Log Date: Sunday, Aug 02, 2015
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew
Palau Aggressor Charter August 2nd-9th 2015
Water Temp: 82-86 deg F
Air Temp: 76-84 deg F
Crew: Zach, Dan, Hector, Scott, Ernan, Christy and Herence
This week we welcomed 13 guests aboard the Palau Aggressor II. After long flights from the U.S. and Switzerland we helped the group set up their equipment and get settled in to their cabins. The Chef was cooking away on the BBQ and the smell enticed the guests to come up and have dinner before the Captained presented them with a vessel orientation and safety briefing.
This morning everyone was up and eager to get the day started. After the dive deck briefing was given the guests moved downstairs and started to analyze their tanks while the crew moved them onto the skiff. Our first dive of the day was on the famous Helmet Wreck. A good check out dive, especially this week as the weather was turning rough, the Helmet Wreck kept our group busy as they spent the majority of their time moving around the wreck taking photos of the numerous WWII artifacts that are lying about. The second dive of the day was on the ‘Haf Adai’ wreck. This old communications boat proved fruitful for our guests. Schools of juvenile fish were spotted throughout the dive site as well as a few solitary Lionfish. The big boat decided to make its way further south towards a group of islands named Mercharar. Home to a few dive sites and providing great shelter this is where we moored up for the rest of the day. Our third and fourth dives were both in this location and only minutes apart. Wonder Channel had a moderate current moving through and allowed the guests to sit back and observe as the cruised along. A few small Ghost Pipefish were seen as well as Nudibranchs. The last dive of the day was at Clam City. The resident Giant Clams make for great photos. Their iridescent blue and purple mantles sparkle when the sun or a flashing light hit them. We get back to the boat and enjoy a great Prawn and Mahi Mahi dinner before heading off to bed.
Tuesday morning and we started the day off in Jellyfish Lake. We were early enough that we had the lake all to ourselves. Slowly swimming out towards the center the guests were mesmerized by the millions of jellyfish that were floating by. Spending just over an hour in the lake we decided we would head back to the big boat and get ready for our first dive. The first dive of the day brought us to Fantasy Island. This is home to a gentle sloping wall, that on one side of the island drops into a channel with a mild current. Our guests started snapping away photos of the numerous sea fans that line the wall. We were even able to spot a juvenile Green Turtle. The second dive wasn’t too far away from the first site. This was called Neco Wall. A heavy rain came rolling in on our way to the site. Our guests, always in great spirits, simply put their mask on and smiled as we made our way through and to the drop off point. Once in the water the current was quite undecided. The dive started wall on the right and then brought us back the opposite way shortly after. Juvenile Damselfish darted around a coral head and was guest had a great eye and was able to find a Scorpionfish. Upon their ascent it was determined that we would make our way back up north and into a more sheltered lagoon as the weather was picking up. Getting to our mooring for the night at approximately 1700 we slowly geared up and made our way to the Chandelier Caves. This is a great dusk/night dive as you can see all sorts of small creatures in the shallows. The guests spent most of their time sitting motionless and watching the courting Mandarin fish swim around the shallow coral garden.
Today was a day to be spent in the lagoon. The wind was still quite strong so we decided to start out with a few wrecks in a more sheltered location. The first dive of the day was on the Choyu Maru. This wreck is approximately 350’ long and covered in hard and soft corals. There are many different holds of the ship to explore as well as a few turrets with the big guns still mounted. There is a rumor of a giant Frogfish that lives on this wreck. Although we didn’t spot it chances are we will go back to look for him. One of the dive masters was able to find a Harlequin Shrimp and this was entertaining for guests and crew alike. The second dive of the day was in Lighthouse Channel. An outgoing tide took the divers seaward in a hurry along the sloping walls. An old boat, the ‘Buoy 6 wreck’ lies on its side in the channel and always has marine life swarming on it. This dive was also the first dive where we were able to see a shark. The afternoon dives were fairly close to each other, the ‘Hafa Dai’ wreck and E’s Coral Garden. A long nose Hogfish was spotted on the ‘Hafa Dai’ and we followed along with this little guy for quite some time. The coral garden was full of Goby fish. Many different varieties were seen and we were even able to spot an Octopus that was quite friendly. The night dive took us back to the Helmet Wreck this evening. There is something eerie about diving a wreck in the dark. Moving much slower than you would during the day we spotted multiple artifacts slightly buried in the holds. Many fish were tucked back into small cracks to get some sleep while the crabs were scurrying about looking for a meal.
