Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
Air temperature: 85° - 90° F
Water temperature: 84° F
Visibility: 50 – 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm Shorty or full Wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Rob Smith
Video Pro: Jessica Polk
Instructor: Matt Slattery
Instructor: Kelly Currington
Chef: Brynne Rardin
Heather, Randy, Rich, Andy, Al and Marian, Terry and Sue, Ken, Greg and Judy, Dewey and Jessica, Frank and Michelle
Sunday: Eel Garden, Amphitheatre – N.W. Point
Monday: Spanish Anchor - West Caicos
With the tropical sun high in the sky and a slight salt breeze blowing, our guests come aboard full of chatter and excitement of what the week would hold. Getting dive gear set up and unpacking filled the time before all the formalities commenced. Safety briefings and the “where, when, & how’s” of the yacht are explained and the first of many amazing meals is whipped up by Chef Brynne. After dinner the guests settle into their cabins for a good night’s sleep.
At first light Sunday morning we leave the dock and head around to the northwest point of Providenciales to Eel Garden; our first dive site of the trip. Let the awesomeness begin!
The divers are briefed on the diving procedures and location; and like a herd of turtles they slipped under the blue and off they went to explore the best diving in the Caribbean! It’s always fun to watch the Garden Eels pop up and down from their burrows with their big eyes and painted on smiles. Stingrays glided over the sand hoping to hoover up a snack. Creole Wrasse and Blue Runners, lovingly named “Purple Rain” cascade over the reef and down the wall with fluidity of a waterfall; it’s truly mesmerizing. A couple girls in the gray suits cruise by and check us out as the sun beams stream through the water and shadows danced in and out of the beams. Spotted Morays peek out of their hidey holes and Flamingo Tongue sway to and fro with their host. Guests Frank and Michelle started their week as they meant to go on by finding an octopus out for the day, to the great delight to all of the other divers.
Amphitheatre was our afternoon site and we were happy to experience the yellow headed jaw fish as they popped up from their homes peered around, returning back in reverse. On the wall, decorator crabs grasped the gorgonians with their back legs and used their front claws to capture prey. The night dive saw different types of lobsters; spotted spiny and banded – much smaller than their Caribbean spiny cousins. Two small octopus provided some entertainment, seemingly at opposite ends of the reef. Also a spectacle, was the slipper lobster – alien to some and otherworldly in its appearance, it was definitely something to talk about after the dive.
We moved the following morning all the way to the south end of West Caicos to dive Spanish Anchor. A nicely camouflaged scorpionfish peered out, seemingly uninterested in our divers enabling some great photographs. The anchor itself was a delight as usual, covered in encrusting sponges in a variety of colours and textures. As we swam through the gulley that houses the anchor we were greeted with a cascade of blues as Creole wrasse and blue chromis schooled over the edge of the wall. After two gorgeous dives here, the guests were treated to a feast of Mexican delights for lunch as we headed to French Cay for the rest of the days’ diving.
G-Spot is always a favorite of both guests and crew alike; and it did not disappoint this time. As divers cascaded off the boat they were immediately greeted by two resident reef sharks cruising along. A huge school of Horse-Eye Jacks played under the boat as if they were waiting on the divers to join in their circle. A beautiful Green Moray hid in the shade of his/her coral head, mouth agape as if in the dentist chair for a cleaning while Sharknose Gobies and Pedersen cleaning shrimp navigated it’s face for a sea spa treatment! We were escorted by several guys and girls in the gray suits as we moved along the wall looking in all the nooks and crannies for the tiny creatures we love so much. Arrow Blennies, Yellowline Arrow Crabs, Red Banded Cleaning Shrimp were just a few of the treasures we observed. A sleek little Sand Diver slipped right under us and rested on the sand “almost” undetected. Nurse Sharks melted over the coral heads like chocolate over ice-cream looking for either a snack or a place to nap. They didn’t seem to be too bothered by our presence as they flowed through us without even a twitch of uncertainty. G-Spot delivers once again as a spectacular site!!
As the guest exit the water, get out of their gear and change for dinner, the evening sky glows neon pink over the flat calm sea; worthy of all the pictures snapped as the sun set and they sat down for a scrumptious dinner and conversation of the day’s events
The sun set on another day as the divers prepared to drop in to the dark and see what awaits them. The only real way to describe the dive is “WOW”! As we dropped in; eight Nurse Sharks and four big Reefies were in a dance below us. They stayed with us the entire dive. The Nurse’s scoured the coral heads for dinner as the Reefies circled on the outer perimeter; coming in for close passes as if on an intersecting highway. There was so much activity that most of the dive was directly under the vessel. If the sharks weren’t enough to entertain them, our resident Cubera Snapper stayed in close; showing his/her pearly white fangs as if he/she was a little vampire. We were joined by a school of Atlantic Spadefish and a school of Permits as well; both of which are very rare to see at night. In true Aggressor style; the divers exited the sea greeted by nice warm towels and our famous hot chocolate with rum cream! Sometimes this IS the reason divers do the night dive; it’s THAT GOOD!
Tuesday morning we made the short journey over to Rock & Roll. Divers were greeted by the reefies (these are what I call Reef Sharks!) as soon as they stepped off the platform. Nurse sharks checked out all the cool spots to nap during the day as they moved from spot to spot testing for perfection. A “grandpa” Spotted Drum swam back and forth, displaying all his stripes and spots. A favorite of all guests are the large schools of Horse-Eye Jacks schooling under the vessel, providing a spectacular photo opp! Chef Brynne greeted the guests with some “fresh-outta-the oven” apple cinnamon blondies. They needed their strength because the Boatique was now open and shopping had begun.
Chef Brynne was busy barbequing lunch up on the sundeck while the guests were buy exploring the reef. They could smell the delights of lunch as they climbed up the ladder; which was very encouraging for them to get out of their gear, dry off, and head upstairs for lunch.
For a special treat we headed over to West Sand Spit for a dive. Luckily the only sign of the storms on the reef was a very light sprinkling of sand. A rough tail stingray lay buried in the sand as dinner-plate size Gray and French Angelfish picked their snacks off the coral heads. There was a slight current so one dive was it and we headed back to French for the last afternoon and night dive.
Back to Rock N Roll for the night dive and another shark exciting frenzy with nurse and reef sharks.
During the night we moved back to West Caicos and as the sun peaked over the horizon, glistening off the sea, we found ourselves at Boat Cove. The fish life under the boat was amazing with a myriad of jacks and snappers circling under the boat and over the sandy bottom. Creole wrasse and blue chromis populated the edge of the wall. Southern stingrays glided over the bottom, in the hope of snagging a garden eel or critter and accompanied by a bar jack hoping for a sneaky snack.
Brandywine was our afternoon choice and what a wise choice that proved to be. We cruised north along the wall, not too deep and saw some lobster and crab. A Caribbean reef shark cruised by a couple of times along with a large barracuda. All of a sudden the shark and the barracuda shot off. We thought they had found something to eat, but not the case! Captain Amanda who was guiding became aware of a lot of hollering and whooping from behind. As she turned she spotted the 12 foot great hammerhead as it swam along the wall. That was the reason the shark and barracuda fled – there was something bigger in the water!
Thursday morning took us over to Gullies where we were honored to share some water space with Sully and her posse of Caribbean reef sharks as they swam down the swim through, along the wall and turned right around and came back again, comfortable enough to come in close to the divers. In the water column a school of Atlantic spadefish passed by. From the mooring line to the wall intermediate barracuda hung out in twos and threes with an occasional loner. Every now and again you would see one of them approach a cleaning station and get a good pimp and preen.
Our afternoon took us to The Dome at NWPT, with our usual suspects of channel clinging crab, grunts and snappers. We were delighted to see that the coral nurseries were still standing with their corals attached and slowly growing. A corkscrew anemone provided safety and a home to numerous Pederson cleaner shrimp and a snapping or “pistol” shrimp. The structure of the Dome housed spiny head and secretary blennies, darting out to feed and then returning to their homes formed by worms, now abandoned.
The night dive was a great black light dive with trapania being discovered all over the sponges, even in spots that we have not seen them before. A juvenile lizardfish was invisible under white light, but stood out very clearly in the sand under the black light. You never know what might be lurking in the sand!
Our final dive site for the week was Shark’s Hotel – we did see sharks, in fact I believe we logged shark at every dive site we visited this week! This is also a great site for large Nassau grouper, who seem to go from cleaning station to cleaning station and so are by far the cleanest fish on the reef – shrimps and cleaner fish all contributing to their polish.
The dives done we enjoyed a comfortable trip back to the dock and reflected on the week past and talked of future trips. A great group of divers; friendships forged and contact details swapped we spent a relaxing afternoon in Turtle Cove before our cheese and wine party and dinner on the Island.
Join us next week to see what great encounters that we will have as we head out again. Until then…..