Last month, I had the absolute privilege of diving aboard the Turks & Caicos Aggressor II in the British West Indies with my friends Nick and Karina to issue in the New Year. Undoubtedly one of the best weeks of my life, I figured instead of talking about what made the trip so great, I would let this little video I put together tell the story. As we say in the scuba diving community, the pool is always open!
P.S. Here is a copy of the captains log for our trip, which can also be found here.
|Log Date: Saturday, Dec 28, 2013
Entry By: Turks & Caicos Crew
Welcome aboard the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II! This week we are pleased to have Audrey & Frank Begun, Micheal Farrell, Stan Stojkovic, Lela Smith, Jean Jones, Blair Thetford, Blaire Walsh, Nicholas Timpone, Anna Moteiro, Erica Begun, Robert Veenstra, Jennifer Kearns, Danna Begun, Laura Schafer, Safinaz Elkadi, Andrew Paulsen and Timothy Mason. Welcome one welcome all. We have a full boat this week and with beautiful weather forecasted its bound to be a great week of eating, sleeping and diving. Almost everyone has been on an Aggressor more than once and from what I gather Erica and Danna were the first non-diver kids to come on the boat many years ago. Welcome back ladies, it’s great to have you all here with us! Mike and Jennifer have been with us many times before and everyone’s glad to have them back onboard. Mike brought with him a hard-drive full of Films which definitely made the crew very happy!
Water Temperature: 78-80F
Thermal protection: 3mm long – 5mm long
Visibility: 100+ feet
Due to the tides we spent Saturday night in Turtle Cove Marina and everyone on board either got to know each other or shared stories of their adventures since the last time they’d dove together. The sundeck was buzzing and our guests began to relax.
Sunday morning bright and early we made our way to North West Point where we dove two beautiful sites; Eel Garden and The Dome. Eel garden was bustling and divers came up excited about the sharks and rays that they’d seen on their very first dive! Oh yeah, and a Humpback whale!! The whale was seen from the surface and seemed to be engaged in a ‘valentine’ (the term given to their courting dance). The season is starting and everyone, guests and crew were thrilled to see one of these majestic creatures, even if not close up (join us in the Silverbanks for guaranteed whales!). ‘The Dome’ is the remnants of a large metal dome that was created as part of the French TV show; Pago Pago. The idea was that contestants free dived down into the dome where a large pipe was spitting out pearls to collect. Whilst down there you could trade in one of the bracelets you’d won on previous missions for air. If you were lucky enough to run into a good mermaid she’d give you a breath of her compressed air, if she happened to be a bad one though she’d simply make off with your bracelet and you’d have to find another siren to barter with. Of course breathing compressed air and then bolting to the surface whilst holding your breath isn’t the best plan, and although no one was seriously injured, this show can be accredited for bringing a recompression chamber to the island.
Early Monday morning we moved to Stingray Bay, our newest sight where return guests were delighted to dive a brand new site! It deserves its name as one guest counted not 4, not 5 but 6 stingrays swimming over the sand. We did one dive on this site as it is quite deep, but Rob and his two Advanced students went down and we all had a good laugh when once back on the surface when Rob asked Andrew what he had eaten underwater. A black olive was the suggested answer, and both Andrew and Karina were shocked when Rob told them it was a Cherry tomato! We then moved on to Driveway and Rock Garden Interlude (R.G.I) where we had another 4 fantastic dives. During the dive briefing the word ‘Dolphins’ was shouted and everyone was once again delighted to have 2 of these graceful animals jumping along the side of the boat! Whales and dolphins! What a great start to the week. From Hawksbill turtles toCaribbean Reef sharks to little guys like Peterson cleaning shrimp the reef was alive and bustling. Our night dive at R.G.I most certainly got great reviews from everyone.
Tuesday was a fantastic day with 5 more beautiful dives out at West Caicos. Our dive sites for the day were Elephant Ear Canyon and Spanish Anchor. Elephant Ear Canyon was a delightful dive as the group went out on the search for the infamousBatfish that tends to live near the mooring pin. We found him but not only him. As a group of us swam over the wall to look at a Hawksbill turtle gliding through the water, a massive spotted Eagle ray swooped in from the blue over us and the wall before doing a 180 and soaring back towards the deep. The rest of the dives that day continued in much the same way with sharks, rays and turtles seen on almost every dive. Aluminous Peacock flounder was also up and about, scurrying from coral to coral and changing colour as our Video Pro filmed it. New Years Eve is a special night here on the Aggressor (every night is special really, but this night was unique) as we had our “dive in the New Year midnight dive”… 6 of our most iron willed, determined divers got out of their beds at 11:30 on the 31stJanuary, suited up and jumped in to celebrate the new year underwater. Nick, Karina, Andrew, Jean, Mike and Sofie brought in the New year in style and were greeted with bubbles and warm towels after their dive. Congratulations guys, not many people get to say they spent the countdown underwater!
We started 2014 with a bang and dove Brand wine and Magic Mushroom, two popular sites around West Caicos. Our photographers tried their hand at capturing the elusive Yellow headed Jawfish which although isn’t particularly difficult to see, these shy creatures will disappear into their enclaves as fast as they come out if someone (or something) swims over them. The epitome of macro photo in this area is to capture theJawfish aerating their eggs, a beautiful gesture where they spit out a pod of eggs and then just as quickly suck them back in. Captain Amanda with her amazing eyesight found some great little critters to delight guests with such as Slender Filefish, Headshield slugs, Glass shrimp and Skeleton shrimp. For the discerning diver who likes the little guys diving with Amanda is always a treat.
Thursday saw us move to a site called Gullies at West Caicos where we did 3 fantastic dives. This site is always fun as we challenge our guests to find the garden gnome that lives in a small grotto near a massive Barrel Sponge. Aside from the gnome the dives here are gorgeous, a wall with several gullies cutting down through it leading to an array of thriving hard corals and encrusting sponges. More Eagle rays, sharks and turtles were seen as well as few mating Parrot fish. That afternoon we headed towards North West Point to slowly make our way back to the ‘mainland’ and moored up at a site called Ampitheatre. This turned out to be one of the most popular sites of the week as it is not only topographically interesting with a massive ‘stage’ where different players come out to perform for their viewing audience. Crabs, lobsters, shrimp feed amongst the sponge as sharks swim past in the blue.
Friday morning we moved over to Shark Hotel for our last two dives. They did not disappoint and everyone enjoyed these dives to the max. There was a slight air of sadness as guests began packing away and drying their gear but we had a smooth ride back to Providenciales and after we docked at Turtle Cove Marina a few people chose to go out and explore the island a little and do some shopping. That night at 6pm we had our weekly cheese and wine party where Amanda made the Aggressortoast and Rob handed out the certificates of achievements for the week.
All in all another fantastic week aboard the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II. Thank you for bringing in the new year with us and we hope you had as great a time as the crew.
Till next time, have a fantastic 2014!