Truk Lagoon

Pictures from Truk Lagoon.

Truk Lagoon is where “Operation Hailstorm” was conducted by the American forces during World War II on Feb 17 and 18, 1944. The American Carrier Task Force 58 launched a major air strike and sunk 45 navel ships and 26 merchant support ships along with numerous aircraft. Truk Lagoon was the largest Japanese navel base outside Japan and today is a protected underwater museum for all to come, see, and experience.
When Mike told me he could get me on a livaboard I jumped at the chance. I had come once before, some 12 years ago, but I was a pretty new diver and did not realize what I was really diving on and was focused more on just diving rather than the wrecks.

This is a daily journal of not only the diving but also the people that I met along the way. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent, as there were no innocents around.

Day 0
Headed for the airport – went to the wrong terminal. Booked through Northwest but was on Continental. I showed up at the Northwest Terminal but they had no clue who I was. I had to take a bus to the Continental Terminal and they knew who I was…an auspicious start. Hmmmm……
It was an uneventful flight, they said if was fully booked but there were so many empty seats.
Got to Guam on time at 1:15am and tried to find a place to sack out for the night. Guam airport at 1:30 am is not that exciting a place but I did manage to find the transit bar and lounge. The first thing I did was order a burger and a beer!!! Dinner was part of the plane ride but it turned out to be a ham sandwich which was gone after one bite.
I started talking to Rebecca the bartender. A very nice lady from the Philippines who has aspirations to become a police officer…yup. She wants to study Criminal Justice but now works the night shift at the Clipper Bar at the Guam airport, she also works a cashier job during the day at a hotel. Her daughter is five and her name is Samantha, which was a great coincidence because I have a Samantha too.
Kevin was sitting next to me and soon started to chat with me as well. A friendly lot at Guam Clipper at 2 am in the morning. Kevin is a retired FBI agent, from Peoria Illinois, who had just finished a tour of duty Nairobi. WOW what a cool thing…I thought. But as Kevin explained it was the toughest thing he had done. He started out as a Marine and joined the FBI when he exited. He had also spent 7 years on Guam sometime in his past. He gave me more detail but it was 3am and things were starting to get a bit fuzzy. When he started out with the FBI he wanted to get to South East Asia but ended up doing a tour of duty in L.A. Not what he really wanted but he figured that it was the best way to get to where he wanted to go. After 5 years in L.A. he went to D.C. and spent some time there. He got a shot at Africa and figured that he could work Africa and then go to SE Asia. He spent three years there and was told by the “new administration” that he needed to return to the U.S. so that he could be assimilated again. At this point he decided, at the ripe old age of 45, to retire and head for the South Seas to live out his dream. He showed up in Guam and bought a place and now was heading to Thailand to meet up with his girlfriend. He plans on buying a house in Bangkok and traveling back and forth to Guam as well as wandering around Asia. A retired 45 year old FBI agent with a couple of places in the South Pacific living out his dream (I don’t think that I want to dig too deep here). A very nice and interesting guy though.
Kevin soon had to leave, his flight was at 3:20 am, so he downed his beer and sucked his last cigarette dry and waved goodbye to Rebecca, me and the rest of the patrons who by this time had all turned into Japanese. Rebecca and I chatted some more about the meaning of life before she had to help someone who had just fallen off the barstool back on. She poured him another drink and all was well with the world. The Clipper Bar in Guam reminds of the Canteen in the first Star Wars movie. Strange and psychotic people who were discussing the virtues of life and traveling to distant lands for some sort of wild adventure, or lack of…. work with me here…. it is 3:30 am and I have been up for a loooog time. I do not think that I would ever want to visit it during the day. I know that the ambience that I am encountering would not be the same at 3:30 PM instead of 3:30 AM. Anyways…you can tell its late as I am rambling incoherently from lack of sleep…It was getting on 4am and we had solved all the issues associated with the meaning of life so I figured I would take a nap before my 8am flight to the island of Chuuk. I found a cozy couch and promptly passed out. It was a restless sleep as my cozy couch was the seat of a booth at the restaurant just outside the Clipper. I woke up and fell off the couch in the middle of Tokyo. An early morning flight was headed for Tokyo and the couch I choose was in front of the gate. This is probably the same flight that I would be on next week. But…With a growl from me the crowd parted. I made my way back to the Clipper. After a quick stop to freshen up I found that Rebecca was still there. She poured me a very large coffee. She seemed as cheery as a couple of hours ago…more power to her.

