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Dive Review of Turks & Caicos Explorer II in
Turks and Caicos/Provo, W. Caicos, French Cay

Turks & Caicos Explorer II, Mar, 2009,

by Greg White, IL, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 4781.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Extensively throughout Caribbean and Central America, some in California and Hawaii.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 76 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100 to 200 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We have previously done Grand Turk, but wanted to try a different area of Turks & Caicos, so a liveaboard seemed like the best option. We were a little worried about damage after last year's hurricanes, but we saw no damage that we could definitely attribute to those hurricanes, which apparently hit Grand Turk much harder than the other areas of T&C.

The T&C Explorer II is a relatively comfortable boat and Jean-Francois and his crew do an excellent job. Everyone seemed to honestly enjoy his or her job and interacted well with the passengers. We were told that several people were filling in for others who were off that week, but we didn't notice any problems - they never missed a beat. My only concern was when we were told that David, an Englishman, would be filling in for the cook. Knowing the reputation that English cooking has, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I needn't have worried. David had apparently been a professional chef before, and his cooking was outstanding. Not only did he bake a different kind of fresh bread every day, but he prepared outstanding vegetarian entrees for my wife and me, who are vegetarians. All mechanical systems on the boat seemed to function well for the entire week. If there were any problems, we were never aware of them.

We were the only outsiders in with a group organized by a dive shop from South Carolina, but it was a diverse group with some folks from Ohio and others from Texas. All were friendly and made us feel welcomed. The crew initiated a game in which a rubber ducky was hooked onto someone's dive gear while we were underwater. Whoever had the ducky after the last dive of the week supposedly had to buy beers for everyone. This game kept us amused all week as we tried to find more devious ways to transfer the duck without getting caught. It was also a great ice breaker and helped us get to know one another.

One aspect of the T&C Explorer II, which has been mentioned by others, is that it swings a very wide arc at anchor. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that almost wherever you go on the dive site, you can be sure the boat will eventually swing over your location. This can eliminate a lot of searching for the boat. On the other hand, it can seem like an awfully long time waiting for the boat to swing back over your spot if you're cold and ready to get out. Also, doing a safety stop on the hang line can be either a real adventure as you take a high-speed tour of the reef, or a challenge trying to maintain constant depth as the line tries to whip you up to the surface.

The diving was good but not great. Diving around Northwest Point and West Caicos was generally undistinguished, although we did see some reef sharks and lionfish, but the reefs were covered with a thick layer of green algae. This area is known as a migratory path for whales, and we did see several on the surface, but never any underwater. Diving at French Cay, where we spent the last two days, was much better than the other locations, with a greater variety of life and none of the green algae. The overall diving would have been much better if the entire trip could have been spent at French Cay.

The only thing I wish I had done differntly would be to bring a heavier wetsuit. We knew water temperatures would be a bit cool, but I thought my usual 3 mil with hooded vest would be okay, but it wasn't enough. Some people wore 7 mils and were still cold, so a heavier wetsuit is a definite must in this area at this time of year.
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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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