As Total Sub-ers stepped off the plane and onto the Cayman Islands, PADI Diving Society staff members and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism offered them a warm welcome. More than 80 guests received a PADI Diving Society dry bag filled with swag from Divers Alert Network, Sunset House, CIDOT and GoPro.
A jammed-pack week featured contests and seminars, prizes, excursions, parties and more. The Sunset Divers staff led teams Red, White, Blue, Purple and Yellow on explorations of some of the best dive spots, including the USS Kittiwake. When Total Sub was last held on Grand Cayman, the Kittiwake hadn’t been scuttled, so the two dives offered there were very popular. The Kittiwake is perfect for underwater shutterbugs, and Total Sub-ers took full advantage, exploring every inch of this beautiful wreck.
The week’s camaraderie also added to everyone’s fun. Total Sub alumnus Samantha Knighton recounts her first day of Total Sub, when she was already meeting new people. “On the bus to Sunset House we met some great new friends, one of whom was new to diving and kind of apprehensive about the first dive,” she says. “My dive buddy graciously volunteered me to take her on her first dive,” she continues. “Asa PADI Instructor, I don’t want to feel like I’m trying to tell people on vacation how to dive, so I generally wait for them to ask for help. But as we got ready, we met another great diver named Ed Conn. Ed and I took our new friend, Ronda Schuffman, on her first dive at Sunset House. She was a little bit nervous before getting into the water, but after a 20-minute dive tooling around the reef at Sunset House, she was comfortable, so we did another 20 minutes, and she loved it! When she got out of the water, she said she had a great time. That is why I’m an instructor. It was great to see her gain confidence throughout the week.”
Later in the week, Ronda and fellow Total Sub-er Rosalyn France were recognized for improving their dive skills, and becoming stronger and confident divers. Midweek, PADI Diving Society and Sunset Divers hosted an underwater poker run. Keeping with tradition, Team Purple took advantage of Sunset House’s famous mermaid, dressing her in a purple tutu with a matching crown while PADI Diving Society Director Theresa Kaplan manned the compass point at the mermaid.
From water fights to the Sunset House pool being taken over by inflatable turtles, there was something new going on every day. GoPro provided guests with underwater cameras and housings so they could test-dive with the cameras andc apture their underwater memories on film — and record a few shenanigans too.
Total Sub-ers also got a chance to dive with some very special guests. Tanya G. Burnett, Sport Diver’s field editor, joined each team diving and during surface intervals and answered questions about underwater photography. Dan Orr, president of DAN Inc., dived each day with guests and Betty Orr, vice president and director of insurance of DAN Services, accompanied the guests on morning dives, snapping photos and getting divers excited. Additional special guests included William Ziefle, president and CEO of DAN Holdings Inc., Panchabi Vaithiyanathan, DAN COO and CIO, Hunter Clark, GoPro events coordinator, and Patricia Wuest, senior editor for Sport Diver.
On Wednesday, the group headed to Rum Point on the north side of the island for a Caribbean-nights dinner party and games. “During the carnival games, the guests acted as if they were kids running around Disneyland or at a state fair. It was hysterical,” said Kaplan. When not playing, guests became cheerleaders during the beanbag toss contest, shark squirt-gun water race, and the most challenging game of all — split-fin toss, where the object was to balance a bottle cap on the split of a fin and use it to toss the cap into one of three buckets.
Later in the evening, there was a spectacular performance by The Wave, and Total Sub-ers kicked off their flip-flops and danced on the white-sand beach. A boisterous game of musical chairs and the newspaper dance rounded out the fun. We also announced the poker-run winners that night; the highest-hand award went to Rachel Meester, who won a GoPro HD Hero2 outdoor-edition camera and dive housing.
Total Submersion is one of the PADI Diving Society’s most popular events because participants can reconnect with old friends, and make new friends, who all share one passion: diving. Each day begins with two-tank boat dives and continues with unlimited shore diving on Sunset House’s lively house reef. The day ends with sunset shore dives, recounting stories and sharing photos around the seaside tables at My Bar.
The lush walls and reefs off Grand Cayman’s Northwest and Southwest points at sites like Big Tunnels, Orange Canyon, Devil’s Grotto and Eagle Ray Rock kept divers busy, and photographers and videographers were able to showcase the best of Cayman’s marine life at a slide show presented at the week’s final night dinner.
It’s not too early to begin planning for Total Sub 2013. For more info, visit padi.com/totalsub.