Blue Sunday

Palau Sunrise

First good night of sleep since spraining the ankle a little over two weeks ago— no pain!  I cannot tell how much good the diving has been on my ankle.  It almost looks like a real ankle!  We were up at 4:30, and went on deck topside at about 5, where we ran into Jodi.  The sunrise was spectacular, so had to take a couple of pictures.  Then we did the typical dive logging and photo loading, and I finished the blog outline for yesterday.  I’ll fill it in today, since I have all the pertinent data.

First dive today was at Blue Corner.  The water was like glass going out, so we anticipated great things.  We got to the mooring by 7:30 after a return to the boat to retrieve Valerie’s computer.  We did a deep water live entry, and descended, swimming towards the reef.  Unfortunately, the current had shifted, and we were swimming into it.  We cut across the corner into some significant current.  The fish life was magnificent, but we needed to keep moving to get to the hook in site.  :(  Sharks and jacks and wrasses passed in front of us and over us.  We also saw a pair of turtles - both fairly decent size - but no time for photos.

When we got to the hook in site 25 minutes later, the fish life was not quite as predator filled as we expected. Still, there was a lot going on in the current, and it was enjoyable.  I tested out yet another mask, and this one worked better than the others (Wayne is making up a check list so that we remember to travel with four masks rather than just one).  The drift back to the boat went far too quickly for my liking.  We had a Napoleon wrasse approaching us from above, grey reef sharks swimming right across our path, a baby hawksbill turtle, two eels, hordes of yellowfin barracuda and silver jacks, and anemone fish.  We did our safety stop at the top of the reef, and the Poseidon (skiff to the Ocean Hunter III) was right above us.  Magnificent morning dive, and tons of calories burned!

Breakfast was the typical buffet, but I think many of us spent more time talking about the first dive rather than focusing on breakfast.  We all ate well, though!

Dive two was one of my least favorite spots in Palau - Virgin Blue Hole.  It’s called that because unlike the other diving holes in Palau, there is only one way in and one way out.  The other holes have multiple entry/exit areas, and are more filled with light.  I descended slowly to 100 feet, and started to prepare for exiting, but our dive guide kept us in the hole for at least 10 minutes, if not more, focusing on lines coming down from the ceiling.  I didn’t have a light, the cave was dark, and the lines reminded me of something macabre.  For the first few minutes I thought “Wayne’s next to me.  I’m ok.”  After five minutes, I wasn’t, and I knew I was narced. 

I hate nitrogen narcosis, especially the panic type.  I signalled Wayne that I was narced, and I headed to the exit.  It was silly to narc, because I knew how to get out, but it still happened.  I got out into the sunlight and started to ascend slowly.  Wayne followed.  When we made it to 60 feet, I was ok.  During the rest of the dive, we saw a porcupine pufferfish, fire dartfish, wire coral gobies, a turtle with three legs, another with all four, and a crocodile scorpionfish.  The boat came to get us after ascent, and we got on.  During the ride home, we passed by a school of batfish.  It’s apparently spawning season.  ;)

Today is American theme for our meals.  I went out on the deck to hang up my wet swimsuit and smelled hamburgers.  I came down and asked our chef, Arlee, if it was American day, and he said it was.  We had burgers, chicken wings, a carrot/cabbage cole slaw, potato salad, corn on the cob, and chips.  Plus fruit!  Arlee spoiled the surprise - tonight is pork ribs.  Poor Wayne.

Dive three was Blue Holes.  I was correct in my assessment that my narcing is brought on by darkness and depth.  It was a great dive, going in from one of the top holes, descending to the bottom, checking around the cave, and then back up and out the window, hooking left toward Blue Corner.  Inside the cavern, we saw robust ghost pipefish, a clown triggerfish with a baby, and the ubiquitous disco clams (cue the Bee Gees, please).  Headed out of the window to the left, we saw a shark whose right pectoral fin was gone.  Poor baby was swimming lopsided.  The current shifted on us, so we turned away from the corner.  There was a baby baramundi, a huge carpet anemone, and the two-toned dartfish.  And as we were on our safety stop, I became a human cleaning station.  I was tickled by cleaner wrasse.

Then back to the ship, where we were greated with cocoa and brownies, and a one hour break before starting our next diving adventure.

Our fourth dive had only five takers, and we went to Ngemelis Coral Gardens.

It was a lovely, slow drift dive, although I was really getting cold.  We saw several dogface pufferfish, star pufferfish getting cleaned, along with a stripebelly pufferfish.  We saw several healthy hawksbill turtles, a Napoleon wrasse upon descent, and a HUGE bumphead parrotfish.  Down almost an hour, I was freezing, begged for a safety stop. Ogie looked at me, “Like, really? Now?”  And I nodded vigorously.  We exited at the hour mark. During the safety stop we saw a trio of titan triggerfish, causing me to duck behind Wayne.  I just don’t have a good history with titans… And then it was off to the Ocean Hunter III.

We had an hour and a quarter for turnaround before the night dive, and I asked Eddie if there were something dry I could wear to keep me from freezing.  Blessedly, they had a shortie that fit me.  So at 7:15, another five were off to Ngemelis Wall.