Thursday we started another special 10 day charter. We had some guests arrive to the boat, on their own and we picked up the rest from their hotels. We welcomed on 18 guests from the US, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins. Then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear, and we checked certification cards and then headed up stairs for dinner. After dessert we covered the vessel orientation and safety briefing, and handed out the life lines and watched a documentary on Palau. Some guests started setting up their cameras and soon everyone was off to bed.
Early Friday morning we started up the big boat and headed into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing. To start off our special 10 day charter we planned a day of wrecks. Our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck or also known as the Depth Charge Wreck. This wreck is so named due to the couple stacks of WWII helmets found in the first cargo hold as well as the depth charges in the first two cargo holds. We entered the water and everyone did a weight check and soon started their descent. We stopped in the first cargo hold, saw the helmets, and continued down towards the bow of the wreck. In the middle cargo hold we saw more depth charges and the large spot light. We then swam through the cargo hold to the forward cargo hold and saw the airplane motors. We turned around at the bow anchor wench and went back to the stern. We then spent the rest of the dive looking over the artifacts that have been collected and placed out on the stern. Our second dive was at the Chuyo Maru. We descended down the mooring line to the deck of the wreck and soon found a crocodile fish towards the stern. We then headed towards the bow and at the top of the front king post we saw the red anemone with the tomato anemone fish. For our third dive we headed into the rock islands and took the skiff to The Iro. We started from the mooring saw the large bow gun, swam past the wheel house and found an octopus. We turned around at the stern gun and circled up the aft king post. At the top we took photos of the red anemones with tomato anemone fish. For the fourth dive we went to the Jake Sea Plane. This was a nice shallow way to end the day of wrecks. The plane sits in only 45 feet of water and is a great photo opportunity. Dinner was soon ready after we arrived at the big boat and at that time the big moved to Ulong for the next day of diving. After dinner we put on the Palau fish ID presentation on the most common fish we see here in Palau.
Early Saturday our first dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We entered the water, the current was flow strong, it took us a while but we made it over the ledge of the reef and down to the entrance of the tunnel. The current was coming from the perfect direction and push us right through the tunnel. We did not get a chance to look for the small rare fish in the tunnel. Along the wall we started our multi-level up and saw a couple of sharks in the blue and some anemones along the wall. Towards the end of the dive we saw two large bumphead parrot fish off in the blue. Then as most of the guests were watching the parrot fish a large nurse shark came over the wall and disappeared into the deep blue. For dive two we had an incoming current so we went to the famous Ulong Channel. We entered the water from the mooring and drifted along the wall towards the hook in area. We hooked in at the mouth of the channel and had gray reef sharks pass by in front of us. We then unhooked and drifted into the channel. Everyone enjoyed drifting down the sandy bottom channel past the lettuce coral and we ended the dive at the giant clams. As we were doing our safety stop we saw a large grey reef shark that had 8 little baby grey reef sharks following her. After lunch the current was still incoming so we went back to Ulong Channel. We entered the water from the same mooring as the last dive and drifted along the wall towards the hook in area. Along the way there were a couple of anemones balled up that we spent some time photographing. When we arrived at the mouth the current was so light that we did not hook in. We just turned around and drifted into the channel. We took a different path down the channel than last time but it met up with the lettuce coral and giant clam. For dive four we went back out to Ulong Coral Garden. The current was now outgoing and we started the dive from the furthest mooring from the mouth. We enjoyed seeing the table corals and the other hard coral formations. At the small corner the anemone was balled up with a beautiful purple color and then we headed across the coral garden towards the giant clam. We stopped for a while as a bait ball of scad swam in and around us getting chased by sharks and jacks. We ended the dive at the giant clam. Back at the big boat dinner was ready and soon after everyone was off to bed. We don’t offer night dive while in Ulong.
After breakfast Sunday morning we headed out to Shark City. This was our longest skiff ride of the charter; we entered the water and drifted along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in and saw only a couple of sharks, so we unhooked and explored the plateau. To end the dive we saw a very large school of red snapper, there had to be 4 or 5 hundred. Dive two was at Siaes Corner. The current was out going and we swam along the wall to the hook in area. There was another group ahead of us so we hooked in at the shallowest part of the corner and enjoyed the show. There were a lot of sharks in front of us. After the other group left we then unhooked and drifted down towards the corner and saw a large school of Moorish idols and there had to be at least 40 sharks chasing them around the corner. After lunch dive three was at Sandy Paradise. We started the dive from the mooring and descended down along the beautiful hard coral garden. At the sandy bottom we turned to the right and swam along where the sand meets the rocky formations. In the blue over the sand we saw a large school of yellow tail barracuda, we stopped to watch them for a while and a manta swam right through the group of barracuda. We continued along and found three leaf scorpion fish and some turtles. For our fourth dive we headed out to Ulong Channel. The current was supposed to be the start of the outgoing tide so we decided to dive the channel in reverse. We started the dive from the giant clams, and headed towards the lettuce coral. I guess mother nature didn’t like what we were doing because the current switched to incoming for one last strong push. We had to swim against it for the rest of the dive. During dinner the big boat moved to the German Channel area for tomorrows diving.
Monday morning we woke up and moved the big boat out through German Channel to the outside reef and dive one was at New Drop Off. The current was incoming it was flowing nice. We hooked in and watched the show as 15 grey reef sharks passed by only inches from the photographers. We spent most of the dive at the hook in area because the show was great and when we unhooked we had a little time to explore the plateau. As we drifted we saw several turtles, then we started our ascent to do our safety stop. For dive two we went to Turtle Cove. We entered the water and descended down the chimney out to the wall and drifted to the corner. We saw several turtles and some sharks around the corner. After lunch dive three was at Blue Corner. The current was incoming and we hooked in at 45 feet. The current was strong and we held on as some sharks passed by in front of the divers. We then unhooked and dropped down to the protected area behind the hook in area and spent the rest of the dive playing with the napoleon wrasse. For the fourth dive we lowered the skiff into the water and drove to the front of the big boat. The site was Ngedebus coral Garden. We entered the water and descended down the mooring that the big boat was on. Around 60 feet deep we started to see the bottom and we left the mooring and headed to the slopping coral garden. As soon as we got the bottom we found a crocodile fish on top a coral head. It was in a perfect spot for photos. We then continued along and found another crocodile fish. Then before we ended the dive we saw a feather tail lying on the sandy bottom. After dinner the first night dive of the charter was at the same spot, Ngedebus Coral Garden. This time we dropped in the water shallower in the coral garden. During the dive we found another crocodile fish and a scorpion fish trying to blend in with the hard corals.
Tuesday morning we woke up early and moved the big boat down to Peleliu. After we tied up the big boat in South Dock, our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. We checked the current and it was an incoming current. So we did the “Express.” We entered the water and went wall on the right to the hook in area. We hooked in and had a couple of sharks in front of us. We then unhooked and rode the current all the way to the corner. Alone the way we saw so many grey reef sharks in the blue water. We then started ascending to do our safety stop. After the dive 10 guests went on the Peleliu WWII land tour to explore the sights of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. The remaining guests went to Orange Beach Coral Garden for dive two. It was outgoing and we drifted along the coral garden with the shallow on our left. We saw some schools of fish and also a crocodile fish. After lunch dive three was at West Wall. We entered the water from the mooring and drifted along. There were several sharks in the blue and a big dog tooth tuna. Then we found a leopard shark sleeping on the slopping sandy bottom. The current then changed and we turned around and ended the dive where we started. After the dive the big boat pulled out of south dock and slowly made its way towards German Channel. We dropped the skiff for one last dive in Peleliu at Barracks Point. We saw some big schools of fish, giant clams and around 12 turtles but the high light of the dive was towards the end. Off in the blue water we started to see a couple of devil rays cruising in the current. We started to swim up towards them and in total there were 21 devil rays. That was an extremely rare sight to see. The night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started the dive from the back mooring and traveled along the wall. This wall is so beautiful at night with all the cup coral out filter feeding. We did have one turtle do a quick swim by on its way to the surface. To end the dive we found two large scorpion fish sitting right next to each other.
Wednesday morning we started the day with Blue Corner. We checked the current and it was incoming. We entered the water and hooked in at 45 feet. The current was flowing nice and the sharks were coming so close to us. The school of snapper and jacks were just off the wall and the napoleons were with the group as well. We then unhooked and went down to 60 feet but the current was slacking off so we did not hook in again, we just ended our dive exploring the plateau. For dive two we went to Blue Holes. We entered the water and swam over on the surface to the holes and descended down into the chamber. We took photos, saw the disco clam, then exited and made it down to Blue Corner. We were low on bottom time so we just decided to drift across the plateau with the napoleons following us for the rest of the dive. After lunch we headed to Dexters Wall. In total we saw 10 turtles and a couple of sharks in the blue water. Mixed in amongst the beautiful soft corals that cover the wall we saw some nudi’s and anemones. For the fourth dive we headed back to German Channel. We started the dive from the Peleliu side of the channel and stopped at the Peleliu side cleaning station. We waited there for a while but nothing was going on so we swam across the mouth of the channel to the other side. We were able to find one of the ornate ghost pipe fish and right after we spotted a group of mantas above us feeding. We left the bottom and spent the rest of our dive in about 20 feet of water as the mantas were feeding. In total we spotted 8 mantas all with their mouths open filter feeding on the plankton. After dinner the night dive was at Big Drop Off. We saw the ball and chain left over from the Germans prior to WWI and a twin spot lion fish.
