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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
21-28 July 2018
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 78° - 84° F
Water temperature: 82°F
Visibility: 75+ feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Chace Gadreau
Chef: Caleb Dudley
Instructor/video pro: Kenley Williams
Rick & Inessa, Chris & Dennis, Walt & Elizabeth, Melissa & Mike, Cindee & Charlie, Sharon & Rick, Steve & Mary, Rick, Steve, Dave
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Pinnacles, Grace Bay & Amphitheater, NW Point
Monday: The Dome, NW Point & Boat Cove, West Caicos
Tuesday: Driveway & Spanish Anchor, West Caicos
Wednesday: Gullies & Magic Mushroom, West Caicos
Thursday: Elephant Ear Canyon, West Caicos & Eel Garden, NW Point
Friday: Shark’s Hotel, NW Point
We shoved off the dock at first light on Sunday and made the short hop over to Pinnacles in Grace Bay. A beautiful site characterized by long coral canyons that lead out towards the dropoff, this made an excellent way to start off our week of diving. Our divers enjoyed huge lobsters, baby reef sharks, and schools upon schools of colorful juvenile fishes circling in the shallows. Over lunch, we shifted along to Amphitheater around at the Northwest Point of Providenciales. The wall here is much more dramatic and features a dramatic circular cutout from which the site gets its name. We had several friendly hawksbill turtles that allowed us to get up close and personal while they meandered along the reef crest enjoying their lunch. In addition to the turtles, we had our usual friendly reef sharks and yellow-headed jawfish.
First thing on Monday, we made a short hop down the line to The Dome. A site that owes its notoriety to a dome structure built for a French reality TV show back in 80’s. Though the dome itself has been rearranged by hurricanes, the site is a fantastic spot to explore. The dome itself is covered in old worm tubes, which are home to secretary blennies, while the inside of the dome provides protection for schools of grunts and schoolmasters. Our friendly resident seahorse eluded us this week, but almost exactly in its place we found an adorable juvenile trunkfish! About the size and shape of a marble, this tiny fish provided endless entertainment for our macro photographers while the rest of the divers continued to explore the dome and the nearby coral nursery. While everyone feasted on another delicious lunch from Chace and Caleb, we transited further South down to West Caicos. Our afternoon began with a lovely meander down the walls of Boat Cove, a site named for the nearby small boat landing on West Caicos. It was a relaxing afternoon full of reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, and more macro life than you can shake a stick at. The night dive was no different. The black jacks were out in force keeping the divers company, and our brave fluoro divers spotted several peacock flounder, which are particularly exciting as they fluoresce a brilliant orange under the UV light.
Tuesday morning, we continued further south along the ironclad shore of West Caicos to Driveway, where we had some awesome critter encounters. An octopus was out playing in the sand, a real rarity for the daytime. Just the octopus would have been enough to make the dive, but we had scorpionfish, big cuberra snapper, friendly reef sharks, green morays, and more than I have space to list! Over lunch, we shifted all the way to the southern end of West Caicos to Spanish Anchor, where an old anchor sits wedged in the top of a swim-through at the wall’s crest. The sites boasts the numerous friendly reef sharks that West Caicos is known for, in addition to some excellent macro life including neck crabs and slender filefish.
As we come to the middle of our week, we moved back North to Gullies, a site with several dramatic gullies that cut through the crest of the wall that make for excellent photo opportunities. The site is home to Sully, a pregnant reef shark, who is a regular visitor on our dives. Today was no different, Sully and her entourage of male escorts kept our divers company during a nice relaxing meander along the wall. To celebrate the beautiful weather, Chace grilled up a delicious meal of burgers and hot dogs, which we heartily enjoyed as the boat shifted up the coast to Magic Mushroom. Here the shallows are full of scattered coral heads, so one can have a lovely dive without ever leaving sight of the boat! One of the highlights of the dive is a massive pinnacle of coral in the shallows that has been dubbed the Lobster Hotel. Standing at 12 feet high, the pinnacle is packed with huge spiny lobsters, and this week there was a juvenile smooth trunkfish as well. Having gone several months without seeing one, to find two in one week is truly special!
For our last full day of diving, we started at Elephant Ear Canyon, a favorite site among many of the crew. The sandy expanse beneath the boat is home to many elusive macro critters, such as flapping dingbats, headshield slugs, and many more. The wall is truly stunning as well, with beautiful Condylactis anemones, massive elephant ear sponges, and of course our friendly reef sharks. On return to the boat, the stingrays swooping back and forth in the sand provided much amusement during the safety stop. Over lunch, we shifted back to the northwest point of Providenciales to a site known as Eel Garden. Here the top of the wall is rather shallower, and is full of interesting nooks and crannies home to spotted morays, scorpionfish, and several friendly Nassau grouper. On top of that, there is wide expanse of sand below the boat full of garden eels and all manner of other critters. In addition to being an excellent daylight dive, Eel Garden is a fantastic spot for night dives. The wall was full of roaming channel clinging crabs, reef sharks, ocean triggerfish, and spiny lobsters. We found eels of all shapes and sizes and many different species of shrimp.
On Friday morning, the timing of the tides for entry into the marina made it necessary to move the first dive early. Our brave few splashed at six am into the water at Shark’s Hotel, where they enjoyed a lovely meander down the wall. Dawn dives are always special as we get a chance to see the reef slowly coming to life as the fish begin to come out of all their hidey holes. On the second dive, the sharks were out in force as they weaved back and forth right in the midst of the divers. After the gear had been rinsed and we were underway, everyone relaxed while showed his movie commemorating the week. As always, we celebrated the end of the charter in true Aggressor style with a wine and cheese party on the sun deck where we reminisced about the week gone by and presenting certificates for the achievements.
Congratulations to Dave, Steve, and Mike, our iron divers for the week! Also congratulations to Mike for finishing his open water dives and his nitrox course and to Dave for completing his PADI fluorescence diver course. We also celebrated Rick for reaching his 50th anniversary of being SCUBA certified.