Log Date: Sunday, Jan 31, 2016
Entry By: Rock Islands Aggressor Crew
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard 16 guests from all around the world for a very special charter. This week we have onboard Don Rockwell the CEO of Aqualung and also Vernon, national sales rep, for an Aqualung Gear Demo Week. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms and then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. Once we checked certification cards and checked in, headed up stairs to dinner prepared by our Chef Cameron. After dinner Don and Vernon talked to all the guests, handed out a new Aqualung computer for everyone to use for the week and all week said they will be handing out free Aqualung Gear. After we covered the vessel safety briefing and soon after everyone were off to bed.
Very early Monday morning we welcomed on our last guest on board who arrived at the airport. At 5:30am the big boat left the harbor and started heading to Ulong. After breakfast we gathered around the TV in the salon for the general dive briefing. We dropped the anchor in Ulong and headed out to our first dive at Ulong Channel. The current was a light incoming current so we started from the furthest morning from the mouth of the channel, entered the water, did a weight check and descended down to the coral garden. The current pushed us over the coral garden; we saw some sharks in the blue and a couple of turtles. We let the incoming current push us in to the channel to end the dive. For dive two we went to Siaes Tunnel. We did our entries and descended down to the entrance of the tunnel. As we swam through the tunnel we found the decorated dart fish, pygmy angelfish. We exited and started ascending and saw a couple of sharks in the blue. After lunch we covered the reef hook briefing to prepare us for our next dive and we headed back out to the Siaes area to dive Siaes Corner. The current was outgoing and we drifted along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in for a while and watched the show. We unhooked and explored the coral garden, on the other side of the corner there were a lot of sharks and a couple of wahoo. Our last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise. We started the dive from the mooring and descended down the beautiful slopping coral garden. We then turned to the right and followed where the sandy bottom met the coral garden. We found the two leaf scorpion fish and saw a couple of turtles to end the dive. We returned to the big boat and soon after, dinner was ready. After dinner we watched a fish ID presentation on the fish we normally find here in Palau.
Tuesday morning our first dive was at Ulong Channel. The current was incoming and this time we hooked in. There were several sharks drifting across in front of the group. We unhooked and had a nice drift down the channel pass the lettuce coral and ended the dive with the two giant clams. For dive two our guests wanted to go back to Ulong Channel, but the current was outgoing so we did the channel in reverse. We entered the water by the giant clams and drifted out the channel. At the mouth we turned off to the south side of the channel to explore the coral garden. We saw a lot of tropical fish and an octopus. During lunch the big boat moved to the German Channel area. Our third dive was at New Drop Off. The current was outgoing and it was moving. We entered the water from the far mooring and went fast along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in around the cut on the outgoing side and held on tight. We had a couple of grey reef shark swimming by in front of the divers. We stayed most of the dive at the hook in area with the strong current, then the current went slack so we unhooked and explored the plateau. We took photos with some very friendly turtles, the school of blue lined snapper and soon the current switched to incoming so we turned around. For our fourth dive we went to Big Drop Off. We started the dive above the ball and chain, descended down explored the chain left over from prior to WWI and then continued along the wall. We spotted some nice macro life, and a turtle in the shallows. After dinner we returned to Big Drop Off for our first night dive. We started the dive in the shallow sand channel between the two moorings and found one leaf scorpion fish. We then dropped out of the sand channel and went wall on the left. We were lucky enough to find one ghost pipe fish and a big groupers out hunting in our lights.
On Wednesday we started the day with German Channel. We started the dive from the Koror side of the channel. We stopped at the red anemone and continued across the sand to the first cleaning station. We had an eagle ray swim over the group and swim off. We reached the cleaning station and waited for a while but no mantas. We headed across the mouth of the channel to the Peleliu side cleaning station, we sat down and watched some grey reef sharks getting cleaned. We turned around and we back to the middle of the channel and drifted in to end our dive. As we started to drift into the channel, a feather tail ray came out the channel right over top the group and right before we finished our safety stop we spotted a leopard shark sleeping on the bottom. We spent our last few minutes with the shark before surfacing. Our second dive was at Blue Corner, the current was incoming and we started with the wall on our right. The current was moving well; we hooked in at the 45 feet and watched the show. Several sharks were in front of the divers; we unhooked and dropped down into the 60 foot hook in area and hooked in again. There were a lot of sharks. We unhooked and drifted swiftly across the plateau to start our safety stop. After lunch our third dive of the day was at Blue Holes. We started the dive from the mooring and swam over on the surface to the four holes on top the reef, descended down into the chamber. We found the disco clam and found two pygmy seahorses on the sea fan and the bottom. We then exited the cavern and made our way along the wall to Blue Corner. Before we reached the hook in area the current started to pick up, we hooked in and watched several sharks off the wall. We didn’t stay too long at the hook in area because we were running low on bottom time, so we unhooked and drifted across the plateau. Our fourth dive was at Barnum’s Wall, here divers descended down along the wall and then over the slopping coral garden. We spotted a black tip reef shark before we dropped to our max depth. Along the coral garden we saw a couple of turtles. After dinner we went back Turtle Cove for the night dive. At night the wall is beautiful. All the cup coral comes out to feed and turns the wall into a beautiful mixture of orange and yellow. We also found a turtle sleeping and a couple of yellow hermit crabs out walking around one guest found two robust ghost pipefish.
Early Thursday morning the big boat started motoring down to Peleliu. We tied up the big boat in South Dock and our first dive was at Peleliu corner. The current was incoming and we did the express side of the corner. We drifted along the wall and hooked in at 60 feet. There were about 15 grey reef sharks off the wall. The current was light so we decided to unhook and drift down towards the corner. A couple of the guests drifted through the large school of G.T’s off the corner. For dive two we headed out to West Wall. We started the dive by the red anemones that cascade down a crack on top the reef. The photographers got some nice photos, then we dropped down over the wall and explored the hole and skylight, then continued alone the wall. We saw some other macro life and some sharks in the blue, but the highlight of the dive would have to be the devil ray that swam by in the blue, some of the guests were able to get some nice video. For dive three we went to Orange Beach Coral Garden. 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. We spotted turtles, a couple reef sharks and artifacts from WWII. Dive four was at Barracks Point. The current was running strong; we shot across the dive site pretty fast. We found some giant clams and a bunch of turtles. At the end of the dive we saw a leopard shark. For the night dive we headed out to German Coral Garden. We started the dive just outside the mouth of the channel on the Koror side of the channel. We stopped at the red anemone first then continued along the slopping coral garden. One of the guests for two ornate ghost pipefish above crinoids. Also we had a manta fly by the group and a feather tail ray in the sand.
On Friday we started the day out with a repeat dive at Blue Corner. The current was again incoming and when we entered the water there was an eagle ray that passed by us. Right before we reached the hook in area we saw a devil ray off in the blue. We then hooked in at 45 feet and watched the show. There were several sharks in front of the group and when we unhooked we drifted down to the corner. Then off in the blue the thresher shark swam in toward us with a lot of grey reef sharks following us. For dive two we went to Dexters Wall. We did the dive with the wall on our right. During the dive we saw about 10 turtles hanging out along the beautiful wall. After lunch we headed out to Ngemelis Wall. During the dive we saw a bunch of macro life and a nice looking scorpion fish. For our last dive of the day we went out to Turtle Cove. We started the dive by descending down through the hole on top the reef and in the cavern we spotted a disco clam then went out along the wall. We spotted a lot of macro life along the wall and some turtles on top the corner. We returned to the big boat where we enjoyed another fine meal prepared by our chef and after dinner we judged the Aqualung photo contest and announced the winners. The first place photo had their choice of a regulator or BCD and the second and third place winners had their choice of fins or a mask. Then we watched the video of the charter.
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. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear. At 6pm we gathered in the salon for the cocktail party and watched a photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner. At 10pm we said our goodbyes to two guests as they headed to the airport for their flight.
Very early Sunday morning more guests left to the airport for their flights home and at 8 we said our goodbyes to the rest of the guests as they headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank Don Rockwell and Vernon Brock from Aqualung for joining us on this very special Aqualung gear demo week and everyone else who joined us this week and hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew