Three years ago, I did my first dive on the USS Kittiwake.  That blog post from 2014 can be found here.  (http://micho.org/cayblog/?p=2678) A quick recall – the Kittiwake is a former US Warship that was decommissioned in the 1990’s and purchased by the Cayman Islands in order to make an artificial reef for diving.

So after 3-years and I am now equipped with a GoPro underwater camera, the level of photography will be much enhanced!

Since my last dive at the Kittiwake, there have been a few changes.  Changes that have been caused by the weather.  The first change is that the boat shifted closer to the reef formations.  Still a good distance away, a storm a year ago or so moved the boat a number of feet westward. The other change is that the “wheelhouse” aka where they steer the boat, is no longer present. A storm this winter which had some big currents ripped the roof of the wheelhouse apart.  Oh well – nature slowly taking back its place I guess.

From the surface, the Kittiwake does not look like much – but we can already see that its a big ship.  It sits in only 50ft or so of water.

Almost immediately, we can see the large school of Horse-Eye Jacks.  These fish “adopted” the Kittiwake almost as soon as the ship was sunk in 2011.  They are a very large group now.

In this video you can get a good feel for how graceful these fish are and how many there are swimming around.

Here is the newly “open air” wheelhouse. 🙂

Now we go inside the ship.  Here one of my fellow divers enters … following the dive instructor who clearly knows where he is going.  In any case, there are many cut-outs and a fair amount of light that gets inside.  Someone with claustrophobia would probably not enjoy, but everyone else will 🙂

Here is the video of most of the inside visit.  Near the end when I look up, that is the former smokestack – very cool!

Since the Kittiwake has been sunk for almost 6 years now, nature has certainly been adapting and taking back its place.  Here are a few shots of formations around the ship.  First is … well I don’t know what this is! 🙂  Some kind of coral tubes – the longest one was around 2ft long and very pretty.

Some more kind of coral.  A lovely shade of blue with a yellow base of some sort.  As you can see, I don’t really know what I am looking at, a part from the fact that this pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In every small area, life has moved in – coral, sea urchins, small & large fish, etc.  When you take the time to look around at the small stuff here, there is so much to see.

I’m very pleased with my second Kittiwake dive. Its also a great wreck dive for novice divers who want to do something a bit more exciting.  The dive instructors will give you a guided tour both inside and out.  definitely a lot of fun and a must-see for anyone diving in Grand Cayman.

A few weeks ago was the annual “Cayman Alternative Investment Summit” – CAIS – where finance folks from around the world gather in Cayman.  This year the venue was at the new Kimpton Hotel.  Very nice.

As always, the event had an impressive lineup of speakers.

First up, we had the Kelly brothers. The Kelly brothers are very impressive individuals. Scott Kelly recently spent 340 days (almost a year …) on the ISS space station.  He holds the record of 382 days total in space.

Mark Kelly was the commander on a number of space shuttle missions including the final shuttle mission in 2011.  He is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gaby Giffords.

Their talk was very good and inspirational. Here they are on stage.  Note they are identical twins!

After the session I was able to get a selfie with them 🙂

Next up, we had a keynote by Arnold Schwarzenegger!  Very cool.

Unfortunately as is often the case in high profile talks, no photo or video allowed a part from official photographers.

Here is on of those official pics.

His talk was VERY good. He gave his 6 rules for success which everyone nodded in agreement.  They are:

  1. Trust Yourself
  2. Break some rules
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail
  4. Ignore the naysayers
  5. Work like hell
  6. Give something back

Next up was one of the presentations I was most looking forward to.  If you have watched the Netflix series “Narcos”, you will understand. (If you have not seen Narcos, I recommend it)  Narcos is essentially the story of how Pablo Escobar, the notorious colombian druglord was taken down.  The two US DEA agents, Javier Pena and Steve Murphy portrayed in Narcos were at the conference – not the actors of course, the real guys.

Here they are giving their talk.  Lots of awesome “war stories” and references to stuff we saw in Narcos where they were consultants to make sure the story was a realistic as possible.

Their slide show was really interesting, showing us for example how cocaine was smuggled and some of Pablo Escobar’s homes.

Managed to get a selfie with these guys also 🙂

Few last things!  Below I am holding a pure gold bar.  It was 28lbs and surprisingly heavy since its not all that big.  Current market value : Half-Million US dollars!

In the evening after the conference was the Legends tennis tournament. I am not a huge tennis fan, but it was still nice and good place to chit chat.  Here is someone most people, even if not a tennis fan will know : John McEnroe.  The famous tennis player who is most known for arguing with the Umpire and disputing calls.

Whew! Lots of action in those two days. 🙂  There were of course finance/business related talks, but i’ll stick to the more exciting stuff for everyone’s benefit.

A little while ago, the ocean in George Town was probably the calmest I had ever seen it.  When its that calm, you can take snorkeling a bit farther out to sea especially with the lack of currents we have in the area.

So it was a return to Eden Rock ; a local favorite. As you can see by the first pic below; crystal clear visibility and almost no wave action – Cayman snorkeling at its finest.

This being Eden Rock, the swim out to the coral formations is a few hundred feet out from shore.  Here is a shot back towards where we left off and some of the George Town office buildings where a few of my clients have a stellar view from their desks.

Many grotto’s and caves at Eden Rock, which is why this is also a popular spot for divers.

Some nice “brain coral”.  Obvious name for these formations!

A selfie shows you how clear the water is.  The sun was really strong so to avoid a sunburn on my back, wore a surf shirt for this outing ; was a smart move.

Plenty of anemones around here.  Very pretty!

Here is a cool video I took of one of my favorite things to see when snorkeling: a school a blue tangs.  Something about these guys just puts a massive smile on my face.  Anyway, I hope you will enjoy this short video of them.  They were in +15ft of water and at one point I dove down to get closer.

This is what is looks like from the sky. Note the Eden Rock diving center at the bottom.  You have to swim out to those dark formations. A few hundred feet, but well worth the effort.

If ever in Cayman and the ocean is calm, this is a great place to snorkel.  Since its a bit of a swim, i’d advise novice snorkelers to wear a life vest (you can rent one on-site) Also, never go out there alone – its far away from help if you get into trouble!

Most people think that there is only one Stingray City, the place where you can see and touch stingrays in about 3ft of water in the North Sound.  Well, you would be wrong! There are in fact two Stingray City’s.

The second one is also in the North Sound, maybe 1km (my estimate) from the one most people know and and many have visited. This second one is in 12ft of water, so is a dive and it is known as the “best 12ft dive in the world”!

The theme and story is the same ; many years ago, fishermen would clean their fish and stingrays congregated for a free meal. This one is in a bit deeper water just behind the reef.

So here we are – just one other boat which left not long after we arrived.  On our boat we were only 6 divers, so had the place literally all to ourselves.

Lets start off with an underwater selfie! 🙂 The water temperature was a “nice” 80 degrees. Some folks wore wetsuits, but this Canadian just went with bathing suit and t-shirt!

So here we are with the Stingrays.  Just like at the other Stingray City; all very mild and willing to be touched. Here is one coming to check me out. And of course is rewarded with some petting ; i’ll assume she liked it
I know this one is a female since the males are small (size of a small 10-12 inch pizza) – only the females grow to be large. 

 

Here my work colleague Alvin is spending some time with a lovely specimen and just like me filming and taking pictures.

Quite a few other fish are around for the fun.  The Dive Master is the only one allowed to feed them. They are not allowed to give them too much food – makes sense I guess.

There is not a whole lot to see around this sandy patch, but there were a few lovely coral heads to see.

Near the end of the dive I spotted this rather large lobster.  No lobster catching allowed while diving.

With my awesome underwater camera (a GoPro) I also shot a few nice video’s.  If you feel like seeing more of this experience, I have posted a few below. The first two are the experience with the Stingrays.

This one is an encounter with a rather large Moray eel!  Not super friendly, but always impressive to see.

This one is also the Moray eel – it did not like one of the other divers and went after him.  Thankfully it retreated before getting to him.  I sure got spooked as you will see.  After the incident you can hear me laughing underwater 🙂

And finally some of the surrounding scenery and the reef formations. Very pretty, colorful and full of fish.

I hope you enjoyed this post about diving in Cayman.  The experience was quite awesome and in very shallow water, so is accessible to even the most novice divers.

As is the tradition, in early December many people bring out the Christmas lights, many Christmas lights!

In recent years, some of the “Roundabouts” have really stepped up their game.  The roundabouts in Cayman are mostly sponsored. We have the “Butterfield Roundabout”, “Cayman National Roundabout”, “Island Heritage Roundabout” and the list goes on. As you can see, its a corporate thing.

There is also the house in South Sound that always puts on an impressive show as you can see in the 3 pictures below.  By far the most lights at a residence on the island although the Creighton property towards the east also outs on a good show.

Here are two of the Roundabouts I was talking about.

Another new addition are the “falling snow” or stars lights.  Very pretty.  For this, I had to make some videos to show.  Anyway, I hope you will like the videos, they should give you a much better feel for this festival of lights.

 

 

In closing, Merry Christmas and Happy holidays to everyone reading this!

Ill post again in the new year of course. 🙂

Next Page »