Rock Islands Aggressor
Charter Report Oct 15th – 22nd , 2017
Weather: strong winds from the South West overcast/ rain
Water Temp: 81 degrees
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 7 guests from the USA and one from Italy the other 9 guests are from South Korea. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms and back out on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. After checking certification cards and we headed up stairs to cover the vessel orientation/safety briefing. After dinner we had the dive deck briefing so we could dive at 7am on Monday morning.
Early Monday morning we picked up the rest of our guests from the air port arriving at the boat at 3am. They had a room briefing then bed time for a few hours sleep.
This week we were expecting bad weather so we headed out to the German channel area first to get in some of Palau’s top dives before we had to head for calmer seas. The tropical storm was named Lan, with winds expected:
TUE 06:00 is SW 27 to 31KTS
During this high wind time the Koror State rangers gave a small craft warning meaning all boats out on the outer reef of Palau, we were ok in the Wonder Channel part of the rock islands southern lagoon.
On Monday night we headed to our storm mooring in the rock islands called Wonder Channel, here we spent 2 days with inner reef diving then we made it to Malakal harbor for a day of wrecks and then back out to the Ulong area for Friday and Saturday morning dives.
Monday morning after breakfast, the group that arrived late set up dive gear and had briefings we covered the vessel orientation/safety briefing and general dive briefing and reef hook briefing. When this was going on the other group did there check out dive at Big drop off in the German channel area. The visibility was very nice on the wall and there were lots of sharks and turtles to be seen as well as long nose hawk fish in sea fans a great check out dive. Back to the boat for a snack and time to load the other half of the groups gear on to the dive skiff. Dive two was at German Channel, this was the check out dive for the late arrivals, the current was mild started by going to the red anemone then one of the guides found a feather tail ray resting in the sand, we went to the cleaning station but were not lucky and finished the dive in the channel coral garden. Back to the boat for lunch and then the Reef Hook Briefing. Dive Three Blue Corner, it was a incoming current wall on the right the water was blue and many schooling fish as we made it to the hook in area there were many gray reef sharks and the guests got to meet the blue corners friendly Napoleon wrasse. When we unhooked we explored the coral garden on the plateau. Dive Four with the swells picking up we did a dive called Alice’s coral garden south side of German channel, here we found turtles so anemones and some nice nudibranchs. During the dive the big boat made its way in to Wonder channel area.
Tuesday winds picking up. We made our first dive called Neco Channel, this was a fast drift dive were we found lots of nudibranchs Chromodoris Coi, Polyceridae and lots of Messmate pipefish, there are also lots of sweet lips, and some of the biggest sea fans the crew have ever seen almost 3meters 8feet half moon shaped great to shelter from the current. Dive two was at Clam City, this used to be a giant clam farm now a snorkel and dive site. Here there are 3 big groups of 10 or more giant clams next to each other all different sizes 1.3m or 4ft weighing over 240kg! over the stag horn coral garden a octopus was seen and some other nudibranchs on the rocky areas. Winds still picking up after lunch we headed over to Fantasy reef this is a snorkel and dive spot in the rock islands, the hard coral was abundant blue stag horn and other hard corals, it was also a bit of a treasure hunt 2 cameras were found many pairs of sun glasses and mash snorkels too must have fallen off the day snorkel boats. There were some interesting nudibranchs found to some very big Phylidiidae and more pipe fish. Dive four was Wonder Channel, this was a fast drift dive passing lots of seafans and other hard corals when the current eased of we could find more pipe fish nudies and some nice soft corals. After dinner the night dive was canceled due to the high winds and rain.
Wednesday still wind from the South West, fist dive was at Neco Channel, we started where we left off from the first time we dove here, a cuttle fish was spotted more giant sea fans and snapper were seen on the dive in a very strong current. Dive two was Clam city again. Dive three after lunch was Caroline’s reef another snorkel site many hard coral formations and soldier fish on this site. Dive four was at a site called Ngermeaus Beach, this is a diver training site. Dive five for the night dive we went to Clam city and got to see the clams at night, over the sand many sea cucumbers were found and many cone shells and shrimps.
