WEBSITE UPDATE – CAPTAINS LOG:
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard our group of guest 9 from Russia, 6 from USA, 1 from Germany and 1 form Australia. 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 Jon covered the General Vessel Orientation & Safety Briefing, then the guests shared a drink or two before heading 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 a couple of wrecks along the way for a wonderful day of diving. After breakfast Conor cover the General Dive Briefing to prepare guest for diving from the skiff and managing the currents here in Palau and then we set out for our first dive of the charter at Jakes Sea Plane. An easy check out dive divers did their weight checks and descended down to the plane where after about twenty minutes of checking out the propellers, cockpit, wings and the tail divers went off and explored the surrounding coral garden finding a pod of razor fish and an octopus that put on a show for everyone for a good twenty minutes. For dive 2 we went out to another wreck knows as The Iro, sunk during WWII by two separate torpedo hits. The deck of this massive 480’ wreck sits in-between 60’-90’ here divers explored through massive king post and swim throughs finding numerous fish life, an octopus, tomato anemones and a pod of squid. During lunch our Instructor Conor went over the reef-hook briefing as we made our way out towards Ulong Island. For the third dive divers headed out to Ulong Channel to test out there reef hooks for the first time. When they arrived at the mouth of the channel there was virtually no current but divers still hooked-in for just a few minutes just to get a little practice, afterwards they unhooked and went down the channel to explore. The fourth and final dive of the day was combination of Ulong Coral Garden and Ulong Channel right at dusk. We started in the coral garden and made our way with wall on the left checking out sharks, Headshield-slugs, and a giant clams. With about 15 minutes left in the dive it was completely dark just as we made it to the mouth of the channel and started our drift down the channel, flying over corals anemones and even a couple of sharks.
Tuesday we started with a dive out at Siaes Corner, another hook-in dive with one of the most beautiful coral gardens on top of the plateau in Palau if not the world. Here divers had the perfect current to hook-in at not too much, not too little but just right so that they were able to kick back and watch as a parade of sharks swam back and forth as well as a baby eagle ray that been hanging out there for the past few weeks. Our last dive in Ulong was at a dive site known as Sandy Paradise, a sloping coral garden that meet a sandy bottom around 80’. Here divers found a banded seasnake, leaf scorpionfish, mantis shrimp and a large moray eel. During lunch we the Tropic Dancer to the inside of German Channel, our first dive here was at Turtle Cove. Divers stared the dive by entering a cavern through a hole on top of the shallow reef, after exploring the cavern we exited and made our way along one of the best soft coral covered walls in Palau finding a nurse shark, nudi’s, schools of black snapper and of course a turtle or two. For dive 4 and then again for the night we went to Big Drop Off, an excellent macro dive filled with different crabs, shrimp, nudi and much more but divers also get to see the massive ball and chain left behind from the Germans Pre WWI that was used as a mooring system for the larger ships.
Wednesday was an action packed day starting with a dive at Blue Holes just a short swim to Blue Corner. We started the dive by descending down one of four holes on the top of the shallow reef all leading down in to one massive cavern making for a very cool experience with the ambient light coming in from the 4 holes. Inside divers saw disco clams, lionfish, nudi and as we exit divers got to see three pygmy seahorses on a see fan just outside the cavern. Once we left the pygmy seahorses we made our way along the wall all the way down to Blue Corner the current was to light to hook-in so we just ventured across the plateau seeing several large schools of fish, turtles and several sharks. After the dive we came back had breakfast and were once angina off for another dive this time for New Drop Off. With an outgoing current we made our way along with the wall on our left all the way to the hook-in area, here there were about a dozen sharks, schools of barracuda, jacks and black snapper, we also had a friendly octopus put on a show for all the divers to see right under neither them as we were hooked-in. Once we got back to the Tropic Dancer lunch was had and then wouldn’t you know we were off for yet another dive this time as the world famous Blue Corner. When divers got to the corner the was basically no current so no one bothered to hook-in and instead just came up on top of the plateau and wondered about finding turtles, sharks, a scorpion fish, several different schools of fish and Chef Cameron even found an octopus roaming the reef. For dive 4 we headed to German Channel to try our luck at seeing manta, unfortunately this did not pan out but divers did see tons of schooling fish, sharks, a turtle and a tiny banded pipefish. Guest came back from the dive and had another delectable prepare by Chef Cam and afterwards a brave few headed out for the night dive at the mouth of German Channel.
On Thursday morning we started up the big boat and headed down to Peleliu. Our first dive was at Peleliu Corner, on the side known as “The Cut” divers followed along as we made our way to the hook-in area, where once all were hooked in we kicked back and enjoyed the show of sharks, jacks and giant trevally. When we unhooked we drifted across the plateau checking out all the fish life such as groupers, flounder and even Dory (pallet surgeon fish). Dive 2 was at West Wall along which divers saw multiple turtles, sharks, groupers as well as numerous macro life such as nudi’s and an orangutan crab. After the dive everyone gathered around for lunch before heading out for dive 3 at Orange Beach Coral Garden. Named by the marines when they landed on Peleliu on D-Day during WWII, here divers found artifacts from the war including bullets, mortar shells and even a landing craft. Also divers saw three crocodile fish a couple gray reefs and some macro life. Before the fourth dive the Tropic Dancer moved out of Peleliu south dock and slowly towards the German Channel area. Along the way we lowered the skiff and headed out to Barracks Point. The current was moderate and as we drifted along we managed to see giant clams, a bunch of turtles a school of jack and a couple of sharks. After the dive we took the skiff all the way back into German Channel where the big boat awaited us. After dinner we had our final night dive at German Coral Garden. Two of guest ventured out and saw a Lionspaw seacucumber, lionfish, several Nudi’s, flatworms and a mantis shrimp were also seen.
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 Dexters Wall for dive two. As soon as divers entered the water there were two turtles swimming about and divers saw at least a dozen more throughout the dive as well as seeing an eagle ray coming by to say hello. Dive three we headed off for Barnums Wall, a dive that starts on a sheer wall before turning into a sloping coral garden. On the dive guest first came across a marble ray cruising past just over the reef. Not too long afterwards around a 100’ we found not one but two large sliver-tip sharks extremely rare normally swimming in much deep water. After the two silver-tips had gone we moved up the reef and found a crocodilefish that made for some great photos and just before finishing our safety stop we had a spotted eagle pass by. For dive four we went back to German Channel to try once again to see mantas, on the way to the first cleaning station we had yet another eagle swim past for a couple of photos. Then about fifteen minutes into the dive we had a manta show up and start finding back forth over heads. We came up into the shallower waters to join her and continued to swim all around us not worried a bit coming within inches of divers. Then a little more than forty minutes into the dive we were joined by two more manta making for a unbelievable show and a amazing final dive of the day. 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.
Saturday night we said our fair wells to our Russian comrades as they got on their flights home. Then 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 ‘Til next time, Safe travels.
-Tropic Dancer Crew