I found myself next to Arnold who was headed to Florida and Jimmy who was headed to Narita. They happily included me in their conversation, probably hoping for me to add some words of wisdom, which I did by nodding a lot. They were talking about some storm in Melbourne and how it had damaged some house. Not being from Melbourne and not know which particular storm or which particular house it was difficult for me to add to their 6:30am enticing conversation. I drank another cup of coffee and nodded some more. Rebecca actually got involved in the conversation by saying “yeah” a lot, I was impressed with her knowledge on Melbourne, storms and houses. Soon Jimmy had to leave to catch his plane to Tokyo. We all waved goodbye and moved on. Arnold as it turned out owned a hotel and dive shop in Palau. This was great as he invited me over to hang out there anytime. I accepted but I am sure he has forgotten me by now. We spent some time chatting about how he had gotten there. He was originally from Los Angles and went to Palau sometime in the 70’s. He showed up for a couple of weeks but met his wife and never went back to L.A. He has been there ever since working as a dive guide, instructor and finally an owner of a hotel and dive shop. He has been through the growth of Palau from the time when there was electricity for only a couple hours a day to today when the entire economy has changed to bring in more people for diving and tourism. He sat there and told me more of his life story while chain smoking, he later told me that he had a majority of one of his lungs removed due to lung cancer.
Soon it was time for us to head for our gates to hop on our planes to get to our respective destinations. We said good-bye and were off. I waved good-bye to Rebecca and headed off.
(I can’t believe that I am writing the stuff…I am really wiped out!!!)
The plane ride is pretty uneventful although it is annoying to have a window seat that has no window…. don’t ask. Thankfully the plane ride is only one and half-hours so it is bearable. Soon I was over Chuuk and it was absolutely beautiful. The blue ocean with dots of green. As we approached I could see, outside the window of the guy in front of me...very annoying not having a window (for the guy in front of me that is), small little islands with palm trees sticking out of them and I could also make out some islands that had old tanks and jeeps from WWII rusting away on them. I was looking forward to the diving there.
We landed with a couple of thuds on the runway, I don’t think that they use the most experienced pilots on these island hopper flights…anyways the plane landed and there I was…on Truk…sleep deprived and hungry…as usual.
The first 24 hours were over.

Day 1
Off the plane I met Kathy

(It was on the last day that Kathy told me her name is spelled with a “C” and not a “K”!! My entire view of her has now changed…a Kathy spelled with a “C” has a completely different personality than a Kathy with a “K” and I will always think of this Kathy with a “K” so Cathy will have to deal with it and thus I have not changed the spelling in this little trip summary…nor have I changed my opinion of her…a very cool person…forgive me)

and Amr, they were also going on the Odyssey. The Odyssey is the livaboard dive boat that I was booked on. They had decided to arrive a few days early as well. I had no choice, as these were the only flights I could get. We planned to meet up later in the evening for dinner. For now some serious sleep was required.
The driver from the Blue Lagoon picked us up and drove us to the hotel. The streets were very bad and the houses were very old. This was the main city of Weno on the island of Moen in the Chuuk territories. A really remote place but the wreck diving is great. Weno itself is poverty stricken and it really shows.
We checked in and went to our rooms and I slept for most of the day. I got up around 5 pm and met up with Kathy and Amr. We chatted for a while before dinner. They both met in Saudi Arabia. Kathy is originally from New Zealand and is a nurse by profession. Amr is the Senior Doctor for Pediatrics for the hospital, which he works at. He is originally from Egypt and studied in Seattle. They both learned to dive in Saudi. Kathy moved to Australia some time ago and now they meet up every few months on some dive vacation someplace in the world. Their last trip was to Sipidan. What was cool is that Kathy is working on a boat and turning it into a livaboard back in Australia. It does not look like she will ever return to nursing, she seems to be having too much fun.
We had dinner…the crab was fantastic and the body was bigger than the size of a large dinner plate… and chatted long into the night. Amr pulled out a bottle of Chevas and between the three of us we polished it off. I went to bed and told them that I would call them in the morning to go diving.

Day 2
I woke up not feeling as chipper as I should have been feeling….hmmmm…I wonder why? I called Kathy and Amr and they were not feeling that chipper either and declined to go diving. I decided to attempt it.
Got out to the boat and met up with the people that I would be diving with
Bob with his catamaran – A interesting guy. He is in his mid to late 60s and went to Australia for holiday. He is originally from San Francisco. Anyways…he was wandering around Australia and found this absolutely gorgeous catamaran. He bought it and tore up his return ticket back to the U.S. He sailed around the Australia for a number of months and then went to Papua New Guinea for a bit, from there he sailed here to Chuuk and will dive and next week head for Guam for a few months. He has intentions to sail back to San Francisco but only after he has visited all the islands in the South Pacific. He says it will take several years. He is traveling with his deckhand, who has an interesting story in her own right. She had sailed a boat for delivery to Australia from the U.S. and was looking for a way back to the U.S. when she met up with Bob and agreed to help him sail around for a few years. She is over 70 years old. Very Cool…in my opinion.
* Met John the South African guy who now lives in London with his Dutch wife Angela. She does not dive but loves to travel with him to all the dive places that he goes. He says that he lives for diving and has been diving for more years than he can remember and she says that she loves to see him dive.
* Met Susan and Chris from Seattle…this was Susan’s first time warm water diving. They normally dive in cold water and in dry suits. She has been diving for less than two years but loves it and dive almost every weekend. I later discovered that she is incredible on her air usage, I was really impressed and have a new standard which I need to meet. I thought I was good but have been completely upstaged by her. I now need to really focus on this. On a single tank Susan was diving at depth and coming up after 90 minutes. Incredible.!!

Our first dive was on the Fujikawa (Mountain River) Maru, this is considered to the premier dive in the Lagoon and was a favorite of Kimiuo Aisek. He was the person who re-dscovered the wrecks and made the Lagoon a protected area. He is considered a hero in Chuuk and when he died his ashes were spread across the Fujikawa Maru. There is a plaque on the deck of the ship, placed there at the 50-year anniversary dedicated to him.

The Fujikawa Maru is 437 feet long and is at 120 feet at it’s deepest point. It’s shallowest point is at about 40 feet. We did not penetrate the wreck but hovered around. We also dropped into the holds to look around. We saw some gas masks, lots of bullet shells and lots and lots of sake bottles. In one of the holds we also saw a Japanese Zero airplane that was pretty much intact. We also saw the plaques on the deck. There was also a very large gun on the bow of the ship. The dive was good but I was still not feeling that great and about 40 minutes into the dive I threw up…. Good fun that was…Anyways I started to feel much better after that. I would be diving this ship again later in the week after I boarded the Odyssey.
At the surface interval I took a nap and was feeling even better.

The next dive was on an airplane, the Betty bomber. This was fun as we wandered around looking at the airplane wings and the fuselage. Chris was very into aircrafts and explained a lot about the engines and they type of plane it was.

The next dive was on a aircraft as well, this time a seaplane. A good easy dive as well.

As we returned to shore we saw the Odyssey coming in. This would be the ship that I would stay on for the next week.

Day 3
Dove on the Nippo Maru at 9am with John, Chris and Susan. The dive was excellent but the weather was terrible. We were headed out to the dive site in an incredible rainstorm. We were in pain from the raindrops slamming into us and could not see anything. It was really amazing how Nick and John, our dive guides, were able to find the exact spot where the Nippon Maru was. We anchored and went in. It was a wonderful dive.
The Nippo Maru is 353 feet in length and is at about 140 feet at it’s deepest, 80 feet deep at the bow.
As we descended Chris had some issues with his mask so Susan and I helped him out. After that it was a very cool dive. There is a small tank on the deck where we took turns taking our pictures, there was also the body of a truck. The superstructure contains the pilothouse, which was still intact and contained the telegraph. Really very pretty from inside there as the ambient light was coming in through the windows.
After the dive we went back to the dock where Nick and John did a bar-b-q for us. Ribs, dogs and chicken were had by all. It was very good after the first dive. Since I had to hop on the Odessy that evening and wanted to go on a second dive and check out by 1pm I rushed back to my room to pack. Everything was tossed into a bag in a matter of seconds and I was checked out in about 5 minutes. After that I was soon on a boat off to the Shinkoku.
The Shinkoku (Nation of God) Maru 500 feet in length and the bottom is at about 130 feet. This was a great dive as well. There were lots and lots of yellow tails here as well as a lots of anemones and clown fish here. The masts of the ship were great and I took quite a few pictures here. I would be back later in the week for more detail explorations.
We wandered from bow to stern and went through the pilothouse. A very nice dive.

