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Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Feb 18th – Feb 28th, 2018 (10 Day Charter)
Weather: Winds from East, North East, Windy, Sunny with a little rain
Water Temp: 78/80 degrees
Monday: Sandy Paradise, Siaes Tunnel, Siaes Corner, Ulong Channel
Tuesday: Ulong Channel, Shark City, Siaes Corner, Sandy Paradise
Wednesday: German Channel, Virgin Blue Hole, Blue Holes, Dexter’s Wall, German Coral Garden
Thursday: Peleliu Corner, West Wall, Yellow Wall, Orange Beach Coral Garden, Orange Beach Coral Garden
Friday: White Beach, Barracks Point, Big Drop Off, Blue Corner, Big Drop Off
Saturday: Blue Corner, German Channel, Turtle Cove, Barnums Wall, Turtle Cove
Sunday: Blue Corner, German Channel, New Drop Off, Ferns Wall, German Coral Garden
Monday: Blue Corner, German Channel, The IRO, Helmet Wreck
Tuesday: Jake Sea Plane, Chandelier Cave
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 12 guests on board from the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland for our 10 day charter. 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 we met upstairs for the Safety briefing and Vessel orientation. Dinner was ready after the briefing and the guests sat down to a nice dinner prepared by out Chef Christian. After dinner we picked up one guest from the airport and brought her out to the boat. We showed her to her cabin and covered the briefing with her as well.
Monday morning, early the big boat started heading towards Ulong. After breakfast we 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 entered the water, did a weight check and descended down the slopping coral garden to where it bottoms out in the sand. At the manta rock, nothing was going on, we continued to the rock outcropping where the cleaner wrasse will do a one over on your hands and we had a manta do a quick flyby. We stopped by the rock with the leaf scorpion fish and mantis shrimp then slowly started making our way towards the shallows seeing sharks, a turtle and schools of fish. Our second dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We started from the mooring and descended down to the entrance of the tunnel at 90 feet. Through the tunnel we found lion fish, the blue backed pygmy angelfish and decorated dartfish on the bottom. We even saw a bunch of nudibranchs on the rubble bottom. We exited the tunnel and slowly did our multi level up seeing a couple sharks in the blue. After lunch we covered our last power point presentation on how to use reef hooks and headed out to Siaes Corner. The current was alight outgoing and we hooked in for a while with a lot of sharks in front of us. We then unhooked and explored the coral garden seeing a couple turtles and tropical fish. For the last dive of the day we headed over 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 after, most of the guests were off to bed.
Tuesday morning we headed out to Ulong Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we had sunshine, this made the dive so much better than last night. We hooked in at the mouth and watched as a couple sharks passed by in front of the divers. We later unhooked and drifted down the beautiful channel. We saw the lettuce coral in the light and ended the dive at the two giant clams sitting side by side. For our second dive we went to Shark City. We started on the outgoing side and drifted along the top of the reef. We saw grey reef sharks in the blue and hooked in for a while. The current started getting strong so we unhooked and drifted across the plateau. Due to the strong current it was a short dive. After lunch our third dive was at Siaes Corner. We started on the incoming side and drifted along the coral garden to the corner. We hooked in and there were lots of sharks in front of us. We spent most of the dive hooked in and we even saw a large school of Moorish idols. A couple of weeks ago it was the orange spines that were gathering to mate and now the Moorish idols and starting to mate. We unhooked and started coming up to start our safety stop. For dive four and our last dive in Ulong we went back to Sandy Paradise. We started again from the mooring and descended down to the manta rock but no mantas. We continued along where the sand and the coral meet to the cleaner wrasse rock. A couple guests got their hands cleaned. Further along the way we found a dragon wrasse and at the rock with the glassy eyed sweepers we found three leaf scorpion fish, mantis shrimp and even a small crocodile fish in the sand. We then ascended up the coral garden to finish our dive in the shallows. During dinner the big boat moved over to the German Channel area to get ready for our next day of diving.
