Woke up several times through the night, but finally got up at about 4:30 to a beautiful sunrise. Breakfast was at 6 am, so there was time to get ready for the day, final checks were done on the gear, and we headed downstairs.
Uneventful breakfast, but it was a very pleasant spread. Matt and Jodi met up with us for breakfast, and we parted ways until it was time for the boat to bring us to Sam’s. We did use it this morning, but will probably walk the majority of the remainder of the time.
When we arrived at the dock, it was familiar, yet different. Most of the staff has turned over, the operational layout has changed, some of the familiar sights are gone within the common area, and many amenities were repositioned. But the most important part remained: Joedyn was there, and he is our guide for the next 7 days of diving!!!!
Arson no longer drives for Sam’s, and we found out that the reason is that he is finishing up serving a sentence for dealing narcotics! On the other hand, Shaft (former kayak guide) is back, and Matt (former tech dive advisor) has been allowed back in the country as he married a local national.
Oh, the drama of Sam’s.
We headed out on our boat, the Card Shark, with our new driver JC, and one additional passenger, a dive trade magazine associate editor out of Chicago named Joe. He once was a divemaster, it seems, and he was very knowledgeable about his nudis and fish, and he carried a HUGE dive camera outfit.
Because of the unusually high incoming tide, we had a different first day schedule than Joedyn had planned. Our first dive was Turtle Cove, one site not too badly affected by last year’s typhoon. We descended, and we did indeed see a turtle or four, plus a fair number of sharks. Near the end of the dive, we were encompassed by a large school of groupers, the largest number I have had that close to me at once.
Dive two was Blue Hole to Blue Corner. Because of the incoming tide, the water was darker and greener than I remembered, but the dive still magnificent. We went down in the hole, where we saw my first eel of the trip (and of the year), a young Napoleon wrasse (female), and a large number of disco clams. We ascended at 50 feet and proceeded to the corner, where we were treated to dozens of pelagics. Breathtaking.
Our last dive started at Turtle Wall (formerly known as Fern’s Wall), and took us to New Drop Off. Nice drift dive, and we hooked in for a bit as we were treated to a show.
Home to Red Rooster beer, sashimi, a bit of a hike to the Taj for dinner (ok, in the dark, on an unlit path next to the only road running through town, it did take a while to get there, and we were HOT when we arrived), and a spectacular meal, as remembered.
I love Palau!