Review – Advanced Open Water Course with Divetech, Grand Cayman

My first impression was that Divetech is a pretty laidback outfit, with only a minimum of information collected or given. However, in the end, I think they cover what is important and look after their guests to prevent anything from going horribly wrong.

They may not sweat the details but with a reasonable amount of attention on your part they will keep you safe. They were also timely in processing our paper work to get us our new PADI cards.

We had arranged with Menno at Divetech to do the online PADI e-learning course before our arrival to the island. This saves spending valuable vacation time doing tedious course work.

As these were training dives I did not bring my camera.

First Day

Wreck Dive and Boat Dive

On the first day of training the dives were done with the regular morning boat dive but with an additional guide specifically  for the training course. We started with the Kittiwake for the wreck and Doc Poulson for the boat training dives. No particular skills were tested for either of these dives. For the second dive our instructor, Scott, had us do a backwards roll into the water.

The Kittiwake, a US vessel, was sunk for recreational purposes in 2011. I haven’t seen enough wrecks to compare the quality of the site, but for me, being more interested in marine life than ships, I found the wreck mildly interesting.

We didn’t get to actually swill through the hull because we were on a training dive, but we swam around the ship about three times at various levels starting at the bottom at 60ft. On the upper levels we had a chance to swim on the deck and even stand at the helm.

The boat dive, the Doc Poulson at 50ft, was another wreck but a much smaller vessel that had been sunk in 1981. I found this older wreck more interesting and colorful for the variety of life growing on the hull, like it had been decorated for a stage performance. After exploring the boat we cruised through neighboring reefs. No particular skills were tested on this dive.

Second Day

The second day of training dives we did from shore at Divetech.

Deep Dive

For the deep dive, in order to conserve air, we swam out on the surface about 200ft before descending. My first deep dive I didn’t find much different from a shallower dive except for extra safety stops.

At maximum depth we noted what our computers calculated our no decompression time to be. Interestingly, between computer manufacturers, Suunto and Mares, there wasn’t much difference. Based on their reputation I was expecting the Suunto to be more conservative but in this case it wasn’t.

We also observed color differences using a card on which we noted the color of the blocks both on the surface and then again at 90 ft. Reds and oranges become brown quickly in the low light. Blues and Indigos are the last to turn brown.

Navigation Dive

Before the second dive, the navigation dive, we practiced navigating with a compass, first doing an out and back and then traveling in a square. We then swam out to the first buoy about 100ft. off shore before descending.

At the bottom we practiced the same two navigation exercises. The big difference I noticed was the tendency to float up when focused on the compass. After the two exercises we spent the remaining air time exploring the dive site.

Getting back to shore after this second dive was challenging as the surf was much rougher than when we had entered.

There’s a narrow channel through the rocks that brings you to a pool where you enter and exit the water.

Thankfully the waves generally push you in or pull you out of the channel and don’t smash you into the rocks. Still, my heart was racing as I struggled to get through the channel before the next wave pulled me out again.

Night Dive

By the time we were to start the night dive that evening the sea had calmed again. For this training dive the skill tested was another out and back navigation exercise, which our instructor Jessica had us do on the surface at the end of dive.

This was the best dive of the trip, despite the darkness which surprisingly didn’t bother me. We saw the most interesting marine life – two kinds of octopus, 3 kinds of eel and turtles sleeping under the reef edge.

A snapper stayed with us the entire way like a dog taking you for a walk. They like hunting off your flashlight. I’m not sure what he caught but I don’t think he was hungry by the end of our dive.

January 15-19, 2019

For links to all the posts on diving destinations see the Diving page.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi, just stumbled upon this nice review. Thanks for taking the time to write a review. Reminds me of a time we could travel a bit more freely!


    1. Thank you Menno for the comment. We hope to make it back to Grand Cayman in the not too distant future.

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