Sunday afternoon we welcomed on board 11 guests from all over the world, England, Australia, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Panama, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and USA. We started with an introduction to their cabins and went back out to the dive deck to set up their dive gear. Before heading up stairs, we checked certification cards and in the salon we covered the vessel orientation and safety briefing. After the briefing we moved over to the tables and dinner was served. We had a few late arrivals on Sunday night when they arrived a quick briefing & snack it was time for bed.
Monday morning Capt. Ike started the Rock Islands Aggressor and headed over to Ulong for the days diving. During the trip the guests had breakfast and at 7am we started the dive deck briefing to tell the guests how we will be diving from the Rock Island Aggressor this week. The first dive was at Sandy Paradise as our check out a very easy and nice coral garden with a sandy bottom. On the dive site there are many fish cleaning stations one of the stations if you place your hand over the top the cleaner wrasse will come up and clean your hands. There is also a big coral rock out crop with thousands of the glassy sweeper fish where we say 4 leaf fish and 4 mantas shrimp as well as many schooling fish in the blue it made a great check out dive. The second dive was Siaes tunnel an over head environment where some rare fish hang out the guests saw the blue back pigmy angle fish as well at the decorator dart fish a very beautiful fish. When we exited the tunnel its wall on the right up a wall covered with soft coral and sea fans. On the return from the dive its lunch time prepared by chef Ronnie. After lunch the last power point briefing was given on how, where, when we use reef hooks as dive 3 was a hook in dive. Dive three Siaes Corner just down the reef from Siaes tunnel is the corner, we started wall on the right a wall covered in bright soft corals and seafans as we got close to the hook in we started to see many gray reef sharks. The current was nice and to strong perfect for everyone to get used to their reef hook. From the hook in there were schools of black snapper and lots of fusiliers. A quick snack and rest on the Rock Island Aggressor it was time for dive 4 the last for the day. Dive four Ulong coral garden, this hard coral garden next to Ulong channel we saw many schooling jacks, barracuda, as well as huge table corals. Towards the end of the dive we made little drift down Ulong Channel. As we surfaced the sun was just setting a great way to end the first days diving. Back to the boat and Ronnie had a wonderful dinner ready. After dinner Andy gave the schedule for the next day and daily trivia about Palau and fish you can see here.
Tuesday morning breakfast 6am first dive 7am. Dive one Ulong channel one of the crew’s favorite dives. On this dive we started from the mooring and drop down to a wall we drift to the mouth of the channel and hooked in on both sides of the channel. This is where many gray reef sharks come and cruse up and down across the mouth as well as many types of schooling fish. After the hook in it time for the drift down the channel coral garden where there are anemones a huge patch of lettuce corral and ending the dive at 2 giant clams. Back to the boat for a sweet snack and a rest and at 10am its dive 2. Dive two was at Shark city, this is large corner the most west point in Palau. The site has no moorings so we did a live drop wall on the right. Because shark city is far west it’s not dived a lot and the corals amazing, hard corals, huge seafans, in the blue we saw some gray reef sharks on top of the reef is covered with fish like clown trigger fish big schools of barracuda, red snapper, on the safety stop Andy and a few guests saw a devil ray cursing under them a great way to end the dive. on the return from the dive and during lunch the Rock Islands Aggressor stared to move towards the German Channel area. We made it to the man made part of German Channel just after lunch so we could all go up to the sun deck and see the Rock Island Aggressor go through the channel as we are the only big boats that can co so due to having jet drive and a shallow draft. It’s a tight shallow channel made for a great photo op. Dive three New Drop Off, this is a mini corner we started wall on the left made it to the hook in area but there was not a lot of current so we explored the coral garden on the top of the corner where Jim found 2 peacock flounders and many turtles that are very used to dives so a nice place to get photos. The end of the dive Ike spotted a very rear eagle ray called a ornate eagle ray may be 14ft across very large and rare to see at the end of the dive I saw some of the photos and was amazing how close it was. Back for a snack and rest. Dive four was at Turtle cove the start of the dive starts with a chimney that comes out at 60tf on the wall. The wall dive is great for macro and soft corals and for the square spot anthias that can be found on the wall. For the safety stop we stay shallow and found scorpionfish may schools of rabbit fish and of course turtles. Back to the big boat for dinner and the schedule and trivia. Then we had the first night dive of the week. Dive five Ngedebus coral garden, a nice coral garden we found some shrimp and nudibranchs as well as sleeping parrot fish lobster and many more. Back to the big boat and the night divers were greeted with hot drinks of hot coco and tea. After looking at some photos and talking about what we had seen mast people went to bed for a full days diving on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning first dive, Dive one German channel we had a light in coming current the best for the channel dives, the visibility was great nice and blue we started on the Koror side. We started the dive at the red anemone great for photos and video, and then headed across the sandy coral area to the main cleaning station. We did not stay long as there was not a lot going on so we crossed the channel. Finding lost of schooling fish gobies in the sand we made it to the Peleliu cleaning station where we watched gray reef sharks being cleaned some things you just need to see as its quite unique to see. Back to the big boat for a sweet snack and a rest. Dive two Blue Corner we made it to blue corner on a outgoing current wall on the left the current was light but we hooked in on the reef as the shark action was good and stayed for a bit. After the hook in we made it to the tip of the corner seeing a banded sea snake, the baby spotted eagle rays, a few beautiful balled up anemones schooling blue line snappers and much much more! On the way back to the big boat we came across a pod of dolphins so we played with them before making it back to the big boat for lunch. Dive Three we headed back to the blue corner area for Blue Holes. This is 4 holes on the top of the reef that go to one big chamber great place for photos and to see the disco clams. On the way out its wall on the left and the wall to blue corner covered with corals and reef fish in the blue a 2 big tooth tuna was spotted swimming together. Back to the big boat for a snack and a rest. Dive four Ferns wall, this dive was heaven for the macro we found many nudibranchs no current made it a very nice dive. Easy to find hawk fish in sea fans and many of the of the macro life that Palau has to offer. Back to the big boat chef Ronnie had dinner ready. After dinner Andy gave out the trivia and the next day’s schedule, and then it was time for the night dive. Dive five Turtle cove, as we saw it in the day its nice to see what it then looks like in the night, this is one of the most colorful dives as the wall comes alive with yellow cup corals that filter feed at night. On the dive slipper lobster we spotted crabs, shrimp, lobsters, twin spot lion fish (only seen at night) basket stars and many more night critters. Back to the big boat and the night divers wormed up with their hot drink time for bed.
Thursday morning round 4:45 Capt. Ike started the Rock Islands Aggressor for our day on Peleliu. During breakfast we made it to south dock (camp Bec) and anchored the boat. Dive one Peleliu Corner express!!! Due to the time of the year and the moon cycle the crew knew there was a very unique thing happening it’s the spawning of the Sailfin snapper (or Sailfin breams) only happens a few weeks of the year. So for this dive we jumped close to the corner a slightly deeper start 95ft to the top of the reef where the Sail fins where in there thousands. Just off in the blue we could see groups of the Sailfins spawning from the massive school in the deep a bull shark was spotted and a big school of GTs we stayed for as long as we could then made our assent where we spotted a eagle flying over the reef great way to end the dive. Back to the big boat for a snack and 7 of the group went ashore for a WWII land tour of Peleliu as there was a very big battle there in 1944. The rest of the group went diving. Dive two West Wall. This wall dive is a huge wall nice corals a chance to blue water fish as they saw a sail fish and a few sharks in the blue. We all made it back from the dive and the land tour for lunch. Dive three Orange Beach coral garden. This where the US marines landed on Peleliu on Sept 1944. The dive on the coral garden was shallows on the left this beautiful coral garden is where we can also find artifacts from the battle, bombs, bullets, 1943 stamped coke cola bottles ship anchors. We also found a crocodile fish many green sea turtles, anemones. Back to the big boat we lifted the anchor and made our way half way up Peleliu to make our next dive. Dive four Barracks Point. This dive starts as a wall on the left with very nice seafans corals and then turns to a coral garden with soft and hard corals with many giant clams turtles and schooling fish. Back to the big boat for dinner the big boat made its way back to the German Channel area. We then had the schedule for the next day and trivia. Dive five German coral garden. Next to the channel this dive we found 3 crocodile fish cuttlefish a few white tip reef sharks and even a turtle. Back to the big boat for hot dinks a quick look at photos then bed.
Friday dive one. Blue Corner. This was the dive of the week for most of the group a light incoming current blue water. Wall on the right we made our way to the hook in area where lots of gray reef sharks were we hooked in at 50ft just by a cut in the wall where the 3 baby eagle rays were playing in the light current and may be 2 min after we hooked in a manta ray came from the blue up the cut and then over the reef. We moved some of the divers to the 65ft hook in area as we had Blue corner to our self we made the most of it then making it to the corner seeing sleeping green turtles blue line snapper and many grouper. Back to the big boat for a snack and a rest. Dive two German channel as the current was still incoming we wanted to try and see mantas at the channel but no luck this time but found 2 crocodile fish sharks cleaning. Back to the bib boat for lunch and a rest. Dive three was at Dexters wall known as turtle wall as we saw may be 12 turtles sleeping or swimming close to the wall. Back to the big boat for a snack and a rest. Dive four was at Barnums Wall this dive started as a coral garden then changing to a wall with lots of canyons and cuts at the end of the dive a leopard shark was found sleeping on a sandy bottom. After the dive we came back to the boat had a chance to rest and have a drink round the bar before chef Ronnie’s roast beef buffet dinner. During dinner the big boat headed back to the Along are, after dinner Andy gave out the schedule for Saturday then followed by Jims Movie of the Charter!
Saturday morning we woke up early 5:30 for a 6am dive at Sandy Paradise this is again a unique dive we do when the moon and the current are right. The bumphead parrot fish spawning. 3 days leading up to new moon hundreds of bump head parrot fish meet at Sandy paradise on a outgoing current to spawn. So on our dive we started from the mooring and from the start we could see lots of the bump heads as we got close to a small channel where the all meet we must have seen 500 all together in a school and then the start to break off and start the spawning is a very exiting dive! after the dive was breakfast time and during breakfast the big boat made its way back to Koror for the last dive at 10am Chandler cave close to Sams tours and where the sail boats anchor. It a dive where you can surface in four air chambers to see the stalactites and crystal formations. Then on the outside of the cave we saw the mandarin fish. Back at the big boat the guests broke down their gear, washed it and hung it upstairs to dry. Lunch was soon ready and after the guests enjoyed their free time some guests went ashore to try to check emails, a couple went for kayaking and at 6pm we gathered back in the salon for the beer and wine party while our photo pro showed his slideshow of all the images he took during the charter and the guests received a USB stick of all those images to take home with them. After the party, the guests went into town for dinner at one of the local restaurants after they finished dinner we picked them up from the dock to bring them back to the boat. A few of the guests had a flight to catch early Sunday morning so we helped them ashore and arranged the transfer to the airport.
Very early Sunday morning 2 more guests were transferred to the airport for their flight. The remaining guests had their continental breakfast and just before 8am we started loading luggage on the skiff and said our goodbyes as we took the guests to their hotels so they could spend a couple extra 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