George Town, Cayman Islands
Average on surface: 29ºC
Average on bottom: 30ºC
Average depth: 19.19m
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Dived on: Kittiwake Wreck - 65ft, 60min
- With Indepth Watersports
FIRST WRECK DIVE. Scared the crap out of me. Ex-USS Kittiwake: The ex-USS Kittiwake was a submarine rescue vessel (ASR-13). She was part of the 6th Submarine squadron (SUBRON 6) home ported at the Destroyer-Submarine piers in Norfolk, VA. History: She was built by Savannah Machine & Foundry Co. (Savanna, Georgia), awarded May 11, 1944, near the end of WWII, launched July 10, 1945, and commissioned July 18, 1946. The Kittiwake had an illustrious service for over 54 years, being decommissioned September 30, 1994. After being laid up by the US Navy for six years, the Kittiwake was transferred to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) in March of 2000. From 2000 - 2009, she resided at the James River Reserve Fleet in Fort Eustis, Virginia (Norfolk area). MARAD issued an invitation to both US and international applicants to apply for the donation of a ship for the purposes of artificial reefing in 2004, and the Cayman Islands applied for a ship. The Cayman Islands was approved as the pilot project for the “donation of a ship from MARAD to a foreign Government for the purposes of artificial reefing”. The Kittiwake was transferred from MARAD to the Cayman Islands Government in August 2009, and was cleaned and remediated in Norfolk, Virginia, to become an artificial reef. This included substantial work including the removal of all hazardous materials (like pcb's, asbestos, mercury, cabling, wires, oils, lubricants and a very long list). Additionally, all thin or loose materials that could break off during or soon after sinking were removed. The Kittiwake is possibly the 'cleanest' wreck even to be sunk as an artificial reef. Tow: December 17, 2010, the Kittiwake started her tow to Grand Cayman in a snow and ice storm; a tow that weathered rough winter seas for the better part of her nine day journey, arriving in Grand Cayman midday on December 25, 2010. The 'America' tug boat brought her safely to Grand Cayman. Specs: The Kittiwake is 251 ft long, 44 ft on her beam, and drafted 19 ft fully loaded. Her light displacement was 1704 tons and full displacement was 2193 tons. After removal of much of the equipment and steel on board, her displacement is around 1800 tons of steel for sinking. She is a very solid steel hull/steel superstructure that had 18 bulkheads, a single screw propeller made of solid brass that is still on board, and had a complement while in active duty of 10 officers and 98 enlisted service personnel. Her armament was removed before export from the USA. Location: As you can see, the location for sinking the Kittiwake is at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, on the west or lee side of Grand Cayman at latitude 19 21.714’N and longitude 081 24.073'W for her bow, just off of the Sand Chute dive site. The bottom is flat and sandy. The Kittiwake will rest 64 ft deep at the bottom and be only 15 ft from the surface, ideal for both divers and snorkellers. Decks: There are five decks on the 47 ft tall Kittiwake. Externally, the crow's nest, mast and large stern a-frame have been cut down and remounted to make her height suitable for Cayman waters. The upper decks accommodate the two bridges (both an external and internal bridge to allow operations in heavy seas) along with the radio and navigation room. The sonar has been removed. The Captain and XO's quarters are also located on the upper decks. On the main deck, from bow to stern, internally you will find the rec room, mess hall, ironing room, small tool workshop and recompression chambers. You will note the large a-frame structure on the stern that supported submarines and hard hat divers, as well as the diving bell where divers would enter to return to the ship from the ocean and then be placed in the chambers for decompression. Below the main deck, two decks exist that include the crew's quarter, medic/hospital station, engine and propulsion rooms, air bank storage and compressors, as well as the steering gear, shaft, gyro, ammunition lockers, cold storage and barber shop, to name a few areas. While the Kittiwake has been opened up with large access holes both vertically and horizontally, every space on the ship was used while in service.
Dived on: Heather's Hallway - 98ft, 51min
- With Ocean Frontiers, Ltd.
(Jill 48): Heather's Hallway. This was the 3-tank "safari" to the north side of the island. The owner of the company is trying to find good sites to put more mooring points in on the north side of the island (I believe he's working with the local government on this), so this longer run goes around the island and puts in at random points to see what is there along the wall. This could be the first time anyone has dove this location. Heather guided, so she got to name the site, and it started in the sand, and then we dropped into a narrow trough in the coral (the hallway) and exited that on the wall. This was comparable to the best dive I did in Australia, the wall and coral were just amazing on this stretch of it. This is the dive that puts Cayman ahead of Maui - it was amazing. Just jaw-droppingly awesome and beautiful. Jill is doing so great on her diving now (though she could wave her arms a bit less), and both of us did well on our air. Jill used a smaller "63" tank and that put us pretty much exactly even on air - we both hit half a tank at the exact same time. The wall drops down to ~3000' here, and it is just amazing. Not a lot of big fish though. We did see 1 really big crab and some big lobsters, and one of the evil lionfish. The coral here is really beautiful. 7/25/12 8:45 Depth: 98 Time: 51 Weight: 12 lbs (good) Wetsuit: 3M Shorty Visibility: ~50' Water Temp: 86 Air Temp: 90 Conditions: Rolling Waves Weather: Mostly Sunny.
Dived on: Eagle's Nest - 60ft, 45min
- With Don Foster's Dive Cayman, Ltd.
Deepest dive I've made recently. I had to work hard with refresher skills I needed like mask clearing and equalizing. Also worked on navigating through holes in reef walls and maintaining neutral buoyancy while drifting with current through channels. We also got to swim with a sea turtle for most of our bottom time watching him bite off chunks from reef. Eagles Nest GPS Coordinates N19 20.484 W81 23.525 60.0 ft
Dived on: Stingray City East - 6m, 60min
- With Steve from Compass Point Dive Resort
Best dive in under 6 metres of water. Fisherman used to empty their nets here now loads of Southern Atlantic Stingrays congregate. Boat dive with Compass point dive resort. Shallow dive, must have been at least 12-15 stingrays, nothing else. Amazing dive, just sat around watching the Stingrays float past while they were fed squid by Steve. Great Dive and very easy
Dived on: Caribbean Club Sand Chute - 97ft, 53min
- With Lee from Divetech, Ltd.
Sand Chute - west side almost straight out from west bay beach. Decent to about 45' then thru kind of a tunnel and slowly down to 70' at the end of the chute then 97' on the wall and back up. 3:00 safety stop at 15. Beautiful coral and fish everywhere.