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

Turks & Caicos Explorer II, Feb, 2005,

by Bob and Carolyn Smith, MA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 1582.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Bahamas, Belize, New England
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge, noCurrents
Water Temp 75 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 130 Foot Max.; return with 500 lbs minimum; do safety stops;
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large table and rinse tank, towels provided for cameras.

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 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We just spent an enjoyable week as part of the second group of paying passengers on the new Caribbean Explorer II. We had trouble finding the boat, despite an email from the main office two days before with a last minute change of location and an erroneous phone number. They apparently are having trouble accessing dock space with this larger vessel. They were anchored in a large cove, alongside the old Caribbean Explorer, destined for the Bahamas. The crew brought the dinghy over to collect our luggage, and Brian, the engineer, kindly drove us over to Turtle Cove so we could have lunch and wait in the shade until Herbert came to pick us up.

The boat is beautiful, well appointed and nice layout, with roomy state rooms and private ensuite heads with showers. The dive deck is conveniently located just aft of the salon. There is an amply sized camera table and large camera tank, which was a bit too deep. The dive deck is located a few steps down, and there is a place to sit to put on fins and mask. The dive platform is low to the water, making an easy entry, and the ladders are sturdy and easy to climb. Two lines hung off the boat for safety stops. They provided quite a ride when the boat swung around due to wind and/or current.

As it was only in its third week of service, the crew was still shaking down the boat, sometimes discovering problems that affected the passengers, but nothing that couldnt be fixed. The crew was short-staffed by one person, and ended up short by two when Brian became seriously ill with a bad infection that required us to motor back from West Cay so he could be hospitalized. Although the extra work was tough on the crew, they remained cheerful, attentive and ever-helpful throughout the trip.

Captain JF is a knowledgeable and personable captain who did his best to provide us with the best diving possible, but the weather, while not awful, did not work in his favor. This boat swings quite a bit when it is breezy, causing some ascents and safety stops to be a bit challenging. The government also has been slow in providing moorings (which the dive boats apparently would be glad to install themselves), and JF anchored a couple of times, once with disastrous consequences for some huge corals. Apparently he discovered the anchor chain on this boat lays down in the sand more than the old boat did. Hopefully hell stick with moorings in the future, and I would encourage future passengers to request no anchoring.

The dive sites ranged from OK to terrific. The walls are spectacular in their drop-offs. We saw lobsters, crabs, eagle rays, plenty of sharks, turtles, and moray eels, lots of queen angels, queen triggers, and all the beautiful tropicals, and a great variety of soft and hard corals. Water temps ranged from 75 to 77 degrees. Our 3 ml. fullsuits were perfect for this time of year. There were surface currents but only a couple of dives with noticeable current below. Viz was about 70 feet on average, greater over the wall, less in the sandy areas. Some of our most interesting dives were in the shallowsespecially when we poked our heads into a cavern and came eye to eye with a nurse shark that we became frightened, and in turn frightened us when he charged between us to get away!

Stanley was our chef for the week, and made sure we were well fed. He prepared delicious meals and snacks from scratch every day. Almost every time I walked past the galley, he was chopping fresh vegetables. The rest of the crew, Julie, Graham and Mike worked diligently to keep things moving smoothly. A very enjoyable trip!
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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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