Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Oct 22nd - Oct 29th, 2017
Weather: Light to strong winds from West, Sunny/Overcast/Rain
Water Temp: 82 degrees
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 18 guests from Germany. We started with a quick introduction to the staterooms then back out to the dive deck to set up their dive gear. We handed out weights, safety equipment and after checking certification cards and we headed up stairs for our first briefing. We covered the vessel orientation/safety briefing and dinner was ready shortly after. When everyone was full, most of the guests headed to bed.
Early Monday morning we started moving the big boat towards Ulong. We had our breakfast then covered the general dive briefing and headed down stairs. We loaded up the skiff and our first dive or check out dive was at Sandy paradise. We started the dive at the mooring line and drop down into the sloping coral garden. We descended down further to the sandy bottom. We first stopped at the big rock out cropping and saw the lion fish on the backside. Then we swam along where the coral and sand meet to another rock out cropping with two beautiful anemones and the cleaner wrasse will come out to check over the divers’ hands. Further along the way we stopped at a rock outcropping with hundreds of glassy eye sweepers and found two leaf scorpion fish and the mantis shrimp. During the rest of the dive we saw barracuda, sharks and a turtle. Our second dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We started at the mooring line and descended down to the opening of the tunnel. We swam along the top of the tunnel until the sandy bottom came up to meet us. We saw the decorated dartfish in the sand and the blue backed pygmy angel fish along the sides of the tunnel. When we came out from the tunnel, we drifted with the wall on the right seeing some sharks and turtles. Back at the big boat lunch was ready and later dive three was at Ulong Coral Garden. We entered the water from the furthest mooring from the mouth of the channel and went along the wall. We stopped at what we call the cheek and saw some sharks in the blue and a beautiful anemone on the reef. We turned and went into the coral garden, this area was hit pretty badly from last week’s storm and the coral is damaged. In the rubble area we spotted a couple of white tip sharks sleeping on the bottom. At the mouth of the channel we turned around because the current was still outgoing. For the last dive of the day we went to Ulong Channel. We started from the mooring just outside the mouth and drifted along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in and had several sharks in the blue in front of all the divers. We stayed there for a while then unhooked and drifted down the channel. We saw the large patch of lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. On the big boat dinner was soon ready and we moved the big boat to the German Channel area.
Tuesday morning the wind was strong and blowing from the West. All the dive sites on the inside of Ngemelis Island were protected and our first dive was at German Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we started the dive from the Peleliu State side of the channel. It was the start of the incoming and the visibility was not the best. We stopped at the Peleliu side cleaning station and waited. After awhile one manta came in to be cleaned and did several passes and left. The manta headed towards the Koror side of the channel so we followed it to the other cleaning station but it didn’t stop to be cleaned, it just turned off and went out to the blue water. We waited at the cleaning station to see if it would come back but it didn’t. We came back to the middle of the channel and there was a huge bait ball of scad being chased by trevally, Spanish mackerel, and dog tooth tuna. We ended the dive by drifting into the channel. Our second dive was planned for Blue Corner but with the strong wind and large swells we couldn’t make it out around Ngemelis Island. We did Big Drop Off instead. This was a beautiful dive, the wall is covered in soft coral and lots of macro life. We still saw a couple of sharks in the blue. After lunch dive three was at Barnums Wall. This site is along Carp Island but the swells were manageable. We stated where the coral garden and the wall meet and once we dropped down to the bottom, there was a large eagle ray that passed by the group. It came in close to check us out. We also found two crocodile fish in the coral garden and at the end of the dive the current switched so we turned around and came back through the coral garden. Dive four was at German Wall. We started the dive from the mooring and drifted along the wall finding turtles, a couple sharks in the blue and beautiful anemones. After the dive the wind picked up and was turning the conditions bad. We decided to cancel the night dive due to weather and moved the big boat to our secured mooring in the rock islands.
On Wednesday morning we started back up the big boat and headed back to the German Channel area to try to dive the outside reef. We planned a dive further out but the winds were still strong and the swell was large, so we did a repeat dive at German Channel. This time we started the dive from the Koror side of the channel and we stopped at the red anemone. This anemone is a beautiful red color and is great for pictures and video. We then continued along and before we reached the cleaning station we found a feathertail ray sleeping on the bottom. At the cleaning station we didn’t see any mantas so we kicked across the channel to the other side, sat down in the sand and waited but still no mantas. We then turned around and watched the bait ball of scad being chased by all the big fish and drifted down the channel. With the conditions on the outside we decided to move the big boat back into the rock islands and dive on the inside reef. Dive two was at Neco Channel. It was an outgoing current and we started above the slopping wall. We drifted along with the wall on our right finding nudibranch after nudibranch, all different types. We also found a very well camouflaged cuttle fish and lots of the banded messmate pipefish. This dive site also has some big beautiful sea fans. After lunch our third dive was at Clam City. This dive site was a clam farm a long time ago and has several groups of giant clams. We saw all three groups of giant clams and a bunch of nudibranch as well as other macro life. Our fourth dive was at Wonder Channel. The current was a light outgoing and we did wall on the right. We again saw nudibranchs, scorpion fish, pipe fish and other macro life. Where the dive site passes between the two islands, the current picked up and push us through swiftly only to stop right away on the other side. After dinner our night dive was at Clam city. During the dive we again saw the giant clams, nudibranchs, crabs and shrimp. Back at the big boat most guests were already sleeping, and the rest were soon to follow.
Thursday morning the wind was still strong from the West so we moved the big boat out and around the East side of Palau to Ngerchong Island. Our first dive was at Ngerchong Outside. This is the East side of Palau and also is the Pacific Ocean. We stared from the mooring and drifted in towards the channel. We saw a bunch of grey reef sharks in the blue, a crocodile fish on the reef. We had a big moon jellyfish swim up from the deep and had a lot of baby golden trevally with it, using it for protection. Then one of our guests spotted three devil rays come from the shallow water behinds most of the divers and swim over top us and out to the blue. That was a rare and special encounter. We left the wall and let the current push us into the channel. Dive two was still incoming so we went back to Ngerchong Outside. We again saw a bunch of sharks in the blue, a turtle, and schools of fish. After lunch dive three was right in front of where the big boat parked at Ngerchong Inside. This is a slopping coral garden that has a sandy bottom that slopes all the way down to the deep. This site was hit hard by a typhoon years ago but is making a comeback. We started from the mooring and descended down to where the coral garden meets the sand. We found a couple pipe fish, a turtle, and several different types of nudibranchs. After the third dive the wind was still strong so we again moved the big boat into the rock islands. Our fourth dive was back at Neco Channel. We entered the water at the same spot and drifted along in the light current. We saw the same great marine life; nudibranchs, flatworms, pipefish, but this time we saw two cuttle fish. They were close together, but when the large one swam over to the little one, the little one moved further away. We wanted them to be next to each other for photos but it didn’t happen. Some of the group spent the rest of the dive with the cuttle fish. After dinner a small group of divers headed out to Wonder Channel for the night dive. There wasn’t much current so we could spend our time looking for macro life. We saw cone shells, crabs, shrimp, nudibranchs and even some basket stars out filter feeding in the light current.
When we woke up on Friday the wind had died off, so we started up the big boat and headed back out to the German Channel area. The swells were down and with the light wind there was no chop. Everyone wanted to go to Blue Corner, even the crew. We jumped on the skiff and made it all the way to Blue Corner for our first dive. We started the dive close to the hook in area on the incoming side of the corner. Dropped down and went straight to the 60 foot hook in area. There were a bunch of sharks just off the wall in the blue, the big nose unicorn fish played in the bubbles when the guests exhaled. The napoleon wrasse came in close to check us out as well. It was a great dive and everyone was happy to be able to finally make it out to Blue Corner. Since the weather was finally nice dive two was again at Blue Corner. The current was outgoing this time and we did the other side of the corner. We drifted to the hook in area and hooked in, there were sharks, school of red tooth trigger fish, and fusiliers. We spent most of the dive hooked in with all the action in the blue. Later we unhooked, explored the plateau for a while and came up to do our safety stop. After lunch dive three was at Blue Holes. There was still a small swell that caused waves to break on top the holes so we dropped down along the wall and entered the chamber from the side window at 55 feet. Inside we first spotted the one great barracuda that has been in the holes the last couple of weeks and took photos of it. The guests posed for photos with the ambient light filling the chamber behind them. We left the holes and kicked down towards Blue Corner. We saw the large school of snapper, and turtles. At the hook in area the current was so light we didn’t hook in, we just came up on top the reef and drifted across the plateau to start our safety stop. For dive four we headed out to Turtle cove. We started at the mooring line and we swam over on the surface to the hole on top the reef. We descended down and inside the cavern we found a disco clam. We exited and drifted wall on the right. We looked for macro life and found some nudibranchs, and took photos of the beautiful soft coral that covers the wall. We came up on top of the corner and saw big schools of fish; jacks, snapper and rudder fish. We returned to the boat and since 15 of our divers are flying out on Saturday night they washed and hung up their gear to dry. After they showered and after awhile to relax we served our final supper prepared by our chef Andy. The guests started with a salad then served themselves to a buffet that consisted of two choices of mixed veggies, prime rib, Yorkshire puddings, chicken and a desert of Pavlova. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch our video pro’s video of the charter while the Big boat was motoring back to Malakal harbor.
We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in Malakal harbor and for the remaining three guests our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck aka Depth Charge Wreck. We tied the boat to the mooring line and descended down to the coral garden. Just off in the deeper water was the wreck, we bypassed the artifacts and headed down aft cargo hold. We saw the Japanese WWII helmets and depth charges. We then went over the engine room and wheel house to the middle cargo hold to see more depth charges and a large spotlight. In the forward cargo hold we saw the airplane engines and generator. Around the bow we saw the Nippon Brewing company beer bottles and headed back towards the stern of the wreck. We took our time at the stern gun seeing all the artifacts that have been collected from the wreck and placed here for everyone to see. To end our dive we explored the coral garden behind the wreck. Our last dive of the charter was at Chandelier Cave. The three divers surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites, and then outside the cave we found the mandarin fish, some nudibranchs and razor fish. Back at the big boat the guests broke down their gear wash it and hung it to dry. Soon after lunch was ready and then it was time to settle the bills. Next it was an afternoon of relaxation, shopping in town and whatever else the guests wanted to do. At 4pm we gathered in the salon for the cocktail party and watched a photo slideshow of all the photos our photo pro had taken during the week and at 5pm we took all the guests ashore, 15 of them to catch a bus to the airport and the other 3 took a bus to their hotel for another week in Palau. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week and hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew