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Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Jan 28th – Feb 4th, 2018
Weather: Winds from East, North East, Windy, Sunny/Rain
Water Temp: 80/82 degrees
Monday: Helmet Wreck, the Iro, Sandy Paradise, Ulong Channel
Tuesday: Shark City, Siaes Corner, Big Drop-off, Turtle Cove, German Coral Garden
Wednesday: Blue corner, Blue Holes, Dexters Wall, German Channel, Turtle Cove
Thursday: Peleliu Corner, West Wall, Orange Beach, Barracks Point, Big Drop Off
Friday: Blue Corner, Virgin Blue Hole, Fern’s Wall, German Channel
Saturday: Hafa Dai, Chandelier Cave
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 17 guests from all around the world. 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 Christian. After dinner we watched a documentary on Palau and everyone headed to bed.
Monday morning we woke up, had 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 the Helmet Wreck aka Depth Charge Wreck. This is an unidentified Japanese WWII sub chaser. We tied the skiff to the mooring and descended down to the stern of the wreck. We entered the aft cargo hold saw the helmets and depth charges that this wreck is name after. Around the wheel house we found a crocodile fish and entered the middle cargo hold to see more depth charges and spot light. We then swam through to the bow cargo hold to see the airplane engines. We came out of the cargo hold and checked out the bow of the wreck. On the wire coral we found a zeno crab and the Nippon Brewing company beer bottles. We continued back up the other side of the wreck to the stern where all the artifacts have been placed for viewing. We saw the porcelain sink, riffle, ammunition and more. WE then explore the coral garden behind the wreck for the rest of the dive. After the dive the big boat started up and headed out of Malakal Harbor and into the Western Lagoon. Dive two was at the IRO. The visibility was not the best so we stayed on the deck of the wreck. We started at the bow gun, dropped into the cargo hold for the beer bottles at the bottom. We passed by the wheel house and saw the four ringed pipefish in the black coral on the king posts. Some of the guests went all the way to the stern gun as others started to circle up the tripod due to the bad visibility. We spent the rest of the dive checking out the red anemones at the top. We didn’t bother swimming back to the mooring line. On the skiff we caught back up to the big boat and during lunch continued on to Ulong. We covered our last power point presentation on how to use reef hooks and headed out to Ulong Channel for dive three. When we got to the dive site there were way too many day boats, we decided to go over to Sandy Paradise instead. We started the dive at the mooring line and dropped down into the sloping coral garden. We descended down further to the sandy bottom and at the big rock we saw a couple lion fish. We stopped at the next rock out cropping where the cleaner wrasse will clean your hands. Then we headed over to the rock with all the glassy eyed sweepers and leaf scorpion fish for photos. To end the dive we ascended into the shallows for our safety stop. Dive four was still incoming so we went to Ulong Channel. We started from the mooring and swam into the hook in area at the mouth. We hooked in and had a couple of sharks in front of the hooked in divers. We unhooked and drifted down the channel seeing beautiful anemones and the big patch of lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. It was getting dark by now and we boarded the skiff and headed back to the big boat. Dinner was soon ready and for desert we celebrated Andreys birth day with a cake. After dinner most of the guests were off to bed.
Tuesday morning we headed out to Shark City for a special dive with the red snapper spawning. Now the best time is three days before the full moon and its one day before today. We started on the outgoing side and drifted along the top of the reef. We saw grey reef sharks in the blue but didn’t hook in. Then we saw the school of red snappers; the school had to be a couple hundred. The school headed out into blue water and we saw some of them spawning. We had to keep kicking to stay with the fish, it was a great dive. For our last dive in Ulong we went to Siaes Corner. We started on the incoming side and after we hooked in the current switched back to outgoing. We kicked across the corner and hooked in on the outgoing side. We saw sharks, fusiliers and a school of yellow tail barracuda. We unhooked when the current switched back to incoming and we swam up the reef to start our safety stop. 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 4 small white tip sharks sleeping. For the rest of the dive we saw macro life, orangutan crabs and a couple turtles. For our fourth 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 showed a couple guests the disco clam. 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. On top the corner the current was against us so we turned around and headed back the way we came. After dinner our night dive was at German Coral Garden. We started outside the channel and headed further out. We saw crocodile fish, lion fish and a lot more macro life. Back at the big boat most guests headed to bed to get ready for tomorrows diving.
