Donna's Delight and Marilyn's Cut

I have listed Donna's Delight and Marilyn's Cut together here, mostly because I always dive them as one site.  The mooring pin at Donna's Delight (called "Joanna's Delight" on the Southern Cross Club site map) was arbitrarily placed at a convenient location along the wall.  In contrast, the ball at Marilyn's Cut is at a truly distinctive topographical feature which I shall describe shortly.  One of my favorite dives is to go down about midway between the ball at Randy's Gazebo and the Donna's Delight ball, then cruise east.  It is equally interesting whether you cruise at 60' or 80' or even 100', so it's probably best to try to stick to the 60'-70' range and save your bottom time.  I follow the wall down to Marilyn's Cut, which is one of those things you simply cannot miss as you cruise the wall, then come up the cut and cruise back on top of the hardpan. 

To get to the starting point, proceed exactly as described in the section on Randy's Gazebo.  The heading from the driveway to the Donna's Delight ball is about 020, but as I mentioned there is nothing special about where the ball is located.  It could just as well have been placed straight out from this driveway, except that the reef top there is at about 45' whereas the location chosen was at a high point, in about 35' of water.  Watch carefully for the fringing reef as you head out.  It is particularly nasty here in rough water.  It is easily negotiable in calm water, however.  As you swim out, you may want to look down from time to time to make mental note of the groves in the hardpan which run out to sea.  And often you will spot interesting stuff--like a pile of Nurse Sharks sleeping together--which may convince you to descend before you get to the wall.

The wall along this stretch of Bloody Bay is generally near vertical, but it is not as sheer as along Great Wall West, Great Wall East, or Ringer's Wall.  Also, the drop-off is not as abrupt as it is further to the west; the edge tends to be slightly rounded.  If anything, I find this section more interesting to explore than Sheer Wall, since there's more variety to it.  There are a few small canyons and outcroppings as you work your way along, plus several caverns worth exploring.  Be sure to bring a dive light with you while exploring this wall.  Without one, you'll miss all the color and not notice the numerous Rough Fileclams, Banded Coral Shrimp, and such which are hidden back in the small holes along the wall. 

As you head east, you'll eventually come to a small narrow canyon which goes into the wall just before a largish outcropping of sheer wall.  Right around that outcropping is Marilyn's Cut.  The bottom of the cut is at about 75', and it slopes up to 50' or so, stays flat a little ways, then goes up sharply to the hardpan bottom at 30'.  This cut is very narrow, so it's quite a distinctive landmark.  In stead of taking the cut all the way in, though, I like to take the tunnel off to the left about 30' in from the opening.  This tunnel extends for almost 50' and slopes up gradually.  At the end, you have to go up through a vertical chimney to reach the hardpan bottom at about 35'.  As you follow the tunnel, just go left at each juncture.  There are 3 places where tunnels branch off to the right, but these just turn into dead-ends.  When you come out the chimney, you can mark the path you took through the tunnel by the streams of air bubbles filtering up through the hardpan where you just came.

About the time you come out of the chimney, you may look over and see a rather largish Nassau Grouper waiting for you.  And if he isn't there waiting on you at Marilyn's Cut he will most assuredly come join you as you go back through the area around the Donna's Delight ball.  This guy has been named Benji by one group of divemasters, Jerry by another.  Whatever his name, he is quite the Little Cayman celebrity.  He always comes up to divers and shows no fear whatsoever.  He doesn't mind being petted, photographed, stroked, or anything else.  I'm not sure if there is any advantage in this for Benji, and in fact I really worry that the frequent touching by visiting divers will wear away the mucous covering his skin which is a protective layer.  But Benji seems to enjoy all of the attention, and he has been teaching a couple of other smaller Nassau Grouper the same behavior by his example.  Benji also knows how to go Squirrelfish hunting with divers.  You swim along with Benji and then make a sharp, dramatic pointing motion towards a Squirrelfish you may spot.  Benji will charge the Squirrelfish straightaway, and every so often he manages to catch it and eat it.  Most of the time, though, the Squirrelfish darts under a coral head and hides.  Then Benji goes over and "points" at the coral head while he waits for you to come over and flush the Squirrelfish out for him.  This is a game that is played over and over, always to the delight of visiting tourists.  If you want to play this game with Benji, please take care not to hurt the coral heads when you try to flush out the Squirrelfish for him.  Whatever you do, Benji will probably follow you all the way back unless another boatload of divers shows up.  If you're not paying attention to him, he'll probably go join the new group instead.

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