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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
June 29 – July 07 2019
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 80° - 84° F
Water temperature: 82°F - 83°F
Visibility: 60 - 100 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Video Pro: James Whittle
Instructor: Luis Peralta
Stew: Diekie Quant
Cameron and Bobbi, Jim and Elise, Karen and Rob, Tracy and Ron, Jeremy, Aleck and Macie, Dan and Pam, Chris, Mike, Alex, Theresa and Kevin.
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Eel Garden & The Dome - NWPT
Monday: Boat Cove, Spanish Anchor – West Caicos
Tuesday: Driveway- West Caicos, & G Spot – French Cay
Wednesday: ½ Mile –French Cay & Brandy Wine – West Caicos
Thursday: Gullies- West Caicos & Amphitheatre - NWPT
Friday: Sharks Hotel- NWPT
The guests arrived on Saturday afternoon to the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II, docked in the lovely Turtle Cove Marina. Once onboard they eagerly set up their gear, and slipped swiftly into vacation mode with a welcome beverage and snack. After a safety briefing and boat familiarization, the guests sat down to their first 3 course dinner of the trip, as they all got to know each other and excitedly discussed the week ahead. Pam and Dan had remained onboard for their second week so enjoyed enlightening their family members on what underwater delights they could be expecting. Most settled down with a few nightcaps before an early bed in order to be up bright and early to begin the week.
The engines sparked up as the first light hit the marina and before long we were off on our journey to our first dive destination, North West Point. As we arrived and pulled up to our first dive site, Eel Garden, guests were able to appreciate the beautiful surroundings as they finished up their bacon and eggs. After the back deck briefing guests were finally able to jump into the beautiful turquoise waters that had been tantalizing them all morning. Eel Garden is a great first dive location with wonderful visibility and a spacious sandy floor where Garden Eels enjoy living and thriving. Taking it nice and slow, divers spent time enjoying our more regularly seen marine life including Queen Triggerfish, Cowfish, and the occasional Southern Stingray. As they swam along checking out the beautiful wall the guests spotted their first Caribbean Reef Sharks of the trip, which would be a common theme across their week. The guests were greeted with warm towels and some banana bread prepared by Chef Sarah as they discussed some creature identification before heading back down for dive number 2 where divers turned the opposite direction along the reef to investigate the other half of the site.
The first Lunch bell was rang and as guests enjoyed their hot homemade soup and lunch buffet as Captain Alex and crew moved the boat to our afternoon dive site nearby, The Dome. Most dive sites around the Turks and Caicos Islands offer a series of reef and sandy chutes around 40-50ft leading up to a vertical wall drop. This makes for some interesting rock formations and habitats for plenty of sea life. The Dome is no exception to this. Guests swam up The Chimney and through the basis for the French reality TV show, Pago Pago. Along the wall the guests spotted a Scorpionfish carefully disguised and behaving, as they do, as a piece of reef – only really apparent as the pectoral fins are revealed, to show the delightful striated pinks and purples. The structure of the Dome revealed tiny secretary and spiny head blennies using the vacated calcified wormholes as their homes. This also makes for a very exciting night dive site. After a mentioning a few extra night dive safety specifics on the back deck, guests leaped into the dark depths below. Many Southern Sting Rays were soaring across the sandy bottom, hunting for their night time morsels. A nurse shark was spotted circling around divers appearing very interested in what was going. Some spotted a sleeping Hawksbill Turtle who tends to settle underneath the dome structure for a nap during the evening hours. Divers enjoyed a warming hot chocolate with rum cream as they shared their first night dive stories of the trip. Once divers had finished up showing the engines started and we began our journey to West Caicos.
As the sun rose and the smell of bacon wafted through the boat, guests woke to observe their new surroundings. We are moored up close to the weathered limestone shoreline of West Caicos at site called Boat Cove. This site is full of color, especially when the sun is shining down like today. The reef top is fairly flat but descends gently down through scattered coral heads and sandy patches towards the top of the wall. There are a few distinct sand chutes boats beautiful hard corals along the edges, and overhangs. A large Brain Coral is a nice point of interest and nearby a playful Spotted Drum dances around in circles. Tucked underneath a rock is a Spotted Moray Eel, a Nurse Shark shows up as well as a couple of Reef Sharks circling around the top of the wall showing some interest in the dives. A very pretty school of Atlantic Spade Fish swim slowly past for a few divers to catch some photos, always a favorite sighting as they are so photogenic. Guests enjoyed their 2 dives here before tucking into a hearty lunch buffet and gazed out the windows with interest as the boat moved along to the southernmost part of West Caicos, Spanish Anchor. As you swim down through the gulley of this site guests found an old encrusted anchor at the end which overhangs the wall at around 85 ft. After they swam through and got their picture taken by Photo Pro Rob they made their way along the wall. They spotted a Hawksbill Turtle munching on some sponge which was a delight to see. Coming back on top of the wall in amongst the sand chutes was a patch of Yellow Headed Jaw Fish. As the guests sidled in close and low they could watch carefully as they popped their little heads and budging eyes head out of the sand and sailed upwards trying to catch lunch. One guest got a lucky shot of a bulging mouth full of eggs. Guests also spotted a Peacock Flounder camouflaged in the sand before it started to swim away and land back on a rock, changing colors as it went. This was also a fun night dive site, guests were joined by more than one Caribbean Reef Shark. A gigantic Channel Clinging Crab and Slipper Lobsters were spotted as well as an Octopus sighting. Hot Chocolate was welcomed back onboard when they returned.
