Predictably after three hours of sleep I woke up feeling like a zombie. Before our first dive we went by the reception and filled in the hotel's paperwork, arranged to change rooms (our view is of the parking lot, and as the hotel only seems to be about a quarter full we figured we should get an ocean view), ordered lunch, and went by the dive shop to buy a Chuuk State diving permit. After taking care of the errands we got our dive gear together and headed for the boat - such luxury, someone even came up to carry our gear down for us!
The first dive was on the wreck of the Sankisan Maru a 380 foot Japanese freighter that was sunk (like most of the wrecks in Chuuk) by the U.S. in Operation Hailstorm in 1944 (the single largest naval loss in history). The ride out was only about ten minutes and the dive was straight down from the dive boat - the boat actually anchored to one of the wreck's masts. We followed Estos (the dive master) through the holds and then explored the deck and some of the other passages on our own. The holds were a bit junky, the first one was carpeted in machine gun ammunition (some still in boxes, the rest scattered in clips and individually all over the floor - several inches deep), while the second hold was covered in different sized medicine bottles. The hold were interesting, but the coral coverage on the decks, superstructure, masts, and booms was incredible - both soft and hard corals, but the soft corals were particularly spectacular. Most of the deck looked as if the coral had been planted in a perfect garden. After the dive we all had air left, so we got to do a bonus mini dive on the Betty Bomber. The plane had been stripped, but it was mostly intact and resting upright. There really wasn't much to see, but it was interesting and it was a neat swim through the length of the fuselage.
The weather wasn't so great, so we went back to the hotel for lunch. We took our boxes back to the room and ate (after warming up with a hot shower!) on our balcony - which was nice, even with its view of the parking lot. The afternoon dive was on the 437 foot aircraft ferry, the Fujikawa Maru. Stacy and I started the dive late because of a leaky O-ring on my tank - it took the driver about twenty minutes to dig an O-ring out of one of the spent tanks, so we missed the guide and had to (got to?) do the wreck on our own. I think we did a pretty good job of covering the wreck, but we missed a couple of the holds including the most famous one containing a Japanese zero (by the time we found the hold we didn't have enough bottom time to explore inside it). Even having missed the best part I found this the best wreck I've ever dove on. The structure of the ship was very interesting and fun to explore. The holds had lots of artifacts (one full of oil drums, one mostly empty, and two full of sake and beer bottles), but again the real highlight was the coral growth. The wreck had very beautiful coral covering the decks, wheel house, masts, booms, and davits. Plus, unlike the Sankisan Maru (the first wreck), the Fujikawa Maru hosted a lot of fish.
Back on shore we changed to a room with a view then I took advantage of the hot water and had another very long hot shower. We had dinner at the resort restaurant - it was Ok, but nothing special. I was exhausted, but determined to not fall any further behind in my journal. Unfortunately I kept falling asleep so after finally getting through the photos I'd taken on the wrecks I gave up and fell asleep.