WEBSITE UPDATE – CAPTAINS LOG:
Sunday afternoon we welcomed on board 14 guest 10 from Poland and 4 from France. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms and then we set up all the dive gear. We checked his certification cards and headed upstairs for our first of many fabulous dinners prepared by Chef Cameron. Afterwards Jon covered the vessel orientation and safety briefing, then our guests sharecd a few cocktails before heading off to bed for a little rest before starting our week of diving in Palau.
Monday we fired up the big boat and left the dock bright and early as we started our way out to Ulong Island for a wonderful day of diving. After breakfast Conor cover the General Dive Briefing to prepare guest for diving from the skiff and potentially strong current here in Palau and then we set out for our first dive of the charter at the wreck of Jakes Seaplane. Here divers had examined this small WWII wreck checking out the cockpit, propellers and wings, after which we were able to find a cuttlefish, octopus and a pod of razor fish amongst the hard coral garden. After the first dive we covered the reef-hook briefing as we finish the journey out to Ulong Island. Our second dive of the charter was at Siaes Corner for our first hook-in dive. Divers entered the water and made their way along the edge of the wall to the hook-in site with a very mild current divers had no problems hooking in for the first time. With a light current we unhooked about ten minutes into the dive but as soon as the hooks came out we had two devil rays cruise by. After the devil ray sighting we went to explore one of the best coral gardens in Palau finding octopus, turtles and a baby eagle ray amongst all the beautiful corals. Dive three was another hook-in dive at Ulong Channel, we entered the water with the wall on our left and made our way to the mouth of the channel, but once there we discovered that there was no current so we didn’t even bother to hook-in. Instead we started down the channel seeing several large groupers, lion fish, a few flat worms and a turtle. The final dive of our first day was at Ulong Coral Garden just a little bit further down from the actual channel. As we made our way with the wall on the left divers found several magnificent sea anemones ball up digesting their meals from the day and showing of their excellent colors all different from yellow to pink to turquoise. Half way through the dive the current switched from outgoing to incoming so we made our way over to the channel and finished the dive with a drift down the channel as the sun was setting.
Tuesday we started early with a dive at Sandy Paradise, with the new moon just a few days away there we hundreds of bumphead parrotfish spawning. Amongst all the bumpheads divers found three leaf-scorpion fish, several sharks and an octopus. After the dive we came back and had breakfast before heading out for our next dive back at Siaes Corner for another excellent dive. When we arrive at the dive site it was a very mild outgoing current so we started with the wall on the right but by the time we made it to the corner the current had switched and we had to swim against the current to the other side of the plateau. Thankfully Siaes Corner is relatively small and it was not a long swim but once on the other side we hooked in and we accompanied about twelve sharks and once again a baby eagle ray hanging out right on the edge of the corner. During lunch the Tropic Dancer moved down just outside of German Channel, dive three was at Turtle Cove. Guest started the dive by dropping down a opening in the shallow reef to a small cavern were they saw a couple of disco clams, once divers exited the cave they made their way along one of the best soft coral coved walls in Palau. The fourth dive was at Big Drop Off for a nice relaxing drift along the wall where divers found the massive ball and chain left by the Germans pre WWI as well as several nudi’s, anemones and a couple of gray reef sharks. During dinner all guest choose to forgo the night dive and instead share a few cocktails and some laughs with friends for the evening.
Wednesday morning we started our action packed day with a dive at Blue Holes, here divers entered in through one of four holes in the shallow reef all leading down into a massive camera where everyone enjoyed a fantastic view with the ambient light coming through the holes. Also divers found several disco clams and a pygmy seahorse just outside the cavern, where we then made our way along the wall on our left down towards Blue Corner where we hooked in for a short while and watched the shark, after which we unhooked and finished the dive with a drift across the plateau. Dive two was at New Drop Off another excellent hook-in dive were divers watched as a parade of sharks circled around as well as wahoo, and a large school of barracuda. Dive three we went back out to Blue Corner this time to dive the incoming side, when we entered the water the current was nice and strong and brought in a lot of marine life when we hooked in we had a school of more than a thousand jacks not to mention several dozen sharks, trevally, dogtooth tuna, and wahoo. Around twenty five minutes into the dive the current got even strong making some of the marine live drop lower on the wall and around thirty five minutes we unhooked and rehooked on the deep hook-in to watch some more sharks and black snapper. We finished the dive by drifting across the plateau and over the other side. Our fourth and final dive was a German Channel to try our luck at seeing some mantas and for most of the dive it seemed that we may not get to see any but after about forty minutes we had two fly by and say hello. Also we had few sharks and an eagleray sweep by during the dive. For dinner Chef Cameron made yet another excellent meal and all divers decided to skip the night dive and enjoy each other’s company instead.
On Thursday morning we started up the big boat and headed down to Peleliu. Our first dive was at Peleliu Corner, the current was out going and very light. We entered the water on the D’Cut side of the corner and drifted slowly towards the hook in area. The current was not strong enough to hook in for any length of time, so we hooked in for a few minutes then drifted towards the corner. We ended the dive at the corner. After the dive 9 guests went on the WWII land tour to see the sites of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. Dive two was at Orange Beach Coral Garden Garden named by the marines when they landed on Peleliu on D-Day during WWII. Here divers found artifacts from the war including bullets, mortar shells and even a landing craft. Also divers saw three crocodile fish a couple gray reefs and some macro life. After dive two and once the other guest returned from the WWII land tour we gathered around for nice BBQ lunch on the sun deck to enjoy the nice weather. Dive they was at West Wall here we enjoyed an easy drift down the wall seeing turtles, sharks and the highlight being another devilray cruising by and checking us out before vanishing off out into the blue. Before the fourth dive the big boat moved out of Peleliu south dock and slowly towards the German Channel area. We lowered the skiff and headed out to Barracks Point. The current was very light and we saw the giant clams and a bunch of turtles. We returned to the big boat and motored back to German Channel. After dinner we finally had a night dive at German Coral Garden. Four of guest ventured out and saw lion fish, several Nudi’s: Marionia sp, notodoris. 4 head shield slugs. Flatworms and a mantis shrimp were also seen.
Friday morning we started the day with a repeat dive at Blue Corner. The current was a perfect incoming, not to strong not to light. We hooked in and stayed for about 40 minutes. There were many sharks and a few dog toothed tuna as well as a large school of the chevron barracuda. We unhooked and went across the plateau and started our ascent. Dive 2 was Barnums wall were we spent most of the dive exploring a terrific coral garden in the middle where we were able to find a couple of turtles and crocodilefish. After lunch we went out to Dexters Wall, here we saw probably more than twenty turtles as well as several sharks and a scorpionfish. For or last dive we went back for a repeat dive at German Channel, where right away we had a huge manta circling around the clean station and was soon joined by another large manta. Once the two manta left we moved over to the other cleaning station and just as we we’re about to start a drift down the channel we had two more smaller manta swing by and an eagle said hello as well making for an excellent dive. That night after a delectable Thanksgiving style meal form Chef Cameron, guest all gathered around to watch Jon’s video of the week.
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 watched a Conor’s 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 divers for a great week of diving. ‘Til next time. Safe travels.
-Tropic Dancer Crew