WEBSITE UPDATE – CAPTAINS LOG:
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard 2 of our 18 guest from Israel with the rest arriving later that night. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms and then we set up all the dive gear. That evening we had a excellent dinner prepared by chef Cameron as our two guest aboard celebrated the final night of Honika. Late that night everyone else arrived we went over a quick room briefing before heading off to bed for a couples hours rest.
On Monday morning everyone finished setting up their gear, had breakfast and gathered around the TV in the salon for both the vessel safety and dive briefings before heading off on our first dive at the Helmet aka Depth Charge Wreck. Here divers explored this WWII Japanese sub-chaser, found in the mid 80’s this wreck still holds many artifacts including helmets, depth charges (i.e. the name), a rifle, bullets, bottles, porcelain sinks, gas mask and much more. Amongst the artifacts divers also found razor shrimp, signal gobies, two octopi and a crocodile fish. During lunch the Tropic Dancer moved out towards Ulong Island, after which Conor gave the final slideshow briefing going over how to use reef hooks here in Palau in preparation for our next two dives. The first dive out of Ulong was at Siaes Corner, divers rolled in a made the way along the wall down to the hook-in area. Although there was a decent current there was not much action out in the blue so we unhooked and explored the reef finding turtles, white-tips, an octopus, and tons of lovely fish amongst one of the best coral gardens in Palau. Our last dive of the first day was a dusk dive at the popular Ulong Channel. Here we hooked in for a while and watched the sharks as the sun faded and then unhooked and drifted down the channel, finishing the dive at two giant clams sitting side by side.
Tuesday morning we woke up and head back out to Ulong Channel for another drift, some more sharks, an octopus, groupers and tons of fish. Our last dive out by Ulong Island was at Sandy Paradise, a sloping coral garden with a sandy bottom around 24meters. Here divers found several leaf scorpion fish, a mantis shrimp, sharks, and several large schools of fish. During lunch we moved the big boat down through German Channel for our next dive at Big Drop Off, an nice easy and relaxing wall dive with tons of animal life like octopus, banded coral shrimp, a huge notodoris nudi, sharks, tons of fish and a huge ball and chain left behind by the Germans Pre WWI. For our forth dive of the day we set out for German Channel to try our luck at seeing some mantas and oh boy did ever pay off, within minutes of being in the water we had several manta start feeding above use so we left that bottom and went up amongst the mantas and thousands of schooling fish. All and all we counted at least ten manta at one time circling around us feeding on the plankton rich water and we stayed here the entire dive, even as we back on the skiff we could still see them on the surface feeding as the sun went down. After dinner ten of our guest went out for a night dive at Big Drop Off, on the dive they saw a squid, turtles, a white-tip out hunting, and tons of macro life.
We kicked off Wednesday morning with a dive at the world famous Blue Corner, with a outgoing current we went with the wall on the left down to the hook-in where we had several dozen shark. With a little current we unhook and went off to explore the plateau finding turtles, eels, more sharks and a seasnake hunting through the corals. After lunch our third dive of the day was back out by the corner at Blue Holes, where divers descended down one of four holes on top of the shallow reef down into one massive cavern. We explored the cavern for ten minutes or so discovering nudi, flatworms, disco-clams and at the exit we were able to find a pygmy seahorse chilling on a seafan around 27meters. After that we made our way back down to Blue Corner not bothering to hook-in but just explored the plateau for a while once again seeing huge schools of fish, turtles and sharks. The last dive of the day was at Turtle Cove, here divers again went down through a opening in the shallow reef into another slightly small cavern after which they made their way along this beautifully covered soft coral wall down to the corner, finding numerous macro life like nudi’s and an orangutan-crab as well as lots of fish and a turtle or two.
On Thursday morning we started off with a dive back at German Channel, starting on the Koror side our first stop was an impossibly red anemone and then shortly after found a cow-tail ray laying in the sandy bottom. After that we made our way over to the first cleaning station were we had a few sharks pass by but after about twenty minutes we picked up and moved down to the Peleliu cleaning station. Here we saw several gray reefs doing their funny little shark dance as they got cleaned and had an eagleray fly by but once again no manta so after another 10/15 minutes we started to drift down the channel were finally found a small young manta hanging out.
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