1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - D2D New Years 2003: Belize - January 5, 2003 - March 15, 2003 - Coz 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009
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D2D New Years 2004: Palau

December 27, 2003 through January 3, 2004
Palau - Big Blue Explorer

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My second New Years with the D2D gang. This time it involved a wonderful (I'm being facetious) 24 hour flight (there and then another one back) from Tampa to Palau (by way of Houston, Hawaii, and Guam).

It had been quite some time for me - in the middle of working on a degree, and my sister (my primary Florida dive buddy) moving away, I ended up not diving much after July (and those dives are in the database, but not written up). So I was ready to get wet.

We all know how much I just love flying. The travel grumps went away as I was walking to the gate for the Houston-Hawaii leg; I heard my named called and Roger (who I met on the Belize trip) was watching some TV, unaware that the flight's gate had moved. We terrorized that flight - at least eight of the 18 of us were on that flight, and then we picked up a few more in Hawaii. But it's a long story, and that's not so much what this site is for ...

What The Heck Is Palau?

Take a look at a map of the Pacific, looking north of Indonesia, and east of the Philippines. There's a group of islands there belonging to Palau - at this time, an independent country. We discovered that it's basically, to the Japanese, the equivalent of "our" Cozumel. Or maybe the Caribbean in general.

The Big Blue Explorer is one of the liveaboards that cruises the area. BBE does their diving from a couple of skiffs - basically, the BBE brings 30-60 minute skiff rides down to 5-30 minutes at most, with an anchorage at German Channel and an "idle" at Peleliu. They are working on getting other anchorages though ...

Pre-Trip and Flying Stuff

Passport. Flying into Koror. Other than that, be ready for a very long flight. Tampa to Houston is really only about an hour long. However, Houston to Hawaii is around eight hours, I think, and Hawaii to Guam is something like six or seven. Guam to Palau is again another two hours or so, if memory serves.

Diving

Pacific waters are lively, with fish species you don't typically see in the Atlantic or Caribbean, and the variety of colors on a single fish struck me the most. Oh, and my first manta ray was sighted at German Channel. But see the individual dive days for details ...

On To The Dives

  • December 28, 2003 (Ngemelis Coral Gardens - Turtle Cove - New Drop Off - Ngemelis Coral Gardens)
  • First day of diving, and the day of the worst dive. But then, they have to get you situated, checked out, that sort of thing ...
  • December 29, 2003 (Blue Corner - German Channel - Big Drop Off - Ngedbus Wall - Big Drop Off)
  • This was a significant day for me - I cleared at least one of the three things I wanted to see most this trip.
  • December 30, 2003 (Ulong Channel - Saies Tunnel - Blue Corner - Turtle Cove)
  • Long boat ride day - the Ulong area has some great dives, but BBE doesn't have an anchorage nearby yet ...
  • December 31, 2003 (Peleliu Wall - Peleliu Express - White Beach Corner - German Channel)
  • The halarity of the group I dive with never seems to surprise me. Even the newer folks to the group tend to have a twisted sense of humor ...
  • January 1, 2004 (Fern's Wall - Blue Corner)
  • I was hung over from the night before, so I missed two of the dives that day - woke up to find my skiff leaving.
  • January 2, 2004 (Iro - Chandelier Cave - Mandarin Fish Lake)
  • Alas, the last day of diving for the trip. Doh!


Pictures!

Land Pics! If there's one of you on here and you want it removed, let me know. Also, the visit to Jellyfish Lake was on January 2nd and didn't qualify as an actual dive to me.
Papa! Dunno why he looks so grumpy in this picture - maybe it's the angle. Or that camera ...
PP and Papa - again, Papa's looking at the camera. Must be a new one. ;)
Drinks/lunch inside the Etpison Museum (decent food, but they have stricter hours than we'd like). This is Kelly, Todd, and PP - the three of them together by themselves isn't necessarily a good idea. I smell plans in the works!
One side of the museum has this mural on it.
Here's the front of the museum.
Most our boat. I'm not even going to point out who's who.
Laura works for GE and as we were walking back to our hotel, there was a GE washer in a box!
Don, my roomie! That's the look of a man about a quarter of a second away from realizing his photo's been taken.
The side of the Big Blue, our boat. I have a better picture farther down ...
Anyone who's read the trip report on last year's Belize trip knows we can't leave a dry erase board alone.
And there were two of them on this trip.
I'm fairly certain this is Peleliu - a corner of it anyway.
Peleliu was the site of a bloody WWII battle; there are a couple of monuments on the island. This one is at Orange Beach (OB 3 I think).
At the same site, there's the remains of a Marine Chapel.
A shot showing a bit more of the site.
Between the two obelisks, there's this smaller monument - behind them, USA is spelled out in flowers.
On our way to other parts of the island, we passed the remains of a Japanese mini-tank.
And on our way up to look at a cave, the remains of an American landing vehicle.
There was another monument, up on Bloody Nose Ridge.
More of the monument.
A list of notable names ...
And nearby, a Japanese shrine.
We returned to the Big Blue.
New Years Eve - that's Bill, our Viking Leader, and George, our faithful (and incredibly efficient) waiter. He basically ran the meal deck by himself.
Here are more Viking Divers. Can you believe, we haven't even been drinking yet?
Kelly attempting to twirl some tassels. Don't ask. This is probably after the midnight dive.
Our visit to Jellyfish Lake wasn't consider a SCUBA dive. Here's a shot of one.
And there were many more than one.
A closeup of one of the Jellies.
I was trying to get some detail and flubbed the shot - but it's still kind of cool since you can make out tiny bubbles on it's skin.
This barely gives you an idea of how many there were.
"And I will call him Squishy and he will be mine."
Just before diving on the Iro, we passed this rock arch.
We took a flight on a very hot plane to view the sites from above. My seat sucked but I managed to get this shot of an unidentified wall - we probably dove there.
This I'm almost certain is the tip of Blue Corner. The notable things in this picture are the three dive boats.
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