Every Day I’m Chuuk-in’ It!

3 07 2012

I probably do not have the best words to describe how amazing this trip was, and how thankful Steve and I are to Elena, for making it possible. I doubt there is anything that could even remotely top this experience, but I will do my best to share our adventures!

Friday, June 15th, 2012 ~ 

Today was the day that we would leave on our trip of a lifetime. Pinch me, are we really going??? We would fly from Ottawa, to Calgary, to Tokyo, to Guam, spend the night, then fly from Guam to Chuuk airport. We had quite a journey ahead of us! Our flights went off without a hitch, but we did have to wait until we got toTokyo, to get our tickets to Guam. We were surprised to see that they were using computers and telephones that seemed to come from the 80s! 🙂

 

Saturday, June 16th, 2012 ~

We arrived in Guam on Saturday night (about 9pm Guam time). We reached our hotel, and as we made our way to the check-in counter, we were greeted by Sofie and Cas! We got our room, ditched our luggage, then headed out for an evening beverage.

Way too cool, not to share. Seen in the store windows, in Guam…

 

Sunday, June 17th, 2012 ~

So… It seems that we slept through our alarm, to meet Sofie and Cas for breakfast. I guess the time difference and jet lag affected us, more than we thought! We headed down to the buffet, then met S and C, in the lobby.

It also turned out to be Sofie’s Birthday!

 

We lounged about for a while, then went to the pool for even more lounging!

 

We then met up with Jaroslav, Dennis, and Alexey!

 

Lunch was at TGIFridays, then it was off to the airport!

Cas, with his fancy beer cup, that they let him keep…

 

We went through security, and I have to say, that I had the funniest security check that I have ever had, in an airport. Of course, they had to do a search of my carry-on… There was a can light inside of it, that always comes up as suspicious-looking, on the scanner screen. So… the guy opened my carry-on, and when lifting the light up, the battery slipped out. I reached out to grab it, and it just happened to be around waist-high *cough*. It did look rather funny, and everyone around us broke into hysterics. We even had to reenact the scene for his colleagues. Of course, I was a few different shades of red, but laughing, of course! I bet that story will be shared in the locker room, for a while! Ok, time to board!

I had a Business Class seat. Sweet! First time ever, in Business Class! I even received a fancy chocolate bar, with my meal!

We arrived in Chuuk, about an hour and a half later. It took a while to get through immigration, but once we were through, we got our luggage, and were greeted by Kevin D.! Off to the boat!

M/Y Blue Star: Well, it was the most beautiful “boat” that I have ever seen, outside of a magazine or TV show. We were going to be here for a whole week! w00t!

M/Y Blue Star, taken by Jaroslav Moiseenko…

We boarded, met the folks that were diving the previous week, were shown to our cabins, chatted for a bit, then sleeeep!

Tomorrow, we DIVE!!!

Monday, June 18th, 2012 ~

Steve and I were up fairly early, and decided to get our gear put together, and the others were not far behind!

 

We had breakfast, then had planned on two dives, on the Kensho Maru.

Kevin D. debriefed, for us!

 

We splashed in, and as we descended, we saw so many soft corals! I have never really been one for “pretty corals,” but this was spectacular! I guess when you are used to diving in greenish water, with a lot of dirt and periwinkle shells, the sea life here, is shocking!

 

There were so many artifiacts on the wrecks, which was really incredible to see.

Golden, taking some pics of artifacts…

 

 

There were many big fish to see, navigation console, and every different type of coral you could imagine. Kevin showed us around on the first dive, which was very cool! He pointed out “all” of the cool stuff! Yes, it is all cool!

 

Bottom Time: 68 mins.
Max Depth: 100′
Water Temp: 84F

When we surfaced, I think I had a perma-grin on my face, and the words that came out of my mouth, were, “That did NOT suck!” That pretty much became our saying of the week. No, these dives did definitely NOT suck!!!

We then had some lunch, which was a wide array of deliciousness! We did a bit of lounging, then got ready for our second dive. Yes, I could seriously get used to this!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

*Splash!* Steve and I made our way down to the wreck, across the deck, and into the engine room. Wilkie met us down there, and showed us around. There were many different levels, different rooms, and a few tight spots. VERY COOL! Thanks for the tour, Wilkie!

So many fish!

 

Steve, on our ascent…

 

 

Bottom Time: 68 mins.
Max Depth: 106′
Water Temp: 84F

After our most excellent dive, we came in, hung up our suits, and had a bit of a nap, before dinner. Yes, it was a very tough day. 😛

We had cake for dessert, in honour of Sofie’s Birthday!

 

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 ~

Today’s dives were to be three, on the Fujikawa Maru. Woo hoo! So much to see, on this wreck!

Kevin’s dive briefing..

 

Our first dive was before breakfast, and we got a slightly later start than we were supposed to, but.. wow! How wicked is this wreck??? Zero planes in one of the cargo holds, with the pilots’ air tanks, still behind the seats. We saw so many bullets, ammo, shells, along with coats, a vest, gas masks, propellors, lamps, boxes, barrels, a workshop, and so many bottles! There was a ton of marine life, including corals, many fish, and “nemos!” Just an incredible wreck! With this much to see, I could have done more than three dives on this wreck! 🙂

 

 

Steve, coming out of one of the holds…

 

Got guns?

 

Cas and Sofie…

I think Steve might be enjoying this…

 

Bottom Time: 74 mins.
Max Depth: 89′
Water Temp: 86F

After breakfast, we were back in the water! As one of the guys handed me my camera, I noticed that I had left the lens cap on, after clearing the memory card… DOH! Oh well… *Handed it back up.*

We went to explore the stern of the wreck, which was extremely cool. Again, there was so much to see on this wreck, that we could have spent more than one day, here! When surfacing from this dive, I think my response was, “That was pretty cool,” which became the understatement of the century (Thanks for reminding me, Kev 😛 ).

Jaroslav, taken by Kevin Davidson…

 

Bottom Time: 65 mins.
Max Depth: 104′
Water Temp: 84F

After lunch, I made sure to take the lens cap off of the camera, and we were back in business! We decided to go back into the holds, and visit the planes again. I think this was definitely one of our favourite places. We spent a little more time in the plane hold, and saw jackets, pilot goggles, more air tanks, and plane parts. Amazing!!!

Steve and I, with the zero planes. Taken by Kevin Davidson…

 

Bottom Time: 79 mins.
Max Depth: 93′
Water Temp: 84F

After our spectacular dives, we came in, tended to our gear, had a bit of a rest, then cleaned up for dinner! Wow… The food was incredible! I don’t recall ever being spoiled like this! There was even dessert, which we don’t normally eat at home, and it was seriously dreamy!!! Then came some fishing for the boys, and sleeeeeep.

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 ~

Today, we were heading to the San Francisco Maru, for some Tech Diving Goodness!

Steve and I dropped down the pilot house mooring, and Kevin D took some photos of us, near the tanks.

We dropped down into  one of the holds, but didn’t venture too far down, due to our gas mixes. There was so much to see! There were guns on the decks too, which was just amazing. We swam through the pilot house, down a bit of a dip through the wreck, and back up. We met up with everyone on deco, and surfaced to some pretty big smiles! DNS!!!

Bottom Time: 60 mins.
Max Depth: 181′ (Avg. 150′)
Water Temp: 84F

We then had some yummy lunch, chilled, then were going for a dip on the Rio De Janeiro! We were assured that the engine room was something to see. 😀

Cas joined Steve and I on this dive, and we were using Elena’s Halcyon scooters! w00t!

We had an absolute blast, scootering up, down, through, in between bits. This wreck lays on its side, so there were many neat penetrations for us to play.. er.. dive around and through.

Steve, Me, Cas. Taken by Kevin Davidson…

Bottom Time: 65 mins.
Max Depth: 101′
Water Temp: 86F

After our dive, we came in, looked at pictures, had a rest, dinner, then more pictures! This is the life!

Chillin’, in our room!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 ~

We got up early for breakfast, then went back over to the San Francisco Maru, for another dive on it. Excellent! As we neared, there was another small boat that came in, wanting to do the wreck, too. They moored up to Baby Blue, and their divers splashed in, first. We had no problems waiting for them, since they were not going to be long.

On this dive, Steve was going to bring the 200 watt HMI light, so I could try to get some shots. I still do not have strobes, so we were going to give “The Sun” a try!

We descended on to the deck, near the tanks, and Steve would shine the light where I asked him to. It was still too dark… *Drat…* Oh well, it was worth a try. Steve also had a Go Pro with him, so he took a bit of footage, using the light. It was a little bright for the little Go Pro! 🙂

I did manage to get a few shots…

Then some fun on deco, where I had a bit more light…

Kevin, at the mooring ball… DNS!!!

Alexey…

Golden, and people on deco, everywhere!

Steve, on our ascent… two minutes left until surface!

We had plenty of Diving Goodness!

Bottom Time: 68 mins.
Max Depth: 176′
Water Temp: 86F

We came in for some delicious lunch, more picture-checking (just about everyone had cameras), and then ready for our second dive, on the Sankisan Maru!

Mowgli, with his X-Ray vision!

Looking at pictures…

Our dive briefing, by Kevin D.!

So much to see on this wreck! There were plane engines, bullets, trucks, and incredible sea life. This one was a bit more shallow, so there was plenty of ambient light. I was happy to have my camera, on this one!

Steve, as we were coming out of one of the holds…

Intact machine gun…

Leigh C.!

There were bullets everywhere!

Steve, with a bullet…

As we were swimming along, and taking in the sights, I was dive-bombed by Wilkie, freediving! I had quite a giggle, as Dave put his Go Pro in my face, and I was quick enough to snap a pic of him, on his way back up! Too bad his camera batteries were dead!

We had a nice, relaxing dive, and I took so many pictures!

Bottom Time: 79 mins.
Max Depth: 81′
Water Temp: 86F

After our dive, Alexey asked us if we actually breathed under water. 😀 We came in, shared pictures, then watched Shareen’s movie on crime in South Africa. Very interesting and eye opening. Well done, Shareen!

A little island that we all wanted to move to…

Another excellent dinner (Chris, the Chef, is magnificent!!!), then some chat, and off to sleep!

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 ~

Got up, analyzed tanks, breakfast, then we got ready to dive the Nagano, using Trimix. Quite a bit of surface current here, and Steve and I had scooters for this one! It was a bit cloudy and rainy out, today!

What a cool wreck! I didn’t have my camera, but Kevin D. got some shots of us!

Me, making my way through a doorway, into a room, taken by Kevin Davidson…

Steve and I, on deco! Pic taken by Leigh Cunningham…

We had quite a bit of fun, on deco. Hovered a bit, scootered a bit, practiced finning techniques with Alexey, and were tossed about a little, by the surface currents. The water was moving quite a bit here, and we did get tossed about. Using the mooring ball as a visual reference was not the best idea..lol.

We even towed Kevin and Wilkie back to the boat, so they wouldn’t have to work so hard, getting back. 🙂

Bottom Time: 84 mins.
Max Depth: 179′
Water Temp: 84F

Got out, had a rest (I know, it’s hard work), then lunch! Such a variety of delicious food!

More chillin’, then we readied for our second dive. We were going to the Yamagiri Maru. Yes, it was DIVINE!!!

Sofie came with Steve and I, and as we descended onto the wreck, I was dive-bomed by a fish! He came out of nowhere, and hit me in the head! Holy smokes, he scared the living pachoosies out of me, and I even let out a yelp! I have no idea what kind of fish it was, but it was big, grey, and had a blue/purple lining around him. *Shudder* Steve didn’t see it, as he was in front of me, but Sofie did!

The wreck is laying on its side, and we entered one of the cargo holds. There was so much “stuff” in this hold! Tables, chairs, and even big-wheeled wagons for the giant torpedo shells. We then went to the engine room, where Wilkie had run a line for us, to find a skull. It was quite a gnarly area, and we had to maneuver between steel pipes, ascending through the wreckage. It was really neat passage. I remembered Wilkie saying that there was a big piece of metal laying against a “wall,” and if you look up, you can see  a skull. We didn’t actually see it on the way up and in, but on the way down, I saw what looked like a “big piece of metal laying against a wall,” so I looked up, and was able to see it. Steve saw another one, wedged into another spot, which I did not see!

Pic of the skull, taken by Kevin Davidson…

We came out, then headed into another hold. Holy giant torpedo shells, Batman! No wonder they needed those big-wheeled wagons to move them around!

We made our way back up to the “top” of the wreck, where I played with a couple of “Nemos,” that were hanging out in their anemone. I hovered beside them, with my face a bit close, and one of them came right up to my mask. They were way too cool. Steve than signaled to come over to where he was. Sea Turtle!!! I had never seen a sea turtle, so did a bit of a happy dance, when I saw him! I watched him for a little bit, then Sofie signaled us over, where there was a big Trunk Fish! We were about to make our way over for our ascent, when I noticed a big school of fish (not sure what kind… they may have been Bat Fish), doing dances around a Jelly Fish, that they were snacking on. It was really neat to watch! Then we saw a HUGE school of some kind of really big Grey Fish, right by our ascent line. Biggest school of fish I have ever seen!!

As we ascended, I ended up with a Moon Jelly in my face. I held my hand out gently, as he drifted into my hand. I was surprised at how hard and bouncy he was! I giggled like a little kid. 🙂 Yes… This dive definitely did NOT suck! It was DIVINE (Another word that we used rather frequently, during the trip)!!! A dive I will definitely never forget!

Bottom Time: 68 mins.
Max Depth: 97′
Water Temp: 84F

We exited the water, hung our gear, rested, and chatted! Dinner was fabulous, once again, and we had the most amazing Creme Brule, for dessert!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 ~

Three dives on the Shinkoku Maru, today! w00t! Elena had told us how wonderful this wreck is, and it really IS!

Our first dive was before breakfast, and since the engine room is a bit tight, we were going to dive it in shifts. Kevin guided us towards it, taking pictures of us, along the way. I think my eyes were the size of dinner plates, at all of the life and fascinating things to see. I played with 4 “Nemos,” and then Kevin signaled for me to look down… I looked… Holy freakin’ sea turtle, swimming up from underneath me, right in my face! WOW!!! I was a bit close for a decent picture of him, but this is what I got (wide angle lens)…

…and from Kevin’s perspective….

