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

September, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 1377
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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

sunny, windy  
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 120    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Stay with group on first dive of day, don't go below 110' or 1.4 ata PPO2.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
3 stars    
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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Other dive reports on Ocean Frontiers

All Cayman Islands Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Cayman Islands
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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