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Dive Review of T&C Explorer II in
Turks and Caicos

T&C Explorer II, May, 2007,

by Donna Teach, OH, USA . Report 3353.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Logged about 300 dives in various carribean and Pacific locations including Cozumel, Grand Caymen, Bonaire, Hawaii, Chuk, Palau, Yap, Etc...
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 81 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Very flexible. Max bottom time 70 minutes. No minimum air requirments for surfacing but bottom time and remaining air were logged by crew after every dive. Solo diving was allowed under guidelines
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The reefs at T&C were pristine and rich with colorful soft corals, sponges and the full range of tropical fish. Large Pelagics were not too abundunt but approachable turtles on many sites. No serious camera buffs on our trip so hard to comment on the crews capabilities but they seem to be accomodating of any photographers needs. Took home some great fish portraits, reef portraits and little critter shots.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The T&C Explorer II was retro-fitted in Feb. 2007. Although not at the very top of our list of live-aboard experiences the diving was stellar, the boat is comfortable, the crew is accomodating, and the food was fabulous(thanks to the infamous "Stan" who has been a live-aboard chef for over 20 years). Reefs are healthy and fish life is abundant. This is not high-adrenaline diving but a great respite in the Carribean. Our cabin (#1) was roomy with a standing dresser, closet and more storage under the queen-size bed. We only used a tiny portion of the available storage. The bathroom was usual size with the typical small shower but thankfully a well-flushing toilet (never to be discounted on a live-aboard!). An in-room thermostat was a great plus and we were able to keep the room at just-right temperatures all week (another plus on a live-aboard). The retro-fit must have been to engine and equiptment because although our cabin was clean and well-maintained it did show some wear. There was also a TV/DVD player in our room. The Explorer is large for a live-aboard with cabins on three decks. The top fly-deck was covered and great for afternoon shade, there was a sun deck with comfortable loungers for sun worshipers and the salon and dive deck were one level down. A few cabins and crew quarters were one deck below the salon. The boat accomodates 20 divers but there were only 14 during our week so we all had plenty of room to spread out. Again, plenty of storage space on the dive deck for everyone's gear with Nitrox available on board. After putting on dive gear, we walked down a few steps to the dive platform. The platform was large and could comfortably allow four divers to put on fins and take a giant stride into the water. Crew was always on hard to check gear and hand down cameras. The ladders on the boat were among the best I've seen and make water exits very easy. A crew member was always in the water to offer a guided tour or you were free to go on your own. The day's schedule was published every morning with five dives offered; two morning, two afternoon and one evening dive. The week's weather was varied with scattered rain showers but Captain Pierre did a great job in avoiding rain to find stellar dive sites. Good conditions allowed diving at French Caye and West Sand Spit (altough visibility at this site was poor due to the tides). During my last trip to T&C we saw Eagle Rays on nearly every dive but that was not our experience this trip (just one ray siting all week). Although the reefs were incredibly healthy, there were few large pelagics for us (but that is always the luck of the draw). There are few sites in the region that we've seen recently that are this pristine. Blue and Purple sea anemonoes, giant barrel sponges, black coral, fan coral. The walls and reefs were packed with life and great photo opps abounded. We spent most dives over T&C's deep walls that were packed with lobsters, eels and tons of Juveniles - I spotted juvi spotted drums on more than 8 sites. Captain Pierre also accomodated the group with a drift dive off of French Caye with some of the best visibility of the trip (but still no big critters). We did have several shark sitings throughout the week and the sharks were not shy - often circling close enough for good photo opps - some reef sharks appeared in the 6-8 foot range and several nurse sharks were seen as well. The water temp was so comfortable I wasn't cold once all week - even with night diving. The night diving was very comfortable with pitchers of hot water down the wet suit and hot chocolate awaiting the group after surfacing. I would be remiss if I didn't comment that T&C Exploter has one of the best Chefs out there - Stan has been in live-aboard gallies for over 20 years ( we first met him on the Sea Dancer) and he knows how to keep a crew and guests well-fed (and he makes it look easy). The food and snacks were fabulous all week. The crew on the Explorer was welcoming and we truly felt it was "our boat" for the week. One challenge for the Explorer (and all live-aboards in T&C) are the marinas - channels are very shallow running into the marinas and the live-aboards cannot sometimes get into harbor. This means taking zodiacs out from the dock to the boat with all luggage in tow. We were able to board in the harbor but had to use a Zodiac to return to shore at the end of the week. Again, the crew worked to reduce guest hassles but this is definately a bit of a pain. Thank you to Erica, Steve, Blue, Jim, Guy, Chef Stan and Captain Pierre for a great week. We would recommend and return to the Explorer.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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