Dive #87 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
© Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

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Bottom Time to Date:


Dive Info:

Dive Start:

Bottom Time:
55 minutes

Maximum Depth:
43 feet

Safety Stop:
3 minutes

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
900 psi

Weather Conditions:

Surface Conditions:
Chop and surge

Surface Water Temperature:

Bottom Water Temperature:

100+ feet
* * *
March 11,
Ollie (divemaster), Linda and Janel (buddies), group from Michigan
A friendly grey angelfish
Videograph by Rich Torkington in TCI 2002 
Dive Journal: Merging my company with a larger one is hopefully one of the most stressful things I will ever do. In the midst of the process, Linda and I agree that, no matter what the outcome, it is a requirement that we get away as a family to someplace peaceful. After considerable Internet research, she finds a small island in the Carribean called Salt Cay, reported to be quiet and offering excellent diving. She also learns that a dive operator and PADI instructor on the island specializes in certifying young divers. We decide this is an excellent time for Johnny, approaching his 12th birthday, to pursue his PADI certification. When Linda begins to book a weeklong trip to the island over the children’s spring break, I suggest, “Let’s make it two weeks.” Done. We both agree that the children undoubtedly learn much more during this kind of travelling than during any time they might miss in school.

Salt Cay is one of the southernmost islands in the Turks and Caicos, part of the British West Indies. Geographically the Turks and Caicos are considered part of the southern Bahamas. On 3/9/02, we fly from Phoenix to Dallas, then Miami, then to Providentiales (aka “Provo”), staying overnight there. We then pick up a 5-seater puddle jumper to Salt Cay with Interisland Airways – Janel gets to sit in the copilot’s seat. Cool. The Salt Cay airport is a 500 ft2 building next to a runway. A single minivan awaits our arrival, and the driver Nathan strolls out onto the runway to help us unload our bags from the plane’s compartments. There are no airport employees, only the pilot – we like it already!

A great little island, probably 100 people live there, plus maybe 1 to 25 divers at any particular time. High season is during humpback whale migration January through March each year. Most of the island is scrub desert or abandoned salinas – the topography is simliar in many ways to the island of Bonaire. The main bouvelard, Victoria Street, is a dusty coral-base throughway that sees more bicycle and burro traffic than cars. We wanted things peaceful – Salt Cay is PERFECT for that.

We settled in to our house for the first week, called Hyacinth Cottage. A cute old salt raker’s home located in the historic South District, the house included a great elevated porch with a view of almost the entire island. The entryway and kitchen doors were only 5’-4” tall – we were told that “people were shorter back then.” At 6’-3”, I managed to whack my head no less than 5 times during our stay here (we started counting).

On the morning of March 11, we are diving with Salt Cay Divers, and we depart Salt Cay on a 24’ Carolina Skiff with a Yamaha 85 outboard and head south. On our way towards Great Sand Cay, we encounter surface signs of migrating humpback whales, and we periodically stop the boat to see if they will play with us. Linda is squealing with each sighting. We pass Great Sand Cay after about 8 miles and we love the gorgeous beach there. We continue another 8 miles south to the wreck site of the Endymion.

The H.M.S. Endymion was a British warship that sank in 1790. Since the wreck is in only 30’ of relatively warm water, it is largely deteriorated. The primary artifacts include 3 huge anchors all located in one place, and a dozen or so cannons strewn about. There is also a large boiler and other metallic relics. Our divemaster Ollie says there are actually two wrecks at this site, so I’m not sure which pieces are Endymion and which are not.

The relics are, of course, covered in beautifully colored corals and sponges and gorgonians and other luxuriant growth, and reef fish swim about the pieces. There is a medium healthy surge today, making the dive a bit challenging for our first in about 10 months.

Despite the tremendous history here, we are not terribly impressed with the dive. There is so little left of the ship that I tend to focus more on the fish life and corals. The fish seem very accustomed to divers, among them blue tangs, french grunts, a number of barracudas, queen angelfish, loads of blueheads, and stunning stoplight parrotfish. One grey angelfish allowed a very close approach – it felt like a welcoming back to the Caribbean by one of my favorite fish – I loved that. We also spy a big Caribbean lobster and lots of flamingo tongues.

There are 3 other boats also moored here, but diver traffic is not much of a problem. Linda and Janel get cold after 40 minutes. I’m glad we all brought our 3 mm wetsuits, but I also get chilled on exit. Johnny spent the morning with Debbie Manos doing his first shallow poolwork and initial PADI junior cert training.

Mares Avanti Quattro
U S Divers Matrix
80 ft3 Al
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Dive Type:
Body of Water:
Caribbean Sea
U S Divers
3mm full wetsuit
Spectrum XR2
plus Oceanic
Slimline octopus
12 lb
Water Type:
Video Equipment: