Grand Cayman Trip Report

I just got back from a five day trip to the Sunset House on Grand Cayman. It was a promotional deal to check out their facilities and the dive operation. The flight from Bradley was easy and fairly quick on American Airlines. The taxi ride to the resort took about 10 minutes and a smooth check in at the front desk. I stayed in a courtyard room which was clean and nice with two double beds, a front porch and a great view.

The resort has a nice pool with a waterfall, three ladders to access the beautiful Caribbean Sea for diving or swimming, a large covered bar with plenty of table seating, and a restaurant that serves three meals a day with waterside dining available.

The dive operations were exceptional. The Sunset House is designed for scuba divers and every aspect of the diving is smooth and easy. The dive boats are clean and in good condition with plenty of room on board, even with a large group. The shore diving was great with easy access to the water, and the house reef is as good as many of the dive boat sites. The crew was very accommodating and provided some of the best service I have seen.

If you are looking for a warm tropical getaway with great diving at a reasonable price, consider joining Scuba Shack in October for a week long adventure at the Sunset House on Grand Cayman.

Trip Photos

Trip Video

Fall PADI Rescue Diver class photos

In mid-November, five divers participated in the Open Water Rescue Scenarios at Brownstone Discovery & Exploration Park. All divers were students in Scuba Shack’s Rescue Diver Program which started in September.

After many classroom and pool sessions, divers were put through live rescue scenarios including panicked diver, lost diver and injured diver using multiple rescue techniques and included emergency oxygen therapy, AED, first aid and CPR.

Special thanks to Matt and Shannon who donated their time to be in water accident victims. The class was led by Scuba Shack instructors Nick Civitillo and Gary Woods.

Rescue Dive Photo Gallery

Dive Trip Report – Scuba Shack visits Bonaire

In mid-October, 23 divers including four instructors and three divemasters left on Scuba Shack’s Dive Trip to the beautiful island of Bonaire. After a long day of travel we arrived at the Divi Flamingo Resort. The hotel was very nice and located right on the water within walking distance to downtown Kralendijk. The resort featured two nice swimming pools, two ocean front restaurants; Chibi-Chibi and Pure Ocean, a casino and beach bar that had its grand re-opening on Friday. There was also a sandy beach and four nice docks stretching out into the water for swimming or sun bathing.

After a mandatory dive briefing on Saturday afternoon from the on-site dive center, Divi Dive, we had some much needed dinner and a good night’s rest to get ready for the big adventure on Sunday morning.

The dive operations, run by Serge De Groote, were exceptional! Dive lockers right on the boat dock made loading and unloading gear a breeze. Ed managed to get all 23 of us on one large dive boat and even with a big group; the dive trips were smooth and easy.

The trip package included a two tank boat dive every morning and unlimited shore diving. Many of us chose to do an additional afternoon boat dive which was offered at a much discounted price. The boats were clean and roomy and the divemasters and captains were as nice and as helpful as you could ask for.

The diving was especially good with water temps reaching 84 degrees and the visibility between 50 and 100 feet. Lots of fish, beautiful coral formations, octopus, turtles, tarpon and eels were to be found on most dives. Some of the more notable dive sites were The Salt Pier, Small Wall, Windsock and the wreck of The Hilma Hooker. The house reef was also very nice with many divers doing afternoon and night dives right off the boat dock.

Thanks again to all who participated for making this another fun and successful dive trip. Hope to see you all again on a future Scuba Shack dive vacation!

Underwater Photo Gallery from Gary Woods

 

Milford Fire Department trains with Scuba Shack

Earlier this month, Scuba Shack’s Public Safety Division was at the Milford Fire Department in Milford, Connecticut teaching a Public Safety Dive Course. Eight members of the fire department’s Dive Rescue Team received all-day training both in the classroom and in the local high school swimming pool.

Buoyancy control, propulsion, weighting, equipment and body control were all covered in detail. Class was conducted by instructors Ed Hayes and Gary Woods.

Diving Bonaire – Photos

Wondering what the landscape – both above and below the waterline – is like in Bonaire? Here are some photos from Scuba Shack instructor Gary Woods.

The Bahamas scuba adventure continues!

And the adventure continues! May 25, 2016 and the stalwart Scuba Shack Tribe descended upon Nassau, New Providence Island, the Bahamas. Once again led by Scuba Shack instructor Peter Katz, our group of 20 assembled for the annual Memorial Day weekend of diving and fun in the sun. The weather gods were kind to us, since it rained each day but never interfered with the diving or the eating. I am happy to report that two of our divers successfully completed their Open Water certifications, including 10 year old Nikita, her enthusiasm and excitement were contagious.

scuba-shack-nassau-201605-11The diving was superb; sharks, rays, eels and all the usual suspects were out and about. We did walls, wrecks, shallow reefs and Hollywood movie sets. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the safari to the “Lost Blue Hole”. It was a shorter boat ride than the usual trip to Exuma, which was appreciated. But the dive was electric. The Blue Hole was formed when the roof of an underground limestone cave collapsed. It is approximately 100 feet in diameter with a depth of 300+ feet (no one dove down to check), which made exploration of the perimeter as interesting as probing the depths. We located the cavern located on the north side at 80 feet and I watched as fearless Elena explored the hidden recesses. Outside of the hole we observed Caribbean reef sharks, sharp nosed sharks and a good sized loggerhead turtle entering and exiting the hole. On the perimeter, numerous southern rays foraged in the sand. Lobsters and eels were found hiding in the numerous coral heads that encircled the opening. It was a more exciting dive than I experienced at the Blue Hole in Belize.

The Lost Blue Hole was followed by a second dive on the north side of Rose Island, a shallow reef system that was filled with tiny critters requiring patience and good buoyancy. While we were diving, the crew was setting up our lavish picnic lunch. Once back on board, they anchored the boat close to shore and the party started. Great food, some adult beverages and a lazy afternoon of sun, beach, and water. Our shore excursion over, we navigated the rest of the way around Paradise Island and New Providence Island giving everyone a wonder sight-seeing excursion.

Without a doubt, the trip would not have been as successful without the outstanding efforts of Stuart Cove and his staff. Right from making the reservations and dive arrangements with Pam Christman to our reception and easy check in at the Dive Shop with Liz and her staff. Elison in Fin Photo made sure we had an experienced photographer to record our adventures. Our dive staff; CleeJ our captain, Terri and Gigi our dive leaders were spectacular in their never wavering energy and excitement. They made sure our nitrox was on the boat, all the details for the Safari and the daily dives were well attended to as well as certifying our new divers. I know of one young lady who was very sad to have to say goodbye to her new found friends. As for the rest of us, we know we will be back for 2017!

But it wasn’t all diving, we had great times at Capriccio’s, Café Matisse, and Luciano’s. The food consumed along with a few glasses of wine and the stories told of the day’s adventures made for memorable evenings. Judy and her staff were on their A-game for the traditional barbeque on Sunday evening. I really think they out did themselves in the quality and preparation of the food. It is my humble opinion that Judy is the only person I know who can make the Caribbean lobster taste good, it is usually tough, chewy and tasteless. Her recipe was tasty and tender.

Fortunately, I was able to stay an extra night which allowed me to try dinner at Mahogany House located at Island House Resort and I have to tell you it was excellent. Now I have a dilemma, too many great restaurants, not enough nights. Perhaps we will extend next year’s trip by one extra night.

Trip Photo Gallery

Photos from Scuba Shack

If you have not been to our Dive Center in Rocky Hill, stop by soon to check out the new equipment options we have in stock, or sign up for a ReActivate program to get back into the water this summer. Pool sessions available.

Jan. 2016 Turks & Caicos trip report

In January, twelve Scuba Shack divers escaped the Connecticut winter just ahead of winter storm Jonas.  We headed for the warm, tropical setting of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a week of sun, fun and of course, diving.  We stayed at Sibonne Beach Hotel on Grace Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Sibonne is a small, simple hotel perfect for divers with an awesome location.

Scroll down to see the extensive photo gallery from this trip!

We dove with Dive Provo Sunday through Friday.  Our dive masters and captains — Justin, John, Kate and Pablo — took great care of us the entire week aboard the Provo Conquest, a 36- foot Newton.  All of the dive sites on Caicos banks are wall dives of one sort or another.

The  wind and waves were coming from the north and west the first three days so we took an hour boat ride to the south across Caicos Banks to French Cay, a very small, uninhabited bird sanctuary about 20 miles to the south of Providenciales.  This remote location consisted of numerous pristine dive sites.  On Sunday we dove Wreck Bay and DAK’s Canyon.  These two sites were the farthest east of all the sites we did. At Wreck Bay we saw the first reef shark of many we would see that week.  We also saw the only nurse shark of the week at the same location.   We did Half Mile Reef (a half mile south of French Cay) and Rock & Roll Reef on Monday, where we saw hawksbill turtles. On Tuesday, we did G-Spot (one of my favorites over the week) and Rock & Roll again.  G-spot is a “G” shaped formation on the wall. The point on the wall was covered with large gorgonians and sea fans. Schools of horse-eyed jacks circled in the sunlight on the point.  Rock and Roll presented more turtles.

With a change of wind direction on Wednesday we were able to head west to Sandbore Channel, where we did Ragged Ledge and the aptly named Tons of Sponge. We saw reef sharks within minutes of entering the water.  We also saw more turtles.

On Thursday we headed to West Caicos, which is just a few miles south of Sanbore Channel.  The first site we did was Elephant Ear Canyon.  We found a pair of green morays about 15 feet apart.  We also were greeted by another large hawksbill turtle. The next site was Gulley, which was a great swim-through starting at the edge of the sand and ending on the wall at about 85 feet.   When we popped out on the wall we were greeted by two reef sharks.

We wrapped up the week at Northwest Point.  Our dive master Kate led the dive at Amphitheater, which is a large indentation on the wall with impressive hard and soft coral formations (and not to mention, a couple of turtles!).  For our last dive, John led us on a dive that covered two sites.  We headed south from our mooring to an adjacent site called Thunder Dome.  The site contained the remnants of a metal sphere that was used in a French reality TV show that is now home to schools of juvenile french grunts, yellowtail snapper and a large crab. From there we headed west to the wall where we were again greeted by a couple of reef sharks. We traveled north along the wall to a vertical swim-through called Chimney that brought us back to our boat.

We dined out nearly every night at some great restaurants.  On Thursday we went to the Fish Fry, a weekly event held at a nearby park, to  mingle with locals and enjoy a variety of food, libations and live music. We had a great group and great fun!

Students complete Rescue Diver program

On Nov. 8, Scuba Shack conducted the open water scenarios for the PADI Rescue Diver Course. Led by instructors Nick Civitillo and Gary Woods, the group of four went through land drills, panicked diver, tired diver, search and recovery, ascending an unconscious diver, and bringing an unconscious diver to shore while delivering rescue breaths. Also first aid, CPR, oxygen delivery and AED drills on an injured diver.

All the students performed very well and have now completed the Rescue Diver Program. All that remains is completing the Emergency First Responder class which will take place at Scuba Shack on a Sunday, sometime before the Christmas Holiday.

This class is available to anyone that is interested in learning Basic First Aid, CPR, and the AED or for those of you that need an update or renewal. Please contact the shop if you are interested. Congratulations to Karen, Halle, Teresa, and Nanette. Well done!

Scuba Shack visits the Bahamas – Shark Diving Photos!

The annual Scuba Shack Nassau Memorial Day trip got off to a great start with the arrival of our intrepid adventurers at the World Renowned Orange Hill Beach Inn where “the only thing colder than the beer were the showers!” Hot water problems were eventually addressed and the group was off to a rousing good time at Capriccio’s.

Our first day of diving included a hammerhead shark sighting on Palace Wall which Jeff Cinciripino was able to capture on video. On Friday morning the group experienced its first formal shark dive. Our boat crew, Terri and Charlotte, the official shark wranglers were assisted by Peter Katz and his daughter Jessica. We served as shark feeders not as shark bait, although there was one close call, but to hand feed fish to the sharks from short spears. The rest of the group kneeled in a semicircle around the “shark arena” to watch the show. It was an adrenaline pumping 40 minutes of sharks, sharks, and more sharks! We made it back to the surface with all our limbs and digits intact, but the excitement was palpable.

scuba-shack-nassau-201505-017Our adventures continued on Saturday, the boat was loaded with tanks, food, adult beverages and we were off to Exuma for our out island excursion. It took a little longer than expected, Clee J had to train our boat captain Densel on the ins and outs of piloting through the reefs that surround Highbourne Cay. We did our favorite dive site, Beach Bum tunnel on Eagle Ray Wall but the group opted out of the second dive to concentrate on eating, drinking and cavorting on the beach of one of the deserted cays. Thanks to Don Drew, we were treated to the prerelease of the Caribbean Beach Bums first album “It’s The Near Perfect Day.”   Needless to say, it was a huge hit especially the song “Diver Down” which seemed to resonate with Moderation man himself!

Our adventures were not limited to the sea, we had wonderful evenings at our favorite dining establishments. Somehow, the rumor circulated that there was another Sean Connery sighting at Café Matisse although it was never confirmed. Our evening at Luciano’s on their patio overlooking the harbor was delightful. Nothing like good food, good wine, good friends after a day full of good diving.

Our last evening was a low key barbecue at Orange Hill. Unfortunately, the week end sped by way too fast and we had to say good bye to our home away from home. We vowed to be back next year with a plan to experience the “Lost Blue Hole” dive site hidden away on the north east portion of New Providence Island.

Shark Feeding Frenzy!