This was my last dive with Chris, Susan and John so I waved good-bye as they took off for their third dive

I hung out and waited to board the Odyssey.
The Odyssey is a really nice ship and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do a livaboard in Truk. Kathy, Amr and I got picked up in a skiff at about 5:30. Once aboard the Odyssey we met Captain Stew, JJ the dive guide, Mike the photographer, Sam and Ken who were also dive guides. The schedule was explained to us, 6:30am was breakfast, 12:30 was lunch and 7:30 pm was dinner. In between there was only diving. There was also night diving after dinner.
After the briefing and before the rest of the divers showed up I set up my gear. Mike, Jason and I would be diving double tanks the entire trip.
Around 11:30 pm the rest of the divers showed up. I met Jason, originally from Canada and now living in Beijing and my roommate for the trip, as well as Mike, who had arranged the trip. Mike was one of my Advanced Nitrox instructors from the Philippines.

Day 4
* Breakfast at 6:30 – I had really passed out for the night. I slept for 10 hours – first time in months. I usually average about 5-6 hours a night. This was great but I was still bit tired.

* Met Hillary and her father Patrick, she has been diving since she was 12 and is studying to be a marine biologist. Patrick owns a dive shop in Texas. Patrick is a very cool guy and keen photographer. Would like to dive with him again someday.
* Also met Adel who, unfortunately became ill after the first day, and did not dive until the last day.
* Tom and Steve from L.A. – Tony works at Paramount and Steve is a lawyer.
* Tony and Christina from Vancouver – great people who love the outdoors and diving.
* Jack – Jack was so cool. He is 65 and has been diving since 1983. He has been to Truk 31 times and loves engine rooms. He is really an old school diver and has been through a lot of harrowing experiences that he shared with us. A great guy, I hope I am diving like that when I am 65.
* Kim was the last of the group, which including me, made 14 people. It turned out to be a good group and we got on quite well throughout the trip.

The morning dive was on the Heian (Swallow Bird) Maru. She was 510 feet long and rested 115 feet in the sand. She was flipped on her side and is one of the largest ships in the lagoon. She was a submarine tender. It was a strange feeling diving through a ship that is on its side. In the holds we saw torpedoes and lots of bullets. In fact, on all the ships there are tons and tons of bullets. Mike, Jason and I were all over the place, we had intended to dive as a team but, instead, ended up diving solo together. We chatted about this after the dive a bit and tried to plan our dives a bit better.

After this dive we moved to the Shinkoku and stayed there for the rest of the day. It was good to dive it again. This time we tried to get to the engine room and wander around a bit. Went through the toilets and saw the galley. The pots and pans were there. Lot’s of fish…and lots and lots of jellyfish. As we ascended Jason had some issues with his computer and we ended up with and extra 20 minutes of deco so I hung out with him on the hang bar of the boat.
* Lunch and passed out
* dove on shinkoku again
* No night dive and off to bed early

Day 5
* slept for 10 hours again – this was great!!!
* Dive 1- dove on the Fumitsuki – means July, she is 120 feet deep and 320 feet long.
* great dive on the destroyer – Lots of cool stuff here. More bullets, gas masks, a great big gun on the bow, more bullets, a torpedo launcher and great big davits, inverted hook like structures that life boats are attached to for dropping. Hopefully Hillary has figured this out by now as we had good fun teasing her about these.
* Saw some old Japanese books….could make out some of the words in katakana and some kanji – this was really wild. To see these books just sitting there. It is obvious that someone placed them there but the question is did someone find them in the ship someplace and bring them up to display or did someone just drop them there as a gimmick. Regardless it was a neat thing to see.

Dive 2

* Hanakawa maru was the next dive – means Flower River or River of Flowers. She is 367 feet long and rest at 110 feet at the deepest point.
* very cool, went into the engine room, silted it all up…too funny as Mike, Jason and I were trying to be very careful and to the DIR thing. We made numerous attempts some good and some hilarious.
* We could not enter some of the holds on the Hanakawa as they still contained aviation fuel and it could still burn you if you cam in contact with it.
* lots of anemone, soft coral coral whips, tremendous coral growth on the masts.
*Jack found a pristine working thermometer with the words Osaka written on it. He brought it up for a picture and then, later, returned it back to the ship. You are not allowed to take any type of artifacts from any of the ships. It is against the law and you can go to jail if they find something on you.

Dive 3
* Hanakawa dive – went back to the engine room. Jack was in there, got silted up and backed out, saw the control panel before the room got silted out. Rest of the dive was relaxed, Mike and I practiced a couple of S-Drills and freaked out the dive guide.
* on our way to the next dive.

Dive 4
* Dove on the Sankisan Maru– 350 feet in length but after the bombs there is only about 200 feet left of her. The entire stern was blown to bits and is nothing but a pile of twisted metal. She rests at about 100 feet.
* Lots of bullets, there are also some trucks in the hold as well as some airplane parts like wings and the fuselage. There are also a lot of sake bottles all over the place.
* On the deck there were the frames of 3 trucks as well as a machine gun.

Dive 5
* Night dive on the Sankisan
* Mike and did the dive, very cool dive, nice and easy, went through the cargo holds and saw the trucks and engines, went though to the other cargo hold and saw a big fat puffer fish,
* Cigars and wine after the dive.

Day 6
I think that it was sometime during this day that Patrick dubbed us “Team Robo” as he compared us to the Borg in Start Trek. This was because we had the similar gear, back plates, wings and fins, the same black wetsuit and dove in a similar horizontal and vertical fashion as in the DIR style. We would move in straight slow lines forwards or backwards or move up and down on a vertical path. Mike and I were thrilled with this name and it stuck for the rest of the trip.

Dive 1
* Dove on the Unkai – Originally built in England and sold to Japan in 1911 she is 305 feet in length and rests 130 feet on the bottom.
* Good dive, saw the engine room, went in through the skylight, Jack beat us there. Engine was a steam engine, saw the boilers, very cool
* went through the other holds and brought up my first artifact…a empty container of Mothers mag and aluminum polish…someone must have been trying to clean up the ship.

Dive 2
* Dove on the Fujikawa Maru again– nothing like before
* got into the engine room from the skylight and saw the diesel engine, large enough to stand on. Lots of divers in there kicking up silt and dirt so it was difficult to see. One of the dive guides led us down into the lower part of the engine room and into the machine shop. Got a shot of the phone booth that was used to contact the bridge and other areas of the ship, which was really cool. It was difficult to see, as there was a lot of silt kicked up. We than headed back upstairs and out of the wreck. We cut the dive short as we wanted to start staggering the dives with the other people…basically we wanted the ship to ourselves. Next dive we are planning to go into the engine room again and look for R2D2 in the machine room. This is a compressor unit that looks like a robot.

Dive 3
Dove on the Fujikawa
* Mike, Jason and I finished lunch early and headed in before the others. We headed straight for the skylight and into the engine room. We meandered around the engine room again. This time it was a bit clearer as the silt had settled down. Mike led the way and we found the compressor that looked like R2D2. It was very cool and I took a lot of shots. We circled around the machine room and exited back into the main engine area. Mike led us around looking for the phone booth but after a few minutes said “I have no idea where the phone booth is” by writing it in his underwater notebook. We went down another way…the entrance that was right behind him actually…and found the phone booth again. We got pretty deep into the bowels of the ship before heading back. At one point Mike reeled out some line so that we would not get lost. That did not last long as we ended at a dead end and had to turn around. Jason and I exited and waited while Mike sorted out the line he had laid…right against the railing.
*We were in the engine area for about 25 minutes and after that headed for the first cargo hold. This hold contained airplane parts that were being transported, fuel and ammunition. We saw machine guns that had been set up in a tripod as well as some gas masks. We circled around a bit and headed up and to the bow. We saw the large gun on the bow and started to head for the second cargo hold. At this point Jason said he needed to start heading up as he had 80 bar of air and 15 minutes of deco time. Mike and I went up with him and did a long decompression with him. The total time on the dive was 91minutes. A great dive!!! The next dive will be in two hours and we will target cargo hold number 2.

