Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Nov 5th – Nov 12th, 2017
Weather: Light winds from North East, Sunny/Overcast/Rain
Water Temp: 82 degrees
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 13 guests, all from Russia, with more to come later. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms then back out to the dive deck to set up their dive gear. We handed out weights, safety equipment and after checking certification cards and went upstairs for dinner. After dinner we covered the Safety briefing and Vessel orientation. Soon after, most of the guests were off to bed while some stayed up late.
Very early Monday morning we picked up the last four guests, 3 from the airport and 1 from a hotel. We brought them onboard and around 5:30 am, we started moving the big boat towards Ulong. We had our breakfast then covered the general dive briefing and headed down stairs. We loaded up the skiff and our first dive or check out dive was at Sandy paradise. We started the dive at the mooring line and dropped down into the sloping coral garden. We descended down further to the sandy bottom. We first stopped at the big rock out cropping and in from the blue water, came in a manta. It did a couple passes around the rock and took off. Then we swam along where the coral and sand meet to another rock out cropping with two beautiful anemones and the cleaner wrasse came out to check over the divers’ hands. In the sandy area right off this rock outcropping we found a small peacock razor fish. It was the size of a quarter. Further along the way we stopped at a rock outcropping with hundreds of glassy eye sweepers and found two leaf scorpion fish and the mantis shrimp. During the rest of the dive we saw barracuda, sharks, marbled ray and a turtle. After a rest period lunch was ready and after, dive two was at Ulong Coral Garden. We entered the water from the furthest mooring from the mouth of the channel and went along the wall. We stopped at what we call the cheek and saw some sharks in the blue and a beautiful anemone on the reef. We saw a couple of white tip sharks sleeping on the bottom and the current started to switch to incoming. We drifted into the mouth of Ulong Channel and all the way past the lettuce coral and ended at the giant clams. For the last dive of the day we went to Ulong Channel. We started from the mooring just outside the mouth and drifted along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in and had several sharks in the blue in front of all the divers. We stayed there for most of the dive, then unhooked and drifted down the channel. We again saw the large patch of lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. On the big boat dinner was soon ready and after, most of the guests stayed up drinking.
Tuesday morning we started the day with a dive at Siaes Corner. This is a small corner and we started on the outgoing side. Before we reached the corner the current switched but we swam through it to the corner. We came up on top the reef and swam to the incoming side to hook in; we saw one eagle ray just gliding in the current off the wall. Later two more eagle rays showed up and were swimming in and around the group. The current died off so we unhooked and explored the coral garden seeing three turtles. After a short break we headed out to do a repeat dive at Sandy Paradise. We did the same profile as last time but this time we didn’t see any manta. We did see a large school of scad being chased all around the reef by jacks, sharks, dog tooth tuna and napoleon wrasse. Back on the big boat we moved to the German channel area and our third dive was at Big Drop Off. We started the dive from the ball and chain, which was left over during the German Occupation of Palau before WWI and went wall on the left. Inside the small hole on the reef we saw 5 small white tip sharks sleeping. For the rest of the dive we saw macro life, and a couple turtles. For our fourth dive we went to German Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we started the dive from the Peleliu State side of the channel. Before we got to the Peleliu side cleaning station a big manta swam up beside us heading to the cleaning station so we followed it there. We kneeled down around the rocks and watched the manta do several passes to get cleaned. The manta left and headed out to the blue water. We then kicked across the channel towards the other side. In the middle of the channel we noticed the mantas up in the water column starting to feed; we left the bottom and spent the rest of the dive as the mantas did a couple passes in the shallow water feeding. After a quick turn around on the big boat our night dive was at German Coral Garden. We saw the red anemone outside the channel and lots of other macro life. We had a nice encounter with a leopard shark as well. Dinner was soon ready on the big boat and after, some guests stayed up watching movies and drinking.
On Wednesday we started the day Blue corner. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner and started towards the hook in area. We saw several sharks and came in to hook in at 45 feet. We stayed there for a while but the current died off, so we unhooked and explored the plateau. We saw turtles, eels, lion fish and a large school of barracuda. The current started to pick back up from the incoming side so we kicked over to the 60 foot hook in area and watched some sharks off the wall. We turned around and started to ascend to do our safety stop. Dive two; we headed back to the Blue corner area for Blue Holes. We started from the mooring and swam over to the holes, descended down into the chamber and explored. In the chamber we posed for photos with the ambient light streaming down from above, found disco clams and hermit crabs. The great barracuda was there in the holes to make an appearance. When we left the holes we went wall on the left towards blue corner, saw several sharks and schooling fish. When we reached Blue Corner, the current switched so we started up to do our safety stop. For our third dive we went to Turtle Cove. We started from the mooring and swam over on top the reef and descended down the one hole on top the reef. We then exited out along the wall and headed down to the corner. We saw lots of macro life and at the tip of the corner we spotted a couple turtles. After dinner our night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started from the mooring but didn’t go down the hole on top the reef. We saw how beautiful this wall is at night with all the cup coral coming out to filter feed, turning the wall into orange and yellow colors. We saw basket star fish out filter feeding as well as other macro life. For our fourth dive we went to Ngedebus coral garden. We started from the mooring and descended down right on top a leopard shark. We watched it for a while then went shallows on the right. We swam along the top of the coral fingers seeing macro life and some black tip sharks in the shallows. We had another quick turn around and went back to Turtle Cove for the night dive. We saw nudibranchs, a scorpion fish, and basket stars feeding in the current. Back at the big boat we sat down to dinner. After, most of the guests stayed up drinking.
