Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report Jan 21st - Jan 28th, 2018
Weather: Winds from East/North East, Windy/Sunny/Overcast/Rain
Water Temp: 80/85 degrees
Monday: Morning Nico Bay, Afternoon Soft Coral Arch & Cemetery Reef
Tuesday: Morning Ulong Channel, Siaes Reef, Afternoon Ulong Channel, Ulong Beach & Stone Money
Wednesday: Morning German Channel, Big Drop Off, Afternoon Ngedebus Coral Garden, Turtle Cove, Big Drop Off
Thursday: Morning German False Channel, German Channel, Afternoon Blue Corner, Blue Holes, German Channel
Friday: Morning Milky Way, Entrance to Long Lake, Afternoon Clam City, Ngarmeaus Beach
Saturday: Morning Mandarin Fish Lake
Sunday afternoon we welcomed onboard 17 guests. Twelve guests are repeat guests from last week and five new. All seventeen guests are from the US. We started off with an introduction to their cabins for the five new guests and they set out their snorkeling gear. We checked in everyone and headed upstairs for the vessel orientation and safety briefing. After the briefing, it was dinner time and the guests filled their bellies, soon after we explained tomorrow’s schedule everyone headed to bed.
After breakfast Monday morning we covered the snorkeling briefing with the five new guests and went down stairs to get ready for our first excursion. At 8 am we loaded up the skiff and headed out into Nico Bay for our morning snorkeling trip. We did two different spots inside Nico Bay and saw the types of hard corals that are on the inner reef of Palau. We named the first site “Cookies & Cream” from the nudibranch we found here last week and we found him again this week. We also spotted a bristle tail file fish and a lot more. At the second area we saw a bunch of tropical fish including butterfly fish, angel fish, damsels, even a banded sea snake. Towards the end we swam into areas between the islands and saw some Japanese WWII wreckage. We headed back to the big boat for lunch and it started moving to the Western Lagoon. We stopped first at Palau’s natural limestone archway in the rock islands for photos, then moved over to the Soft Coral Archway and entered the water. This site has a hole cut through the rock island creating an archway and in the water it’s lined with beautiful soft corals. We spent some time there as the water flowed through one direction and then pulled you back through to the other side. Hanging from the side of the rock islands we found the carnivorous pitcher plant and in the water we spotted a bunch of juvenile fish and nice coral formations. As some people were getting on board the skiff, a manta was spotted below the snorkelers and they were able to follow it for awhile. The guests on the skiff jumped back into the water to catch a glimpse as it swam away. Then everyone got back on the skiff again. During the Japanese occupation of Palau, they were testing what type of structures they could get coral to grow on. They put down several concrete blocks that the coral grew on and created a beautiful hard coral reef. Concrete blocks, “headstones” made Cemetery Reef. We tied up the skiff and swam around the reef seeing all sorts of tropical fish, napoleon wrasse, tomato anemone fish, and so much more. Back on the skiff we caught back up with the big boat and during dinner, continued on to Ulong. After dinner most of the guests were downloading photos and searching the reef fish book to ID everything they saw for the day.
Tuesday morning we started the day snorkeling at Ulong Channel. The current was incoming and we started on the right side from the mouth and snorkeled in. The hard coral that line the side of the channel are beautiful. We saw schools of fish, butterfly’s, angel fish, file fish, puffers and more. We got back on the skiff and headed out to Siaes Reef. We started from the first mooring and snorkeled all the way to the corner. We saw sharks, napoleon wrasse and lots of fish. Back at the big boat lunch was soon ready and after a nice rest we headed out to our first part of the afternoon snorkels. We entered the water snorkel in front of the beach and went along the shallow reef and along the side of the island. A couple of our new guests for this week went ashore on Ulong. This was the site of the US television show Survivor, for the two times it was filmed in Palau. Survivor is what Ulong is most famous for, but just a short walking distance from the beach, is one of the oldest ancient villages. You can still see the rock wall that protected the village and if you take some time to look, can still see pottery shards or modified rock/tools. We got back on the skiff and went to the back side of the island to a sheltered beach where we saw Yapese stone money. A long time ago the Yapese sailed over to Palau by canoe and quarried large stone discs out of the limestone. This one broke while trying to lower it down to the beach and sits half in the water, half out, unmoved till today due to them not wanting it after it broke. We then picked up the snorkelers and went back to the big boat. We pick up the rest of the guests and went back out to Ulong Channel. This time we started at the mouth of the channel and snorkeled in on t he left side of the channel. Seeing again all the beautiful corals, tropical fish and the large patch of lettuce coral in the middle of the channel. We then returned to the big boat and during dinner the big boat moved to the German Channel area. After dinner, some guests stayed up playing cards or doing their fish ID then headed straight to bed.
Wednesday morning we headed out to German Channel for the first part in the morning. We entered the water at the mouth of the channel and swam around. The bait ball was there as well as the predators: giant trevally, red snapper and even saw a Spanish mackerel. Later, the mantas started to show up and in total there were 6 mantas feeding in the water column right below us and the put on a great show. They were doing barrel rolls right below us and we spent most of the morning here. We decided to head back to the big boat because some guests were fulfilled and were dropped off before we went to Big Drop Off for a short while. We snorkel the top of the reef seeing all the tropical fish, a couple sharks and a turtle. We arrived back at the big boat and during lunch it moved through German Channel and over to the Turtle Cove area. Our afternoon trip started off at Ngedebus Coral Garden and we snorkeled all the way over to Turtle Cove. We saw schools of fish: black tail snapper, black spot snapper and goat fish. We also saw a lobster and beautiful anemones. We returned to the big boat and had a quick change over and headed out to Big Drop Off again. We started in the middle of Big Drop Off and went out along the reef. We saw all the hard corals, soft corals, sea fans and a variety of tropical fish. We saw black tip reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks. We returned to the big boat and soon after dinner most of the guests were off to bed.
On Thursday we started the morning excursion at German False Channel. This area is at the end of the natural part of German Channel. It was a light incoming current and we started on one side and snorkeled in. As soon as we entered the water we spotted a horned ray dropping down into the deep part of the channel. There were beautiful large coral formations, tropical fish, sharks and turtles. Once we were towards the back of the channel we jumped back on the skiff. We went out to the mouth of the channel and looked for the mantas again. The visibility was great and we spent a while watching the mantas and all the scuba divers as the mantas were down at the cleaning stations. We kept hopping that the mantas would come up to feed but never did. We decided to leave the mouth of the channel and snorkel in on the left side of the channel. We saw a crocodile fish, turtles and even another horned ray. We headed back to the big boat for lunch and a rest period then headed out to the Blue Corner area. At the corner, it was a very light incoming current and we entered the water on the incoming side. We snorkeled along the top of the reef seeing the large schools of horse eyed jacks, black snapper, and all the other fish. We also saw grey reef sharks swimming around the reef. We slowly made our way through Blue Corner to Blue Holes. Everyone enjoyed swimming around the holes on top the reef that created Blue Holes. We left this area and again went to German Channel. We saw a manta, turtles and so much more. We started at the mouth of the channel and again snorkeled in on the left side. It was great. We returned to the big boat and during dinner it moved into the Wonder Channel area. After dinner we offered a night snorkel but didn’t have any takers, everyone was tired out from a nice day.
After breakfast Friday morning we headed out for our spa treatment. It was a 20 minute skiff ride through the islands and we arrived at Milky Way. We then tied up the skiff and the guides dove down to the bottom to bring up handfuls of the white mud. On the skiff the guests smeared the mud all over themselves. Now there is no scientific proof but the chemicals found in the white mud are the same found in most cosmetics, it’s supposed to be good for the skin and besides, it’s fun. We jumped into the water to wash off then headed over to the entrance to Long Lake. We snorkeled around this whole area see hard corals, tropical fish, a couple jelly fish and even had a juvenile trevally follow stay close to one of the dive masters the whole time. This fish is the ones you see following the bigger fish more commonly known as pilot jacks. It stayed around us the whole time until we got out of the water. We went back to the big boat, had lunch, a short rest and headed out for the afternoons trip. Our first stop was at Clam City to see the giant clams, in the shallows along the top of the reef there are about twenty Giant clams on the bottom. We enjoyed seeing this clams that are estimated to be around eighty years old. Again back to the big boat for a quick change over and back out to the coral Garden around Ngarmeaus Beach. We saw a bunch of little sharks and headed back to the big boat early. Back at the big boat we had a nice rest and some of the guests decorated the salon for their group leader’s birthday. Dinner was then ready and sat down to a final supper of prime rib, a mixture of veggies, potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. We then served a special birthday cake for desert and later, we watched our video pros video of the charter.
Saturday morning our excursion started at Mandarin Fish Lake. After a ten minute skiff ride we tied up the skiff outside the marine lake, entered the water and swam through the channel into the lake. We saw mandarin fish, cardinal fish, crocodile fish and all sorts of tropical fish. Then we skiff over to an area that has a bunch of the jelly fish. We snorkeled at this marine lake for a while then headed back to the big boat. The guests unloaded their stuff from the skiff, washed it and hung their stuff to dry. Lunch was then ready and 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 a cocktail party while all the images our photo pro had taken during the week played on the TV and the guests were given copies of these pictures on their flash drives. After the party the guests headed ashore for dinner and we picked them up later to bring them back to the boat for the night.
Sunday morning the guests woke up to continental breakfast and before 8am we started loading the luggage on the skiff. We then dropped all the guests ashore to their hotel and we would like to thank everyone for joining us this week and hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew