Date: 21 May 97 19:50:57 EDT
From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@compuserve.com>
Subject: At Grand Cayman

Everyone,

The Cayman Islands are not on the normal cruising agenda. After just a day here, we're wondering why. The place is beautiful, the snorkeling is outstanding, the people are wonderful. It's true, the prices are high, but if you come here with your own food, as most cruisers would anyway, and stay on your boat, as you most certainly would, it's going to be an inexpensive stop. We visited one of the grocery stores today and the stocks are quite comparable to a good US store, better in selection and quality than many we've been to stateside. Prices were not as bad as we expected, either. It varied, but from stateside to 25% higher, depending on the product. We were in heaven, finding even the taco chips we'd craved so long! We've even discovered a cash and carry wholesale grocery warehouse, by the case, open to the public in downtown George Town. We'll hit it later and report on prices, but I'm sure restocking is an option here.

The North Bay has Stingray City, which we'll visit tomorrow, protection, snorkeling and more. The whole island is ringed with coral reefs for diving, which you can anchor outside of, or tie up to moorings in most places. We've seen ray, fish of all size and much more everywhere. There are shipwrecks to see all around the island. It really has a lot to offer.

I'd say anyone who is cruising would do well to consider a route west through the northern part of the Caribbean, especially if you're heading back to Texas, maybe even if you're going to the western side of Florida. Returning from the Virgins or south, going down the north coast of Jamaica, maybe stopping over on the south side of Cuba, then to Cayman, on up through the Yucatan Channel with a possible stop in Isla Mujeres would give you favorable currents, favorable winds and many delightful stops to break up the trip. For those who dislike paying fees to check in and out, there are none at either Jamaica or Cayman, unless you are after hours. In Jamaica, we didn't get charged even on the weekend, in Cayman we could have opted to stay out at anchor until normal hours, avoiding charges. We chose to go ahead and check in and pay the $50 US charge for overtime.

We were a little concerned at first that we were taking a route home that wasn't commonly traveled. Now that we're well into it, we're wondering why it isn't used all the time? We'll be back down this route again.

Gene Gruender
George Town, Grand Cayman