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Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Nov 19th – Nov 26th, 2017
Weather: Winds from North East, Sunny/Overcast/Rain
Water Temp: 82 degrees
Monday: Sandy Paradise, Siaes Tunnel, Siaes Corner, Ulong Channel
Tuesday: Ulong Channel, Sandy Paradise, Big Drop Off, German Channel, German Coral Garden
Wednesday: Blue Corner, Blue Holes, Turtle Cove, Ngedebus Coral Garden, Turtle Cove
Thursday: Peleliu Corner, West Wall, Orange Beach Coral Garden, Barracks Point, Big Drop Off
Friday: German Channel, Blue Corner, New Drop Off, Barnums Wall
Saturday: Helmet Wreck, Chandelier Cave
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 13 guests, from around the world, with one 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 the Safety briefing and Vessel orientation. Soon after, dinner was ready and the guests sat down to a nice dinner prepared by out Chef Ronnie. After dinner we pick up last guest from the airport, brought her to the boat and covered the briefing with her.
Early Monday morning 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 where we sometimes see mantas but none were there. We checked out the lion fish on the deep side then swam over to the next rock out cropping where the cleaner wrasse will clean your hands. We looked back and the mantas showed up. We swam over and kneeled down on the sand and had two mantas and a turtle on the cleaning station for 30 minutes. They did several passes around the rock and took off. We were low on time and air so we made our way up the shallows to end the dive. For dive two we headed out to Siaes Tunnel. We descended down the mooring to the reef then down to the entrance of the tunnel. The tunnel was filled with nice ambient light and we found the decorated dart fish in the sandy bottom. We exited the tunnel and went along the wall seeing sharks in the blue, some anemones and a scorpion fish. After lunch our third dive was at Siaes Corner. We started from the mooring on the outgoing side and went along the wall seeing the beautiful seafans. We came up on top the reef and hooked in; we saw sharks, snapper and a school of jacks in the blue. Later we unhooked and explored the coral garden seeing a couple turtles. 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. It was getting dark by now but we were still able to make out the lettuce coral and ended the dive at the giant clams. Back on the big boat dinner was soon ready. After dinner most of the guests were off to bed.
Tuesday morning we started the day with a repeat dive at Ulong Channel. We wanted to show the guests the beauty of this channel in the day time. We again started from the mooring just outside the mouth and drifted into the hook in area. We hooked in and had the same sharks from last night. We stayed there for half the dive, then unhooked and drifted down the channel. The current was mild as we drifted down the channel seeing the lettuce coral and giant clams. For our last dive in Ulong we went back to Sandy Paradise. We did the same profile as last time but this time we didn’t see any mantas. We did get to stop by the rocks with all the glassy eyed sweepers and two leaf scorpion fish. We also spotted the mantis shrimp in the sand. Back on the big boat we moved to the German Channel area and the tide was high enough to go through the channel to the outside reef. 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 4 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 Koror State side of the channel. We descended down and saw the red anemone and in the sand in front of the anemone was a crocodile fish. We kicked over to the Koror side cleaning station and kneeled down around the rocks and waited but no mantas showed up. We then swam across the channel towards the middle and we saw a manta feeding above us in the water column. We waited for a while to see if the manta returned and we saw three mantas feeding so we left the bottom and swam up to the shallow water but the current died off and the mantas didn’t return. We just let the light current push us into the channel. After dinner our night dive was at German Coral Garden. We saw the red anemone outside the channel and lots of other macro life. Most of the guests were off to bed to get ready for our next day of diving.
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 seeing sharks and a big banded sea snake. Later we unhooked and explored the plateau. We saw turtles, eels, lion fish and a large school of barracuda. The very friendly napoleon wrasse was with us most of the dive. 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 and as soon as we entered the chamber the great barracuda was there, we took photos of it and then posed for photos with the ambient light streaming down from above. We swam up the wall on the side and saw the disco clams and exited the chamber wall on the left towards blue corner. When we passed the corner that started the corner the current was moving. We made it down to the corner and hooked in and held on. There were sharks in the blue off the wall and when we unhooked, we shot across the reef to start our safety stop. After lunch our third dive was at 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. For our fourth dive we went to Ngedebus coral garden. We started from the mooring and 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. After dinner our night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started further down the reef where there use to be a mooring. 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 a couple of turtles out swimming around and we saw basket star fish out filter feeding as well as slipper lobster and other macro life. Towards the end of the dive it was like we were attacked by little octopus. They liked the divers without wetsuits and stuck to our legs, even stayed with us as we climbed back on the skiff. We tried our best to pick them up off the skiff and through them back in the water.
Thursday morning we made the trip down to Peleliu. We tied up the big boat in South Dock aka Camp Beck and our first dive was at the famous Peleliu Corner. The current was outgoing and it was nice. We did a live drop in the blue and let the current push us to the wall and towards the cut. We hooked in around the cut; we saw sharks and the school of snapper. 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 towards the corner. Again we saw some more sharks but soon decided to unhook and drift off into the blue to start our safety stop. After most of the guests showered and dried off we took 12 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 2 divers, dive two was at West Wall. It was still an outgoing current so we did wall on the left. 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. The current soon switched so we turned around and went back the other way. Off in the blue we spotted several grey reef sharks and some white tip sharks along the wall. Back at the big boat the land tour people came back and we had lunch, and our third dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden. This was the landing beach for the Americans on September 15th 1944. We dropped into the water right outside the channel to South Dock and went shallows on the right. We saw several bombs, collections of bullets, and the landing craft and coke bottles. We ended the dive close to the three 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 the 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 big boat in the German Channel area and the guests were treated to a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, roasted ham, cranberries, and veggies. After everyone was full 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.
On Friday we started the day out with a repeat dive at German Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we started from the Peleliu State side of the channel. We entered the water and first stopped at the Peleliu side cleaning station. After awhile one manta came in to be cleaned. It did several passes and left, it look like it was heading towards the Koror cleaning station so we kicked across the mouth to the channel and sure enough it was there cleaning. We sat down in the sand and watched as it did several passes and came very close to the divers. Later it took off so we left and started drifting into the channel to end the dive. Dive two was another repeat dive but this time was 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 were a couple of sharks in front of all the divers and the school of horse eyed jacks did a slow pass in front. Only minutes later the current started to switch. We unhooked and swam to the other side of the corner. At the outgoing side the current didn’t pick up enough to hook in so we just 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. After lunch our third dive was at New Drop Off. The current was outgoing to start so we started from the mooring and enjoyed drifting along the wall towards the hook in area. Just as we arrived at the hook in area, the current switched to incoming, we tried to kick though it to the other side of the corner but it was strong. We just turned around and went back the way we came. For our last dive of the day we went to Barnums Wall. We started along the wall and drifted into the coral garden. A couple of the anemones were balled up feeding and made for some nice photos. We found a crocodile fish and some turtles. When we reached the wall on the other side the current switched again so we turned around and drifted back through the coral garden. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch Andy’s video of the charter. We all enjoyed this look back at the great week of diving as the big boat moved back to Malakal for Saturdays diving.
We woke up Saturday morning and our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck. This is a Japanese WWII wreck that is unidentified. We call it either the Helmet Wreck or Depth Charge Wreck because both of those artifacts can be found on the wreck. It was sunk during the bombing run of Desecrate One in March 1944 but was not found until 1988. It was not salvaged after the war and a lot of artifacts can be seen. 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 one guest ashore to be transferred to the airport for her 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