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Dive Review of Ocean Frontiers/Compass Point in
Cayman Islands/Grand Cayman

Ocean Frontiers/Compass Point, Sep, 2004,

by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 1377.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Central America, Fiji, PNG, Palau, Yap, Australia, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Stay with group on first dive of day, don't go below 110' or 1.4 ata PPO2.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments BANG! Lightning streaked into the water two miles away on the North Side as we surfaced from the first dive of the day. One of the divers asked, "Is it dangerous to be in the water in a lighting storm?" Ever a calming influence, I replied, "Only if you're wearing an aluminum tank on your back."

Ocean Frontiers is a very friendly service oriented operation running daily trips from their shop on the East End. If you stay at Compass Point, you roll out of bed and into the dive boat. Your gear will already be on an aluminum 80 tank with suit, fins and mask under the bench seat. After the second dive the staff will rinse and hang your gear up for you, providing an extra half hour or so of afternoon vacation time.

There are two boats. The "Nauti-cat" a 42 foot aluminum twil-hull with two jet drive engines and an "emergency head" that could be used by permission only. The bridge has only one seat, but guests are allowed up as long as they're willing to stand. The favorite spot is on the bow, where you can sit on the edge of the deck and hang your legs off the edge as the boat skims along the inside of the reef or on days when the ocean is flat. There is a camera table and rinse bucket, but there were not a lot of shooters on our trip, so we were allowed to use the table for small gear items.

The "Top Cat" is a 45 fot mono-hull on which you are not permitted to visit the bridge. The one day we were on it, the only place we could escape billowing diesel fumes was on the bow, and after 15 minutes of intense sun the choice became burn or choke.

Friendly as they are, they do tend to err on the side of caution. The first dive was at Kangaroo Gorge. We were told to stay in a group and we descended theough a crack in the reef onto wall and turned left into a swim thru leading to a pinnacle that would be circumnavigated clock-wise. The group kicked up silt in the swim thru, so I turned right, descended a chute and swam counter clockwise to meet the group. Five Ocean Triggers swam by and looked at me as I scanned the healthy gorgonia, sponges, black coral. I rolled over and gazed upward through the gorgonia at the surface. I was breathing a mix of 31.8% Nitrox and bottomed out at 134 feet.

When we returned to the boat I reported my depth and time and the DM, Ralph Dye, a gregarious Aussie, disciplined me for going too deep. I let it go. Five minutes later he was back again harping about my depth. I told him that TDI permits diving to 1.6 ata PPO2 which is where I was. He said Ocean Frontiers uses IANTD rules which permits only 1.4 ata PPO2. Five minutes later he was back again, and said, "Look, if you go deep, others will follow. That's the problem." This made sense to me and I stayed above 110 feet (or so) for the rest of the trip.

The following day we made our second dive at Maggie's Maze, a collection of caverns and swim throughs filled with horse-eye jacks and tarpon. The surge in the caverns was about three feet per pulse. The floor was harp pan and rocks so I put my gloves on, surfing the surge and grabbing a rock until the next pulse. Big mistake. Finally I ascended to the ladder to take my fins off and the other DM, Aneto Treuter, an other-wise friendly Afrikaaner scolded me, "David! No gloves! It's a very big fine ($5,000) on the island!" Presumably they impound the gloves as well.

Nevertheless, the U/W scenery was great, lots of excellent second dives, not a lot of big life, but we'd dive with them again any time. They report that Hurricane Ivan actually washed the algae off the upper reef and cleared sand out of the cuts, creating new swim-throughs. The coral didn't suffer much, but the sponge life (and there were some enormous barrel and vases) got hammered. Fish life is unchanged. Compass Point survived the storm well, having been built to hurricane code, and the whole operation will be back up and running by October 1, 2004.

Compass Point is quiet and clean, well-equipped with a fridge, microwave, stove, dishwasher and washer/dryer in the room. There were two cable TV's a stereo, comfy furniture and complimentary bottle of wine and fruit plate. We stocked up in Georgetown and did several lunches and dinners on the balcony. We also drove to Compass Point for lunch at the marina, waited for the day boats to leave after their charges had finished lunch, and had the place to ourselves. The restaurants near Compass Point, Portofino and Palm Beach, are destroyed, and we suspect that the Lighthouse suffered a similar fate,so if you want some fresh East End diving, stay at Compass Point, buy some food, cook for yourself, and invite the dive staff up to the balcony for a beer.

Just don't go below 110 feet in your gloves.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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