Dive 4
* Went into cargo hold number 2. Could not see anything as there was too much silt kicked up by the previous group that was in there. Mike, Jason and I managed to wander around and find several different zero fighters. The airplane joysticks were still working. We saw 4 different cockpits, possibly 5, there were spare wings for the airplanes on the island all over the place. There were also hundreds of empty oil barrels everywhere as well as spare parts everywhere.

Dive 5

*Night dive on the Fujikawa was great. It was only Mike and I and we saw a white tip grey reef shark on the way down. It was pitch black and only our lights were cutting through the water. We headed down to the ship and headed for the galley. Rusted old pots and pans were sitting there and next to the galley was a large empty room with a lot of crumbled wood. This most like came from the deck or the walls of different rooms in the superstructure area. After we exited this area we headed for the stern and over the side to see if we could find the ships propeller. We dropped over the side and saw the rudder, which was about 4 to 5 meters tall with the prop behind it. Each fin on the prop was about 3 meter long.

Day 7

Dive 1
* Hoki Maru
* This was a deep dive. The lay at 56 meters or 175 feet and the cargo holds were at about 45 meters. Mike and I went down a bit late as we had done a night dive the previous day. We entered the main hold at about 35 meters and saw several trucks off to the side. They were in really good condition for their age underwater. In the same hold we also saw a bulldozer resting on some I-beams which I was able to swim under, in the same hold was a tractor. The other hold contained aviation fuel and we did not go in as we would get burned from the chemicals. We spent about 15 minutes in the cargo hold and then headed up to start deco. We swam up to the mast and worked our way up to the bow of the ship. From the superstructure to the bow the ship had been blown wide open and there was little to see except twisted metal. There was aviation fuel in the front cargo holds that had exploded when the bombs had hit. We swam back to the mast and headed back to the boat. At the mast we met up with JJ, a dive guide here, and he showed us a human skull. While interesting to see it was also sad to see. Mike and I took some pictures but the feelings were difficult to express. At this point Mike got the cable from his light all tangled up in some coral. Sorry Mike but this was funny at the time. We headed up after that.
The dive was for 45 minutes with a max depth of 41 meters. Overall a very enjoyable dive.

Dive 2
* Dove on the Rio de Janeiro – Use to be a passenger liner which was turned into a submarine tender, also used to transport troops. She is 461 feet long and rests 110 feet on the bottom. She is also turned on her side.
* Props were cool
* Wine bottle room was cool…stacks and stacks of cases of sake and wine turned on their side which made is look like a large wine cellar room.
* Superstructure was great – would have liked to spend more time wandering through the interior.

* was tired and did do any more dive as we were doing a deep dive on the San Francisco Maru the next morning.

Day 8
* San Francisco Maru
* A great dive. Got up early and went in at 7:30 am. The deck was at 50 meters (150 feet) with the holds going down to 55 meters (175), she rests at about 60 meters (200 feet). I made it to 54 meters. Jason was my buddy as Mike was taking a stage bottle and I did not have my oxygen clean regulator. We planned a bottom time of 15 minutes with decompression time of 36 minutes. We started the dive and dropped to the deck and worked our way down the starboard side and headed to the last cargo hold near the stern. We dropped down into the hold and took a look at the torpedoes. Some were lined up in an orderly fashion while other were tossed around like toothpicks. A really interesting sight as each one of these things must weigh a ton. We moved to the next hold and took a look inside. In this hold there was a mountain of bullets. This ship was also transporting wooden crates of bullets that had rotted away over the years. The bullets had spilled to the bottom and created a mountain of metal. A very cool sight to see. We moved out of the hold and saw Mike and Jack headed for the engine room. We decided not to follow them as we were already 12 minutes into the dive and wanted to see the contents of the other cargo holds. We went around the port side and came across two tanks piled on top of each other and could see the other tank on the starboard side. We descended into the third hold and saw the trucks. These trucks were in pristine condition. I saw a steering wheel and grabbed it and was able to pick it up. I put the wheel back and we headed for the last hold. We were at 14 minutes and it was almost time to go up. We headed for the last hold to have a quick look around. In the last hold there were underwater mines, the spherical kind with the spikes that you see in the old WWII movies. I picked up one of the detonators and tried to find a hole to screw it in into one of the mines…no luck….oh well…next time. I dropped to 54 meters and it was time to go up. We were at 17 minutes. Jason and I headed up the line slowly and started the deco process. At 33 meter I did a deep stop for 2 minutes. After that I went up to 24 meters and did another stop for 2 minutes. My total dive time was scheduled to be 63 minutes with 30 minutes schedule for 6 meters. Jason and I ascended slowly to 6 meters. At this point Jason seemed to have a problem with his computer and his deco time showed 46 minutes. By the time my deco time was done Jason still had 36 minutes to go. I stayed around and used up most of my air, Captain Stew was still hanging around with an extra tank so I went over and asked him if I could use the spare tank. Captain Stu had taken the second group down after us and had come back up with the second group. He gave me the tank, which I clipped on and then hung around with Jason some more. After a bit Jason decided he had had enough and we headed for the boat. By the time I had come up we had completed a 108 minute dive. I told Jason to throw away the computer. Overall the dive on the San Francisco was fantastic and the next time I will definitely take a stage bottle.

