It’s said that we know more about the moon than we do about what’s under the ocean.
Gary Montemayor knows more than most, after more than 2,000 dives in manned submersibles and eight years diving a 21-foot research sub to 1,000 feet in and around George Town.
“The world down there is still the alien world where you don’t belong, you only ever feel like the most tenuous of visitors. A reminder is breathing artificial air in a steel submarine I referred to as an Iron Lung… [the movie] Dune-like,” Gary tells Weekender ahead of his talk and signing at Books & Books on Friday, 1 April.
Gary’s book, Down The Cayman Wall, is extremely engaging.
A mysterious encounter underwater leads Gary on a hunt for answers about the deep.
The problem is ultimately solved while the author is guiding an expedition into the Cayman Trench for a film crew from the BBC’s Blue Planet.
The story includes Gary’s path to Grand Cayman, piloting research submarines and accumulating a record number of dives.
His experiences and encounters range from hilarious to peculiar, and even totally surreal, but are always fascinating. The interaction with the sea, the Island and its people provides vivid glimpses of life in a Caribbean paradise .
The culmination of the book is an historical encounter with a giant underwater creature that answered the question of Gary’s mysterious encounter but led to so many more.
Indeed, the tale is not just about the sea but people’s relationships with each other, with the ocean, and deals with some big themes.
“I set out to tell a story. Being a human story I suppose it was inevitable that it would be a tale of relationships, but that wasn’t my conscious aim when I started. The big questions were a thing I wanted to share and that was a point of the writing. “I revealed to myself how fulfilled I had been by a professional life of a submariner and how the choices I had made, to give up the path leading away from the ocean, were the right ones,” he says.
Gary’s been diving his vehicle in Cayman for the Department of Environment and in Little Cayman for the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, plus off the coast of California for Scripps to depths up to 2,000 feet.
“I have also been participating in the development of a school for ROV pilots here in Grand Cayman which we hope to open next year if we can get a charter. I would love to see another deep sub here in Cayman and I would personally like to train a new generation of like-minded pilots that could carry on the tradition of discovery in the Cayman Triangle.”
Any more books?
“I have a couple of ideas that I look forward to sharing. I have hundreds of hours of video to go through yet and many stories to recall. Maybe a more illustrated video journal of the deep off the Cayman Islands would be in order.
“If we had the ability to walk around down there, there would be a discovery behind every rock and a giant lurking above and below. A lifetime of discovery would not even scratch the surface and that is just off George Town.”