July 10, 2006

By Nigel Sadler

At 6.30 JF is notified that Caribbean Explorer 1 had pulled into the dock. The team gathers at the museum to start loading the equipment which has to be taken the 2 miles from the Museum to the government dock. Everything goes like clockwork and the boat is cleared by Immigration and customs, loaded and refuelled by mid day. All the equipment had to be stowed properly as we are expecting some rough seas during the journey across the Turks Islands Passage.

The team is given their first meal aboard the vessel, Don Purvis, ships cook, provides us with his culinary delights. We should be well fed if this continues. Following lunch the team under go a safety briefing about life on board the vessel and then Dr Donald Keith gives an overview of what the project is trying to achieve during the 2006 season. He also gave out the day to day tasks that each team would be responsible for.

At 2pm Caribbean Explorer 1 leaves Grand Turk under ominous dark skies. Our departure time coincides with the departure of a cruise ship which seems to glide through the water with ease as the much smaller Caribbean Explorer 1 seems to be bouncing around. This was only a little of what we were about to experience. We were soon in the midst of very rough seas, waves breaking all around us. The comment was made that people pay good money to be on rollercoaster rides like this. Waves occasional reached 8ft high, maybe even higher, some even crashing over the bow.

East Caicos was sited at about 3.30, but it was hard to see in between the waves. As we rounded Philips Reef the seas calmed and we finally anchored off Breezy Point at around 5pm. Amazingly, none of the team had been separated from their lunches, although there had been many items moved around.

The team got down to inflating the boats and preparing the gear for tomorrow. Many retired early with the promise of a hard days work ahead of them, and even rougher seas. Before heading for bed Donald Keith states that this was a day that could have had many disasters but we had come through it very well with no problems.