The engines fired up early as the sun rose and we moved along to our site for the first two dives of the day, Driveway. Dominated by a large Sand Chute, this site also features some beautiful Giant Anemone, changing from deep blue to a vibrant pink when light is shone upon them. A large Grouper was witnessed having its teeth cleaned by some Pederson Cleaning Shrimp which is always an interesting site to see. Once again divers were joined by Carribean Reef sharks, and along the top of the wall divers were greeted with a huge school of Creole Wrass. Back along the top of the wall and into the sandy channels, large schools of Goat Fish were feeding along the sandy shallows as well a Green Moray hiding out under some coral overhangs. A very fun dive with beautiful conditions and great visibility. Once everyone was up from their second dive we fired up the engines to begin our crossing over to French Cay. Even though it is not sheltered on the Southern side of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the wind was not blowing and the sun was out, so we were in luck! You could see the Sharks and Schools of fish circling at the bottom, as we tied up to the mooring. You couldn’t ask for Better! All guests eagerly waited on the back to deck to hear about the dive site G- Spot before leaping into the water to explore. A huge big dip into the top of the wall is the feature of this site. It curves around on a right angle where there is a large patch of Black Coral, Sea Fans, and Deep Water Gorgonians. A home to Decorator Crabs if you look closely. A great site for spotting tiny Blennies as well a beautiful array of schooling Snapper and French Grunts and large Reef Sharks and Barracuda. A huge range of sea life on these dives. But the night dive was particularly exciting. The Nurse and Reef Sharks were out in full force hunting for the more vulnerable and unlucky fish as well as the Horse Eyed Jacks making sure they were getting their fair share. Lobsters were seen out and about, free swimming Spotted Eels, a great Squid encounter, Channel Clinging Crabs, and an Octopus!! All in all it was an action packed dive, and it was all a buzz as stories of the dive were retold on the back deck once they had returned.
The boat shifted a very short distance to the morning site of the day, ½ Mile. Guests had another chance to catch some Yellow headed Jaw fish in the sand chutes between the coral ridges as well as the beautiful but shy cherubfish, the smallest of the angelfish family. After a great final morning of diving out at French Cay, we slowly made our way back to West Caicos, where we spent the afternoon and evening diving at Brandywine. Named for the numerous, massive barrel sponges, this site features a much more gradual sloped wall before it falls off into the abyss at the 100 foot mark. One exciting feature is a beautiful pink giant (in name only) anemone that lives down the wall at around 75 feet. All the guests had a nice look at the resident anemone and the squat anemone shrimp that call it home. On the way back to the boat, we stopped by for a visit to a coral encrusted jeep engine block that has lain on the bottom for who knows how many years. It’s time as functioning machinery is long past, but now it plays host to all manner of marine life, including Satan, a member of one of the most ferocious marine species that we encounter in the Turks & Caicos, the bicolor damselfish.
To start our final morning of diving around West Caicos, we headed up North to Gullies. The site is named after several prominent canyon-like features that run through the top of the wall and make for a fun swim-through. Along the wall, the sharks are always in abundance at this particular site, and today was no exception. Our divers were circled by several smaller males and one large, likely pregnant, female reef sharks. In addition to the big stuff, there were lots of fun macro critters to check out, from the flamboyant, gaudy clown crabs hiding in nooks in the coral to the delicate, slender filefish in the gorgonians there was plenty to keep our divers happy all morning. Over lunchtime, we made the run back up to Northwest Point, where we dove the afternoon away at Amphitheater. The formation of the wall roughly resembles an amphitheater with a large bowl and a sandy bottom that is surrounded by a semi-circle coral ridge tightly packed with colorful sponges and four different species of black corals. Lobsters, trunk fish, hawksbill turtles, and spotted eels are among the few things that were encountered at this dive site. And of course, there was the night dive, which is always spectacular at amphitheater. Lobsters, crabs, and all sorts of fun macro critters make for a great way to wind down the evening.
Friday morning is a two dive day to allow for plenty of surface interval before flying and to allow us to make our tide to get back into the marina. We spent the morning at Shark’s Hotel, which is always full of surprises. Two smaller male sharks spent much of the dives playing with our divers providing much entertainment. Several massive barracuda were also lurking just under the mooring line looking hungrily at the colorful schools of grunts milling around the coral heads. Of course, a visit to Shark’s Hotel wouldn’t be complete without a visit from our resident Nassau grouper. She is always curious about divers and loves to come up and check out the group, and will usually even pose for a picture or two if people are patient. After a great morning of dives, we head back to the marina where we celebrate the end of another fantastic week of eating, sleeping, and diving with a wine and cheese party on the sundeck.
Thanks for another great week!