Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
24 June – 1 July, 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
Guests- Steve + Lee, Cath, Sarah, Frances, Todd, Deb + Dianne, Marie+ Kevin, Ted+ Henrik, Bob+ Eric, Mike+ Mike
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
Life, is a salty breeze and sunny as usual down here in the gorgeous Turks and Caicos Islands. This week has brought us Photographers from scattered regions of the globe, great weather and amazing diving. Our guests started trickling in around noon, and most went to seek a few frosty boat drinks in the Marina before boarding. Come 3 pm the guests had all showed up, smiling and carrying mammoth amounts of camera gear and high hopes, a sure tell tale of a great week to come. We acclimated the guests to the boat, got everybody situated in cabins and gear set up, then with the crews swift and perfected motions we sat down to a fantastic meal before leaving the marina and steaming into a crimson sunset.
With a hearty dinner behind us we made our way over to Northwest Point and tied up on The Dome, a classic sight and a photographers dream. The drumming of the engines died off around 9pm and the new guest were gently rocked to sleep in the cradle of the deep. We roused our guest early, true to our motto of Eat, Sleep and Dive, 630 brought the dripping aroma of coffee and seven came the tinkling bell of breakfast. Eggs and bacon were inhaled and then it is go time! Watching 16 photographer ready their gear is a manic and fun process. With leak checks complete and gear donned, the entirety of our guests and crew is present on the dive platform and soon to be stepping into liquid. The first aquanauts plunges into the abyss around 815 and so follows the seasoned salty guests. The Dome as usual never fails to impress, we dive here twice and both wide angle and macro shots are perfected, from school of jack to Blennies of varying names, eels, shark and other reef critters are captured by the talented divers and come lunchtime all are happy, soaked and stoked! We serve our ravenous guests lunch which is attacked with a vigor seldom seen. With clean plates and full bellies we jump mooring over to Eel garden, tie up, and within minutes we are falling through clear wet surreal waters, most with camera in hand. Eel Garden has been a HOT SPOT lately and our frog fish are still here, two of them!!! Needless to say the cameras and strobes were popping and smiles were wide as the apertures. We triple dip this site, twice in daylight and once at night. From eagle rays, sting rays and bar jack, every usual Caribbean reef dweller is found and framed and day one is in the3 books with nothing but smiles and good times had by us all.
Dawn brings us its scarlet rays of motivation and strangely most of the guest are already up, prepping and primping their gear, talking shop, and under the watchful and humorous mentorship of Mike and Mike, everybody is not only having fun they are learning and truly taking world class photos. We have made our way to Amphitheatre, our final dive site on Northwest point. This particular site has great topography and lucky for us the strong tropical sun, highlights the reefs at such a cool angle, the depths beyond actually look purple. Two dive are held here, and two dives are loved. We have some sharks all the time, a few schools of Cero mackerel come flying by on the lip of the wall, and overall, day two is just and 84 degree idyllic sojourn beneath the sea. We surface, have a great lunch and listen to the jocular tutelage of the two Mikes and as we motor over to West caicos we simply keep chewing and smiling. Our second site is Boat Cove, a well-known and very cool site on West caicos. The weather is breezy, the waters calms and the sun is Hot. We kit up, set up smile and jump into the next three of our dives. Again two in the light and one at night. Our guest have brought with them more toys and camera gear then most have ever seen, truly some of these set ups look like and IMAX rig and so the diving matched grade!!!! Perfect clear warm water, zero current and abundant reef life great us. West Caicos welcomes us with style. As the sun works its way across the sky we sit down for an amazing dinner and then finally we ready and steady ourselves for a night dive. And o what a dive it is. We encounter so many octopus that it becomes a comedy. Flashes fire people smile and the sounds of bubble in the warm wet depths echo a happy heartbeat throughout the hour and soon we are in our own atmosphere, drying off with a hot glass of love before bed.
Day three finds us rested and eager as the crew deftly maneuvers the boat over to Spanish anchor. A site named for the encrusted anchor found at depth. Breakfast is made quick work of and it’s of the back we go, into the void, the liquid world. Massive schools of horse eye jack greet us along with a few enormous barracuda. A few reef sharks pop over to say hello and the time goes by in a blink. A few Classes are being held concurrent with the phot classes and a lovely British gentleman is made a ‘’real person’’ today as we baptize him a full Open water diver, WAY TO GO Kevin, point must be added as well for this individuals zeal and motivation, not 4 dives into his dive career and he is keen to start night diving!!! That said, life is good, the day is perfect and the diving is no different at all. We finish our dives here and dry off for lunch then without skipping a beat we swap our moorings to Driveway, and like clockwork we splash the entirety of the boat. The weather is perfect and the diving has been the same, Driveway doesn’t disappoint and Todd is no officially a Nitrox diver and officially an Advanced diver, way to go brother, Mazel Tov! We fin languidly through the warm water for the rest of the afternoon, return to dry food bearing reality for an hour or so then splash again for the night dive. Eat sleep Dive is not just a motto it’s a reality on this vessel.
The morning finds us making our way to Magic Mushroom for the first two dives. A brine breeze stirs and we sit comfortably on the new mooring. A huge and scrumptious breakfast is had, and it is off for the wet world we head. Five dives, two sites and hundreds of photos taken, the morning slinks into lunch which is swiftly put down and it is on gullies we find ourselves in shark heaven! Sharks and more sharks, it seems as if we have plunged into a discovery channel hour long special, words cant adequately express how cool the afternoon and evening dives were, but quite literally a dozen to two dozen reef sharks made friends with us zig zagging around and posing like little mini toothed airplanes. Pictures will be posted soon, bun man o man what an afternoon!
We start Thursday off at Elephant ear canyon, still on West caicos, Mike and Mike have cultivated such a relaxed and pleasant culture of learning and creativity that the days have strung together like a fun wet montage of images and bubble. We break through the surface immediately after breakfast and our first two dives are spectacular with pipe horse and head shield slugs not mention the squadron of eagle rays. Turks and caicos is the ideal laid back great diversity diving mecca for guest like this, cameras are clicking, people are smiling, tuning up images, some opt to dry off in the afternoon and enjoy a few cool chilled adult beverages in the sun while others intrepidly ready themselves for dive site number two, Stairway on North West Point. And true to form, it is and awesome experience. Those with the gusto and those seeking iron diver, gear up and stride into the yonder, a relaxing and dead calm aquarium awaits us, some spend 75-85 minutes gracefully finning around coral heads teeming with life. I cannot think of a more relaxed afternoon. The guest have the procedure down to muscle memory and the crew is swift and adroit at all they do. A great week a great roster of folks and always great diving. We dry off for dinner and soon we, well most of us, suit up for our last night dive, which as it so happens turns out to be another mollusk encounter filled foray into the reef. Octopus and reef squid seem to materialize out of the terrain and memorize us all with their colors and movements. But after an hour a hot shower and rum cream lure us back to gravity and we dry off and head to bed as the crew makes ready to steam over to Grace Bay for our final two dives of the trip.
Pink and purple hues light the sky on our final morning, we push the guest schedule ahead by an hour for tide restrictions and oddly all are stirred and sipping coffee come 615 am! We have a quick light continental snack, then brief the site, and before we know it we are effortlessly sliding into the depth. Grace bay is a degree cooler then west caicos, and the cool waters pull us down with smiles and happy minds. The Topography is different here, from Fingerprint Cyphomas, to canyon like spur and groove reef structure. Grace bay is just as beautiful underwater as it is above. We finish our dives, make quick work of the showers and rinse and as we make docking seem like a breeze, most of our guests have already cracked a beer or wine ready to relax and languidly stir the afternoon away in anticipation of our wine and cheese party tonight. Another week in the books, and this one is just special, Mike and Mike, with the Jim Church School of Photography have really upped the bar, and guests were amazing, food tasty, weather perfects. All in all a very healthy and good time had by all.