Clearing from Grand Cayman

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sun 7 Apr 2013 01:53
Our month's stay in Grand Cayman is now up. In fact we are clearing on the day of our visa expiry which is cutting things rather fine, but as always, the weather insists on playing it's part. A cold front arrived in the area last night, whereas a few days back it was not expected to get here at all. Because of this weather event yesterday we moved back to the security of Governor's Harbour in North Sound which is where we sat out the last front. We had previously sailed back to George Town on April 1st to spend the 'Admiral's' Birthday moored off the town. The plan was to then clear immigration a day or so later and head west to Isla Mujeres in Mexico (Again!!).
So, arriving back in town mid-morning on April Fool's Day we picked up the same mooring we'd previously occupied and went into town to look at possible options for our evening's celebratory meal. This took an hour or so and having found somewhere nice we dinghied back to the boat and took a cooling pre-dinner swim. The 'Birthday Girl' clad elegantly in mis-matching mask, snorkel and fins was first in and in her search for interesting-looking fish just happened to glance at the mooring ball line under the water which secured the ball (and us) to the sea bed by means of a 2" thick polypropylene rope. Horror of horrors (was this some rotten joke) the line was badly chafed. It was subsequently, on eventually arriving at the scene, declared unsafe to use by 'Skip' (who's always slower to get into the water in case there are nasties around). In fact it was so worn that the 2" diameter line was now down to just a dozen or so strands amounting in total to no more than 1/8 inch if that. It's hard to count precisely when you're holding your breath underwater. So with time moving on and mutterings from the 'Admiral' about 'ruined Birthdays' we quickly dropped the mooring line - what was left of it and moved to another mooring that was free. We also advised the Port Security service of the situation with the first mooring ball. (They said that they had made a note of it!!!). Our second choice of mooring was checked using the 'looky bucket' and reported to be sound. So, glad rags on and off to the 'Da Fish Shack' with no further scare likely except when being presented with our restaurant bill. We had a lovely evening. After a few beers - two buckets to be precise (wine prices well off the radar), we joked about the possibility, had we stayed on the first mooring, of waking up in the early hours 20 miles to the west still attached to the mooring ball. Ha!
        ..............and not looking a day older! (Yeah -ED)                                   Wahoo fillet - This certainly never saw ketchup!   
     Whereas ...well, what can you say ! Phil-istine!                            By the way....Sailing vacations have certainly changed since Blackbeard's time !       
The very next morning the 'Admiral' spotted through the 'binos' the sight of not just one but two large cruise ship tenders tethered to the dodgy mooring ball. The Port Authorities use the tenders to ferry passengers back and forth from the anchored ships. These tenders carry 250 persons each, are pretty substantial and....well, two of them surely couldn't stay on that ball for very long before it finally parted? Indeed not, a short while later the person onboard looking after the two tenders could be seen staring down at the mooring ball and looking around him in a confused manner. He finally realised that both tenders, complete with mooring ball and himself, were now drifting across the harbour and out to sea.  Well, we did tell them.
With the Birthday celebrations behind us we could look to clearing from Grand Cayman but then, as mentioned, the weather files changed yet again. Although this next front was not expected to be too vicious or last too long it was better to be safe than sorry and move to the safety of Governor's Harbour once more. George Town is no place to be stuck in strong west to northwest winds. Governor's Harbour, by the way, is a land locked creek situated just off the North Sound area in easy walking distance of '7 Mile Beach' which is along the northern part of the western arm of the island. Strangely enough it is only four miles long. Here are situated some of the best hotels, resorts and residences. The Harbour is fully enclosed by mangroves which makes it as secure as it's possible to get an anchorage with good access to the beach and most importantly a 'Cost U Less' supermarket. Now nicknamed 'Cost U Loads'.
Pre-frontal sunset in Governor's Harbour                 just a des-res or two surround the anchorage
The night before we left the town the wind had dropped to dead calm which meant that the mooring ball we were now attached to had a gay old time during the night thumping into us as we drifted around in the current. We did get some sleep but it was as though half the Liverpool team was getting some shooting practice in at roughly 20 minute intervals and our boat hulls were the target. Had it been the Portsmouth team of course we would have slept like logs throughout the night.
But if we thought we had an unsettled night it was trivial compared to one of our neighbouring boats, a handsome 60 foot sloop of some value which had anchored (due to shortage of mooring balls!) closer to town. It's owner will now be filling in his insurance claim form for damage inflicted on the night of 4th April caused by coming into direct contact with a pirate ship named 'The Jolly Roger'. Suffering the same problem of drifting around in the current they were awakened not by a mooring ball bouncing off the hull but to the sound of graunching metal and pinging wire as their stanchions were being systematically mangled by our friendly local pirate ship.  'The Jolly Roger' is left on a very long mooring line off the town after its busy days overseeing much cutlass waving and plank walking. Looking at the boat it would seem this could be a regular occurrence with numerous dings, scrapes, and missing windows from the Captain's cabin. Just hope the insurance company believe the story.................
Goodbye Grand Cayman ......