June 2012

This fathers day, I had the immense pleasure of having my dad in Grand Cayman ; how cool is that?

So, your 72 year old dad is in town for a few days ; what to do?  All the great tourist things of course!  Here are some of the things we did and places we saw.

Thursday night is Pasta Night at the Grand Old House.  For 10CI, a massive plate of pasta with all the veggies and toppings you wish, cooked right in front of you.  Lots of fun.   Don’t forget to keep a few pieces of pasta to toss to the hungry tarpon fish!

Stingray City … duh!  How could a trip to Grand Cayman not include a visit to this place?  For those who have guests who have never (or not in a long time …) snorkeled, I recommend a trial run in a pool or shallow spot before the real thing on the snorkel stops of the tour.  At 72, don’t you think my old man looks in pretty good shape?  Over the week-end we not only snorkeled on the Stingray City tour but also at Rum Point and Eden Rock.

On the boat to Stingray City, note the sophisticated “Cruise control” on the boat! 🙂

Drive around the east end.  I always enjoy going east.  So pretty and peaceful.   Here we made a quick stop at the blowholes before making our way to Tukka for an excellent Sunday brunch.

Of course, no east end run is complete without continuing on to Rum Point.   Remember to look out of the MASSIVE barracuda under the pier.   This fellow has been around for as long as I remember.  He hangs out under the pier, +-1/2 out.  He is very large and scary looking (I estimate this fish to be around 3 1/2 – 4ft long) but I have never heard of any incidents.  This week-end I saw one snorkeler get within 3ft of this beast.  I must be chicken since I stayed at least 10ft away.

We also hit up the Turtle farm where we were lucky to see a turtle in training with two instructors.

All-in-all … great stuff to do with ones dad on Fathers day (long) week-end in Grand Cayman.

On May 28th, the Turtle farm released a 60 year old Turtle.   I made a post about it on June 2nd (see below).

Well, I am pleased to say that Sir Thomas Turtleton is alive and well and … swimming like mad!  In fact, as of just over a week back in the wild, this large fellow has swam and impressive 372km (+-230 miles for the non-metrically inclined) and is now off the coast of Nicaragua.  That  distance sure puts my Flowers Sea Swim to great shame!   Anyway, not bad at all for a turtle who spent 1/2 his life in captivity.

The best is that you can follow him online, since if you remember from my original post, he has a GPS tracker attached to his back.   Click on the link below to see where he is now:


On a similar note, someone made a cute video of the release.  In fact they made a “movie trailer” of the event.  This video will definitely put a smile on your face.


On Saturday was the 20th annual Flowers Sea Swim.    This year, 831 swimmers (registration was closed since it was limited to +- that number) and an additional 100 or so “walkers” joined in the fun.   The day was perfect ; sunny and hot.

Here is the start area on Seven Mile beach, 1h before race time.  This is directly in front on the Ritz-Carlton hotel. (The end of the race was at the Royal Palm)

Before the start of the race, I made my way to … the bathroom at the Ritz-Carlton.  Ill spare you the details.   Right outside of the door to the (luxurious) restrooms, this fellow was just chilling in the shade.   Of course I could not resist and petted him/her for a little while.   Although I assume this is a stray, the kitty sure chose a nice spot to hang out.

So the race started.  It must have been at least 35 degrees outside. A touch of wind and some …. arrrgh … current.  That made the race that much more difficult.   The start looked like this…. i’m somewhere out far from the shore, and near the back, getting out of the way of the fast swimmers. I may be a fast runner, but fast swimmer I aint!

In any case, we are off to the races.   The scenario for me during this 1-mile race is always (this is my 3rd Flowers Sew Swim) something along these lines:

– 1/4 mile in : What on earth did I get myself into???

– 1/2  mile :  The finish line does not seem to be getting any closer!!!!!  What gives????

– 3/4 mile : Enough already!  Drinking this much sea water can’t possibly be good for me.

