Another successful month on board S.S. Thorfinn in arguably the world’s greatest diving location, Truk Lagoon. As the new Divemaster on board this magnificent ship I will endeavor to bring both wreck and diving enthusiasts up-to-date with current news and information from both Truk Lagoon and Thorfinn itself. This issue brings you news from the past month and will provide information for divers that have either visited these sites before or are looking to in the near future.
I have for so long been dreaming of diving on these glorious World War II wrecks that have made themselves forever famous, however, it is difficult to ignore the incredible marine life and underwater encounters this area has to offer. After the first month of diving I have had shark encounters comparable with those in the waters surrounding South Africa, one-on-one Manta Ray experiences that surpass those of swimming with them in Mozambique and at the same time completing 30 minute penetrations through the engine rooms of some of the largest war ships ever made! Needless to say, this month has been way more than I could have expected and I now feel the need to keep a weekly trip report for anyone who wants to read it, containing photographs, dive profiles, up and coming events, guest comments and much more.
I have heard many things and read numerous media articles on Truk Lagoon regarding the depth of sites and people planning dives involving extremely long decompression stops and as a Tec diver myself I was fully prepared. However, upon arrival I realized that there is something for everyone and that there are nearly 30 wrecks well within recreational limits. The use of Enriched Air Nitrox leaves plenty of time for exploration both inside and outside these wrecks and after seeing my fair share of coral reefs, it must be said, these wrecks have more colour and often provide better encounters with marine life than the majority dive sites I have visited. Huge schools of big game fish, reef sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, nudibranch’s, and reef fish smoother the soft corals that have had 60+ years to develop, and even the occasional Manta Ray makes a visit to these abundant reefs for a good clean.
It must also be said that I have done some incredible decompression dives over the last few weeks. There are so many deeper wrecks here to be explored which contain tanks, cars, trucks, artillery guns, cannons, torpedo’s, depth charges, the majority have huge bow and stern guns, but more than anything else, the sheer size of these historical marvels provide divers with more than enough entertainment.
Diving conditions have been fantastic over the last week with as little as 3 knots of breeze and glassy, crystal clear waters awaiting exploration. Trade winds blow in Chuuk from North-East up to 15 knots from Mid-December till April which generally clears sediment and brings very good visibility, up to 30-40m/120-150ft. However, with very little wind in the last week we have had amazingly clear water and fantastic surface conditions bringing great joy to all involved.
The last trip in November was my first full trip and was very made special by a couple from Switzerland on their annual dive holiday. Having the ship to themselves they were immediately excited and throughout the week, blown away by the enthusiasm by one of our long term Dive Guide’s, Tomo. Amongst all of the fascinating wreck dives during the week, to our joy, they made it perfectly clear that they would return next year. During the week they visited no less than 25 different wrecks, submarines, destroyers, merchant vessels, aircrafts, and so on but also a special trip to the southern outer reef in Chuuk. Truk Lagoon is positioned on-top of an extinct volcanic atoll and home to over 70 World War II wrecks, however, outside of the lagoon you will find coral walls that drop as deep as 1000m/3000ft+. Here, 60m/180ft+ visibility and on the correct tide where strong currents are present and upwellings are created, anything pelagic should be expected. This particular visit brought silver-tip sharks, and large numbers of white-tips, black-tips and very inquisitive grey reef sharks, along with the usual schools of barracuda, and jacks with dogtooth tuna patrolling and eagle rays cruising. This is truly an unexplored haven and will be encouraging other divers of similar interests to pay the $50 extra in fuel charges. We will be very much looking forward to their return visit, in particular to Viola’s special dancing in front of the spa on the last night which had the crew in stitches until the early hours of the morning! Thank you.
Our next visit was from some friends from one of the military bases in Guam, from various divisions and an experienced diver from Germany who decided to stay with us for two weeks. One week on-board the ship seems to fly past especially if you are completing 5 dives a day and an extra week gives you the chance to see more of the unseen wrecks and visit the ones that you were particularly impressed with. Many people also fly onto Yap or Palau after Truk Lagoon as flights work out nicely that way and seems a long way to come for just one week. Anyhow, for those looking for the trip of a lifetime, we still have a few spots available for our Pan Micronesia Voyage. This trip involves two weeks on-board and will take you from Chuuk, through to Yap and finishes in Palau, diving along the way at all of the most remote destinations you can dream of. Then after two weeks, we turn around and do it all again! If this sounds like something that would interest you please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected]. We have had some difficulty with our previous on board Satellite server and have switched to a new server and therefore our ship email has changed so all inquiries please use this new email address.
Lastly, we have had some especially nice visitors involving one particularly friendly Bottlenose Dolphin on the left who came to visit the divers on their safety stops after a dive on the Fujikawa Maru. Not only did this young male interact for over 15 minutes underwater but continued to frolic with the bow waters of one of dive tenders, Downrider 2, nearly all the way back to the ship. Hopefully this confident mammal will be a regular sighting and will be sure to keep you posted on further sightings.
We also had friendly Manta Ray come in to get its parasites and skin cleaned on the Shinkoku Maru last week. The Shinkoku Maru is very popular with our divers as it very big, has several fantastic artifacts and guns but is also home to thousands of reef fish such as Longfin Butterflyfish who clean to top of the Manta’s skin, and Cleaner Wrase that focus more around the mouth and gils of the ray. Our divers had great interaction with the curous Manta Ray for nearly 30 minutes before he moved away into the blue. We are continually stunned by the marine life showing up on our wrecks and I am sure we will have more news for you next week.
Over the Christmas months we have a couple from Switzerland who come every year staying on board and I am sure we will have some more great stories from the wrecks and reefs here for next week’s Divemaster Blog. Please again note that our wesite is www.thorfinn.net and our new email address is [email protected] and you will get through to our friendly customer service agent, Hayley, that will provide you with answers to any questions you may have. Here at Thorfinn we pride ourselves on catering to individual needs to ensure that we provide you with everything you desire on this one in a lifetime opportunity to dive in Truk Lagoon. Therefore feel free to email us with any queries you may have regarding photography, technical or rebreather requirements or any other out of the ordinary needs.
We have made some very exciting progress regarding photography and videography equipment and will be holding seminars from experts regarding the use of advanced media equipment and software. I will announce when and who will be coming but it should be very exciting to have some experts on board.
We will also be newly supplied with some high quality technical dive equipment from a popular brand name and will very soon be running both TDI and DSAT Technical Dive courses. We also are close to being supplied with rebreathers for both courses and rental. Times of Thorfinn look very exciting so watch this space for further developments.
I have already mentioned limited availability for Pan Micronesia Tour so please email us for further details of you are interested in seeing some of the best that Micronesia has to offer.
Have a wonderful Christmas and we hope to see you on the S.S. Thorfinn in 2011.