Log Date: Sunday, Dec 20, 2015
Entry By: Rock Islands Aggressor Crew
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard our 18 guest from around the world. We have guest from Hong Kong, Germany, China, USA, Australia and Denmark, 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. After dinner we had a vessel safety briefing and then our guest retired to their rooms in anticipation of a great week of diving.
On Monday morning everyone finished setting up their gear, had breakfast and gathered around the TV in the salon for the 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. For dive number two we headed to the wreck of the Iro Maru and Japanese oil tanker sunk during WWII. The visibility was not so great on this dive which made it kind of a spooky dive. 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 and made their 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. We returned to the big boat where we once again enjoyed another fabulous meal by chef Cam.
Tuesday morning we woke up and head out to Siaes Corner for another hook in Dive, some more sharks, an octopus, groupers and tons of fish. Our second dive was at Ulong Channel; We started the dive on the wall and drifted to the opening of the channel where we hooked in even though it was a light current for about fifteen minutes. After watching the sharks cruising the opening of the channel we unhooked and drifted down the channel with a relaxing current spotting nesting triggerfish, a couple more sharks passing the giant patch of lettuce corral and finishing our dive at the giant clams. The 3rd 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. 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 night dive we returned to Big Drop Off to see what it looks like at night and it didn’t disappoint the guest seem to really enjoy themselves.
We kicked off Wednesday morning with a dive at the Blue Holes, the 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. 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 our third dive of the day was back out by the corner at German channel, 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 1 manta came buy for a quick flyby. For dive number for we headed out to Barnums Wall, it was nice easy dive finding turtles, crocodile fish, anemones and a shark or two. After dinner just a 3 of our guest ventured out for a night dive at German Coral Garden and found a Lions paw sea cucumber, a large lobster, huge basket star and tons of macro life.
Early Thursday morning the big boat started motoring down to Peleliu for a great day of diving where the Philippine Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The first dive of the day was at Peleliu corner. We started the dive at the sand channel on the express side and drifted down the wall to the corner. The current was mild but strong enough to hook in. We spotted a couple turtles, sharks; schooling Moorish Idols and chef cam joined us and found an very old ax on top of the Plateau most likely from the battles during WWII. After about twenty five minutes we unhooked and cruised across the top of the plateau. After the dive 8 guests went on the Peleliu WWII land tour to explore the sights of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. The remaining guests went to Orange Beach Coral Garden for dive two. It was outgoing and we drifted along the coral garden with the shallow on our left. This is one of the most beautiful coral gardens in Palau. This site is just covered with schools of tropical fish just amazing. We spotted turtles a couple reef sharks and artifacts from WWII. After lunch we headed to West Wall where we cruised down the wall with a mild current spotting sharks, schooling Pyramid Angelfish, hard and soft corals galore just an incredible dive. After lunch dive three was at Barracks Point. We saw some big schools of fish, giant clams and around 12 turtles. Half way through the dive the current switched and we turned around and went the other way. The night dive was at German Coral Garden. We found several shrimp and some cone shells out wondering the reef, also a large eel.
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. Dexters Wall. In total we saw 10 turtles and a couple of sharks in the blue water. Mixed in amongst the beautiful soft corals that cover the wall we saw some nudi’s and anemones. After lunch we headed back to Blue Corner senesce the guests loved it so much the first time around. This time it was a completely different dive as the current was cooking. We hooked in for about thirty five minutes just being amazed by the show before us. We had sharks, Dog Tooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel and turtles. Last dive of the day was at German Channel where we spent most of the dive looking for Mantas. At the very end of the dive we spotted a Spotted Eagle Ray and 1 manta before returning to the service. We returned to the big boat where we enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Chef Cam.
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 said our good buys to 6 guests at 5pm as they headed to the airport for their flight. At 6pm we gathered in the salon 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