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Published: June 25th 2018
DIVEMASTER POINTING TO SHARK
Many big sea fans on the wall, and large fish and sharks in the blue.
DIVING IN PALAU
I slept soundly and was grateful I had no schedule so I didn’t have to rush off somewhere on my first day in Palau. At around 2 o’clock in the afternoon I set off to walk to the local café for breakfast. I mistook the hardware store for the café so I chatted with the owner and picked up a few things. (I really like hardware stores, especially small ones; you never know what you may find.) He told me the café, right next door could give me information about diving. After lunch I asked the waitress about a dive store and two young people at another booth gave me a brochure and said they would send a car at nine the next morning. On the way back to the motel I found the market and got a few staples. Then I was off to my room for a nap. After dinner I sorted my dive gear and set up my camera for tomorrow’s dives.
It is always interesting when I enter an unknown dive shop. Cruise Control is a Japanese dive shop so I had to cast around for someone who speaks English. Inside, the
A frequent sight in deep water close to the wall we were diving on.
shop was well organized and artfully arranged, with low tables to sit on and cubbies with baskets to store unnecessary items, like shoes and shirts, etc. And there was a very complete beverage table so I could grab a cup of tea or chocolate before boarding the dive boat.
Outside there were people everywhere and maybe a hundred tanks to maneuver around. I’ve never seen so many tanks in one place before. Cruise Control must have the only dive compressor in the area. Management could not be nicer, but diving Palau seemed a bit pricey, $396 for two days diving, three dives a day.
After paying I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I’ve found out if I stand in one place long enough, looking lost, someone will tell me what is going on. A young woman about the size of an American ten year old took my dive gear and pointed to my boat. I was the only Caucasian female on the boat.
I thought breakfast was included, but it wasn’t. Luckily lunch was right after the first dive, since we got a late start waiting for another diver. I am used to
Jaw-dropping amazing visitor, this manta swims close to the divers.
fruit and a sweet between dives on most dive boats. But Cruise Control divers eat lunch served in individual black lacquer divided boxes. Laquer bowls of hot miso soup were passed around as soon as the divers put away their gear, the warmth welcome after the chill of the dive.Our boxed lunch was eaten with chopsticks. It included a large helping of white rice, small servings of condiments like slivered pickles, two meats, sweet and sour pork, or chicken and a small serving of noodles. Plus there was hot tea. It was all delicious and filling.
One reason for the high prices is the diving is not just off shore…it is an hour boat ride in a speed boat, maybe even farther to the Rock Islands. Our first dive was a reef near one of the numerous islands. After our lunch and surface interval we dove in German Channel where the waves roll gently over a reef. It looks so strange to see waves in the middle of the ocean. The water is that glorious light turquoise. It looks calm and peaceful, but looks can be deceiving. It is a high current area.
My divemaster’s name is Flynn
Large sea fans and abundant soft corals in glorious colors.
and he is excellent. Sometimes we dived with four other divers, but often it was just Flynn and me. On the reef near German Channel we used individual grappling hooks as tie downs to keep us stationary in the high current, leaving our hands free for photographing. This was interesting and a first for me. Due to the strong current, there were huge schools of fish, turtles and sharks.
I did not see a single nudibranch. In fact, the area reminds me of Sipadan, except the reefs have taken a beating. Most staghorn corals are broken, and the bottom is covered in rubble. I wish it was the weather, but I think it is careless divers. There are permanent moorings so the boats don’t drag anchors. (I later learned there was a storm a month ago and it destroyed the coral on this reef.)
We saw huge Napoleon Wrasses that seem to like human contact, and several moray eels. Once we saw two male eels fighting for a female. I went too close to try and capture a photo. I should have taken a video. As soon as the eels were aware of my presence one disappeared. How
Good Housekeeping...brilliant white anemone with shy Nemo.
The most exciting dives were when we encountered manta rays. Even when I know they are there and I’ve already seen one or more - still each time another appears suddenly, my heart leaps and I want to stop the action and savor the experience. They are so majestic and graceful. Once as two were gliding toward me and I suddenly thought, what if I am in their way? I felt like I was playing chicken with them. They are mammoth! But at the last minute they subtly changed levels and swept past me.
I was having trouble clearing my ears and they were quite painful after day one. I wanted to take the next day off, but I had already paid for it and there was a cancellation clause. Since I couldn’t give them a 24 hour notice I took some antihistamines and went ahead with the next day’s dives. Then I took a day off hoping my ears would heal with a day of rest.
Tot: 0.563s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 13; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0288s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb