Wrecks, Mantas and Mandarins
Wrecks, Mantas and Mandarins
After placing the maiden voyage successfully behind us, the crew of the Palau Siren sailed on in to their second 10-day charter in to the Palau Islands on November 10, 2012 and moved forward like a well-oiled machine. On this charter, the lucky guests on board hailed from Germany and Austria, under the leadership of veteran diver Tony Mayer of Tauch Safari’s. Tony has brought several groups diving with the Siren Fleet and it was a pleasure to have him and his great sense of humor on the Palau Siren.
Like clockwork we sailed from our home mooring in front of dive operator and local partner, Sam’s Tours and dropped anchor just a mile or so out in Malakal Harbor to begin the day’s diving. This week we tried a few new sites in the ‘Day One’ itinerary. The famed Japanese WWII shipwreck, nicknamed the ‘Helmet Wreck’ was mixed in with Jake’s Seaplane and Chandelier Cave. The Helmet Wreck has been a staple in Palauan diving since the 1980’s when she was discovered in front of the town pier. After getting to know the new divers during the day, it was discovered that many on board were fish junkies and enjoyed spotting the little critters just as much as the big guns.
With this knowledge, wrecks suddenly took a back seat, and we opted for a dive at Sam’s Wall, which happens to be right at the base of the Bottom Time Bar & Grill. Certainly not the most exotic locale for diving, but if you want to see Mandarin Fish, this is the site to visit. The best part is the dive is no more than 10 feet deep. Standing on top of the wall and looking down I could see the glow of the dive lights from the divers. The continuous flash of camera strobes emanating from below was a dead giveaway that many had found quarry to fill their viewfinders. Once the dive was over the divers immediately began sharing photos off the LCD’s of their cameras showing the interesting fish species spotted.
The following morning the Palau Siren could be seen heading north bound as scheduled heading for Devil Fish City to try our luck at finding Manta’s, but unfortunately none were found. However, everyone seemed to enjoy the stunning coral garden on dive site, Sunken Bridge. By this time, the routine of the boat was setting in for the crew and me. Although unwelcome in the grind of the rat race, a routine is desirable in the liveaboard industry. Efficiency and ease of work comes with a solid routine and guests inevitably have a more fulfilling vacation experience.
Day three found the Siren at the beautiful anchorage site adjacent to Ulong Island. It was here where we accessed some of Palau’s most famous sites such as Siaes Tunnel and Siaes Corner. At this point, the jetlag had worn off on our guests and the diving had ramped up to full speed. Plenty of grey reef sharks had been seen as well as schools of barracuda and trevally.
As the week’s diving progressed we moved the boat further south at famed German Channel and Blue Corner dive sites. Mantas had been sighted and all were pleased. The dives to Peleliu also were a big success with moderate currents and shark sightings a plenty. The final few days were spent loitering about down at German Channel since many of the best dive sites are accessed via the famed man-made channel created with explosives by, of course, the Germans in the late 1800’s. Big Drop Off, Turtle Wall, New Drop Off and many other sites were all big hits.
Judging by the frowns on many of the guests faces, as they were disembarking, I’d say the trip was a great success. Stay tuned for more adventures from Micronesia.