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Dive Review of Cuan Law in
Virgin Islands/British Virgin Islands

Cuan Law, Dec, 2011,

by Greg White, IL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 6382.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Numerous dives throughout most of the Caribbean, some off of California, Hawaii, and the Philippines.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 80 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 25 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Time limited somewhat on some dives so that we could fit in planned number of dives during certain days. Otherwise, no limits.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat has dedicated rinse tank for cameras, but no other dedicated camera facilities. However, there is plenty of room on deck or in the lounge to spread out and work on equipment or view photos on computer.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Our experience on the Cuan Law was outstanding. The boat is in excellent shape and has been well maintained. Cabins are roomy by liveaboard standards and have lots of drawers, shelves, and even a small closet to hang dressier clothes. The bathrooms are the best we've ever seen on a liveaboard, with toilets that work just like regular toilets, not the usual temperamental marine head.

The crew is the best part of the entire experience. Captain Emily, Divemasters Ben and Maddy, Cook Tara, Engineer Jesse, and Steward Brian. All are relatively young, with lots of energy and enthusiasm. They're always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. In spite of their youth, all have interesting backgrounds and have travelled widely, with interesting stories to tell. Tara, the cook, is a gem, producing wonderful and varied meals, and adapting them to any dietary restrictions the passengers might have. Her desserts are legendary and were a highlight of each evening on board. The owners, Annie and Duncan, joined us for lunch on the first day, then met us again on the last day. Both are wonderful people who have done an outstanding job of selecting and training their crew. Duncan even designed the Cuan Law himself and is still actively involved in making it as environmentally friendly and fuel efficient as possible.

Unlike other liveaboards where there isn't much to do other than diving, Cuan Law has two hobie cats, four sea kayaks, and water skiing and knee-boarding equipment on board. There were several days when the dive schedule was altered so that we had sufficient time to play at these other activities, giving us a nice break from the routine of diving. One afternoon was also devoted to a barbecue on Virgin Gorda, swimming and walking the beach, and a visit to the "Baths."

Cuan Law is a trimaran sailboat, which has a lot of advantages, but also a couple of disadvantages. Because it's a trimaran the boat is huge -- 100 feet long and 44 feet wide, meaning plenty of space. The crew also sails it from island to island as often as possible, which is more environmentally friendly and often even faster than motoring. The boat is also very stable. However, being a sailboat also means that the dive deck has to be smaller than usual. There are not the usual benches with a dedicated area for each diver. Instead, each diver has a large bin for storing fins, mask, etc., while tanks and BCs, along with wetsuits are kept in a separate area primarily accessed by the crew. The crew hands each diver his/her wetsuit, then after the diver is all suited up, he/she sits next to the tank area, which can accommodate only one diver at a time, to be helped in putting on the BC and tank. After that, depending on the particular dive site, the diver proceeds to either enter the water directly from the Cuan Law or to take a seat in the Zodiac and wait for the other divers to get their BCs and tanks before being taken to the dive site by Zodiac. Although this process seems like it could be slow, it actually worked quite well with nine divers. However with 20 divers it could mean a long wait for those who got ready first.

Most dive sites were accessed by Zodiac. The boat has two large Zodiacs with 150 hp motors which reached the dive sites within minutes. Entry is by backroll from the side of the Zodiac. For exit, each Zodiac has a stern ladder. After handing up camera and fins, each diver then climbs back up the ladder, being helped by a crew member. Unlike on some other liveaboards, the diver keeps his tank, BC, and weights on while climbing up the ladder. In rough seas this took some effort, but no one in our group (many of us 60 or older) seemed to have a problem with this. Getting back on the Cuan Law also required climbing a flight of stairs from either the stern ladder or the Zodiac, again wearing BC, tank, and weights. Once again, crew were available to help and this climb didn't seem to be a big problem for anyone.

As is true for a lot of Caribbean diving today, many of the dive sites were only so-so, with not a lot of fish. However, some of the sites were excellent, with healthy corals and a greater abundance of fish, such as Rainbow Canyons near Norman Island or Dry Rocks near Ginger Island. We also got to spend an entire day at the RMS Rhone, doing two day dives and one night dive, which was a real highlight of the trip, especially when we came face to face with a HUGE goliath grouper lurking inside the wreck. On other dives, several people saw eagle rays, reef sharks, and stingrays, as well as several morays and the usual selection of Caribbean reef fish. As with many other Caribbean liveaboards, crew of the Cuan Law are engaged in lionfish eradication efforts. Compared to other parts of the Caribbean, we really didn't see very many, and most were relatively small.

People who insist on doing five dives a day may not be happy on the Cuan Law, but those who prefer a somewhat lighter schedule won't be disappointed. My wife and I have been on other liveaboards where the heavy dive schedule became burdensome, often making us decide to skip the night dive every night. On this trip we had the chance to do 20 dives, including 6 night dives. We did 19 dives, skipping only the last night dive.

Overall, we found the Cuan Law to be an excellent value and outstanding experience. We recommend it highly.
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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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