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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adventures in Turks & Caicos

Ah, we're home. Todd and I had an absolutely lovely week in beautiful Turks and Caicos! We were traveling on our first live aboard (a dive boat where you sleep on board... eat, sleep, dive). Our ship was the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II. What a way to spend my 30th birthday!!! After all, how many people can say they were on the ocean floor swimming with sharks as they turned 30?


The ship

Each day went something like this: wake up around 6:30am. Breakfast was at 7:00am. At 8:00am, we would have our first dive - get on the deck and put on your gear and jump in! At 10:00am, second dive at the same site as the first dive. Lunch was served at 12:30pm, and that is when the ship would move to its next location. The third dive was at 3:00pm, and the fourth was at 5:00pm (both of those at the same site). Dinner was served at 6:30pm and then there was a night dive at 8:00pm. Most days, Todd and I did 4 dives. Thursday, Todd did 5 (he did the 5:00 dive with our friend Matt) and on Thursday both of us did all 5 dives. The ship posts a captain's log each week around Tuesday or Wednesday and I'll post it once I see it.


Reading on deck (I'm actually reading the book my friend Katie wrote)


Me, as I jump off of the ship

Between dives, we rested on the ship. I read a novel and took a lot of naps. Todd also read a book and also took an Underwater Photography Workshop. His photos are looking awesome and you can really see a lot of progress during the week.


Todd photographing a Lion Fish at Le Dome

On Monday, I celebrated my 30th birthday on board the ship. Ronnie (the ship's cook) made me a lovely cake, but the candles wouldn't light because of the winds on the deck. It was a great way to turn 30 - underwater 4 times earlier in the day and then having "Happy Birthday" sung to you with a tropical sunset in the distance. :)


Me and my cake


Birthday Party

We met some awesome people on the trip. We met our friends, Matt and Ellen, down there. Also joining us were people from Arizona, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon (did I miss someone?). We had a great time getting to know everyone.



Ellen and Matt

Friday, we pulled into port in Providenciales. Todd and me, along with Bill, Gary, Terry and Georgia, went into Provo to do some shopping. Todd bought me a lovely mother of pearl necklace, which I don't have a photo of because my camera battery charger was sadly left in Orlando at Easter. We all had dinner on our own that night. We had dinner at Baci with Ellen and Matt. We met up with some of the rest of the group at the Tiki Hut later, but ended up heading back to the ship for cake (it was Greg and Charlene's anniversary).


Bill and Todd, acting goofy in Provo.

Diving Highlights!
So, you want to hear about the diving? No problem!!

We dove around Providenciales on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, we made our way over to West Caicos (an uninhabited island, for now), and dove there. Our first dive was at Rock Garden Interlude. This was where the crew first brought out a little pyramid that had fish heads locked in it. Sharks could smell the fish but not get to it, so right away two reef sharks were circling. The real fun with the bait pyramid was the next day (my birthday!!) at G-Spot, where as many as 5 reef sharks and 1 nurse shark were circling. They got very, very close to us, one even ran into my fin. Todd got some photos and I had an interesting encounter with a yellowtail snapper who wanted to stare at me directly into my mask and kiss me on my cheek.


Me and a Lobster in the Lobster Condo

The interesting thing with Turks and Caicos is that Lionfish are pretty prevalent. They're a Pacific fish but have been showing up in the Caribbean and Atlantic more and more (ballast water?). We saw quite a few, including a very large one at Le Dome.

On Wednesday, the shark scenter device was out again at Gullies and there were 2-3 reef sharks circling around. On our second dive there, the device was opened and the sharks were allowed to feed. There was a swim through/canyon right next to us and the Grouper would steal the fish and go into the swim through to hide from the sharks. Now, I love swim throughs. We'd been through this swim through on an earlier dive, but after the sharks had cleared the area, I decided to go down into it again and investigate the holes and tunnels in it with my flashlight. I figured I wouldn't bother anyone and the sharks were gone, so I was clear. Off I went into the swim through. Off to the right there was a large hole and I could see fish in it - grouper and snapper and wondered what was in it. I clicked on my flashlight to shine it into the hole and... SHARK. SHARK swimming quickly towards my head and into the swim through. I gasped and jumped back - or as best as you can jump in water. He passed me and left me unharmed, and swam up and out of the swim through. I looked up and there was Todd hovering above the swim through... laughing his ass off. That was a scary encounter with a shark for certain.

On a night dive, we saw a nudibranch, finally. He had been looking for once since our trip to Bonaire last year. Well, I was the one who found it, but I was assisted by advice from Captain Scott.

I was attacked by a Damsel fish and a Banded Coral Shrimp who thought I was too much into his cleaning station. Besides that and the shark encounter, no run ins with vicious fish.

A wonderful trip!! Todd has some underwater photos to show, and I'll be posting a link to them on my private blog once he's done with them and has handed them over (there is at least one great photo of me with a shark). We have a DVD of the trip as well, which we're of course happy to show off. :)

For now, here are some more of Amanda's photos (Amanda was the ship's photographer and 2nd Captain!):


Kim and Todd underwater


Topside, before a dive

Turks and Caicos 2008 - Amanda's Photos


Turks and Caicos 2008 - Topside (My photos)

2 comments:

Sandra said...

Sounds great, can't wait to see more pics.

Lyss said...

Looks amazing! Can't wait to see/hear more! So jealous!

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