– Finish : YAY.  Now for copious amounts of pizza and I am already looking forward to start all over next year. 🙂  (for the record, I ate 6 slices of pizza at the food stand where all swimmers are fed post-race)

So, what are the results you ask.

The winner, a guy from Australia, swam the 1-mile in 18 minutes and 39 seconds.  Yours truly, did it on a slightly longer time 🙂  53 minutes and 43 seconds.

Also, there was one world record attempt and it was successful.   Some guy from Italy swam the entire mile with handcuffs on his ankles and wrists. (!?!?!?!)  He essentially swam like a dolphin the whole way.  Do I need to specify that he came in dead last?  Here he is, having his cuffs removed.


Being the geek that I am, I swam with my GPS watch so I could see my path.  As you can see, I started out a few hundred feet out (most swimmers stay close to the shore) and then slowly made my way to shore where the finish was.  I am quite glad to be able to see this, since I have to be honest, I was expecting to see much more zig-zag in my swim line.  I’m not fast, but swim straight!

Next race is June 15th, 2013!  If you can be in Cayman at that time, I highly recommend it.  The time limit for the swim is 75 minutes and almost everyone finishes it.   The Flowers Sea Swim is the “richest” one of its kind.  100,000$ of prizes (most of them being random prizes that are donated … I won a gift certificate to a local store) and the actual entry money all goes to local charities.

As many of you probably read in the media, there was a rare planetary occurrence on Tuesday.  In fact, Venus passed directly between the earth and the sun.

The Cayman Islands Astronomical Society  (CIAS) setup a series of high powered telescopes which were equipped with special filters so that anyone who was interested could see this event. (and not go blind in the process)   They set up shop on top of one of the buildings at Camana Bay.  Below are some of the telescopes in the setup.  Amazingly, organizers estimate that over 1000 people showed up.  I went early, so got to spend some time looking in some telescopes before lineups formed. By the time I left, the place was packed, so 1000 people is very plausible.  I think the CIAS can label this event a huge success.

This occurrence is quite rare.  The last one was in 2004 but was not visible from North America.  The next such event will be in 2117 … 105 years from now.  The actual fact that a planet passes in front of the sun is quite neat, but I have to admit that the fact that the next one will occur when I (and 99.9% of people alive today) will not be around to see it was definitely not lost on me.

Interestingly, the organizers of the event were also giving out “sun glasses” that allowed you to look at the sun without fear or ruining your eyes.  With these glasses, one could see without any magnification the small spot on Venus against the sun.  Definitely not as cool as looking though the telescope, but also quite nice to see without any assistance.

Below are some pictures taken by a good friend of mine who allowed me to put some of his pictures on my blog.  Great shots Rob! 🙂   Venus is the dark spot at the top right.



To anyone reading this blog in 2117 … hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed it in 2012.


As part of the Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 anniversary Jubilee, the Cayman Turtle farm came up with a lovely idea.   They chose to release one of their eldest residents, who is dubbed “Sir Thomas Turtleton”.  He is estimated to be approximately 60 years old and has been at the Turtle farm for 30 years.

Before the release, we had a short talk by the CEO of the Turtle farm, Tim Adam (very nice guy)

Mike Adam, the Cayman Islands Government,  Minister of Community affairs was looking on!

Here the big fellow is being lowered down as he nears his return to the wild.

Massive turtle!!!  Immediately after, a few guys turned him towards the water and he instinctively moved towards it with surprising ease and speed.

… and he is swimming away.   Note the GPS tracking device on his back.  The staff at the Turtle farm will be tracking him to see where he is going.  Should be interesting to see if he sticks around or if he goes elsewhere in the Caribbean.

On my way back, I spotted this house next to the golf club.  WOW.  Talk about maximizing the solar potential of your roof.  I count 60 panels.  Assuming 200w each, that gives a whopping 12,000w of power at peak which would make a massive dent in Cayman utility bills. (or possibly 0 if they have batteries to stock the power)