Total Submersion, Day 1, Sunday, Welcome Party
My flight got delayed by several hours, so no diving for me today. But, I arrived just in time for sunset and the welcome party. As a magazine editor, I'll never pass up on a social gathering…especially with free drinks. The group is smaller this year, but about 30 repeats, so there's a bunch of familiar faces and it's good to see them for our annual Cayman bash. We all played the celebrity game, where we each got a name tag, put on our back, with a famous person to figure out and we got what every diver needs, de-fog. Afterwards, we all convened to the bar to catch up, then had an early night to prep my camera gear.
Total Submersion, Day 2, Monday, Blackie's Hole and Armchair Reef
Today I had an incredible hawksbill sea turtle encounter at Armchair Reef. Just a juvenile, I spotted it swimming over the sand between coral heads, then headed out to get some shots. It…slowed down!! And for the next 15 minutes we turned, swirled and posed for me and my model as if it had done the job a million times.
Got back from the boat, showered quickly and gave a presentation on “How to Tell A Story With Your Images.” We'll see how the attendees do at the end of the week with the photo competition.
Tonight we enjoyed the sunset with a seaside BBQ. And there's nothing better than a BBQ to celebrate an awesome day of diving.
Total Submersion, Day 3, Tuesday, Northwest Point Drop-off and Pageant Reef
One of my favorites today! Northwest Point Drop-off. I love the orange elephant ear sponges and large sponges. It's a steep drop and pretty easy to get slipped into triple digits on depth, but the lush growth off this part of Seven Mile Beach.
Back on shore, a group of us headed out for a shore dive to see the Mermaid and the Wreck of Nicholson. I had the Olympus PEN system to work out with underwater. The Mermaid made the perfect model for me to test the various scene modes. My to faves: Grainy Black & White and Pinhole.
Total Submersion, Day 4, Wednesday, Poker Run
Today was party fun party day….and it was participant, April Ashworths', birthday. But first, the Poker Run. Theresa Gulledge and I positioned ourselves at the Mermaid statue for the Poker Run, which is an event where the participants have to navigate to five different stations, underwater, and the staff gives out a playing card. Best hand at the end of the dive wins a Scubapro dive computer and regulator for best hand. Cheryl Teal won with a four of a kind. Deb Palmquist scored the second prize, a Scubapro mask, fins and snorkel.
The afternoon was spent shore diving, and PADI Photo Expert (the author the Digital Underwater Photographer course) put on a seminar about “Bringing Back the Color” to you images, with more than half the group eating it up.
Evening brought the shenanigans of Band Night. This night started with pass the grapefruit and then musical chairs. April Ashworth pushed and bullied her way to end up in the last chair, winning a DAN backpack. Then it was time to celebrate her birthday.
Total Submersion, Day 5 Thursday, Dolphin Point Drop-Off/Eden Rock
We got to dive on a new site today, Dolphin Point Drop Off, just off Seven Mile Beach. If you're looking for great orange elephant ear sponges, this is the place. Two pinnacles just under the mooring rise are covered in a thick layer of sea fans, gorgonians and sponges. You'll need to go a little deeper to find the larger sponges, but even at about 95-feet I could look up and felt as if I could reach up and grab the boat, the water was so clear.
For our second dive, we moored up at Eden Rock to explore the lightbeam and tarpon filled swim-throughs and caverns. The sun played fair and finning through the light and shadows was pure magic. The tarpon, several dozen, hardly move as you pass through. Nice.
After a quick lunch spent reviewing images for the participants that are submitting images for the photo contest (more to come tomorrow on that), I headed out, ostensibly to go shoot the Nicholson, just off Sunset House. On the way out, yep, another hawksbill turtle decided to join us…for the entire dive!!! Some weeks marinelife just cooperates. This week for me has been all about the sea turtles. For 45 minutes, I weaved in and out of coral heads and shot about 190 images of this turtle. Honestly, I had to stop because I was getting tired. I'd been huffing in down the reef at about 50-feet non-stop for 45 minutes and needed to catch my breath. Oh, yeah, and swim BACK! This is when I want to say, “Taxi!” But, obviously, I made it back (just in case you were worried and thought someone else had written this blog!). Just wait until I can upload images and populate this with images!
Cheers. See you tomorrow.
Total Submersion, Blog, Friday
After morning dives on the wreck of the Nicholson and Sunset House Reef, it was time to meet up with Andy Bausk of Olympus and famous photographer and coach, Cathy Church, to judge our photo contest. This year was a banner year for great images, so we had to expand the categories and include a bunch of extra Honorable mentions. We had two categories: Diver and Marinelife. In the Diver Category, the honorable mentions were Karen Upchurch, Jeff Crubaugh, Roger Kelderman, Patrick Hammer and Sherry Hammer. They each one a Cathy Church photo magnet. Thanks Cathy! The top three for the Diver Category were, in third place, Jim Palmquist, who won a Tortuga Rum Cake; in second place, winning a DAN Pocket Guardian First Aid Kit, Gary Parker; and in first place, winning an Olympus Tough 6000, with housing, Sheila Bergman.
In the Marinelife Category we had a pile of honorable mentions, all of whom won a Cathy Church photo magnet, including: Karen Upchurch, Cheryl Teale, Evan Bergman, Gary Parker, Sheila Bergman, Roger Kelderman, Larry Stewart, Bob Zimmerman, Mary Lucas and Rob Stamper. The top three in the Marinelife Category are: in third place, winning a Tortuga Rum Cake, Jeff Crubaugh; in second place, winning a DAN Pocket Guardian First Aid Kit, Jim Palmquist; and in first place, winning an Olympus tough 6000, with a housing, Noel Bergman.
And the Grand Prize winner∑ winning an Olympus Tough 6000, with a housing and an Olympus strobe ∑ is ˜ Janice Courvilles.
Congrats to everyone. Another great Total Submersion.