Log Date: Sunday, Jan 03, 2016
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew
Palau Aggressor Charter Jan 3rd– 10th, 2016
Water Temp: 79-84 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Scott, Hector, Ronnie, Joe, Ernan, Herence and Dan
On Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard 17 new dive buddies from around the World. After an orientation to the vessel and helping them to set up their dive gear, we headed upstairs for a safety briefing by Captain Scott, followed by a delicious dinner by Chef Ronnie. With appetites satisfied, it was early to bed in order to rest up before beginning a wonderful week of diving onboard the Palau Aggressor II!
Monday morning after breakfast we set off for our check out dive on the Helmet Wreck. A victim of WWII the wreck lays upright on the sand in Malakal lagoon. Unlike many of the wrecks in Palau, the Helmet wreck was not salvaged after the war, so there are plenty of artifacts for divers to see, including ‘Zero’ fighter engines, depth charges, and the stacks of Japanese army helmets from which she gets her name. (The true identity of the wreck remains unknown). After lunch we found ourselves down at German Channel and our first reef dive was on a very beautiful site called Canyons. We saw a few Turtles, Bumphead Wrasse, and some Nudibranchs. Dive 4 was at Ferns Wall, were we found more turtles, our first few Sharks and a Long nose hawkfish.
Tuesday Morning bright and early our first dive was at Blue Holes. Dropping into the sink holes on the reef plateau which open up into a large cavern below, we saw the Fire or Disco Clams, and then spent some time checking out the Pygmy Seahorses which only a few people know about! Heading along the reef wall with the current we spotted some Sharks, Turtles and Barracuda. World Famous Blue Corner was our second dive and our first opportunity to “Hook In”. A few Sharks and Jacks were putting on a show, then we explored the Plateau after we unhooked but we didn’t stay long as we had quite exciting current. Dive three was at Turtle Cove, one of the best places to see soft corals, which look spectacular as they all come out to feed when in the late afternoon.
On Wednesday morning we motored down south in the gentle swell to Peleliu. Peleliu was the location of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, when the US Marines came to take the Island from the entrenched Japanese Army. With the Palau Aggressor safely moored at Camp Beck, we headed out for our first dive on Peleliu Express. At a point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Philippine Sea the currents can be strong, bringing with them a chance to see some of the bigger marine life in Palau. Dive two took us to West Wall, a very beautiful wall dive with everything from the big to the tiny! Some of the group opted to go on the optional land tour instead of dive two, to take in some of the islands history. Orange Beach is so named from its code in the Peleliu invasion, the dive site just out from the beach is an amazing hard coral garden busting with color, and hardly a square meter of sand is visible between the corals. We saw several Turtles here and at the end of the dive a Crocodile fish. After dive four at Barracks Point we headed back up to the German Channel area, and did a night dive at Ngmelis wall.
Our first dive on Thursday took us back out Blue Corner, exciting to see more Sharks this time, again with quite a strong current. Dive two was New Drop Off, a mini version of Blue Corner, a decent current here also produce some more sharks! Dive Three at Barnums Wall, and German Channel was number four. We did see a Manta, but only one. I had a feeling that the Mantas would be feeding in the late afternoon, so instead of doing a night dive we filled tanks and went straight back out to German Channel. My feeling was right, eight beautiful Mantas were feeding close to the surface and kept us entertained the whole dive, what a beautiful show and a privilege to witness, best of all being late in the day, we had the place to ourselves!
Friday dive one was at Siaes Tunnel, which you may have guessed is a large swim through! Inside we found Blue Back Pygmy Angel fish, and the rare Decorated Dart fish. Along the wall we saw Sharks and Turtles, to name but a few. Dive two was at Siaes Corner, a hook in dive on a very beautiful reef plateau. We had a mild current here and swam gently to the hook in. Someone was smiling upon us again, as what we were about to see was another example of why Palau is a World famous dive destination. Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks! More than fifty Grey Reef Sharks were cruising around right in front of us, and even more were just visible in the blue. Wow! Is the only word to describe it. Dive three was Sandy Paradise. Leaf Scorpion fish, Octopus and Barracuda are among the highlights here. Our last dive today was at the famous Ulong Channel, where we had almost no current at all. This made for a nice gentle swim down the channel, checking out the beautiful hard corals along the way. After dinner we sat down and watched the Video of the Week and recapped some of our amazing experiences form the week.
Snorkeling with the millions of Jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake, where we went on Saturday morning, is a truly surreal and mesmerizing experience. After a short hike, a swim in the tranquil waters of the lake is a great way to relax after a week of diving. We ambled back to the Skiff, where Joe was waiting to take us on a tour of the Rock Islands before meeting up with the big boat in Koror. Our last dive was at nearby Chandelier Caves where we explored the four chambers and stalactite formations inside, surfacing for a breath or two in the air pockets along the way. On the reef just outside the cave entrance mandarin fish scurry between the shallow corals posing for the final photographs of the week. After that, it was back for lunch and time to assist our guests with rinsing their gear. Later that evening, we all met for a few cocktails to look back on the week and share some diving stories before heading out to dinner at the nearby local restaurants.
We said farewell on Sunday morning and helped our guests with transfers to their hotels and flights. It was yet another wonderful week aboard the Palau Aggressor II with fantastic guests that we look forward to diving again with soon! Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as much as we did, and have a Happy New Year!