We awakened the first morning to find ourselves anchored 50 yards off the north shore of Little Cayman, on diving’s legendary Bloody Bay Wall.
The air was stone still and the surface of the ocean had the appearance of molten glass. There was not a whisper of wind or a ripple for as far as the eye could see. Looking down from the bow, I could see clusters of tiny Sea Thimble jellyfish dimpling the still surface.
As we gazed at the tranquil scene, the head of a Green Sea Turtle broke through the glassy surface and began gulping down the jellyfish like they were tasty gumdrops. Soon, there was another turtle head, and then another and another. We had the good fortune to witness a rare phenomenon seldom seen by divers anywhere in the world.
The turtles seemed to be everywhere —snoozing on the reef, cruising among the soft gorgonians and gliding through the deep blue, just off the wall. Triggered by some internal clock, the turtles would periodically raise their heads, rise effortlessly toward the surface and begin feeding on the jellyfish. It was the first time in 32 years that I ever encountered this extraordinary behavior.
Our trip had begun the night before, when we boarded the vessel in the late afternoon and had dinner anchored off Seven Mile Beach. We went to bed in Grand Cayman and awoke at the crack of dawn, anchored off Little Cayman, some 78 miles to the east. We were enjoying one of the great benefits of a highly mobile, sea-going dive resort.
The pre-trip orientation was both cordial and impressive. Guests received a 22-page booklet that pointed out all of the ship’s specifications, amenities, equipment and procedures including a map of the top dive sites and drawings of the ship’s three deck levels.
The ship’s main salon is exceptionally roomy and contains the latest in entertainment equipment. One of the major features of this vessel is a high-tech computer center where guests can send and receive e-mail several times daily. Peripherals included a color slide scanner and an ink jet printer. Guests could make dives, shoot underwater pictures, get them processed, scan them and send the images by e-mail, all in the same day. What a great way to share your diving joys with friends and family back home. The computer station became the most popular facility on board the vessel. Some divers were sending five or six e-mails a day.
Another significant change—nitrox diving has become the norm, rather than the exception. Practically everyone on board was diving nitrox by the end of the week.
As the week progressed, each dive seemed better than the last and the variety of experiences was exhilarating. At Randy’s Gazebo, we were introduced to an exceptionally friendly yellow Coney that would pose for pictures and follow the divers around the reef. At Marilyn’s Cut, we encountered Freddie, a large Nassau Grouper that would come right up to your facemask and peer in the window. Night dives were a time to discover myriad tiny creatures that inhabit the crevices and caves of the coral reef. On one memorable day, we cruised from Little Cayman to Cayman Brac for an opportunity to dive and explore the 330-foot-long Russian Destroyer wreck. She sits in crystal clear water, still equipped with guns. While underway, between dive sites, we would encounter pods of dolphins that paced our ship in an uplifting ocean ballet.
On an average day, divers were making five dives—two morning dives before lunch, two in the afternoon and one night dive. This is one of the major benefits of live-aboard diving—plenty of diving with minimum hassle.
In addition to spending four glorious days on Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Wall, we also dived and explored Grand Cayman’s North Wall, Stingray City and West Wall. In just one short week we had sampled the very best diving off all three Cayman Islands.
What will the next millennium bring us in live-aboards? The trend is obvious—more comfort, more communications, more variety and, of course, more diving.