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Delia’s delights, Harlequin and a spot of dream weaving on Grand Cayman

14 August 2016

My friend Dan doesn’t like diving when we are Lionfish culling.  It’s not that he’s in favour of the invasive species, just that he’s a bit more nervous that the sharks can get frisky.  So we opted for a recent two tank residents’ special with Red Sail, to the North Wall.

A recent storm had passed through Cayman, one of our first near misses of the season, so we had experienced some bad weather, but by Sunday morning the North Sound was so flat you couldn’t see the waves breaking on the reef.

Our first stop took us right out onto the North Wall, beyond Rum Point, to Delia’s Delight. The deal was so good that the boat was a little crowded, so Dan and I decided to opt out of the guided tour and do a bit of self-exploration.  To Dan’s consternation, a few people had brought spears, and so we jumped in after them, but before the tourist bus. Wall navigation is easy, swim into the current with the wall on one shoulder, exploring a sensible depth, then when you air is just above half, rise to the top of the wall and glide back in the shallower section.

Delia’s Delight is  50ft mooring, with a short swim to the Wall, which begins about 70ft. We turned, right into the current, keeping the wall on our right and slowly overtook the cullers, pointing out a couple of Lionfish as they went. The North Wall drops off, sheer into the depths and it’s important to keep monitoring your depth, and air as you suck through it much more quickly at those depths. There are some fantastic overhangs and swim unders, with crabs and other species lurking in the crannies.

We covered quite a lot of ground, and were about to turn back towards the boat, when we saw an Eagle Ray flying across the reef overhead. I didn’t want to surface too quickly against my watch’s wishes, so we just observed the brief visit from a distance.

During the surface interval, the crew took us in close for a view of Stingray Sandbar, the sea so calm that I joked to Dan you could easily imagine someone accidentally crossing the reef to visit the parked boats – then the dive boat did! Unknown to me, the reef shallows away just North East of the sand bar, and so we pulled right in to admire the Stingrays. It’s always a fun place to visit, never dull, and the conditions were great. There were a swarm of jetskis taking advantage of the calm weather, and several large boats on regular tours.

On the way to the next dive site, literally a stone’s throw (okay, a pretty good stone’s throw and maybe some skipping) we dropped the cullers about Monet’s Gardens, allowing them to drift down to where we eventually moored, Harlequin. Within sight of people standing in waist deep water, Dan and I opted to go alone again, descending into 30ft of clear water.  We followed a mini-wall into the current, shoals of Dories, and other fish I need to learn to identify, before I decided to take one last look at the wall, as we passed the cullers drifting in. We hit the wall at about fifty feet, surprised to spot a boat overhead, and realising we had reached Dream Weaver Reef.  The wall stretched off below us, and we swam into the blue.

Looking back to check on Dan’s air, I noticed another Eagle Ray gliding along behind him, this time at a depth relative to me that was perfect for a bit of video. Perhaps a little alarmed by our attention, he dove to about 95ft, I eagerly followed with the GoPro, keeping a careful eye on my dive computer, and then swam alongside him for a while, finning hard to keep up with his effortless passage. Eventually, with my watch signalling only 3 minutes of bottom time remaining, the Eagle Ray gave me a last spin and I let him swim off into the distance.

With my bottom time depleted, we returned to the mini wall, to encounter the other divers and do a circle in the relative shallows. I was hopeful of seeing a turtle and we swam with the current away from the others, enjoying the schools of fish in the shallows.  Then, with my air at 600 psi, leaving enough for the safety stop, we returned in the direction of the boat, only to spot a nurse shark weaving its way along the bottom. I couldn’t resist a little further filming, but he was lower than my air and watch would allow so we admired him from a distance, until returning for our safety stop and emerging into the warm Caribbean sunshine. The dive could comfortably be done at between 30-50ft, but a foray to the Wall is hard to resist. The colours are better in the shallows, but the Eagle Ray seems to pop out of the blue in the video below!

 

 

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