Living in Cayman


So Hurricane Irma is now in the history books and we will never see her again.  In fact, when a storm is catastrophic, the name is “retired” and will never be used again.  Hurricane Ivan and Katrina are good example of this.  Good riddance.

So Irma caused major damage on, by my count, 8 nations/states.   Barbuda, Anguilla, BVI, USVI, Turks & Caicos, Cuba & Florida.  That is quite a destructive system, so many lives have been upended.   A number of friends from BVI are in the process of leaving the island due to not having a place to live and some, who work in the tourism industry, simply have no work/job since it will be months before tourists and hotels are able to welcome guests again.  In the TCI, where I “escaped” 24h before Irma, there are over 500 utility poles down on the island of Providenciales, so recovery will take a while. On the island of Grand Turk, sadly there is still almost no news 4 days after the storm.  It looks like Irma leveled all communications there.

On that, here are some more wave videos from this week-end in Cayman.  On Sunday, the waves were spectacular.  I felt lucky that was all we got and that I got out before the storm in TCI, all while thinking of my friends who were not so lucky.

Here was the scene in West Bay at “Macabuca” – always a favorite to see big waves.

This one is from Smith Cove.  I had never seen such big waves at this location.


So that was Irma.   Lets hope the rest of the 2017 hurricane season is quiet.  The statistical peak of the season was … yesterday Sept 10th.

News from the Turks and Caicos Island is trickling through. So far we know that they have sustained major damage.  Moments ago the crew of the Royal Cayman Island Police Service, which dispatched the police helicopter to TCI to assist with the recovery efforts,  posted this heartbreaking picture of Providenciales. 🙁   My decision to leave before the hurricane was definitely the right one.

So Irma is passing Cayman – not as far as initially expected though, which to me is a bit of a surprise. Note the satellite picture below and Cayman in red.  As you can see, the system is nearing Florida, but since it is so huge, we are getting the outer bands.  The outer bands do not require any preparation or need to worry for us.

Due to the storm, all airlines need to get their planes out of the way before it hits.  Since Cayman is fairly close to Miami, a few of them based in Florida opted to store their planes at our airport.  Of course, being a small airport, we cant expect American Airlines to place all of their planes here.  But we do have approximately 9 “foreign” aircrafts here, mainly cargo planes.

The apron is quite full of planes! Lots of them from “IBC”, a cargo company.

 

These are also cargo planes.  Odd looking 1950’s Corvair’s 🙂

I made a few video’s of the waves – since this morning the wind has picked up and the wave action is quite intense.  A small craft warning is in effect and the police also advised that no diving/swimming be done this week-end.  Based on what you will see below, seems like a no-brainer to avoid the water.

This first video is from the southern coast.

This one is from George town on the West side.

I had to go to the office this morning for a few hours.  So I got “artsy” and tried out the time lapse function on my phone.  Not a bad result. As you can see, a decent amount of wind and lots of clouds.  Irma is spinning counter clockwise so from west to east. We are looking east here as you will see.  This 22 second video is about 1h in “real time”

So that’s it.  Irma did not affect the Cayman Islands a part from some of the stuff you saw above. At this hour, Irma is approaching Florida, especially its west (Gulf) coast.  Seems like each place Irma has gone, I have friends and some kind of connection. In fact I have a few friends in Florida that are riding it out. Also, seems like Irma will greatly affect the city of Naples.  As a kid, I recall my family going there at Christmas when I was 8-12 years old.  There is a pier there where I would go fishing.  I even went back there a few years ago with Julie. Great memories. I hope it will be still there when the storm is over.

A few days ago I posted about Hurricane Irma getting closer to the Turks & Caicos Islands, where I was for work.  I am glad to say that I made it out, and without a moment to spare.  This page is a quick summary of my escape.  That being said, my ordeal is nothing compared to what has happened to the folks in Barbuda, St-Martin, St-Barts, Anguilla & the BVI so far – I am sure you have all seen pictures ; so sad. Over the years I have made many friends in these islands and am worried for them.  For long time readers of this blog, you know I love animals. I’m also thinking about the flamingos, donkeys & many, many other kinds of animals which will be affected by this monster storm.

As of typing this, the storm is passing over the Turks & Caicos Island.  The eye is almost passed Grand Turk where I was Sunday-Tuesday (“Cockburn town” on picture below) and will get to Providenciales a bit later tonight, where I was until yesterday late afternoon.  I am sure that by tomorrow afternoon pictures will start to emerge on social media. I am worried about what they may look like.  The most scary forecast is the storm surge ; which is extra height the “regular” tide can get.  For the TCI, it is a whopping 15-20ft.  In essence, places near the ocean may be underwater.

As of right now in the TCI. 🙁  This is essentially a direct hit.

So back to Providenciales.  Yesterday afternoon.  Lots of people catching a flight out.  Although busy, things were happening in an orderly fashion.  No panicking!

These were the last flights to Canada & the US.

These are the last InterCaribbean flights to Jamaica! If not on one of these planes, you are out of luck.  So I was lucky that I booked the last flight out.  I was quite nervous ; I got to the airport 4h before the flight was scheduled.  I guess I was concerned of getting “bumped” or that they decide to leaver earlier due to the incoming storm, etc.  Anyway, I had never been so happy to have a boarding pass in my hands.

So my flight to Kingston Jamaica, apparently the last one, left just before 5pm and the airport officially closed at 6pm.  The picture below is next morning, today (Sept 7th) from Kingston Jamaica.  The entire InterCaribbean fleet is now here.  For obvious reasons, they will not leave them in the TCI.  They will return one the airport has been reopened and the will likely carry supplies with them.

Finally, my ride back to Cayman.   Since my route back to Cayman was unusual – normally I would have flown back to Cayman via Miami, I had to spend the night in Kingston and this morning catch the daily Cayman Airways flight back to Cayman.

After all of this, this was a sight sore eyes!

Not sure if I will post again about Irma. Cayman, a part from maybe some rain this week-end, will not have any impact.

An important note: If you chose to make a donation to any relief effort, please make sure you are giving to a legit organization/charity.  After Hurricane Harvey in the US, may online scams/emails were circulating.  So best to make sure your are giving to a cause that will actually help the people in need.

Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard about Hurricane Irma.   As of typing, Antigua, St-Kitts, Anguilla & Virgin Islands are about to get a beating by this massive Category 5 storm. I cannot stress enough how bad a Category 5 storm can be. Its been a few years since I have even spoken about a hurricane – that was nice. As a reminder, here is a visual depiction of the hurricane categories.

As you can see, anything category 3-4-5 is no joke!

Ok the good news first: The Cayman Islands, minus some rain this coming week-end should spared, unless some unexpected turn happens soon.  However, the general consensus of forecasts are for it to continue going north-west towards Puerto Rico, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Bahamas and then possibly Florida.

Map is below – Cayman is, as of right now out of the danger zone.  (see red arrow – lower left)

The bad news: My friends in  the BVI, USVI will have a really bad day Wednesday.  So is the island of St-Kitts which was the subject of my last post.   Anegada in the BVI,  which is the last post on this page, will also get a beating.  It is low lying and has been completely evacuated.    I have a really bad feeling about this system ; I am genuinely worried.  Another reason I am worried: I am right now in the Turks & Caicos Islands – see blue arrow.  Ooops!  So I was supposed to be here all week till Saturday and on the smaller island of Grand Turk. So this morning, as part of my escape, I flew to the main island of Providenciales.  Tomorrow, Wednesday I am supposed to fly to Kingston Jamaica from  where I can catch a flight to Grand Cayman.   That is assuming the flight even leaves – so far I am optimistic since Jamaica is out of the danger zone.   Ill post more as this unfolds!

So here in Providenciales (“Provo”) people are prepping.  Here are some things I saw today.

Sandbags are popping up all over the place.   This is at the airport.

At the grocery store.  Lots of people,  but no panic or masses.   Water is being purchased a LOT.  Stores have put all of their stock right near the entrance and many people are leaving with a few of these.

Lots of places have their shutters up.  This one of the local groceries.  These are made of transparent lexan.

Same kind, but in metal.

So to wrap up this post, here are some nice pictures I took on the island of Grand Turk this morning and yesterday.  Grand Turk is a small island with +-5,000 people.  Ill be thinking about my friends there when the storm hits sometime Thursday PM assuming current forecast holds true.

The ocean front – the ocean was sooooo calm this week.

Lots of lovely pink flamingos – hope they will be OK 🙁

The wild donkeys I have featured a few times in the past! These guys should be fine.  Their instinct will make them seek higher ground!

The sunset last night – really nice.

And finally a beautiful  rainbow this morning as I was checking out of the hotel.  Maybe this is a good omen?  I hope so.

More posts soon.   Hopefully from Kingston Jamaica tomorrow night.

Please keep the folks in the affected nations in your thoughts!

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Each summer, Silversides appear and inhabit caves and other aquatic type shelters in the Caribbean.   So late Friday afternoon, with some work colleague, we snuck out early from work to go diving 🙂

Here were are, all smiles, swimming out to the reef.  The first 400-500ft are not very scenic, so no point in wasting our precious air, so we paddle out.

Lots of caves to visit in the area of “Eden Rock”.  Ocean has been calm, so great visibility.  These caves are not for anyone claustrophobic though.  Panicking in an underwater tunnel is probably not a very good situation.

Around Eden Rock, there are LOT of Tarpon.  Although they are large (anywhere between 3-4ft long) they are 100% harmless and quite friendly.  After-all, they see divers and snorkelers 365 days a year at this location.  Always a nice sight though.

Lots of colorful sights to see. No idea what these banana colored formations are.  Definitely pretty though.

Now for the real show : the Silversides!  The reason it’s a show, is that there are 1000’s of them and they hang around in a school that moves in perfect harmony to protect from predators.  It also makes for some spectacular pictures and videos.  The two pictures below show the “formations” of Silversides that moves in perfect sync – really neat.

Of course video’s give you an even better idea of how neat this is, and how it is to be in an underwater cave. 🙂

 


 

Lastly, on the swim back to shore, I got to see one of my favorite Cayman underwater sights – a school of Blue Tang.  These guys always bring a massive smile to my face.  They just cruise around, doing their thing.  Not to mention they are lovely looking fish.

So there you have it!  Another awesome diving experience in Cayman. I had seen the Silversides before, but did not have an underwater to document it. 🙂  If planning a trip to Cayman, they are around from sometime in June to end of July.  We were likely on the last week-end of them being around so were lucky to find them.

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