Palau, Tropic Dancer
Captain’s Log August 2 – 12
Sunday afternoon we welcomed 18 guest aboard the Tropic Dancer from all over the world; China, Switzerland, Germany, France, Canada and USA. After going over their room briefing guest began to setup and organize all there dive gear, then came up stairs for the first taste of Chef Cameron’s culinary delights. After dinner everyone gather around the T.V. for the Captains briefing were they were officially introduced to the crew and had the both good and bad news broken to them, bad being that the weather was not looking good for the next few days but the good news that it is a ten day charter and the weather would get better towards the weekend. After the brief guest headed to bed to get a good night sleep before their first day of diving.
Monday morning we left the dock bright and early and after breakfast and the dive deck briefing we started off our ten day charter with a day of diving some of the many wrecks found here in Palau. Our first dive was at the Haffa A Dai wreck ironically translated to save travels, on the wreck we found tons of purple pipe-cleaner nudi’s, a chromodoris coi, lionfish as well as two giant clams. Dive two guest dropped in a the Chuyo Maru a Japanese wreck from WWII. After lunch dive three was on the Helmet Wreck, a Japanese sub chaser from WWII that could never be positively identified, found long after the war this is one of the few wrecks that was not salvage and there for divers are able to find many artifacts still sitting on the wreck including helmets, depth charges, rifles, porcelain sinks and much more. The fourth dive of the day was a dusk dive just as the sun was going down at Mandarin fish Coral Garden to watch their pre-night mating rituals.
Tuesday morning we started the day with another wreck the Iro a massive five hundred foot Japanese tanker with two massive guns on the bow and stern, the deck is covered in coral and full of animal life. Divers enjoined swimming through king post and up a massive tripod with some beautiful tomato anemones and two large giant clams. Dive two was at Life house Channel were divers saw two octopi, sharks and an old Taiwanese fishing vessel. During lunch we moved the Tropic Dancer down into Wonder Channel for a couple days in this protected area while the worst of the weather past over. The first dive here was Caroline’s Reef, a muck dive were divers fond tons of different nudi’s and several flat worms. The fourth dive of the day was another dusk dive at Clam City, holding true to its name divers stopped and checked out three large colonies of more the thirty or forty massive giant clams three to four feet wide. During dinner guest were able to enjoy their drinks and relax.
Wednesday we stated our day with a dive at Fantasy Reef were amongst all the great macro life divers also fond so hidden treasures as in two rain jackets, a towel, snorkel and one guest even found money. When the skiff returned back to the Tropic Dancer guest prepare for a quick turn around and head out to the Milky Way for some fun in the mud. The white mud found hear as the same chemicals as most spa treatments and leaves the sink feeling nice and smooth, not to bad for pictures either as everyone covers themselves from head to toe in the white muck. After lunch we made our way out to Neco Channel as soon as we jumped in the water divers found three cuttlefish in one little area. Thenafter drifting down the channel a ways we came across a beautiful leopard shark resting in the sand. For dive four we went to Wonder Channel, a sloping coral garden that turns in to a strait wall as the channel passes though two island sling shooting you around the corner, divers found nudi’s, pipefish and a couple of turtles. For the first official night dive of the charter divers went to Caroline’s Reef were divers found slipper lobster, crabs and a cool barramundi.
Thursday morning we started the day with a snorkel at Jellyfish Lake while the sun was out and shinning. The guest enjoyed roaming through the estimated thirteen million jellyfish for an hour or so as well as checking out the white anemones that live on the edge of the lake surviving off the jellyfish. After the guest returned from the lake and had a little snake we headed back to Neco Channel for another dive although we didn’t see any cuttlefish a couple of divers did find the leopard shark again hiding behind a giant sea seafan that was more than twelve feet wide and six feet tall. After lunch we went back to Neco Island and dove the other side of the channel, hear the wall is a little steeper and the current much strong, divers enjoyed sailing over coral heads and seafans as the current whisked them down the channel. Before dinner divers head back out for another dive a Clam City, once again checking out this massive clams and then exploring the rest of the reef. For the night dive guest explored the Rose Garden with the highlight of the dive was spent watching a cuttlefish blast it’s ink at the divers multiple times but never moving from the same spot.
On Friday the winds had finally started to settle down and we were able to move the big boat out to German Channel area for dives on the outer reef and out of the muck. For dive one we went to German Channel to see if we could find any manta coming in from a cleaning, unfortunately there was not but divers did get to see a gray reef shark get cleaned as it did its funny little dance over the cleaning station. Divers also saw three feather tail rays resting in the sandy bottom. For dive two we went to Turtle Cove dropping into a opening in the shallow reef that open up to larger chamber after which we made our way out and went wall on the right for wall dive with absolutely beautiful soft corals all of the place. After lunch we ventured out to Barnum’s Wall, starting as a sheer wall then turning into a wonderful sloping coral garden were divers were able to find more than five different crocodilefish along with other great marine life. Big Drop Off was the fourth dive of the day for a nice easy cruise along this gorgeous wall filled with great macro life, corals and even a shark here and there. Dinner was had and those few brave night divers went to German Coral Gardens, where they were able to find several interesting creatures such as the Lionspaw-seacucumber and the twin-spot lionfish.
Saturday morning the weather continued to improve and we headed for the world famous Blue Corner for a stellar hook-in dive. There were sharks, schooling jack, black snapper, some dogtooth tuna and of course we were joined by are friendly napoleon wrasse. Dive two was at ferns wall for an easy drift with some great corals and seafans divers also saw octopus, sharks, a crocodilefish, and several nudi’s. After lunch We head back out towards the corner this time going a little further to Blue Holes, where divers got to see the fantastic view of ambient light coming in through the four holes in the top of the reef into the massive cavern were the divers explored around find disco clams and a pygmy seahorse. After exiting the Blue Holes we made our way along with the wall on the left back down to Blue Corner were along the way we got to see a seasnake scoring the wall for food. Ngemelis Wall was the fourth dive of the day for a nice easy drift were divers saw nudi’s, turtles, three different sharks – white-tip, black-tip and gray reef. For the night dive divers headed back to Big Drop Off from the day before once again checking out the massive ball and chain left by the Germans pre-WWI while they were mining for phosphate, divers also saw stunning coral and macro life.
On Sunday we kicked off the day with another dive at German Channel to try our luck at seeing mantas again, it wasn’t looking to good but just was we started to drift down the channel to finish the dive we had large female manta swim right past all the guest for a quick hello and good bye.
On Monday we kicked off the day at Virgin Blue holes. A straight drop into the darkness and then out to the blue and a cruise down the wall. The lighting on the massive plates of hard corals was stunning as it was an early morning dive. Ferns Wall was another easy drift down a coral covered wall with shrimp and nudibranchs and other assorted tiny critters. Blue Corner for our third dive was our first strong current of the week. Hooked in enjoyed the show. Jacks, snappers, barracudas and a small collection of sharks. Of course the everpresent Napolean Wrasse were hanging out waiting on their photo ops. After unhooking and drifting into the blue we came back for a tasty snack and headed out for our third attempt at some manta action. After dropping in at German Channel we checked out the first cleaning station which was empty but the second stop we found the mantas again. We dropped in the sand and spent the rest of the dive watching them circle in and out and over the cleaning stations and the guests.
Tuesday morning came early on the boat, with the sun breaking over the picturesque rock islands and the birds chirping their cheerful songs. First location of the day was Jelly Fish Lake. With over an estimated 13 million resident jellyfish, everyone was impressed by this incredible snorkel. The sun was out and it provided a great background for the photographers. Once all had hiked back over the hill to the awaiting skiff, Ben began his famous rock island tour, whizzing in and amongst the islands, stopping for a photo opportunity at Palau’s Famous Archway and then some WWII sites as we made our way back to the big boat. The last event for our guests this charter was Chandelier Caves. With multiple air chambers, to surface in and view the stalactites, then outside the caves, we found mandarin fish, razor fish, signal gobies. We returned back to the big boat at the dock and helped our guests break down their gear and then after lunch they enjoyed some free time, going into town for shopping and relaxing on the boat. In the evening we all gathered in the salon for the cocktail party and reflected on the week and raised glasses in cheers. Ben presented his slide show and we laughed and smiled with a twinkle in our eye as we enjoyed the wonderful photos he captured for our guests. They then headed into town for dinner among the many wonderful restaurants found in Palau, then we said goodbye to our American guests as they left to the airport Tuesday night for their early Wednesday morning flight. In the morning we said goodbye to the 2 guests from Finland as they headed to their hotel. We again would like to thank everyone for joining us this 10 day charter and hope to see you all soon, until then we wish you safe diving and good times.
-Tropic Dancer Crew