Log Date: Sunday, Oct 18, 2015
Entry By: Tropic Dancer Crew
Sunday afternoon we welcomed nine guest aboard the Tropic Dancer then five more later that night arriving from the airport. With a total of 14 guest we had 6 form Germany, 4 from the USA, 2 from Australia, 1 from Austria and 1 from Belgium making for a nice mix of people from around the world. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins and then on to the dive deck where 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 our first of many fabulous dinners prepared by Chef Matt. Afterwards Ben the Cruise Director gave the Safety Briefing before heading off to bed for a little rest before starting our week of diving in Palau.
Early Monday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer to our over to the mooring inside Malakal Harbor. After breakfast Conor covered the general dive briefing before the first dive our first at the Helmet Wreck. The divers jumped in the water did their initial wait checks and began their descent down the line toward this unidentified Japanese sub-chaser from WWII. Found long after the war in the late 80’s this is one of the few wrecks in Palau not salvaged so divers are able to find many artifacts such as helmets(were the name comes from), depth charges, a rifle, porcelain sink, gas mask and much more. During the dive the Tropic Dancer started out towards Ulong Island so the skiff played catch-up once back on the big boat we continued on to Ulong, during which we coved the reef-hook briefing before our first hook-in later that afternoon. For our first dive in Ulong we headed out to Sandy Paradise a wonderful coral garden that bottoms out around 80’, were divers explored the edge of the sand and coral finding octopus, a mantis and several leaf scorpion fish. After lunch we went to Siaes Corner for our first hook-in dive of the charter. When we reached the point of the corner several divers were lucky to see a hammerhead roaming the edge of the reef. The current was light so we only hooked-in for a short period of time and spent the remainder of the dive exploring the top of the plateau checking out some bumphead parrotfish, barracuda and an octopus along the way. The last dive of the day was a dusk dive at Ulong Channel, we made our way along the wall to the mouth of the channel were we had a nice incoming current so we hooked-in and watched as several sharks swam back and forth as well as a quick flyby of a spotted eagleray . As the light faded we unhooked and drifted down the channel in the dark using our lights to guide the way, flying of beautiful corals and finishing the dive at two giant clams setting side by side.
Tuesday we stayed out by Ulong long for two more dive starting at Siaes Tunnel. The top of the tunnel entrance is around 90’ and spits divers back out around 100’ inside we found several fish rarely seen by recreational divers including black&white butterfly, pigmy blue-back angelfish as well as both decorated and helfrich dart fish. Once outside the tunnel we made our way down the wall all the way back to Siaes Corner seeing tons of fish life and lot of sharks. Our last dive here was back at Ulong Channel, when we got to the mouth of the channel the current was extremely light so we didn’t both to hook-in and just slowly drifted down the channel checking out all the fish life a friendly turtle and passed by a massive patch of lettuce coral with tons of solider fish living in between the leafs. During lunch the Captain Scott moved the Tropic Dancer down just inside German Channel for our next few days of diving. Our first dive here was at Alexy’s Coral Garden were divers found a feathertail ray and a massive lobster. For the forth dive guest ventured out to German Wall here divers found several turtles, another lobster and a couple of gray reef sharks.
Wednesday morning we start the day off with a bag going out to the world famous Blue Corner for a fantastic dive with hundreds of schooling jacks, black snapper, barracuda, tons of sharks and of course of friendly napoleon wrasse. Dive two was at Turtle Cove know for its beautiful soft coral covered wall and of course a turtle or two. We started by exploring cavern where we found an octopus and a couple of disco clams. Once we left the cavern we made our way with the wall on the left and a couple of guest just saw yet another hammerhead as for the rest of the dive we found scorpion fish, turtles, schools of jacks and black snapper. After lunch we set out for another hook-in dive at New Drop Off. As we made our way to the hook-in point divers saw tons of wahoo, tuna and sharks. As we rounded a corner and hooked-in on the walls edge where we had a large school of yellow-fin barracuda, some jacks and on shark that cruise the edge of the wall just a few feet from the divers over and over. With a descent current and a small corner we stayed hooked-in for the majority of the dive and spent only the last couple of minutes drifting a cross the plateau before reaching the other side and beginning our ascents. For both dive four and the night dive divers explored Big Drop Off, a beautiful wall covered in coral, macro and fish life and not to mention one of the key futures being the massive ball and chain left by the Germans pre WWI for one of their old morning systems.
On Thursday morning we started the day at Blue Holes. Here divers descended down one of four holes in the top of the reef down in to a massive cavern were they explored and took pictures, we managed to find several disco clams and pigmy sea horse just outside of the cavern. Once we left the cavern we made our way down towards blue corner roaming the top of the plateau seeing shark, turtles, and napoleon wrasse. For the second dive divers rolled in at German Channel for a chance at mantas but unfortunately that didn’t work out not to say it wasn’t a great dive divers found a feathertail ray, two red-banded pipefish, several sharks and a giant clam. After lunch the third dive was back out to blue corner where once again divers had a wonderful time with all the usual suspects there; sharks, napoleon, schools of black snapper, jacks, barracuda and few trevally as well. For dive four we went out to Barnums Wall, here divers finally saw their first crocodile fish as well as a fantastic purple scorpion fish and several turtles. Turtle Cove was the night dive, were the divers saw some beautiful corals, turtle, scorpion fish and whitetip hunting along the wall.
Early Friday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer down to Peleliu for some more excellent dives the first over which was a Peleliu Corner, the incoming side known as “the express”. However the current was pretty much at a standstill so divers just made an easy drift down towards the corner finding a leopard shark and several gray reefs along the way. Dive two was off of West wall where divers saw a ton of red anemones, a couple gray reefs and tons of fish life. The third dive of the day was at Orange Beach Coral Garden name by the marines when they land on Peleliu on D-Day during WWII. Here divers found artifacts from the war including bullets, mortar shells and even a landing craft. For dive four we did one last dive in Peleliu at Barracks Point. During the dive the current switched but we still saw a couple of turtles and a giant clam. We came back to the big boat and had our final supper of a Thanksgiving feast. Then we had our last night dive at German Coral Garden. We saw a crocodile fish and a lions paw sea cucumber. After we watched the video of the charter.
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 and three spiny-devil fish so ugly their cool. 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 we said our goodbyes as the guests 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