Trip Report Aqua Cat- May 15-22 2021

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Redfoot

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Great detailed report - my husband and i leave in 2 weeks on the Aqua Cat.

I have a few questions. In 2019 we did the Cat Ppalu which was exactly perfect for us - only 12 divers/4 staff, we wernt excited to do the Aqua Cat iniitally bc we think it may be a little too luxurious for us but was only option we could get for this July (and still a little nervous as we are more pensione/agriturismo type travelers - not fancy hotel types haha) but your review help me relax a bit about it.

DRYING CLOTHES: on the cat ppalu we hung our clothes/towels to dry on the boat line deck secured with clips... is that okay on the aqua cat? should i pack my clips?

ARRIVAL TIME: says the boat says board at 6pm- when should we arrive 4pm? 3pm? we're arriving friday am and staying at the Towne hotel friday night/hopefully dinner at Brother Eddies (funky hidden gem in the fish fry area) which we loved last time so can be there whatever time saturday.

ATTIRE: On the Cat Ppalu we were basically in swim suits, t's, sleep/loungewear... very relaxed, no makeup, no one dressed up. I had one sundress and fit all my gear/clothes in my xs scuba carryon bag, warm water fins strapped to my backpack, very simple, no need to check anything. Is this the same on the Aqua Cat? what can i expect?

Thanks for the additional recon in advance - greatly appreciated.

Thanks! You are going to have a great trip and the boat/crew are awesome.


The new location of the Aquacat is the Bay Street Marina, which is in Nassau, and not on Paradise Island.

https://www.baystreetmarina.com/

Hoag and Living covered many of the questions, I would add that the crew allowed us to drop our gear and use the facilities on the dive deck, but they made it fairly clear that you could not hang out there until boarding. There is a small pool and some chairs/loungers very near to the boat that are open for use. I had lunch at the Green Parrot and then sat around the pool and got to know the other guests on the boat. A few people walked around Nassau, but most of the stores are closed without the cruise ships, and they said it was a waste of time.

There is plenty of space for hanging gear above your station on the dive deck, on the railings of both open air decks and in your cabin. Oddly, I was one of the only people who shuffled swimsuits and dried out my stuff in between dives, but there are all sizes of clamps available for use (stored under the camera table), so you don't have to bring them if you don't want to.

Everybody wore swimsuits, t-shirts and went barefoot the entire week. There is the captains dinner on Thursday night and cocktail reception on Friday night, a few people got a little dressed up, but it was not required by any means.

I hope you have a great time and make sure do to a trip report when you get back-
 

Redfoot

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Good trip report!

You mention overall the reefs didn't seem to be in good shape, what other diving have you done where you'd consider the reefs to be in better shape with better fish life?

What types of sharks did you see and how long/close were the sightings, strictly speaking outside of the feeding dive.

What type of dive profiles was pretty typical for the week and what bottom times?

Thanks!

I have been diving in Cayman Brac, West Palm Beach, FL and Turks and Caicos. I would say the quality of coral and fish life are in that order, with WPB having more variety of creatures, but Brac having the best overall reefs, fish life, visibility and ease of diving. I loved T & C (Aggressor) because of the friendly turtles, sharks and walls, but the coral was not as vibrant. The Bahamas reefs are suffering from warm water algae growth, bleaching and damage from boats/overfishing. The crew is very transparent about this on the Aquacat, and the DM's would point out areas that were especially hard hit.

We saw Caribbean reef and Nurse sharks on almost every dive. No tigers or hammerheads, but they do have rare sightings of both. The sharks swim very close to divers, but in a calm and docile manner. Often they circle under boat in it's shadow, and can be seen throughout the entire dive.

We did many shallow sites, as we had 3 newly certified divers on the boat. They ask you to surface with 500 psi, and keep dives under 1 hour. On the shallow sites, I did the full hour and would surface with 1k still in the tank- these dives were literally one long safety stop on a shallow reef. We also did 2 drift dives, and a few deeper walls that would have a more square profile. I did +50 minutes on most dives except for the dawn dive (I was cold!) and one of the deep walls, where my buddy blew through his gas fairly quick.
 

Hoag

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Thanks! You are going to have a great trip and the boat/crew are awesome.


The new location of the Aquacat is the Bay Street Marina, which is in Nassau, and not on Paradise Island.

https://www.baystreetmarina.com/
I think I read in a previous post that there was work being done in Hurricane Hole Marina. Do you know if this new location is permanent, or is it a temporary location while work is being done in Hurricane Hole marina?

Also, for @Itsabeachthing if you contact the folks at the Aquacat, you might be able to make arrangements (or at least you could) for the shuttle to stop at your hotel on the way to the Aquacat from the airport. There may or may not be a minimal charge for this. (When they picked me up at the British Colonial Hilton, there was no charge as long as they could do it on a run in which the were picking someone up at the airport. If I wanted a shuttle just for me, there would have been a charge.)
 

Redfoot

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I do not know if this new location is permanent- I believe I heard the crew saying it was drastically cheaper than Hurricane Hole, so if that is true, I would imagine they stay here.
 

Skeptic14

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We saw Caribbean reef and Nurse sharks on almost every dive. No tigers or hammerheads, but they do have rare sightings of both. The sharks swim very close to divers, but in a calm and docile manner. Often they circle under boat in it's shadow, and can be seen throughout the entire dive.

Thanks for the detailed response!

I've seen sandbar, bull, reef and nurse sharks diving but only the nurse sharks have provided a decent photo opp to this point. Despite reef conditions, the opportunity (outside of feeding dives) to encounter and photo reef sharks is appealing to me.

Would you say T&C or this LOA was better for reef shark encounters?
 

Hoag

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... Would you say T&C or this LOA was better for reef shark encounters?
Of the two choices, I would personally recommend the Turks and Caicos Explorer III (TCX3) based out of Provo TCI. On that LOB, you will see Caribbean Reef Sharks every day and on some days, possibly on every dive. I have personally found the waters around TCI to be very "sharky", much more so than even the areas that the Aquacat frequents (the "Foot" of Eleuthra and the Exumas).

The sharks in TCI tend to be comfortable around divers and are curious often coming over to say "Hi".

On the Aquacat, you will be almost certain to see Caribbean Reef Sharks at specific sites, but on the TCX3, you stand a good chance of seeing sharks at most dive sites.
 

Redfoot

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I agree with Hoag- look at T & C liveaboard diving (Aggressor or Explorer) if you want virtually guaranteed reef and nurse shark time. I thought the turtles (green and hawskbill) were much more friendly as well.

Here is my trip report from the T & C Aggressor (2019)

Turks & Caicos Aggressor 4/7 to 4/13
 
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WOW! just got back from an amazing trip and appreciated all that responses - and yes it was incredibly luxurious (even being in cabin 11 we had our own big bathroom/shower, unlimited hotwater, they clean your cabins/make your bed daily and toast your toast for you haha - now thats what i call super luxurious) will be doing a trip report soon but gearing up for my cat ppalu citizen scientist trip aug 13 so a bit crazy. i did post a question about getting a sealife dive sport housing in the camera section if anyone wants to help with that haha (trying to buy and get it shipped to me before aug 10). also how do i put the red trip report next to my post when im ready? thank you all again for all the insight, tips and info - you guys are great! so happy i found this board but with so much info/comminuties its easy to get lost here .
 
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