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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
April 7 – April 14 2019
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 79° - 86° F
Water temperature: 80°F
Visibility: 50 - 100 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: James Whittle
Photo Pro: Robert Carabia
Divemaster: Sarah Pearson
Jim and Diane, Karl and Juanita, Marilyn, Garth and Debbie, Peter and Chris, Spencer, Ryan. Carol, Julie, Mary, Lauren, and Judy
Monday: Amphitheatre, The Dome- North West Point
Tuesday: Driveway, Boat Cove- West Caicos
Wednesday: Spanish Anchor-West Caicos, G-Spot- French Cay
Thursday: Double D- French Cay, Falls- South Side, Magic Mushroom- North West Point
Friday: Sharks Hotel- North West Point
We welcomed the guests onboard the Turks and Caicos Aggressor on a very sunny Sunday afternoon. We were anchored just outside the marina due to a restrictive tide, which meant the guests enjoyed a short tender ride to the main vessel across the shallow aquamarine waters of Grace Bay. Bill and Judy had brought friends they know from their dive shop ‘Rec Diving’ in Michigan. Once all were onboard, they enjoyed catching up over a few welcome drinks and a cheese platter, whilst the sun began to set. Captain Amanda briefed them about the trip ahead and familiarized them with the vessel, followed by a delicious Thai curry prepared by Chef Chace. We set off towards our destination and arrived in the North West Point of Providenciales ready for our first dive site of the week.
As the sun began to rise and the smell of bacon wafted throughout the boat, the guests got their first glimpses of the surroundings and the site we were moored up to, Amphitheatre. The main feature of this site is a vertical drop of the spectacular wall that opens up around 55 ft offering different species of Black Coral, and Red Deep Water Sea Fans. After an in-depth safety briefing on the back deck, the divers jumped into the water shaking off any pre dive jitters. The visibility was clear and the sun was shining, bringing out the beautiful colors of the reef. As divers made their way along the wall they spotted a Juvenile Scorpion Fish hiding in plain sight. Back under the boat on the top of the wall we hunted around the coral and the sand, trying not to disturb the sleeping Nurse Shark as we passed by. We also discovered a Rough Ended Blenny and the special find of the dive was the Triangular Simnia with Eggs. A great way kick off the week.
Whilst enjoying a selection of delicious food at the lunch buffet we moved to our final dive site of the day, The Dome. This site has two features that we like to visit. The dome structure itself is inshore of the wall and the Chimney which is a nice open swim through and great photo opportunity. The Dome however is a manmade steel structure that looks like something from outer space. It is in fact the remnants of a 1980’s reality TV show they used for free diving contests. 30 years later it has completely dismantled and is the home of various tropical sea species. There is a swim through where French Grunts tend to mosey in and out. A Hawksbill Turtle was slowly mooching around looking for some Sponge to munch on. And the tiniest little Blennies are poking their heads out of the steel shafts that they have buried themselves into, keeping an eye on the divers moving past them, some might have no idea that they’re there. At night this site is known for a lot of action as well. An Octopus was seen hunting around the top of the wall and shape shifting as it crept from one rock to the next showing off its ever changing colors. As the divers returned they were greeted with a warm towel and a hot chocolate with rum cream.
The engines fired early to begin our journey to West Caicos. Once we had arrived we moored up to our first dive site Driveway where we spent 3 dives. Once we had been briefed on the site we jumped in, checking out the scattered coral heads as we made our way to the wall. We swam through a school of Spanish Grunts that were gathering together over the reef. There is a wide chute of sand that divided the rocky coral reef, with the sides bending outwards, and wrapping around the plateau as the wall runs North to South. This wall has a lot of overhangs and undercuts to swim through to check out and is liberally decorated with colorful corals and sponges, making for some great photo ops. Two huge Caribbean Spiny Lobsters were out of there hiding holes and investigating surrounding rocks around the top of the wall. A large Nassau Grouper was relaxing with its mouth open getting cleaned by a couple of Pederson Cleaning Shrimp. Reef Sharks were circling around and investigating. Yellow headed Jaw fish were a good find poking out of the sand amongst the rubble…a fish the guests soon realized took patience to photograph well. A pair of cute Banded Butterfly Fish flittered around in and out of the coral heads. A Hawksbill Turtle cruised by, not appearing too bothered by the divers taking photos.