Thursday morning we made the trip down to Peleliu. The tide was too shallow to enter South Dock before the first dive so the big boat drifted off the island. Our first dive was at the famous Peleliu Corner. The current was incoming and it was nice. We did a live drop in the blue and let the current push us to the wall and towards the hook in area. We got our reef hooks ready and when we started to see the sharks we hooked in. The sharks did several passes but didn’t get too close to the divers. We decided to do some advance hooking and moved down the reef to hook in again. There were a bunch of grey reef sharks at both places we hooked in. All of our air divers started to run low on bottom time so we unhooked and drifted across the plateau to end the dive. Back on the big boat, we pulled in and tied up in South Dock and we took 13 guests ashore to go on a WWII Peleliu land tour. They were taken around by bus to see and learn the history of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. They saw the airfield, bloody nose ridge and the museum as well as other relics from the war. For the remaining divers, dive two was at West Wall. It was still an incoming current so we did wall on the right. We started by the skylight arch, and then dropped down along the wall. The wall is covered with beautiful yellow soft coral; we searched for macro life and found some nudibranchs. Off in the blue we also spotted several grey reef sharks and some white tip sharks along the wall. Back at the big boat we had lunch, and our third dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden. This was the landing beach the Americans landed on September 15th 1944. We dropped into the water above the three bombs and went shallows on the left. We saw several turtles, a school of snappers and jacks. We stopped at the collection of 1940’s era coca cola bottles and took photos. Further down the reef we saw piles of bullets and a couple more bombs. After the dive the tide was high enough and the big boat left South Dock and slowly made it’s was up Peleliu. We lowered the skiff for dive four at Barracks Point. We entered the water above the wall and drifted along to where it turns into the slopping coral garden. We saw 7 giant clams and a bunch of turtles. The coral garden itself is covered with beautiful hard and soft coral. After the dive we caught back up with the skiff in the German Channel area and our night dive was at Big Drop Off. This wall comes to life at night with all the beautiful cup coral out filter feeding. We also watched as the marble groupers used our lights to hunt at night. We found a bunch of macro life; nudibranchs, flatworms, twin spot lion fish. We returned to the big boat for dinner and a Russian movie.
On Friday we started the day out with a repeat dive at Blue Corner. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner, dropped down and hooked in at the 45 foot hook in area. There was a bunch of sharks in front of all the divers and the school of horse eyed jacks did a slow pass in front. Half way through the dive the current died off and we spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. At the tip of the corner we took photos of the blue lined snapper and the napoleon wrasse was with us most of the dive. Our second dive was a repeat dive at German Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we were hoping for the mantas to be feeding. We started from the Peleliu State side of the channel. We entered the water and first stopped at the Peleliu side cleaning station. There were no mantas but the grey reef sharks were getting cleaned. It’s always fun to watch them get cleaned because they do this weird tail stand and sway back and forth. We then kicked across the mouth of the channel towards the other cleaning station but in the middle of the channel we saw then mantas feeding in the water column above us. We left the bottom to be close to the schools of fish and had two mantas do several passes around the group. During lunch the big boat started heading back to town. Our guests wanted to dive the wrecks of Palau. Dive three was at 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 of the wreck passing several king posts and super structure. In some black coral bushes by the middle king posts we found the ringed pipe fish. When we reached the stern, we 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. We then kicked back towards the bow of the wreck going from one king post to the next to end our dive. Our last dive of the day was at the Hafa Dai. We descended down the mooring and circled around the wreck several times finding lion fish, flatworms and a lot of the blue dragon nudibranchs. We returned to the boat and gave the guests a little time to sit back and relax, get a drink and later dinner was ready. It was our special final supper prepared by our chef Ronnie. The guests started with a salad then served themselves to a buffet that consisted of two choices of mixed veggies, prime rib, Yorkshire puddings and a blueberry cheese cake for desert. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch Ripon’s video of the charter. We all enjoyed this look back at the great week of diving.
We woke up Saturday morning and our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck. We checked out all three cargo holds seeing depth charges, helmets, airplane motors, a spotlight and all the artifacts that have been placed for viewing around the stern. 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 crystal formations inside the chambers. Then outside the cave we found the mandarin fish, some nudibranchs and razor 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 and at 7pm the guests went ashore for dinner and came back to the boat at 9pm.
Very early Sunday morning we took a couple of guests ashore to be transferred to the airport for their flight. Later the rest of 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