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|Turks and Caicos|
Turks and Caicos Aggressor, November 1997, Doug Welsch Fennville, MI. Crew met us at the airport, by the time we boarded they had learned our first name. . . . Briefings thorough and detailed. Dives at scheduled times that melded with the planned meal times, though one could dive any time. Typically made two dives in morning, two in afternoon, then a night dive followed by a pitcher of warm water dumped inside your wetsuit to warm you up. Take a wetsuit; you will be well chilled by the end of the week-even with a wetsuit; water: 83' F. Visibility: 80-150+' Crew encouraged safe diving practices, but the rules were like guidelines and not enforced. Generally the divers were well seasoned, so we were pretty much allowed to do our own thing. Everyone dove with computers. (The captain had taken a diver to the chamber during the prior week, which tended to persuade all of us dive conservatively). They do not enforce Buddy diving. If you want to make an early morning or late night dive, a crew member will be available or you can go alone. The rules were dive with a buddy, max depth of 130 feet, each dive was to be 10 feet shallower than the prior dive, back on the boat with 500 psi, one minute safety stop at 15 feet for each ten feet of depth, and no decompression diving. They always hung a bar at 15 feet with a hooka attached to it. . . . Walls start at 40-50 feet, but none of the dramatic overhangs such as off Roatan. Night dives usually on the patch reef and coral heads beneath the boat. The coral in excellent condition, especially away from the mooring. Many channels and chutes leading through the top of the coral wall that made for varied terrain. Entries and exits were made directly off the dive platform in the back, though an inflatable dinghy was available. Currents light; one exception was French Cay-tide was in full swing and the currents were almost unmanageable. One new diver misjudged ran out of air as he reached the hang bar. Saw a pair of eagle rays at 100'. . . . Each diver is assigned a locker under their seat with ample room. Wetsuits and skins hang on hangers. The wind and the sun make it possible to be able to don nearly dry wetsuits on just about every dive. (Annoying rule: no wetsuits or skins were to be worn into the lounge or the sleeping area, which required doffing and donning my wetsuit twenty six times during the course of the week). Camera table adequate with plenty of storage below, but space would be at a premium with a boatload of serious photographers. Had a compressed air gun for drying cameras, though anyone who is a student of Bob Warkentin knows better than to use compressed air on a camera. Plenty of lighting over the table. . . . You mount your BC and regulator on a tank, put on your dive gear, walk to the end of the boat and climb down the ladder to the diving platform, and giant stride into the water. Two fresh water showers on the dive platform; hot towels to dry with (They are simply dried between uses and laundered twice a week, which grossed a few people). Air fills 2900-3000 lbs. The crew waits on you hand and foot, but with minimum interference. . . . Buffet meals-if you weren't on time you got what was left, if any. The crew always waited until the guests had taken what they wanted, and sat with the guests-like being a part of a large family and everyone was made to feel welcome. Food hearty and varied, but not overly creative nor gourmet. Dinners; "Island fish" with rice, vegetables, and lettuce salad. I stick to a low-fat diet, avoiding meat, cheese, and fried foods, described it in detail on the form that each diver fills out when making reservations. The cook, from the islands. had only been hired three weeks prior and had no concept of this kind; made a valiant effort to accommodate my requests, but prepared several chicken or fish-based meals that I couldn't eat because they were fried or covered with cheese. I would have been satisfied with fresh fruit and a green salad, but these were always in short supply. . . . Breakfast: Cream of Wheat alternating with oatmeal, Dried cereals, pancakes or toast, eggs and bacon or sausage. Lunch a hot sandwich or chicken breast, always served with a great homemade soup and fresh bread. Dinner was chicken or fish, sometimes grilled over charcoal, accompanied with rice or potato, vegetable, bread, salad, and a home-baked dessert. Snacks after the morning and afternoon dives, ranging from crackers and cheese to small empinadas. Evening dive was always followed with hot chocolate and some baked goody. . . . Hot tub a nice touch after the last dive of the day; someone would pop the cork on a bottle of wine and we would sit in the afterglow of a great day of diving, sipping a Chardonnay and sharing the experiences. It doesn't get any better than this. (Ph: 800-348-2628 (US) or 504-385-2628, Fax: 504-384-0817,
Sea Dancer, January 1998, James Virgil, Coeur d' Alene, ID. Under the impression that vis would be a lot better. Bad vis could explain lack of spotting larger life. Vis: 60-70 ft. Water: 77-78 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced 130 ft. Boat is old and small, but a great crew and food was excellent. Capt. Ben was the best.(Ph: 800-932-6237 (US/Can) or 305-699-9391, Fax: 305-699-9475, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sea Dancer, January 1998, Adrian and Julie Van Der Kroef, Newtown, CT. Best trip yet. Vis: 50-100 ft. Water: 77-78 degrees. No diving restrictions. Sharks and eagle rays every dive. Lots of tropicals and great diversity. Swam with a whale shark and a humpback whale! Even found a seahorse. Diversity and quantity of fish life was incredible. Boat and crew were great, friendly, helpful and passionate for their profession. Food outstanding. Unforgettable experience.
Sea Dancer, June 1998, Frank Hall and Carole Ott, Floyds Knobs, IN. Reefs start 50 ft+ so limited bottom time. Coral and tropical fish not as abundant as Belize or Little Cayman. Oldest of the Peter Hughes boats; marine heads and smaller rooms (we were in D8). Choose a room on the main deck, at least you have a port hole. Dive operation and service up to Peter Hughes' usual standards. Vis: 60-80 ft, water: 82-84 degrees. The crew went above and beyond to ensure we had an enjoyable week.
Sea Dancer, June 1998, Jim Gibson, Springfield, MO. We dove as a family; live-aboard experience. Great time. Staff friendly and made our vacation special. Group of dolphins and spotted eagle rays at French Cay, large turtles, many sharks and unspoiled coral. Vis: 50-90 feet, water: 82-84 degrees. Briefings succinct and helpful. Ben, the captain, was able and organized.
Sea Dancer. July 1998, John Grimwood, San Diego, CA. Excellent trip. Service and food top notch. Coral healthy, with a good variety of tropical fish, schools of jacks and snappers, and frequent encounters with grouper and large barracuda. Reef sharks and nurse sharks occasionally. Night dives productively; octopi, giant "Channel clinging" crabs (2 ft leg spins), inquisitive nurse shark attracted to our dive lights (we had to turn off our lights to get rid of it). Vis: 50-100 ft, water: 78 degrees. Accommodations cramped, but for $1000/week plus air it was an excellent value. Five dives a day; most of us chose 4 dives day since all is on walls, most of which start at 50-70 ft. Captain and crew for made a great trip.
Sea Dancer, September 1998, Michael McNeill, Portland, OR. Captain and hostess cared only about themselves and winning the photo contest. Our last day was supposed to be a half day, made us dive at 6 a.m. and returned to port at 10 a.m. A/C system cycled all night and hard to sleep. Food was awesome! Vis limited by hurricane one week earlier. Vis: 50-80 ft. Water: 83-85 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced: 130 ft. recommended but not enforced and return with 500 psi.
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