In the afternoon were made our way to Boat Cove, ready for our afternoon and night dive. It is a particularly vibrant with a thriving reef, with an abundance of colourful sponges, deep water gorgonians, and an assortment of coral. The sun was out as the divers took in all that the reef had to offer. Scattered coral heads lead down gradually through some sandy patches to the edge of the wall, which begins at around 50 ft. There is a dominant sandy chute with a large Brain Coral sitting just above a rock over hang at the edge of the wall. This is a stunning feature and another great photo opportunity. As we head to the edge of the wall we are greeted by a Caribbean Reef Sharks. Queen Trigger Fish and White Spotted Filefish are just some of the beautiful tropical fish swimming by. During the night dive this site comes to life, we see some Channel Crabs scuttling across the reef, a Nurse shark out hunting, Slipper Lobster and some Neck Crabs. As the night divers finished off their hot showers on the back deck and sipping their hot chocolates, the boat moved across to its location in preparation for the next day.
We kicked off the day on a site in the Southern part of West Caicos called Spanish Anchor. As a Gully cuts down through the wall, it creates a nice swim through. At the bottom of the swim through as you pop out of the wall you will ‘hopefully’ see a large old encrusted anchor lodged into a rock. They say it was Spanish as there is no chain attached to it, and the Spanish would typically use rope. It is now however covered in corals and very much become part of the reef, and a very interesting feature. Regardless of this, the site itself is filled with various lush corals and sponges and a stunning wall .A Green Moray Eel is peering out of its hole. As we made our way back to the boat we saw a Spotted Spiny Lobster, and some Banded Coral Shrimp. As the reef is separated by sand chutes we spotted a very well hidden Peacock Flounder passing by from rock to sand, watching as it changed colours until we could barely see it again. As the guests enjoyed a delicious hot soup and lunch buffet prepared by Chef Chace, the boat crossed over to French Cay for our afternoon location, G Spot. There was not a puff of wind in the air and the water was glass as the guests jumped in and got a first glimpse of the beautiful reef below. The wall offers an assortment of soft Corals and Deep Water Gorgonians and during the tidal changes there is a lot of activity. An abundance of schooling fish love this area. A large Barracuda is watching over us as we pass by. There are two Reef Sharks circling. A couple of guests spot some Yellow Headed Jaw Fish in the sand. One of which is a male as it is showing black stripes down its throat as well as a bulging mouth full of eggs. A patient guest waits for the moment the Jaw Fish quickly spits out the eggs and takes them back into his mouth to aureate them. A split second but a very lucky photo if you can catch it. The night dive here is very exciting and full of Nurse Sharks, Reef Sharks and Jacks on a hunt for food. They are attracted by the lights of the divers so can become a bit of a frenzy and very entertaining for the guests to watch as several sharks circle and dart around. Guests looked over their footage of the action back onboard before bed.
In the morning we moved to a site close by called Double D. This site is dominated by two large coral heads on either side of the mooring. A large school of Yellow Snapper are nestled around the top of the wall. The wall has a gradual slope and is very vibrant and full of life. We see two Hawkesbill Turtles together which is a rare sight. A Juvenile Sun Anemone Shrimp, a Juvenile File Fish and 4 Long Neck Crabs. During lunch we head back to the Southern part of the Island to a site called Falls. This is a site we do not do very often. It has a gradual decline from the reef to the wall. A great site to see large Pelagic life. In the reef there is a combination of sand, ruble and beautiful reef and coral life. A Caribbean Reef Shark joined us as it circled around, as well as Queen Angel Fish, Hamlets, Oceanic Trigger fish, Lobster and Ballyhoo.
Our final dive of the day is Magic Mushroom, another favourite site. This was an evening dive which started off at dusk and throughout the dive became very dark as the sun went down, so the divers began to watch the reef evolve into a night dive. Creole Wrasse and Blue Chromis cascaded over the top of the reef and down the wall. As we meandered along the and back up along the reef top we were lead to a huge Southern Stingray burying itself in the sand. The Sergeant Majors were out protecting their eggs they had buried in the rocks. As it got dark we spotted and Octopus slink along some coral heads then hide itself into a gap in the rock. Sharks became a little more interested as they swam by and circled a little closer.
In the Morning we had traveled back to Northwest Point for our last two dives of the WEEK which was to be at Sharks Hotel. This used to be a site where the Shark population was notably absent but recently there had been plenty of Sharks regularly spotted, and this dive we had many encounters. We spotted two Lobster crawling along the wall together. A huge Nassau Grouper sat open mouthed as it got freshened up by some cleaning Shrimp. Towards the end of the dive right underneath the boat near the mooring pin is a favourite part of the dive. Coral heads and colourful soft corals creat beautiful formations along the top of the wall where there are schools of tropical fish grouped together, File Fish and usually a very friendly resident Grouper who hangs around and will even swim up to divers. He also does not mind having his belly scratched and posing for photos with guests. All and all a brilliant way to finish up a grand week of diving. Leaving the guests from Massachusetts very reluctant to head back home to their icy cold waters. But as is tradition, we celebrated the week up on the sundeck back in the Marina on Friday evening over wine and cheese. Thank you for a fabulous week Rec Divers!!