Sunday afternoon we greeted our guests from Austria and Germany for a ten day charter. After a quick room briefing our guest began to set up dive gear before heading upstairs for the first of many delectable meals prepared by chefs Cam, after which our Cruise Director Ben went over the general safety and vessel orientation. Once everyone was well fed and informed it was time for some relaxing for the rest of the evening many stayed up for a few drinks and socializing before heading off to bed for a little rest to prepare for the next ten days of amazing diving in Palau.
Monday morning we left the dock bright and early, after breakfast we covered 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 Jakes Sea Plane for our check out dive. After checking weights and equipment we explored the wreck and the coral garden surrounding the plane. For dive number two we headed to the Helmet Wreck AKA Depth Charge Wreck 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 the cephalopod trifecta in a cuttlefish, octopus and five squids. Our third dive was on the Iro 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 fourth dive and final dive of the day was at the Hafa Dai ironically translated as “Save Travels”. Here divers found tons of Seahairs and Nudibranchs. We returned back to the big boat to another fabulous dinner prepared by Chef Cam, After dinner everyone gathered around for the last brief going over reef-hook diving.
Tuesday morning we awoke in front of Ulong Island for a couple of days of diving in this area our first stop out here being the infamous Ulong Channel. For the first half of the dive we hooked-in at the mouth of the channel watching as sharks swam back and forth less than a meter from the divers. The second half of the dive we had a nice drift down the channel its self passing tons beautiful coral and fish life ending the dive by two giant clams sitting side by side. Dive two was Siaes Corner with a light out going current divers hooked-in for a short while before unhooking and exploring one of the best coral gardens in Palau all along the way finding sharks, a massive school of barracuda, turtles, bumphead parrotfish, and an octopus. Dive three was spent at Sandy Paradise a terrific hard coral garden than turns into a sandy bottom around 21meters. Here divers found lots of great macro life like leafscorpion fish, garden eels, nudis and longnose filefish. Dive 4 was Ulong Coral Garden just north of the channel divers spent the first forty minutes exploring around checking out all the fish and macro life before finishing the dive with a superman drift down the channel riding the strong incoming current.
Wednesday morning we went back to Ulong for another hook-in dive to watch the sharks and to drift down the channel one last time. For dive two we went to Siaes Tunnel. A massive tunnel entering around 27meters and exiting at 30m, inside the tunnel divers are able to find several rare fish including the blue-back pygmy angle, B&W butterfly as well as both decorated and Helfrich dartfish. Dive three was at a sight known as Shark City, even though we only saw three shark’s divers still had an excellent dive swimming right through a massive school of barracuda, seeing wahoo, mackerel and an octopus. Dive 4 was Ulong Coral Garden South Side for an easy relaxing dive with tons of great fish life and some nudis. That evening during dinner the Rock Islands Aggressor moved down to through German Channel and attach to a morning sighting right in-between Ngemelis and Carp Islands.
On Thursday we started the day at the world famous Blue Corner and oh did it not disappoint. First hooking in at 12m and watch as a wall of jacks swam less than a meter in front of the divers after which we moved down and rehooked around 18m where the was close to a dozen or more sharks circling back and forth. For the last twenty minutes of the dive we explored the top of the plateau finding eels, octopus, turtles, a napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and so much more. Dive two was at Turtle Cove, one of the best soft coral covered walls in Palau here divers found an orangutan crab, scorpion fish, lots of fish and of course a couple of turtles. Dive three was a New Drop Off but with next to no current no one bothered to hook-in and instead explored the reef finding multiple octopi, turtles, nudis and a cute little peacock flounder scurrying across the plateau. The fourth dive was an easy wall dive at Big Drop Off with lots of great macro life. The first night dive of the charter was at German Coral Gardens were divers found an awesome ornate ghost pipefish, octopus, a plourabranch and lots of nudi.
We started Friday morning off with a bang with a dive back at Blue Corner and it did not disappoint our guest were absolutely blown away. Once again with incoming current divers hooked in and watch the several dozen sharks parading around coming in less than a meter away from the divers. For dive to we set out for Virgin Blue Hole, the hole its starts at just a meter under water then drops straight down to 30m after which divers swim through a long tunnel to reach the outer-reef again. Just inside the mouth of the tunnel we found a white robust ghost-pipefish and lots of different nudis then as we exited a whip-tail ray passed by only to show up once again at the very end of the dive to say goodbye to all the divers making for an excellent finish to the dive. Dive three was Dexters Wall with lots and lots of turtles. Then dive 4 was at Barnums Wall here divers found two robust ghost-pipefish, an octopus, some turtles and several different nudis. Our night dive was Turtle Cove where along with all the great macro life divers found a huge basketstar filter feeding.
Early on Saturday 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. After the dive 5 of our 18guests went on the Peleliu WWII land tour viewing sights from one of the bloodiest battles of the war between the USA and Japan. While some were on the land tour the remaining guests went on a dive at West Wall for an easy drift dive with a leopard shark and lots of excellent macro life. After the dive and the tour we all met back on the Rock Islands 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 Orange Beach Coral Garden. This dive site is actually where the marines land on Peleliu during WWII our guest explored the reef for artifacts leftover from the battle such as bullets, mortar shells and a small landing craft. After dinner the night dive was back at Orange Beach CG were divers found another ornate ghost-pipefish, a baby cuttlefish and lots of other great macro life.
On Sunday morning we headed back over to Peleliu Corner to hook-in and watch the all sharks swim about. After the dive the Rock Islands Aggressor moved back up north towards German Channel for the reaming dives of the charter staring with Blue Holes. Divers entered in through one of four holes in the shallow reef leading into a massive cavern inside dive found a peacock mantis shrimp, disco clams and some cool nudi, once everyone exited the cave we made our way along the wall finishing the dive by finding two octopi mating. The third dive was German Channel here divers saw a manta all be it briefly, feathertail ray, a couple of octopi, mantis shrimp and some pipefish. Ngemelis Wall was both the fourth dive and night dive with tons a macro life like thin ghost-pipefish, leaf-scorpionfish, nudis, candy crab and much more.
Monday 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 a back to New Drop Off for one last hook-in dive seeing sharks, barracuda, jacks and octopus. Dive 3 we went back to German Channel to try for the mantas one more time but with no luck however there was lots of shark, another feathertail ray and lots of schooling fish.
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. In the morning we said goodbye to the guests 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