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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
10 June-17 June, 2017
Air temperature: 80° - 84° F
Water temperature: 80 - 84° F
Visibility: 75-100 Feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm or 5mm full wetsuit
PHOTO PRO: CONOR FERRIN
Video Pro: JESSICA POLK
Chef: CHRISTY BROWN
Instructor: MICHAEL WEINBAUM
Dive Buddy: Alizee Zimmerman
Guests- Wayne, Dana, Cole, Ashley, Cash, Justin, Ashley, Bennett, Collin, Terry Donnie, Nicki, Doug, Jennifer, Mike, Marie, Mike, Will, Lita, Jim, & Jane
Sunday: Dome, North West Point, Eel Garden, North West Point
Monday: Amphitheatre, North West Point, Boat Cove, West Caicos
Tuesday: Spanish Anchor, West Caicos, Driveway, West Caicos
Wednesday: Magic Mushroom, West Caicos, Gullies, West Caicos
Thursday: Elephant Ear canyon, West Caicos, Stairway, North West Point
Friday: Pinnacles, Grace Bay
Things have been so sunny and tranquil down here on our Island that the Fleets Owner and a handful of friends and family paid us a visit this week. The Turks and Caicos Aggressor II was ready to show everybody a great time. The Guest were greeted on a balmy and clear skied afternoon by an energetic crew and a forecast of calm seas and clear waters. We showed all the guest’s to their rooms, got them situated, introductions were made, and after an epic 15 minute Batman vs. Superman galactic battle with Bennet’s awesome toys, all the boys sat down to dinner as well. Chef Christy knocked it out of the park night one and everybody happily retired to their staterooms for some much needed shut eye, as the road weary drift off to the arms of Morpheus, we as a crew kick over the diesels and steam the TCAII over to the Dome, one of our flagships sites, to both ride out the tropical night and plunge into come rosy fingered dawn.
No alarms needed on this vessel, come 330 I can clearly hear the pitter patter of small feet, the laughing grown and giggles of your parents and a few hours later, the telltale and familiar galley sounds and wafting of bacon stirs us all to the land of the living. Breakfast is eaten voraciously and coffee consumed with so much vigor it made for a few good photos. Then its time for the dive briefing, gear fidgeting and finally to the dive platform to allow Isaac Newton’s one step into liquid theory to take effect. We are greeted with the vibrant hues of a tropical reef, the almost neon blues and purple’s of the coral both soft and hard. Creole wrasse, the schooling tornadoes of horse eyed jack immediately capture our attention as we make our way forward to the structure of the Dome itself The Dome itself is a welded structure a vestigial remnant from an early 1990’s French Canadian game show. Decades underwater have transformed the hard metal into a favorite hiding spot for many of the more camouflaged and cryptic reef critters. We dive this site by heading to the wall first, exploring the demarcating line of benthic and pure plunge life, before routing back on the shelf in the direction of the Dome. Blennies everywhere, turtles, rays and a myriad of other critters join us in the umbra of the sun, cameras click away, people jockey for position, buddies are hailed and every single soul has a smile, safe to say dive one has been a success. We head skyward to dry off and snack, some swap lenses on cameras, others soak up some vitamin D. The boat has a laid back buzz going, aided considerably by the Buffetesque music wafting from the deck speakers. We regroup for our double dip on the Dome, suit up, step up and get wet. Dive two being later in the day offers the same great reef critter, this time they are showered in a softer later day sun. We surface for lunch and to move sites.
We tear into our lunches like fiends, salt water and sun has made us ravenous! Within 20 minutes, plates are quite literally licked clean and conversations have swung back into dive talk. We moor up on Eel Garden and allow our guests to digest. The past few weeks have allowed for Eel garden to be a real standout site, and today proves it yet again TWO FROGFISH!!!!!!! Right next to each other, Octopus, free swimming moray, reef sharks and an Eagle ray!!! Yup the underwater crew of TCAII had on heck of a great dive and all came earthward glowing and comparing photos. A dive so good in fact we opt for a second and third crack at it! Afternoon melts into an inky night and once sated and groggy from a huge meal only a few opt for the night dive, as the rest of the boat relaxes and plays cards. There is a fun vibe aboard this vessel this week, and it comes in the shape of a 37 pound, 4 year old ball of energy named Bennett. This young man armed to the hilt with action figures and energy can be found bounding from room to room, in and out of hot tubs and occasionally on the dive deck. It is a very palpable very warm feeling to be sharing this trip with such a great group.