Thursday winds calming we headed back to Malakal where we found all the other live aboard boats have been hiding out the storm too. Time to dive some of Palau’s wrecks. The first dive of the day was The Iro. We tied the boat to the mooring line and descended down to the wreck of the bow. The first thing we saw was the big bow gun totally encrusted with coral and clams. We continued along exploring the top deck to find a cuttle fish on the wreck passing several king posts and super structure. In some black coral bushes by the middle king posts we found four ringed pipe fish. When we reach the stern, we pause there for a while for some picture of the stern gun then turned around and circled up what we call the “tripod.” This is three posts that come together at the top forming a “tripod.” When we got to the top of the tripod we stayed there for a while photographing all the red anemones and tomato anemone fish that completely cover the top. Dive Three was the Helmet aka Depth Charge Wreck. This is a Japanese WWII ship that sank in the harbor. We entered the first cargo hold and saw the helmets and depth charges, then to the wheel house area then in the bow cargo holds more depth charges and the ships spot light can be seen, the bow hold has 4 aircraft engines. Then we went to the bow to see beer bottles and the anchor winch. Making our way back to the stern of the wreck finding signal gobies and spending some time viewing the artifacts that have been collected and placed for pictures like a sink, rifle, and ammunitions. Dive Three Hafa Adai wreck, this is a old Research Vessel, the dive starts going down the mooring line on to a king post, we head straight down to the bottom of the wreck at 22m making our way to the stern where we can see the rudder and propeller with many spade fish in this area. As we went around the wreck it was great for macro nudibranchs and lots of loin fishes a rare site here in Palau. Dive four was at the Jake Sea Plane, this is a very well preserved grate for photos of a Japanese reconnaissance seaplane from WWII. Dive five we went back to the Hafa Adai wreck, knowing the wreck from earlier in the day it was great for finding macro shrimp and decorator crabs and many nudibranchs were seen.
Friday with the wind calming down we headed out to Ulong for a day’s diving. Dive One Sandy (Andy) Paradise one of the crew’s favorite dives. On descending the mooring line storm damage was seen some broken table corals and sand formations had changed but as we made it to the first cleaning station for which there are many on this dive site there was a manta ray circling being cleaned. We stayed for a few minutes then carried on to more cleaning stations where divers can the nails cleaned by cleaner wrasse, then to another rock out cropping covered with glassy sweepers and lead fish and mantas shrimp. To end the dive with lots of bump head parrot fish as they were spawning earlier in the morning. Dive two Siaes Tunnel We enter the water and take the divers to the entrance of the tunnel. As we swimming through the tunnel we stay at the ceiling and checking all the fish swimming upside down. When we get close to the exit we drop down to the bottom to check the decorated dart fish and nudis down there. We take some photos of the big sea fans just at the exit of tunnel which really nice photo op because of the blue water background. We then exit and drifted wall on the right. Working our way to the top we saw lots of anthias, bump head parrot and turtles along the way. Third dive after lunch we head over to Siaes corner. It was a hook in dive, the current was not expected instead of outgoing it was incoming so we start the dive doing a live drop on the other side. Jump on top of the coral garden we then drifted to the hook in area as we were drifting we enjoy the beautiful coral garden on top and we saw bunch of school of fish swimming in the blue water. We saw big schools of morrish idols swimming over the reef and at the tip of the corner a lot of gray reef sharks and a baby eagle ray just to top that off. Dive Four Ulong Channel. We entered the water and swam out to the drop off, we then drifted wall on the left arrived at the mouth of the channel we did not hook in. We drifted down the channel. We saw the large patch of lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. We returned to the boat and gave the guests a little time for sit back and relax, get a drink and dinner was ready. It was our special final supper prepared by our chef Ronnie. The guests started with French Onion Soup then served themselves to a buffet that consisted of two choices of mixed veggies, prime rib, Yorkshire puddings and a desert of blueberry cheese cake. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch Jim’s video of the charter.
We woke up Saturday still at Ulong. Dive One Sandy Paradise, this time at the first cleaning station there were 2 manta rays cleaning as treat for the crew and guests and then enjoyed there rest of the dive seeing some big game fish like dog tooth tuna and Spanish mackerel. Our last dive of the charter was at Chandelier Cave. The divers surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites, and then outside the cave we found the mandarin fish some nudibranchs and the very hard to find spiny devil scorpion fish. Back at the big boat the guests broke down their gear wash it and hung it to dry. Soon after lunch was ready and then it was time to settle the bills. Next it was an afternoon of relaxation, shopping in town and whatever else the guests wanted to do. At 6pm we gathered in the salon for the cocktail party and watched a photo slideshow of all the photos our photo pro had taken during the week at 7pm the guests went ashore for dinner and came back to the boat at 9pm.
On Sunday morning the guests woke up to continental breakfast and before 8am we started loading their luggage on the skiff to drop them on shore to spend at least an extra day in Palau. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week and hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew