|Palau & Truk|
We left in the wee morning hours, flying via Houston, Honolulu, and Guam, finally arriving in Palau in the evening of who knows what day!
We spent the night and most of the next day at the luxurious Palau Pacific, formerly a sea plane base, catching up on our sleep and enjoying the grounds. Crewmembers from the Palau Aggressor picked us up about 5:30 P.M. and took us to the boat, picking up other guests along the way.
The Palau Aggressor is a catamaran, which means it's wider than a monohull boat, with more room in the cabins, dining area, dive deck, etc. The food was great, served buffet-style, and the crew was friendly; we had no complaints about the boat or the food.
The diving was somewhat disappointing. The soft corals and fish life seem to be having problems recovering from El Nino hitting the area hard a couple years ago, and the visibility wasn't as good as expected. But overall, we had an enjoyable week.
Then it was on to Chuuk, taking a 2:30 A.M. flight (ugh) to Guam, where we vegged out for the day before heading for Chuuk on an evening flight. Picked up promptly at the airport, we were on the Truk Aggressor, getting organized for diving, by 10 P.M.
The Truk Aggressor was not as roomy as a catamaran, but it was very functional. Cabins were smaller and darker, and some had very little storage space, but we just piled everything on the upper bunk and spent most of our time elsewhere, so it didn't matter. Upstairs on the main deck was the galley, dining area, lounge, and dive deck. Meals, served buffet-style, were good, and of course there were snacks after every dive. The dive deck was roomy, especially since the boat was not fully booked, with a great entry/exit area. It was nice being able to do all the dives from the main boat.
The diving was exceptional, a choice of wreck or reef, with the reef being on top of the wreck! There were beautiful soft corals everywhere, with lots of critters and small to medium size fish. Anemone fish, my favorite, were abundant. The wrecks still looked good after twelve years, with plenty of relics, although many of the smaller items have disappeared. Plenty of bullets remain, and the big stuff, like tanks, planes, and trucks, are all still there. It's wasn't necessary to penetrate any wreck to enjoy the diving, but the dive guides competently led small groups through each wreck; finding the engine rooms quickly definitely required a guide. When we began running out of bottom time, we began a slow ascent up the masts, or even the buoy lines, finding small fish and critters to photograph. We averaged four dives a day, usually two dives per wreck, and ended up preferring dusk dives to night dives; the fish seem to swarm in at dusk, and there was actually more things to see than at night, plus it was nice being able to relax with that glass of wine at dinner!
We didn't see just small stuff. Sharks, mantas, barracudas, eagle rays, and schools of fish are attracted to the wrecks, so we always kept a watch out for them. Even hanging during the safety stops, we saw plenty of action under the boat; we did some pretty long safety stops. We dove every dive but one on Nitrox, so bottom times averaged about an hour. The last dive was a shark feed, which brought the sharks, mostly gray reef, white-tip, and black-tips, up close and personal for photos. Most of the last day was spent hanging out at the Blue Lagoon Resort, as our flight to Guam didn't leave until, you guessed it, 2:30 A.M. There's not a whole lot to do except walk, snorkel, sleep, and eat, but we did get to tour the Truk Odyssey, which is the boat we have booked for January, 2004. Join us!
Downey Diving 213 Summerfield Drive Baden, PA 15005 (724) 869-1989