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July 2005 Vol. 31, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Grounding of the T & C Aggressor

from the July, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Friday, April 22, and we were heading into port, approaching the reef and channel. I was on the dive deck of the Turks and Caicos Aggressor with Christopher, the 2nd captain, discussing camera maintenance when I noticed the sky changing quickly. Christopher suggested we get the cameras closed up as a storm seemed imminent. I went into the salon and Christopher went his way.

The winds rose almost exponentially. The sky darkened to night conditions with lightning flashing. Wetsuits flew horizontally and loose gear blew off the deck. I ventured onto the dive deck and saw three water spouts and the wind blew rain in sheets across the deck, chasing me inside.

Visibility was zero. The boat was turned into the seas, then suddenly she made a significant roll to starboard of 30-45 degrees, and then returned to even keel. I heard the hull grinding against the reef, and the boat listed to starboard by 10 degrees. She then seemed to become free for a second, but ran aground a second time and listed more severely. She was stuck at 30 to 45 degrees to the oncoming seas and the starboard dive platform was underwater.

The Captain called a Mayday and ordered all passengers to the dive deck. The crew, handling themselves in an exemplary fashion, passed out lifejackets and confirmed all were present. Within 15 minutes, several fishing boats and dive boats had reached us. The storm was lifting. Two older couples and a female passenger were transfered to a dinghy from the dive platform, still at a 30 degree list. Then the rest of us stepped onto the dive platform and then swam to a waiting boat. The crew remained on the boat.

They ferried us to shore, where Aggressor people took us to the restaurant Aqua, brought towels and secured rooms for everyone at Turtle Cove Inn. Needless to say we all had a few beers and a late lunch! By 6 P.M., the T&C Aggressor was back in port, having been floated off the reef, and was back in service the following week.

The severe squall that hit us was perhaps a “white squall.” Winds hit 75 knot winds, and locals said the storm was worse than Hurricane Ivan, but shorter. The water spouts around us and very rapid temperature drop would support this. Kudos to the professional Aggressor people on the island, on the boat, and in the US, and to the local people who turned out to help.

– Wm. Muhr Jr., Riverton, NJ

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