Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
19 - 26 September 2015
Air Temperature: 80° - 90°F
Water Temperature: 85°F
Visibility: 80 feet
Recommended Exposure Suit: Skin to 3mil Shorty
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: MARC POVEY
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Video Pro: KELLY CURRINGTON
Chef: AILSA KELLY
Instructor: TROY SANDY
GUESTS: Rachel & Erik, Koko & Scott, Lynn & Bob, Mike, Jeff, Beverly & David, Donna & Doug, Eileen & Chris, Rose-Aline, Jennifer & Stephen
Sunday - Eel Garden & Black Forest - Northwest Point
Monday - The Dome & Stairway - Northwest Point
Tuesday - Spanish Anchor - West Caicos & “G” Spot - French Cay
Wednesday - Rock N’ Roll - French Cay & Magic Mushroom - West Caicos
Thursday - Elephant Ear Canyon & Gullies - West Caicos
Friday - Boat Cove - West Caicos
The diverse group of American and Canadian passengers arrived to the boat just as the sun was peeking its head out from behind a quick island shower. The rainbows in the distance promised a great week of diving. After the guests had settled in to their rooms, Chef Ailsa made a delicious pork tenderloin with a smokey espresso rub for dinner. Many bottles of wine were shared and loads of tales were told as the guests got to know each other on the ride out to Eel Garden, our mooring site for the night.
Sunday morning, as the little breakfast bell was rung, guests popped out of bed ready for a yummy breakfast before the first day of diving. The first site of the day was Eel Garden, a perfect site for checkout dives and to brush the dust off your gear. Camera gear was tested out on the Garden Eels and massive Barrel Sponges. For the macro photography fans, the gorgonians and sponges were covered in neck crabs and decorator crabs. The water column was filled with schooling creole wrasse and blue chromis, while green morays and lobsters hung out around the coral heads. After a second dive of checking out the parrot fish and french angels, the divers slowly ascended to have lunch as we moved over to Black Forest, aka The Amphitheater, for the next dives and the night. As the divers descended toward the wall, they were shown the way by Black Jacks, Yellow Tails, and a couple Reef sharks. Once on the bottom, the main attraction was all the Yellowhead Jawfish darting in and out of their holes. If you were patient enough, you could catch the males aerating the eggs before quickly retreating back into their dens. After watching the male Jawfish care for the eggs, the divers then swam over to the wall where they were treated to tiny pipefish and trumpetfish. Many crabs and crustaceans were seen crawling all over the barrel sponges and fan corals. During another amazing dinner, we had a couple birthdays to celebrate! The cheesecake was turned into a birthday cake for Erik and Rachel. After the celebrations ended, the night drive brought out many more predatory fish that love following divers with bright lights!! You always have a feeling on night dives that someone or something is looking over your shoulder waiting to zip by and grab any tasty morsel they can find!
The following morning we unhooked from The Amphitheater and headed over to The Dome. The site was originally made for a failed reality TV show, Pago Pago, where contestants had to dive down into a metal dome and collect objects. Imagine Mad Max Thunderdome but underwater!! The dome was covered in encrusting coral and loads of sponges. Schools of Schoolmasters could be found hiding in the shade of the structure but they would gladly move aside to allow entry into the dome itself. Once inside, divers were hunting all over for Secretary Blennies and more of the YellowHead Jawfish. Once out of the dome, the group headed over to the wall to check out the Barrel Sponges and plate coral that covered the top and sides of the wall. On the way, Threespot Damselfish could be seen tending their algae patch and Striped Parrotfish munching on the algae covered rocks. After two amazing dives on the Dome, we motored over to The Stairway. That site has an amazing wall with a natural staircase of plate coral descending the wall into the abyss. All the nooks and crannies on the coral were filled with arrow and neck crabs. The larger crevices had channel crabs and spiny lobsters vying for the best spot to hide out for the day or to grab a quick snack. We had the first of many milestone dives as Erik completed his 300th dive today!! We decided to return to the Dome for the night dive and swim with all the Jacks and Reef Sharks patrolling the site. Rob decided to bring out his toys and lead a night dive using fluorescent lights. That made for an interesting dive! Most of the coral and small critters will glow similar to using a black light.
As the sun rose over the islands on Tuesday, we left the island of Provo and headed over to West Caicos. We moored up at a site known as Spanish Anchor or Whiteface. It is easy to spot from the sea as the cliff face in-front of the mooring has eroded away and left an almost perfect white face! Down in the open swim through on the wall, there is an old Spanish anchor that has supposedly been down there over 200 years and is almost completely encrusted with coral and sponges. It can be hard to spot but the keen-eyed diver will pick it out of the cavern wall. Massive schools of Creole Wrasses were seen all along the top of the wall. Down around the coral heads, you could spot green morays resting and French Angelfish chomping on the algae. During lunch, we had a long drive over to French Cay where we tied up at the G-Spot. There is an interesting feature to this wall that causes a slight vortex in the water column and it traps lots of nutrients for all sizes of organisms to eat. That allows for everything from the smallest of blennies and gobies to the very large Grey Reef Sharks and Nurse Sharks to be seen in a very small area. We were even lucky enough to see a hawksbill turtle and a juvenile spotted drum! During the afternoon dives we had a couple more milestones when Scott completed his 1,00th dive and Koko did her 300th!!! Congrats to all the achievements completed this week. The night dive made for some interesting encounters with some very curious nurse sharks. There were 3 nurse sharks that were very interested in what the divers were looking at and taking pictures of! During the safety stop, guests were treated to the hunting tactics of the schooling Bar and Black Jacks that hang out behind the boat.
Wednesday Morning, divers emerged from the depths of the ship to another wonderful breakfast. As the group finished up the morning meal, we cruised over to another amazing site called Rock N’ Roll. Divers were amazed by all the gorgonians and Sea fans lining the top of the reef. As they swam along the reef, they were shown the way by reef sharks and even saw another turtle. After the last two amazing dives at French Cay, we made the trek back to West Caicos. Right before the afternoon dives, we moored up at Magic Mushroom. The key feature of this site is Lobster Tower. It is a 7 foot tall coral encrusted rock that has a huge split down one side. There are always lobster hanging out in the crack. After checking out the tower, divers swam around all the rocky coral outcroppings checking out the gorgonians for Flamingo Tongues and sexy shrimp. The macro shooters spent time photographing the corkscrew anemone full of Pederson Cleaners. After spending some time in the sand, the group headed over to the wall to inspect all the Barrel Sponges. Once there, they were fascinated by the soft corals flowing in the current. As divers surfaced, people began to prepare for the last full day of diving.
On the second to last day of diving, we treated the divers to two amazing dive sites in West Caicos. First up was Elephant Ear Canyon. Divers were delighted to find loads of small nudibranchs and other tiny critters. The most sought after was the flapping dingbat!! It is a cute little nudibranch that is only about 1/4 inch long. Many were found and photographed. Again, divers were escorted around the reef by the ever present reef sharks and stingrays. For the afternoon dive, the boat moved over one of the favorite dive sites of the crew. We pulled up to Gullies and could already see the reef sharks waiting for us to get there. As divers swam down into the many gullies and trenches that cut into the wall, they were surrounded by massive schools of wrasse and silversides. Channel crabs were seen hanging on the walls and Pederson Cleaner shrimp were lining onto the corkscrew anemone. During the surface interval, dinner was consumed and everyone watched the amazing photo slideshow from the week. During the night dives, more bubbles were blown and an Octopus was spotted!
Friday Morning, The divers awoke to their last day of diving at a beautiful site called Boat Cove. We were so excited to dive that they all jumped in before breakfast and were greeted by the reef sharks and Horse Eyed Jacks. On the bottom, the schooling fish were everywhere. They saw creole, yellowhead, and bluehead wrasse; Fairy Basslets were peeking out from under coral heads, and the Blue Chromis were feeding just above the reef. After some breakfast was eaten, the last dive was dove and gear was rinsed and packed away. On the crossing back to dock and the Wine and Cheese Party, everyone enjoyed watching the dolphins swim and jump alongside the boat. Just like in the beginning of the charter, many tales were told and information was exchanged. this was a major week for celebrations, we started off with two birthdays and ended the week with Beverly Celebrating hers also! Once the Wine was drunk and the Cheese consumed, everyone was free for the night to explore the island.
As always, we are sad to see our amazing passengers leave and hope to see all of them again in the future!