We then made it to the hatch, to go to the engine room. Kevin dove in, head first, followed by Steve, then me. We toured in twists and turns in to a massive engine room, through corridors, bathrooms, crew quarters, and a few tight spots. This was definitely one of my favourites!

In the engine room, taken by Kevin Davidson…

Workshop and giant vice, taken by Kevin Davidson..

Steve, in the engine room, taken by Kevin Davidson…

Bathtub, in one of the bathrooms, taken by Kevin Davidson…

We exited out of a large opening, caused by a torpedo. Did.Not.Suck.At.All.

On our ascent, Steve had a new friend. A batfish was playing around him, so Steve would wiggle his finger, and the fish would come right up to him. This went on for quite a while, and the fishy followed all the way up to the boat. What a neat interaction!

Steve even donated to him…

Bottom Time: 71 mins.
Max Depth: 126′
Water Temp: 84F

We had some breakfast, I put my pics over onto my iPad, then we splashed back in! We went back into the upper part of the engine room. There are so many different directions to go in, and there were many openings. We went an entirely different direction, and came out of the same torpedo hole as the first dive.

We then went to the galley, bathroom, and then to the operating room. There is an operating table still there, and there are a few bones on the table, that look like femur and arm bones.

Items on the deck…

Bottom Time: 64 mins.
Max Depth: 122′
Water Temp: 84F

Then it was lunch time, again! So many different kinds of pizzas! They were delicious!!!

Dive 3!

Steve and I poked into as many spaces as we could. There is just so much to expore on this wreck, and so many rooms!

We saw a Lion Fish, hiding under some coral, rainbow-coloured fish, more batfish, and more “Nemos.” We saw one of the two anchor chains, in one of the rooms, which was freakin’ massive. We also saw a crate of what looked like cans of food. There were boxes of clothing, china (some was wedged under a huge piece of metal). We passed through a hallway with many rooms. Could have been crew quarters. One room was still sealed – This was in the stern area. We then made our way through the entire wreck, from side to side, exiting through the torpedo hole. WICKED, DIVINE, DNS!!!!!!!

Bottom Time: 67 mins.
Max Depth: 104′
Water Temp: 84F

We got out, hung up our gear, suits, charged batteries, then all shared pictures, before dinner.

Watching Kevin’s pics on the TV!

Elena, showing us a valve drill!

More valve drills!

Sunday, June 24th, 2012 ~

We woke up to rain, but that didn’t stop four of us from getting in on the last dive of the trip! Today’s adventure was on the Heinu Maru. This wreck lays on its side, and was a submarine supply ship. Much to see on this one, too! Kevin took myself, Steve, Sofie, and Cas on a tour, to make sure we saw the “cool” stuff… Although, it’s all cool, to me!

The holds were filled with radios, periscopes (cool factor twice as high, on these things), telegraph tables. As we came out of one of the holds, Kevin had stuck himself inside a large tube, to surprise us. We definitely had a few laughs! After showing us around, Kevin surfaced, and we carried on with our investigating. We swam along the “top” of the wreck (I think it was the port side), and saw so much life. We even saw a Crown Of Thorns (eek). There was a telephone receiver, a bunch of china, a tray, and so many fish. Such a relaxing and easy way to finish up our amazing week of the best Diving Goodness, ever (I am running out of “amazing” adjectives).

Bottom Time: 66 mins.
Max Depth: 101′
Water Temp: 80F (There was even a thermocline at 8′, due to the rain)

For the rest of the day, we relaxed, had lunch, and packed.

We then made our way over to Truk Stop, where they opened the shop for us, and everyone bought a few souvenirs.

We sat and had a beverage on the patio, then moved into the restaurant, for dinner!

Very cool lamp, on the patio…

We sat in the back room of the restaurant, and had many laughs, until it was time to return to the boat, and make our way to the airport.

We met some pretty wonderful people, and were able to dive some of the most amazing wrecks, in a place that neither Steve nor I imagined we would see. I also think that Wilkie and Kevin D are two of the best guides, and were a blast to be around (as were the rest of the crew – top notch)! I am not sure how many more adjectives for the words, “Awesome, Amazing, Incredible, DIVINE, DNS,” there are, but I can say that it was definitely an epic experience!!!

Elena, thank you so much for everything!!

Below photo by Kevin Davidson…

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4 responses

4 08 2012
Cas

Hard to top indeed… 🙂

2 12 2012
Peter Smith

Excellent account of the trip! Gotta add Truk to my bucket list 😀

Smiffy

8 05 2014
George

Fantastic blog😁
Good work bro

8 05 2014
chanb77

Thank you, George! 🙂

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