Cayman Brac October 27- November 3, 2008 (before Hurricane Paloma) Back to the Reef Resort to burn another week of vacation time. The resort had sustained some damage back in August with Hurricane Gustav. However, during this visit what was left of the dock was enough for the dive operation to use. The double-deck dock that had the swings and the hammocks was still being torn down. Also, the new Tipsy Turtle bar was open for business. It is big and roomy but has not yet developed any character. A new dining room is under construction, yet they keep the construction site walled off so there is little disruption of the peace and quiet.
Enough about that stuff. Most people go for the diving. There were no weather related dive cancellations on this trip although the weather was rough with some heavy seas most days. It was disappointing that my Nitrox Instructor, Chloe, had moved on to other opportunities, but a pleasure to meet Jen, a new and enthusiastic addition to the dive staff at Reef Divers. I started the dive week on Oct. 28. As usual I made this trip alone so was on the boat buddy-less. The first day diving I teamed up with Uzzi from Tel Aviv (Yes, Uzzi, like the famous firearm). We would dive together the rest of the week for the morning dives and Uzzi would help introduce me to actual hand written Hebrew like most people use today. The first dives of my first dive day were at Tarpon Reef and Crab Alley. Visibility was not so good and we somehow missed the tarpon. Later in the week we returned to Tarpon Reef, which worked out well since we did not see any Tarpon on the 28th. I was determined to make sure Uzzi went home with pictures of Hadageem Gadoleem. The second time around we found plenty.
I was using Nitrox on most dives this trip but was diving with a bad head cold. Did not run into problems equalizing as I was expecting but after every dive went through several paper towels dealing with “drainage”. Most morning dives the boat had about 16-18 divers. At some places I would say, “MOOO, or Moooove to another dive-op”, but the Reef Divers Boats were well run, and when there were this many divers there were two Dive masters plus the boat captain. Plus, with valet diving service, divers are not waddling around the deck with all their gear. I had lost 10 pounds of body fat so that I would not have to put as much weight in my BC. Suzie, the DM that had been injured on my last trip when a rogue wave hit the boat, was the only one to notice that my BC was much lighter this time. That week there were some limits on the dive sites we could get to. Even as the boat captain tried to keep us on the calmest water, there was widespread nausea on board. The Capt. Tibbets wreck would be out of reach this trip.
Afternoon dives were not as crowded. Indeed toward the end of my dive week I would be the ONLY afternoon diver. Most dive operations would probably have concocted a reason to cancel. However, I am impressed with the fact the boat left on schedule even if I was the only guest on board. That is what we call integrity, something that seems to be lacking these days. Those afternoon dives were some of the best I have ever experienced. With fewer divers stirring up the water, I think the marine life was less inclined to leave. On the afternoon dive on November 1st, Dive master Barb and I would take advantage of fewer divers and do a drift dive that lasted a good 61 minutes. I came up with over 1000 lbs. of air left. We probably could have stayed longer, but we felt so bad about leaving Tim, the boat captain, alone on board:) Finally, the adventure ended with the last dive on November 11th.
Then, it was time to rinse off the gear and try to get it dry for departure the next day. I recruited a new buddy to watch over Uzzi since he had a few days left to dive. Flying back on the 3rd of November, I met up with one of the part-time residents of the Brac, and we used the time during the long lay-over on Grand Cayman to get lunch in George Town. All the times I had been to or through Grand Cayman, I had never seen the biggest town on the island. Sadly, I have received word that the latest Hurricane that hit after I left has done serious damage to the Reef Resort on Cayman Brac and it is now closed until further notice.