March 2013

Earlier this week, there was a special visitor in the Cayman Islands.   In fact, we had the privilege to have Cal Ripken Jr. come and visit us in the context of a new book he wrote.

If you are not a baseball fan, you probably have no clue who he is! Well, he is a baseball icon (now retired) and hall of fame inductee especially because of one particular record he set.  He played over 2,600 consecutive games, over more than 17 seasons!  17!!!   So he is a model of perseverance and determination ; something is admire in a person.   This being Cayman, I knew that we could probably get to see him up close.

Se here he is (guy on right) giving his talk.  He also took some questions from the people who showed up, probably around 200 people by my estimate.  I of course snagged a front row seat for the event.


After his talk, he signed copies of his new book and took pictures with his fans. It was a really nice event. So here I am with him.  Definitely nice that they had setup a whole “backdrop” instead of leaning over similar to what happens a most book signings.


So a lovely evening at Camana Bay and Books & Books ; pretty awesome that they were able to get someone so high profile to visit this little island.

Here is also an article about the event in the local newspaper.,-sports-hero/

I have seen this helicopter flying around for the longest time and figured it would be fun to go for a ride sometime.  Well, today was the day.  Any what a day it was … skies perfectly clear and plenty of sunshine.

Here was our ride for this trip.   I had never taken a helicopter, so did not really know what to expect.


First off, across the Seven Mile beach “land” and over the North Sound and to Stingray City.  Plenty of cruise ships in port today, so lots of people having fun with the stingrays.



Next, off to the North wall … essentially where the North sound meets the reef and then the oceanic drop-off.  On the right is the North Sound (where is Stingray City) Then you have the barrier reef. On the left it gets progressively deeper.  Where you have the stripes is +-60-70 feet deep and then the dark blue is >6000ft deep.  The diving along the drop (called “wall diving” since you are diving along, well, a wall or a cliff into the abyss) is spectacular.



View from the chopper.  I was directly behind the pilot, who is a chap from France called Jerôme.  Quite a character! 🙂



Great view and colors around fisherman’s rock



Now back along Seven Mile beach ; always spectacular.



Great shot of the USS Kittiwake.  This ship was sold by the US government to a group in Cayman. It was sunk in 2011 and is now a popular diving and snorkeling site.   The Kittiwake was a “Submarine rescue vessel” and was in service from 1946 to 1994.  The boat is just over 250ft long.





Great view from above the Disney cruise ship.


And finally a video of the takeoff.  This will give you a good idea of how fun it was.

If you are in Cayman, I highly recommend this tour.  The helipad is right in George Town and its a blast!

This week-end we are experiencing some cold(ish) weather and some very rough seas.   No diving on the west/north sides this week-end for sure.  There is also a small boat warning in effect due to the choppy seas. They call these winter systems “Nor’westers” since they come from (you guessed it … ) the north-west.  They are remnants of winter systems in the US and mainly affect (wait for it …) the north western parts of the Island ; in essence Seven Mile Beach and George Town.

So this Sunday morning I went for a drive to see what all the fuss is about ; very choppy indeed!

Here is Seven Mile beach.   Lots of large waves and not a soul in the water.


For your next vacation here, I hope you did not plan to stay at the former Courtyard Marriott!  The place is now simply a shell and they plan to completely tear it down and build a new luxury hotel. This place has some sentimental value for us ; we stayed here during our first visit ever to Cayman in 2005.  I even remember the room location ; window all the way to the left, second from top.  This hotel had been closed since Hurricane Gustav in 2008 so in a way I am glad something is finally done to what was becoming an eye sore.


Now to George Town.  The wave action is even more fearsome here.  This is Eden Rock ; notice the handlebars to go into the water for snorkeling.  Usually the water here is calm and crystal clear.


Here is a short video I made since the pictures do not do justice to the force of these things.  The best waves are near the end.

Meanwhile, on the southern side of the island …


This is the cloud that dropped quite a bit of water on GT and caught many runners and tourists off guard and scrambling for cover.

This system is expected to be over very soon ; so back to normal heat & sun in the following days.   Looks like diving is on the program next Saturday 🙂