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   by Fred D. Garth

"Garth on the sat phone in Costa Rica."

A professional journalist since 1980, Fred D. Garth has been crafting dive travel articles for more than 15 years. He's held editor's positions at a variety of magazines including, Skin Diver, Southern Diver, Scuba Times and DeepTech Journal. In 1995, Garth helped launch the first online diving magazine, Scuba Times Online. His ground-breaking live web article in 1998 using a housed digital camera, lap top computer, satellite telephone and a modified wire coat hanger, allowed Internet potatoes to sit at home and follow a diving expedition at Cocos Island, 350-miles off of Costa Rica's pacific coast. A full-time writer living in Florida, Garth claims to be a registered voter. His last article for Skin Diver Online was "Scuba Trek Through the Florida Keys" in 1999.

Skin Diver Online presents
C A Y M A N     T E K

DAY 2

"Huge tarpon hang out all over the place in Cayman."
I'm no expert in rebreathers, but I've just found a new best friend. You know rebreathers, right? They're those slick contraptions that recycle the air (or gas) you exhale, so you can dive for two hours on a tank the size of a fire extinguisher. Over the past few years, I've racked up 300 or so dives on the Drager Dolphin. It's a nifty little unit from the Germans that's classified as semi-closed circuit, as opposed to a fully closed-loop system. Without getting into boring scientific detail, semi-closed recycles almost all of the exhaled gas; fully closed keeps it all. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I don't have time to go into it because I'm supposed to go diving in an hour.

"The food at the Cracked Conch is outstanding and the van art ain't too bad either. Is that an early Wyland?"
Anyway, my new buddy is a rebreather called the Inspiration (Get it? inspire-a-tion), and it's found quick popularity in Cayman. Most closed-circuit rebreathers are like strapping a Volkswagen on your back, and have more plumbing than my house. Not so with little buddy. It's less than 40 pounds, lasts for five hours and goes more than 500 feet. That's a lot of punch in a small package. It comes from the land of Bond, Jaguars and that culinary classic, fish and chips. British company A.P. Valves appears to have hit a home run for tekkies. Here in Cayman, several of the operators are using it and I'll quote one here. "We're cruising the wall for an hour at 250 feet." All I have to say is that almost beats feeding Cheese Whiz to an angelfish.

"Fred in the Inspiration closed-circuit rebreather sneaking up on unsuspecting tarpon off the northwest side of Grand Cayman."
Mind you, they didn't let me do the 250-foot wall thing, but I buzzed around bubble-free for an hour or so, feeling stealthy and damn cool. I was ready to jump in my Jag, drink a few martinis and save the world from evil. I settled for a Stingray beer and some Fritos. The Inspiration costs around $7,000 and a week-long course is required. However, to get a taste of freedom, Divetech and Sunset House offer a rebreather experience to interested divers. By the way, you can do either the Inspiration or the Drager Dolphin.

"I was supposed to meet the band and all I got was this stupid picture."
If you're cool and read yesterday's installment, I mentioned that the band America played at the Seaview Hotel. I pulled the old, "But I'm with the press," and got into the show. Once again using my journalist status for selfish gain, I was supposed to interview the band and hang out. Unfortunately, my clout ran out, and after chasing their manager's cell phone around the island, all I got was a signed photo. But I like it. It's glossy and everything.

"Fred looking stealthy on his rebreather dive with the Inspiration."
Not to be deterred from pursuing celebrities like a truly obnoxious paparazzi, I invited myself to a presentation by famed artist Guy Harvey back at Sunset House. Plus, it was a good excuse for a pina colada pit stop. His show, "Close Encounters With Billfish," had free-swimming marlin and sailfish on film. Brilliant stuff. And Guy, whose T-shirts are required clothing for every fisherman in the world, was very gracious and even posed for a picture. So, I say America who? Never heard of 'em. I met the great Guy Harvey - in PERSON! Are you impressed now?

"Dive operations manager at Sunset House Erica Haley with famed marine artist Guy Harvey (right) and Sunset House GM Keith Sahm."
Gotta go. The north wall waits. We're doing a 150-foot wall dive on scooters. Yep, this is still fabulous Cayman in all its gilded glory, but the diving opportunities are most definitely new and improved. This afternoon I'll be exploring remote Cayman from the east end of Grand Cayman to the sister islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Rumor has it that technical diving has made it out there as well. Leave it to me to find out. If it's there, I'll bring you the real beef patty tomorrow.

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"Ian Thomas setting up Inspiration Rebreather and tech rigs at Divetech."



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