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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
4th-11th August 2018
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 78° - 84° F
Water temperature: 82°F
Visibility: 75+ feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Chace Gadreau
Chef: Caleb Dudley
Instructor/video pro: Ken Williams
Tobin & Elizabeth, Chris & Christian, Paula, Robin & Rodney, Melodye & Timothy, Vince, Josh, Jay, Charlie, Michelle & Marcus, Chris & Kristy
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Eel Garden & Amphitheater, NW Point
Monday: The Dome, NW Point & Boat Cove, West Caicos
Tuesday: Driveway & Spanish Anchor, West Caicos
Wednesday: Brandywine, West Caicos & G-Spot, French Cay
Thursday: Gullies, West Caicos & Stairway, NW Point
Friday: Pinnacles, Grace Bay
Our first charter in August started off with a beautiful sunny day at Turtle Cove Marina. By midafternoon, our latest group of guests had boarded and shortly thereafter we were off the dock and underway to the Northwest Point of Providenciales.
Our first dive site of the trip was Eel Garden, a site that get its name from a patch of garden eels just under the boat, but there is so much more to the site than that. The wall curves off beautifully in both directions, and the numerous nooks and crannies provide hiding places for huge spiny lobsters, scorpionfish, and spotted morays. On return to the boat, the sand beneath the boat is dotted with numerous cleaning stations for the large Nassau grouper. Over lunch we moved along the coast to Amphitheater, where we had some of our first active shark activity. Not only were there two nurse sharks hanging out around the amphitheater itself, but the reef sharks swimming up and down the wall kept things everyone entertained as we swam up and down the wall.
To start of Monday, we shifted over to The Dome, a must-see dive for many visitors to Turks and Caicos. The wall here is beautiful, but the truly unique feature is the dome structure left over from a late-80’s French reality show. The dome has collapsed slightly, but still provides a home for grunts, schoolmasters, numerous small blennies, and a big green moray snoozing underneath. On the second dive along the wall we found several juvenile spotted drums, which kept our photographers entertained at length. To continue our exploration of the Turks and Caicos Islands, we made the transit further South to West Caicos, where we would spend much of the rest of our week. Our site for the afternoon was Boat Cove, where we had four reef sharks circling us to start off the dive, and a curious hawksbill turtle that joined us we returned to the boat. During the night dive, a big cuberra snapper followed the group as they marveled at the fascinating macro life that comes out to play at night.
Tuesday started with a short jaunt down to Driveway towards the Southern tip of West Caicos. Always an exciting site, today was no different. We started off with a hungry hawksbill chowing down on sponges in the center of the eponymous driveway that allowed almost everyone up close for a quick photo op. After that we meandered up and down the wall and found an adult spotted drum, several spotted morays, and a bevy of banded coral shrimp. The second dive was even more thrilling, because we got a visit from a spotted eagle ray! This makes only our second sighting in the last two months. During the night dive, a few of our brave guests tried out fluorescence diving with Rob. Using UV lights and barrier masks, they were able to see the reef in a whole new light, with many otherwise inconspicuous reef creatures showing up in an array of bright oranges, reds, and greens.
As we approached the middle of the week, we made our way to Brandywine further to the North along West Caicos. The top of the wall is full of big, beautiful barrel sponges growing on the scattered coral heads. Along the wall we had several friendly reef sharks and another hawksbill that came by for a visit. Some weeks, the turtles are shy and we only get a few visits, but this week it seems like they have been showing up on every dive! After a slightly earlier 2nd dive to allow for transiting time, we began the run down to French Cay. Continuous strong breezes have made this only the second time in two months that we’ve been able to make it down to French, so there was much excitement. Despite losing much of the soft corals in Hurricane Irma, the sites off French Cay still provide much entertainment for the divers. We spent the afternoon at G-Spot, where we saw an octopus wandering the reef in daylight, a chain moray hiding beneath some rubble, and several jawfish carrying eggs. The real highlight for many was a massive spotted eagle ray that passed very close to most of the divers. Of course, no visit to French would be complete without the nurse shark frenzy night dive. French Cay is home to numerous nurse sharks, and at night they come out and feed voraciously under the lights of the boat.
After travelling back to West Caicos over the evening, we began our last full day of diving at Gullies. Gullies is home to our resident female reef shark who up until quite recently was very pregnant. Due to her newly-available status, many of the smaller males were circling around the top of the wall trying to attract her attention and keeping our group most entertained. For the afternoon, we made the transit back to Northwest Point, where we dove at Stairway. This site has a gently sloping wall full of spiny lobsters, red banded lobsters, scorpionfish, and much much more. For the night dive, we had a snoozing turtle that everyone got a chance to check out, as well as several nurse sharks, and of course the ubiquitous spiny lobsters and channel clinging crabs.
To finish off the week, we moved into Grace Bay to a site called Pinnacles. To test the resolve of our many iron divers this week, and to make the tide, we had our first dive on Friday at 06:00. The sun hadn’t quite risen as the bleary-eyed divers splashed into the water and watched the reef slowly come to life. Over the two morning dives, we saw reef sharks, nurse sharks, fingerprint cyphomas, and a handful of squid! All in all a fantastic pair of dives. The icing on the cake was a quick flyby from a pair of dolphins as everyone was having their postdive shower. And all of sudden, just like that, our week has come to a close. We wrapped up the day with a wine and cheese party on the sundeck where we celebrated the dedication of our many iron divers: Chris & Christian, Chris & Kristi, Marcus, Charlie, Elizabeth, and Vince.
Thanks to all our new friends for a great week in the Turks & Caicos!