On Wednesday we started the day with Blue corner. We started the dive on the outgoing side of the corner and started towards the hook in area. We saw several sharks and came in to the hook in area, we hooked in but soon the current switched. There were some sharks off in the blue before we unhooked. We swam across the corner to the other side but the current didn’t pick up enough to hook in again. We spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. The napoleon wrasse followed us most of the dive. Also we saw turtles, eels, lion fish and a large school of barracuda. Dive two; we headed back to the Blue Corner area for our dive at Blue Holes. We started from the mooring and swam over to the holes, descended down and we took photos of the guests 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. Once we turned the corner we were back in line with the outgoing current and it lightly pushed us to the hook in area. Some guests found a banded sea snake on the wall. At the hook in area the current was too light to hook in so we just drifted to the tip of the corner seeing turtles, sharks and schools of fish. After lunch our third dive was at Dexters Wall. We started in one cut and went wall on the right. In total we saw about 12 turtles, both green sea and hawksbill. We also enjoyed the sift corals and sea fans. Our forth 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 then continued 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 to the Peleliu side cleaning station but still no mantas. We swam back to the middle of the channel and saw two mantas do a quick pass bye and take off. We then drifted into the channel to end the dive. After dinner our night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started further back along the wall and found a lot of macro life. Right where we entered the water we found a devil scorpion fish. We also saw basket stars out along the top of the reef filter feeding in the light current. The current picked up and pushed us along the wall to the corner. We returned to the big boat for hot chocolate and then to bed.
Thursday morning the big boat headed down to Peleliu. We tied up the big boat in South Dock aka Camp Beck and our first dive was at 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. We lightly drifted along the wall and swam out into the blue water to let the current push us into the hook in area so we avoided the cut. We hooked in and a large school of horse eyed jacks swam across the front of the divers. The sharks did several passes by the divers off in the blue and left. We then unhooked and moved down the wall but didn’t hook in again. Closer to the corner the current was a light incoming so we had to swim into it slightly as to not get pushed off into the blue. After the dive 8 guests went ashore for a WWII Peleliu land tour. They spent a couple hours seeing and learning the history of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. For dive two the remaining divers wanted to go back to Peleliu Corner. We did and this time the current was incoming. We entered the water and had a nice drift along the wall. We ended up hooking in several times to see the sharks, school of barracuda, and turtles. The sharks would do a couple passes in front of the divers and move down so we unhooked to follow them. We then unhooked and drifted across the plateau and off into the blue to do our safety stop. We had lunch after the guests returned from the tour and then 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 above the three bombs in the rubble area then went shallows on the left. We saw several bombs, collections of bullets, and the landing craft coke bottles, turtles and a school of yellow tail barracuda. We ended the dive just past the entrance to Camp Beck. Before the fourth dive the big boat started up and left South Dock the same time the skiff left for the dive at Barracks Point. We entered the water above the wall and drifted along to where it turns into the slopping coral garden. There was a large school of rainbow runners and for some reason they are interested in the divers and did several circles around us. We then 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 after dinner 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 Blue Corner. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner, dropped down and the current was nice. We first hooked in at 45 feet and watched the sharks. They put on a great show. We unhooked and moved down to the 60 foot area and hooked in again. There were a bunch of sharks here as well. We spent most of the dive hooked in and finally unhooked and drifted across the plateau. On the other side of the corner we saw a school of orange spine unicorn fish. There had to be a couple hundred, they were being chased by several sharks as well. We then ascended to start our safety stop. For dive two it was full high tide and we went over to Virgin Blue Hole. The hole on top the reef is far back off the wall so with the high tide the skiff was able to drop the divers in close to the hole. We descended down the hole all the way to the bottom at 100 feet. We enjoyed the ambient light that fills the chimney from above. We then kicked out the long tunnel out to the wall. We went wall on the right and swam through the canyons and archway and right before we started to come up, we noticed 5 marble rays below us on a ledge. We dropped down to the rays and they let the divers get close for video. We then came up to do our safety stop. After lunch dive three was at Fern’s Wall. We started by where the mooring was and ended the dive close to the start of New Drop Off. We saw sharks, and lots of turtles. The soft coral and sea fans make the wall very beautiful. For our last dive of the day we went back to 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. No mantas came in to be cleaned so we kicked across the channel. The guests at the back of the group found an octopus sitting on a large sea cucumber. At the Koror side cleaning station we kneeled down in the sand at waited. Just as we were going to leave one manta came in from the blue and did several passes at the cleaning station and took off back into the blue. We left and headed back into the middle of the channel and we saw two mantas swimming in the blue. We left the bottom to be with the mantas. The two mantas were not feeding but just swimming around until the plankton was thick. They did several passes and took off. It was time to leave and start our safety stop. After the dive the big boat started heading back to Malakal Harbor. The guests showered off and had time to relax with a drink or two then we sat down to our final supper of prime rib, roasted chicken, Yorkshire puddings and a buffet of mixed veggies. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch our video pro’s video of the charter. We all enjoyed this look back at the great week of diving.
We woke up Saturday morning and did our first dive 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. For our last dive of the charter we headed out to 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, washed it and hung it to dry. We had lunch then settled bills. Next was an afternoon of relaxation, shopping in town or 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 we sent the guests ashore for dinner and picked them back up later to bring to the boat for the night.
Very early Sunday morning we took 2 guests ashore to be transferred to the airport for their early morning flight. loaded up the skiff and said our goodbyes as we took them ashore to be transferred to the airport for her flight. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week and it was great to see our friends from Sea Paradise out of Thailand. We always hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew