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Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report: Dec 30th, 2018- Jan. 6, 2019
Weather: winds from north east 15-20knts
Water Temp: 79/82 degrees
Monday: German coral garden, Big Drop off, Blue corner, Barnum’s wall
Tuesday: New drop off, German channel, Blue holes, Dexter’s wall and Ngedebus coral garden (night)
Wednesday: Blue corner, Turtle cove, German channel, Ngedebus corner and Turtle cove (night)
Thursday: Peleliu corner, West wall, Orange beach, Ngedebus coral garden and German coral garden (night)
Friday: Sandy paradise, Siaes corner, Ulong channel, Ulong Channel Coral garden
Saturday: Jelly fish lake, Chandelier Cave
Sunday afternoon we picked up 8 guests from the docks and brought them on board. We started with an orientation of their cabins, and then on the dive deck they set up dive gear. We then checked in the guests and headed up stairs to cover the vessel orientation/safety briefing and then had a welcome dinner for our guests. Later that night we picked up 9 guests from the late night flight. We picked them up at the airport and brought them on board. The guests were all one group that charter the boat and all from the U.S.
Monday early morning the big boat left the harbor at 5am and went straight to the German channel area. We did all the briefings after the guest had their breakfast and then got ready to go diving. Our first dive to start this charter was at German coral garden. The dive starts from a mooring line that goes down to about 20ft. then it’s a sloping bottom to about 90+ft. the deeper area is mostly sand and that’s where we found 2 stingrays hiding in sand. From there we moved back up to the shallower area and found ourselves surrounded by a school of scads being chased by a couple of Gray reef sharks so we just kept still for awhile watching the action in front of us. We continued moving forward heading to the German channel area and then spotted a Manta at the cleaning station so we all kneeled on the sandy bottom to observe the Manta. After awhile 2 more Mantas came from behind us and swam right above the entire group but not going to the cleaning station but the first Manta was still at the cleaning station hovering and hovering for about 40min. of the dive. The first Manta swam away so we also moved more into the channel and because the current was mild we then encountered more sharks, another manta and sting ray at the safety stop. Our 2nd dive was Big Drop off. We did a live entry this time because the starting point is too shallow so there is no mooring line. After we got in we went with the wall on our right side and just going with the current flow. There are a lot of sea fans and soft corals on this wall. We also encountered some white tip sharks hiding in a hole in the wall and many nudibranchs. The sun was out and shinning on the wall making for great visibility. So after lunch we did the briefing for the reef hooks because our 3rd dive was the 1st hook-in dive of the week at the famous Blue corner. When we arrived at Blue corner we could already tell that the current was strong coming from the outgoing side of the corner. We entered the water and the current was really moving and then when we got to the hook in area the current was stronger than what we thought. It was really ripping! While we were hooked we could really feel the current coming and pushing against our faces and looking at everyone you could see the bubbles of the divers going sideways instead of upwards towards the surface. So we unhooked a little early than planned and moved into the plateau to find some cover form the current. There were schools of barracudas, jacks and few sharks on or rather more inside of the reef swimming around. We then headed to the opposite side of the corner to exit the dive. The 4th dive was at Barnum’s wall. It was the last dive of the year 2018. We began the dive at the sloping coral garden then continued down onto the wall. We then encountered some turtles, a crocodile fish and a school of snappers. It’s the 1st day so only 4 dives and then dinner. Tonight’s the last night of the year 2018 so the guest brought with them sky lanterns and lit them up at night after dinner.
Happy New Year! Tuesday morning 2019 1st dive was at New Drop off. To start the New Year we dove at New Drop off which is better than last year’s Old drop off. It was an outgoing current so we started with the wall on the left and then headed to the hook-in area but the current was almost non-existent so we mostly just explored around the plateau. Some of the guest did use their reef hooks but the current was very light so we didn’t really need to use them. We did find an Octopus hiding in a rock but was too shy to come out play. A couple of turtles on the reef, schools of barracuda and snappers as well. For our 2nd dive we went to German channel for the Manta rays. We started from the Peleliu side of the channel and headed directly to the cleaning station and soon there were a couple of mantas that hovered over us and onto the cleaning station. After a while they left and so we also left and continued to explore and look for more mantas. We did encounter more mantas and other marine life like sharks and stingrays. For our 3rd dive we went to another famous dive site which was the Blue holes. There are 4 holes on top of the reef that go down and into a large cavern that the whole Rock islands Aggressor boat could fit inside and still have space for one more. So we descended into the cavern from 1 of the holes and the light that was shinning down from the holes provided very beautiful ambient light and making for some nice photos. When we were done taking pictures and exploring we headed back out through another hole on the wall bringing us on the drop off and then just following the wall and finishing dive. Outside on the wall we also saw many sharks, Great barracuda and a couple of tunas. The 4th dive was at Dexter’s wall which is located right next to Blue Corner. This is the dive site for Turtles and today we saw around 10 turtles which were both the Hawksbill and Green Sea. The first night dive of the week was Ngedebus coral garden. It was a nice and easy dive for the 1st night dive and we saw a couple of scorpion fish, a very large turtle and a basket star. Most of the guests were already a sleep when we came back so we just got changed and went to bed.
