Palau, Tropic Dancer
Captain’s Log 9/6 – 9/13
Around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon we started welcoming aboard our 12 guests for the week. This week’s charter included 10 guests from the USA Les, Murray, Mina, Mark, David, Mary Ann (our non-diver and Dave’s mom), Stephen, Mary, Rod, and our two guests from Germany Alex and Felix rounded out our group for the week. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins and then on to the dive deck were everyone started to set up their dive gear in anticipation of a wonderful week of diving. Once their gear had all been set up we all enjoyed a fabulous BBQ dinner prepared by Chef Cam.
Early Monday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer to our mooring in Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing before the first dive at the Helmet Wreck. The Helmet Wreck was a Japanese Submarine hunter sunk during WWII but was not rediscovered until the mid 80’s so many of the WWII artifacts are still on the wreck suck as helmets (hence the name), gasmask, beer bottles, depth charges, Zero airplane engines and much more. During our surface interval the big boat moved just outside of Malakal Harbor. Our second dive of the day was the Iro Maru a 500ft Japanese oil tanker also sunk during the war by US forces. After we entered the water we followed the mooring line down to the bow of the wreck as the large bow gun came in to view. We continued down the wreck exploring the wheelhouse and then the engine room. We worked our way down to the stern of the Iro seeing schooling jack, a turtle and a couple batfish. We turned around at the stern gun and circled up the king post. We spent some time with the red anemones and the Tomato Anemone Fish before swimming from king post to king post and back up the mooring line to do our safety stop. During lunch the boat moved to Little Toy island close Ulong Channel. With our third dive being at Ulong Channel and our first hook in dive of the charter. We started the dive on the wall drifting down the beautiful wall until. We reached the mouth of Ulong Channel were the guests masterfully performed their first hook in dive of the week. The current was not too strong but there were still some Grey and White Tip reefs sharks there to give us a show. After about 20 minutes we unhooked and drifted down the magical Ulong Channel (my favorite dive site). This was a great dive; it was almost three dives in one a wall hook in and drifts dives all in one, just brilliant! Our last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise a relatively new dive sight for Palau. Sandy Paradise is a sandy sloping coral garden. Our guests were treated to not 1, 2 or 3 but 4 Leaf Scorpion fish! We also saw a couple turtles, Grey Reef and Whit Tips sharks. As we bring the day to a close we enjoyed another fabulous dinner from Chef Cam before retiring for the night as most of the guests were exhausted from traveling the day before and the fast paced day of diving.
After breakfast Tuesday morning we started our day off with our first dive at Siaes Corner. We dropped down the wall and made our way to the hook in area. As we swam along the wall we saw sharks, schooling fusiliers, turtles and bumphead parrotfish. Our guests were treated to a show at the hook in area from Grey Reef sharks, barracudas and the resident and extremely friendly Napoleon Wrasse. Back to the big boat for snacks, and then off to our second dive at Ulong Channel, for an easy drift dive with lots of fish of different varieties, soft corals, seafans and nesting Trigger fish protecting their young. The highlight of the dive was a huge patch of Lettuce coral and two giant clams. 3rd dive of the day was at turtle cove, we had a peaceful dive as we drifted down the wall with a very mild current. Our guests spotted a lone grey reef shark, flat worms and several varieties of nudibranchs. Next up was Big Drop Off, for the 4th dive of the day; once again it was a very mild current almost nonexistent but we went with wall on the left. Almost immediately we were treated to a large Spotted Marble Ray and a White Tip resting on the bottom. As we continued down the wall we came across many resting turtles, Lion Fish, nudibranchs and reef fish of all colors sizes and shapes, it was a very pleasant dive. As the guests were enjoying dinner and talking amongst themselves it came apparent that nobody was interested in a night dive as they all have decided to enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer. After talking to them they unanimously decided to forgo the night dive tomorrow and have a dusk dive instead, so be it the majority has spoken.
Wednesday morning our 1st dive was at Ngemelis Wall where we enjoined the beautiful hard and soft corals, Grey Reef Sharks, nudibranchs, Square Spot Anthias and much much more. 2nd dive at Turtle Cove it was a challenging dive with heavy seas and switching currents but we managed to make it a great dive in spite of these challenges. We seen another marble ray come up from the deep and settle in the sandy area at the base of the chimney at the very beginning of the dive. We cruised down the wall and around the corner and made our way on top of the reef were we explored the shallows and all it has to offer. 3rd dive was at German Channel starting on the Peleliu side, we sat and waited at the cleaning station although no manta showed up we still had lots of cool stuff to see. 4th dive was a dusk dive as the guests requested the night before. The dive was at German Coral Garden were Les spotted a scorpion fish to the groups delight. Other sighting included lion fish, octopus, schooling snappers and barracuda.
Thursday the winds have come down enough so we were finally able to make it to Blue Corner and what a great dive it was! The guests were ecstatic to say the least, all the normal players were there sharks, barracudas, jack, tuna and of course our friend the Napoleon Wrasse. The 2nd dive of the day was at New Drop Off, It was an incoming current but mild. We drifted along the beautiful wall and hooked in on the corner. We had several sharks in front of us the whole time we were hooked in. We spent most of the dive at the hook area enjoying the show, then unhooked and explored the plateau for the rest of the dive. Our 3rd dive of the day was not a dive but the Peleliu land tour. All the guests attended the tour exploring the WWII artifacts from the battle of Peleliu our guests seem to absolutely enjoy it. 4th dive was at German Wall which was another dusk dive as requested by the guests this week. We found lots of cool critters seeing turtles, shrimps and crabs, basket stars and a quick glimpse of an octopus.
Friday our first dive was at ferns wall for an easy drift with some great corals and seafans, our divers also saw octopus, sharks, a crocodilefish, and several nudi’s. 2nd dive Barnum’s Wall With a slight current we started the dive with the wall on our right. We immediately found a large green seas turtle roaming the wall as well as two white tip sharks. Upon further exploration we found several Nudibranch eggs with their parents close by. After lunch we embarked for dive three at Big Drop Off. All the guests enjoyed the drift along the wall; we saw a lot of macro life, nudi’s and a couple of turtles. 4th dive was at German Channel, we had a brief swim by from a Manta before it disappeared of in to the blue. After hanging out at the cleaning station for a bit, divers cruised down the channel finding a beautiful red anemone a giant clam and swam though several large schools of fish. After dive four we returned to the big boat where we enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Chef Cam.
We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. Our first excursion was Jelly Fish Lake. We tied the skiff up on the outside and started our hike over the hill to the lake. We entered the water and after a short swim into the middle of the lake we were surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this time in the lake, with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we traveled by skiff on a rock island tour. We stopped for photos at Palau’s famous limestone archway and some WWII sites on the way back to the big boat. We did a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and outside the cave we found the mandarin fish. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear, we gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch a photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner
Sunday morning the guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes as they headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Captain and Crew