On Wednesday we started the day with German Channel. We started the dive from the Koror side of the channel and first stopped at the beautiful red anemone. We then continued on to the Koror side cleaning station and waited. On manta did a pass by going towards the other side of the channel so we followed it. It stopped in the middle and did a couple circles around a rock to get cleaned then went to the Peleliu side cleaning station. We followed the whole way. We even saw two more mantas getting cleaned here as well. We ended the dive by drifting into the channel. 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 finding a big green sea turtle sleeping on the bottom. It even had a remora attached to its shell. Also we found a crocodile fish sitting on a ledge. After lunch dive three was at Blue Holes. We started from the mooring and swam over to the holes, descended down and saw the great barracuda in the cavern. It let us get close for photos and video. We then spent a while enjoying the ambient light streaming down from above that filled the chamber. We swam up the wall on the side and saw the disco clams and exited the chamber wall on the left towards blue corner. By this time the outgoing current was strong which made the eddy current strong as well. We didn’t make it down to Blue Corner, we just had to turn around and spend the rest of the dive exploring the wall. Dive four was at Dexters Wall. We started in one cut and went wall on the left. Once we passed the small corner the current had switched so we turned around and went the other way. This time of day, the anemones were balled up feeding and we saw a couple beautiful ones. We also saw a bunch of turtles, in total we saw about 12, both green sea and hawksbill. After dinner our first night dive of the charter was at German Coral Garden. We started from the mooring and first stopped at the red anemone, which was tucked away in the coral, then turned around and headed out the channel. Then out of the darkness a large manta swam into the group. It scared us coming through the group so fast and then was gone back into the darkness. For the rest of the dive we saw lion fish and a bunch of nudibranchs. Back at the big boat most guests headed to bed to get ready for tomorrows diving.
Thursday morning the big boat headed down to Peleliu. The tide was too low at this time to enter South Dock aka Camp Beck so we dropped the skiff and our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. The current was incoming and it was moving. We did the “Express” side of the corner. We entered the water in the blue and let the current push us to the wall. Once along the wall the current seemed to pick up even more. We decided not to hook in with the strong current and just drifted towards the corner. We did see a bunch of sharks as we drifted. Before the corner we started coming up to start our safety stop and the average dive time was 24 minutes. That was a quick one. While we were diving the big boat was able to get secured in South Dock and 7 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 went to West Wall for dive two. We started the dive from where the old mooring used to be and went wall on the left. This wall is covered with yellow soft corals and has some beautiful sea fans as well. We found nudibranchs, a scorpion fish and a couple leaf scorpion fish. Back on the big boat, we had lunch after the guests returned from the tour and then our third dive was at Yellow Wall. This dive site is further up then Peleliu Corner on the East side of Peleliu. The current again was moving. We drifted along the wall all the way through Yellow Wall and half way through Peleliu Corner. We saw turtles, and Yellow Wall gets its name because it’s covered with the yellow soft coral. For dive four we headed out to Orange Beach Coral Garden. This was the landing beach for the Americans on September 15th 1944. We dropped into the water right outside the entrance to South Dock and started the dive with the shallows on our right. We saw bombs, lots of bullets and the pieces of a landing craft. The current then switched so we came up shallower and turned around. We found a crocodile fish and some turtles. After dinner we went back to Orange Beach Coral Garden for the night dive. We entered the water at the three bombs and the current was a very light outgoing. We swam along the beautiful coral garden seeing a couple white tip reef shark, the rare twin spot lion fish and a turtle.
Friday morning, still in Peleliu, we wanted to try to go back to Peleliu Corner. When we got there we could see that the current was just as strong as yesterday so we decided to go to White Beach. This dive site is just further up than Orange Beach and was also a landing beach in WWII and is more of a slopping drop off than Orange Beach. We started wall on the right seeing a couple sharks in the blue and a large eagle ray. The current then switched so we turned around and again say the eagle ray. Before the second dive the big boat started up and left South Dock the same time the skiff left for the dive at Barracks Point. At Barracks Point we entered the water above the wall and drifted along to where it turns into the slopping coral garden. The current was moving and we drifted swiftly through the coral garden. We saw the giant clams and a bunch of turtles. The coral garden itself is covered with beautiful hard and soft coral. At the end of the coral garden where it turns back into a wall the current slowed down. After the dive we caught back up by skiff as the big boat moved back to the German Channel area. After lunch dive three 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 to start and after the small hole in the reef with the small white tip sharks sleeping we turned around and went the other way. For the rest of the dive we saw macro life, couple turtles and some sharks in the blue. For dive four we headed out to 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 died off. 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. 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.
Saturday morning we did our first dive at the famous Blue Corner. It was a nice outgoing current and we started from the far mooring. We drifted along the wall to the hook in area and hooked in. There were a lot of sharks off in the blue. The friendly napoleon wrasse was there with us for most of the dive. We spent most of the dive hooked in then we drifted across the plateau. We saw a couple turtles on the reef and had the school of barracuda, jacks and snapper above us. We ended the dive on the mooring on the incoming side of the channel. For dive two it was an incoming current and we headed over to German Channel. It was day boat time so we started on the Peleliu side of the channel. We descended down the mooring and along the slopping bottom to the Peleliu side cleaning station. As we got closer we saw three mantas using the cleaning station. From there the dive turned into manta madness. Mantas were over there, above us, behind us, at the cleaning station, in the blue and all over. We headed across the channel to the Koror side cleaning station and three mantas came up from the deep, one came from behind us and one big female manta was being chased by two male mantas above us. In total there had to be more than 12 mantas all at different times and different spots around the reef. WOW!!! We returned to the big boat, had lunch, and then headed out to Turtle Cove for dive three. 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 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. All the schools of fish were at the corner as well, Jacks, rudder fish and snapper. For dive four we went to Barnums Wall. We dropped in above the coral garden and just went with the flow. We saw nudibranchs, turtles, anemones and a large spotted eagle ray. After dinner our night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started further back along the wall and found a lot of macro life. We also saw basket stars out along the top of the reef filter feeding in the light current a couple different nudibranchs and even a octopus. We returned to the big boat for hot chocolate, drinks then off to bed.
On Sunday we did repeats of yesterdays diving because it was so great. First dive we headed out to Blue Corner. It was an outgoing current again and it was moving. We started from the back mooring and kicked through the eddy current then along the wall. We reached the hook in area pretty quick and hooked in and held on. We spent the whole dive hooked in with a lot of sharks in the blue. Every now and then a big female shark would come close to the divers but most of the other sharks stayed out in the blue. We unhooked and shot across the plateau. We again saw the school of jacks, snapper and chevron barracuda. For dive two we went back to German Channel. We again started on the Peleliu side of the channel dropped down and there were three mantas right below us. At the Peleliu side cleaning station it turned in to manta madness again. They were all over the place. At one time we had 6 mantas getting cleaned around the cleaning station. There was even one of the black phase rare mantas; it didn’t come in to be cleaned but it did a couple passes in the blue. We then left the cleaning station and drifted into the channel to end the dive. This dive was even better then yesterdays dive here. After lunch we went to New Drop Off for dive three. It was still an incoming current and we started from the mooring. It was a light current but we still hooked in for a little while. There were a couple sharks in the blue then we unhooked and explored the plateau. We found a couple turtles and two peacock flounders. For dive four we went to Fern’s Wall. We started by where the mooring used to be and went wall on the right for a couple minutes then the current switched. The soft coral and sea fans make this wall very beautiful. We also saw sharks in the blue, black tip sharks on top the reef and several turtles. After dinner our last night dive of the charter was at German Coral Garden. At the beginning of the charter we did the coral garden on the Koror state side. This time we will dive the coral garden on the Peleliu side of the channel. We had another encounter with a manta ray and we found a bunch of flatworms. For the rest of the dive we saw a mantis shrimp and a couple lion fish.
Monday morning we were going to head back to Malakal Harbor to dive the wrecks but our guests wanted to do German Channel again, so we stayed on the outer reef for two more dives. Our first dive was again at Blue Corner. It was again an outgoing current and we started from the far mooring. It was a light current this time and we hooked in for a short while. There were still a lot of sharks in the blue. We unhooked and kick down to the tip of the corner, we saw the school of blue lined snapper, jacks and several turtles. On the tip of the corner we even saw a large banded sea snake. The napoleon wrasse was with us for the whole dive and came in close to have his picture taken. It was another great dive. For dive two and our last dive on the outer reef we went back to German Channel. We started again from the Peleliu side of the channel and dropped down to the bottom. There was one manta that came up from behind us and swam along side of us to the cleaning station. We spent the whole dive here, manta after manta came in to be cleaned, doing circle after circle around and over top of us. There was no need to go to the other cleaning station. We had this side all to ourselves. As we were watching the mantas we also found a juvenile peacock razor fish and a baby octopus that was not scared of us and the guests were able to get pictures and video as it was moving in and out of the rubble bottom. We then left the bottom and start coming up to do our safety stop. During lunch the big boat started heading back towards Malakal Harbor. When we got up to the Western Lagoon we dropped the skiff to head over to The IRO. On the way to the dive site we went by skiff through the rock islands. We stopped at the natural archway for photos and continued on to the IRO. We descended down the mooring line to the bow of the wreck, 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. We spent the rest of the dive checking out the red anemones at the top then swam from king post to king post back to the mooring. The big boat was waiting for us close by and once back on board we moved into Malakal Harbor. Our last dive of the day was at 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 explored the coral garden behind the wreck for the rest of the dive. 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 10 day charter.
Tuesday morning we skiffed out to the Jake Sea Plane for dive one. We entered the water and descended down to the plane. We spent some time checking out the three person Japanese WWII plane. We took photos of the guests around the plane then spent the rest of the dive exploring the hard coral garden. 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 relaxation, shopping in town or anything else the guests wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon. 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 Wednesday morning we took 4 guests ashore to be transferred to the airport for their early morning flight. The rest of the guests woke up to continental breakfast and just before 8 am we loaded up the skiff and said our goodbyes as we took them ashore to be transferred to their hotels or tour for the day. We would like to thank everyone for joining us for this 10 day charter. We hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew