Snorkeling Cayman

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The water here at Grand Cayman is BEAUTIFUL! From our mooring ball we can look down and clearly see the bottom 40 feet below. There is a small reef directly under the boat that I took a long look at while scrubbing Rode Trip’s bottom, but I was long overdue to go explore the reefs. I hopped in the dinghy and headed over to Serendipity to pick up Matt. We headed to the far south end of Georgetown harbor and tied the dinghy up to one of the numerous mooring balls on the reef.

The reef here was completely different than under Rode Trip. The sandy bottom was only about 15 feet down and the coral reef came up nearly to the surface in places like mountains reaching up from the bottom. The reef was huge and the coral was colorful and healthy looking.

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There were deep canyons and crevices with fish lurking in them.

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The largest fish we saw were tarpon that were about 3-4 feet long and they were patrolling the deep sand canyons.

It felt like flying as we circled over the reef and headed out to where it dropped off to about 25 feet of water and the bottom became sandy. We even dove down and peeked into the caves near the bottom. We may have surprised the SCUBA divers who were coming out of one of the caves.

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The parrot fish were everywhere and not shy at all. They went on eating even as we approached as close as we wanted.

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We headed in to shallower water and found a small school of squid near shore. As we approached we startled them and they changed from red to white and back to red before taking off.

On the way back to the dinghy we spotted a big grouper eyeing us from the bottom.

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Once we climbed out at the dinghy we decided we were still having fun and wanted to stop at another location on the way back towards Serendipity. The “wreck of the Cali” is a highly advertised location here in Georgetown so we thought we would check it out. Lots of restaurants and bars have free access from their decks where you can rent a locker or snorkel equipment and then swim 300-400 feet out to the wreck. We were in the dinghy so we didn’t have to walk past the deck bar wearing our flippers and mask, although in hindsight it may be fun to climb out of the water at one of the deck bars, have a drink in full snorkel attire dripping wet and then return to the water merman style to return to Rode Trip…maybe that will be tomorrows adventure. After grabbing an empty mooring ball we dove in and swam over the entire 200 feet of the wreck. The fish here were a hiding out under the old steel plating.

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This fish made me wish that spearfishing was allowed here! I really like hogfish.

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We ended our wreck tour with the giant engine of the ship.

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Kayaking at Compass Cay

Compass Cay had great exploring potential. Brian and I got an early start to our day so that we could see all the sights during our one day layover at Compass Cay. We were in hot pursuit of our friends aboard sv/Por Dos, and so were continuing south along the Exumas attempting to meet them while they remained in Georgetown.

Compass Cay is divided down the center by a tidal stream that runs from the north end through a section of mangroves and connects with a larger creek flowing out the south end of the island. Here’s a screen shot of the island on our chart. We thought it a great place for our kayaks.

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We headed out about 9:00am and there was just barely enough water to float through the inlet that dries at low tide.

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Soon we were out of the kayaks and trudging through the mangroves hauling the kayaks behind. The sand was soft and silted under crystal clear water. We kept a lookout at every step for critters (especially sea slugs). Brian spotted a small shark and a small stingray; we let both swim clear of our intended path before proceeding. The mangroves were about ankle high and the kayaks got stuck here and there in branches and roots. Several tiny snails hitched a ride when we knocked them from the branches.

Finally, after one-mile of trudging (GPS watch tracked), we found water that was just barely deep enough for floating. We maneuvered the kayaks over, under, and around the mangroves toward the creek.

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AHHHHH…the creek!

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We spent another mile and one-half paddling down this beautiful, wide open creek. There was nothing but white sand below and often we spotted stingrays. They were not skittish, they were settled into little beds of sand.

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We paddled past ruins from an old house.

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And at the south end of the creek we paddled by the Compass Creek Marina and back into the ocean side to complete our trip. The ocean side gave us a bumpy ride but we enjoyed seeing the contour of Compass Cay.

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At the end of the day, we took the dingy over to the beach and walked into the inlet we had kayaked earlier. We were greeted by a crab.

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We walked to the top of the inlet; on the chart this is labeled ‘Bubble Bath’. Fellow cruisers have informed us that this spot is known as Rachael’s Bubble Bath and when there is a northeast wind the ocean waves surge over and leave their foam at the top of the pool. This needed some investigating even though the day did not present bubble bath conditions.

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We waded to the pool in shallow, warm water. We were cautious to avoid sea urchins. Both black and white urchins were scattered throughout the sand and rocks.

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The pool was a bit deeper than the stream. Just right for an afternoon bath!

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We hiked up the side of the pool for a great view of the inlet and anchorage. We are anchored on the side of the island called the Exuma Bank.

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Here is a view of the inlet leading into the mangroves that we trudged through earlier.

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This is the ocean side of the island called the Exuma Sound.

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Kayaking, hiking, swimming…oh but there’s more to come at Compass Cay!