A post by Peter.
It was the first; it certainly won’t be the last!!!
In January 2012, Toronto Scuba Centre led it’s first international dive trip, which was nothing short of spectacular. Comforted by the fact that Grand Cayman is always a top-ten dive location and on the bucket list for most divers, we were confident that this dive trip would be a real success. It was.
Nine Toronto Scuba Centre divers headed down to the Caribbean’s world famous diving Mecca, where we stayed at the ever-popular Sunset House. Over one week, the group racked up nearly 20 dives. A couple of our more eager divers even managed 24 dives in just 6 days. The weather was fantastic, the accommodation perfectly located and comfortable and the group was ……….. great!!!!
Organizing and leading a group of people on any kind of holiday can be demanding. What made this trip so memorable was the effort that everyone put in to make the most out of such a great opportunity.
Most of the group had never dived in the ocean before, which, in part, made the trip even more exciting. All that we, the Toronto Scuba Centre, had to do was point the divers in the direction of the water and let the natural beauty of the Caymans do their own thing.
Each day, after a great breakfast at Sunset House, we would start the morning with a two-tank boat dive led by a great boat crew. The trusted crew took us to some great dive locations day after day. Over the week, we dove magnificent walls, shipwrecks and a couple of night dives. One of the most memorable dives for our divers included the beautiful swim-throughs of devil’s grotto.
After the morning boat dives, we’d have lunch then prep for our afternoon or night dives. Sunset House is perfectly located on Grand Cayman. Right off the resort is some amazing shore diving. All we had to do was walk from our rooms to the on-site dive shop, gear up and walk into the ocean right there!! In fact, as we had unlimited shore diving at the resort, finding a time to rest was actually the toughest part. Another handy little feature, was that the resort stored our equipment in private lockers right by the ocean. If we wanted to hit the water, we just needed to have a buddy ready to go. The ocean was, of course, willing to accept us at any time of the day or night.
A few of the more notable dives included Stingray city, of course … a must-do dive whenever someone visits Grand Cayman. The group had a great time. Perhaps even more exciting, however, was Grand Cayman’s newest dive location, the wreck of the USS Kittiwake. Located just off the internationally renowned seven-mile beach, the wreck was sunk by the Caymanian government early last year. The wreck was perfect for our group, as many were new divers who wanted to experience a wreck in an extremely fun, but safe way. The wreck was specifically sunk and prepared with divers in mind.
The Kittiwake is huge! Lying in only 60ft of water, the ship is reachable for all levels of divers. We also decided to hire Cathy Church, a local and well-known professional dive photographer, who joined us for two dives. She took some fantastic pictures of the whole group.
In addition to this fantastic shot, a few more of the guys on the Kittiwake are below, but we’ve put a bunch more on our website on the new “Interactive Diving” page, so make sure to take a look: Cayman Trip Photos
There was no end of stories that came out of the trip. What I wanted to focus on in this blog, however, is the trip itself and what made it successful.
An important consideration for anyone leading a trip like this, or taking part on a similar dive trip, is that you should travel with someone who really knows the location that you’re going to. Our knowledge of Grand Cayman helped tremendously. We didn’t experience any bad dives or even have a bad meal. In fact, by the end of the trip, we needed a holiday to recover!!!
Another key to a good trip is that a dive leader should be able to keep everyone busy, especially if they are asking to be kept busy. In leading a group, people are paying you for your expert knowledge. They deserve to be led well, with consistency and with a certain amount of local knowledge. On a live-aboard this would be much easier, but with land-based trips, a good deal of planning is required.
With the Rescue Diver course we teach, we emphasize that one of the first things to consider in a good ‘Rescue’ is prevention. Dive trips follow a similar process. Successful dive trips happen if the people leading are able to foresee and prevent those things that might otherwise upset the groups’ expectations.
In this instance, the group itself helped the Toronto Scuba Centre. All of our divers were willing to participate in everything together. This is not always going to be the case. If you can get a good bond forming in the group early, however, then the chances of the dive trip being successful significantly increase. Based on the success of the Cayman trip, we even anticipate that most of the group will travel again with us as a group on our upcoming trips to Mexico and Galapagos.
If anyone is looking for a great place to go for their first, second, third or even tenth dive vacation, then, in the words of the Caymanian people, the answer is simple, CAYMAN? YEAH MON!!!