There was a slight technical hitch with this email last week. Anything addressed via a btinternet server bounced back at me as “potential spam”. Leaving aside the wicked libel, I have rejigged these addresses into a separate group (there’s only five of them) and hopefully this may solve the problem.
The weather precluded any diving on Friday. The wind in fact wasn’t quite as bad as predicted (in Sharjah at least) but the rain and sand storms arrived on schedule. It wouldn’t have been fun. Today, as I write (Saturday), it’s extremely wild out there with predicted wave heights in excess of 3m offshore. We’ll wait for next weekend I think. [It’s now Wednesday and weather looking unpromising but we’ll see].
With no diving of our own to report, below is an account of 406 exile, Geoff’s most recent jaunt around the world, this time to the Turks and Caicos Islands:
Most Brits are familiar with the new year blues and with this in mind I decided to book a last minute jolly to somewhere warm with clear blue waters. I opted for seven nights at the Beaches Resort on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies. ‘Beaches’ is part of the Sandals Group and is an all inclusive resort, i.e. everything is included; airport transfers, food, beverages and water activities. Yes, even the diving (2 tank dives per day), typically a saving of ~$120 usd/day!
Beaches has its’ own dedicated water sports centre and personnel (‘Aqua Center’), who provided me with a verbal induction and presented the obligatory PADI disclaimer for signature. All basic dive gear is provided free of charge with the exception of wet suits, which can be hired, but I had brought my own gear and readied this for my first day of diving. I encountered a slight problem in that the Aqua Center had no DIN compatible cylinders but fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my adaptor. Problem solved!
Having registered my interest in diving each day I headed along to the dive centre for the 07.45 check-in and proceeded to load my gear onto our dive vessel for the day. Beaches has a fleet of dedicated dive vessels that can accommodate up to about 20 divers each and our boat for the first day was full. The free of charge diving was obviously a big draw!
I managed 4 days of great diving covering sites in Grace Bay (just off the resort beach), NW Providenciales (~45 min boat ride) and West Caicos Island (again, ~45 min boat ride). These sites included:
Pinnacles (Grace Bay)
Pickering Point (West Caicos)
Yankee Town (West Caicos)
Blue Cove (West Caicos)
Rock Garden (West Caicos)
The Chimney (NW Providenciales)
The Crack (NW Providenciales)
-all between 20-25m depth range. With only a 12l ally of air and a nominal limit of 25m due to resort rules I was a little frustrated that I could not explore some of the enticing caves and features slightly deeper. Visibility on each dive was spectacular, easily in the 30-40m range, if not more. Typically we would drop in about 15m of water over a sandy bottom with scattered coral heads that led to a coral rim and drop off presenting some wonderful wall dives. I understand from one of the guides that water depths here can drop several hundreds of metres. Some of the sites had features such as chimneys, small sea caves and swim throughs.
Marine life was reasonably plentiful with everything from small Blennies, Snappers, Garden Eels and Parrot Fish building up to Spiny Lobster, Morays, Groupers, Barracuda, Stingrays, Hawks-Bill Turtles, Nurse Shark and Caribbean Reef Shark- (which were sighted on almost every dive. Although the hard corals were not that healthy there were quite a few soft corals including fans and whips.
The diving staff were helpful and friendly. The clientele, generally from US, Canada and South America, were in what I would call ‘the resort recreational’ diver bracket, folk who dive maybe once or twice a year, which made me appreciate how lucky clubs like 406 are with regards to regular diving.
In summary, if looking for easy, no stress recreational diving, the Turks and Caicos Islands are certainly worth a visit.
Big thank you as always to Geoff for an interesting read and dive pictures.
DAN insurance website: https://www.daneurope.org/home
The Dive Club meets every Tuesday night in the Dive Bar.
See you there!