Big Blue Unlimited

New Snorkel cave found on West Caicos!

There is nothing better than discovering new places in the Turks and Caicos and after 16 years of exploring these islands we thought we’d covered most of it. But on Christmas Eve, whilst on a full-day adventure to West Caicos onboard our new luxury vessel, Luna Del Mar, we anchored in a sheltered cove along the leeward coast of West Caicos and discovered something exciting.

Luna Del Mar at West

Luna Del Mar at West

Luna Del Mar at West Caicos

Luna Del Mar at West Caicos

It was a beautiful location where the seafloor quickly dropped down to a coral shelf at about 25ft in depth and then continued onto the sandy plain that runs out to the deep wall.  The water was very clear and there was healthy amount of fish swimming along the edge of the shelf. I noticed an open slot in the limestone and swam down to investigate.

West Caicos cave

The Slot

West Caicos cave

West Caicos cave

With my legs vertically above me I poked my head down through the hole and was very excited to see a largish cave or tunnel extending under the rock to a beautiful opening about 30ft away. The cave itself was clearly providing shelter to a number of fish including a family of surgeon fish. The roof and sides of the cave was a wealth of invertebrate life including sponges, feather-dusters and various miniature corals.

Freediving the cave

Freediving the cave

10 year old free diver

10 year old free diver

We spent a fun hour free-diving down again and again to see the cave and view its inhabitants.

One of our guests, a gutsy 10 year girl, was an excellent free-diver and managed to build up her courage to make it through the cave unassisted. Not a bad feat at 25ft of depth. J

THE FAMILY REUNION

The atmosphere was electric as the family members of the Enable Passion Atlantic Crossing kite boarding team climbed aboard our new vessel, ‘Luna Del Mar’, on Tuesday morning. They were chomping at the bit to get out there to the welcome the riders and see their loved ones again.

Jason, Big Blue Pilot

Jason, Big Blue Pilot

We drove up the coast to rendezvous with the kiterboarders and drop off a Big Blue pilot aboard their mother-ship, Double A, a Lagoon 500 sailing cat, in order to run communications and help guide them in to the Blue Haven Marina on Providenciales.

getting excited

getting excited

The celebrations began even before we maneuvered alongside. Flags were waving, horns were blowing, and everyone was cheering madly. The riders themselves were clearly pumped to be nearing land for the first time in nearly a month and of course for seeing their families after their epic odyssey.

true patriots

true patriots

The rain came and went but as the wind picked up we peeled away and watched with admiration as the adventurers launched their kites for the last time from the stern of their boat. It is a skill that the team had clearly honed over 27-days of non-stop relay kiting across an entire ocean.

kite launch

kite launch

the tricks of a kite launch

the tricks of a kite launch

And they kept at until all 6 riders were in the air by which time the fleet of Turks and Caicos resident riders had sailed out into the deep blue to join the fun. At this point we were all about 2 miles outside the reef somewhere off North Caicos. It was an impressive sight and heart felt welcome from fellow kite boarding enthusiasts although most had never ventured this far from land, let alone out into water this deep.
And then the wind disappeared and there was no choice but to help the other Big Blue rescue boats fish all the Enable Passion and TCI riders out of the water. This was a shame but the Enable Passion riders and their families couldn’t have been happier.

joy

joy

Sooner than expected they were able to consummate their euphoric reunion and girlfriends, brothers, and mothers leaped off the boat into the sea to a warm embrace. We eventually got everyone back aboard and the kiters, beaming from ear to ear, congratulated each other with high fives and hugs all around; they had done it!!

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hugs and kisses

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they made it

They had completed their 3750 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, following the same route and passion of Christopher Columbus 500 years before them on a voyage of self-discovery and ultimate adventure. It was a privilege to witness these scenes and to be part of the Big Blue Unlimited and Blue Haven teams that welcomed them to the shores of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

BIG BLUE AND TCI KITERS WELCOME ENABLE PASSION

One month ago we were invited to help create a local on the water kiting event to welcome The Enable Passion kiters. The trans Atlantic kiteboarders had yet to leave Fuerteventura and their arrival was supposed to coincide with the Grand Opening of Enable Passion’s sponsors, Blue Haven Resort and Marina, on the weekend of 6th-8th December. 48 hours after their successful Atlantic Crossing, I’ve had time to reflect on what was a real high point and learning experience for our local kiteboarding community.

The idea was perfect, meet Enable Passion riders on the water and ride down wind with them to land at Blue Haven’s beach. Truth be told, the reality was always going to be tricky, fraught with potential hazards and disasters. However, its not everyday that kiteboarders cross an entire ocean. The last time such a famous feat ended in the Turks and Caicos was 521 years ago, under the guidance of Christopher Columbus.

The fact that these riders were coming to Leeward and Blue Haven made the invite to participate impossible to turn down. For those who don’t know Big Blue’s “Rebel Base” is on the water in Leeward. We have been diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and kiteboarding this area for over 15 years and some of us over 30 years. We had to at least try and guide Enable Passion through this stunning area of natural beauty.

Early emails were sent to the local kite community and only but a few responses came back. Bad news, I thought. No one’s interested. Early into their venture, Enable Passion’s Double A had lost not one but both propellers to the deep blue sea and were forced to head south of their proposed route to the Cape Verde Islands. A week or so later, with new propellers, they headed back to sea but their course stayed southerly. Here in the Turks and Caicos most, myself included, thought that they’d never regain their intended North westerly course in order to make landfall. No doubt this was to blame for the lack of initial interest. However, once those trusty trade winds kicked in, as they have for sailors across the centuries, Enable Passion’s dream started to look like a distinct reality.

This time last week we called a safety meeting at Blue Haven’s Salt Bar & Grill. The ultimatum was set. Don’t come and you don’t get to ride.

I had already briefed our Big Blue team about the increasing possibility of this event but had not wanted to get too detailed as their arrival dates kept changing. That evening at Salt, I had no idea if 5 riders would show up or 25. Much to Ingo’s and my surprise local riders kept on arriving. Minutes before seven that evening Ingo introduced the Enable Passion dream and updated the TCI riders on their position. They were less than 100o miles away. A recorded on board video of Filippo and Erik brought their arrival into sharp reality and with it a genuine level of excitement.

A detailed safety briefing highlighting the variables and pitfalls of open ocean riding had most of our local riders on edge.

The Master Plan

As the weekend passed and Enable Passion drew closer, local riders checked their gear, honed their self rescue techniques and continuously monitored wind reports on windguru. Tuesday’s arrival date was looking grim. Light wind, got lighter. NE switched to E and was threatening ESE. We ran procedures over again and again. The what if’s, the worst case scenarios, the ideal scenario, a sleepless night. A dummy run on the Sunday by team rider, Hope and myself, proved it was doable and that it would be exciting. It was exhilarating in fact. Blue water sailing, windsurfing or kiteboarding is a rush. But it was no joke. We both knew it. Safety was all that mattered. No heroes, no special cases. All that mattered was to follow protocol.

Cometh the day, cometh the hour. Big Blue was a hive of anxious activity.

The lunch!

The lunch!

Event Tees

Event Tees

The roster, the waivers, the check lists!!

The roster, the waivers, the check lists!!

plenty of activity

plenty of activity

A buzzing excitement enveloped our office as waivers were signed, kit was passed out, uniform collected, media, cameras, interviews, timing, skippers checking and rechecking their boats, kiters discussing wind while Enable Passion sailed their way to our open water meeting point. Skippers and crew, Paul, Blue, Dave, Mark, Ben, Elvardo double checked their roles while Hope, Mark, Roberto, Jess, Julien, Tom and I conferred on any potential hazards.

Anxious moments….

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Anxious trepidation

Another safety briefing and lifevests!

final birefing

final briefing

The launch site. Kites, boards, lines everywhere. A dark cloud, light wind. No wind, some wind. Laughter and a great team spirit.

kite galore

kites galore

good vibes

good vibes

The final briefing. Reminders. Self rescue. Keep it simple.

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Point of no return

The guides.

final run through

Group Hug: Mark, Craig, Roberto, Tom, Jess, Julien, Philip, Hope, Dave

Group Hug: Mark, Craig, Roberto, Tom, Jess, Julien, Philip, Hope, Dave

Hope and Philip head off and out to sea…………………………..

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Hope

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Philip

 

The riders head out………

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tc kiters in the open ocean

The wind dies……… ;0(

The arrival.

The arrival of Double A

The arrival of Double A

The party.

The Premier and Passion riders

The Premier and Passion riders

The smiles that will forever say thousands of words. What a day, what an experience.

tciridersand passion copy

smiles all around

A BIG BLUE Thank you to the TCI riders. You are top sports! Following all safety instructions to the letter. A special mention to guides, Mark K, Hope, Roberto, Jess, Julien, Craig and Tom and skippers Paul, Dave, Mark P, Ben and Blue. You lot ROCK and were and are awesome. Thank you. Philip x A big shout out to Ingo and the Blue Haven team for bringing Enable Passion to Leeward!

Images provided by Andy Mann, Tropical Imaging. Agile Levin, Captain Dave and Tanya…thank you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIG BLUE SUPPORTS ENABLE PASSION AND THE HTC ATLANTIC KITEBOARDING CROSSING

Filed under: Activities,Eco adventure,Fleet,kite boarding,Sponsorship,Team — Tags: , , , , , — Big Blue Unlimited @ 12:44 am November 17, 2013

Big Blue Unlimited and our kiteboarding team have been asked to support and provide safety for a Turks and Caicos resident kiteboarding party to meet and greet the six riders crossing the Atlantic. The six riders will be met in the open ocean by a group of resident riders who will welcome them home on their last leg of their epic journey!

Expert Big Blue kite guides, Philip and Wes, will lead the six riders to their final destination – the beach in front of Blue Haven resort, right next to Big Blue’s base in Leeward.

The six riders will be riding non stop, 24hours a day, in 2-3 hour shifts. Their journey starts on Wednesday 20th and leaves from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. If winds and currents co operate they should arrive in the Turks and Caicos Islands sometime between the 7-15th of December.

Big Blue will be ready and waiting and so will Turks and Caicos and the rest of the kiteboarding world.

Stand by!

CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

Filed under: Diving,Eco adventure,Private charters,Snorkeling,Sponsorship,Team,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Big Blue Unlimited @ 7:52 pm November 14, 2013

During the second week of November Big Blue’s expertise was called upon to help the Catlin Seaview Survey complete their tasks in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The mission of this 5-year global project in conjunction with the University of Queensland in Australia is ‘to record, research, and reveal the world’s coral reefs to all in high resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision.’ Big Blue provided staff, vessels and logistical support across the entire Caicos Islands for the survey team who visited the north shore reefs, West Caicos, French Cay and South Caicos.
A team from Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet series also flew down to film a short documentary about the Catlin project and they too turned to Big Blue to aid them with local advice and diving support. Look out for this production in the coming months.

rocking and catlin survey vessel

rocking and catlin survey vessel


The final piece of the jigsaw and not to be underestimated; the financial backers for the whole project is the Catlin Insurance company. The CEO Mr. Stephen Catlin brought down two groups of corporate guests for a little luxury treatment and using our new vessels, a 40ft Hinckley motor launch and a 44ft Manta Cat, along-side our ever versatile ‘Live & Direct’ adventure cat Big Blue delivered once again. We introduced 14 of the guests to the delights of Scuba over two days, facilitated a demonstration with the reef survey team, and conducted one of our signature ecological education eco-tours around the reefs, cays and mangrove ecosystems along the Caicos Cays. If we were able to impress the suits and help keep the Catlin sponsorship and interest alive then our mission was accomplished.
Big Blue and Catlin Crew

Big Blue and Catlin Crew

It was a fascinating week and we will closely follow the Catlin Seaview Survey on their continued global quest. The equipment that they are using is state of the art 3-Dimensional filming equipment with technology supplied by none other than media giants Google. The camera also uses a hybrid of facial recognition software to identify coral diseases and thereby aid in the documentation and standardization of coral reef surveys around the entire planet.

BIG BLUE HELP SCORE AND LAND 5 KITEBOARD MAGAZINE COVERS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Big Blue Unlimited @ 2:11 am October 31, 2013

Big Blue Unlimited help land the BEST kitebaording team and photographer, Quincy Dein, 5 magazine covers. All images were taken here in the Turks and Caicos in Big Blue’s kite boarding back yard.  Big Blue’s very own local expert and waterman, Philip, helped scout and locate for every session.
Check out the second of two videos “change”

The covers below bear testament to the fact that Big Blue are leader in Turks and Caicos kiteboarding.

BIG BLUE HOSTS 2013 KALAMA KAMP TURKS AND CAICOS

After the resounding success of the last 3 years, Big Blue’s season was again kick started by hosting our annual 2013 Turks and Caicos Kalama Kamp. Dave Kalama and John Denney teamed up with Philip, Jason and Wes as eight stand up paddlers converged on the Turks and Caicos Islands to learn the finer points of stand up paddle boarding while getting to a little bit more about the waterman’s lifestyle.


Dena, Mark, Mike, Curt, Larry, James, Joe and Colin woke up early every morning to take part in Dave’s daily beach work out. The all action dawn wake up call highlights the core concepts of why and how Dave stays in shape for not only his big wave surfing but also his grueling long distance paddles.
A hearty breakfast was followed by a trip to Big Blue to strip down the essentials processes that make up a solid and effective paddle stroke. With video, demos and on water critique, Dave, John and Philip help rebuild everyone’s stroke from a solid foundation.

