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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
April 13 – April 20 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
Tom & Karen, Michael & Leanne, Steve, Jim, Alex, Dianne, Merrilee, Elling, Elling Jr, Lori, Holger & Nathalie, Randy & Min Li, LuAnn.
Sunday: Amphitheater- NWPT
Monday: The Dome, Eel Garden-NWPT
Tuesday: Driveway-West Caicos, Double D, Rock n Roll- French Cay
Wednesday: G-Spot-French Cay, Spanish Anchor- West Caicos
Thursday: Gullies, Boat Cove –West Caicos
Friday: Sharks Hotel -NWPT
With Saturday afternoon upon us, we gathered on the dive deck to welcome our new guests for the charter to come. As per usual, we were greeted by very friendly excited new divers ready to make friends and memories. After a short time of settling in, the guests relaxed with a choice beverage and talked with others about trips gone by and trips to come. Going quiet into the night, they retired one by one into their homes for the week to get some rest for the first day on the water.
Sunday morning fast approached, and the seasoned divers were already up preparing their dive gear and make some last minute adjustments. With anxious faces looking on, Engineer Rob presented the back deck dive briefing, and information on our first dive site of the week, Amphitheater! With a deep cut out cavern that sits at about 65 feet inside a wall, Amphitheater is home to large concentration of black coral and gorgonians, which in turn creates a home to numerous other small creatures, like the Neck Crabs and Skeleton Shrimp that the guests were delighted to see. Being a very colorful wall, there was no doubt that beauty was in the eye of the camera holder!
The next morning comes as quickly as the first, and the smell of fresh brewed coffee and sizzling bacon hits the air as the guests awake from the slumber, visions of morays and jacks still in their heads. After a nice breakfast from Chef Chace, fiddle time begins and wet suits go on! Our first site of the day, The Dome, offers opportunity for all levels and types of divers. A deep wall full of life and the remnants of an old reality tv show in the shallows. Both areas offer bright colors and clear water for the divers, and not only do they get to make new friends above, but also below! Sharks, a turtle, and some friendly Butter Hamlets all showed up, and for those divers with a sharp eye, multiple Rough Head Blennies in different shades of color were found. For our afternoon and night dives we head a short distance down the reef to a site known as Eel Garden, another combo dive site with a luscious wall and coral head spread shallows. With multiple sand shoots cutting into the wall, this site is home to its namesake; Garden Eels! The open sandy area hosts hundreds of the small creatures, all poking their heads up to see what the divers are up to and grabbing a bite to eat from the water column while they’re at it. Alongside the eels, are a plethora of Yellow Head Jawfish. Dinner time brings us a beautiful sunset, and a beautiful dinner from Chef Chace. Happy and full, only a few brave souls venture out into the night waters, led by Engineer Rob on amazing Fluorescence dive. As the crew prepares the vessel for night travel to West Caicos, the guests enjoy some friendly banter and board games before headed off to their cabins for some much needed rest.
We arrived after our journey to West Caicos to a site called Driveway, named after a wide sandy chute that breaks up a sheer wall form that slopes down. The divers jumped in and descended upon the scattered coral heads at around 35-40 ft before heading west along the sand chute towards the top of the wall. The wall is riddled with undercuts and over hangs, which was fun for the divers to investigate. A Spotted Moray Eel was hiding in a rock and peering at divers as they said hello. As they swam past all the colorful tube and stove pipe sponges, a Caribbean Reef Shark swam by making a close figure 8 . Hairy Clinging Crab gripped the coral and fed. The divers were delighted to see a Hawksbill Turtle swim by and then head in for a munch on some soft sponge. At the end of the dive they spent some time underneath the boat with a school of Spanish Grunts, a pair of French Angel fish the size of dinner plates and a huge Barracuda.
Once the final divers were finished with their hot showers on the back deck, the guests headed in to refuel with tasty lunch buffet whilst the boat began to make the crossing out to French Cay for the afternoon and night dives.
We arrived as the sun was beating down, the water was calm and there was not a breath of wind in the air. Absolutely perfect conditions. Guests spent their time after lunch catching up on a good book, updating their dive logs or perfecting the art of sunbathing without getting sunburnt. But not before too long the dive bell rang, it was time to go diving!!! The guests were briefed on the new site and area Double D, named after two huge coral mounds just above the wall, either side of the mooring. The dive site is schooling with life. Four eyed butterflyfish and Queen Angel Fish were swarming around our divers. Beautiful Elephant Ear Sea Sponges frequent this area and Deep water sea fans with a clinging crab living on it was spotted.
We moved along to the next dive site which was very close by for the afternoon and night dives to a site called Rock and Roll. Named after the rough conditions frequently encountered out there in French Cay, being so exposed. As we head along the top of the reef we search in all the nooks and crannies. Several patches of Yellow headed Jaw Fish were hiding in the sandy areas among the coral heads so were great for the patient divers who would wait for them to come right out of their holes to feed. A beautiful adult Spotted Drum danced around the base of a tall coral head. Very shy but would come out and swim in its figure 8 pattern every so often, sometimes had the divers swimming in circles trying to catch glimpses.
We spent the night here and the night dive was Rocking!! The Sharks were out again, hunting with our lights, and the Jacks were especially persistent too. The divers had mixed feeling about watching a Reef Shark Tear apart a Parrot fish before their eyes, as they witnessed first hand its true power and speed of the Shark. Divers were buzzing with stories as they were retelling their experiences and looking over their new footage whilst sipping hot chocolate.
We stayed overnight in French Cay and moved over to G-Spot for the 2 morning dives.
A strong bend in the wall is this sites key feature. An abundance of deep water gorgonians and a variety of black coral. Neck Crabs and Decorator Crabs were found by those with a sharp eye. Atlantic Trigger Fish swam by flapping their goofy fins and chasing one another. We were followed by a Reef Shark and a Nurse Shark was spotted napping under a rock. Yellow headed Jaw fish were once again a key interest in the dive as the divers spotted the Males holding the eggs in their mouths.
During the lunch buffet we made the journey back to West Caicos and settled in a favorite site, Spanish Anchor. A three hundred year old anchor believed to be of Spanish origin, caught in a gulley like swim through. Most saw the anchor, although it is well disguised with a good deal of sponge and coral growth over it. Here, we were delighted to see a juvenile spotted drum busily swimming around whilst really going nowhere. Stingrays searched the sandy areas for something to feast upon and our resident Caribbean reef shark cruised the edge of the wall. A Peacock Flounder camouflaging itself in the sand and swimming over some rocks was a very interesting find. And to top it off we saw a Dolphin who made a pass by divers as they were on the hang bar and some lucky ones were able to catch it on camera. Back on board we watched the Dolphin play on the surface as we snacked on Chef Chace’s famous Guacamole and Pita bread. During the night dive we were able to see not only the typical Caribbean spiny lobster but also a large (they are normally small) red-banded lobster. Two of our guests indulged in the blacklight and encountered nudibranchs and decorator crabs glowing. We were joined by a passing Reef Shark, Caribbean Reef Squid, and a Green Moray Eel was hiding under an overhang. A very successful dive and everyone came up buzzing!!
It is already Thursday, this week is flying by!! We stuck around West Caicos for the day, starting off with a nice site call Gullies. A site that as the name suggests has a number of Gullies breaching the top of the wall with the major one near the mooring point. A great site for some stunning photos. This site has some great residents, but most notably a very large Female Reef Shark that has lived here for several years. She has an entourage of 2 or 3 male sharks and seems to spend a lot of the time pregnant. These guys will come and check out divers that are in the water affording wonderful opportunities for close up encounters. For the afternoon dive we moved not far to Boat Cove, where we managed to spot the Broad Banded Eel hiding in his hole. He can be very shy but every so often he comes out to say hello. Along the wall we came across a very friendly small Hawksbill Turtle. In amongst the small reef fish on the wall a number of arrow blennies poised ready to strike, their tails curled in anticipation of a dart forward to find some prey. A beautiful Jewel fish was playing near a coral head and made for some great photography. The night dive was spectacular where the lucky divers had a 10 minute Octopus encounter, watching it hunt changing its shape and color in a very dramatic fashion.
The final day was upon us we made the crossing back to the North West Point of Providenciales to a site called Sharks Hotel. A great wall dive with some really nice coral heads and rock formations underneath the boat as you end the dive. Nassau Groupers and a huge Barracuda were all relaxing having their teeth cleaned by cleaning Shrimp. Two or Three Reef Sharks were circling throughout the dive. A large school of Atlantic Spade Fish swam by and lingered around so the guests were able to take some great shots. A Green Moray was hiding and swimming around a set a coral heads, which was very interesting to watch. A very friendly resident Grouper likes to hang out near the mooring pin and will not only swim up to guests but let them give him a tickle under the chin. Which was very entertaining for the guests before they headed up to the hang bar for the very last time.
A great week all round with some very magical encounters and memories they will treasure. They were all recounted at the wine and cheese party back at the Turtle Cove Marina that afternoon, as they sipped wine or a cool beer and watched the sun set on a fabulous week