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April 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Oasis Divers, Osprey Beach Hotel, Grand Turk, BWI

an old haunt revisited after the long lay-off

from the April, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

Having fond memories from 25 years ago of diving with Oasis Divers and Everette, its owner, I wanted to return to replenish my treasured memories. After all, Grand Turk has a great wall just a few hundred feet offshore, calm waters, and lovely people. Yet, as the trip neared an end, I recalled an Agatha Christie quote: "You can never go back . . . one should never try to go back."

The Beach at Osprey Beach HotelThe two years of COVID-19 caused many worldwide dive operators to slow their activities, hibernate, fall into a coma . . . . or even disappear. Now that those who survived are getting back on the road, a diver can expect a few speed bumps, as I discovered in February on Grand Turk.

On my first dive, I joined divemasters Mackey and Jason on the sand at 30 feet under the boat. In 100-foot visibility, we dropped over the edge of the spectacular wall. Eighty feet down, I watched two hunters with Hawaiian slings each spear a lionfish. One, two, and then three gray reef sharks glided around the corner of a huge coral monolith and made a couple of passes, getting within 30 feet of the hunters. They then dropped the fish, and the sharks scooped them up. Those who hunt lionfish say the fish make distress sounds when speared. Sharks, sensitive to these sounds or vibrations, appear from nowhere.

I went up to the shallows at 30 feet to coral reefs interspersed with sand patches and lots of small reef fish. The coral was only in fair shape, but sizeable healthy sea fans and soft corals added interest. Reef squid schooled in midwater, a couple of turtles visited, as did a large barracuda. Garden eels rose from their holes, scouting for morsels, while tilefish hovered in the water around their holes. We enjoyed poking around in the shallow, sandy seagrass areas. I watched a small octopus wander around the mooring, then began to surface 50 minutes after the start of the dive.

During the dive, my air tasted slightly strange. After the dive, others talked about a strong taste, motor oil vapor, they thought, and noted that their cylinders had been overfilled to 3900 psi or more. Mine was 3500 psi. We told Dale, the dive shop manager, who immediately had all cylinders loaded on a truck and carried away to the compressor, wherever it was (it was not at the dive shop). Whatever the cause -- poorly monitored fills, the lack of proper maintenance, or limited use during the past two years -- the rest of the week, the tanks were filled to 2900 psi to 3200 psi, and the air was tasteless....


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