On Thursday we started the day off with Virgin Blue Hole. The tide was high enough so we did a live drop on top the hole. We descended down the chimney all the way to over 100 feet deep and went through the tunnel out to the wall. Along the wall we saw all the tropical fish and the dive soon turned into canyon formations with a beautiful archway and to end the dive. For dive two we set out to Ngedebus Corner. The current was outgoing so we did wall on the left. We just drifted along the wall and found several turtles and had some sharks in the blue. Most of our focus was on the wall though, we found a couple of different kinds of nudi’s and a scorpion fish. Lunch was ready when we arrived at the big boat and dive three was at Ngemelis Coral Garden. Everyone enjoyed this relaxing dive with all the beautiful hard corals and we even saw another crocodile fish and a couple of turtles. For dive four we went back to New Drop Off. The current was incoming and it was strong. We entered the water from the mooring and soon had to get our reef hooks ready. We hooked in and had at least 15 grey reef sharks in front of us. We spent most of the dive hooked in and once we finally unhooked we shot across the plateau. We did see the resident green sea turtles, as they were wedged into cracks trying to sleep in the strong current. After dinner the night dive was at German Coral Garden. We started from the Koror side of the channel and drifted into the channel with the incoming current. We saw the red anemone and hidden in the sand was a flathead. It was not a crocodile fish but in the same family, we weren’t able to find it in the reef ID book. Also we found some cone shells moving around in the sandy bottom.
On Friday morning we woke up and started the day with German Channel. We started this time from the Koror side of the channel. We stopped at the red anemone and since it was the first dive of the day we went down to the cleaning station at 100 feet. Nothing was going on so we turned around and went to the 60 foot cleaning station. We sat down in the sand around the cleaning station and waited. No mantas came in to be cleaned. We swam across the mouth of the channel to the Peleliu side cleaning station. Along the way we saw one ornate ghost pipe fish in the small bush of black coral. We sat down around the cleaning station but again no mantas. We did see an octopus crawling along the sand and when we got close in tucked away in its hiding spot. We then swam back across the mouth of the channel and ended the dive by drifting into the channel. For dive two we headed out to Big Drop Off. We entered the water and slowly drifted along the wall, we found a very large notodoris minor nudibranch and a turtle swam by the group. After lunch, for dive three, we did one last dive at Blue Corner. The current was mild and outgoing. We enjoyed the slow drift along the beautiful wall and at the hook in area; we hooked in and enjoyed the show as a lot of sharks were off in the blue. Also off the wall was a large school of chevron barracuda. There had to be over 500 of them. One napoleon wrasse was swimming in and out of all the divers. After we unhooked we decided to take the group to the corner to see the lettuce coral formation and the school of blue lined snapper. We started our ascent to do our safety stop with the napoleon. For the fourth dive the group wanted to go back to German Channel. We started from the Koror side of the channel. We entered the water and sat down in the sand around the cleaning station. No mantas came in to get cleaned. We then moved towards the middle of the channel and sat down and waited for a while. There was one manta in the shallow water above us, but it was not feeding yet so we did not go up yet. It was the start of the incoming current so the plankton was not thick. We decided to go off and explore for a little bit then came back. Now you could see that the plankton was starting to come through the mouth of the channel. The one manta from before was now feeding so we left the bottom to be with the manta as it was feeding on the plankton. Then below us we saw an awesome sight, a large ornate eagle ray swam right underneath us. It’s rare to see one of those in Palau. Then above us two mantas were now feeding and we spent the rest of the dive with them. We returned to the big boat and it started moving into the rock islands to get closer to Jelly fish lake for tomorrow. Soon after we sat down to chef Mani’s final supper of turkey, honey baked ham, roasted potatoes, and more. After dinner we watched Andy’s video of the charter and a short documentary on Jelly Fish Lake.
We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. We started with our snorkel at Jelly Fish Lake. We hiked over the hill and entered the water. A short swim into the middle of the lake we were soon surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this unique snorkel with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we took the guests on a rock island tour, we first stopped at the famous limestone archway, then some WWII sites as we made our way back to the big boat. We had a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and the crystal formations on the ceiling. Once outside the cave we found the mandarin fish. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear, we said goodbye to one guest as he left to the airport for his 6:30pm flight and the rest gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch the photo slideshow of the charter and after the guests headed off into town for dinner. After dinner the guests came back to the boat, and at 10pm we said goodbyes to four guests as they headed to the airport for their 12am flight.
Wednesday morning at 2am two more guests headed to the airport for their 4:30am flight and the remaining guests woke up to continental breakfast. At 8am we said our goodbyes as they guests headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this 10 day charter aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Crew