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Scuba Diving in the Turks and Caicos: Conclusion November 13, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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Following my first day of diving with my new gear, I settled into 6 full days of great diving, much to the annoyance of my wife. The worst for her was the 3 tank dive and the Nitrox course, both of which kept me away until after 5pm. Good sport that she usually is, being alone for the entire day is not her preferred way of spending a holiday, so she was understandably upset. These days we find it hard to beat Cozumel, as I can be picked up at the hotel dock between 8:30 and 9:00, do two hour-plus dives, and still be back in time for lunch at one. My wife is then quite content to read a book on the beach all morning, knowing that I’ll be around for the rest of the day.

Day 2 at TCI was at West Caicos, with two plus 80 foot dives to Gorgonia Reef and (what looks in my log book like) Orange Wall. This latter dive was my first sighting of a sea turtle in the Caribbean, and also my the first time I let my computer go into mandatory decompression, although it was only a one minute obligation. Towards the end of the dive I was hanging around below the boat waiting taking pictures and I saw that my time was almost up. I then saw something I wanted to photograph and not-so-accidentally let the computer exceed the NDL. I think I just wanted to see what it would do. While the computer called for a 10 foot stop, I stopped at 15, did my time plus a 3 minute safety stop, and surfaced.

The visibility on Day 3 was excellent like the previous dives. I wrote 60-80 feet in my log book, which made me very happy. The locations were called “Tons of Sponge” and “Ken’s Wall”, although I didn’t note anything else about the locations. Ken’s wall had some current which I noted. On one of the dives that week, we had a strong current that we had to fight to get back to the boat. We usually arranged the dives to be with the current upon our return, and I don’t know why this one was different. I was with two other divers and one, getting a bit low on air and anxious, powered his way back towards the boat. I didn’t try to catch up, but kept a steady pace and stayed as close to the bottom as I could, where the current was weaker, returning with plenty of air.

We also spotted (pardon the pun) Eagle Rays on both dives. These are beautiful fish, although hard to photograph well because they don’t come very close.

Day 4 was the Nitrox Certification dives. As I mentioned in my post about the course, these were just like ordinary dives. I did follow the wrong group of divers and the instructor retrieved me at one point. I’d hit 103 feet by then, which is good because I needed to build up 100+ dives as a prerequisite to my Tec Deep course more than a year later. These dives were back at French Key, including the site “Rock’n’Roll” which I’d done on day 1. This time I saw my first spotted drum, but didn’t get a very good picture of it. They tend to turn now and then, and the delay between pressing the shutter and taking the picture on my little pocket camera has messed up many a photo.

Day 5 was the three tank dive day. We were back at French Cay at “Double-D”, “Eagle-Ray Cavern” (there were Eagle Rays there) and “G-Spot” at 91, 85 and 72 feet maximum depths respectively. Despite using Nitrox on the second dive, I ran the computer into 5 minutes deco on the third dive. I was definitely getting used to the idea. That day we saw all kinds of wildlife including sharks, eagle rays, spotted drums, barracuda and so forth, and I had fun poking around the caves with my new dive light.

The sixth and final day started with my 100th logged dive. We were on the south side of West Caicos at sites called “Anchor” (which I never saw) and “Driveway”. I used Nitrox again, commencing my habit of diving Nitrox on my last day of a diving trip to be more conservative the day before flying. Both dives were exactly an hour long, as I was really getting relaxed down there.

Speaking of air consumption, the instructor who did my Nitrox course told me he used to work on a cruise ship where they used small tanks and made everyone come up when anyone went down to 1000 PSI. He said one day an absolutely huge guy, weighing at least 300 lb was in the group, and the tank looked ridiculously tiny on him. Sure enough, the diver was down to 1000 PSI in 7 minutes, which was a record short dive for him. On the last day of my trip the instructor told me he was leaving the island and returning to his native South Africa (I hear the diving is amazing there too).

I have fond memories of that trip because it was the first extended diving experience I’d had, and also the first guided diving where there didn’t make everyone end the dive at the same time. The service from Caicos Adventures was excellent and the operation professionally run without being imposing. Too bad that the proposal to have TCI become part of Canada never went anywhere. It would have been the best of both worlds.

The owner of Caicos Adventures Philippe “Fifi” Kunz, went solo diving during one of the surface intervals. What pleased my greatly was to see him do a forward roll entry, like I was taught to do in the early eighties. He’s the only person I’ve seen do one of these (besides me) in the last twenty years. My favourite entry has got to be the Cousteau back roll, though. I especially love this in when wearing my tech gear, as it takes forever to surface again. It’s really a lot of fun. The one I haven’t tried is the backward stride entry like they did on the 1980s documentary series “The Last Frontier”. Step out while turning around to face the boat. Not sure why they liked that one.

Sorry I don’t  have pictures. I had a hard drive crash. I should have a backup and will try to add them later.

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1. Scuba Diving In Los Cabos, Mexico « Chronicle of an older diver - November 29, 2008

[…] view of the Turks & Caicos Islands trip the previous November, where I’d done 13 dives and a PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course in a […]

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