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St Maarten
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
TRIP REPORT: Turks & Caicos Explorer II
Trip date: January 2 - this first trip of 2021!

Saturday: We have 16 guests board this week. After a welcome briefing, we got straight to dinner and headed off to West Caicos.

Sunday: We chose Boat Cove for the first dive of the trip and guests' introduction to West Caicos. After helping divers with gear and proper weighting, the group dropped down to the reef and were immediately greeted by our resident reef sharks, and one diver found a huge channel crab sitting on a ledge. In the afternoon we moved to one of our favorite spots, Spanish Anchor. Always a crowd-pleaser with the little (actually it’s pretty big) piece of history jammed into the reef. A nice green turtle was seen posing in the sand and divers got a great picture. Six divers headed out after dinner for the first night dive of the trip and were rewarded with huge lobsters and a few eels.

Monday: Pancake day! Can’t go wrong with a tasty breakfast and a beautiful sunrise. Day two at West Caicos took us to Magic Mushroom for the first two morning dives. It’s a great site with lots of small coral heads scattered under the boat home to tiny critters. Coral banded shrimp and some neck crabs were spotted as well. The afternoon was at The Gully which provides a beautiful cut in the reef leading out to the wall. An octopus was out and about feeding and was the star of the night dive. Once everyone was out of the water we headed to Northwest Point.

Tuesday: At Northwest Point we visited Thunder Dome first, a favorite for photographers. We put on the video showing the old game show to show what the dome used to look like in one piece. Colorful schooling grunts and snappers covered the wreck and some small crabs were found hidden away. Afternoon at Shark Hotel and though we saw a few reef sharks, no sleeping nurse sharks from which the site was named. There are numerous branching anemones on that site and a great spot for little shrimp to hang out like the squat anemone shrimp and spotted cleaner shrimp. After the sun went down divers went in for the second-night dive and they got to see another octopus out and about on the reef.

Wednesday: After a good nights sleep we took the divers to Amphitheater. With the way the wind was going we had a bit of a swim to the wall however that gave divers a chance to check out some small stuff in the sand. Lots and lots of yellow-headed jawfish were peeking out of their burrows along the way. It seems to be a week of sharks and turtles because a few more were seen on the morning dives. The weather was flat calm so we were able to check out Two-Step, a site that we normally don’t visit. Guests had fun doing a site that is not on our normal itinerary but unfortunately, the visibility was a bit dusty. As the winds and waves picked up we decided to move to Eel Garden for the final two dives of the day. The shark/turtle party continued with two hawksbills and three reef sharks that popped up right at the end. The streak was broken for the night dive with no octopus sighted but everyone enjoyed it anyway (and especially the hot chocolate after). As soon as divers were up with picked up our lines and headed back to West Caicos in search for some calmer seas.

Thursday: We woke up with a bit of rocking and rolling going on but that didn’t stop us from two great morning dives at Brandywine. A large free-swimming eel made everyone happy on the first dive and the second one Stephanie got some amazing close-up pictures of fairy basslets and squirrelfish. We were off to French Cay during lunch to dodge the building swell. Tied up to G-Spot for the afternoon and night dive. A few sharks escorted the divers back to the boat after the fourth dive and the night dive had the usual group of nurse sharks and reef sharks actively hunting while our divers hovered above.

Friday: Started off bright and early with a bunch of sleepy divers hitting the water at 6am to watch the reef wake up. There were a few sharks still out hunting and some parrotfish snoozing safe in their cocoons. Everyone got one last dive on Rock N’ Roll before we packed up and headed back to the marina.

We had a wonderful week!

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