We sleep soundly through the night, a much needed break from the frenetic dive pace and as our engines crack to life to steam us over to Amphitheater, bacon crisps, eggs crackle and the below deck stirring become humans again. We moor up, drop the ladders and as our guest drink their much needed coffee we get ready to brief the site, Amphitheatre, a very well-known site soon lives up to its name. The semicircular cut out of the wall plays vertical habitat for red coral, gorgonians, and octopus and if one keeps a swiveled head eagle rays and sharks cruise by in the abyss. The group explores the nooks and crannies, macro lens go chasing macro life, others glide skillfully over the delicate structures just meditating in the raptures of the caicos. We surface, warm up dry off joke around and head back in for another crack at Amphitheatre. During the surface intervals, little mini adventures have been taking place, from group hand help deck jumping, to very cool and cultural land expeditions onto West Caicos. This week has shaped up so far to just be a blast both above decks and below as well as on other islands.
After a fantastic lunch we head over to the mooring in Boat Cove, a spectacular dive site on the edge of West Caicos, known for its wall and endemic shark population, this site also gets its name from the perfect deep water cut out in the rock face ahead of the boat. Folklore has it that pirates and smugglers used to bring their skiffs in from the main ship in days of yesteryear…..but to our crew and guests it’s a place to jump off cliffs after a killer hour long dive!!!! So that’s how we do it, up with sun, food inhaled, gear donned, dive rocked, pictures taken, gear doffed, and then a few intrepid and courageous souls jump into the chase boat and head over for some free fall big splash action. The jumps are fun, the water a balmy and gin clear 84 degrees and as the tender returns every person on board is wearing a Kool aid grin and laughing. After a morning of good times, an afternoon of smiles and wacky antics, great dives, giggling children and contentment on the faces of all adults, we settle in for a hearty dinner and much needed sleep.
In the calm of the night we slide off our mooring and tie up over on Spanish Anchor, a very well-known and always pleasing site here a bit further south on West Caicos. True to the Fleets motto of Eat, Sleep, Dive, we rouse the guests, make breakfast disappear and what better way to start a day then by falling through clean clear salt water teaming with life? There is none, so we do what we do, crew, family and friends all enjoy the splendor of the first dive here, we collectively ooo and ahhh at the 300 year old anchor lodged firmly in a crack on the sheer wall face. Every diver silently has images of pirates and jewels dancing through their head as we finish up the dive and head back to gravity for a few snacks and a warm towel. We double dip this site and get some great photos before throwing the lines free and heading over to Driveway, yet another great site. We munch our lunch, take a few minutes’ respite, and then back into the aquatic breach we go. Two more afternoon dives and a great night dive is happening on this site, the seas are calm the wind a steady 5 knots of gentle breeze, and as always the diving is world class. A classy and tasty dinner is prepared, eaten, and the night divers don their gear and plunge into the inky depths. An hour goes by and all return smiling with stories of octopus and shark all ready and willing to partake in a hot chocolate with rum cream, a warm towel and some sleep. And with another day behind us we slumber deeply ready for more bottom time and sunshine.
So as morning crawls up from the horizon the crew is busy with breakfast and readying the day’s dives, guests rouse to smell of coffee and eggs and we find ourselves moored up on Magic Mushroom, a site named for the Mushroom-esque rock feature that comes and goes with the tide just abaft the bow of the ship. The first dive goes flawlessly, garden eels, sharks, a few flying gurnards and a large eagle ray grace us with their presence. The overhead sun makes for vivid colors and great highlights on the topography and wall lip. We all thoroughly enjoy our hour dive and after a relaxing surface interval, we do it again. DIVE DIVE DIVE, we have a few Iron Diver hopefuls on board and a few gung ho aquanauts so it is wet and salty we need to be, step into liquid and another hour in peaceful paradise. We surface for nourishment and to swap dive sites over to Gullies. The guest are keen on doing a bit of land exploration today, on island at an area known as Yankee Town. So as luck would have it, one of our crew this week, the enigmatic and charismatic Alizee, is a Turk island native and a wealth of local knowledge. So we knock out a terrific dive on the topographically unique Gullies, then a crew of about ten of us hop into the chase boat and carefully make our way ashore. After a sharp stone scramble we find a little pathway taking us into the remnants of an industrial attempt of the past. Hand mortared water wells, foundations of building now ravaged by time and the harsh elements of the Caribbean give us a glimpse in to what the daily life must have been like on this arid strip of earth on the horizon. We take photos and poke through the rusty relics all very stoic and curious, it feels a bit like a modern Indiana jones movie, some guests have even picked up walking sticks and matching hats! After an hour or so we make our way back to chase boat to speed back to the mothership for more diving. A final afternoon dive goes by in a heartbeat and once dry and clothed the guest are delighted with a bounty of food to slake their appetites from a day of adventure. As the final desert plate is licked clean the night dive bell is rung, and our motivated souls head to the dive deck imaginations filled with octopus, but most I think at this point are strictly in it for the Hot Chocolate with rum!!!
