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  • CAYMAN MADNESS 98
    by Geri Murphy
    Come this fall, the quiet island of Grand Cayman will be transformed into a frenzy of activity. Someone will be whispering, They're coming today and someone will answer, Oh my, time already?

    Yes folks, its the Fifth Annual Cayman Madness and the crew at Bob Soto's Diving will batten down the hatches for another whirlwind series of fun filled diving weeks and social gatherings.

    This bizarre ritual has become one of the funniest and most enjoyable vacation events in the annals of Caribbean diving. As one visitor put it, human beings should not be allowed to have this much fun! Visitors have an opportunity to meet and enjoy people who speak their language; a peculiar dialect called diving-eze. Its the social event of the diving season.

    THE PROGRAM

    Cayman Madness is not a single event but rather a series of seven weekly events, each one a dive party unto itself. Beginning on a Thursday and ending the following Thursday, these jam-packed weeks consist of an eight day/seven night tropical island holiday. The first week of merriment begins September 3; the final week starts October 15.

    Each of the weekly events is filled with activities vacationing divers would not normally encounter. While the days are devoted to diving on some of the best reefs, walls and wrecks in the Caribbean, there is also ample opportunity to test dive new scuba gear, radical dive mask technology and even shoot underwater photos. You get to try everything and are not obligated to buy any of it.

    The evenings are filled with social events of all kinds. It's a time to meet other divers, talk about the day's adventures and enjoy good food. Party events range from a Friday night beach luau to a Tuesday fish fry, with plenty more in between.

    EVENTS and DEMO DIVES

    Cayman Madness is a marvelous mixture of serious diving and pleasurable socializing. There are all kinds of events to keep Madness divers busy, above and below the surface.

    One of the big events each week is a fabulous underwater treasure hunt with some of the more than $50,000 in prizes awaiting discovery. All sorts of goodies are given away at this hunt, including dive gear, cameras, magazine subscriptions, PADI manuals, dive suits, T-shirts, hats, rum cakes and much, much more. The treasure hunt is conducted from the shore and a special treasure hunt barbecue is catered by the Seaview Hotel; at the site of the event.

    One of the most unique aspects of Cayman Madness is the opportunity for participants to try new dive gear. Dacor will provide a complete system of scuba gear, for the day, to any participant who wishes to test dive it. Sea Vision will have people on the dive boats who will help you test dive their remarkable color filter dive masks. Sea & Sea Underwater Photo will have cameras available for test diving, plus technicians to provide basic training and helpful photo techniques. All of this is offered free of charge to any Cayman Madness diver.

    Most evenings are devoted to social events that occur at different hotels and locations around the island. Treasure Island Resort will host a rum punch party with snacks, on Seven Mile Beach, including live music from a steel band. One of the islands' many restaurants is catering a fish fry on a different evening and there is the traditional Friday night beach luau and pig roast; an event not to be missed.

    WELCOME BACK

    To help celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of this remarkable event, show sponsors have created the Madness Alumni Divers (M.A.D.); an elite group of survivors of previous Cayman Madness events. M.A.D. members will be entitled to additional free boat dives during Cayman Madness week as well as hearty congratulations from the Bob Soto's crew.

    DIVING IS THE BEST PART

    With all of the Cayman Madness social activities, treasure hunt, good food and prizes, we must not overlook why divers attend this event. The diving is superb; world-class, wonderful and plentiful.

    Cayman Madness participants have an opportunity to submerge in warm, tropical seas (80 to 82F). Underwater visibility is crystal clear; usually 100 foot plus along the drop-offs.

    Grand Cayman offers the widest selection of diving, with more than 200 dive sites to choose from. Daily dive boat trips will head for selected reefs and drop-offs along three different sides of the island: North Wall, South Wall and West Wall.

    The dive boats are spacious, comfortable and limited to a maximum of 20 passengers. Each boat is equipped with dive ladders, dive platform, freshwater rinse bucket and all of the amenities you would expect from a world-class dive operation. And, despite the rigorous pace of the weeks activities, the dive boat crews are smiling, friendly and ever helpful. There is no crowding on either the boats or in the water.

    Beneath the surface is a wonderland of healthy coral reefs, spectacular drop-offs and an abundance of marine life you would not normally encounter at other Caribbean destinations. Visitors are likely to see magnificent schools of giant Tarpon, graceful Eagle Rays cruising along the drop-offs, tons of sea turtles and schools of reef fish at practically every site. The vertical walls and pinnacles along the drop-off are loaded with Orange Elephant Ear Sponges, bright red cup sponges, Black Coral and hundreds of different marine life species.

    Last but not least, Grand Cayman is the home of the worlds friendliest stingrays, and probably the best 12 foot dive you will ever make. In protected North Sound, Stingray City has won world acclaim for its unique community of congregating Southern Stingrays. Scuba divers and snorkelers have an opportunity to rub shoulders with 15 to 20 happy, frolicking stingrays that spend their days playing and feeding in the shallow lagoon.

    BARGAIN PACKAGE PRICES

    The folks on Grand Cayman really want you to come to the island so they can introduce you to their spectacular diving and warm hospitality. As a result, they have come up with bargain prices that can only be described as the Dive Deal of the Decade. You get to live like a king but pay only pennies.

    Cayman Madness is priced as an all-inclusive diving vacation package but with a wide variety of choices. Low budget packages start at $899 for the week and escalate, depending on your choice of resort accommodations and airline departure point. There are even discount prices for nondivers, bubble watchers and snorkelers.

    The package includes round-trip airfare on Cayman Airways from any of its major U.S. gateways: Miami, Tampa or Houston. Northwest Airlines provides connecting flights to Miami from more than 50 cities across America, plus five in Canada. Also included is round-trip transportation to and from the airport.

    Part of the Cayman Madness package is seven nights accommodations at your choice of three participating host resorts: Treasure Island (Madness headquarters), Sea View Hotel (shore diving headquarters) or Plantation Village (two bedroom condominiums).

    Diving consists of four days of two tank boat trips plus a night boat dive and an underwater treasure hunt shore dive. Dive boat trips are planned for the North Wall, South Wall, Stingray City and West Wall. There is also unlimited shore diving throughout the week, not only at Bob Soto's Scuba Centre but island-wide.

    Also included is a Cayman Madness T-shirt, all hotel taxes and service charges and an opportunity to win an armload of prizes from equipment manufacturers and restaurant sponsors. More than $11,000 in gift certificates will be given away for meals at 11 different Grand Cayman restaurants. Just show up at the restaurant and your name may be selected as one of the lucky Cayman Madness winners.