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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 4

"Nancy Romanica cruising tekkie style."
With Sunset House covering the southwest part of the island and Divetech rounding up the northwest, the East End has its tek diving guru as well in Ocean Frontiers. Co-owner Steve Broadbelt gave me a tour of their newly-constructed facility a half-mile from the original shop. They put in a deep pool, full blending station and were able to plan it from the ground up rather than retrofitting. Like their western counterparts, Ocean Frontier has full tek rigs including Drager rebreathers, nitrox, scooters and mixed gases. However, their true uniqueness lies offshore. A 6,000-foot wall is just five minutes by boat, and is loaded with gobs of soft corals (including the black stuff) and prolific caves, tunnels and swim throughs. They also have Cayman's only shark dive.

"Silversides under the pier of the Cobalt Coast Resort"
"We don't hand feed the sharks," Steve told me. "We put the bait in the water, stand by and usually get about 10 sharks?all reef sharks."

They're also embarking on a tagging program and have gotten grants to support the research.

"The VR3 helium analyzer."
Not to be outdone by their 800-pound gorilla big brother, the sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are also tekking it. They haven't taken the mixed gas plunge yet, but Reef Divers at Little Cayman Beach Resort and Brac Reef Resort are dialed in on nitrox and Drager rebreathers. Of course, the real pull of the sisters is their seductive remoteness. Over there, you can get certified in hammock napping and still twist your senses underwater on every dive. Will technical diving ever go to the limit in the sisters? I'd put money on it.

"The last glimpse of the wall from Cayman Airways."
Unfortunately, the calendar finally caught up to me, and seat 4A on Cayman Airways had my name on it. In the last four days I'd realized a real awakening for a new age in diving here. Experienced divers have every reason to come to this diving mecca. As always, when Cayman embarks on a mission, they do it right and with full cooperation. They may have eased into tek diving slowly, but now it's printed boldly on the menu.

As I flew out, the pilot banked over the cobalt blue of the north wall. I was just there, and soon, I will be back.

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



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