Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
27 January – 3 February 2018
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78° - 80°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Christy Weaver
2nd Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Brynne Rardin
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Guide/Driver: Conor Ferrin
Our Snorkel Site
Saturday: Ocean World Marina, Dominican Republic
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
This week we have 17 guests hailing from China. They made the long trip to this side of the world for one reason and that is to see and snorkel with majestic humpback whales. Saturday everyone eagerly gets on board we introduce ourselves and go over a quick safety briefing. Once we have the serious stuff out the way our guests get to dine on our chef’s fine food. Chef Sarah and Brynne whip up a delicious meal and everyone leaves stuffed and satisfied. Some then stay up socializing while other get to bed early as dreams of humpbacks dance through their heads. At midnight the engines come to life and our journey is about to begin. We start making our crossing to the Silver Bank, it is a long crossing but Mother Nature was nice to us this week as we had a fairly smooth crossing. We arrive at our mooring in the Silver Bank and two whales greet us right away the dance around the boat going from bow to stern and swimming under and around. The sight was incredible unlike anything we have ever seen before. It is going to be hard to top this first encounter and we haven’t even had a chance to get out on the tenders yet! We deploy our chase boats Predator and Conqueror and we settle in for a nice lunch with a couple of whale watching briefings while our guest dine. Once every one is fed and confident in our procedures we make our way to the back deck where we eagerly load everyone in the tenders. And we are off! Conqueror spots a set of whales right away and they our on them. Predator takes a minute to find the right set but when they do they are not disappointed. A whale that starts out with massive tail throws, followed paired tail slapping, a female lying on her stomach and a male on his back just slapping away right next to each other. It was a sight to be seen. Everyone oohed and aahed over what was in front of them but then in the distance, what do we see but a little breaching calf accompanied by his Mom who enjoyed slapping her pectoral fins on the surface. We watched as Mom and baby played together for a while and they conveniently led us back to the boat. Alex whipped up an enticing batch of Pain Killers for his specialty cocktail and then everyone enjoyed in a fine feast of Brynne and Sarah’s food. We head to bed early excited for what tomorrow might hold!
As soon as the sun comes up we see whales and blows around the boat. As Conqueror and Predator leave the Aggressor, Conqueror immediately meets up with a Mom, Calf and Escort. They follow these whales topside for awhile and attempt an in water but the Escort was having none of it. Predator had a similar encounter with a Mom, Calf and Escort that ended up with a fantastic swim, as all three whales circled the group of swimmers several times making for a truly memorable experience. As the sun slowly slips down in the West, we make our way back to the Aggressor for some of Rob’s famous Pink Minke cocktails and a delicious dinner from Sarah and Brynne.
By Tuesday, winds had picked up a bit making spotting the whales a little trickier, but nevertheless we prevailed in finding some majestic encounters despite the condtions. One of the highlights of the afternoon was a very relaxed pair of sleeping adults that stayed at rest long enough for the swimmers from both chaseboats to have a chance to get up close and personal with the slumbering giants. Often, resting humpbacks will stay down at deeper depths for the 20 or so minutes between breath cycles, but this pair only went down about 20 feet, giving everyone a real nice view for the entire rest period. As Predator was about to head back to the big boat for cocktail hour with Christy’s gummy yummies, we happened across a rowdy group of four or five males competing over a single female. The energy of a group like this is truly a sight to behold. With the males throwing their tails about, blowing blasts of bubbles, and generally causing a ruckus, this encounter made for the perfect grand finale to another lovely day on the Silver Bank.
The winds continued to build through Wednesday making for another splashy morning out on the bank. Just as we were preparing to head in for lunch, we were treated to not one, but two 45-ton adult humpback whales through themselves into the air within a hundred yards of one of the chaseboats. Immediately after this dramatic airborne display, the two leviathans began to throw their tails into the air over and over in a display that seemed it could go on forever. Due to some high winds in the afternoon we decided to watch whales from TCAII as well as some of the newest episodes of the blue planet and a lovely afternoon margarita made by Conor. Everyone heads to bed early to in order to get a good nights sleep for tomorrows adventures.
Thursday we venture back out to find whales on the Silver Bank. From the onset we find a mom and calf we track them for a while and finally they settle enough for us to swim with them. The group gets in has an incredible encounter with a curious calf. The afternoon was windy but we manage to find a rowdy group of four whales. The boats come together and we watch as the whales come up in unison wondering what they were doing under water. We enjoy our last encounter and then make our way back to the boat for cocktails.
As we cruise away from the Silver Bank the whales give us a show breaching as we move towards to Puerto Plata. We all reminisce the week gone by at our wine and cheese party and talk about our future whale watching endeavors. It was the perfect end to a perfect week.