You know it's going to be a good day when...

Dolphins greet you at Blue Corner for your first dive of the day!

I slept in until 5:30 this morning, grimaced when looking at my very curly hair in the mirror, brushed my teeth and headed downstairs where Wayne was engaged in discourse.  He had the computer downstairs and was logging his dives.  Once I arrived, he sat down and finished his logs so that I could take care of mine.  We began to get ready for the dives, and headed out.

When we arrived, we were greated by dolphins playing in the wake of the boat.  Great way to start the dive!  This time, we dropped in very close to our hook in site.  Instead of 25 minutes swimming in the current, it was only five.  We hooked in and the show started!  At first there was a hammerhead shark just under the ledge trying to get up, but the jacks quickly shooed it away.  We saw dogtooth snappers, jacks, yellowfin barracuda, tons of triggerfish, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, the works.  The Napoleons swam so close to us, we could touch them.  The current was perfect, and we were suspended behind our hooks, held basically motionless in the water.  I could tell the moment the current changed, I floated straight up over my reef hook.  I looked to Eddie, and he motioned to unhook.  I’m getting good at this.  We then swam into the channel area, surrounded still by jacks and barracuda, and followed by the Napoleons.  I really enjoyed the dive, our best at Blue Corner this trip… ;)

Breakfast was large, as we were headed for two tanks to Peleliu, with no return trip until after both were complete.  

We piled onto the skiff to make the long (hah!) trip over to Peleliu.  Typically, from a land based dive operation, the ride to Peleliu is anywhere from 75 minutes to 90, depending upon the seas.  Today our trip was about 25 minutes.  I think I’m really being converted over to liveaboard operations in Palau.

We were first supposed to do Peleliu Expressway, hitting the jet stream running.  But the current was going the wrong way, so we did Peleliu Cut instead.  This time, we did not hit the same problems as last time, and we made it all the way down to the cut to hook in.  This is the same location where Wayne lost his D9 to the Pacific Ocean two years ago.  We descended, swam away from the wall, and drifted down to the cut, and hooked in.  There was a green sea turtle there as we hooked in, he took off after we arrived.  There was a huge show from dogtooth tuna and jacks by the dozens, but very few sharks.  Quite different from this morning.  There was some action between three small jacks and a titan triggerfish, the jacks were trying to move him out of their territory, but the titan was staking his claim.  After about a half an hour, we unhooked and drifted past the cut to the far side of Peleliu.  As I looked down, I saw where the pelagic action was - down below 100 feet.  The jacks were HUGE (as big as I am!), as were the sharks. We continued to fly across the site where Wayne’s dive computer is now probably encrusted in coral, having fun chasing blue tang and other fish along the way for photo opportunities. At the end of the dive, on our way to our safety stop, a huge ray (will have to figure out what type) passed below us.

Our break between dives was in our typical location, but boy had it changed!  It no longer consisted of simply a bathroom, shower, picnic tables, and a covered area.  The covered area now had a second floor, there was a bai, and a newly constructed home built for when the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to Peleliu to commemmorate the invasions.  It appears locked up and unused now.  That’s too bad, because it could be a small museum, or a “get to know Peleiu” information area to attract divers to come back and stay a while.

The second dive went as planned, Peleliu Coral Gardens (aka Orange Beach).  We rolled out, and descended into what could pass as a World War II demolition yard.  There is ordnance, there are guns, and metal frames belonging to who knows what.  The Marines invaded Orange Beach on September 15, 1944, and they were pinned down for 8 hours before breaching the beach.  We got to spread apart and look around for “things,” so Wayne and I strayed away from the main group.  I found a big giant clam, and got a picture of Wayne behind it.  This was Wayne’s 200th dive in Palau!  My 150th was the previous dive at Peleliu Cut.  Unfortunately, sometime after this photo, my sunscreen melted into my eyes, and my sinuses filled up completely.  The rest of the dive was not terribly pleasant physically, although the surrounding area is beautiful and colorful.  It’s an area of Peleliu that was not hit hard by Typhoon Bopha, blessedly.  It’s nice to have some place to dive on Peleliu so you can get to appreciate another state within the Republic of Palau.

Arlee had a magnificent Mediterranean lunch prepared for us, fish and chicken shish kebabs, tabouleh, all sorts of yummy sauces, raw veggies, and hummus.  This was accompanied by big glasses of water, and silence in the dining area.  Either everyone was starving, everyone was tired, the food was too delicious to talk, or all of the above!  I vote for choice number four.

The fourth dive commenced at 5:30, giving us a decent 2/12 hour interval to rest, and me to put drops in and wash cloths over my eyes, and get dry.  I’m going to have to slather a pound of moisturizer on my body when this dive trip is over!  And get a spa trip as well.

Our twilight dive was at Ngedebus Dropoff/Corner.  The wall headed to the left was decimated during Typhoon Bopha, and needs to heal.  Instead, we dove the corner, which was still a pretty decent wall dive.  We got in at the dropoff, and the light was already fading.  Immediately below us was a large ray, type I do not know.  Even with eye drops and rest, my eyes were blurry, so seeing little things was still problematic.  Ogie pointed out robust ghost pipefish (which I couldn’t see until Wayne pointed them out), and Matt a black nudibranch (which I couldn’t see at all!).  We did see a lot of fish life, including an Emperor Angelfish, whose purple stripes just seemed to glow.  Amazing.  Also there were two eels that I got to see.  Unfortunately, the second one scooted before I got there.  There is an art to photographing eels, which a lot of people don’t know.  I may wind up putting together a PADI distinctive specialty for that…There were also two lovely tiger cowries backed into the reef, hopefully safe from octopus, and a small lion fish.

We returned to a Mediterranean dinner - couscous, lamb stew, cauliflower, and eggplant moussaka.  Dessert was vanilla ice cream over pears covered in chocolate syrup.  The dining room was mostly quiet, and emptied quickly.  I think we were all glad that there was not going to be another dive tonight.  

Tomorrow is our last day in the Ngedebus area, and then we are off again, headed towards Ulong Channel.  I cannot believe that we are done with four days of diving already.  It just seems unfair!  The dives, the food, the company, and the lodging have been exquisite.  If only I had a cat!