Summer update July -- August, 2012
I spent four weeks diving from my boat with my best friend Christine. I even saw my very first Loggerhead turtle at Royal Palms ledge off Seven Mile Beach.
For the last week, we drove my boat around to the east end in late July. But, it was a little rough for us "67-years-young" ladies to pick up the mooring at the dive sites. We are much happier in calmer water. Not be kept out of the water, we checked in at Compass Point Dive Resort for three days and made ten wonderful dives with Ocean Frontiers. They provide, without a doubt, the best diving services I have ever experienced, on land or at sea. They even provide you with a wonderful printed booklet describing all 55 of their dive sites, with diagrams and room for comments and more. They took good care of our gear, set it up on the boat we were assigned to each trip, changed over our tanks as soon as we came up and all we had to do was show up and jump in!! We had a GREAT time. Thank you Steve Broadbelt and your wonderful staff and crew of Ocean Frontiers. I loved the cheerful smiles and non-stop service -- not just for me, but for all of your guests! On our way back home, the water was much calmer and Christine and I did one last wonderful dive before she went home.
A short, old, video of Cathy's biography
When I received the DEMA Hall of Fame Reaching Out Award in 2000, they made a short 4-minute video of me. I just realized that this tribute is on YouTube. My hairstyle has done several major changes over the years. It is worth a chuckle.
We finished the mural at Grand Cayman's Owen Roberts Airport baggage claim area! The mural is 9 feet high and a glorious 200 feet long! Here is a tiny section of it. I planned the photos and my photoshop guru, Charles (CJ) Viggers did the amazing job of putting it together so that it looks like one huge reef. His work is truly as good as it gets! I was quite happy with the entire piece. People are telling me that it makes waiting for your bags downright enjoyable!
Click here for the entire wall.
And, we got a wonderful new dog. Although from the front she looks like Chewbakka, we kept her breeder's name of Jasmin. She is a cuddly, smart, very active Labradoodle, and makes me laugh every day. She starts, as most dogs do, by licking your face at 6 am to get us up to walk her. No more sleeping in for me, and that is wonderful. If Herb or I are away for just a few minutes she greets you like a long-lost friend whom she has not seen in months.
I broke my toe on her crate (dashing in the dark to answer the phone) and it needed resetting at the hospital. But it will be fully healed in time for Photo Fest.
December 15, 2011
WOW, have I been busy!
A lot has happened since November 2010. I have been to Turkey to judge the CMAS photo contest, I became the President of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS), I have offered seminars in Washington, Our World Underwater, Boston area, Beneath the Sea, we had a great Photo Fest here in Grand Cayman, I had a death in the family, I went to a family wedding, I went to Costa Rica on a vegan retreat with Herb, and we ripped the downstairs photo center apart and rebuilt it all -- sans darkroom. I spent five weeks diving non-stop from my boat this past summer with my friends Christine, but have not had a second to spare to get the new images up.
Kat has moved on to Bali (the Cayman Islands government does not allow people to stay here longer than 7 years without all sorts of permissions which we could not get). We have a new manager, Jenn Mark, and a new Emmy award winning videographer/wedding event photographer, Tony Mark (yes -- Jenn's husband).
My garden looks great, my knee is now two years old and feeling absolutely PERFECT.
I have a kayak on the car because we use it to get my boat when it is out on a mooring, and I need to drive it back to store at my house.
November 3, 2010 ~ Scholarships & Training Grants from Woman Divers Hall of Fame and the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences
If you know of worthy people who could use a scholarship or training grant for marine or scuba related instruction, The Women Divers Hall of Fame offers scholarships for women enrolled in the following academic programs: Marine Conservation, Underwater Archeology, Journalism/graphic arts/photography/videography, or marine biology. The WDHoF offers training grants to begin or further SCUBA certification levels for men, women, disabled, junior, Navy NROTC and NJROTC divers. For complete information click here. These are yearly scholarships, so stay in touch with them.
There is also a $3000.00 scholarship (called the Zale Parry Scholarship) given by the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. Contact Ed Stetson for details.
October 31, 2010 ~ Second Lionfish Culling Derby—Cathy & Kat win a prize!
Kat and I used my new underwater scooters today to collect lionfish for the big derby. We WON!!! (the prize for the smallest one caught, and we were just a few measly millimeters shy of winning for the biggest one too). Now, as lovers of the ocean, we are reticent in our celebration of the killing of these beautiful but invasive fish; but kill them we must -- all the small tropical fish are vanishing from our reefs—neither of us remember seeing any of the once-numerous and beautiful fairy basslets on our dives today.
All of the lionfish presently found in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast are genetically related to three different adults inadvertently released from a Florida aquarium during Hurricane Andrew. We heard this evening that recent findings show that lionfish lay 30,000 eggs every four days? COULD THIS BE SO? "They" also say that in their native waters of the Pacific, a disease of the eggs is what likely controls their population numbers; thus, they have to lay a LOT of eggs to get a few to hatch. We will never “win” against them here because they live to depths of 400-500 feet. Our goal is to just keep them from dominating every coral head, so hopefully we can preserve some of our other species of fish on the reef.
Minor mishap to report -- I got nicked by one of the buggers through the backside of my protective glove while catching it. The intense pain was bearable as I made my way back to shore a half-hour later. Soaking it in extremely hot water for 20 minutes fixed it almost entirely -- it remains just a little swollen and sore.
While waiting for the weighing and measuring to determine the final results, the lionfish wranglers socialized with all the other teams—sharing stories, cocktails and delicious lionfish tacos—Saturday’s catch painstakingly cleaned & prepared by the terrific restaurant staff at Sunshine Suites. Great job guys and oh so tasty!!! A nod to all the event sponsors as well as the Cayman Islands Department of Environment. We hope this becomes a monthly event with more and more groups signing up to keep this pesky predator at bay.
Beneath The Sea “Divers of the Year” contributed a total of $1260.00 to support the campaign in China to encourage them to say "No" to Shark Fin soup. I will include you on my list of divers of the year if you wish to contribute $10 or more to this important campaign. 70 million sharks a year are finned alive and their still-thrashing bodies are inhumanely dumped back into the ocean because they take up too much space on the fishing boats compared to the highly prized fins. These fins only serve as a texture and status symbol for soup. Help stop this now. The billboard and Public announcements have been effective in China to show them the problems behind eating Shark-fin soup. Help buy more advertisements. Several of our shark populations are in danger of extinction in this decade. Another $160 was sent Feb. 2012.
2010 Beneath the Sea "Divers of the Year" award goes to
Jim and Marion Caldwell
Joseph DiTuriRachel Dreyer
Capt. Martha Herb
Jason and Wendy Heller
LCDR. Suzan Hernandez
Stephen K. Johnson
Capt. Karin Lynn
Ella Jean Morgan
Dan and Betty Orr
Mort and Alese Pechter
Click here to donate directly to Shark Savers, then tell me what you sent and I will add you to the list. If you prefer to call me with your credit card, or send a check, that is fine, too. Then you do not have to be on any mailing lists.
March 20, 2010
I am heading for a week in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, visiting family, friends and Beneath the Sea where I will be offering two workshops and will be honored as a Diver of the Year by BTS.
January 22, 2010
My new titanium and Teflon knee is doing great. I have been diving since Jan 2 (five weeks after the surgery) and all is well.
October 13, 2009
October 2, Herb's birthday
Here is the first stage of our store expansion back in July - -removing the walls from Sunset House Hotel rooms 101, 102 and sundries shop. By late August the walls were in and by late September the carpet was laid. The cabinets go in today and we actually be able to open soon. The above water products will go into the new expansion and that leaves more room downstairs for the underwater products, classroom and gallery.
Sept. 15, 2009
I am walking fine after arthroscopic surgery on my right knee. A fine doctor trimmed up a torn meniscus and cleaned it up. The left knee needs to be replaced, so I am wearing a brace to keep it from bending in and getting more deformed until I can figure just what to do next. Here is the latest garden photo. OK, OK -- yes, I photoshopped the big pink flowers in the front. Looks cool, doesn't it? The rest is real, as am I. There is a hint of my boat in the back left.
We have some more new employees and lots of our regulars. Check out our staff page to see all of their friendly smiles.
July 14, 2009
We are expanding our store to include twice as much space upstairs at Sunset House. Hopefully, the jackhammers will be done soon. We are well and business is holding up nicely. My friend Christine is here again for six weeks so I shall update our garden photo. We had a wonderful time with Herb's grandchildren at Disney World several months ago, and in late August we are going on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas with them. (Hold the sympathy notes -- I will be sequestered in my cabin studying my French in preparation for our trip there in late October.)
My new photo collection the "Imagination Collection" is up and running. I have had a great time finding subjects that make me think of all different things.
September 17, 2008
We are surviving the hurricane season, business has been wonderful, Herb and I and Sparky the African Gray Parrot are all well and healthy. My only difficulty earlier this year was dealing with the death of my father and my aunt, to whom I was quite close. Otherwise, this has been a good year in many ways. I had a wonderful summer with a six-week visit from my friend Christine, and we did a lot of diving. Although our dear Cayman reefs are deteriorating at an alarming rate, as they are around the world, there are still some great places to dive and take pictures.
As you can see, Christine and I are standing in my really wonderful garden. All signs of Ivan are long gone. It is amazing how time flies.
Our trip to Komodo in June was stunning. The Cheng Ho was fabulous -- no complaints. It is HUGE, clean, and offers incredible service, wonderful food, and amazing diving. Although I missed some dives, ear congestion, of all things, and yet a second bout of sciatica, Herb and I had an exciting time with rays, sharks, nudibranchs, and all of the amazing cast of characters of Indonesia diving. We liked it so much we are going back for two more trips in 2010. I will be busy in 2009 doing seminars around the US, and a trip to the Antibes Film Festival in France where I will be a juror, as well as presenting and exhibiting.
All is well with me, Herb and Sparky the African Gray Parrot. I hope you are well, also.
Otherwise it's just the same old thing here -- sun, fun, diving and no work. And you didn't think I had a sense of fantasy!!
Enjoy the journey,
February 25, 2008
My induction into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was a wonderful evening. I enjoyed getting to know the other inductees. My time spent with Daniel Mercier resulted in his inviting me to Jury, present and exhibit at the 2009 Underwater Film Festival in Antibes, France. Le problem soulement est je "must" parle en Francaise et je ne parle pas Francais, as you can see.
PNG was FUN! What can I tell you -- lots of new nudibranchs that I have never seen before and I almost got run over by a wobbegong!
December 4, 2007
What a whirlwind of activities. Our trip to Guadalupe to see Great White sharks was fabulous. The weather was rough the first two days, and the sharks were reluctant to come close to the cages, but on the third day everyone had a chance to see some up close. The highlight of the trip was the guest list—Ernie Brooks III, Zale Parry, Leslie Leaney—all hall of famers, and a lot of their friends and ours. Those Great White sharks are HUGE. He is much bigger than the divers in the other cage.
September 15, 2007
Our summer was wonderful. No problem hurricanes so far. Had some great dives from the new boat -- enjoyed Stingrays at the sandbar at sunrise, dove Ghost mountain and Babylon and more.
The Solomon Islands trip was yet again a stunning journey with a few new dive sites that I had never seen before. WOW. We had no problems and had wonderful weather much of the time. While the camera area on the Spirit of Solomons was way too small for our photo group, we all made it work.
I am getting a firm grip on photoshop and almost enjoying it.
Last, but not least, I am being inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this coming January. What a treat! This has been a marvelous organization and I am proud and happy to join their ranks.
February 23, 2007
Today I arranged for the power to be restored -- FINALLY -- to our last condo that was still in need of repair after hurricane Ivan. Once it is rented, we will finally be back on the road to financial recovery.
Herb is now back to the photo center full time so we are returning to a one-store operation.
Our garden is now home to two green iguanas—one about 2.5 feet long, and a lovely red racer snake who tried to climb the pole to the bird feeder. Our banana quits (also called sugar birds) are soon to raise their third family of the season in our porch light fixture.
October 4, 2006
The garden is growing by leaps and bounds.
The six-foot thatch palm was only a foot high when I planted it after hurricane Ivan.
Herb got a bright red Vespa scooter as it was difficult to ride a bike to the new store. But he is feeling fine and we are both very busy.
October 12, 2005
We had a great time, as always, at the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame induction and related events. I am not in the hall of fame, I work for the board of directors. I love meeting the new inductees. I sat and compared legs with the great Capt. Don Stewart of Bonaire, who is recuperating from the recent loss of one of his favorite legs. He was a delight to be with, and has an ardent and sensitive love of the sea.
August 17, 2005
I have accepted the fact that we shall never complete the house after the damage from hurricane Ivan. For example, we don't have towel racks up on the new walls, but we have found some creative ways to hang towels on the door. Our new back French doors were finally unpacked for installation and they are the wrong size!
I had a wonderful celebration of my 60th birthday with my June SuperCourse. Jason, better known as the disco wonder of the 70s stopped by to sing Happy Birthday to me.
My best friend, Christine Smith, came for a visit and stayed about six weeks. We had a great time. We did some hard gardening. Its looking pretty good, though I miss my trees.
March 25 , 2005
Herb and I are still living at Sunset House, but our roof at home is finished, and so are the walls. I painted the inside myself with a few helpers. We have all of our appliances and furniture but still await our cabinets (and therefore the sinks). The garden is still a mess, but a few birds are back and the butterflies are out in full.
After the 6.7 earthquake a few days ago, we are now awaiting the plague of locusts. The quake was a long one--Sparky flew off of Herb's hand just a few seconds before the rest of us noticed the lamp swaying and the clothes rocking back and forth on the hangers. Kat and Eddy came flying out of the photo centre in the basement as Herb and I headed downstairs from our room on the second floor. The residents of the hotel all met in the middle and said "That was a big earthquake!" It registered 6.7 and lasted over twelve seconds. What next? Fortunately there was little damage (a few things fell off of the TV) and got our minds off of the hurricane for 12 seconds.
Every minute is spent trying to get things back together. This poor little island is so overwhelmed--they ordered 100 more trucks just to try to get caught up delivering shipping containers. At the rate of construction before the storm, it would take five years to complete the repairs after the storm. Damage is estimated to be almost US$100,000 per person on the island.
I am sorry to say that we are not sending out Christmas cards this year—but we do wish you all a wonderful holiday.
Hurricane Ivan aftermath, Nov. 1
The tree here that was behind Herb is on its side but we are hoping to stand it back up. Herb and I are in Florida getting cabinets, furniture, appliances, etc. It is amazing how much damage a few feet of salt water can do when it sits in your house for a day.
But we are both well, a bit stressed over-all but Herb is riding his great new bike and I have been sitting and eating. I had a great time in PNG and saw a new pygmy seahorse. This one is about 3/16ths of an inch.
August 28, 2004
We are both doing great—Herb is at the weight he wants, and is getting a great new custom made bicycle.
The Digital Super course went so well that I am setting up four more for next year.
I have been feeling fabulous and we are still staying on our eating program. I had the most wonderful family reunion ever. The entire gang was there (all 27 of us) and I even got up on the water skis.
Sparky the parrot has learned to ring the phone to get Herb to come, and when he calls my name I can't tell if it is Herb or Sparky, so that gets my attention.
I am getting ready to choose which close-circuit re breather to get. I want to spend a few hours at a time out on the wall or at Orange Canyon. Now I guess I will have to go digital so I can take more photos.
January 12, 2004
Wow, a lot has happened since September! First, Herb and I both were granted Cayman Status--that is what they call almost citizenship. It means we can stay without yearly permit applications, but we can't vote. We are still US citizens as well.
We went to the underwater film festival in Antibes, France. Quite interesting--we both noticed, for example, that most of France is very old.
A highlight of our year was our time spent at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. (If you want to go, tell them we sent you.) Herb had wanted to go there for a long time and it finally happened in late November. After our two-week stay, Herb was having such a successful time that he stayed for a third week. Wow! Pritikin is to health as our SuperCourse is to underwater photography—all day immersion with sunrise stretch at 7am, 45 minutes each of strength, cardio, yoga, a variable specialty workout, five lectures and an optional cooking class. There were three main meals, two soup-and-more snacks and lots of fruit and vegetables available wherever you were! It was a utopia—time just for ourselves to exercise, healthy food everywhere, learning reasons behind the methods, getting lots of great tips, losing weight, sleeping well, blood pressure way down, and much, much more. We just couldn't do it like this at home, but we have the momentum and we are trying to keep it up. Thanks Stu Bakst for encouraging us to go! We are still at it in mid January.
We will be here for the next few months except for Herb's trip to the Photo Trade show in Las Vegas, Feb. 12 - 15, his sons Dan's wedding in D.C. area March 24 - 28.
September 30, 2003
Herb is a grandpa—his lovely daughter, Amy, had her first child, a girl, this past August, in New York. He is doing all of the grandpa things like visiting for hours just to hold her and constantly buying little stuffed animals.
The Super Course and the Solomon Islands weeks were great! I stayed over on the Bilikiki for another week of diving because there were only two other guests; I had the whole place to myself. It was pure heaven. My family visits in Michigan and Kentucky were the best ever and had another book brainstorming session with each of my family and with an artist friend, Christine Smith, in Athens, Ohio. Our staff at the photo centre is coming along nicely, my mortgages are officially PAID off and I was just granted Caymanian Status. How can life get any better? (Status is one step short of voting rights, but it allows me to live here permanently without having to apply each year for a permit. That eliminates a load of worry.)
For those of you who know me personally, you would be pleased to know how much better I am feeling this year, thanks to the wonderful effects of an anti-depressant. Clinical depression was finally diagnosed about two years ago, and I started feeling much, much better by this spring. I hope that it was rarely visible on the outside. I advise any of you who are feeling pessimistic without reason, hopeless without cause, irritable without provocation or any of several saddened states without situational causes to check it out with a professional.
Otherwise, the weather here is balmy, Herb and I and Sparky are just fine and we hope that you all can come and visit sometime soon.