A Grand Turk Kind of Day


By Bill Harrigan

Let me describe a day with Sea Eye Diving in Grand Turk and see if it doesnt sound just about ideal. This particular day started on the balcony of the Guanahani Beach Resort. While we watched the rising sun turn the beach gold and the water turquoise we drank our orange juice and coffee. After a leisurely breakfast we walked out the door to find the boats from Sea Eye Diving waiting on our beach. Cecil Ingham and the rest of the crew were loading the tanks and our gear was ready. All we had to do was walk across the soft, warm sand and step into the boat. There were only six of us and we all had plenty of room.

Our first dive was at Black Forest on Grand Turks western wall, after a ride that took about three minutes. Visibility was probably 150 feet and we could see the sunlight rippling across the coral heads on the edge of the wall 45 feet below. Gliding down past the big Star and Brain Corals was like flying weightless in space. A reef shark cruised by below us as we leveled off at 100 feet. The wall here is thick with puffy Black Coral formations, soft colonies of pastel green and rusty orange that belie their name. A Hawksbill Turtle swam directly over to us, then continued upward. From deep on the wall we watched as it went all the way to the surface, took a breath and nonchalantly glided past us again. At that depth there were lots of fish such as Queen Angels and Nassau Groupers but, as we ascended to the top of the wall, the fish became too numerous to count. A school of Horse-eye Jacks circled just off the wall and hundreds of purple and yellow Creole Wrasse zigzagged in shallower water. The white sand flat behind the coral was actually a waving field of Garden Eels policed by Southern Stingrays that vacuumed their prey out of the sand.

Instead of sitting on the boat between dives, we zipped to the beach and spent our surface interval sipping a cold drink while swinging in a hammock.

Our second dive was on a beautiful shallow reef called the Library. The name comes from its position directly offshore the library but it is typical of several areas in Grand Turk. Most of the dive was in the 25 to 35 foot range, exploring parallel ridges of coral alternating with sand channels. We settled onto the sand, tried not to move at all and after a few minutes the fish started coming to us in droves. Pairs of Banded and Spotfin Butterflyfish, French Angelfish, Rainbow Parrotfish, Spanish Hogfish and many more;they all came to check us out as if they were the tourists and we were the attraction.

After a break from the mornings dives, we slathered on a coat of sunscreen and grabbed our masks, fins and snorkels for the afternoon excursion to SunRay Beach. This is a trip that shouldnt be missed! The beach is simply superb: pristine dunes, powdery white sand and warm, clear water. Some new friends of ours from the Sitting Pretty Hotel had already arrived in another Sea Eye boat; divemasters Malcolm Adams and Macky Williams had set up a large sun tent. While divemaster Smitty Smith prepared his famous fresh conch salad, all of us headed to the reef for a snorkel. Slipping into the protected waters over the reef, we were surrounded by the Parrotfish and Blue Tangs that were feeding around the shallow Elkhorn Corals.

Back on SunRay Beach, the food was ready and so were we! Cold drinks, burgers and fresh conch salad;it all tasted great, especially in this idyllic setting. As we finished eating, the stingrays arrived. Attracted by the conch scraps, they glided across the sand in waist deep water in front of our picnic area. This was too good to miss, so we waded into the water with our snorkel gear. The rays were totally unconcerned by our presence. They swam right up to our feet as we stood in the shallows with our faces in the water.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing whatever we wanted. Sea Eye Diving set up individual sunshades for those who wanted to read or snooze in peace. Beach volleyball was available for the energetic and, of course, there was always more beach to explore. The rest of the world was forgotten as we enjoyed the natural beauty of this beach.

Finally it was time to return and the Sea Eye boats brought us back to our respective hotel beaches. We had plenty of time for a relaxing shower and a rest in our rooms before dinner. The sun was setting as we walked past the pool to the restaurant, so we sat on the deck and watched it blaze an orange trail over the horizon. What a day!

Our hosts, Cecil Ingham and Connie Rus, have owned and operated Sea Eye Diving for the last decade, building it slowly in the Grand Turk style. Their constant personal attention has turned Sea Eye Diving into a friendly, well run operation that draws divers back for more year after year. Cecil and Connie have concentrated on quality, with a small, talented staff and the best equipment available. Their services include rental dive equipment, a full range of dive instruction, underwater photography instruction and rentals and E-6 film processing. Dive packages are available with a selection of Grand Turk hotels.

For more information, contact Sea Eye Diving by phone or fax at (809) 946-1407. Address e-mail to CI@caribsurf. com and regular mail to P.O. Box 67, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies. Additional information is available at the Sea Eye Diving World Wide Web site at http://www.in terlog.com/~reefnet/GTurk.