Trip Report Cayman Aggressor V, November 24-December 1, 2018

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

scubadada

Diver
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
16,865
Reaction score
14,313
Location
Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
# of dives
1000 - 2499
I have been to Grand Cayman 10 times, Little Cayman twice, and Cayman Brac once. When I found myself with a bonus week available for diving, I jumped at the opportunity to spend the time on the new Cayman Aggressor V, especially with the 35% discount they offered for their 35th anniversary. I looked forward to diving the best sites all three islands have to offer.

Reservations/travel:


It couldn’t have been a much simpler trip than this. I made my liveaboard reservations directly with Aggressor, it worked flawlessly. This was my 5th trip with Aggressor (Red Sea x2, Cocos, Galapagos). I made my reservations with American Airlines for a nonstop flight from Philadelphia to Grand Cayman. The Aggressor arranged for a cab to the boat and then back to the airport for $10 per person each way.

Boat and crew:

The Cayman Aggressor V is a beautiful new boat. It is 120 feet long, 25 feet in beam, takes up to 20 passengers and has 7 crew. The lower deck has 8 of the 10 cabins, 3 are side by side twins, the other 5 can be set up as twins or a king. I didn’t see any of the lower deck cabins but the comments about them were routinely positive.

The main deck includes the dive deck, lounge, and the 2 balcony suite rooms. I shared one of the balcony suites, set up as twins, can also be a king. It was easily the largest liveaboard room I have had and was very comfortable. The room has a large sliding glass door that let in wonderful natural light. The balcony itself was relatively useless. I went out on it a couple of times, otherwise it saw no use. There are no closets but there are a couple of large shelves above the bed, copious storage under the bed, and a good sized night stand. The bathroom was quite spacious and had a large shower. The air conditioning was relatively loud but worked well with an accurate thermostat. The only complaint I had was the very loud mechanical clanking noise made by the autopilot almost all night on our cruise over to Little Cayman. The 2 balcony suites are below the pilot house. Apparently, the autopilot noise was barely or not audible in the lower deck cabins. Our passage back to Grand Cayman was made during the day so this was not a problem. The lounge was large and very comfortable. It has a large, flat screen TV with a good sound system that was put you use most evenings with movie screening. The dive deck is quite large and well laid out. There are 12 tanks on each side and 4 tanks in a middle area for the guides. There is a fill whip for every two tanks, tanks were always filled well before the next dive. Fills were routinely 33% and averaged a little over 3000 psi. There is no under seat storage but fins were kept on the diving platform and each diver had a small cubby. There are two large, bi-level camera tables, each with 2 air hoses and a supply of camera towels. All dives are made from the spacious dive platform that had the fin storage, two very sturdy ladders and two warm water showers.

The upper deck includes a covered lounge, the dining room, galley, and pilot house. The dining room has two long tables that made it easy to rotate seats and meet/talk to different people. There is a center serving buffet that was very efficient, best arrangement I’ve seen. The sun deck is expansive with numerous lounges and chairs, the hot tub, and a covered area with a wet bar.

The very hard working crew included Captain Randy, Cruise Director Aubri, Engineers Del and Oneil, Instructor JC, Chef Kingsley, and Steward Latoya. Randy, Aubri, Del, and JC all took turns guiding dives. The food was not the best I have had on a liveaboard but it was routinely very good and varied. Many of the morning and afternoon snacks were excellent, as were most of the desserts. There was plenty of red and white wine and beer to go around, I stuck to the Caybrew.

Diving:

You are free to stay with the guide for all or part of the dive, or, dive independently with your buddy. Buddy diving is required, solo diving is prohibited. I, and at least one other diver, was chastised for returning to the boat well after our buddy. We quickly worked out a mechanism to always return to the boat, close in time, with another diver, satisfying all. Dive briefings were very good, with excellent hand drawn maps on a large whiteboard. Maximum dive time was said to be 60 minutes. I managed to average just a bit more, 63 minutes (51-67). On some of the moorings the boat would really swing, often over good distances and quite fast. It was futile to chase the boat, catching a ladder or one of the weighted lines on a pass was the best mechanism.

I ended up getting in all 24 of the dives offered during the week. Water temperature ranged from 79-83, a 3 mm full suit was perfect for me. Visibility was quite good, 80+ feet in general. Our diving started on Sunday with a check out dive at the Doc Poulson and then a dive at Stingray City. The Doc Poulson was unmemorable. The first half of Stingray City, the feeding, was a silt filled circus. The second half the dive, away from the feeding area, was fun, as many of the Southern Stingrays hung around. We finished the first day with 2 wonderful dives at Babylon and then got underway to head to Little Cayman. On Monday we did 2 dives at Lea Lea’s Lookout, 2 dives at Marylyn’s Cut, and then cruised over to Brac for a night dive on the 356, the Capt. Keith Tibbetts. This was a great day of wall diving and a unique night dive. On Tuesday we did 2 dives on the Tibbetts and 3 dives at Meadows, including a very good night dive, complete with many very large roaming crabs and a school of squid. On Wednesday, we got in 2 good dives at Donna’s Delight before having to beat it back to Grand Cayman to escape the wind and swells that came up abruptly. Unfortunately, we missed 2 planned dives at Randy’s Gazebo. Our three days at Little Cayman points out one of the drawbacks of the Aggressor vs. land-based diving. As the Aggressor is not so quick and nimble, it appears they often do 2 dives at a site rather than visiting two different sites. We often went different directions and had two unique dives, but, I missed the variety you get when the boat switches sites for each dive. We were actually lucky to get to Little Cayman and Brac on our trip. Winter conditions often make the passage impossible and the Aggressor spends the entire week off Grand Cayman. Of the 2 trips before ours and the 2 trips after, only one made it to the sister islands. This is definitely something to take into account if you plan on a winter visit. Reviewing the Captain’s Logs will give you a good idea how frequently they are able to make the passage. Upon our return to Grand Cayman we moored on the south side, due to conditions. The first two dives on Thursday were at sites called Pedro’s Castle and Bullwinkle, both pretty unremarkable shallow dives. Further offshore from Pedro’s Castle is a wonderful site I have done previously, Pedro’s Pinnacles. Unfortunately, the distance from our mooring made the swim out to this site impractical. We moved on to the Kittiwake for 2 daytime and a night dive. The Kittiwake was a better dive than I thought. This is a very clean, safe, artificial reef. On the first dive, I swam the length of the boat below decks from a hatch on the stern to an opening on the bow. There is not a lot of growth on the ship but there are many interesting places to explore. The Kittiwake now lies directly adjacent to the reef at the dive site, Sand Chute. On the second dive I spent most of the time on the wall dive. The night dive was interesting, I spent about half the time on the wreck and half on the reef. On Friday, our last day of diving, we started at 6 AM on the Oro Verde. This started like a night dive but turned into a beautiful sunrise dive. Second dive was on the wall out from the Oro Verde and we finished the week at tired old Devil’s Grotto.

The Cayman Aggressor V is a very nice boat and the crew was excellent. Some of the diving was great, some of it pretty mediocre. The Aggressor visits no sites that are not also available from land-based operations. It was a good, very easy way to get in 24 dives over 6 days and a reasonable sampler of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Other than a couple of Nurse Sharks, I saw no other sharks. There were many Tarpon and Southern Stingrays, a few turtles, and a reasonable selection of most of the usual reef fish. I was disappointed to see no Eagle Rays. Some of the reefs/walls, particularly Babylon and Little Cayman, were phenomenally beautiful. The Tibbitts and the Kittiwake were fun artificial reef wrecks. Overall, I would recommend divers consider taking a dedicated land-based trip to any of the three islands, to get in a variety of the very best diving the Caymans has to offer. However, I’m very glad I had the opportunity to spend a week on the Cayman Aggressor V.
upload_2019-1-2_10-43-38.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-44-1.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-44-30.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-44-47.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-45-4.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-45-20.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-45-38.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-46-1.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-46-17.png


upload_2019-1-2_10-46-32.png
 

Alucard

Contributor
Messages
407
Reaction score
360
Location
Upstate New York, USA
# of dives
100 - 199
Great trip report. Thank you for taking the time to write it up and post the photos.

Eagle Rays are strange, in that some trips there i have seen them on every dive, and then others, I have gone a whole week without seeing a single one.

I agree with you that the selection of dive sites on Grand Cayman is a bit underwhelming. Mostly heavily-dived sites. There are other sites that are far more difficult for land-based people to get to just because of the logistics (Ghost Mountain being one of them) and I would hope that on a live-aboard they can visit those sites more often.
 

AdivingBel

Diver
Messages
2,015
Reaction score
2,037
Location
...
# of dives
I just don't log dives
Awesome looking boat from the water. We saw it when we were in GC last summer. Didn't get a chance to board her and look around. Thanks for the pics (above and below water).
 

KathyV

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
3,636
Location
Midwestern US
# of dives
500 - 999
@scubadada Great report and pics, thank you!

Our only Cayman Aggressor trip was on the CA IV but we had perfect weather and spent most of the time in the Sister Islands. We were on Grand Cayman the following week and the weather turned bad and so we only did a few dives, and we could see the Aggressor anchored around the island at various sites fairly close to shore.

I think that the Cayman Aggressor is a very easy trip ("a turnkey trip" as @drrich2 would say, with everything made simple and offering good diving and easy arrangements) and it's great way to do a lot of diving in Cayman, and you may have the opportunity to sample the best sites off of all 3 Cayman islands - especially at a great sale price like the 35% off Anniversary sale!

But there is always the risk that the weather will be unfavorable and they won't make the crossing and you will be stuck on a boat right offshore of GC. In that case I would rather be in a nice, dry, comfortable hotel or condo. I think that I've read that the Aggressor makes the crossing about 75% of the time so there is a one in four chance that you will not make it. I also got very seasick during the initial crossing - so that is another consideration - for individuals that are prone to seasickness.

I am glad that we did the Cayman Aggressor IV trip, it was one of our best ever LOB trips and it introduced us to the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman that we have come to love, but we probably won't do it again - unless perhaps someday if we run into a very, very good deal!

Glad that you had a good trip!
 

KathyV

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
3,636
Location
Midwestern US
# of dives
500 - 999
...Eagle Rays are strange, in that some trips there i have seen them on every dive, and then others, I have gone a whole week without seeing a single one...

Very true! Eagle Rays were all over the place when we were on Brac in early November. We saw them on most dives and also hanging around the dock from shore. But there have been other trips to the Cayman Sister Islands where we saw few or none. The water was very warm in early November, maybe they head a bit further south when the water temp starts to drop a few degrees?
 

salth2owannabe

Contributor
Messages
389
Reaction score
142
Location
Idaho
# of dives
I just don't log dives
Appreciate the trip report. We will be on the boat the end of February and are looking forward to it. This is our first live aboard so if you have any other helpful suggestions involving the boat or getting to/from, I would really appreciate it or shoot me a pm. Thanks again
 

tkaelin

Contributor
Messages
2,323
Reaction score
1,433
Location
CT
# of dives
500 - 999
Great report and thanks for the pics. You kind of confirmed what I had thought about the CA. If you don't make the voyage over to the sister islands not sure it would be worth it, at least for me. Boat looks great. No solo has always been a deal breaker for me and the Aggressors.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,394
Reaction score
8,950
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Excellent report. Glad you got to hit all 3 islands; for someone only making one Caymans trip, the C.A. offers a hope to sample all 3 in a week. Love the close up mug shot of the green moray eel.

Wildlife varies; when I went on the C.A. IV back in May 2016, the only tarpon I saw were around the boat in port at Georgetown, and during the Devil's Grotto dive, but we saw some reef sharks and eagle rays.

As the Aggressor is not so quick and nimble, it appears they often do 2 dives at a site rather than visiting two different sites.

On the 3 Aggressor boats I've been on (Belize, Caymans, Turks & Caicos), each did the same thing most days (when not transiting to a different area such as from port); Site #1, 2 morning dives, Site #2, 2 afternoon & a night dive. I wonder how widespread/common that approach is?


Richard.
 
OP
scubadada

scubadada

Diver
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
16,865
Reaction score
14,313
Location
Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Excellent report. Glad you got to hit all 3 islands; for someone only making one Caymans trip, the C.A. offers a hope to sample all 3 in a week. Love the close up mug shot of the green moray eel.

Wildlife varies; when I went on the C.A. IV back in May 2016, the only tarpon I saw were around the boat in port at Georgetown, and during the Devil's Grotto dive, but we saw some reef sharks and eagle rays.



On the 3 Aggressor boats I've been on (Belize, Caymans, Turks & Caicos), each did the same thing most days (when not transiting to a different area such as from port); Site #1, 2 morning dives, Site #2, 2 afternoon & a night dive. I wonder how widespread/common that approach is?


Richard.
Thanks @drrich2

You are the prototype for a good trip report, the rest of us do our best.

I would have been quite disappointed if we hadn't gone to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, but, it was the risk I took

This is the first liveaboard I've taken where all the dives were from the mothership. Red Sea, Cocos, and Galapagos all, or nearly all dives were from tenders. The former is much less flexible in being able to cover a variety of sites

Good diving, Craig
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/teric/

Top Bottom