moray eel

Excursions, Captains Log

26 March 2015 - Good news, bad news in Grand Cayman

This year is shooting by, and nothing illustrates it more to us than checking on when we last posted news to our blog!

Another way of looking at the world 

Another way of looking at the world 

We seem to have gotten over the horribly moody weather experienced since November / December last year (and all the way to the first half of this month!), although having said that, we are warily eyeing some conditions towards the end of this coming week. But it has been exciting for our crew to have our island visitors enjoy some calm conditions and stunning Caribbean colours!

The last four weeks have been very busy for the island, with an enormous pressure to try and accommodate guests wanting to visit the stingrays and do some amazing snorkelling at the reef. Of all the times for Captain Mario to get sick, this was not the best! He landed up in hospital having an operation to drain a cyst in his hand, and was most definitely not a happy chappy. Even his little girl pushing buttons and moving his bed in 16 different directions did't get the full smile going. He was released early this morning and was down at the cruise terminal by 8:00am back in full swing and ready to go! Thank you to the doctors and nurses at the George Town Hospital who were responsible for his amazing treatment!

Ready for business - even in hospital! The Acquarius sign by Captain Mario's bed .....

Ready for business - even in hospital! The Acquarius sign by Captain Mario's bed .....

There was great excitement when one of snorkel guests found a new Moray Eel during a visit to the coral reef. The other two, Elvis and Physcho (aka Brutus & Beverly), are well known to us, but a new younger one has now joined the crowd! As soon as Captain Mario found this out, like a flash he was in the water and got a gorgeous photo of her!

And here "she" is ... the new younger Moray Eel found at the Reef - Captain Mario put her at approximately 4 feet and possibly 2 years of age - ain't she a beaut? The crew have not yet named her.

And here "she" is ... the new younger Moray Eel found at the Reef - Captain Mario put her at approximately 4 feet and possibly 2 years of age - ain't she a beaut? The crew have not yet named her.

More fun and delightful news was hearing back from a couple that had sailed with us in December. The lady had suffered severe motion sickness, but Captain Mario told her he suspected that it was more than just that ..... so it was awesome when they contacted us to say he had been right, she had made it safely through the her first trimester of pregnancy and they are expecting a boy! Wonder if they will call it Mario??

We also had a very special tour with the Purkey family. Their family first toured with us a couple of years back, and it was devastating to hear that shortly after they returned from holiday, their oldest son tragically passed away. We went out in search of a stingray to be his name sake, and it took us quite a while to get a "feeling" for the right one. But upon discussing the characteristics with the family, we knew we had found right stingray, and it was named "Trinton". The family made a return cruise, but oh how cruel was it that the day they anchored in Grand Cayman, the weather was beyond safe and we could not take them out to see him. That day left a whole in our hearts. So it was with mixed feelings that we accepted another booking from them for a week back, hoping like crazy that the weather would be kind, that Trinton would turn up for a visit, and that we could all share a very special moment. We won't go into it too much, but let's say that the crew were more than touched to see Trinton come visit and say hi to the family. We would not have traded that moment for anything in the world. We will look after him for you Purkey family!

Taken too soon but always remembered - Trinton Purkey

Taken too soon but always remembered - Trinton Purkey

On a less happy note, it is with great sadness that Captain Mario still reports bad treatment of our beautiful stingrays by some operators. He witnessed one picking up a stingray right out of the water and holding it over the heads of some guests for a photo - this is something we find appalling. Captain Mario was in the process of upping anchor and leaving the sandbar so was able neither to chastise the operator, nor even take a photo as proof, but it breaks our hearts that this kind of abuse continues. It is simply so wrong. He also reported finding a dead starfish at Starfish Point .... yes, anything could have caused this, but too many times we witness operators and visitors taking the starfish right out of the water! We always stress the importance of respecting our beautiful creatures to all our visitors, and we wish all operators did the same. Let's hope we can continue to educate everyone and change their attitudes and actions.

Stingray and anchor at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Stingray and anchor at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Captain Mario has reported some pretty amazing snorkelling moments of late, not least the finding of the new comer eel! Excitement has also been generated by the the large Barracudas that have been spotted, one over 5 feet! Our excursions guests have enjoyed seeing a congregation of Bermuda Chub (Captain Mario estimates there must have been over 100 of them!), a congregation of Stoplight Parrot Fish - pretty awesome and a huge Spotted Trunk fish enjoying body polish at a "cleaning station". But his favourite moment of all was spotting a Tiger Grouper - oh, he did not stop babbling about the sighting for a while!

We have included some of the photos from the last few beautiful tours, and we hope that you enjoy them. Come visit soon!

Captains Log, Excursions, private tours, fish

20 February and the week gone by ..... up and down like a toilet seat!

The crew spirit has gone through extremes this week .... one day absolutely elated at the conditions and dizzy with excitement at sharing it with our guests, the next day grey, grey moods to match the skies! We have had awesome sun-filled days accompanied by breezes as slow as 2 knots, only to be bullied into cancelling tours the next day by tropical squalls and howlers of up to 25 knots! Bleh!!

Thankfully, we did manage to keep our dates with a private charter on the 15th, as well as standard tours on the 17th and 18th. The cruise ships were happy to come in and off load their visitors at the beginning of the week, but kept their anchors tucked away and avoided our little island like the plague on the 19th and the 20th. Who knows what tomorrow will hold?

But as we said above, the good days were gooooooood and the bad days were very, very bad. Here, we share some of the good stuff!

The 15th saw us hosting a family for a private excursion. They had chosen to Starfish Point, Rum Point, Stingray City and Booby Cay as the attractions they wanted to visit. It was a beautiful day for these choices, with brilliant colours and skies dotted with clouds. The water was slightly choppy but beautifully clear. The tour was a full 5 hours (it never seems long enough!) and the crew truly enjoyed hosting this fun group very much.

The sandbar in Grand Cayman

The sandbar in Grand Cayman

Monday saw the boat receiving some scheduled maintenance - it was a nice day and if we could have postponed this to another day we would have. However, Tuesday and Wednesday still saw incredibly beautiful days and it was a pleasure to show Grand Cayman off to her visitors. Brilliant sunsets have been the cherry on the top for our excursions this week, and the blues, purples and golds of these moments left everyone pretty much in awe of Mother Nature, once again.

Sunset from  Starfish Point  in Grand Cayman

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Wednesday was especially interesting and pretty. The morning excursions faced showers at Starfish Point and half way through the stop at Stingray City, but otherwise enjoyed sun. However, while the island was completely flooded with buckets of rain, it was a tough task to convince island visitors that the North Sound was not experiencing the same conditions and that the afternoon trip was going to be stunning. Some trusted us and came, some did not ...... and what a shame they didn't!

The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The above photo of the Reef shows you what we saw ...... mirror-like surfaces and brilliant displays of colours by the coral formations. The fish were also incredibly social and we were visited by young stingrays, Bermuda Chubs, Trumpet Fish, Needlefish, Parrot Fish, Butterfly Fish and so many more! Captain Mario had gone in search of the Moray Eel, and had found her tucked away under a piece of boat wreck - usually a sign that she wants to be left alone which he respected. However, just a few minutes later, she was playing hide and seek - popping out and going back in, and then made her way over to her "social den" where she stays when feeling sociable. Much to the delight of everyone, hide and seek was resumed and she entertained all those watching by peek-a-booing and then swimming out and back in to her hide-hole a number of times. What an experience!

The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman

During our tour, we had bypassed Stingray City Sandbar in order to avoid the crowd - a lot of boats were there! Eventually, we knew we had to move in .... and luckily the majority of the others moved out .... perfect timing by Captain Mario again! The water at the sandbar was only 2 feet deep and crystal clear. Stingray whisperer 1st Mate Dwayne set off to go and find one of his "girls", and came back to the group whispering sweet nothings to Snowflake who wilted in everybody's arms - she was so relaxed and laid back and just took in all the love whilst handing out kisses to whoever wanted them! 

Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

As we said at the beginning, the good was gooooooood and the bad was very bad. Let's hope we get some more of the good stuff in the next coming week ..........


Captains Log, Starfish Point, Stingray City

9 February 2015 - The calm between the storms!

Tour Time : 8:30am

Guests from : Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, Westin Hotel Grand Cayman, residents

Star Stingray : Snowflake

No Shows : 0

Caribbean beauty stuns the mind

Caribbean beauty stuns the mind

NOT happy about having to cancel tours on the past Saturday and Sunday (lousy weather) .... leaves a bad taste in the mouth and disappointed guests. We were holding our breath for Monday morning as the prediction was for a few hours of gorgeous weather, and some guests had very kindly agreed to move their booking to this date on our advice. Tense times indeed!

Approaching the Reef in Grand Cayman for snorkelling

Approaching the Reef in Grand Cayman for snorkelling

But oh my were our guests rewarded! We set off from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in completely still waters, and made our way across the emerald caribbean waters towards the Reef for our snorkel stop. Everyone was mesmerised by the incredible clarity of the water - you could make out each blade of turtle grass, and see the burnt amber starfish that whizzed past under the bow. The closer we got to the reef, the bluer the water ...... spectacular colours all round! The ocean was so inviting our guests were in the water before you could say "mask"!

 

A Blue Runner joins us snorkelling the Reef in Grand Cayman

A Blue Runner joins us snorkelling the Reef in Grand Cayman

"Refreshing" is the best way to describe the water - cooler than normal due to the recent winds and rain, but so easy to adjust to, especially when looking around at the beauty under the surface. Everyone shot off in different directions, all eager to ogle the tropical fish and splendid coral formations. Waiting to welcome us were Trumpet Fish, giant Parrot Fish, Blue Tangs, Blue Runners, Snappers, and stingrays ... and someone special!

Trumpet fish found along the Reef during the snorkel stop

Trumpet fish found along the Reef during the snorkel stop

Captain Mario joined the group in the water and headed off to find a friend of his ..... which he did! There is a Moray Eel who lives along the Reef, and the captain is quite adept at locating her. He found her home for the day and promised to bring everyone to see her a little later on ..... it was time to move on to Starfish Point first, and if we had time, we could return to visit. The weather was already showing signs of turning, with the wind picking up a little from the South West, and Captain Mario's priority was to make the best of the excursion before it really took hold!

Incredible cloud formations on the way to Starfish Point

Incredible cloud formations on the way to Starfish Point

"Big John" arrived at Starfish Point to find it deserted except for one couple standing in the waters, in awe of the surrounding nature. The ombre shades of blues and greens of the water lapping this idyllic beach were breath taking. Our 1st Mate Dwayne went off in search of Starfish while Captain Mario chatted to our guests about the beach and the gorgeous little creatures after which the beach is named.

Caribbean blue up in the skies at  Starfish Point

Caribbean blue up in the skies at Starfish Point

Juvenile Starfish making tracks

Juvenile Starfish making tracks

Our tour then continued onto Stingray City Sandbar, world famous for it's stingrays. All aboard were buzzing with excitement about meeting the "ladies", and questions were being fired at the crew about how to hold and kiss the stingrays. They were firing the answers back as quick as they could!

Stingray City Grand Cayman - the sandbar - and one of the stars

Stingray City Grand Cayman - the sandbar - and one of the stars

Even though the wind was slowly but surely picking up again, and the waters very moderately choppy, we had timed this visit perfectly - as we arrived, everyone else bar one boat melted into the horizon and we were left the centre of the stingrays' attention. Bliss! In minutes, the love was all around our guests, and Dwayne was once again captivated by his beloved Snowflake. Giggles, squeaks, ooooh's and aaaah's filled the air - the girls were especially affectionate today and plenty of kisses were handed out. Captain Mario was right in the thick of things trying to capture it all, taking photos of the action (which are provided free to our guests). It was sad to leave the ladies, but everyone had voted to go back to see the eel and it was time to do this.

So off we tootled back to the Reef to return to the promised spot! Most of the guests couldn't wait to get back into the water to meet her (although some were a little more cautious and preferred to stay onboard). Captain Mario did not disappoint! He managed to anchor just a few metres from the coral where the eel was regally awaiting her audience. Oh she was in such a social mood today! She put on a brilliant display of Cayman hospitality and repeatedly came all the way out of her hole to  let her visitors get some great pictures and footage!

The Moray Eel at Grand Cayman's Reef - ain't she a beauty?

The Moray Eel at Grand Cayman's Reef - ain't she a beauty?

All in all, an incredible excursion today, and we hope that our guests had a good time that will be remembered forever.

We hope you enjoyed reading all about, and genuinely hope to be able to host you one day as well!

snorkel

ELVIS THE EEL

There are two well known Moray Eels at the various snorkelling sites in Grand Cayman, with Elvis being the friendlier of the two (the other one is called Phsycho!). 

Elvis can be found at Coral Gardens and on most days is quite happy to come out for a treat and say hi to our snorkel guests on tour with us. 

In this photo you can see someone hand feeding him - we were taking photos of another tour operator doing this, and strongly advise that you don't do this for two reasons. One: you probably like your hand in one piece and Two: we do not want the eels to connect human hands to food.

When it is possible, it is a magnificent sight to see, and has our excursion guests swarming to watch the show - which is greatly enjoyed.

Elvis showing us his better side