duties to land the boat, but it was clear she was hurt. Later she was taken for medial attention and did not dive with us the rest of the week. Afternoon diving was cancelled.
, our first dive of the morning was the Capt. Tibetts wreck, which is still in good enough shape to swim through with enough holes and openings that I don’t think you could call it a wreck penetration dive. Yes, there is lots of growth to see but also an eerie fascination about seeing such a massive man-made machine wasting away under the sea.
Tuesday was also the night for one of the regularly scheduled night dives at Reef Divers. Though I personally did not see many of the creatures you might see on a night dive, I did have fun with the swarms of blood worms that were attracted to my light and started feeding them to the coral. I also took time to enjoy a sparkle show of Bio-luminescence once I could convince my buddy to shut off the lights for a moment.
, a long boat ride over to Little Cayman to dive Bloody Bay Wall. Great Wall West proved to be a dramatic wall dive, but I was beginning to notice something. My first Ocean dives over on East End of Cayman ten years ago, the color was much more brilliant, or my eyesight is going bad. Other older divers confirmed that what I was noticing was the infamous coral bleaching. Everything seems grayer, missing are the brilliant colors that I remember and have pictures of from 10 years past. Of coarse explanations differ, between bleaching and increased algae growth caused by higher water temps.
Wednesday evening, I completed the Nitrox class I had signed up for. The instructor, Chloe, was also the dive master the rest of the week after Susie had been injured. She made sure I could read the Nitrox tables blindfolded and I did not disappoint her by scoring 100% on the written exam.
- Did my first dives ever on Nitro (Eanx32). My new computer was Nitrox ready, but I was not ready for my new computer. A safety feature on the Cressi is that after a Nitrox dive, it will set itself to 99% O2 after 10 minutes on the surface. Supposedly this forces you to re-check and confirm your Nitrox mix. Well guess what happened 20 seconds into the next dive. An audible O2 exposure alarm and I am locked out of making any adjustments. I won’t tell you how I handled it, but it did not ruin the dive.
I did my final two dives this trip on Nitrox. Then it was time to rise, dry and pack for a Saturday departure.
Overall, the Dive-op at Reef Divers on Cayman Brac appears to be well run. I also should acknowledge boat Captains Ian and Mick that took us out in conditions that I would not take my own boat into. The thoughtful staff makes an effort to learn divers names and address them by name. On the boat it is “valet” service. To make entry, you sit down and they bring the gear, you attach it and stand up and make your giant stride. This is far safer than having a dozen divers waddling across the deck wearing tanks and fins then standing in line on a pitching deck for their turn to jump in. My experience at the shop was also excellent. The problem I ran into with my 2nd stage was taken care of at no charge. Other places I have been the guest would have been screwed.
There is good coordination between the Dive-op and the Restaurant, even adjusting hours for night dive days. The accommodations are spacious rooms with divers in mind. There are plenty of places to hang wet stuff. Food ranged between excellent and super-excellent, but I tend to be easy to please in this regard. The bar, pricey compared to Cozumel, but generous and not watered down. The sad thing I learned is that many of the staff, no matter how much they enjoy it, have a limited 7 year tenure thanks to Caymanian regulations on foreign workers.
Finally, As usual, I went without a group and without a buddy, which only opens up opportunities to make new friends and meet new people on a dive trip. And once again I met up with folks that I will probably keep in touch with for years to come.