Palau Tropic Dancer
Capt. Log 10/4 – 10/11
Around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard our 16 guests for the week from all around world; Germany, Netherlands, UK, USA and Hong Kong We started with a quick introduction to their cabins and then on to the dive deck were everyone started to set up their dive gear in anticipation of a wonderful week of diving. Once their gear had all been set up we all enjoyed our first of many fabulous dinners prepared by Chef Cam. Afterwards Ben the Cruise Director gave the Safety Briefing before heading off to bed for a little rest before starting our week of diving.
Early Monday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer to our mooring in Malakal Harbor. After breakfast Conor covered the general dive briefing before the first dive at the Helmet Wreck. Divers jumped in the water did their initial wait checks and headed down to the mooring line to this unidentified WWII Japanese sub-chaser. Having not be found till the mid 80’s this is one the few wrecks that was not salvaged after the so divers were able to view many artifacts left behind including a stack of helmets (ie where the name came from), depth charges, a rifle, porcelain sink and morphine bottles. During our surface interval the big boat moved just outside of Malakal Harbor for our second dive of the day was the Iro a 500ft Japanese oil tanker also sunk during the war by US forces. After we entered the water we followed the mooring line down to the bow of the wreck as the large bow gun came in to view. We continued down the wreck swimming through huge kingpost then exploring the wheelhouse and the engine room. We worked our way down to the stern of the Iro seeing schooling jack, a turtle and a couple batfish. We turned around at the stern gun and circled up the large tripod structure. We spent some time with the Tomato Anemone Fish before swimming from king post to king post finding a school of squid along the way and then back up the mooring line to do our safety stop. During the dive the big boat had started to move towards Ulong Island so we played catch-up on the skiff bobbing and weaving through the rock islands back to the Tropic Dancer. After lunch we did a dive at Ulong Coral Garden as we swam around a large corner on the wall we came across two large schools of jacks and barracuda as well as several sharks roaming the edge of the reef. For the last dive of the day dives headed out to Sandy Paradise a slopping hard coral garden that with a sandy bottom around 70feet. Here divers found five leaf scorpion fish all huddled on one coral out cropping surrounded by thousands of little glassy eyed sweepers. After the dive guest enjoyed a delightful dinner, a couple of drink and reminisced over a great day of diving.
On Tuesday morning we started the day with a dive out at Siaes Corner for our first hook-in dive. With a strong outgoing current we started with the wall on our right as we approached the hook-in area divers readied the reef hooks and all found suitable spots to hook in, the current was incredibly strong so after ten minutes we unhooked and drifted across the plateau for the remainder of the dive finding turtles, octopus, scorpionfish and large school of barracuda. For dive two we planned on going to Ulong Channel but when we arrived there the current was outgoing so we settled for another dive at Ulong Coral Garden. During lunch the Tropic Dancer moved down to the inside of German Channel for our home base for the next few days of diving. Our first dive here was Turtle Cove where divers descended down into a cavern to find a couple of disco clams afterwards divers made the way along one of the best soft coral covered walls in Palau. The fourth dive of the day was Big Drop Off divers explored the wall finding a curious octopus, several leaf scorpion fish, a couple of different nudibranchs and massive ball and chain from an old mooring system left by the Germans pre WWI. After dinner we headed back out to Big Drop Off for our first night dive finding tons of macro life as well as a large grouper using divers lights to hunt for fish.
Wednesday dive number one we were off to the world famous Blue Corner, upon arriving the current was strong but seemed to be manageable so divers back rolled into the water and started towards the hook-in area. Within only a couple of minutes the current picked up even more so much so divers only stayed hooked in for a few minutes before becoming unbearable so we unhooked, drifted across the plateau did our safety stop and finished the dive at around twenty minutes. Dive two divers drop in at German Channel to try our luck at seeing some mantas but unfortunately without prevail although divers did see a feathertail ray, sharks and a huge school of jacks.
Thursday the winds have come down enough so we were finally able to make it to Blue Corner and what a great dive it was! The guests were ecstatic to say the least, all the normal players were there sharks, barracudas, jack, tuna and of course our friend the Napoleon Wrasse but the big show stopper was the gorgeous black manta came across the top of the plateau and sailed by as it headed over the corner and into the blue. The 2nd dive of the day was at New Drop Off, the currents was almost no existent so divers explored the plateau seeing more the a dozen turtles, a peacock flounder and moray. During lunch the Tropic Dancer moved up into the rock islands for a couple of muck dives for the macro life. The first was at Neco Channel where divers found tons of nudi, flat worms and pipefish. The fourth dive of the day was at Wonder Channel one of the best dives for macro life in Palau divers also seen a couple of turtles and an octopus. After dinner a brave few went for a night dive at Clam City were there were patches of more than forty giant clams sitting side by side.
Early Friday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer out to Ulong Island for our last full day of diving, starting out at Siaes Corner for a hook-in dive but the current was light so after only hooking in for about fifteen minutes divers unhooked and explored the top of the plateau finding several turtle, an octopus and several magnificent sea anemones. Four dive two we went to a sight known as Sandy Paradise a sloping hard coral garden the bottoms out at 70feet or so, on the dive we saw several lionfish, tons of garden eels poking the heads up out of the sand, five leaf scorpion fish that hang out on one particular coral head and finished the dive at beautiful red magnificent sea anemone. Dive 3 was at the world famous Ulong Channel, a three part dive staring with a drift along the wall the hooking in at the mouth of the channel watching as the sharks swim back a fourth and then finish by drifting down the channel checking out all the great marine life including tons of groupers, shark, turtles, a huge patch of lettuce coral and then finishing the dive with two giant clams side by side. All the guest decided to take it easy and pass on the fourth dive and just relax and enjoy each other’s company. For the final meal we had a Thanksgiving day feast prepared by Chef Cameron and before everyone went into a food coma guest watched the Video of the Week.
We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. Our first excursion was Jelly Fish Lake. We tied the skiff up on the outside and started our hike over the hill to the lake. We entered the water and after a short swim into the middle of the lake we were surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this time in the lake, with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we traveled by skiff on a rock island tour. We stopped for photos at Palau’s famous limestone archway and some WWII sites on the way back to the big boat. We did a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and outside the cave we found the mandarin fish and three spiny-devil fish so ugly their cool. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear, we gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch a photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner. We said good bye to all our guest that night around ten as they headed off to the airport to head home We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Captain and Cre