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11 November – 18 November 2017
Air temperature: 85° - 89° F
Water temperature: 82° - 83° F
Visibility: 50 – 80 feet
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Christy Weaver
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Brynne Rardin
Video Pro: JJ DiMatteo
Instructor: Aaron Rouse
Mark, Deb, Yves, Genevieve, Joel, Anik, Wanda, Vanessa, Bill, Mary, Bob, Ashley, Dave.
Sunday – Eel Garden – NWPT, Boat Cove – West Caicos
Monday – Gullies, Magic Mushroom – West Caicos,
Tuesday – Spanish Anchor - West Caicos, G-Spot – French Cay
Wednesday – Double D – French Cay, Brandywine – West Caicos
Thursday – The Dome, Amphitheatre - NWPT
Friday – Sharks Hotel - NWPT
As winter sets in the Northern Hemisphere, here in the Turks and Caicos the endless summer feeling never leaves. The island glow and the radiant turquoise waters are beckon to divers from all over the world. Thirteen eager divers board the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II and happily unpack their dive gear onto their new homes for the week. The boat comes to life as we get ready to leave the dock. The outside world is perfect as we make our way through the shallow waters of Grace Bay just in time to catch the incredible blazon sun set. We easily make our way around to North West Point and tie up to a mooring where we will spend the night. The boat sways to and fro on the mooring line creating the perfect rocking motion to ease our divers into a peaceful nights rest.
The divers awake to the smell of sizzling sausage and roasting coffee as they come up from a perfects night sleep. In preparation for the first dive we definitely make sure our stomachs are full with delicious mixed berry waffles made by Chef Brynne. As the morning rolls on we go through our back deck briefing and everyone eagerly listens as they try to contain their excitement for what is about to come. We could not have asked for a more perfect first dive. The visibility was incredible and the wildlife was out in full force. We saw everything…bridled burr fish, pedersons cleaning shrimp, the largest porcupine puffer any of the divers have ever seen, sharks, rays and so much more. At lunch we move to West Caicos while Brynne serves up a delicious feast of Mexican inspired cuisine. Boat Cove is our destination for the afternoon and as soon as we gear up and jump in the sharks are on us! At least three sharks follow us through out the dives, weaving in between divers and showing off their majestic beauty to anyone and everyone. Many divers decided to try out the fluorescence diving for out night dive the psychedelic colors give a new perspective to the underwater realm and everyone heads to bed with smiles on their faces.
Monday morning brings another new day on the Turks and Caicos Aggressor. We start our day with a scrumptious breakfast of coffee cake, bacon and eggs and then we are off to the wall. Our first dive of the day is on a dive site called Gullies, the area is has several gully like swim throughs and also boast a very healthy shark population which was out in full force today. Our resident large female shark was there with her gang of smaller male suitors, doing the standard figure eight pattern around our eager to watch divers. The afternoon took us to dive site called Magic Mushroom aptly named for the mushroom shaped rock on the shore that disappear and appears with the tide. The sharks followed us from Gullies to Magic Mushroom and were cruising as the divers got in. A main feature at magic mushroom is Lobster Tower, a huge coral head that is up shallow water with a massive crack down the middle. Eight lobsters and a humongous channel clinging crab were residents of the tower this week and all the divers loved taking a peak at them. The night dive also brought out a lot more lobsters and crabs which everyone enjoyed seeing and the night dive ended off with an octopus rapidly changing colors as it swam from rock to rock. We ended the night with a delicious cup of hot chocolate topped off with a little Caicos Irish Cream.
Spanish Anchor is where we start our Tuesday dives. Here we find an anchor that has been fully encrusted into the wall. Most of the divers see the anchor though it does elude several only making the next dive even better when they finally get a chance to see it. The dives are packed full of life. We see mating puffers, a gorgonian with tons of decorator crabs, several golden tail morays, and of course our favorites Caribbean Reef sharks. As we get back from our second dive we pull up the ladders and head for French Cay. During our longer crossing we have a delicious meal of kebabs with butternut squash prepared by chef Brynne. As we cruise into French Cay all the divers are excited to test out a new area. We splash with some wacky entries and head down to the depths. The nurse sharks are already out in full force even before the night and our local legend the cubera snapper is also making some close appearance in the day light hours. We find many different little critters down there, including coral banded shrimps, pedersons cleaning shrimps and even some squat anemone shrimp. The night dive here never disappoints, so many nurse sharks hunting in our lights and the Caribbean reef sharks lurking in the background. It is everyone’s favorite night dive and we all reminisce about it over some hot chocolate.
We start our Wednesday morning still at French Cay. The water is flat clam and the sun is shining. Perfect weather for diving! Our dives begin on Double D’s, a dive site named after its two huge coral mounds just above the wall. The dive site is schooling with life. The talk of the dive was a hawksbill turtle that was munching away on a sponge allowing divers to get an up close and personal view of her. Loads of four eyed butterfly fish and queen angel fish were swarming around our divers. Everyone came back content but excited to head back to West Caicos. We enjoy our lunch as we cruise along the calm waters of the Turks and Caicos back to West Caicos. Before we even get in we comment on how great the visibility is and as we sink beneath the surface it gets even better. The afternoon site is called Brandywine named for its giant barrel sponges that resemble casks of liquor, one of the main features of this dive site is an anemone that is always somewhat tricky to find but when we do it never disappoints. It is a dull blue when we find it but when we put our lights on it becomes an incredible pink. Our favorite men in gray suits (Caribbean Reef Sharks) are back and cruising the wall putting on an excellent show for our divers. A scrawled file fish made an experience moving its pectoral fin in a furry as it moved from coral head to coral head. The night brought out a humongous common octopus, who was large it fully engulfed coral heads as it moved from one to the next. He was described as “the best octopus ever,” by our divers. Once we have everyone back we go for a night time cruise back to North West Point and tie up for a pleasant night sleep.
Thursday starts off with one of our signature dive sites, the Dome. Used for an old French game show the Dome is a sight to be seen especially when it is completed encrusted in corals and a meca for all marine life. We first headed out to the wall to explore the vertical swim through called The Chimney. After everyone made it through we made our way back to explore the Dome. Along the way we ran into honeycomb trunk fish, barracuda, a hawksbill sea turtle and tons more. At the Dome the wildlife was out! A curious Trumpet fish let us get within inches of him, and of course the schools of grunts and snappers were ever present inside the Dome. Divers were in the water for a record 75 plus minutes! In the afternoon we moved to Amphitheatre. The wall features a big scoop cut out of it with a rock piled in front of it resembling seating and the stage of a large amphitheater. The channel clinging crabs are huge here and you usually hear them before you see them as they clatter vertically along the wall. It is a crustacean heavy dive as we also find lots of decorator crabs hanging out on the black coral along the wall. After the night dive we enjoy some hot chocolate and a couple of glasses of wine and head to bed early in preparation for our dawn dive.
Friday brings around a new schedule. We decide to test our “iron divers” and see who is up for the challenge of a dawn dive at 6:00am. The challenge is accepted and almost all the divers gear up to brave the depths first thing in the morning. Off the wall it is a crustacean paradise we see spiny lobsters, spotted lobsters, red banded lobsters and channel clinging crabs. We also spot our friend the Caribbean reef shark or his eyes more precisely as the glimmer in the light of our flashlights as they cruise by us in the dark. As we pull up the ladders for a final time and start making our way around to the marina, there is a bittersweet feeling in the air, knowing that this was the last dive but also knowing that we had a great week of diving. We end our day with a wine and cheese party where we get the chance to reminisce the week we just had and to talk our future trips with new friends and dive buddies.