If you are ever in the area of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DiveTech as a dive operator choice. It’s a top shelf operation with really good people running the show. They run ScubaPro rental equipment and even have lovely accommodations for rent. My family and I had a super terrific time diving with the DiveTech crew. Nice facilities, nice boat, great people. It was a slam dunk decision for us to choose this operator for most of our diving while on Grand Cayman. The costs were reasonable as well. All of our SaltyDogs.com crew had a great time! Check out some of our pictures… Fun times!!! Photos taken with SeaLife Micro 2.0 and SeaDragon 2500. The SeaLife Micro 2.0 housing leaked on a 65 feet dive, I would NOT recommend the camera to anybody.
Here are some cool up close videos of a flounder off Grand Cayman. Videos were shot with a SeaLife Micro 2.0 (before it leaked water into the housing) and SeaDragon 2500 light. Dive operator was DiveTech.
A couple of weeks ago, we tested out some new dive computers / dive watches from a few different manufacturers. What we found during our tests was certainly surprising to us. Those results may surprise you as well.
The testing place: About a mile off the west coast of Grand Cayman about 65 feet down.
The weather: 84F / 29C and mostly sunny.
Water temperature: 81F / 27C
What a decision it is when it comes to choosing a dive computer. Some people like the pure dive computer, bulky, big numbers so that I can see the readout from ten feet back type big. Some folks look for a more stylish everyday watch-like dive computer that they can wear around on their wrist and not look too much like a total dive nerd; the key being that the unit can’t be TOO bulky. I personally am in the second class (do you ever get that second class citizen feeling like I do?) just described when it comes to picking out a Star Trek technology Tri-corder level dive information device. These dive systems are meant to give up some very important information when you’re below the ocean’s surface and you can’t just rush back up to ask for a spare if yours fails. Diving is kind of like flying in that a lot of the time when you’re doing either, it’s just not feasible to coast off to the side of the road if your equipment fails. Unwavering faith in my gear and that of my family/friend’s that I’m diving with, is paramount to my enjoyment of the dive! Dive computers have no exception in my book. There just shouldn’t be any failure in your dive computer with a reasonably fresh battery installed in it. Not that the world will blow up if there is a failure with your dive computer, it’s just that it’s NOT LIKELY to happen. It’s just not a piece of equipment that has any mechanical or electronic reason to fail often. That all being said, let’s list the reviews of these dive computers/watch types. This list is by no means exhaustive of all the choices that are out there and available to us, in fact we only tested three different dive computers, three cool (at first) computers that we were excited to dive with and put through their paces.
Let’s start with the Mares Smart Dive Computer and Watch: The Mares Smart is by far the least expensive of the dive computers tested here and frankly we had the least expectations for this computer/watch before beginning these tests. However, it turns out that the Mares Smart is an extremely functional and functionally intuitive unit that I would highly recommend to others, my family and friends included! This watch does a super fine job under the water and does it just as well as it does on top of the seas. The Mares Smart is even kind of stylish and comes in many different color combinations. However, I’m certain that the Red/Black color combination is somehow faster and more powerful when it comes to shooting out sticky web in order to catch the bad guys. If it’s good enough for Spiderman to use, then it’s good enough for me is what I guess I’m trying to say here. Also, red and black are the SaltyDogs.com colors so, it’s a big win owning this diving workhorse!
Build Quality: 4.5 stars out of 5. It’s made out of plastic and rubber and a less expensive stainless steel strap buckle. All in all, it’s a decent build and the computer goes for under $400.
Price: Under $400 USD. That’s an exceptional deal in my books. Great watch/computer!
Conclusion: The Mares Smart dive computer and watch is a great unit! I highly recommend it and trust it to assist my family members with their dives and daily lives. My wife and son both wear a Mares Smart daily.
Next up for our Dive Computer review is the Oceanic OCL Dive Computer and Watch: The Oceanic OCL is a middle of the road dive computer when it comes to function and price. I wore this unit daily for five months before it malfunctioned and gave me errors on two consecutive dives. It seemed unbelievable to me at the time that my Oceanic OCL could malfunction on me during a dive and after those two occurrences, I lost faith in the Oceanic OCL dive computer and watch model. I won’t ever dive with it again, even after it’s ‘repaired’. Just can’t trust it. Also, there’s no way in Hades that I would ever give even a repaired version of that computer to a family member or friend with which to dive. There’s also no way that I’ll sell the Oceanic OCL to another unsuspecting diver. After writing these words, it occurs to me that I guess I could sell the computer, with an asterisk on the sale that the buyer needs to promise me that the Oceanic OCL dive computer is for shore use only, NOT FOR DIVING. Then MAYBE I’d sell it. Or maybe I’ll just flush my Oceanic OCL and see how deep it really can go.
NOTE: I had the Oceanic OCL in AIR Mode, I wasn’t sucking NITROX at the time, otherwise TECHNICALLY according to PADI’s Nitrox lessons, I would have had to cut my dives short immediately after receiving the malfunction and error from the Oceanic OCL computer.
Build Quality: 4.0 stars out of 5. It’s a great looking watch and solidly built but, the rubber watch band doesn’t fit me well. -It pinches too much at the top of the wrist and computer. Also, the strap holder keeps sliding up on the band and becomes useless with not much assistance from me.
Price: About $600 USD. That’s NOT an exceptional deal in my books. Beautiful watch/computer that malfunctioned on two consecutive dives.
Conclusion: The Oceanic OCL dive computer and watch looked like it was going to be a great everyday watch and dive computer. After the Oceanic OCL malfunctioned and locked up on two consecutive dives, I just can’t trust it. Oceanic Malfunction FAIL.
Last but not least in this test review is the Suunto D9TX Dive Computer and Watch: The Suunto D9TX is a very high end dive computer and daily watch that does exactly what it should do. It works and it works extremely well. Looks great too! This is the kind of drop the mic type dive computer and watch that Poseidon himself would wear daily. It’s made of titanium and so is the band. It just all works. And I believe it will work EVERY TIME I dive in the water with it. Works great on the surface too. This is the dive computer and watch that I now wear daily.
Here’s the SaltyDogs.com Scuba Dab team in action under water… Tough conditions demand tough equipment!
Build Quality: 5.0 out of 5 stars. It’s a very sexy looking daily wear watch and it’s built like a nuclear sub. Suunto even uses the same material to build these D9TX’s that the Americans and Russians use to build their nuke submarines… Titanium. This dive computer might even be able to calculate missile launch trajectories and figure out launch codes, haven’t gotten to that part in the manual yet to be certain. The device is a looker and worker for sure.
Price: About $1,500 USD WITH the tank pressure transmitter and USB information transfer kit.
Conclusion: I have zero buyer’s remorse. There wouldn’t be any such thing as product reviews if everything were built like the Suunto D9TX. It’s stand up and clap grade equipment. Lastly, I’ve seen a couple of the stainless steel versions that having pitting all over them from hard ocean wear. Do yourself a favor and get the Titanium version!
When on a dive vacation, one needs to dive! In my family’s case, we need to dive A LOT! Both of my kids along with my lovely wife and myself enjoy the hell out of the whole dive experience. It’s a ton of fun to actually go diving but, it’s also exciting to think about and prepare for the next day’s/week’s/vacation’s dive. Kind of like SCUBA Christmas Eve, the night before every dive. I just love it and it makes me smile wide when my dive crew gets excited about the upcoming awesomeness as well. If you don’t yet dive or haven’t yet finished up your Open Water Certification, BY ALL MEANS, get your rump down to your local dive shop and sign up for or finish your dive classes. Or you can do like my family did, (except for my wife, she’s been Advanced Open Water certified for many years, even since before she met me – one of the reasons I married her, how cool to meet a chick that’s already dive certified right?!) get your Open Water dive certification in a warm water location! We did ours in Belize which took about three days total with book work, watching PADI learning videos and practical dive training. I’m not much of a cold weather guy, let alone a cold water guy so, the Belize option was absolutely perfect in so many ways for my sensitivities and needs! If you’ve ever wished you could just jump in the aquarium and swim around with all your new cool colorful fish friends, Scuba diving might just be your ticket to adventure.
Stingray City is a place in the sea where the stingrays gather to greet you… for lunch! No, you’re not the one that’s on the menu, these Southern Stingrays aren’t all Hannibal Lecter like that! Unlike the Tampa Bay Rays, these rays are mostly harmless; however, they do still have a barb on their tail that one needs to be cognizant of when handling these seemingly docile creatures. Where is this Stingray City where you can swim with and handle so many Southern Stingrays? -In the North Sound of Grand Cayman island of course. Everybody and their brother that’s ever been to the Cayman Islands or on any cruise to Grand Cayman, knows about this fun excursion to pet the rays, now you do too…
Next time you see the port of Georgetown, Grand Cayman on your cruise itinerary or you’re on the island for any other reason and want to get up and close with some puppy like sea life, ask a dive operator to take you over to Stingray City and enjoy! The rays are cute, kind of, at least the front part of them is, not the sharp barb thingy at the base of their tail though. I’ve heard some stories from Jamaican fishermen that have been stung in the foot by a ray and it’s supposedly no joke! Lots of pain and irritation involved. Make sure to do that ‘Stingray Shuffle‘ whenever you’re walking on the bottom of the sea and make sure to check out some of the following videos that were shot with a very inexpensive GoPro that I ordered on Black Friday on Amazon for $89 USD. ScubaDo’s brand new SeaLife Micro 2.0 that he got for Christmas, puked out on a dive just prior to this one. -More on that POS later.
The dive operator that we chose to take us on this fantastic one tank dive was DiveTech. They are our current favorite dive operator on the island. DiveTech offers all Scubapro rental gear and the staff are all friendly consummate professionals. An extra big thanks to Marie, Menno, Steve T., Tony, Drew, Glen and Jo!
Do you have a dream to one day drop everything you’re doing at your real-life day job and move to some place tropical? How will you make money in paradise? How will you live??? Well, here’s a couple that’s figured out how to do just that. Gary and Liz Frost, are the owners of Living The Dream Divers. They moved away to the tropical delight of an island, Grand Cayman and setup a dive company! It seems like they’re Living The Dream to me!
Some members of our small Salty Dogs team decided to check out Grand Cayman over the holidays and while there, we hooked up with Living The Dream Divers on the west coast of Grand Cayman. There the water is mostly calm and clear and extremely enticing to any traveler from the cold climates that’s aching to jump in and go diving! The dives were a lot of fun and we would like to send out a thank you for all the memories, to our friends, Gary, Liz and especially to Scott Hartwell our dive guide, who is an outstanding human being and representative for Living The Dream Divers! Happy New Year, friends!
Guardian Of The Reef is a bronze statue that was sunk in about 65 feet of water just off the coast and is easily accessible as a shore dive from Divetech’s front yard on Grand Cayman. In order to access the dive site from the shore, you have to start out in a man made ocean pool and then traverse a cut through the sea rocks out to the Caribbean Sea. It’s a lot of fun to do and my family and I can’t wait to do it again! Very very cool!
I’m in a hurry getting ready for a dive coming up in a couple of hours so, I’m being lazy and not including pics of the pool and cut that we used to enter the ocean on this shore dive. Will include that later for sure. Also, you’ll have to turn your head sideways in order to truly appreciate some of these pics. Sorry for the picture formatting laziness/lack of time. 😉
Viz wasn’t that great on this dive as the ocean was a bit choppy but, how fun! Check out the artist that made this statue, The Guardian of the Reef. More later!
Do you like the feel when in the Cayman Islands? I do. I also like the jerk chicken and the super clear warm water and soft sand the islands there have to offer. Maybe I’ll gather up my lovely family and head south to the beautiful Caymans soon and escape the shitty Michigan cold? Yes, I think I will do that. Close your eyes and day dream with me a bit… can you smell the salty Caribbean Sea air as we sit at Calico Jack’s and order up half of the menu? I’m having the jerk chicken, fries, EXTRA EXTRA sauce pretty please. If the napkins taste as good as the fries and chicken there, I’ll also use those dry white starchy paper wafers as vehicles for that badass Jamaican jerk sauce goodness! If the meal doesn’t arrive quickly, I may just try out that napkin flavor fer certain. But, from thorough training and experience, I’ve learned to not rush things when in the Caribbean or while on vacation for that matter. It’s just not right to be in a hurry while on holiday and we should all remember that it’s not polite to be pushy either. Sometimes I forgot that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar and I can get a little in a tizzy when it comes to wanting to get food in front of me fast. So, therefore one can deduce, that it’s good training for me to go on vacation frequently in order to keep my manners tuned up and to remind myself that patience is indeed a virtue and to not be a rush-round asshole. So, I will wait quietly for my jerk chicken, fries and EXTRA EXTRA sauce to arrive at the table in front of me. Though if there isn’t any Caybrew beer there to help me in this training endeavor, all bets are off the table! C’mon Cayman Islands! Can’t wait to get back to ya again.