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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
7 – 14 October 2017
Air temperature: 75° - 89° F
Water temperature: 81-82° F
Visibility: 50- 90 feet
Thermal recommendation: Rashguard or 3mm short/full wetsuit
Captain: CHRISTY WEAVER
Video Pro: JESSICA POLK
Chef: BRYNNE RARDIN
Sous-Chef: COLE PERERA
Instructor: JJ DIMATTEO
Instructor: ALIZEE ZIMMERMANN
GUESTS- Jay & Christi, Ruben & Silivia, Martin, Uriel, Wayne, Terry, Paul & Kimmy, George, Jim, Laura, Ray, Danny
Sunday – Pinnacles - Grace Bay, Eel Garden – North West Point
Monday – Amphitheatre – North West Point, Magic Mushroom – West Caicos
Tuesday - Gullies – West Caicos, Boat Cove – West Caicos
Wednesday – Spanish Anchor – West Caicos, G-Spot – French Cay
Thursday – Brandy Wine – West Caicos, The Dome – North West Point
Friday – Shark Hotel – North West Point
What an exciting adventure we are about to embark on. Exactly one month after Irma; the devastating Category 5 that ravaged its way through the Caribbean, including our very own Turks and Caicos Islands we set off with 6 crew and 15 guests including Aggressor Fleet CEO Wayne Hasson. Pioneers heading out on the open seas to re-discover the world’s third largest reef. What an opportunity for people to dive with the owner and learn from his over 5 decades of underwater experience. Mr. Hasson also happens to be an incredibly accomplished photographer and videographer who has worked on numerous feature length films and documentaries. The best part is that he is open and willing to share his knowledge, expertise and passion for recording the realms beneath the waves.
At 3pm on Saturday guests boarded the Turks & Caicos Aggressor II and were received by smiling crew in their sharpest whites along with a delectable cheese and charcuterie platter, and an assortment of beers and rum punch. Due to tidal limitations we spent the night at the dock and departed for the open waters at 7:30am on Sunday. The ship sliced her way through English Cut and past the barrier reef that lines the north shore of Providenciales. But wait, dolphins off the bow! We barely made it out of the marina before a beautiful pot ofOur first dive was at a site called Pinnacles in Grace Bay. After a briefing on how we dive from this particular vessel we geared up and jumped in. The north shore is always the most affected when a bad storm comes in and we weren’t sure what to expect. At first the site appeared a little sad, a lot of sand had shifted and there seemed to be little activity. However, as we made our way through the sand trenches leading to Pinnacles’ ‘mini-wall’ things started looking better, in fact they looked pretty good. A school of yellow goat-fish burrowed their goatees in the sand in search of breakfast. Parrotfish of every kind gnawed away at the corals and then proceeded to produce the beautiful baby-powder sand these beaches are renowned for. Along the wall a young green sea turtle came out to say hi as a Caribbean reef shark cruised on by. Ok, things were a little different, but after the largest hurricane in the Atlantic’s recorded history that’s to be expected. We were thrilled to see that there is still a lot of a life and wonderful diving to be had.
After the first dive we decided to let loose and head straight for North West Point. We made our way to a dive site called Eel Garden where we did both our afternoon dives and our first night dive of the trip. More sharks, turtles, lobsters and crabs and an elusive octopus made our first day as explorers a success.
On Monday morning the guests arose to the smell of crackling bacon as chef Brynne prepared a-la-carte breakfasts for everyone and got us ready for another day. Our first two dives were at Amphitheatre, one of the crew’s favourite sites. It was beautiful. The topography here is special with a scoop taken out of the wall and an eclectic assortment of whip corals and schooling fish that encircle the divers as sharks cruise by and monitor their domain. At lunch while the guests got to make their own tacos we made our way towards West Caicos where we moored up to Magic Mushroom. What a site! This site is special because of a 9ft tall coral head a little South East of the Mooring pin known as ‘Lobster Hotel’. Here one can find a plethora of lobster and channel clinging crabs ready and posing for the cameras.
Tuesday started at Gullies, another one of our favourites where there are usually several Caribbean reef sharks swimming around. It was not a disappointment, the sharks are still cruising this gorgeous part of the wall and the coral life is abundant and healthy. After lunch we moved south along West Caicos to a dive site known as Boat Cove. Once again, a wonderful few dives and two guests even saw a huge eagle ray gracefully swim by even though they don’t usually make an appearance when the waters are this warm. Chef Brynne continued to delight our guests with home-made turkey meatball gyros and one of the tastiest tzatziki sauces I’ve ever had!
Wednesday morning after a delicious hot breakfast we dived into Spanish Anchor, an awesome site aptly named after the several hundred year old anchor that is lodged into the side of a swim-through on the edge of the wall. We were thrilled to see how un-harmed this section of wall is and spent two dives finding all the fun small stuff that we love so much; juvenile sharp-nosed pufferfish, juvenile spotted drums, slender filefish and decorator crabs just to name a few. The visibility also shot right back up to around 80 feet which was a real treat! At lunch we crossed over to French Cay and did our afternoon and night dives at G-Spot. The eye of Irma went directly over French Cay so there was considerably more damage there than at West Caicos, however the life is still teeming, and the night dive was as active and enthralling as per always with around 14 different nurse and reef sharks hunting for their dinner right under our boat. Based on weather conditions the captain decided to cross back to West Caicos after the night dive so that our guests would wake up at Brandy Wine ready to dive. Turns out it was one of the best decisions and we had amazing visibility reaching near 100ft. Reef sharks circled under the boat, creole wrasse poured over the reef like purple rain and the sifter shaped barrel sponges that the site is known for were there and healthy. Two perfect dives. Oh yeah, we also had a pod of young spotted dolphins swim on by and wave good morning.
While the guests sipped a delicious carrot and ginger soup, Captain Christy brought the boat back around to North West Point and what did we have on our crossing you ask? Dolphins! Yes once again we had several dolphins jump alongside the ship as we cruised around the edge of the Caicos banks. We did our last 3 dives of the day at a fun site called The Dome. Named after a French Canadian game show from the early 90’s which left a large metal dome in about 30ft of water. Over the past 30years it’s become a veritable eco system and we were delighted to see that the residents are all still there. Secretary blennies still have their burrowed homes in the steel frame, and the little nook to the left with its spiral anemone still houses an abundance of Peterson Cleaner shrimp. Another great feature of this site is that from one mooring you can have two completely different dives. Swimming out to the wall gives you access to The Chimney a dive with a wonderful vertical swim through that’s teeming with life. Tonight’s sunset was one of the most vibrant in a while and we all watched in awe at nature’s splendor. Thursday night on the Aggressor is always an event as we celebrate Thanksgiving with all the trimmings followed by a trip down memory lane as the Photo Pro shows us the slide show she’s been working on all week.
Friday morning gave the brave a dedicated a chance to do a dawn dive at 6:30 and those who partook were not disappointed. A veritable transitory highway as some fish woke up to face the day and others returned to their homes for a little rest after a long night. Due to the tides we were back at the marina around 1:30 and the crew got busy restocking the boat while guests continued to enjoy their private yacht and sat up on the sundeck re-connecting to the outside world with wifi and sipping on cold beers. Our Wine and Cheese party ended the week with success and the Aggressor toast: If you have to lie, lie to save a friend. If you have to cheat, cheat death on a daily basis. And if you have to steal, steal a little time to come and see us again!
With three birthdays and several diving milestones on top of having Mr. Hasson on board to share his wealth of information we sure did have a wonderful first week back. So come on down to the Turks and Caicos, the reefs are still teeming with life, the sun still shines, and our turquoise water are bound to enchant you! We look forward to diving with you soon!