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Arrrrrrrr mateys: Pirate Week in Grand Cayman

Published on 2013-11-25 21:26:52

Every year in November, right near the end of the hurricane season, the small island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean is having a week where everyone dresses as a pirate. Well, almost everyone. OK, just the cool people then. The tourists who come swarming out of the nasty cruise ships every other days don't, but they're not cool anyway.

I went to Grand Cayman in 2009 for the annual PADI Dive Society "Total Submersion" and found that the diving was... Caribbean: clear waters and nice reefs but not much action underwater (read: no fish). At that time, we stayed at Sunset House, a resort that caters for divers. It offers unlimited shore diving and, contrary to most dive resorts, this one has actually a very nice house reef with a famous mermaid statue at about 60ft and a submarine that come lurking around  showing cruise ship passengers, not cool enough to be divers either, the wonders of the underwater world.

So this year, I decided to go back (despite my resolution not to dive the Caribbean until they repopulate it with fish) for Pirate Week. I brought my outfit all the way from California and even grew a beard for more than a month for the occasion. I was supposed to be the Dreadfull Pirate Black Beard, but without dye, I was more like Grey Beard the Used Privateer... Oh well.

Anyway, Pirate Week was fun, on the first day, a few hours or so after my arrival, I got to be in the parade in the streets of George Town with tons of other pirates for half an hour until jetlag, heat, thirst, hunger and exhaustion from a sleepless night in a red-eye got the best of me and I had to bailout. Walk the plank, scurvy dog! No rum for ye tonight! Arrrr! Nothing the famous "dolphin burger" can cure though.

The next three days were three tank dives. I got to dive the newly sunk "Kittiwake" a nice very diver-friendly wreck, and I flooded one of my lights on the first night while testing my video contraption. Uncool. Retardedly left unattended for two days, the batteries' oxidation generated enough pressure that the whole thing exploded sending debris 50ft away when one of the dive masters tried to open it. I am glad nobody got hurt and that it was not a $1,500 video light setup...

Visibility on most dives was pretty good. Better than Shaw's Cove, not as good as Fakarava. One is picky with age and experience...

With clear waters and moderate to bright sunlight, Tv 1/125, no flash, manual white balance in the sand, works good for wide angle shots, modified to Tv 1/160s on the Kittiwake and 1/250s in Stingray City yields pretty good results. Compare to my shots from 2009 when I was shooting with my giant video gear with no white balance, it's day and night.

For close ups and macro, the usual Tv 1/125, macro, forced flash works wonders.

After 5 days on the island, we took the puddle jumper to Little Cayman, home of the Bloody Bay Wall, one of the best wall diving in the Caribbean... But that's a story for the next report! Stay tuned!


And the video (grouper cleaning at 1:45, turtle feeding frenzy at 3:10 and Stingray City at 4:15): 


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User comments

Posted by Pierre

On 2013-11-27 02:05:00

Great video, pictures & story! Thank you for sharing, Jean-Yves! Pierre
Take me back home