Pam’s birthday cruise, part 3 – Cayman Islands

Pam headed off to Stingray Island with Cindy and Dave. I smeared toothpaste on my mask then trudged along with my diving gear for a two tank dive off one of the walls on the west side of the island. If you’ve never tried toothpaste to help keep your mask from fogging, give it a try. It works great.

The dives were a total blast. There were 20 others on the dive boat, but it was pretty roomy and we went down in two groups, so it didn’t seem that crowded. I was paired up with a guy who’d traveled across the country to get to Tampa for the cruise. At some point from the Tampa airport to his cabin, someone went through his luggage and stole his regulator, including his dive computer. He was a bit bummed. I always detach my computer and carry it around with me in my backpack – I never check it in with the luggage. Guess it pays off.

On the boat they had a mixture of baby shampoo & water in a spray bottle, so I spritzed my mask with that for good measure. (Yet another excellent anti-fog method.) It and the toothpaste worked their magic. My mask didn’t fog at all.

The water was clear and warm, but I still wore my shortie wetsuit. I’m Mr. Wimpy, after all and don’t like getting cold. And I’d hauled the thing around with me in my luggage, so I felt I needed to at least wear some of the suit.

The dive leader was just a kid. While he and I were waiting on the surface for the others in the group to splash in, he said, “Welcome to my office.” Dang. What a concept. What a way to live.

One thing that really amazed me was how inexperienced a few of the divers were. They asked some really basic questions, one didn’t know how to clear her snorkel, and here they were going down on a wall that drops to 2000 feet deep. Yikes. I hope they have good insurance.

My dive buddy didn’t check his buoyancy before descending and was very under-weighted, so when he tried to go down, he didn’t. I quickly dropped to 20 feet, looked around and didn’t see him anywhere. The bottom, heading over to the ledge, was 60 feet. I looked up and spotted him, still stuck at the surface.

He worked and worked and finally made it deep, but was having to fight the whole time to stay down. I could tell he wasn’t having any fun.

The reef at Grand Cayman was beautiful, with a large variety of coral and fish. Our first dive had us over a wall that dropped down to over 2000 feet deep. Maybe the guy who was having difficulty getting deep was just being overly cautious. Not too many people survive a dive to the very bottom. He ended up not going on the second dive. His head was hurting and his sinuses had stopped up.

The second dive was in a different spot on the reef, about a mile away. There was a nice ledge with an large overhang about 15 feet off the bottom. A giant lobster was hiding in one of the nooks. Ah, he would have made a nice dinner.

I took a bunch of pictures while I was down, but couldn’t really tell how they were coming out. I could tell that my flash was brining out colors that are typically filtered out from the water. I looked at the display after my first picture and saw stunning red – that coral looked black without the extra light. Cool.

After the dive was over and I made it back to the cruise liner I uploaded the pictures to my computer. Overall I was pleased with the camera and housing. It captured some really good images. I learned the hard way that the flash, even with the diffuser in front of it, could easily overexpose the picture. And when the flash is used the camera slows the shutter down to 1/60th of a second. That’s too slow. It’s easy to move the camera and blur the picture. I need to see if there’s a way to keep the shutter fast even while using flash. I also need to practice more to see when I need to use macro mode vs normal mode.

The videos I took came out really nice, but I learned that I need to make slower movements with the camera. Sometimes it looked like I had ADD, focusing in on something for a couple of seconds then blurring the camera as I moved onto something else that grabbed my attention. Live and learn.

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