Friday, July 10, 2009

Panama to Grand Cayman

Sailing with Dummies (California to Texas, Day 31)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

by Mike

Everyone got up feeling good today after a calm night at anchor. We waited until shortly after nine for the customs people to arrive at the boat. This time it didn’t take long. We found out that customs clearing was not required if we were staying less than 24 hours. We weren’t.

So we loaded up the dinghy with some junk and ourselves and headed to shore. We walked, picture took, ate some local cuisine (crab something, it was good!), and shopped the local grocery store. We picked up crackers, cookies, different cookies, and some bread.

We filled our scuba tanks and other misc. things and then headed north a few miles to a reef with good anchorage. The good anchorage part was appealing since the wind was topping 30 knots occasionally.

We parked in less than 25 feet of water in the sand near the reef with 100 feet of anchor chain out. A scope of better than 4-to-1. When we were diving I looked at the anchor and watched as the chain was pulled tight. It raised the chain out of the sand within a few feet of the anchor. It was a good visual reminder that 6-to-1 (some say 8-to-1) is a good scope for a windy anchorage. In this case we had someone on the boat at all times, so it wasn’t as critical.

It was a good place for diving. The strong wind was creating a strong surface current. But just below the surface it was nice. The fish here reminded us somewhat of the fish around the Florida Keys, but I didn’t think they were quite as colorful. We saw a couple of sharks, lots of rays, and large varieties of fish in the coral formations.

The diving was so good we refilled the tanks and Bob, Elizabeth and I went again. The sun was an hour-and-a-half from setting. It was still bright on the boat, but it didn’t light the underwater world as well as it had earlier. That was interesting to me. It was another enjoyable dive. We explored some different coral structures and swam around the same ones as earlier. It’s hard to get tired of that.

After eating and battening down we took off northward into the wind and waves. To Cayman!

Fine Arts

It was quiet on the boat after the last dive. Elizabeth requested some music. Rock and roll. Bob inquired of her graduating year and then played the top songs of 1977 for her pleasure. Many of those songs were painful reminders of what we were forced to listen to back then. Occasionally there was a good one, but seldom. After this agonizing review, I have re-convinced myself that society suffered from disco.

In three hours we endured top hits from 1977 and 1970 and 1971. Elizabeth knew all the words.

Fine Dining:

In an effort to enjoy the calm before the waves, we relaxed after our last dive. Tanks were refilled, cigars were puffed, junk was stowed, everyone showered. I grilled chicken and made some garlic red potatoes to go along with the green beans. We were all clean and pretty, tired and hungry, and it was good.

Fishing Report:

Another day of catch and release. Elizabeth caught a nice 20-inch Spanish mackerel on the way to the dive site. Apparently she reeled too slow. The back half of the fish was shredded with some nasty-looking teeth marks. She was excited and wanted to eat it. The good meat was missing. We told her to catch another one and reel fast!

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