While Tash and the kids were touring, holding turtles and petting stingrays, I was off on my own special port excursion.
Yep, I was leaving the freezing waters of Michigan and diving into the warm Caribbean.
The water was a beautiful calm cerulean blue, and the surface water temp read 86 degrees.
After leaving the tender the group of 12 divers met with Red Sail Sports, the dive operator for the tour.
Unfortunately Disney being rather conservative and mindful that many cruise divers aren't exactly in top form (with 12 divers in the group it ranged from a diver with less than 9 dives, one with 9, and one lady who claimed 2000 dives, so there was quite the variation), so Disney didn't arrange for us to buy the dive passes to dive the USS Kittiwake. Disney limits the first dive to an 80 foot max depth and the second to 50 feet.
I dive buddy-ed up with Mike, a diver who I met at the assembly area for the tour on the ship. Wouldn't you know it, he not only comes from Michigan but only lives about two miles away from me. What are the chances? Nice guy and I think I've talked him into coming out and diving with our group in the future.
The first dive site was the Sand Chute, having had my heart set on diving the Kittiwake, I was sad that we couldn't/ However, it turned out that the Sand Chute is conveniently located within swimming distance of the Kittiwake. You could actually see the outline of the Kittiwake from the surface, 80 feet above.
The Sand Chute is a rather famous dive site and noted for a diving tourism publicity stunt the Caymans held there in the 70s. A Diver was dressed in a full downhill skiing garb along with a scuba tank and the poster shot of him read "Ski Cayman".
It is a rather pretty site, with some cool fish and neat tight swim-throughs in the coral.
While we couldn't dive the Kittiwake, nor go inside or explore a lot of it, the Dive Master had us follow him on a tour around the Sand Chute site then allowed us to swim up to the Kittiwake and then loop back to the boat. Game on.
The Ex-USS Kittiwake, a Chanticleer Class Submarine rescue vessel. While it never rescued an American submarine, it did have the distinction of ramming one, the USS Bergall, when after a refit the Kittiwake's drive motor was wired in reverse, so when it tried to go full ahead it instead went full reverse into the sub. Oops. The Kittiwake after being decommissioned was purchased by the Cayman Islands and was sunk as an artificial reef in 2011.
Happiness is hanging out by the ship's massive propeller:
The Kittiwake, with many holes cut into her hull for easy access and exploration beckoned invitingly. However, we weren't allowed to go in. In addition, my gauge was well into the red showing that the Aluminum 80 tank I wore was getting kinda low so it was time to leave.
Ah, about that max depth of 80 feet...
Dive Number 230 Simply Rocked, and I so want to go back and dive the Kittiwake properly.
Dive Time: 26 Minutes
Max Depth: 91 Feet
Average Depth: 59 feet.
Water Temp: 86 to 81 degrees at the bottom.
But the dive trip wasn't done yet.....