The weather is improving a bit so our diving radius is growing more. We started off the day on the Iro. This is a massive wreck approximately 500’ long and lying in 40’-110’+ of water. The Iro is completely covered in hard and soft corals as well as Black Lip Pearl Oysters. Exploring a deep the one of the guests was able to come across a few old crates of Saki bottles. A lone Great Barracuda was slowly circling the wreck and a small Saw Blade Shrimp was spotted on a long piece of Whip Coral. The second dive of the day was on the Hafa Dai wreck. The dive master leading spotted a few gobies but most of their time was spent following a Long Nose Hogfish. The third dive brought us back to the Choyu. A deeper dive to start off our afternoon the guests explored the old wreck with much enthusiasm. A Harrlequin Shrimp was spotted as well as plenty of Twotone Wrasse. Our fourth dive was in Lighthouse Channel once again. A swift moving tide took the guests seaward in a hurry. A few sharks were spotted as well as a pair of Sweet Lips. The night dive brought us back to E’s Coral Garden. A Spotfin Lionfish was spotted stalking its prey and tons of spawning Sea Cucumbers were sitting on the sea floor.
With the weather improved we headed to German Channel early Friday morning. Upon arriving at the site we dropped in and started to explore. The guests were lucky enough to see a Leopard Shark, Feathertail Stingray and big schools of Black Snappers and Chevron Barracuda. Barnums Wall was just as fruitful for our second dive. The guests moved along the wall and wouldn’t you know it, another Leopard Shark. A few turtles slowly swam by once we made our way to the shallows. Out into the blue a few guests were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a Spotted Eagle Ray and one guest even saw a Manta Ray. Dive three and four were side by side; we did Big Drop Off and Ngemelis Wall. Both of these sites had amazing visibility. The sea fans and soft corals that jet out from the wall is almost un paralleled anywhere else in Palau. A few of the guests stayed a bit shallow on the fourth dive and saw two White Tip Reef sharks mating! One of the divemasters even spotted a Ghost Pipefish. The night dive this evening was in the German Coral Garden. What an amazing dive it turned out to be. Our friend the Leopard Shark made another appearance along with two Crocodile fish and a Scorpionfish. Topped by a beautiful and healthy channel this dive was one for the books.
Saturday morning we decided to get up extra early and make our way around to Blue Corner. This turned out to be a great decision. An incoming current brought us down the wall and to the hook in area. We sat motionless, dangling by our hooks, mesmerized by the numbers of sharks that were swarming about. Honestly we lost count of how many there were. Our friends the Napoleon Wrasse showed up for awhile and a massive school of Barracuda floated just off the plateau. What a great way to start the day. Once back on the big boat we made our way to Ulong Island. The current was still incoming so we decided to do Ulong Channel. We moved down the reef wall to our hook in area and got settled in. At least 25 sharks were gliding on the current in front of us. After staying hooked in for some time we decided to move down the channel with the current and see what we could find. We didn’t have to look too hard for Grouper. There were hundreds darting back and forth and under the coral heads as we drifted down the channel. The guests were in awe of the beautiful Lettuce Leaf Coral and the Giant Clams. After getting back to the big boat and having lunch we did our last dive of the day on Sandy Paradise. Our first stop on this dive site was on a small coral head that is home to four Leaf Scorpionfish. These Scorpionfish have been here for quite some time and always make for great photos. Moving further through the coral garden we stumbled upon numerous Nudibranchs and an Octopus. The coral garden here is extremely healthy and vibrant. Our guests were extremely please to get in a couple days on the outer reef and this was a great way to end the trip. We all steamed back to the harbor and prepared for the cocktail party. Later that evening we all gathered in the salon and shared stories over a few drinks. Our photo pro played his slideshow from the week and then we all went out for dinner.
Sunday morning and with a heavy heart we said goodbye to all of our guests. We had a great week with this group and hope to see them again aboard another Aggressor.