Log Date: Sunday, Feb 07, 2016
Entry By: Rock Islands Aggressor Crew
Rock Islands Aggressor - Palau - Charter Report
Charter Dates: Feb 7th – Feb 17th, 2016
10 Day Charter
Sunday afternoon we greeted our guest for the week from all over the world including Thailand, Japan, Canada, France, Holland and USA. After a quick room briefing guest began to set up dive gear before heading upstairs for the first of many delectable meals prepared by chef Matt, after which our Cruise Director Ben went of the general safety and vessel orientation. Once everyone was well fed and informed for the evening many stayed up for a few drinks and socializing before heading off to bed form a little rest to prepare for a week of fantastic diving in Palau.
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 Helmet Wreck for our check out dive. After checking weights and equipment we moved along the deck of this ship and checked out WWII artifacts such as Japanese a rifle, bullets, depth charges and stacks of remaining helmets. We also found a sawblade shrimp and a pair of signal gobies. Our second dive was on the Iro Maru where guest observed massive bow and stern guns and swam through giant kingpost. Another highlight of the dive is the anemone covered masts with several large tridacna clams being swarmed by anemone fish. Our third dive was at the Hafa Dai an old fishing boat where its name is ironically translated to save travels. Our fourth dive of the day was on at the Jake Sea Plane. At this unique sight our divers were able to view a Japanese sea plane that was used in bombing raids and makes for some nice photos. Planes being a rarity in the wreck diving world.
Tuesday morning we woke up for our first of two days out of Ulong Island with our first dive at Siaes Tunnel. Here divers got to see several fish rarely seen by recreational divers including the pygmy blue-back angle, B&W butterfly as well as both decorated and helfrichs dartfish. Once we exited the deep tunnel we found an octopus and numerous shark life along the wall as well as several turtles. Dive to we had back out towards Siaes this time diving the corner here divers hooked in for the first time and watch in amazement with more than fifty sharks cruising out in the blue water. After lunch we stayed a little closer to the big boat with a short skiff ride out to Ulong Coral Garden / Channel. Our first time out divers spent their time exploring the coral garden and celebrated one of our guest, P’Tiger’s 100th dive and fished the dive by drifting down the channel with a nice current. The second round here we hooked in at the mouth of the channel where we had multiple shark circling back and forth, this time celebrating with Drew for her 100th dive, once again finishing the dive by flying down the channel and end the dive at to massive giant clams sitting side by side both are estimated to be more than a hundred years old, making for a rather fitting end for our second day of diving.
Wednesday morning we awoke in front of Ulong Island and made our first dive at Siaes Corner along the incoming side this time. On the wall as we made our way towards the hook-in we had a large thresher shark cruise right by, a rare sighting in Palau. Then to make thing s every better we had another rare shark in the form of a young silver-tip at the hook-in area hanging out with a bunch of other gray reef sharks. Our second dive was the coral garden just south of Ulong Channel with lots of great fish life and even a manta happened to pass by. Then back to the Rock Islands Aggressor for lunch before the third dive at Sandy Paradise. The first stop at Sandy was a cleaning station around 80’ where right of the bat we had a large manta circle around and around for ten minutes as it got cleaned. After that we made our way along the coral garden were we found two octopi, one shy and another not so much as it but on a show changing color, texture and flared up over rocks as it hunt for small critters. For the fourth and final dive in Ulong we went back to Ulong Channel on last time. Once again hooking in at the mouth and finishing with an awesome superman drift down the channel. Once back on the big boat we had dinner as we made our way down into the area known as Wonder Channel for both our night dive and to ready for Jellyfish Lake the next day. In Wonder Channel we had a nice first night dive finding a cuttlefish, several large basket stars, ploura branchs and lot of other macro life.
Thursday morning we awoke surrounded by the beautiful Rock Islands and started the day with a trip to JellyFish Lake. After a short hike up and over the hill guest swam out to the middle of the lake where they were all surrounded by millions of golden jellyfish. After a hour in the lake we made a quick stop back at the Rock Islands Aggressor and the headed off for the Milky Way, to lather up in silky smooth sand with some great cosmetic properties leaving everyone skin filling nice and smooth. Afterwards during lunch the Rock Islands Aggressor down to the inside of German Channel for several days of diving in this area. Our first stop was at the excellent dive site Barnums Wall, although the was quick a cold water upwell divers did get to see another young silver-tip shark after which divers made their way to back into the warm shallower coral garden. Dive 4 was at German Channel; here divers saw two large mantas get cleaned for a short while and lot of sharks swimming all about. This is also where we had our night dive finding the Lionspaw seacumber, seahairs and lots of macro life.
On Friday morning we started the day out at the world famous Blue Corner, although the current was incoming it was extremely light so we never even bothered to hook-in. Instead we explored around the top of the plateau checking out all the schooling jacks, barracuda, snapper and trevally as well as numerous sharks and several turtles. Once back from the dive guest had hot breakfast and a short break before the 2nd dive a New Drop Off. This time the current was outgoing but still very light but even so there was still a lot of sharks in the area so divers hooked-in for a short while and watched the parade before unhooking and exploring the rest of the plateau. Dive three was Blue Holes just up the way from Blue Corner. Divers dropped down into one of 4holes on top of the shallow reef all leading into the same massive cavern for some cool ambient light photos. Then just as we exited the cavern everyone checked out three pygmy seahorses on a seafan just outside the cave. Turtle Cove was the fourth dive as well as night for use hear dives explored this beautifully covered coral wall finding sharks, schools of all different types of fish, lobster, scorpion fish and of course a couple of turtles.
Saturday morning we went back to German Channel although no mantas this time we did a feathertail ray, sharks and tons of fish. 2nd dive was at Virgin Blue Hole, a strait drop down to 100’ the about a 40’ swim through tunnel to get to the outer wall at the exit there were 2 robust pipefish for some great pics. Dive three was an easy wall dive at Big Drop Off, one of the biggest features here is the massive ball and chain left behind by the Germans pre WWI as well as tons of great macro life. The fourth dive and night dive was Ngedebus CG a excellent finger coral garden where we found a marble ray,
On Sunday we headed out to Peleliu Corner. Another slow drift down the wall with another encounter with a thousand sea breams. Dive two at Barracks Corner was another slow drift over acres of colorful hard coral. We spotted 4 different Tridacna Clams. Monster sized. And turtles continued to pop up through out the dive. Ngedebus Corner had lots of soft coral and nudibranchs. German Channel was the highlight of the day. After an easy dive checking out the cleaning stations which were all empty. After striking out we decided to end the dive and struck manta gold. There were three mantas feeding. In about 15 feet of water. Back and forth. Around and round. Loops and rolls. It was an amazing encounter. We stayed with them until we had to come up and then hopped back in with snorkels until the sun dropped out of the sky.
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.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew