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Diving the Turks & Caicos Islands November 6, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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Providenciales (known locally as “Provo”) is not the only place to dive in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and is likely not the best spot, but from Toronto, it is definitely the easiest to get to as it is served by direct Air Canada flights.

We stayed at a condo hotel on the beach called the Ocean Club. Because the deal wasn’t all-inclusive, we took food, wine and coffee with us so we wouldn’t have to go out for 3 meals a day, which I find a waste of time and money. We didn’t rent a car, which makes things a bit limiting as you need to get around the island to go to restaurants and so on, but we made do with taxis. The nice thing about the resort was that Grace Bay Beach is one of the best in the Caribbean.

The dive operator, Caicos Adventures is run by ex-French Navy diver Philippe “Fifi” Kunz, who goes nowhere without his little dog. He picks up the divers himself at the resorts, and also captains the boat. I booked 13 dives for the week, which drove my wife a little crazy, and also ended up signing up for the PADI Enriched Air Diver Course, which I put to use right away. The bus took us to the marina on this incredibly steep and bumpy road, but we always made it.

Getting to the dive sites usually took 45 minutes to an hour. Most of the diving around Provo is wall diving (my first time doing this) and the routine was to swim along the wall and against the current until down to 1500 PSI, and then back on top of the wall to return to the boat with the current. As I usually had a fair bit of air left, I’d then hang around below the boat until my air was down to 500 PSI or so.

The first dive, on November 20th, 2005, was also my first on my new computer, regulator and BC. By 10 we were off French Cay at a place they called Rock and Roll. The dives were perfect for computer diving. The first was to a maximum of 84 feet, and an average of 51. This dive was my first shark sighting (a black-tipped reef shark). The guides took plastic soft drink bottles with them and rubbed them between their hands to make a low frequency sound that they said attracted the sharks. I also noted a tiger tail sea cucumber in my log book.

The afternoon dive, at French Key Garden, was not quite as deep at 73 feet maximum, and my bottom time was over an hour still with 700 PSI left in the tank. My brand new Seaquest Raider BC was difficult to get used to, and was also leaking badly. I discovered that evening that the inflator was not screwed all the way into the BC, and tightening it up fixed the problem. I also tried using the trim weights, which are wrapped around the tanks and found myself too top-heavy for comfort. The BC also had some loose straps that I figured out over the week, so my comfort with it improved from day to day.

I didn’t take any photographs that day. I had bought a housing for my little Pentax Optio S5i before I left, but unfortunately I left the camera in my hotel room. It was probably for the best as I was still getting used to the rest of my new gear.

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