2015 Grenada, West Indies, Grenadian by Rex Hotel, Diving with Devotion2Ocean – Selsey Bill SAC strike again!!
Once again, a group of us (Malcolm, Carol, Tony, Keith, Simon, Gabby, Sue, Graham, Jen, Richard, Jo and Jo-Fox) headed west to dive the waters of Grenada. A fortnight of sun, sea, sand, diving and all-inclusive extravagance.
Diving both sides of the island provided contrast and entertainment, here is how it went:
Four miles out on the Atlantic side of Grenada, with a choppy, lumpy sea and quite a wind blowing, we prepared for the first dive on this site. I elected not to take the camera as it was quite bulky and we had been told there was a ‘bit of current’.
Leaping off the back of the boat ‘Ocean Drive Her’ I grabbed for the rope and pulled myself to the line that descended to the wreck below. The current was quite strong and I had to pause to collect my breath and thoughts as I faced the unknown. Hauling hand over hand my buddy and I edged deeper and deeper and then the bottom opened up before us. I looked down. My buddy looked down, and at the same time we both signalled wildly to each other – sharks!
We could see them cruising below by the wreck; two, three, no – four reef tipped sharks. Wow. So exciting. Our descent to the wreck continued apace and as we reached it an eagle ray glided past. Oh my – could this get any better? As we sheltered in the lee of the wreck – the Hema 1, which sank on March 5 2005, on its way to Trinidad, we were amazed by the pelagic life to be seen. Four nurse sharks lay sleeping tucked under a ledge on the stern of the wreck. We were so close to them. Another one swam by. Then another eagle ray. This was the best big stuff in one place that I had seen for ages.
Unfortunately the dive was over too soon. 30m depth and a square profile limited our time to 25 minutes and I could have kicked myself for not having the camera, although as I negotiated my return up the ladder to the boat, which was interesting, perhaps I was right to err on the side of caution.
This was one of four wrecks that we dived whilst in Grenada and for me it was the most exciting. We did a second dive later in the week and it was just as good.
The other wrecks were the ‘Shak Em’, the ‘Veronica L’, and of course the ‘Bianca C’.
The Veronica L is a smashing little dive and we visited it 6 times in all, twice for a night dive. The Veronica used to lie in front of St. George’s Melville Street, the location of the new cruise terminal and dock. To preserve the dive attraction, the wreck was lifted, loaded onto a barge and transported a few miles south to its new location, amidst a nice reef just off Grand Anse. It now lays in 15m of water and is a beautiful artificial reef.
There is plenty of fish life and marine growth and as it is so shallow, it offers many photo opportunities, to which those with cameras almost OD’d on!! Sea horses on the surrounding reef, large puffer fish, arrowhead crabs, eels galore, sponges and corals of many colours, and teeny goby fish hiding in the tiniest of holes. Trumpet fish were ever present as were myriads of other fish.
The Shake Em was another favourite dive. It is one of the newer wrecks in Grenada’s collection, which sank on May 30th, 2001 after a troubled journey from Trinidad to Grenada overnight. The load of cement bags shifted and the vessel went down just in sight of the harbour’s entrance. As it lies perfectly on keel at a bottom of 34m with its many hatches, open bridge, hallways, galleys, cabins, freight rooms and crane it is the perfect playground for wreck lovers.
We visited it three times, each dive revealing different aspects. It is easy to explore and swim through and even witness the intact portholes.
A smaller group of our dive party visited the Bianca C, on a day that some of decided to go to the Spice Market instead – hey ho.
The Bianca C was a 190m long cruise ship travelling the oceans since 1949. On her last voyage in October 1961 while anchoring off St. George’s she caught fire after an explosion in the engine room. In a selfless response of the town all passengers and crew (apart from two members of the crew burnt in the initial explosion) were rescued and taken care of by the hospitality of the Grenadiers. In failed attempt to tow the luxury cruise liner to shallow waters, it sank to 48m where it lies today.
The dive tactics were different this time. Instead of tying off on the wreck they made a free descent and drifted on to it using the current to assist them. A pretty impressive feat considering you can’t see it from the surface. All five divers were well impressed with their dive and were happy to report that they actually managed to touch the wreck (something not achieved two years earlier).
The other dives of the two weeks consisted of drift dives of varying speed and interest on reefs around the bay. I think our favourite dive was Flamingo Bay which is situated in the Marine Reserve. It is a pretty, sheltered bay perfect for beginners to explore the underwater world.
It has beautiful coral gardens, hiding sea horses and many small creatures which we hunted for with fervour as we floated over sea fans, gorgonians or pillar corals. Off the reef towards the sea grass beds, is the critter capital of Grenada – a muck divers dream come true.
All kinds of shrimp, baby octopus, pipefish, banded jaw fish sometimes with a whole load of eggs in their mouth and much more can be discovered. Our Macro photographers were very happy there.
We dived the Sculpture Park and it was interesting to see how they much the sculptures had changed in two years. There was also the addition of a new one in the form of a girl with pearls exiting a giant nutmeg.
The park was initiated by English artist Jason de Caire-Taylor, and this unique site is the first Underwater Sculpture Park in the Caribbean. This “exhibition” is a work in progress and shows the constant change to which all life is exposed.
The drift dives we undertook sometimes meant we had to fin across a current, (puff) or just go with the flow, and fly along, trying to snap wildlife on the way.
Others were so gentle that it was easy to stop, turn round, go back or just float and watch. Every dive offered up new things, and if it was something special then those with cameras swarmed round it like bees round a honey pot!
Those without cameras thought it looked very funny. Goodness knows what the hapless creature thought.
The Rum Distillery
Topside activities included a day trip round the island which included a swim in the Concorde Waterfall, a visit to a nutmeg factory, a quick look at a chocolate factory where we sampled differing grades of chocolate, lunch in a fabulous setting on the north of the island, an interesting talk and tour of a rum distillery plus a taste of 75% proof rum and then we headed back via the Grand Etang Nature Reserve to look for Mona monkeys.
After making various monkey noises one decided to appear and much to the delight of one of our party it sat on her head!
Apart from a half day visit to St Georges and the Spice Market, we spent most afternoons reading, sunning, snoozing, swimming in the sea or pool and generally relaxing. Our favourite time was the 6 o’clock in the morning ‘Tea in the Sea’, where we would chat and sip tea or coffee and get thrown around by the swell of the incoming waves some of which were a legacy from Hurricane Patricia that had hit Mexico earlier on.
One of the traditions of a club holiday is that we have to have a dressing up evening, and we certainly went to town this time. The theme was Hawaiian. Oh my, the grass skirts, loud shirts, hilarious sunglasses, hats and flowers were enough to make us get kicked out! The prize has to go to Simon though who had studiously studied the ukulele so that he could give us a rendition of the ‘Banana Boat Song’. It was brilliant.
Hawaiian night fancy dress
We dived with Devotion 2 Ocean, which are based at The Grenadian by Rex Hotel where we were staying.
Ocean and Tomroy were our dive guides and Keenan drove the boat.
They were hard working and cheerful at all times and joined in our fun, especially when we persuaded Tomroy to wear a grass skirt when he dived.
‘Ocean Drive Her’ in the bay
It was a great two weeks and the 12 of us all thoroughly enjoyed it. We have many good memories of the island, its people and of course the diving.
Report by Sue Roberts.