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Rock Islands Aggressor
Republic of Palau, Micronesia
Charter Report: Feb 3rd – Feb 10th, 2019
Weather: Winds from East/North East all week
Water Temp: 77-82 degrees
Monday: Helmet Wreck, The Iro, Ulong, Siaes Corner, Ulong Channel
Tuesday: Siaes Tunnel, Sandy Paradise, Big Drop Off, German Channel, German Coral Garden (night)
Wednesday: Blue Corner, Turtle Cove, Blue Holes, New Drop Off, Big Drop Off (Night)
Thursday: Peleliu Corner, Peleliu Corner, Barracks Point, Orange Beach Coral Garden, Turtle Cove (Night)
Friday: German Channel, Virgin Blue Hole, Blue Corner, Barnums Wall
Saturday: Jellyfish Lake, Chandelier Cave
Sunday afternoon we picked up all 16 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 cert cards and headed up stairs for the vessel orientation/Safety Briefing then sat down at the tables for our welcome dinner. After dinner we handed out lifelines and everyone soon headed to bed.
Monday morning we had breakfast then covered the general dive briefing for everyone and headed down stairs. The guests analyzed their nitrox and the crew loaded their gear on the skiff. We did a dive site briefing for our first check out dive at the Helmet Wreck aka The Depth Charge Wreck. This is a Japanese WWII wreck that sank during the battle of Desecrate One in March of 1944. This wreck is the closest in the harbor but wasn’t found until the late 1980’s. There is no official name of this wreck. We explored the cargo holds seeing the helmets, depth charges, and spot light and airplane engines. We turned around at the bow and headed back up to the stern where all the artifacts have been placed for viewing. We saw a rifle, shoes, parts of a gas mask and a porcelain sink. We ended the dive by exploring the hard coral garden around the stern. After the dive the big boat headed out of Malakal Harbor and into the Western lagoon. Dive two was at The Iro. We descended down the mooring line and saw the big bow gun. We continued along the deck of the wreck to the stern finding the pipefish in the black coral bushes. We circled up the back kingpost and saw the red anemones. Then went from king post to king post back to the mooring, where we did our safety stop. After the dive the skiff caught back up with the big boat on its way to Ulong. We had lunch then covered the reef hook briefing because our next dive was at Siaes Corner. It was an outgoing current and we did a live drop above a large cut in the wall and went towards the hook in area. We stopped at the large sea fans for photos and at the corner it was a light current so we decided to hook in any way. There were a bunch of sharks off the wall and a group of yellow tail barracuda behind us. Later we unhooked and the last people to unhook saw a great hammerhead come up over the corner and swam right in front of the guests. In the coral garden we found a couple turtles and saw the large school of black snapper. We ended our dive up in the shallows of the coral garden. For dive four we headed to the famous Ulong Channel. We started from the mooring outside the mouth and descended down to the wall. We started to see the sharks and some beautiful anemones. At the mouth of the channel we hooked in and enjoyed the show. The big grey reef sharks were cruising back and forth in front of the divers. Off to one side there was the school of 20 or so baby grey reef sharks as well. We unhooked and drifted into the channel. We saw the lettuce coral and ended the dive at the two giant clams. Back at the big boat dinner was soon ready and after we watched the documentary on the battle of Peleliu.
Tuesday morning our first dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We tied up the skiff to the mooring and descended down the wall to the entrance of the tunnel. Inside the tunnel we found the decorated dartfish and the blue backed pygmy angelfish. We exited the tunnel by all the sea fans and went wall on the right doing our multilevel up. We saw turtles and another great encounter with two great hammerheads swim by the group in the blue. For our last dive in Ulong we headed out to Sandy Paradise. We entered the water and descended down the slopping coral garden to the sandy bottom at 80 feet. We checked out the cleaning station and there were several sharks getting cleaned. As we got closer we noticed that the sharks were two grey reef sharks and a rare silver tip shark. They did several passes and took off. We the continued along the slopping coral garden seeing anemones and had the cleaner wrasse give us a quick cleaning. There were sharks in the blue, jacks and a bait ball of scad being chased around by the jacks. We turned around and headed back to the mooring line to do our safety stop. During lunch the big boat started heading to the German Channel area and our third dive was at Big Drop off. We entered the water and descended down along the wall right next to the ball and chain left over from the German occupation of Palau before WWI. We saw two baby white tip sharks hiding in a hole and many nudibranchs along the wall as well. We came up shallow to do our safety stop and we saw some beautiful sea fans. Our fourth dive was at German Channel. It was a nice incoming current and we started on the Peleliu side of the channel. We descended down to the reef and went to the Peleliu side cleaning station. We waited awhile but no mantas came in to be cleaned. We did have one manta pass by above us. We left and headed across the mouth of the channel to the Koror side cleaning station. We sat down in the sand and waited but no mantas came in to be cleaned. We kicked across the mouth of the channel to the Koror side cleaning station and saw only one manta do a quick pass by the group. At the Koror cleaning station we waited but nothing came in to be cleaned. It seems like the mantas are still skittish from last week’s tiger sharks encounter. We ended the dive by drifting into the channel. After dinner the first night dive was at German Coral Garden. This is a slopping coral garden just outside the mouth of German Channel. We started from the mooring and went out the channel. We saw all sorts of macro life including; lion fish, turtle, white tip shark, and the lions paw sea cucumber. We even found one of the plorabranchs in the rubble area.
Wednesday morning we started the day with dive on at the famous Blue Corner. It was an incoming current and we hooked in at the 45 foot area. There were a bunch of sharks at the hook in area and the large school of jacks. The current picked up even stronger and we unhooked and went down to the 60 foot area and hooked in again. The big nose unicorn fish came over to some of the divers and played in their bubbles. We later unhooked and explored the plateau quickly as we drifted across seeing a couple turtles before coming up to start our safety stop. For dive two we headed to Turtle Cove. We started from the mooring and swam over on the surface to the hole on top the reef. We descended down the chimney and out along the wall. We saw an eagle ray below us in the blue and the square spot anthias along the wall. At the corner we came up on top the reef and found a couple turtles. We just spent the rest of the dive on top the reef before doing our safety stop. After lunch our third dive was at Blue Holes. We did a live drop from the skiff and swam over to the holes on top the reef and descended down into the main chamber. We took photos of the guests with the ambient light streaming down from the holes on top the reef. We then saw the disco clams and exited the holes and went wall on the left towards Blue Corner. There were sharks in the blue and a school of snappers. When we got to the hook in at Blue Corner the current had switched to incoming so we just drifted off in to the blue to do our ascent. Dive four was at New Drop Off. It was a light incoming current and we entered the water and drifted to the hook in area. We hooked in for a while and had some sharks in the blue in front of the divers. We unhooked and spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. We saw some turtles and a flounder. After dinner our night dive was at Big Drop Off. We saw lots of great macro life like shrimps, crabs and several turtles. We also saw a couple white tip reef sharks out hunting along the wall and some big groupers too.
Thursday morning the big boat started up and made its way down to Peleliu. We tied up in Camp Beck aka South Dock and our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. The current was incoming and we did the “Express” side of the corner. We descended down along the wall and the current was light to start. We drifted along the wall seeing sharks in the blue and several turtles. We hooked in and saw a bunch of sharks. We later unhooked and drifted down towards the corner, that’s when we saw them, in total there were six bull sharks swimming around on top the plateau. They didn’t get that close to us though but we saw them. It was a nice way to finish the dive. After the dive we sent 3 guests ashore to go on the Peleliu WWII land tour. They took a guided tour of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. They saw the memorials; Japanese head quarters and light tank, American landing craft and a bunch of artifacts in the museum. Dive two the remaining guests wanted to go back to Peleliu Corner. This time we checked the current and it was outgoing so we did the “D’Cut” side of the corner. We entered the water and drifted to the cut. When we reached the cut the current switched back to incoming and started to pick up. We tried to swim along the top of the reef to the corner but the current got too strong. We had to turn around and go back the way we came. At the cut we were protected from the current so we stayed there for a while seeing the school of jacks and down deep along the wall we saw a goliath grouper, it had to be at least 10 feet long. We kept going away from the corner to end the dive. After lunch our third dive was at Barracks Point. It was a weird current and we started the dive with shallows on the left. We saw the giant clams and a bunch of turtles but the current could not make up its mind. The current switched so we turned around, then it switched again so we turned around, then it switched one last time so again we turned around. For the fourth dive we went to Orange Beach Coral Garden. This dive site is right off the beach where the marines landed on the island of Peleliu on September 15th 1944. Lots of artifacts can be found at this dive site; you can see bullets, bombs, parts of a landing craft and coke bottles from that era. The rest of the dive site is covered in mostly hard corals making this dive site a beautiful coral garden to explore. We saw turtles, a giant clam and a crocodile fish in the rubble area. After the dive the big boat left Peleliu and made its way back up to the German Channel area. After dinner our last night dive was at Turtle Cove. This wall is covered in cup coral that during the day is not interesting, but at night it comes out to filter feed and turns the wall into beautiful orange and yellow colors. We also saw a couple turtles sleeping and other macro life.
Friday morning our first dive was at German Channel. This time we started from the Koror side of the channel and went to both cleaning stations but no mantas were seen. There were a bunch of sharks and some big hunters as well. We saw two Spanish mackerel, a big dog tooth tuna and some GTs. We ended the dive drifting into the channel. Dive two was full high tide so we went to Virgin Blue Hole. With the high tide the skiff was able to come on top the shallow reef and drop us right above the hole. We descended down all the way to the bottom of the chimney. The visibility was nice and the ambient light filled the chamber from above. We then swam out the tunnel to the wall. Out along the wall we started our multi level up we swam in and out of the canyons and under the archway seeing a couple turtles. After lunch we returned to Blue Corner. The current was outgoing this time and we did the other side of the corner. We did a live drop close to the last mooring and the current was strong, we hooked in and held on. There were a bunch of sharks and they came close to some of the divers. We unhooked and hid in a protected area with all the schools of fish. When the current seemed to die off we swam out towards the corner seeing some more sharks and turtles. The last dive of the day was at Barnum’s wall and we just started from middle of the coral garden then headed to the wall on our right. The current was light so we just took our time and moved slowly along exploring the reef. We saw a couple of turtles and an octopus at the end up in the shallows.After the dive, the big boat started to move into the Wonder Channel area as the guests came up into the salon had time to relax with a drink or two then we sat down to our final supper of prime rib and clams, with veggies and mashed potatoes. After dinner we moved over to the TV for tomorrows schedule and the video of the charter. It was a nice look back at a great week of diving.
Saturday morning our first excursion was a snorkel at Jellyfish Lake. We tied up the skiff at the dock and started the hike over the hill to the lake. At the lake side we geared up and snorkeled out into the lake. Towards the middle of the lake we saw the golden jellyfish. We took photos of all the guests with the jellyfish and even found the moon jellies. After an hour or so we swam back to the dock and hiked over the hill back to the skiff. We left the dock and went by skiff on a rock island tour through the Western Lagoon. We stopped at the limestone archway, some Japanese WWII sites and the tide was high enough to go into an area to see the banded sea snakes. We returned to the big boat and did a quick turnaround and headed to Chandelier Cave for our last dive. There are four air chambers that form inside the rock island that we can enter from underwater. So we surfaced in each chamber checking out the stalactites, and crystal formations that have formed on the roof of the chambers. After the fourth chamber we exited the cave where we found the mandarin fish, signal gobies and razor fish. We returned to the big boat and the guests washed and dried their gear. We then had lunch and after the bills, some of the guest went ashore while others just relaxed on board. At 6pm we gathered in the salon for the cocktail party and gave out some awards for the charter. At 7 we sent the guests ashore for dinner. The guests came back from dinner around 9 and had the rest of the night to their selves.
Very early Sunday morning we took two guests to the airport to catch their flight home and the remaining guests woke up to continental breakfast at 7am then around 7:45am we 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