WEBSITE UPDATE – CAPTAINS LOG:
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard our group of 14 guest from all over the world including the UK, Thailand, Argentina, Switzerland and the US. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms and then we set up all the dive gear. Once everyone was all checked in and dive gear was all set up we headed upstairs for our first of many fabulous dinners prepared by Chef Cameron. After dinner our Cruise Director Ben covered the General Vessel Orientation & Safety Briefing, after which guest headed off to bed to get a little rest before our week of diving here in beautiful Palau.
Monday we fired up the big boat and left the dock bright and early as we started our way out to Ulong Island stopping at Helmet Wreck along the way for our checkout dive and first dive of the charter. An easy check out dive as divers did their weight checks and descended down to the Helmet wreck or also known as the Depth Charge Wreck. This wreck is so named due to the stacks of WWII helmets found in the first cargo hold as well as the depth charges in the first two cargo holds. We stopped in the first cargo hold, saw the helmets, and continued down towards the bow of the wreck. In the middle cargo hold we saw more depth charges we swam through the cargo hold to the forward cargo hold and saw the airplane motors. At the bow of the wreck we found the banded messmate pipe fish around the anchor wench. On the way back to the stern we found a couple of signal gobies on the deck of the wreck. We then spent the rest of the dive looking over the artifacts that have been collected and placed out on the stern. For dive 2 we went to one of the flag ship wreck in Palau known as the IRO. A massive Japanese tanker sunk during Desecrate 1 off WWII. Guest travelled along the top of this five hundred foot long wreck swimming through kingpost and the super structure and checking out the remains of this historic wreck. During lunch the Tropic Dancer finished its journey out towards Ulong Island with our first dive here being at Ulong Channel. The current although in the middle of the incoming tide as pushing out of the channel instead of flowing in so we started the dive in Ulong Coral Garden and slowly made out way down to Ulong Channel. Along the way we saw sharks, a large school of jacks, several anemones all balled up and an octopus out roaming the reef looking for food. For the fourth and final dive of the day we went out to Sandy Paradise a beautiful sloping coral garden for dusk dive just as the sun was going down. On the dive we spotted Leaf Scorpionfish, crocodile fish, Lion fish, white tip and grey reef sharks.
Tuesday morning everyone woke up and had breakfast and eagerly headed down to the dive deck for another great day of diving starting with a dive a Siaes Tunnel. A massive tunnel along the wall with the entrance starting around 90’ and exiting out around 100’ in here divers found several fish rarely seen by recreational divers such as the pygmy blue-back angelfish, the black&white butterflyfish, decorated and helfrich dartfish. For dive 2 we headed out a little bit further to Siaes Corner when we entered the water the was a mild current with a few sharks out in the blue, so we hooked in but for just a short while before going off and exploring one of the most beautiful coral gardens in Palau, where we were able to find an octopus, turtles and tons of stunning tropical fish. During lunch the Tropic Dancer moved away from Ulong and down towards German Channel where our first dive was at Turtle Cove. Here divers descended down though a opening in the shallow reef that led into a carven below where we found disco clams and nudi’s. After exploring the cavern for a bit we made our way out with the wall on our left towards the corner where we had large schools of jacks and black snapper as well as turtle, sharks and a nice jellyfish. Dive 4 of the day was held at Barnums Wall, it was nice easy dive finding turtles, crocodilefish, anemones and a shark or two. After dinner just a 3 of our guest ventured out for a night dive at Ngedebus Coral Garden and found a Lionspaw seacucumber, a large lobster, huge basketstar and tons of macro life.
Wednesday’s first dive we headed off for the world famous Blue Corner for a fantastic dive with tons of sharks, jacks, snapper, barracuda and turtle. Dive 2 was at New Drop Off a smaller version of Blue Corner divers hooked-in while the current was light but it soon picked up with quite a strong current but we still had several sharks and a school of jacks bobbing in-between divers. After lunch we took off for German Channel stopping at the Peleliu cleaning station for about 10-15 minutes and watched as several large gray reef sharks came in to get cleaned and do their funny little shark dance. After that we moved to the center of the channel where we had a manta fly past and quickly disappeared but not long after that saw several mantas feeding in the shallow water above. So we left the bottom and swam amongst the mantas as the swept back and forth feeding on the numerous plankton life, here we spent the rest of the dive counting up to at least 8 mantas at one time. Dive 4 we went out to Big Drop Off with one of the major
On Thursday morning we started off with a dive at Blue Holes, We entered the water and swam over on the surface to the holes and descended down into the chamber. We saw the disco clam, then exited and made it down to Blue Corner where we hooked-in while the sharks put on a show for us. After about 20 minutes we unhooked Drift across the plateau with the napoleons following us for the rest of the dive. For dive number two we headed to New Drop Off, the current was incoming it was flowing nice. We hooked in and watched the show as 15 grey reef sharks passed by only inches from the divers. We spent most of the dive at the hook in area because the show was great and when we unhooked we had a little time to explore the plateau. As we drifted we saw several turtles, then we started our ascent to do our safety stop. After lunch we headed to Back to Blue Corner. The current was mild and outgoing. We enjoyed the slow drift along the beautiful wall and at the hook in area; we hooked in and enjoyed the show as a lot of sharks were off in the blue. Also off the wall was a large school of chevron barracuda. There had to be over 500 of them. One napoleon wrasse was swimming in and out of all the divers. After we unhooked we decided to take the group to the corner to see the lettuce coral formation and the school of blue lined snapper. We started our ascent to do our safety stop with the napoleon. . For the fourth dive of the day we headed out to Barnums wall, starting with a slopping coral garden and then moving down the wall to solid wall finding nudi’s, turtles, and anemones all along the way. After dinner for the first night divers went back to out to Big Drop Off for some great macro life and got to see several large groupers out hunting on the wall as well.
Friday was a fantastic day of diving; we started the day out at Blue Corner where we had a perfect incoming current. When divers hooked-in they saw tons of sharks, a huge school of jacks as well as giant trevally, black snapper, dogtooth tuna, wahoo and much more. When the dive was over divers returned to have breakfast before heading out to German Channel for dive two. As soon as divers entered the water there were two turtles swimming about. We spent most of the dive hanging out at the two cleaning stations waiting for the mantas to show up. After about 40 minutes it appeared that the mantas were not going to corporate today so we headed up into the bait ball for our safety stop. After 1 minuet hanging out with the Blue Line Fusiliers four mantas showed up at the last minute. Three adults and one all black juvenile it was just great the guests were just ecstatic. Dive three well actually it was not a dive the guest decided to go to the beach for dive three, so we dropped them off for a couple hours of fun in the sun at the beach. For dive four we headed over to Ngemelis Wall for a leisurely drift down the wall. We spotted sleeping white tips in the sand, turtles, Gray reefs and tons of schooling tropical fish of all sorts. Once back on board the Tropic Dancer we had a delicious final dinner before watch our video pro Jon’s movie 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. All the divers 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 watched a Conor’s photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner.
On Sunday morning we said our goodbyes to the remainder of our guests as they headed off to their hotels. We would like to give everyone special thanks for joining us on this spectacular charter. Sulang and Till next time, Safe travels.
-Tropic Dancer Crew