Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Nov 12th – Nov 19th, 2017
Weather: Light winds from North East, Sunny/Overcast/Rain
Water Temp: 82 degrees
Monday Sandy Paradise, Ulong Channel, Siaes Corner, Sandy Paradise
Tuesday, Blue Corner, Blue holes, German Channel, New Drop Off, German Coral Garden
Wednesday, Blue Corner, Big Drop Off, Turtle Cove, German Channel
Thursday, Peleliu Corner, West Wall, Orange Beach, Barracks Point
Friday, Blue Corner, Barnums Wall, The Iro, Hafa Day
Saturday, The Helmet Wreck, Chandelier Cave
Sunday evening we welcomed aboard 8 guests, from Germany and USA, with more to come later. 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 went upstairs for the Safety briefing and Vessel orientation. Soon after we had dinner and welcomed one more guest from China,
Very early Monday morning we picked up the last three guests, from the airport from Switzerland. We brought them onboard and around 3:00 am. At 5:50am 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 dropped down into the sloping coral garden. We descended down further to the sandy bottom. There was lots of schooling fish being chased by blue fin trevally and golden trevally almost for the whole dive, this action caused lots of sharks to turn up as well to join in on the feeding and a few large dog tooth tuna. It was a very exiting check out dive. Before dive 2 we had the reef hook briefing in the salon. Dive two Ulong Channel, we started at Ulong south due to having a few other boats at the dive site, started wall on the right on the wall a crocodile fish was seen as well as gray reef sharks in the blue. The current was light and we only hooked in at the mouth of the channel for a short time. The group unhooked drifted down the channel passing the lettuce coral and ending the dive next to 2 giant clams. Dive three Siaes Corner, Checking the current we started wall on the right wow the wall was covered in soft corals and sea fans. Lots of anthias and small reef fish everywhere we came up to the corner but there was no current so we stayed close to the tip of the corner a few seconds later the resident baby eagle ray came to the group made a few passes to check us out then left. We then explored the top of the reef seeing turtles feeding ended the dive in the shallows. Dive four Sandy Paradise, as a request we did the same as the morning, this time we were able to try and find some of the smaller reef fish leaf scorpion fish and some mantas shrimp. Dinner was served at 7 and the big boat made its way to German channel area for the next day’s diving.
Tuesday morning Dive One, Blue Corner one of the top dives here in Palau, after checking the current we started wall on the left out going current, the water lived up to the name blue lost of fish and sharks in the blue as we reached the hook in area the current stopped and changed, this happens sometimes so we just have to swim nice and slowly across the corner as we were making our way to the other side the current switched again so instead we spent the dive exploring the coral garden and taking pictures of the Napoleon wrasse. We actually saw all of blue corner in the dive it was the deluxe tour! Dive Two Blue Holes, 4 holes on top of the reef going in to 1 big chamber Ben our photo pro was there taking pictures of the guests in the holes, the last few weeks there has been a very large great barracuda in the holes and he was there for the guests so get a close as they dared to is. After the holes we went wall on the left towards Blue Corner to end the dive. Back to the boat for a buffet lunch and a rest, Dive Three German Channel, we started on the Peleliu side of the channel as we descended down there was a large school of barracuda and jacks, we headed over to a cleaning station an kneeled in a semi circle and waited to see what would come in to be cleaned after a few minutes a few gray reef sharks came in for some dentil work you could see the cleaner wrasse in the mouth of the shark. Moving away from the cleaning station always looking up at the feeding and schooling snapper and fusiliers as they were feeding on plankton, looking for the other large plankton eater the manta ray only a few of the group saw the manta rays on the dive as the current was strong and the rest of the group drifted down the channel coral garden. Dive four, New Drop Off this is a smaller corner this time wall on the right and the group hooked in and saw sharks in the blue after unhooking on the reef blue line snapper and a flounder was seen. Dinner at 6:30 then it was the Night dive at German Coral Garden, we started the dive looking at the red anemone then looked over the coral garden finding some lion fish mantas shrimp and other night critters.
On Wednesday we started the day Blue corner. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner and started towards the hook in area. We saw several sharks and came in to hook in at 45 feet. We stayed there for a while but the current died off, so we unhooked and explored the plateau. We saw turtles, eels, lion fish and a large school of barracuda. The current started to pick back up from the incoming side so we kicked over to the 60 foot hook in area and watched some sharks off the wall. We turned around and started to ascend to do our safety stop. Dive two was at Big Drop Off. This is one of the best walls in Palau we started at the ball and chain left from the German time in Palau. We drifted wall on the left finding orangutan crabs nudies and some long nose hawk fish. For our third dive we went to Turtle Cove. We started from the mooring and swam over on top the reef and descended down the one hole on top the reef. We then exited out along the wall and headed down to the corner. We saw lots of macro life and at the tip of the corner we spotted a couple turtles. The fourth dive we went back to German Channel. This time we were all lucky and got to see manta rays feeding and we stayed in the blue next to the bait ball of fish watching them and the manta rays feeding. A great dive, when we got back to the boat no one wanted to go on the night dive so we all relaxed and had a nice plated dinner from the chef.
Thursday morning we made the trip down to Peleliu. Our first dive was at the famous Peleliu Corner. The current was out going The Cut, the current was mild as we got close to the hook in area there were big schools of snappers and jacks and a large spotter eagle ray was seen cursing in the school of fish, when we got to the hook in area the current was nonexistent and so we drifted down the corner finding Dory and seeing a large bull shark swimming in the distance! The second dive was at West Wall a great wall going very deep the group saw sharks in the blue and said the corals were amazing. Our third dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden. This was the landing beach the Americans landed on September 15th 1944. We dropped into the water above the three bombs and went shallows on the left. We saw several turtles, a school of snappers and jacks. We stopped at the collection of 1940’s era coca cola bottles and took photos. Further down the reef we saw piles of bullets and a couple more bombs. After the dive the tide was high enough and the big boat left South Dock and slowly made it’s was up Peleliu. We lowered the skiff for dive four at Barracks Point. We entered the water above the wall and drifted along to where it turns into the slopping coral garden. We saw 7 giant clams and a bunch of turtles. The coral garden itself is covered with beautiful hard and soft coral.
On Friday we started the day out with a repeat dive at Blue Corner. We started the dive on the incoming side of the corner, dropped down and hooked in at the 45 foot hook in area. There was a bunch of sharks in front of all the divers and the school of horse eyed jacks did a slow pass in front. Half way through the dive the current died off and we spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. At the tip of the corner we took photos of the blue lined snapper and the napoleon wrasse was with us most of the dive. Our second dive was Barnums Wall, it’s called a wall but it starts as a coral garden in the first 2 minutes of the dive we saw a large ornate eagle ray a very rare ray to see it only did one pass but it’s always a treat to see. As the garden turns to a wall there are some huge sea fans and soft corals as well as some large cuts and over hangs in the wall you can explore. During lunch the big boat started heading back to town. Our guests wanted to dive the wrecks of Palau. Dive three was at The Iro. We tied the boat to the mooring line and descended down to the wreck of the bow. The first thing we saw was the big bow gun totally encrusted with coral and clams. We continued along exploring the top deck of the wreck passing several king posts and super structure. In some black coral bushes by the middle king posts we found the ringed pipe fish. When we reached the stern, we turned around and circled up what we call the “tripod.” This is three posts that come together at the top forming a “tripod.” When we got to the top of the tripod we stayed there for a while photographing all the red anemones and tomato anemone fish that completely cover the top. We then kicked back towards the bow of the wreck going from one king post to the next to end our dive. Our last dive of the day was at the Hafa Dai. We descended down the mooring and circled around the wreck several times finding lion fish, flatworms and a lot of the blue dragon nudibranchs. We returned to the boat and gave the guests a little time to sit back and relax, get a drink and later dinner was ready. It was our special final supper prepared by our chef Ronnie. The guests started with a salad then served themselves to a buffet that consisted of two choices of mixed veggies, prime rib, Yorkshire puddings and a blueberry cheese cake for desert. After dinner the guests sat down on the sofas in front of the television set to watch Ripon’s video of the charter. We all enjoyed this look back at the great week of diving.
We woke up Saturday morning and our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck. We checked out all three cargo holds seeing depth charges, helmets, airplane motors, a spotlight and all the artifacts that have been placed for viewing around the stern. Our last dive of the charter was at Chandelier Cave. The divers surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and crystal formations inside the chambers. Then outside the cave we found the mandarin fish, some nudibranchs and twin spot gobies. 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 6pm 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 7pm the guests went ashore for dinner and came back to the boat at 9pm.
Sunday guests woke up to continental breakfast at 7am and before 8am we started loading their luggage on the skiff to drop them on shore to spend at least an extra day 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