Log Date: Sunday, Jun 12, 2016
Entry By: Rock Islands Aggressor Crew
Sunday afternoon we welcomed aboard 5 guests out of 18. All from a group from Singapore. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms, and then started setting up their dive gear. Once we checked certification cards we headed up stairs for a great dinner by Chef Ronnie. After dinner we covered the vessel orientation & safety briefing. At 9pm we welcomed on the rest of the group, covered the vessel orientation with them and headed down to the dive deck to set up gear. After everyone was checked in, they were soon off to bed.
Early Monday morning we pulled the big boat off the dock and out into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing and headed down stairs to start getting ready to dive. We loaded the guests gear on to the skiff and our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck. The helmet wreck is an unidentified Japanese WWII sub chaser that was sunk in March 1944. This wreck was found again in 1988 and still has a lot of artifacts. We swam all around the wreck, in and out of the cargo holds and took photos of all the artifacts: rifle, pots, beer bottles, gas mask, and ammunition. For dive two we headed to the wreck of the Iro, a Japanese oil tanker. We descended down to the wreck, explored all along the deck, after the wheel house area we spotted one cuttle fish, it stayed for a while so the photographers got some nice photos. Then we circled up the king posts with the beautiful tomato anemone at the top and checked out all the king posts as we made our way back to the mooring. Once we arrived back at the big boat it continued moving on to Ulong during lunch. We covered the last presentation on how to use reef hooks and headed out to Siaes Corner for dive three. We started the dive with the wall on our left and slowly drifted to the corner. The current was light but we hooked in any way to give the guests the practice of doing so. After a while we unhooked and explored the coral garden seeing a couple of turtles. Our last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise, the divers descended down the coral garden to the sandy bottom, found a lion fish around one rock outcropping, then continued along and found three leaf scorpion fish and the mantis shrimp.
Tuesday we started the day with Siaes Tunnel. We descended down the wall from the mooring, to the entrance of the tunnel. We stayed along the ceiling finding the blue backed pygmy angel fish and the black and white butterfly fish, until the bottom of the tunnel came up to a shallower depth and in the sand we found the decorated dart fish. We exited the tunnel and did our multi level up along the wall. We saw a couple of sharks in the blue. Dive two was Ulong Channel. We started the dive from the mooring outside the mouth of the channel and let the current push us into the hook in area. We hooked in and in front of the divers were grey reef sharks and several white tip sharks. Around 40 minutes in to the dive we unhooked and swiftly drifted down the channel in the current. We pasted the lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. During lunch the big boat moved over to German Channel. For dive three we went to New Drop Off. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner and we hooked in for a while. There was a big school of snapper and fusiliers in front of the divers but no sharks, the current got lighter so we decided to unhook and explore the plateau. We spotted a couple of turtles sleeping on the reef, two flounder blending in very well on top the reef and before we ended the dive we saw an octopus sticking his head out of a crack on the reef. Our fourth dive was at Barnums Wall. We started the dive with the wall on our left and soon entered the beautiful sloping hard coral garden. We spotted a couple of turtles, and a black tip shark in the shallows. The current was light so we spent the rest of the dive in the goral garden. Some of the guests at the back of the group were lucky to see a marbled ray and even an eagle ray swim by in the blue water. Dinner was ready after we returned to the big boat and soon after we headed out to German Coral Garden for our first night dive. We spotted a pleurobranch and several lion fish out hunting in the dark even a small twin spot lion fish.
Wednesday morning we started our day with Blue Corner. There was a nice current and we started the dive on the incoming side of the corner. We hooked in at the 45 foot hook in area and watched the show. A couple of grey reef sharks were in front of the divers also the large school of horse eyed jacks and snappers floated there in front of the divers. We unhooked and moved down to the 60 foot area and hooked in again. Several more sharks were in front of the group. Soon it was time to go so we unhooked and started our ascent to do our safety stop. For dive two we went to Turtle Cove. We started the dive descending down the hole on top the reef and out the small cavern along the wall. We traveled all along the wall seeing the square spot anthias, some orangutan crabs and some nudis. At the corner we came up on top the plateau to hang out and see the school of reef jacks, and rudder fish. Even a couple more turtles were spotted. After lunch we had a nice incoming current so we headed out to German Channel. We started the dive from the Koror side of the channel, entered the water and right under the boat we saw a beautiful anemone balled up feeding. Then we headed down the slopping bottom and stopped at the red anemone for some photos, and continued to the Koror side cleaning station. We sat down in the sand and waited for mantas, but none came to get cleaned. We saw over to our left that there were about 10 grey reef sharks in the middle over the channel so we moved over a little and watched them for a while. Then we swam over to the Peleliu side cleaning station and waited for mantas but again none showed up. We turned around and let the current push us into the channel to end our dive. Dive four was at Big Drop Off. We entered the water and went wall on the right. We saw several nudibranchs, and some beautiful soft corals and sea fans. We saw the ball and chain left over from the Germans prior to WWI. Right before we were going to end the dive the current switched so we turned around. After dinner we returned to Turtle cove for the night dive. We found a lot of macro life along the wall. We saw a couple of basket stars out feeding in the light current and a candy crab and shrimp. In some soft coral bushes we found some nudis blending in very well.
On Thursday we fired up the engines bright and early and headed down to Peleliu. We secured the big boat in Camp Beck or South Dock and our first dive of the day was at Peleliu Corner. The current was outgoing and it was strong. We did the “DCut” side of the corner. We drifted swiftly along the wall and were able to hook in around the cut. We sat there for a little while but the current seem to get even stronger, so we decided to unhook and shoot across the plateau to start our safety stop. For dive two we went to West Wall. It was still an outgoing current but it was mild, we started the dive from the mooring and drifted along finding nudis and a couple turtles. Then current soon switched and we turned around and headed the other way. We ended the dive back at the morning. After lunch the third dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden, a beautiful sloping coral garden with tons of fish, a scorpion fish, giant clam, and again a lot of turtles. We also found WWII artifacts like bullets and bombs. After the dive the big boat left Camp Beck and started its way back up to the German Channel area, we dropped the skiff for one last dive in Peleliu at Barracks Point. The current was outgoing and it pushed us along the wall and into the coral garden. We saw all the giant clams and a lot of turtles. In one area we found two anemones sitting side by side and in one of them were a small porcelain crab and a large one in the other anemone. After the dive and during dinner the big boat moved all the way back to German Channel and the night dive was at Big Drop Off. We started the dive around the moorings and swam through the shallow sand shoot on top the wall seeing a turtle and banded shrimp. We then swam out and along the wall seeing a couple of white tip sharks, a slipper lobster and groupers. One guest even had a nice encounter with a squid that swam alongside him for a while.
For Friday we started the day with a dive at the famous Blue Corner. there was a light current and we started the dive on the outgoing side of the corner. When we reached the hook in area the current so light that there was no need to hook in. We saw an octopus that seemed to be cleaning out his hole, we watched as it through out several loads of sand. We then noticed that the current was switching to incoming so we headed across the plateau to the incoming side and at the 60 foot hook in area we saw sharks, and the two types of jacks: horse eyed and reef. For dive two we headed out to Blue Holes, we descend down one of four holes in the shallow reef into the large cavern. We pointed out several disco clams and enjoyed the ambient light that filled the chamber from above. We left the cavern and headed down the wall towards Blue Corner. It was again a light current and we ended the dive around the hook in area watching another octopus, it could have been the same one from the last dive. For dive three the group wanted to return back to Blue Holes, so we started the dive the same way as last time. Again the current was light so we did not hook in; we just explored the top of the plateau. For our fourth dive we headed to back to German Channel. This time we started the dive from the Peleliu side of the channel. We sat down around the Peleliu side cleaning station for a while but no mantas came in to be cleaned so we headed across the channel to the other side. At the Koror side we again sat down and waited but no mantas. Some of the guests did see a large spotted eagle ray pass by off to the side. The whole time we waited at the cleaning station, above us were the fusiliers and snapper. They were starting to feed in the shallow water column. We were starting to run low on no-deco time so we decided to leave the bottom and ascend to where the bait ball was feeding then started to drift into the channel to end the dive. Back at the big boat dinner was soon ready and all the guests sat down to a Thanksgiving style dinner prepared by our chef Ronnie. With our bellies full we gathered around the TV and watched our video pro Jims video of the charter. It was a nice look back at the week. During that whole time the big boat moved back to the Malakal Harbor area.
Saturday morning our first dive was the Jake Sea Plane. We tied up the skiff to the mooring and entered the water. The plane wreck sits in 40 feet of water and does not have a lot of growth on it so its great for photos. The group posed for a photo together around the plane and in one of the cockpits was a juvenile bat fish. On the way back to the big boat we stopped to see some of the sites hidden away in the rock islands: Japanese big gun and machine gun bunker. We also spotted a banded sea snake on the limestone rocks. Dive two was at Chandelier Cave. All the divers surfaced in the four air chambers saw the stalactites and crystal formations. Then on the outside of the cave we saw the mandarin fish and a small school of razor fish. At 6pm we had a cocktail party while our photo pro showed a slideshow of all the images he took during the charter and all the guests received a CD of all those images to take home with them. After the cocktail party the guests went out to dinner at one of the local restaurants then back to the boat.
Sunday morning after continental breakfast we said goodbyes to our guests as they headed off to their hotels for another couple days in Palau. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week on board the Rock Islands Aggressor. Hope to see you all again, until then safe diving…
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew