Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
24 February – 3 March 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
Photo Pro: Conor Ferrin
Chef: Brynne Rardin
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Tom & Pat, Meg, Trish, Pam, Mark, John, Chrisea, Kim, David, Seth, Scott & Lauren, Neils, Mikkel, Markus, Henning
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Our week starts in the beautiful sunshine of the Dominican Republic at Ocean World Marina as we greet our 18 guests hailing from Denmark, Germany, and various U.S. states. After the guests have settled into their cabins, Captain Christy gives the group an overview of shipboard safety and the plan for the week, which is followed by the first of many delicious meals from our all-star galley crew, Sarah and Brynne. Shortly before midnight, we fire up our engines and begin the 80-mile run out to our mooring for the week on the Silver Bank. We were lucky to have a relatively smooth ride out and are securely tied up at our mooring around mid-morning. As Captain Christy orients the group to our whale watching routine, the rest of the crew busily readies the chase boats for the week.
After filling up with a hearty lunch, everyone heads out on our two chase boats, Predator and Conqueror, full of anticipation of what the whales will bring this week. Both boats were treated to some lovely topside encounters with separate mom and calf pairs, despite the occasional rain squall kicking through. One of the babies seemed to be in such a good mood that it breached more than forty times while the group watched! Nobody has a clear answer on why humpback whales breach, but after watching this calf throw itself into the air over and over again, it’s hard not to believe that it’s a lot of fun! As our first day on the bank winds to a close, we head to the boat for cocktail hour with Alex whipping up a round of painkillers for our happy whale watchers to enjoy as they relax in the hot tub. Our chefs, Sarah and Brynne whip out yet another delicious dinner, and shortly everyone is slumbering away as dreams of whales dance through their heads.
Monday morning we load into the chase boats and head off at 0830 sharp, looking forward to whatever marvels the Silver Bank has for us. Conqueror had a fantastic series of encounters with a mom and calf that would circle under the boat over and over. They even calmed down enough to allow our brave crew of snorkelers to slip in the water for a couple of passes with the pair. The highlight of the afternoon was a truly memorable encounter with a singing male. As the passengers on Predator was enjoying a late afternoon snack, several onboard began to hear the singing of the whale resonating through the hull of the boat. We quickly dropped our hydrophone in the water and were treated to the undulating groans and trills of the ever-changing humpback song. Only male humpbacks sing, and no one is quite certain why they sing, but whatever the reason, it’s a magical thing to experience. After listening for a few short minutes at the surface, we managed to spot our singing friend as he surfaced to breath, allowing us to pinpoint his location. This gave both chase boats the exhilarating opportunity to swim above him while he sang, which is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. The song is so powerful that once in the water, our swimmers can feel the vibrations of the song rumble through their bodies. Alas, the sun is setting, and our encounter is over all too soon, but fortunately that means it’s cocktail hour with Conor, who has a batch of margaritas waiting for everyone to enjoy as we wind down from another full day with the whales.
With our bellies full of eggs benedict, we head out into some squally weather to see what Tuesday’s whales are up to. Conqueror manages to find a short swim with a couple of adult whales, while predator spends much of the morning following group after group of whales off the edge of the bank. It seems like all the whales want to go play in the deep water now that the weather has calmed down! For the afternoon, conqueror gets some spectacular breaches close to the boat while predator gets to follow a rowdy group off into the blue. This rambunctious group of whales was a site to see as they swam in tight formation through the big rolling swells. Eventually, our grumbling stomachs call us back to the boat, and we are treated to a beautiful rainbow on our ride home. To round off the evening, Christy makes her signature Gummy Yummy cocktails topped with gummy humpback whales.
After breaking our fast with some delicious apple-cinnamon waffles, we load up the chase boats and head out to see what Wednesday will bring. Things start out with a bang for Conqueror with an encounter that started with a large group of energetic whales displaying all around the boat. Slowly it shrank until only a single male and female were left and they began displaying valentine behavior, which is thought to be a prelude to the actual mating. These two were extremely energetic and very interested in the boat, and preformed numerous pectoral fin slaps, tail slaps, and full-on breaches right alongside the boat. In the meantime, Predator had happened upon a mother with a very young calf that allowed our intrepid crew of snorkelers several chances to swim with them. The young calf spent much of the time lazing around on mom’s nose, but towards the end of the encounter, the youngster got brave and started circling further and further. Mom didn’t seem too happy about her baby wandering off, and responding with a series of dramatic tail throws just a short distance from our group of swimmers, definitely a memorable encounter! After a quick stop at the mothership for another hearty lunch, we have a nice relaxing series of swims with a pair of sleeping adults that rounds out the afternoon nicely. All too soon, the sun is setting and it’s time to head back to the Aggressor, where Rob is waiting with his signature Pink Minke cocktails for us to enjoy alongside the spectacular sunset.
Our final day of whale watching starts with some of the best weather that we’ve had all season; only a gentle swell rolling in from the North disturbs the surface of the water. It seems as though there are mother and calf pairs everywhere around the bank today! Unfortunately for our hopeful snorkelers, they are all on the move, making it difficult to get in the water with them. However, they still provide some fantastic topside entertainment, with one calf breaching over and over just yards from one of the chase boats. As the day winds to a close, a mother, calf, and escort appear out of nowhere and make a close pass mere feet below Predator before circling the boat at the surface once and then departing. It was almost like they were saying goodbye! And with that, we head back to the big boat, bring then chaseboats onboard, and relax with some lovely cocktails from Brynne and Sarah. Dinner is the long-standing Aggressor tradition of Thursday Thanksgiving dinner, followed by a showing of the video that Captain Christy has been compiling of our adventures all week.
At first light on Friday morning, we start the engines and begin to make our way off the bank. For the first couple hours, we are treated to the sight of numerous whales around the boat, but soon we depart the bank and say goodbye to the whales for this week. After arriving back at Ocean World Marina a little after four o’clock, we reminisce about the week with a celebratory wine and cheese party on the sundeck before our guests head out on the town to sample some of the local dining options. Thus brings an end to another magical week on the Silver Bank.