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mantastrip1 mantastrip2 mantastrip3 dutchwestindies All images Copyright 2009 Michael Tierney


Swimming in liquid topaz

Dive Log 1: Blue Lagoon Island, Grand Caymen, Jamaica -- 1993-94

As you can tell by the photo strip down the left side, both scuba diving and photography are hobbies of mine.

I've always loved swimming and water sports. My Dad loved to drive, and during his many cross country trips from coast to coast, I swam in rivers of every shape and size, including ice cold mountain streams (still shivering from those memories), lakes, the gulf and both oceans.

I liked the oceans the best.

I was first certified in scuba diving as a teenager in the late Sixties, but as an adult it was several decades before I had the opportunity to return to the oceans. In fact, it was quite a while before I even took my first vacation.

Blue Lagoon Island/Bahamas

In 1993 I finally took the time to take a Carnival Cruise. It was a short, weekend cruise, but one shore excursion gave me a chance to do some snorkling at the private Blue Lagoon Island. I bought a disposable underwater camera and headed for the water. The fact that everybody was leaving the water in a panic, shouting "Barracuda!" didn't stop me. As everyone got out of the water, I jumped in and headed for deep water. Ran nose to nose with the barracuda. We each took one look at each other, and turned different directions. Eventually, everyone else started getting their toes wet again.

Blue Lagoon Island

The pictures didn't turn out that well, because the camera was so cheap. But it was fantastic to finally swim in schools of oceanic fish. That's something you can never experience when restricted to the beach surf.

I vowed that it wouldn't be so long before I next swam in the ocean.

Grand Cayman Island

One year later, I was back on another Carnival Cruise, this time a weeklong excursion. And this time I finally did some scuba diving.

Michael in Grand Cayman

The picture above is a self portrait, taken while walking back through the surf, having just finished my first ocean dive..

If you've ever seen the movie "The Firm," you'll remember that when they wanted to get rid of a lawyer, they took them scuba diving in the Caymens. After my visit there, I discovered that that's not a far fetched storyline. No longer having a current "C" card, all I had to do to rent equipment was to answer a questionaire, with the answers right in front of me on the wall.

Once again using a disposable camera, the pictures were nothing to brag about.

Jamaica/Dunn's Falls

While on that second cruise, I also made a stop at Jamaica (and since I was a self-emplyed individual traveling alone, with Jamaica as my last stop, the Miami customs officers decided that I must be a drug smuggler. They searched my luggage and had the drug dog sniff me. I was a big disappointment to them, wasting so much of their time.)
Jaimaica/Dunn's Falls 1 Jaimaica/Dunn's Falls 2

While diving the port of Jaimaic didn't turn up any great photos, the disposable camera did come in handy when I climbed Dunn's Falls. It's a two-mile long waterfall that empties into the ocean at the spot where, in the James Bond movie Dr. No, Bond sees Ursula Andress/Honey Rider emerge from the ocean in her bikini. The site has changed a lot over the decades, but there're still lots of bikinis to be seen. The second shot was taken from underneath a waterfall.

Also on this cruise I did some snorkling off a beach at Cozumel. But, like at Grand Caymen, shore dives at heavy tourist sites are so trampled, there's not much ocean life to see. The underwater experience at the Blue Lagoon private island was far better than any place on this trip.

I came home from my second cruise determined to be re-certified the next time I took an ocean cruise, to have a better camera, and to have my own dive equipment.

And more importantly, I was going to find a way to do some dives off the beaten path, away from sites where cruise ships are dumping thousands of people all at the same time, herding them off ramps like cattle. They don't laugh when you start making "Moo" sounds, either.

Dive Log 2