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Cayman Islands Dive Industry Gears up for 2015 with Good Showing at DEMA

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Cayman

Operators celebrate a good year and look ahead with new dive packages and products

Cayman Cayman’s dive industry shored up business for 2015 and thanked travel partners for their support during a solid 2014 at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) trade show in Las Vegas last month. Red Sail Sports, Sunset House and Divetech joined the Department of Tourism and others to promote Cayman’s exceptional diving and top-notch hospitality industry at the Cayman Islands pavilion. Southern Cross Club’s Neil van Niekerk was there to represent the Sister Islands. The Cayman section was located in a prime spot near some big names in diving so it enjoyed good traffic during the international dive show.

“We booked a lot of business the first two days – by 10:10 a.m. on the first day we already had our first group booked,” said Sunset House General Manager Keith Sahm. “We were very happy with DEMA, which is the largest scuba show in the world, so this is where we needed to be to show off Cayman’s world class diving.”

Red Sail Sports introduced a new Go Pro video camera program for next year and the dive company also launched a new Referral Program for U.S. dive shops. Sales and Marketing Manager Sarah-Jane Whitehill said both were well received, generating buzz at the show for the new products.

“The show is a great opportunity for us to network with existing partners and meet potential new clients,” she said.  “We also keep up with the latest developments in the industry by attending educational seminars and social events.”

Cayman DEMA was also a time to celebrate the end of a good year for tourism in the Cayman Islands. The latest statistics from the Department of Tourism show a 12% jump in the number of stay over visitors to the Cayman Islands. Dive operators say 2014 is closing out as a solid year for business and they anticipate a busy 2015. Divetech was also celebrating a special award from the Cayman Islands for its conservation efforts. Owner Nancy Easterbrook missed the show’s opening day because she was still on Grand Cayman receiving the Governor’s Corporate Conservation Award.

“Divetech was very pleased and humbled to have received the Conservation Corporate Award of the year, it’s a great honor, and of course the recognition for the sustainable efforts is extremely rewarding,” said Easterbrook. “We were in great company and it’s exciting to see all of the businesses that are really working hard to make a difference on reducing impacts on our oceans and planet… it’s heart warming.”

Ocean conservation is a critical concern for DEMA members worldwide and the show hosted several seminars on the subject. Cayman representatives also had the opportunity to hear from industry experts on topics that included dive safety and marketing.  Alongside the show exhibits, industry manufacturers demonstrated new dive gear and photography equipment.

Cayman “The DEMA show is our major business to business show,” said Director of Tourism Rosa Harris in a video statement from the show. “We are here to ensure we shore up business for 2015 and continue to maintain key dive relationships.”

The Department of Tourism partners with Cayman’s dive operators to promote the destination through a number of events and programs, including hosting the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. Scuba industry pioneers inducted into the hall of fame in October during the inaugural “Legends and Lions” scuba festival stopped by the Cayman pavilion to greet the public and take photos at the Hall of Fame booth. Plans are already in the works for 2015’s scuba celebration.

 

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Historical Submarine Prototype protected

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The wreck of an early British submarine known as HMS/m D1, which was the forerunner to the Royal Navy’s patrol submarines that boosted Britain’s defensive power during the First World War, has been granted protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The wreck, off the coast of Dartmouth in Devon, was investigated in a project originated by U-boat historian Michael Lowrey, who was writing a book about First World War U boat losses. The wreck was identified by a team of technical divers who are skilled at diving at depths of over 40 metres, led by Steve Mortimer, diving from Wey Chieftain IV. They reported the discovery of HMS/m D1 to Historic England and it has now been protected by scheduling. This means divers can dive the wreck but its contents are protected by law and must remain in situ.

Multi-beam image of the newly- protected prototype of the D-Class submarine which was deliberately sunk off the coast of Dartmouth, Devon in 1918 and used as a target to test submarine detection equipment. Copyright Wessex Archaeology

HMS/m D1 was built by shipbuilding company Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria and was the secret prototype for the D-class, the Royal Navy’s first diesel powered submarine. Launched in 1908 and commissioned in September 1909, the D-class was a significant development on the C-class submarine, being larger and more powerful.

At the start of the First World War, HMS/m D1 was assigned to protecting the coast of Dover from enemy invasion before carrying out patrols outside of English territorial waters to monitor German shipping movements. In September 1917, HMS/m D1 joined the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla and a year later it was relegated to training duties. In October 1918, HMS/m D1 was decommissioned and scuttled- deliberately sunk. The submarine was used as a training target off the Devon coast for Royal Navy training exercises involving the detection of enemy submarines. The wreck sits upright and largely intact on the seabed.

Multi-beam image of the newly- protected prototype of the D-Class submarine. Copyright Wessex Archaeology

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “The D-class submarine was superior to the C-class, with innovations that became integral parts of future Royal Navy submarines. These included diesel propulsion, twin propellers and a wireless telegraphy system which allowed the submarine to transmit and receive signals. This is a fascinating survival which deserves protection as an important part of our seafaring history.”

Lead Diver Steve Mortimer said: “Every diver dreams of identifying a historically important wreck.  Expecting to find the remains of a German U-boat, we were thrilled to discover a ground-breaking British submarine instead.  It’s tremendous that D1 is now protected but divers can still visit.”

Eight D-class submarines were built. HMS/m D2, HMS/m D3 and HMS/m D6 were sunk outside English territorial waters, while HMS/m D4, HMS/m D7 and HMS/m D8 were sold and scrapped in 1919. The wreck of HMS/m D5 is located off Lowestoft. Suffolk, and is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

For more information, please visit www.historicengland.org.uk

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Tried & Tested: INON UWL 95- C24 Wide Angle Wet Lens

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The INON UWL 95- C24 is the latest wide angle wet lens released by INON and has been designed for compact cameras with zoom lenses that are 24mm at the wide end. The UWL-95 C24 has a maximum angle of view of 95° underwater. This can be increased up to 141° with the optional Dome Lens.

The lens has a versatile M67 screw mount and M52 screw mount, the M52 fitting is already built in. Because the M67 rings are screwed to the lens over this, they can’t come loose like a step up rings. Totally renewed optical design effectively suppresses flare/ghost even in backlit condition to provide sharp and high quality image.

Test Conditions

  • Location: Capernwray Quarry, UK
  • Visibility: 2-3m
  • Temperature: 9 degrees C
  • No of Dives: 1
  • Equipment Used: Canon S110 in Recsea housing
  • Test Equipment: INON UWL 95- C24 with Dome Lens Unit 111A and 67mm thread.
  • RRP of lens and accessories used: £667.98

Review

This was an eagerly awaited new product from INON – a wide angle wet lens that can be used with hugely popular compact cameras such as the Olympus Tough and the Sony RX100 range. Testing new equipment in less than ideal conditions is always a challenge, but it is also a bonus, as for many, these will be the conditions they will experience too. Testing a new lens on an unfamiliar camera system also makes this process harder, as you need time to adjust to the new system, even though that is not what you are testing. My first impressions of this lens, before getting it underwater, was that it is very well made.

As we descended I started to unscrew the lens to ensure that any air trapped between camera housing and lens was released. As long as you do not undo all the way this works perfectly, however with thick gloves, in cold water, I would not want to have to attach the lens onto the camera using the 67mm thread very often as it feels a little fiddly.

Using the UWL-95 C24 can dramatically reduce minimum focusing distance needed between photographer and subject. As the visibility on the testing day was only 2-3m this was very good news indeed and the lens focused on subjects that were virtually touching the lens. Be careful not to get too close to anything that might scratch the lens! The lens, with the additional dome gave a really wide field of view, perfect for wreck, diver, scenic and large marine life shots.

Whilst the lens feels quite heavy on the front of a small camera out of the water, I did not notice it at all on the dive which is great, as some big lenses can require floats or very strong wrists to make them workable. This is a simple grab and go lens that does not need any additional kit or know-how to use. Alas, due to my buddy having a catastrophic dry suit flood, I only got a single dive to try it out, but was impressed with it nonetheless.

Fortunately I am taking the lens up to Scotland to try out on my Olympus TG5 whilst snorkeling and wild swimming – so watch out for more about this lens next month.

For more information visit the INON website by clicking here.

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