A much, much better night of sleep. There’s something about sleeping on the water. Mind you, my ankle ached sharply through the night, but it was still so much better sleep than previously. Something about being on a boat just soothes. And my leg and ankle reduced significantly in swelling overnight. I guess it was like having a two hour epsom salt soak.
The boat left Malakal for Ngemelis this morning at 4:30. I felt us start and move, and woke up briefly, but the rocking of the boat, and Wayne’s deep breathing, were calming enough for me to return to slumber until 6 am. Nice rest. We went downstairs with the items I needed downstairs for the day in a backpack to save me unnecessary trips up and down the stairs. There were some rolls, fresh espresso, water, and Matt was down here logging information from the day prior. While we were snacking a little, I replaced the battery on my backup dive computer. Successful surgery, BUD is as good as new.
Half an hour later, Eddie made the good morning divers announcement, so I wrapped up finishing yesterday’s blog before starting this one. I was hoping to finish up reconstructing the Kona Aggressor blog from January this morning, but that is not to be. It’s like there’s never enough time on this trip unless you skip a dive, and we’ve only just started. Jodi came in and joined us before it was time to head to German Channel. The question was whether or not we would maintain our streak that started the last time we came here with Matt and Jodi?
The answer is yes! Manta ray!!! It was magnificent- gliding around us twice before disappearing in search of the bait ball. Of course, there were grey reef sharks getting cleaned, lots of jacks, dogtooth snapper, goby shrimp, and a short fin spadefish. Unfortunately, our friend the beaten up Napoleon wrasse was nowhere to be found. I think he had seen better days.
Our breakfast (which is probably what will be all days) was a buffet filled with cheeses, eggs, toast and bagels, salami, a ton of fresh fruit, and BACON! I was a happy girl!
Dive two was Big Drop Off. We had a really moderate current, so it was pretty easy. We saw two reef sharks, anemone fish, both many spotted and banded sweetlips, square spot anthia, and magnificent fan coral. There was a school of purple anthia, with a few Randall’s anthias (I think). We saw a hawksbill turtle with an extraordinarily clean shell, a TON of pyramid butterflyfish, and a notodoris minor with it’s egg sac.
After breakfast, it was off to New Drop Off. The last 4 or 5 times we did this dive there was no current. But we are close to the new moon, so the tides are starting to pick up the pace. There was way, way more current than the last several times, it was akin to Mr. Toad’s wild ride. There were schools of dogtooth snappers, lots of grey reef sharks swimming around and through us as we were hooked in, a green sea turtle, a group of 3 male Napoleon Wrasse with 1 female, bumphead parrotfish, chevron and yellowfin barracuda, fire dartfish, and a flounder that Jodi found.
Today’s meal theme is Japanese! We had tempura shrimp, pumpkin & onion, sushi rolls, a vinegar/seaweed/cucumber salad, gyoza, shumai, and fruit. I ate only half my plate and gave the rest to Wayne. Very tasty lunch, but a short break between dives. This is a heck of a schedule.
Dive four was at Turtle Wall. There were only two green sea turtles there, and three of our cohorts were in way too close taking flash photos in the one poor baby’s face. :( We had a wonderful swimby from an eagle ray, saw a pair of batfish, several bumphead parrotfish, and my first two eels of the trip. Last but not least, there was an anemone feeding with its anemone fish swimming fiercely above.
Our final dive, and my first night dive outside the lagoon, was at German Wall. On a scale of one to five, I had to give it a zero. We saw a sea cucumber hunting for dinner, star pufferfish, dogface pufferfish, plenty of sleeping parrotfish (which appear to sleep without a sac), a lone eel, tons of tiny lion fish, and several nudibranches. My problem with dive was not what we saw, but with the loaner mask we got. It was too small for my face and kept flooding. As I cleared the mask, the air went into my hood, which was not venting properly. That made me significantly more buoyant. And without my camera to serve as an additional weight, it meant I kept floating upwards. I finally pulled down the hood for the remainder of the dive, and started shivering about 3 minutes after doing so. I will have to poke a hot nail through that hood several times so that it vents. :(
Dinner was largely oriental fare. We started with miso soup - yum! Then we had udon noodles, snapper with a really spicy peanut demi sauce, Palauan style, bean sprout salad, a cabbage/carrot/cucumber salad, and edamame. Wayne had dessert - bananas and vanilla ice cream with a caramel sauce. It looked good, but the belly was full after half a plate. Wayne had a plate and a half of food - the half was half of mine.
It’s time to put a recharged battery into my flashlight. And then to recharge me!