Trip Report Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II July 17-24, 2021

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stuartv

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Questions:

What were the water temps on the bottom?

What were people wearing for exposure protection? Was everyone wearing a full wetsuit?

Did it get cool at night? Would it be good to bring some kind of hoodie/windbreaker?

Thanks!
 

DawgFan

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What were the water temps on the bottom?
My family did a land based trip to Provo but we dove the NW Point and West Caicos sites. We saw the Explorer and/or Aggressor at nearby moorings most days. In our 12 dives between July 12 - 23 bottom temps were 82 - 83 Fahrenheit. My older son would wear a 3mm vest on first dive and his full 3mm on second dive most days. The rest of us all wore 3mm full suit on all our dives. None of us were cold on the dives but all of us felt like it was cooler than our computers were showing. It was our first trip in 18 months so it may have been lack of practice.
 
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stronj1

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The water temps were 82 degrees. I was wearing a 3/2ml wetsuit with a lavacore long sleeved shirt underneath and still got cold by the end of the dive. Also, a full wetsuit provides skin protection from stuff floating in the water. I had a shorty that I wore one time before deciding that was not adequate for diving! My husband had a 3ml and was fine with it. Some people did not have a wetsuit at all and I didn't hear them say they were cold. If I had only been doing 2 dives a day I would have been fine with just the wetsuit but my resistance to the cold decreases when doing 5 a day. I wore a hoodie in the dining cabin since the a/c feels cold if you've been in the water a lot.
 
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stronj1

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One other important thing my husband especially liked about this boat is the height of the ceilings. He is 6' 3 1/2" tall and usually comes back from a liveaboard trip with a few dings on his head. This time he was damage free!
 

O-ring

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Water temps were the same in June (I was on Aggressor). Everybody is different so I figured I'd provide another data point. I alternated between a 3mm full and a Lavacore hooded vest paired with Lavacore shorts (kind of like a two piece DIY shorty). I was fine in either. I just wore swimsuits and t-shirts topside and didn't get out the fleece or windbreaker I brought with me. Most of the people on my trip were diving in either shorties or a skin/t-shirt and swimsuit. I was one of the only people in a full wetsuit when I wore my 3mm. Granted, most of the boat was a dive club from Chicago and some folks from Portland so take that for what it is worth..
 

Catito

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Trip Report - Turks & Caicos Explorer II – July 17 – 24, 2021

My husband and I flew from Dallas, Texas to Providenciales on a direct flight on Friday, July 16, 2021 with American Airlines. This was a trip we had originally booked for June 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. We had to take a Covid test within 5 days of departure which we did at our local CVS Pharmacy for no cost. This has now changed to within 3 days. We also had to have travel insurance that included coverage for Covid. We had purchased our trip insurance with Allianz Global Assistance before Covid was a known disease. I called them to ask if we were covered and was told we were and was provided a letter to confirm. Proof of these items was entered into an online travel authorization prior to travel.

We chose to come in a day early because the available Saturday flight times were arriving after the liveaboard boarding time of 3:00 p.m. and the cost to fly on Friday was about $400 less ($200 each). This was enough to pay for our hotel and meals for the extra day and take some of the stress out of possible “day of travel” delay possibilities. We are both retired so using an extra vacation day was not a concern. We stayed at Ports of Call Resort which was an easy walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants.

Explorer Ventures arranged our taxi to the hotel on Friday and the taxi from the hotel to the boat on Saturday though we did have to pay the fares. We arrived at the boat a little before 3:00 p.m. but the crew was ready for us so we were able to board right away.

After boarding, we unloaded our gear that would be used on the dive deck and then were shown to our cabin to unload the rest of our items. There was no room to store suitcases under the bed so once they were empty, they were stored elsewhere on board.

Our room had a queen bed that was against the wall at the head and one side. There was a desk, set of drawers, and drawers under the bed, plus a closet, and in-suite bathroom. The room had its own temperature control and a vacuum flush system for the toilet. These are both great features on a liveaboard and worked very well on this boat.

The meals were all delicious and served buffet style. Masks were only required while going through the buffet. There was generally a sweet, baked snack mid-morning and a savory snack or watermelon slices mid-afternoon. Wine and spirits were provided but no diving allowed after partaking. Hot chocolate was served with or without Caicos Cream after the night dive. The vent for the air compressor had the effect of drying and warming the wetsuits. This was particularly nice prior to suiting up for the night dive.

There were eighteen of us on this trip. Two of the rooms had single occupants so slightly less than the max capacity of twenty guests. All the guests were from various parts of the USA and it was fun to meet all of them.

We had five dives each day (Sunday through Thursday). These were at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. On Friday, we could only get in one dive at 6:00 a.m. before needing to head back to port. I was able to make all 26 dives achieving the Iron Woman award along with five other divers on our boat.

Our dive sites were located in the Northwest Point Marine Park or West Caicos. We were not able to make it to French Cay this trip (we were told only about 20% of the excursions make it there due to wind conditions). We had been to Turks and Caicos on the Aggressor boat before and did not get to French Cay on that trip either. We enjoyed the variety of the dive sites selected. I love to find new critters and take photos so that I can later identify what was found. On this trip, new finds were an orange ball corallimorph, a roughback shrimp, a Cuban aglaja, Berolina’s aglaja, a red-orange ghost shrimp, a palehead blenny, a rusty goby, and a few finds we have rarely seen before including a batfish! Caribbean reef sharks were present on almost every dive. There was some coral disease present on some of the sites.

The crew on this trip was amazingly good. The dive briefings were fun and included costuming (pirates, tutus, Elvis, etc.). I always felt well informed about happenings and procedures.

On Friday after lunch, Covid tests were administered on board. We were provided our negative certificate immediately. I assume it would have been rescinded had it later turned out that was not the case. For those who wanted to go shopping, a 3:00 p.m. taxi ride to the Grace Bay area was provided at no charge, at 5:30 p.m. a taxi ride was provided for the trip to Bistro Bay, a restaurant with open beachfront views. Captain Bob recommended the key lime pie for dessert. This meal was at the guest’s expense as is typical on the other liveaboard trips we have taken. The view, food, and service were great.

On Saturday morning a continental breakfast was provided on board and departure was no later than 9:00 a.m. The taxi was arranged to return us to the airport. This was at each guest’s expense of $23 per person.

We really enjoyed the trip and plan to return again.

Dive briefing for Spanish Anchor complete with pirate costumes!
View attachment 675651 Berolina's aglaja
View attachment 675653 Rough file clam with rusty goby perched upside down above it
View attachment 675654 Orange ball corallimorph during a night dive

View attachment 675655
Roughback shrimp during a night dive (only about 3/4" long) A new find!
View attachment 675657
Red-orange ghost shirmp - another new find for us!
View attachment 675652
Palehead blenny - another new find!
View attachment 675658 Beautiful stove pipe sponges and plate sponges off the wall
View attachment 675662 Common octopus nestled under a coral head during the day!
View attachment 675660 Wire coral shirmp (1/2" long)
View attachment 675659

Thank you. 26 dives in 5 days. Wow.

Does each room have its own bath/shower? Did you ever feel crowded? I am still not sold on live-a boards but you make it sound fun and easy.
 

Catito

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Here are a few more pictures taken during this trip! Hope you enjoy them!

Princess parrotfish
View attachment 675815
Balloonfish

View attachment 675816
Arrow blenny and branching anemone
View attachment 675817
Schoolmasters all lined up!
View attachment 675818
Juvenile spotted drum
View attachment 675819
Barred hamlet
View attachment 675820
Leech aglaja
View attachment 675821
Stareye hermit crab (first time seeing these)
View attachment 675822
Caribbean reef shark with bar jacks
View attachment 675823
Shortnose batfish (second time seeing these!)
View attachment 675824

Great photos!
 

Streydog

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I did this trip January 2020. Our last day was cut to one early morning dive as well. The Captain said he needed to get into the harbour early due to the tides. I wonder how often this happens. We were able to make it to French Cay. The night dive there was probably the best dive with reef and nurse sharks out feeding.
How did the Explorer compare to the Aggressor? I know transporation on Provo is high but paying more than $20 each for short beat up van ride seemed pretty steap. Doesn't the Aggressor include the transportation to and from the airport?
 
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