Russian Destroyer #356 – Cayman Brac, BWI

July 16, 2005 – July 23, 2005
[Image Galleries Below]
Saturday July 16, 2005: This week we started out with some very nasty weather by the name of Hurricane Emily (which we hear from the crew that she was actually on board last week). Saturday no one could get to the boat due to the Cayman Government closing the island (all flights into Grand Cayman were cancelled due to weather). The crew took the boat up to the north side of the island and moored her in the safety of a canal. All they could do was to wait in the mangroves for Emily to pass by. Sam told us that they only saw some wind (40 knots) and lots of rain.

Sunday July 17, 2005: This morning Capt. Sam made some phone calls, took a drive to check out the main island for damage and to see what the conditions were like for diving around Grand Cayman. I on the other hand, was still in Miami and without a flight. Because Grand Cayman had been closed to all non-residents, my flight (and my luggage) had gone on to the island with out me the morning before. The Cayman Government finally open the island around noon and I was boarding a standby flight about one hour after that. I think I was about the fifth person to get to the boat this afternoon and yes, the wind was still blowing. After stowing my gear and getting to know the crew and the other guests we all sat down to dinner and a briefing of what to expect for the upcoming week.

Monday July 18, 2005: We departed the canal at Little Sound early this morning and much to my surprise North Sound was as flat as a sheet of glass. It was quite a treat watching Captain Sam maneuver the 110-foot Aggressor IV in a canal that was designed for 45 to 60 foot pleasure crafts. About an hour later we ended up at White Stroke Canyon, our first dive site of the trip located on the north side of Grand Cayman (we checked out two other sites but they had really bad current). After our first dive during lunch, Sam sat down with us and told us that we have two options. We could either head over to Little Cayman tonight, in which case we would not have enough water to fill the hot tub for a couple of days or we could wait for the Port Authority to allow us to take on fresh water either later tonight or tomorrow morning. This would set us back another day.

Well he didn't have to say any more, we all decided to make the crossing to Little Cayman tonight after spending the afternoon diving at Babylon. This site features a beautiful pinnacle that shoots up to within 50-feet of the surface, and the wall has two beautiful outcroppings featuring tons of soft corals. We also spotted several medium sized sea turtles swimming around Babylon this afternoon.

Monday Night: After dinner we lashed everything down and prepared ourselves for the crossing to Little Cayman. The 'crossing' as it is called, is about 80 nautical miles and under good conditions would normally take less than seven hours. This trip would not be a speed record that's for sure. We weighed anchor at about 6:30pm and less than an hour later the ride began! Once away from the protection of Grand Cayman the seas changed from 2-foot swells to 8 to 10 foot seas with an occasional 12-foot wave thrown in for good measure. This kept up for four to five hours before it finally started to calm down a little. I stayed up on the sun deck for the first part of the crossing just because I enjoy a good ride, but there were others who went below and didn't have such a great evening. The next morning we found ourselves in the beautiful calm waters off Little Cayman Island. Hooray!

Tuesday July 19, 2005: Our first dives today were at Randy's Gazebo, what a great site. There were numerous sightings of sea turtles (Chris made a new friend with one) as well as barracuda, groupers, triggerfish and even a couple of nurse sharks. Our second dive site of the day was The Meadows, which again provided an abundance of critters big and small as well as lots of soft corals. The visibility on all the dives was much better than I had expected. After dinner and an awesome night dive, we motored over to Cayman Brac where we spent the night.

Wednesday July 20, 2005: This morning we did two dives on the Russian Destroyer #356 (M/V Keith Tibbetts). The crew said that the visibility was the best they had ever seen on this wreck (as far as the eye could see). After completing the second dive on the wreck and enjoying lunch on the sun deck we cruised back to Little Cayman. That afternoon most of the group did a couple of shallow dives at Bus Stop while myself, Julie and a few of the others went a shore for a land tour of Little Cayman with Sam's friend Terry. Once we were finished and back on-board there was just enough time left to get in one dive before dinner.

The night dive after dinner was GREAT!! Every one saw what they came to see (except for a few people who wanted to see a whale shark roll over and give birth). For the most part there was a little bit of everything on this dive. There were lots of turtles and rays on this dive not to mention the great soft and hard corals. The sponges were covered with small starfish making for some great photographs. After a nice hour-long dive, warm towel and a cup of hot coco it was off to download images and get ready for tomorrow.

Thursday July 21, 2005: This morning we would start out with two dives at the Great Wall mooring, and then we would move the boat to 3 Fathom Wall for the afternoon dives. These two sites rock. There is so much to see on these walls and the best part is that you don't have to swim far. I really liked 3 Fathom Wall. This site has so many crevices and swim thru's to explore, you could never get bored. We spotted a few nurse sharks and lots of Nassau Groupers. After our traditional Thursday night dinner, video and slide show, we suited up for the night dive. After another awesome night dive we settled in for the ride back over to Grand Cayman. This trip would prove to be a lot better than the ride out with extremely calm and flat seas making for a good nights sleep.

Friday July 22, 2005: This morning we found ourselves diving at Round Rock/ Trinity Caves. This site has some very large swim troughs' and one very large rock! (I guess that's where it gets the name.) After doing one dive here we were off to Eden Rock (AKA: Devil's grotto) were we learned more about the Grand Cayman history from Captain Sam. Devil's grotto, with its many swim thru's and juvenile creatures was a wonderful way to end a great week of diving. Friday afternoon we spent washing our gear, packing our bags and enjoying a cocktail on the sun deck where we all told fish stories, shared a few laughs and swapped phone numbers and email addresses.

That night we had a little wine and cheese party on the boat and then went out on the town to have some dinner. This was a GREAT week!! Yes we lost one day due to weather and not being able to get to Grand Cayman, but the crew did every thing they could do to make up for it, thanks guys!!

By: D. Vanderbilt


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