November 14, 2006

Ahoy! - Disabled Divers Welcome

Dive Pirates Logo

On the flight to Washington, DC yesterday there were swashbuckling pirates galore in the in-flight movie "Pirates of the Carribean III". The movie reminded me that even pirates -- Dive Pirates to be precise -- are adopting Universal Design and expanding the number of vacation destinations and leisure activites that are accessible to a broad range of people.

As the only resort to dive two of the three Cayman Islands, Brac Reef Beach Resort has added adaptive diver training to its repertoire.

Brac Reef Beach Resort has teamed up with Dive Pirates Foundation-an adaptive dive club and charity for divers with disabilities - to offer the underwater world of the renowned Cayman Islands.


"Adaptive divers are a class of divers who may not be completely able to use their limbs, sight or hearing," said Sophie Wimberley, co-founder of Dive Pirates and adaptive dive instructor.

If they have general mobility and just need a bit of assistance getting in and out of the water, they're adaptive and dive with a specially trained adaptive dive buddy. If they need a lot of help, if they are a quadriplegic or someone who's completely blind, they are considered escorted divers and need three other people to dive with them in a team."

Brac Reef Beach Resort is a wheelchair accessible property that offers valet dive service, professional dive staff and calm waters with little-to-no current, making it worth considering for divers with disabilities.

With 120 dive sites to choose from on two of the islands - including renowned Bloody Bay Wall - the locale is one of the finest in the Caribbean.

In April 2005, Brac Reef Beach Resort and its on-site dive shop, Reef Divers II, hosted the first annual visit for Dive Pirates, based out of Houston, Texas.

Barbara Thompson and Wimberley, dive instructors from SCUBA Houston in Texas, are regular guests of Brac Reef Beach Resort. They began to seriously develop their idea for a recreational dive club, Dive Pirates, while on a trip in March 2003.

Back in Houston, both became certified adaptive dive instructors and realized the club would be a great way to raise money for divers with disabilities. Two years and over $15,000 in fundraising later, this first trip to the Caymans to certify adaptive divers and their adaptive dive buddies became a reality.

"The Brac Reef dive boats are very well set up for divers with disabilities, and the staff is incredibly professional, helpful, fun and open to anyone who wants to come diving," said Thompson, co-founder of Dive Pirates and adaptive dive instructor. "We're doing all the same dive sites we would be doing with able-bodied divers."

The mission of the organization Dive Pirates is to support, train, equip and provide dive travel to individuals with disabilities through adaptive SCUBA diving while diving within the mainstream SCUBA world.


First, you'll have to join Dive Pirates by pulling a practical joke and donating money for adaptive SCUBA training and travel. Any donation is appreciated, but new Pirates donating $50 or more receive free T-shirts or do-rags. Contact Barbara or Sophie at to send your donation, photo and story of your practical joke.

The next Brac Reef Beach Resort excursion is May 19-26, 2007 and cost is to be announced. For information on Dive Pirates, call 832-212-1967, visit For details on the esort, call 1-800-594-0843 or visit

Posted by rollingrains at November 14, 2006 12:59 AM