Log Date: Sunday, Mar 31, 2019
Entry By: Turks & Caicos Aggressor Crew
Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
March 31 – April 7 2019
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 79° - 86° F
Water temperature: 81°F
Visibility: 50 - 100 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: James Whittle
Divemaster: Rob Carabia
Dive Guide: Sarah Pearson
Bluewater Photo’s Craig, Stu & Robbi, Jenny and Ed, Chris & Karen, Terry, Eva, Kevin & Judy, Flora & Bill, Stuart, Paul, Allen, Ruth, and Jessica.
On Sunday afternoon we were greeted by the trip leader from Bluewater Photo, Craig. Two by two the rest of the guests began to show up, very excited about the adventure to come! After a detailed Welcome and Safety Briefing from Captain Amanda, we were underway. Led by a pod of 20 dolphins we headed to our first dive site of Monday morning on the North West point of TCI. Tired from their travels, the guests retired to their cabins to rest up for the week of diving ahead.
Our first day started on Monday morning bright and early. After a very informative back dive deck briefing, the guests began to prepare equipment and cameras, very anxious to explore the underwater world. The first dive was a good one, as all guests were well versed in scuba diving and underwater photography. We were almost immediately greeted by a very friendly hawksbill turtle, who followed the divers along the black coral and wall of Amphitheater, our first site of the day. Guests were able to document and see first-hand the very distinct cut out in the wall, looking on in awe. After two great dives at Amphitheater, we traveled a short distance to our site for three dives and the remainder of the day, The Dome. A large underwater structure and the remnants of an old reality television show, the Dome has become the home of many creatures the guests saw, including Coney’s, Nudibranchs, Sharks, Sting Rays and even another turtle! Nighttime residents spotted were bearded fire worms, more nudibranchs, and a very friendly White Spotted Filefish!
After an exciting first day, the glory continued on to day two. Moored up at our first site, Boat Cove, the divers were ready after a delicious breakfast from Chef Chase. Cameras at the ready, guests got real close to some curious Caribbean Reef Sharks, a Green Moray Eel, and were even lucky enough to see a Spotted Drum! During lunch we cruised over to our next site, Spanish Anchor. Guests were delighted to find a beautiful sandy reef bustling with life. The feature of the site, was an old anchor thoroughly encrusted in soft corals, hanging ever so gently off the wall overlooking a very scenic underwater gulley. Multiple Filefish, and big schools of Horse Eyed Jacks added to the ambiance, while the sun beamed through the water adding a very impressive heavenly backdrop. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we journeyed into the abyss for our last dive, and into the traffic of night reef activity. Creating a symbiotic relationship with hunting reef sharks and blackjacks, the divers explored the beautiful reef by glow of the boats underwater lights. The red eyes of prying night shrimp and microscopic creatures made the divers forget they were even underwater! As the guests returned and enjoyed there hot chocolate, we talked about the day gone past, and the days to come.
Sunrise travel brings us to French Cay in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Conversations over breakfast can be heard, talks of the previous day’s sea life discoveries, and the making of new friendships. Photography skills are improving with the help of Craig and the crew. The guests grow fonder of diving in the islands. The first site of the day brings us to G Spot, a cul-de-sac reef system with a beautifully decorated wall. After dolphin like exploration from the divers, curious sea life waking up from slumber starts to flourish. Between two morning dives, Spotted Eels, Queen Angelfish, and reef sharks were among our friends in the water column. (There may have been a mermaid and merman sighting as well!)
For the remainder of the day, we journeyed to our second site, Double D! A deep wall with numerous shallow coral heads sitting directly on top, this site is one of the few untouched areas around French Key following Hurricane Irma almost two years ago. Guests were able to enjoy numerous species of sea fans, sponges, and soft corals in what seems like and endless rainbow of colors. Keeping that coral healthy and filtered, plentiful reef fish came to find the divers, but kept their comfortable distance. Friends like Spanish Hogfish, an Indigo Hamlet, and Butterfly Fish created and added whirlwind of life under the crystal blue surface, enough so to even draw a Goldentail Eel out to have a peek! Cue beautiful sunset, and a mouthwatering dining description and service is presented flawlessly by Chef Chase. Tempted by the wine and turndown service, guests debate in humorous banter whether or not to splash in one more time back at G Spot before turning in. At the recommendation of the crew, the majority decide to go quietly into the night waters, with pleasant smirks on their faces. Those who jumped in were certainly not disappointed, as at least 12 large nurse sharks and multiple reef sharks hunted in frenzy style by the moonlight shadow!
The next day brings us back to West Caicos and Thursday morning, to a site known as The Gullies! Having an intricate series of cuts and open swim throughs, this site holds small little nooks and holes in the sides of the wall perfect for Drums! Juvenile and adult alike, at least three were spotted by the guests, showing off their long stunning dorsal fins. A few reef sharks cruised around, curious as to what the divers were up to. Below in the reef, creatures such as Channel Clinging Crabs, Neck Crabs, and a Slipper Lobster played amongst the Sea Fans and in the sand, not bothered in the slightest by human proximity. Between morning dives, guests enjoy the toasty hot tub and catch some rays on the sun deck. For the afternoon, Captain Amanda cruises us over to Magic Mushroom, a shallower site with an eventual easy sloping wall. In a scene like an underwater New York City, hundreds of species of fish and coral alike gathered to great the divers entering the water. A very hard to spot Roughhead Blenny poked his head out for an extended amount of time, and even posed as if he wanted his picture taken as many times as possible! Guests got their fill of the little guy, and made their way over to a taller coral head known as the “Lobster Tower”, where there is a family of almost fifteen Caribbean Spiny Lobsters all gathered together, seemingly defending their territory in high numbers. Other macro creatures that seem to have no problem being found were Peppermint and Patch-Reef Gobies, Butter Hamlets, and Harlequin Bass. After a busy day, night fast approaches and divers now expertly prepare both camera and night diving equipment for the dark blue to come. Excited about the Captain being the guide, guests are at the ready for the final splash of the evening. With ease, Captain Amanda spots a Roughback Shrimp and multiple nudibranchs, including three rare Trapania! Show and tell commences and the guests are once again astounded at the undersea world of Turks and Caicos.
As the sun rises on the final full day of the charter, guests have mixed emotions about going back home and the experience they have had thus far. Thoughts of low northern temperatures do not sit well, but are quickly dismissed after a view of our next site, Elephant Ear Canyon. On the northern most point of West Caicos, this site boasts ample opportunity for all types of photographers and divers alike. Juvenile Trumpetfish, a Brownstripe Octopus, and a Head Shield Slug amongst numerous reef fish were all present for the morning dives. During yet another delicious lunch service from Chef Chase, we travelled back towards Providenciales and the North West Point of TCI for our afternoon and nights dives at Shark Hotel! For the afternoon and evening dive the guests enjoyed the pleasant company of local Caribbean Reef Sharks, an extremely large school of Horse-Eyed Jacks and Yellowtail Snapper, and a very friendly little Grouper! Those who took the slow road were able to point out a Juvenile Drum, and a Yellow Rough-Head Blenny! For our last dive of the day and our very last night dive of the charter, a shallow reef full of Nudibranchs, multiple species of crab to include a very colorful Gaudy Clown Crab, and a three foot long Greater Amberjack defending a large part of the wall. With all the colors and creatures, we couldn’t have asked for a better end to the evening.
The last day of diving brings us a short distance from Sharks Hotel to Two Step, another beautiful wall and reef system with a multiple deep cuts and gullies. Those who were brave and motivated enough enjoyed a twilight dive in the early hours before breakfast, at a time where the reef comes to life in a tranquil display of color and movement. For those who continued to slumber, the next and last dive of the charter was equally as exciting, and a solid memory for the end of the trip. As we venture off back to port in Turtle Cove, the divers are already starting to plan their next excursions and adventures. For the amazing guests that joined us from near and far, this was one trip they won’t forget!