Dive 2

* Yamagiri Maru
* This was a nice dive. After the San Francisco dive not much can compare…so this was a nice dive. The Yamagiri is 34 meters deep and is resting on its side. We dropped in and went to the engine room. The guide took us into the engine room to show us some things. Basically he showed a skull of one of the ships crew that was embedded in the ceiling of the engine room. The explosion was so powerful that it apparently blew the poor crewman into the ceiling where he is still there today. Just underneath is what looks like the rest of his body. After we saw this we headed out of the engine room. It was Jason and I again. Not sure where Mike had gone off to. We started to go through the cargo holds. Some machinery, some tires, and a lot of junk. The ship had unloaded prior to being bombed. Overall a nice dive after the morning excitement.

The other memorable moment on the trip was the hang bar off the back of the Oddessy. We grabbed on to pull ourselves up but the ship was swinging back and forth so much that all we could do was hold on. Imagine the superman flying pose and that is what we looked like holding on to the bar. All except for Mike who sat on the hang bar in his best dignified British look screaming “YeeHaaaa!”. I screamed something else too but it was not that….

After the dive Jack told us some dive stories and some things about the wrecks, we made fun of various people…mostly Mike and Jason ;-) and then went off to dinner, which was steak and lobster. We also had cigars. Overall a good day. Mike, Jason and I sat up and chatted until about 10pm and then off to bed so that we could get up for the last day of diving.

Day 9
* Nippo Maru
* Hillary and her father Patrick were not diving today as they are leaving early for Palau. Sorry to see them go but they I do not feel too badly for them as they are headed to another great diving destination.
* Today is the last day of diving before heading back. It has been a great diving trip so far and hopefully we will finish out today with some great final dives.

* Dive 1
* The Nippo Maru has some interesting sights. I had dove on it earlier in the week and could not wait to dive it again. Mike, Jason and I planned to go into the engine room on the first dive and look around. It is deep so we would save the rest for the second dive. We geared up and dropped into the water. We headed straight for the skylight, which is usually the best way into the engine room. The skylight still had bars holding them up so we could not get in that way. We looked around a bit and Mike found a way into a passageway that wound around the backside. We went into a door and then another door. This one was pretty tight and we had to turn sideways to get into a tight area with a stairway going down. It took a bit of effort on my part to get my muscular frame through the door with the double tanks
. Once in the space we headed down a bit twisting our bodies through the tight spaces. A few minutes later Mike and Jason turned around as we had hit a dead end. I headed up and came to the door that we had come through…at least that is what I thought. Looking at the door there was no way to get through... the space was not big enough. We sat there try to figure out what happened and how to get out. I was sitting there thinking that I would have to take all my equipment off to get out. We stared to head up a bit and were fortunate enough to find another exit. Lesson for the day….always lay line so you can find your way back!!!! After that we looked around a bit more and peered through the smokestack. There were two metal separators in the smoke stack and I could see a ladder at the base. We went down the space that was big enough…one at a time…and, after a few twists and turns, finally made it into the engine room that way. Later we spoke to Mike, the ships guide and photographer and he told us that we had found a new way into the engine room. I found myself at 42 meters in the engine room so, after looking around a bit and taking a few pictures, headed back out the way we had come in. No problems this time although I found myself with 23 minutes of deco. We swam around a bit and looked into the holds… me from afar…and slowly started our ascent. We made it to the hang bar and held on while we got swung around again. After the dive we examined our equipment and found it to be covered in rust bits. Mike had lots of rust around his secondary first stage. I had a lot of rust on my BC and some on my valves as well. Very cool...our gear was finally starting to shed the look of being new…just in time for the last few dives of the trip!!!

Dive 2
* Nippo Maru – the second time.
* This time we decided to follow Mike, the dive guide and ended up in all kinds of little spaces in the superstructure. We went through the radio room, where there was one old radio that was falling apart, the galley, where we could the pots and pans, and other different rooms that I have no clue what they were about. The dive was enjoyable and stress free for a change as we had a guide. We did manage to hit a depth of 41 meters and ended up with a deco time of 23 minutes. After our deco we returned to the ship and swam for the hang bar. Finally caught up to it and hung on for dear life…again. This time Mike and I sat on the bar and I gave the dive guide my camera to take our pics…definitely DIR ( for those who know what DIR is
). I also did a couple of superman poses as the hang bar swung us around. Mike took some pics of me doing this. A blast…as close to flying as when I use to skydive!!!
Another top notch dive.

* Lunch was…something.
* At this point the ship headed back to shore to drop off Patrick and Hillary. We said goodbye and then started to head for the last dive of the trip.

* Dive 3

* The Kensho Maru

* The engine room was fantastic, big and spacious. I did not have my camera on this last dive, as I just wanted to enjoy the diving. The machine room was very cool and I saw the welding glasses hung up on the mesh cage. Jason and I proceeded to look around and silt the place up. Mike poked his head in and decided that two people silting up the machine room was enough.

Diving is over – the bar is open.
Mike is making Highballs, or something that he calls the Mike highballs, and later we are heading for a party at the local resort.
The party was a blast as everyone let loose a bit. After being on the Oddessy for a week it was good to mix with other people. The Chuukese people, or as Kathy refers to them as the Chuukenese people…she seriously jeopardized Australian relations with the entire country for her remark. I myself may have done the same by diverting attention to myself by doing a bit of dancing… but only slightly of course. Many points during the evening our little group caught the attention of the local crowd which numbered around a hundred people. Lots of embarrassing pictures were taken all around but I thing my favorite was the one of Mike in the tiara. He was looking fab!!! Captain Stew was also in the mix, which was great as he let us know later that he does not normally do this type of thing with his clients. Apparently he enjoyed our company, which was a great compliment to us, and had a great time. We headed back to the Odyssey at about 11pm and Jason, myself, Kathy and Capt. Stew sat and chatted late into the evening. I think that the scariest part of the evening was when Capt. Stew let Christina steer the small boat back to the Odyssey…just kidding Christina.

* The never ending last day.
* We were kicked off the Odyssey around 8am. We took some last minute pics with the crew and with tears in our eyes (mostly from the lack of sleep from the previous night) headed off to the Blue Lagoon Resort and check in for the day. We were all on the 2:20 AM flight to Guam. After that I had a 7:20 AM flight back to Tokyo. We slept most of the day and met for a final farewell dinner. After that we met up at 11 PM to head for the airport. Upon reaching the airport we stood in line and had our bags checked. This was a truly efficient process. Each bag was opened up and each item was reviewed and checked. I guess needed to happen as there were no x-ray machines. After this wonderful highly efficient process which only took a few moments…hours actually…we headed to the Chuuk International Airport lounge which was located in the center of the airport. We all sat on the cement floor lounging on our lounging on our carry on luggage. More pictures were taken of us in this wonderful lounge area.
It was during this time that Kathy told me her name is spelled with a “C” and not a “K”!! Oh well….
Anyways we went into the inner departure lounge, which had chairs, and waited. We were told that the flight was delayed by an hour. But we made it on and got to Guam and went our separate ways. The flight landed at 5 AM and I am now sitting in the Clipper bar, once again, drinking coffee and waiting for my flight back to Tokyo. Jason had a 6 AM flight to Beijing, last I saw of him was that he was running through the airport… I think that security was chasing after him but I am not sure….Good Luck dude. Mike had a layover in Guam that was long enough for him to start thinking about moving there.

The trip was great and at the beginning we had no clue about each other. In the end we got on famously and had a blast of a time…although I think that a few more days together would have caused lots of little explosions.

Until the next time….