Sunday afternoon we welcomed on board 7 guests. 6 guests from the US, and 1 from the Netherlands. After a quick introduction to their cabins everyone set up their dive gear, got checked in, and headed upstairs for the vessel orientation and safety briefing, after we sat down to a great dinner prepared by our chef Ronnie. Soon after all the guests were off to bed.
Monday morning at 5am we started up the boat and started heading out to Ulong. Our weather forecast shows that the weather might pick up at the end of the week so we decided to bypass the wrecks and head out to the outer reef while the weather is good and come back to the wrecks when the weather gets bad. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing and headed out to Sandy Paradise for our check out dive. We entered the water, did our weight checks and descended down along the coral garden. We saw some beautiful anemones, and then stopped at the rock with the 3 leaf scorpion fish. We also spotted a couple of sharks in the blue and a school of yellow tail barracuda. After the dive we covered our last briefing on how to use reef hooks and our second dive was at Siaes Corner. The current was a light outgoing current and we started the dive with the wall on our right. We traveled along the wall spotting some macro life, took some photos of the giant sea fan and made it to the hook in area. We hooked in even though the current was light to give the guests practice hooking in. We did see some sharks but with the light current they were off in the blue. We then unhooked and spent the rest of the dive exploring the coral garden. After lunch our third dive was at Ulong Channel. The current was a nice incoming. We started the dive from the moorings and slowly made our way to the mouth of the channel. We hooked in at the mouth and had several grey reef sharks passing by in front of the divers. We stayed for awhile in the current, then unhooked and drifted down the channel passing by the lettuce coral and again ended the dive at the giant clams. After the dive the big boat started heading towards the German Channel area, to get ready for our next day of diving as the guests sat down to dinner.
Tuesday we started the day with the famous Blue Corner. The current was out going and we entered the water and drifted along the wall towards the hook in area. We saw some sharks in the blue and hooked in. The sharks were off in the blue but there were a bunch of them. We then unhooked and saw three baby eagle rays swimming in formation above us. We spent the rest of the dive exploring the top of the plateau. For dive to we headed back to the blue corner area and did the dive at Blue Holes. We descended into the holes on top the reef and into the main chamber. Took photos of the guests with the ambient light that filled the chamber from above. We also saw the disco clams in their cracks along the side of the walls, then left the chamber and headed out along the wall towards Blue Corner. The eddy current created by the outgoing current was strong, only a couple of guests made it down to the corner. After lunch our third dive was at Turtle cove. We started the dive by descending down the hole on top the reef and found a disco clam, in the chimney. At the slopping sandy bottom we spotted a leopard shark sleeping on the bottom. We then went wall on our right towards the corner. The wall is covered with beautiful soft coral and sea fans, we saw a bunch of the square spot anthias on the steep wall and before we reached the corner we spotted a large devil scorpion fish. Dive four we headed to German Channel. We started the dive from the Koror side of the channel, entered the water and stopped at the red anemone for some photos. We then headed to the main cleaning station on the Koror side. No mantas came in to get cleaned but we did see several gray reef sharks circled around in front of the divers. We then crossed the channel to the Peleliu side cleaning station and sat down and waited but nothing came in to get cleaned so we turned around, came back to the middle of the channel and started drifting into the channel. After dinner we headed out to Turtle Cove for our first night dive of the charter. We started the dive from the mooring and descended down along the wall. We saw several basket stars, crabs and shrimp, and another scorpion fish.
Early Wednesday morning we started up the big boat and headed down to Peleliu. We tied up the boat in Camp Beck aka South Dock and dive our first dive at Peleliu Corner. The current was outgoing and we did the D’Cut side of the corner. We entered the water and drifted along the wall to hook in around the cut. We had several sharks in front of us and the large school of horse eyed jacks off to the side. We unhooked and let the current push us down the reef towards the corner seeing grey reef sharks all along the wall. For dive two we went out to West Wall. The current was incoming and we started the dive above the red tomato anemones then descended down along the wall. We found some great macro life including nudi’s, flatworm and more. After lunch our third dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden. We drifted along the slopping coral garden finding WWII artifacts, beautiful anemones, school of snappers and jacks. Before the fourth dive the big boat left South Dock and started making its way back to the German Channel area. We dropped the skiff for one last dive in Peleliu at Barracks Point. We entered the water above the coral garden and let the current push us along the reef. We spotted the 5 giant clams mixed in amongst the hard coral garden, several turtles and a couple of the longnose file fish. Back on the skiff we had to catch up with the big boat and after dinner our night dive was at Big Drop Off. We spotted a couple of white tip sharks out cursing along the wall, nudibranchs, and a lot of crabs. Also we found a twin spot lion fish and had a marbled grouper using our lights to hunt at night.
Thursday morning we started the day with our first dive at Blue Corner. It was again an outgoing current but this time it was stronger. We hooked it and watched the show. There were a lot of sharks in front of us and a school of yellow tail barracuda behind us. Wee unhooked and spent a little time exploring the plateau finding a turtle and an eel. As we made our ascent we saw the large school of chevron barracuda. Dive two we headed over to Virgin Blue Hole. We tied the skiff up to the mooring and swam over to the hole on top the reef; we then descend all the way down to the bottom at 100 feet. We spent some time taking photos in the chimney with the ambient light streaming down from above then swam out the long tunnel to the reef. We then went wall on the right to where the reef turns into canyon formations with an archway. This dive is a beautiful dive with the topography. After lunch dive three was at Dexters Wall. We drifted along the wall finding a lot of turtles, beautiful sea fans and soft coral. The current switched half way through the dive so we turned around. Our fourth dive was at Barnums Wall. We started the dive above the coral garden and let the light current push us through the whole dive site. We saw some anemones, nudibranchs, and a devil scorpion fish. After dinner our last night dive of the charter was at German Coral Garden. We started the dive from the mooring and descended down to the reef. We spotted a lot of crabs and shrimp, a very large plorabranch, and a crocodile fish.
Friday morning we woke up had breakfast and again went to Blue Corner for our first dive. We entered the water on the outgoing side but when we reached the hook in area the current switched to incoming so we had to turn around. We came up along the top of the shallow reef, found several octopuses and had the sharks in the blue as well. For dive two we headed out to New Drop Off. The current was outgoing and to start the dive it was moving. We swiftly drifted along the wall to the hook in area, hooked in and held on. There were a couple of sharks in the blue and a large school of yellow tail barracuda. The current started to die down so we unhooked and started exploring the plateau. We spotted the resident turtles that hang out on top the reef, and a flounder. During lunch the big boat started making its way back up to town so that we could dive the wrecks that we bypassed at the beginning of the charter, even thought the weather never turned bad our guests still wanted to dive the wrecks. We dropped the skiff for our third dive and did a nice skiff ride through the rock islands, stopped at the Natural Archway for photos and continued to the Iro for the dive. We descended down the mooring line and right way on the bow of the wreck, we spotted a female cuttle fish laying her eggs in the coral. It was great for photos because she was busy doing her thing so she let us get close with our cameras. We continued along the deck of the wreck to the stern and circled up the king post to see the colony of tomato anemone fish amongst two clams at 35 feet. We then went from king post to king post back to the mooring line at the front of the wreck, but then a couple of guests went back down to photograph the cuttle fish again. For our last dive of the day we went to the Helmet aka Depth Charge Wreck. This is an unidentified Japanese WWII sub chaser that sank in the harbor during the bombing run of Desecrate One. We entered the first cargo hold and saw the helmets and depth charges, saw more depth charges in the middle cargo hold with the large search light and the airplane engines in the forward cargo hold. We then turned around and headed towards the stern. We spotted the resident crocodile fish around the wheel hose and stopped at the stern for the photographers to take photos of the artifacts that have been collected and placed for viewing around the stern gun. Back at the big boat the guests showered off and headed up to the salon, we served drinks and sat down to our final supper that consisted of turkey, roasted ham, stuffing and all the sides of a thanksgiving dinner. After dinner our video pro Jim show his video of the charter and we all watched, enjoying the look back at a great week of diving in Palau.
Saturday morning our first dive was at the Jake Sea Plane. This Japanese three person plane sits in only 40 feet of water and its great for the photographers due to not having a lot of coral growth on it. We spent some time photographing it from all angles. We also some signal gobies around the plane in the sandy rubble bottom. For our last dive of the charter we headed out to Chandelier Cave. All the divers surfaced in the four air chambers saw the stalactites and crystal formations. Then on the outside of the cave we saw the mandarin fish. Back at the big boat the guests broke down their gear, washed it and hung it upstairs to dry. Lunch was soon ready and after settling the bills the guests enjoyed their free time. At 6pm we gathered in the salon for the beer and wine party while our photo pro showed his slideshow of all the images he took during the charter and all the guests received a CD of all those images to take home with them. After the party, the guests went into town for dinner at one of the local restaurants.
Very early Sunday morning two guests headed to the airport for their flight and at 8am the remaining guests headed off to their hotels for another couple days in Palau. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week on board the Rock Islands Aggressor. Hope to see you all again, until then safe diving…
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew