Rock Islands Aggressor - Palau - Charter Report
Charter Dates: Oct 9th– Oct 16th, 2016
Air temp: 86f
Water temp: 82f
Crew: Captain Ike, Ben, Jim, Andy, Jay
Sunday afternoon we welcomed on board 2 American guests. After a quick introduction to their cabins they 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 Andy. Soon after the 2 guests were off to bed.
Very early Monday morning we picked up our last 2 guests from Europe and later in the morning we had breakfast. Then we covered the general dive briefing and headed out to do our check out dive at the Helmet Wreck aka Depth Charge Wreck. This unidentified Japanese WWII sub chaser sank in the harbor during the American bombing run of Desecrate One. We did our back rolls into the water, checked our weight, and descended down to the wreck. We entered the first cargo hold; saw the three stacks of helmets and the depth charges. In the middle cargo hold we saw more depth charges the large anti-aircraft search light and swam through the old partition to the forward cargo hold with the airplane engines and generator. On the bow of the wreck we saw the Nippon Brewing Company bottles and turned around and headed towards the stern. We spent the rest of the dive looking at the artifacts that have been collected and placed around the stern gun. After the dive the big boat moved out of Malakal Harbor and into the Western Lagoon. Our second dive was at The Iro. We descended down the mooring ling to the bow of the wreck saw the bow gun and swam along the deck of the wreck to the stern and circled up the last king post to see the colony of tomato anemone fish. We then swam from king post to king post back to the mooring line at the front of the wreck to do our safety stop. After lunch, with the big boat now in the Ulong area, our third dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We entered the water and descended down to the entrance of the tunnel at 90 feet. We spent some time exploring the sides of the tunnel and found the decorated dartfish in the sandy bottom by the exit. We exited the tunnel and swam along the wall seeing a couple of sharks in the blue and a turtle. Our last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise. We entered the water 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 the school of big eyed crescent tails all packed nice in one group. After dinner we covered the last presentation on how to use reef hooks to prepare everyone for tomorrow’s dives.
Tuesday morning our first dive was at Siaes Corner. We started from the mooring and drifted along the wall to the hook in area. The current was light but we still hook in for a while seeing some sharks in the blue. We then unhooked and explored the coral garden for the rest of the dive seeing a couple turtles. Our last dive in the Ulong area was at the famous Ulong Channel. We started the dive from the moorings, descended down and out to the wall. The current pushed us to the mouth of the channel and we hooked in on the far side of the mouth. There were a couple sharks in front of us but the soon left. We noticed they were on the other side of the mouth so we unhooked and swam to that side to hook in again. We had 5 grey reef sharks swimming back and forth in front of us. We then unhooked and drifted down the channel. We swam through the school of big eyed crescent tail fish, saw the lettuce coral and ended the dive at the giant clams. During lunch the big boat moved over to the German Channel area and our third dive was at Turtle cove. With the west wind in was causing some big swells on the surface so we didn’t enter the hole on top the reef instead we descended down the mooring line in and the small window in the wall. We found a disco clam in the small cavern and exited out along the wall. We drifted all the way to the corner and came up on top the plateau finding a leaf scorpion fish and some turtles. Then it got really dark, we looked up and saw that it was pouring down rain on the surface. We surfaced and a big storm had come in and made the swell worse. We got back on the skiff and made it back to the big boat. We decided to move the big boat to more protected area so we headed to Wonder Channel. Our fourth dive was at Wonder Channel itself. We entered the water and let the outgoing current push us along the slopping wall and we found in total 10 banded messmate pipe fish. After the dive we sat down to dinner and after, no one wanted to do the night dive so they were shortly off to bed.
Wednesday morning we decided to do one more dive in the Wonder Channel area at Clam City. This is a shallow dive, 45 feet max, and we saw about 50 giant clams in the slopping coral garden. Also we found several types of nudibranchs. After the dive we moved the big boat out of Wonder Channel towards German Channel but stopped off at Ngerchong Outside for dive two. We started the dive from the mooring and drifted along the wall with the incoming current. This dive site was hit hard by typhoon Bofa about 4 years ago and the coral is starting to make a comeback. There is still a lot of marine life: sharks in the blue, schools of fish and we had a very large ornate eagle ray swim along side of us for a while as well. During lunch the big boat continued all the way out to German Channel. The West wind was still strong but some dive site could be reached. For dive three we did German Channel. We started the dive from the Koror side of the channel and stopped at the red anemone. Then on the way to the cleaning station we found a cuttle fish in the coral garden at the cleaning station we sat down and waited but no mantas. We did see some grey reef sharks and all of a sudden a shadow figure approached, it was a great hammerhead, it slowly swam by and then back off into the blue. We then crossed the mouth of the channel to the other cleaning station but still no mantas. We then headed back to the middle of the channel and started heading into the channel to start our safety stop. Dive four we headed to Big Drop Off. We started the dive close to the mooring and let the current push us along the wall. We saw the ball and chain left over after WWI and continued along the wall seeing a lot of macro life. After dinner no guests wanted to go on the night dive, they watched a movie and headed to bed.
On Thursday with the West wind not as strong we started the day trying to go to New Drop Off but the swell were still large around the corner, so we turned around and did Barnum’s Wall. We started the dive above the coral garden and the current was light so we spent the whole did in the coral garden. We saw some anemones, nudibranchs, and a couple of turtles and an octopus. Dive two was at Fern’s Wall. We started the dive on the inside of the mooring and drifted out the wall. We found several turtles and a crocodile fish. After lunch it was again a nice incoming current, but this time, the weather not as bad as yesterday we had some day boat at the site as well. We again started from the Koror side and went looking for the cuttle fish but it had moved on. We stopped at the first cleaning station but mo mantas. We crossed the mouth of the channel to the other cleaning station but no luck with the mantas. We came back to the center of the channel and drifted in. We did see a bunch of grey reef sharks and the bait ball of fusiliers. For the fourth dive we went back to German Channel but did the coral garden off to the side. We started the dive from the inside mooring and drifted out of the channel with the now outgoing current. We saw some giant trevally, blue fin trevally, a really nice balled up anemone with some of the small blue shrimp in it. After dinner, again the guests decided not to do a night dive and headed to bed.
Friday morning we woke up and could tell that the wind is calming down even more then yesterday so first dive we headed out to the famous Blue Corner. The current was outgoing 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 current was very light and felt like it was going to switch so we unhooked and headed across to the other side of the corner and found the baby eagle rays swimming in formation. At the incoming side, we hooked in at the 60 foot area and had one of the eagle rays come in close to the divers. The current slacked off and we spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. Dive two was at Blue Holes. The swells were big on top the reef so we descended down and entered the cavern through the side window. With the swells breaking right on top the holes, it made the cavern dark and murky, so we left and headed down the reef to Blue Corner. The current was very light and we came up on the top of the plateau found 5 turtles, both green sea and hawksbill. We swam through the sand channel on top the plateau and found the two eagle rays again and a leopard shark. After lunch we headed back out for a repeat dive at Blue Corner. This time the current was incoming and it didn’t switch during the dive. We hooked in at the 45 foot area and watched the show. There were several grey reef sharks, the school of horse eyed jacks and black snapper. We unhooked and went down to the 60 foot area but didn’t hook in, we again saw the eagle ray in the sandy area and went over to see if the leopard shark was still in the same area as last dive, and sure enough it was. We got some great photos and video. For our fourth dive the guests wanted one more chance to see mantas. So German Channel it was, we started this time from Peleliu side of the channel, sat down around the cleaning station but no mantas. We crossed the channel and sat down around the other cleaning station but still no mantas. We went back into the middle of the channel and sat down, the bait ball of fusiliers; snapper were all gathered above us, but no mantas. We ended the dive drifting into the channel. For dinner the guests sat down to a final supper consisting of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and roasted potatoes and after dinner we watched our video of the charter by our video pro Jim.
Saturday morning our first dive was at the Jake Sea Plane. This Japanese three person plane sits in only 40 feet of water and it’s 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. At 10pm we took guests ashore and to the airport to catch their flight to Yap for a week of diving.
Sunday morning we work up to continental breakfast and our last 2 guests are staying on board for another week, so we took them ashore as we clean the boat and bring them back on board later in the day, but that’s next week’s charter report. 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