In the still of the night we silently slip our tether and slowly motor over to Elephant Ear Canyon, we moor up, kill the engines and let the 26 souls aboard the vessel sleep and dream their way through the night. But alas dawn comes early at sea, and diving is what we do, so quick is the word and sharp the action, guests and crew alike have fallen into an almost robotic like bliss of wake, eat, bell, dress, dive, smile, repeat as desired. So that’s the way we do into, the bell is rung and in we go to 83 degrees of salty therapy right there for us to enjoy. Elephant ear is a site offers a bit more in the way of macro hunting for the cryptic and camouflaged critters. Pipe horses are spotted in surprising large number (nice eyes Mr. Brown!!) and other sand dwellers are seen as well. A few peacock flounders, some headshield slugs and of course the always joked about, Flapping Dingbat. We spend our morning here doing two great slow and low dives, cameras are put to the test and photos both talked about and compared topside. We dry ourselves off, eat another tasty lunch as we make our way to the next site, Stairway.
Post lunch food coma kicks in and our numbers drop by two or three, the rest of us salty creature gear up for the splash. The later day sun offers mesmerizing tones and seascapes, the whole dive feels surreal with schools of horse eye jacks spiraling up into the golden glint of the sun, raining plume of purple creole wrasse pour over the wall, we breathe kick smile and take it all in. Not a bad way to spend an hour at all. The dive ends with smiles and hot towels, people relax topside for an hour or so, snack up until satisfied then it’s time to earn our dinner calories and bang out the 5 o’clock dive, true to form, bell rings, kit is put on and one by one we drop into the void. With the transitional light of late afternoon we see a few more reef sharks come in and curiously check us out, a few very large Nassau grouper make themselves our friends and as usual the 560+ species of Caribbean reef life is out in full form. Every diver languidly kicks through the ethereal blue environment and its only when we realize it’s close to dinner do we start our way back to the boat. Up top we dry off, relax and feast on a Thanksgiving turkey dinner that can’t be beat, our night divers dwindle to a mere 6 brave souls, the rest stay aboard playing with the young ones, some cards and of course a few adult beverages. The night divers return, gulp their rum cream chocolate with vigor and before we know it, it’s totally silent everyone has retired to their bunks for some well-earned shut eye.
The Crew makes quick work of slipping our mooring and through the night we make the passage back over to Grace Bay for our final dive site, Pinnacles. We rouse the guest about an hour early, in order to get two dives in we must run with the tide, so at 7 am we plunge into the terraced spur and grove goodness found in Grace Bay. The sun comes out waking the reef and the divers watch the transformation with awe, it is a great hour of critters and warm water. Family and friends having fun in the tropics, a general sense of goodwill and comradery fill the boat and we return to dry off and eat some breakfast. With a single dive remaining, the cast and crew of this week’s charter literally devour eggs and bacon, then get all suited up for the final plunge. In we go, some clad in rash guards, others in full wetsuits but all with smiles. It’s a magical hour at depth, slow easy diving, and fewer cameras, just a bunch of good people doing what they love and doing it in a perfect setting. We all surface, break down our gear and make our way back into the Marina at Turtle cove. The crew stays busy provisioning the ship for next week’s Charter and our guest explore the island, some stay topside drinking cold beer in the sun, and others simply want to go shopping. Wherever and whatever the pleasure we will all meet up at 6 o’clock on the top deck for a wine and cheese party to chat about the week and watch the sun set over a frothy beverage and a tropical breeze. Life is good here, new friends have been made and family has spent some great quality time together. You just can’t beat this lifestyle.
Iron Divers: Cole, Jim, Jane, Lita, Will
Dive Milestones: Cole (50th)