Up early again to do a quick pack. I decided to check the stove just to make sure since it has been run in five years. I'd forgotten a part - I'd bought a new fuel bottle and neglecte to remove the pump from the old one! We were in a taxi and on our way by 7:30. At the dive shope we ended up messing around for over an hour. The ride out was through the Rock Islands - a beautiful, fast (twin 130 HP engines), slightly bumpy hour long ride out to the first dive site.
The first dive was the at the famous Blue Corner - probably every person that has ever dove in Palau had dove there. It was a good dive. The current is so strong that you have to use reef hooks - a metal hook attatched to a meter of line that you hook to a dead part of the reef. Then you just sit there and everything comes to you sort of like watching TV. There were tons of sharks, Napleon fish, a turtle, some huge groupers, and tons of various reef fish. Only it wasn's so satisfying, I think it was just a little too easy just sitting there - you are not part of the action. Plus, just sitting there means no exercise and I got cold pretty quickly. Also the reef had been completely trashed - probably not that big of surprise given how many divers go there every day.
After a short surface break tied up to a reef we headed for our second dive, this one at Turtle Cove. The current wasn't nearly as strong so we didn't need the reef hooks and I actually enjoyed the dive more than the Blue Corner. We swam through a blue hole in the reef which is always kind of cool, there was also some beautiful coral, a Napoleon Wrasse, a few sharks, and a turtle. The higlight was one of our divers was harassing a Titan Trigger fish and got bit - not badly, but I think he'll get out of their teritory when threatened next time! We had tons of air left so when everyone else went up we asked the divemaster if we could continue exploring and got another twenty minutes before getting low on air.
We had lunch at our camp site. After the boat left we explored - I was a little dissappointed with how developed the camp site was covered tables, benches, and sleeping platforms - but really it was so much more comfortable that what I was expecting. The beach and island is also very beautiful. Stacy and I hiked inland to see the Japanese caves. There are a number of caves (man made I think) radiating off a sink hole in the middle of the island. The cascading greenery, heavy shadows, and rusting artifacts (bullets, handgrenades, etc.) made for a very eerie scene. The guide had told us that the bones had all been cleared out a few years ago, but I still sort of expected to see some at every turn. After we got back from the caves we waded across the shallow channel to the neightboring island. Around the bend we found a great sandy beach. The sand was so soft and fine that it almost felt liquid. Shady trees and crystal clear water completed the perfect setting. When we wadded back the tide had come up several feet and it was a bit scary.
Diner was pasta and fish - begged from some fishermen who had been here earlier - even though Kyle and Bill had spent all afternoon trying their fishing attemptshadn't been very successful. There were grills set up at the camp site and,impressively, Kyle started a wood fire without using any of the stove fuel. Though when the rats started to come out we ended up making coconut bombs - coconut husk soaked in stove fuel - the light and or smoke seemed to keep the rats at a distance.