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October 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Turks & Caicos Explorer II

Plenty of fish - - and mysterious gnomes

from the October, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

It had been 500 dives since I was last aboard the Turks & Caicos Explorer II, and I was eager for a repeat. While packing, I decided to leave my out-sized magnifying glass at home, figuring I wouldn't need it. Wrong! On my third day, at Elephant Ear Canyon, the search was on for sea slugs in a large sandy area speckled with sea grass. And behold: a leech headshield slug in its orange, blue and black vertical stripes, not more than half an inch long. Another sea slug nearby had white and black horizontal dots. And there was a white-spotted sea hare, smaller than one inch. Caribbean macro heaven and a great trip. Though the shark that was rudely punched in the snout may not think so.

Turks & Caicos Explorer IIThe 124-foot boat was just as comfortable and clean as I remembered. Ten large, individually airconditioned cabins with bathrooms and sinks can hold 20 divers (six were on this trip.) The cabin configurations include bunks, side-by-side singles separated by a small dresser, and two king-bed master staterooms on the upper deck. My bed was firm and comfortable, with soft sheets. The ride was smooth, thanks to the vessel's stabilizers, although during the French Cay crossings, one queasy fellow spent a lot of time in his bunk.

The seven-member crew created a familyfriendly atmosphere. Ken Kimmey has captained the boat for four-plus years. Mark, the Jamaican engineer, has been aboard four years. Stan, the chef -- forever. Maria, the purser, and dive instructors Simon, Casey and Martin were more recent additions. Three have a history with the theatre, and it showed with their good-natured banter and Martin's wild water entries and dance moves. Maria's quips hinted at her previous career as a stand-up comedian. However, their no-nonsense demeanor took over when it was time to gear up -- they checked equipment, made sure air was on, and carried fins to the dive platform. During the dive briefing, Captain Ken, in his folksy manner, emphasized that this was "our trip" and they were there to make it as good as possible....

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