Sunday, February 23, 2014

Grand Turk

Grand Turk was colonized in 1681 by Bermudians. Grand Turk is known for a lot of things, but two major events captured our attention at first. Later on in this story, it will be noted that we will always remember Grand Turk for another notable event. 
Grand Turk started off as a source of salt and was know for its pure salt. Of interest to us was that during the American War of Independence from Great Britain, the islands supplied salt to General Washington's army. In defiance of a Royal Navy blockade in 1776, Bermudian sloops ignored the blockade in order to supply the "enemy".
The Grand Turk also gained a lot of attention when in 1962, John Glenn's Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft landed in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island off the southeast shoreline. A replica of the Friendship 7 is on display at the entrance to the Grand Turk Island airport. 

The water at Grand Turk was clear and beautiful. We had chosen to snorkel at Grand Turk, but the tour wasn't until the afternoon.

Which gave us time to attend the champagne brunch hosted by Holland America for "Mariners" or passengers who have sailed on HAL ships in the past. As can be guessed, the theme was Indonesian.  

Headed toward our snorkeling tour. Our ship, Noordam is docked on the left and the P&O Cruises on the right.  

Headed toward the tour meeting place, we had time to stop and smell the flowers.

The water was clear and the snorkeling was great. At first, the water is shallow, then there is a sharp drop-off of hundreds of feet. Colorful fish were everywhere. Some of the best snorkeling of the cruise. Just about the time that the snorkeling time was up, I heard the boat captain yell, "SHARK!" I think I could have beaten Michael Phelps back to the boat. 

And in an emergency what does one do? Grab his camera, of course. The nurse shark was real, but luckily it was part of the routine. He headed for one of the guides who had a water bottle with "shark food" in it...probably Purina Shark Chow.

As the shark was happy being fed, it was tame...if a shark can be "tame."

The look of "not only did I survive the shark, but I got to touch him. It felt like sandpaper." Hopefully, a once in a life-time experience.

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