WEBSITE UPDATE – CAPTAINS LOG:
Thursday afternoon we greeted our guest for the upcoming ten days from all over the world including Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland and the 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 chefs Matt and Pat, 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.
Friday morning we left the dock bright and early and after breakfast and Conor gave the dive deck briefing before 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 AKA Depth Charge 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 everyone 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 anemonefish. 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 of the wreck razor fish and an octopus.
Saturday morning we awoke in front of Ulong Island for a couple of days of diving in this area our first stop out here being Siaes Tunnel. The entrance to the tunnel is self sits at 90’ and exits around 100’. Inside this massive tunnel diver are able to find several fish rarely seen by recreational divers including B&W butterfly, pygmy blue-back angle and both helfrich & decorated dart fish. Once divers exited the tunnel they made their way along the wall seeing tons of fish life and several sharks. For dive 2 we headed back out to Siaes this time diving the Corner for the first hook-in dive of the charter. Here guest got to see upwards of fifty or so sharks swimming out in the blue, schooling morrish-idols , barracuda and much more. After lunch our third dive of the day was at the popular Ulong Channel. As we made our way down to the channel there were several sharks and even more when we hook-in. Half way through the dive we unhooked and drifted down the gorgeous coral filled channel, fishing the dive next to two giant clams sitting side by side. Then the fourth and final dive of the day was Sandy Paradise, a sloping hard-coral garden that turns into a sandy bottom around 70’-80’. On the dive divers found a friendly octopus, several leaf-scorpion fish and had two marble rays that put on a nice little show for everyone scouring through the sand for food.
Sunday morning we started with a dive out a Shark City, with the full moon three days away divers were able to see thousands of red snapper spawning making for an awesome show. With all the red snapper around this also brings in bigger predators and divers saw three large bull-sharks circling the wall of snapper. Dive two was a repeat dive at Siaes Corner this time however there was hardly any current so instead of hooking in everyone just explored around one of the best coral gardens in Palau. There were still around a dozen gray reefs in the area along with whitetips napping in the sandy area, along with the sharks divers found two octopi, a pair of turtles, napoleon wrasse and a large school of barracuda. After dive two it was back to the Rock Island Aggressor for lunch before dive three at Ulong Coral Garden not too far from the channel its self. So divers explored this traffic hard coral garden for the first half of the dive finding sharks, schools of scad and bat fish then fish with an easy drift down the channel. Then dive four was back to Ulong Channel one more time, this time starting form the south side but with almost no current instead we just explored around finding lots of great little creatures. That evening during dinner the Rock Island Aggressor moved down through German Channel.
Monday we started the day out at the world famous Blue Corner. Starting on the outgoing side we hooked in around 55’ with several dozen sharks swimming around getting within just a foot or two from the divers, there were also plenty of fish all around including dogtooth tuna and Spanish mackerel. When we unhooked divers explored the top of the plateau finding a peacock mantis shrimp, turtles, eels and lots of other fish life. Our second dive was at New Drop Off another hook-in dive when we went the current was quite a bit stronger so drives stayed hooked in for a good portion of the dive and watched as all the fish and sharks swam about in the serge. Then back to the Rock Island Aggressor lunch before dive three at Big Drop Off for an easy wall dive with a couple octopus, turtles and lot of macro life. For the fourth dive we headed down to German Channel to try our luck at seeing some manta but unfortunately none were to be seen we did however still have several sharks and tons of schooling fish in the area. Then after dinner for the first night dive of the charter we went back towards German this time diving Coral Garden to the side of the channel. Here we found lots of cool critters including plourabranchs (nudi’s on steroids), a friendly octopus, several flatworms, lots of lionfish including the rare twin-spot lionfish and a very cool jellyfish.
Early on Tuesday morning the Rock Island Aggressor moved down to Peleliu and pulled into the protected lagoon of Camp Beck for the next day and a half of diving. Our first dive here was at the infamous Peleliu Corner on the incoming side know as the “The Express”. The current was descent at the start of dive as we drift past numerous sharks and other sea life, about half the down the wall the current pick up a bit and we hooked in to watch the sharks parade around. Around thirty minutes into the dive we unhooked and explored the rest of the dive site seeing some large groupers and a massive school of jacks just before beginning our ascent, then on our safety stop we had a school of rainbow-runners circling around us. Then after the dive thirteen of our sixteen guest went on the Peleliu WWII land tour viewing sights from one of the bloodiest battles of the war between the USA and Japan. While everyone was on the land tour the remaining three guest went on a dive at Orange Beach Coral Garden. This dive site is actually where the marines land on Peleliu during WWII so while most of the guest looked at artifacts from the war on land the other three saw some underwater such as bullets, mortar shells and a small landing craft. After the dive and the tour we all met back on the Rock Island Aggressor for lunch before dive 3 at Barracks Point, a sloping coral garden with a steep wall on both sides. Here divers saw several giant clams and more than a dozen green sea turtles. Our last dive of the day was at West Wall for an easy drift dive with six or so large dogtooth tunas hanging around for most of the dive as well as several sharks, a school of bumphead parrotfish and a curious turtle. After dinner the night was back at Orange Beach CG were divers found a Lionspaw seacucumber, nudi’s, flatworms and lot of other macro life.
On Wednesday morning we went back to Orange Beach Coral Garden so everyone could get a look at this beautiful hard coral garden and artifacts from the battle of Peleliu. Dive two was also a repeat dive at Barracks Point once again seeing lots of turtles and several giant clams, this time divers also found a large nurse sharks resting under a large coral head. During the second dive the Rock Islands Aggressor moved back up into the German Channel area for the remainder of the charters dives. Dive 3 was out near Blue Corner at Blue Holes, the tide was a little too low to enter into the holes themselves so instead divers enter in at a window around 40’ to the massive cavern for so cool shots of the ambient light coming in through the holes as well as some cool critters such as the disco clams. Then as we exited the cavern several divers got to sea pygmy seahorse before making our way down towards the corner where once again we had lots of sharks and hooked in for a short to watch the parade. Dive 4 was back to German Channel for another shot at a manta sighting and this time we succeeded with one passing back and forth several times before disappearing into the blue, we also a large schools of fish coming into feed on the plankton and several sharks. Then Big Drop Off was the night dive where divers for an excellent macro dive.
Thursday we kick off the day with another outing to Blue Corner, this time there was very little current and divers only hooked in for a short while before going and exploring the top of the plateau. On the dive guest saw a huge school of jacks, many sharks, barracuda, dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel, napoleon wrasse and much more. Dive 2 was Turtle Cove, staring out divers descended down a large hole on top of the shallow reef into a large cavern were everyone checked out several disco clams and then made their way out along the wall down towards the corner all along the way divers saw several sharks, turtles, nudi’s as well as schools of jacks and black snapper. Then after lunch dive three was at a dive site know as Dexters Wall here divers found turtles, turtles and more turtles amongst the coral ridges. Barnums Walls was next on the list of dives a site that starts with a wall on either side and transitions into a beautiful coral garden where everyone saw a marble ray cruise right by as well as a couple crocodilefish, several rare nudi’s and excellent anemones. For the last night dive of the charter divers went to Turtle Cove, this night the wall was quite active and divers saw a white-tip out hunting, several turtles, the tiniest little scorpion fish all along with tons of macro life
Friday was our last full day of dive and began with a dive at German Channel. Once again we had a nice manta sighting with the same manta coming a swooping by several times throughout the dive. Our second dive was at Virgin Blue Hole starting around 5’ this hole drops straight down to a 100’ then divers have a tunnel about 70’ long to explore before being spit back out along the reef wall were you then head along with the wall on the right for some excellent topography with beautiful canyon like coral walls. Dive three was back to Blue Corner one last time, the current however was quite strange switching about 10-15minutes between incoming and outgoing sending divers in circles but none the less everyone saw the huge school of jacks, tons of sharks, napoleon wrasse, turtle and much more. The for the last dive of the day we made it out to Ferns Wall also dubbed as “Turtle Wall” and amply so cause divers found more than 15 turtles tucked in amongst on of the best cover soft coral walls in Palau. That night every gathered around for a Thanksgiving day feast before watching our video pro Jon’s movie of the 10 days.
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