With this in place the Kalama Kampers were treated to amazing down winders, mangrove excursions and reef safaris. When the waves did kick up….well you can guess what happened. Excitement and mayhem. Dave’s outstanding teaching ability and wave riding demos helped one and all catch either their first waves of make the next one better.

Another classic week, where we laughed, played, paddled, learned and surfed a little. Bring on 2014. See you there.

BIG BLUE BOOST FOR THE MIDDLE CAICOS HANDCRAFT CO-OP

Filed under: Activities,Eco adventure,Private charters,Sponsorship,Team — Tags: , , , — Big Blue Unlimited @ 7:44 pm September 15, 2013

We, at Big Blue Unlimited, are all delighted to continue our Eco tourism commitment in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Since December 2012 Big Blue has sponsored a local artisan Stacia Arthur to work on a daily basis at the Middle Caicos Artisans Studio and Outlet in the village of Conch Bar. Stacia is on hand to offer information, answer questions and demonstrate the traditional handcraft techniques for tourists visiting the co-op. The Middle Caicos Co-op forms an integral part of the experience offered by Big Blue on our Heart of the Islands eco-tour to North and Middle Caicos.

Middle caicos co op

Middle caicos co op

In addition, a vivid and attractive display within our base at Leeward introduces our guests to the handcrafts of North and Middle Caicos even if they chose not to visit these islands. This helps the Middle Caicos Co-op realize its goal of bringing income to the island artisans and showcasing the traditional handcrafts which are all made from sustainably harvested local grasses and palmtops. It additionally encourages visitors by increasing their awareness of the local handcrafts available.

Long recognized as a true force preserving TCI’s traditional handcraft and culture, the Middle Caicos Co-op is a not for profit organization established in 1998 with only 6 artisans – Today over 60 artisans and volunteers work together to promote the cultural heritage of the TCI. Big Blue Unlimited is proud to sponsor the artisans and volunteers who keep the Middle Caicos Co-op alive and we hope this helps to provide confidence and resources to continue in their work and goals.

WINDVIBES 2013

Big Blue Unlimited was once again proud to support and be the main sponsor for the 8th annual Turks and Caicos Windvibes event. What started as a kite event is now billed as a family beach event with kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming races. Windvibes is the perfect platform to showcase the best of these sports and thus the Big Blue experience and Windvibes have become perfect partners.

windvibes 2013

Every year our team rider and Windvibes organiser, Hope LeVin, puts hours of effort into pulling togther this excellent celebration of the watersports lifestyle. On the day she was joined by nearly all of the Big Blue team who bring with them dozens of  kayaks and stand up paddleboards. While Long Bay beach filled up with kites and kiters ready to race it also became centre stage for SUP, kayak and swim races. For those who wanted to stay dry Windvibes organized tug of war, log throwing and the all new concha wonka contest.

As Hope MC’d the event she was able to rely on Ray, Ben, Jason, Wes, Elvardo, Philip, Nicola and Mark to organise and supervise the different events.

Over 60 participants young and old, boy or girl, either kiteboarded, paddled, kayaked, pulled or swam. The beach was one big colourful festival and celebration of beach and water life in the Turks and Caicos. Windvibes gets better every year and this year was the best so far. We look forward to being there next year. See you on the beach!

BIG BLUE JULY SUMMER KIDS KAMP 2013

 

Big Blue opened up the world of watersports to the kids of the Turks and Caicos Islands by hosting what will be the first of many kids kamps. Through the entire month of July children between the ages of 10-12+ were treated to week long adventures and education stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, kiteboarding, boating, hiking and scuba diving. Children would arrive each week and be split into diving and non diving groups. Those learning to scuba dive would be taken poolside by Tanya, Tom and Lizzie and go through their open water drills. The others meanwhile would head out under the guidance of Blue, Ray, Jason and Elvardo to explore the mangroves, reefs and beaches in the Leeward area.

While our junior open water scuba divers plied their books, answered their knowledge quizzes and performed their newly learned open water skills, the others were learning about the maritime reef and mangrove ecology. Adventures by SUP and kayak were interspersed with trips to the reef to snorkel and introductions to flying trainer kites with Wes.

Emphasis was always on having fun and every Friday with 6-8 newly certified junior open water divers and 6-8 eco warriors, Team Big Blue would jump on Live & Direct and head to West Caicos to party. Diving, boat jumping, cliff jumping, exploring and plenty laughs. We certified 22 junior divers and made over 35 children very happy.

A perfect start to the summer.

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