Wednesday morning we went to the most famous dive site Blue Corner to start of our day. This time the current was incoming so we started with the wall on the right. The current at the beginning was mild but picked up after we hook in. We stayed hooked for about 35min. then unhooked and then just drifted over the plateau and slowly ascended to our safety stop. During the dive we saw lots of sharks, big school of Barracuda and to our surprise a MARLIN! Yeah! Baby! The 2nd dive was at Turtle cove. We began the dive from the hole on the reef that goes down and out on the wall and then we continue the dive on the wall moving to the corner of the reef. There are lots of big sea fans and soft corals and soldier fish that hang out on the wall. At the corner is where was saw schools of snappers, jacks and barracuda and a couple of sharks and turtles. We went back to German channel for the 3rd dive to see the manta rays again. We started from the Koror side of the channel and slowly made our way to the 1st cleaning station and there was already one manta there circling over the station. It soon swam away but just as it left other mantas were passing by above us and behind us. We then went to Ngedebus corner for the fourth dive today. It is a corner but we do not hook-in. The dive starts from a beautiful wall covered in sea fans and soft corals and then we come to the corner and we encounter barracuda, butterfly fish and so many tropical fish. The 2nd night dive was at Turtle cove and it was beautiful. The cup corals were filter feeding and we found a really big slipper lobster out searching for food. Many shrimps and crabs in between the corals and just a beautiful dive overall.
Thursday early morning the big boat started up its engines and headed toward the island of Peleliu. As soon as we secured the big boat inside the south dock (camp beck) we went out for the 1st dive at Peleliu corner. So after checking the ocean current we started from the Express side of the corner which is on the east side which is the Pacific Ocean. If you don’t know then, the west side of Palau is the Philippine Sea and the west is the Pacific Ocean. The current was mild so we hooked in for about 35min. then after we drifted but the closer we got to the corner the stronger the current became. At the hook-in a big school of barracuda swam in front us and then while we were drifting to the corner we encountered a lot of sharks. The 2nd dive was at West wall and also some of the other guest went on the Peleliu land tour. West wall is just right outside the south dock opposite Orange beach and it’s a shear wall that goes down into the unknown. The current was light so we just drifted slowly along the wall and saw many turtles and a couple of sharks out in the blue and the wall are covered with lots and lots of soft corals. The 3rd dive was Orange Beach which was where the marines landed during WWII. This is where you can find artifacts from the war like bullets, bombs, landing craft and coke bottles from that year. It is also cover in beautiful hard corals making for a very nice dive. We came back to the big boat and then slowly made our way back the German channel area on the big boat and then stopped by the Ngedebus area to launch the skiff for the next dive. The 4th dive was at Ngedebus coral garden. We started from the shallow coral garden then made our way to the sloping sandy bottom to look for stingrays and leopard shark but we didn’t find any however we did see a couple of leaf scorpion fish and those are always a cool find. For the night we did German coral garden. We found a lot of cool critters on this dive like the Medusa worm, Thin Ghost pipe fish, Crocodile fish, juvenile eels, Plura branch, Nudibranch and lots of shrimps and crabs.
Friday early morning we left the German channel area and headed towards Ulong for the Bump head parrot fish spawning event. Every month just before the New moon phase the Bump heads gather at a dive site called Sandy Paradise at early times in the morning, depending on the tide and currents. We got there jumped in and the Bump heads were already gathering and by the numbers they kept on coming. So about 30min. into the dive the show or main event started and soon it was like fireworks. The Hump heads were doing their thing around us so we had front row seats to fish porn. They continued to spawn for about 20min. then they started to slow down so we just did our 3min. and came up. The 2nd dive was at Siaes Corner and when we got there the current was coming from the outgoing side so that’s where we started from. We entered form the top of the reef then went down on the wall and drifted toward the corner. We got hooked in and the sharks started to gather in front of us and there were a lot of sharks probably more than 30. Then we continued the dive exploring the plateau and saw some turtles, school of barracuda and black snappers. The tide was incoming form noon so right after lunch we headed to Ulong channel for the 3rd dive. When we got there the current was flowing into the channel but mildly so we jumped right in and headed straight to the mouth of the channel. The current was actually more light so we just went right into the channel and then it started to pick up and so we just drifted first to the lettuce coral and then to the 2 giant clams. There were a couple of sharks at the mouth of the channel and in the channel and a few groupers in the channel and lots of Titan trigger fish which are dangerously aggressive during the new moon because they are also spawning eggs. We came back to Ulong channel for the 4th dive but right after we got in the water the current changed directions so the current was flowing from the inside coming out so we just continued are dive outside on the plateau. Fortunately, there were sharks chasing a school of scad around the area so that was nice. We then came to the big boat and then after dinner was the entertainment which was the video of the charter.
Saturday morning right after breakfast we went to Jelly Fish Lake and yes the Jelly fish have returned after 3yrs. THEY ARE BACK! We then did a rock island tour on our way back to the big boat and we stopped at the Natural arch, Japanese rock island gas station and the big gun. For our last dive of the week we did the Chandelier cave. It’s a cave system that goes into the rock island and the only way in is to dive. There are 4 chambers that you can surface into after you enter through an opening under the island. After we explore the caves we then can see the very beautiful Mandarin fish right outside the cave. We came back to the big boat and rinsed all the gears had lunch and some of the guest went ashore while other just took their afternoon nap. So from lunch time till 6pm all the guests were free to do whatever and then from 6pm we had the cocktail party. The party was over at 645pm and then we brought the guests ashore for dinner. The guests came back at 9pm and continued their party.
Sunday morning continental breakfast was at 7am then 7:45 loaded up the skiff and said our goodbyes as we took the guests ashore to be transferred to their hotels. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this week on the Rock Islands Aggressor, hope to see you all again soon.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew