I'm home from a week long dive trip to Cayman Brac with Single Divers (www.singledivers.com). In a word: GREAT

I found Single Divers through a post by Platypus Man and thought the group could be a good match for my needs – it is. I will definitely be making more trips with them. I had originally booked for a trip to Cozumel but had to cancel due to my wife needing surgery, so I picked this one as a substitute. Before the trip they set up a forum dedicated to that trip where divers can exchange comments, ideas, tips, jokes, etc (hmmm, sounds familiar). This was a big help in getting to know a bit about the fellow travelers before the trip and arranging a meeting for some of us for breakfast in Miami. I think between 1/4 and 1/3 of the people on this trip were making their first Single Divers trip. Experience ranged from 4000+ dives to 50.

I booked WestJet out of Ottawa, with connection in Toronto, to Miami. An overnight stay in Miami, then Cayman Airways to Cayman Brac. A number of us met up at the hotel for breakfast before heading off to the airport. I think there were 18 (of 34 in the group) of us on the flight so there was a lot of renewing acquaintances and meeting new people in the airport and on the flight.

We stayed at the Brac Reef Resort and dove with Reef Divers. Part of the paperwork before the trip includes a survey about diving style and questions to help match you with a suitable roommate. The system works quite well – I had no problems with either my roommate or dive buddy, although both are changeable by either party. The resort was good – well set up for divers as their primary focus. Meals were buffet style but the kitchen was very willing to make special orders or accommodate needs (a couple of people were vegetarians, others had allergy issues – no problems from the chef and dining staff). The rooms are clean and functional, the A/C works, and the showers have hot water: All the basic needs of a diver are met. When you check in you get a drinks card good for 3 free drinks a day, and a bottled water would count as one of those drinks. But after a full day diving, I don't want more than a couple of beers before heading for bed. The tap water on the island is safe to drink so you don't have to “waste” a drink coupon on bottled water, plus there is a store not too far away where you can buy beer, and a lot of people brought rum etc with them. No shortage of adult beverages for those wanting to indulge.

Diving was on 20 diver boats and we had two boats out each day. My Captain/DM team was Barbie and Ian – a great team who added immensely to the enjoyment of the trip. We will forgive them their bad jokes during the dive brief. The diving staff provide what they call “Valet Diving” where they do all the heavy lifting of setting up. If you are diving Nitrox (all but 4 of us were – a $180 extra but worth it) you analyze and label your tanks for the next day. The staff load them on the boat and set your gear up on a tank. All you do in the morning is check it out. When it comes time to dive, you don your mask then sit on a bench at the stern and they bring your gear to you and help you gear up, then you giant stride into your dive. At the end of the dive you get back on the boat and they help you take your gear off and then they carry it to your seat and set you up on your next tank. Lather, rinse, repeat. One major downside of this system is that it takes a fairly long time to get everyone off the boat. We talked to the DM and boat Captain and more than half of us geared up the “old-fashioned” way of doing it yourself. This sped things up considerably – and (at least for me) calmed the jittery feeling caused by someone doing all my work. I admit that I was willing to let them take my gear at the end of a dive. By doing it the old-fashioned way, it was not uncommon for the dive briefing (very well done on a white board with site diagrams, and the usually seen fish) to close with the traditional “The pool is open”, echoed by a couple of splashes as self-gearing people hitting the water. There was a DM in the water leading those who wanted to follow him/her, but you were free to do your own thing. We could dive our air and it was not uncommon for some of the first to hit the water to get in 75-85 minute dives. We dove walls and reefs in the 60-110 ft range. I think the shallowest dive was about 50ft. In 6 days we did 18 dives including one night dive. The reefs are in good shape – the last major hurricane to hit Brac was about 8 years ago. The sealife was abundant – we saw sharks, turtles, spotted eagle rays, lobsters, crabs, groupers, tarpons, shrimp, morays, snappers, porcupine fish and lots more. Unfortunately we also saw a fair number of Lionfish. Cayman rules pretty much limit spears to the DMs who have been trained in their use. It was not uncommon to spear 3 or more lionfish on each dive, and I think the max was 6. The groupers and snappers are starting to associate a spear with an easy meal, so they will point out the lionfish for them. As I posted in the Happy Thread I saw a grouper "bird-dog" a lionfish for the DM (Ian), who is the only one holding a spear. The grouper pointed the lionfish out, then made eye contact with the DM as if to say "OK Bud, do your stuff." Ian nailed the lionfish and was pulling him out of his crevice when the grouper snatched the lionfish off the spear. Just as he turned away for lunch, a second grouper grabbed the lionfish out of the first's mouth and swam away, with the first in hot pursuit. I almost drowned I was laughing so hard. For a great shot of a grouper getting a meal see Facebook

Other things: Two of our members used the trip to get married and invited all the Single Divers group as their guests. The Best “Man” was the groom's female dive partner (“If I trust her with my life, I can trust her to support me for the ceremony.”) and the Maid of Honour was another diver, even though the Bride and Groom had only met them both that week.

The 6:30am flight by Cayman Airlines is FAR too early, since it means a 3:30 wake-up call for a 4:30 resort departure. We only made 2 dives on Friday, which is a good thing since my computer was showing No-Fly for 18hrs when my flight was 18.5 hours away. The first leg is a 22 minute hop from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman. I don't think they even had time to retract the landing gear. On a related note, if you fly Cayman Airways they allow 2 free bags of 55#s each on all legs serviced by their Boeing 737's. Pay attention because there some flights where a leg is done on a turboprop plane where the free baggage is limited to 1x50# bag.

The Cayman government will supply a free tour guide if you supply the vehicle. 6 of us chipped in for a van and we spent Friday afternoon getting a pleasant tour conducted by Gregory.

All in all I am very satisfied with my trip. A huge “Thank You” to Kamala, the operator of Single Divers. She worked tirelessly to ensure everyone had a great trip, and especially make us newcomers feel most welcome. The others that made this a wonderful trip were the SD Trip Coordinators who help Kamala organize things, the Captains, DMs and staff of Reef Divers, and the staff of Brac Reef Resort. As I said, I will definitely dive with Single Divers again, and wouldn't mind going back to the Cayman Islands.