PLACES AND FACES OF TRUK LAGOON - 2003 TRIP
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TRUK TRIP FOUR,
arrived in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia yesterday afternoon. Truk is also called
Chuuk if you want to be politically correct. I donít. The flight over was
extra long this time. I had a 14 hour layover in Honolulu. Thatís really not
so bad. I wish all my layovers were in Hawaii. Continental Airlines wouldnít
give me good connections and made me come early and stay later than I wanted
because I used frequent flyer points for my ticket. This is a very expensive
flight and they donít like you to use points for the trip even though they
charge 60,000 points. If you give them 120,000 points they will be nicer and
give good connections. I had to be very stubborn to get a flight at all for
60,000 but I did finally get my ticket. Continental is the only airline that
flies here so they can be a horses ass about the airfare. I was able to get
good connections for our other divers. They will be coming in tonight. Iím
staying in a little hotel across from the airport and will be going to the
Thorfinn tonight with our other five divers. I met an interesting young Mormon
man on my flight to Hawaii. He is originally from Koserae,(pronounced CosRye),
but now lives with his wife and 6 kids in Minnesota. He does landscaping work
in Minnesota. The opportunities to earn a living in Micronesia are almost nil.
These are nice, mannerly people who live in FSM (Federated States of
Micronesia). Iíve never met anyone in Truk that was not nice and usually
smiling. I like these people a lot. The people here can go anywhere in the
U.S. and live or work. They do not need green cards or visas because FSM is a
U.S. Protectorate. I donít see much sign here of any protecting or putting
in any money. Iím sure we send some money but it canít be much. Some of
these young people should join the U. S. military as they can do. That would
give them a good living and a real future. I speak from experience on this.
Thereís no telling where I would have ended up if I had not joined the
military when I was 17, probably jail. Iíve never regretted going in the
military. That was the main turning point in my life and exposed me to great
people, education and opportunities. The people and the military helped give
me extreme confidence in my abilities, probably a lot more than I deserve. I
also learned to scuba dive in the military about 40 years ago and Iím
grateful for that too.
often I lose patience with people who make excuses for not being able to do
something that they want to do. Thatís the problem, they are looking for
reasons not to win, not to go, and not to succeed. Forget that crap and start
finding the reasons you can. Everything will work out just fine.
Today I just walked around some and ate and drank beer. Breakfast was
at the Plaza Garden Rooftop Bar and Restaurant. I sat in a pink plastic chair
and ate fish and rice and some sort of vegetable with shredded ginger on top,
good stuff. After that I walked a mile or so through the village until a local
guy picked me up and gave me a ride to Blue Lagoon dive store and hotel.
Iíve stayed there before and it is a nice place. I ate lunch there and
looked at the pretty young waitresses as I often do, Then I met a neat old
dude. He is in his 70ís and retired 6 years ago. He is a Lacoda Sioux and
lives in Arizona. He was orphaned when he was 10 and grew up in a Catholic
school. When he was 17 he joined the military. They helped him get his college
degree and he has done much since. Mostly he has been a hospital manager in
many places over the U.S. Now he and his brother own a 3,000 acre horse ranch
in Montana but he lives in Arizona. He is over here as a volunteer to try to improve the
medical facilities around these islands. He is working with a group of
Mennonites. He says all religions are over here in force but they are more
interested in signing up souls than in putting money into medical needs. This
old guy is neat and you can tell that he never slows down. We talked about
Indians a little bit, Sitting Bull and Gaul. I told him I was part Indian and
I wish I was more. He said he has a lady friend in Blount County, AL so I
asked him to come see me and we will find arrowheads on my farm. I told him
that I think President Andrew Jackson was a bastard for the way he mistreated
the Southern Indians. He agreed with me.
10th on Thorfinn. Perry Massie, Rick Dennis, Don Sublett, Greer
Geiger and Terry Banks all came in last night and we came out to the Thorfinn.
dive 8:00 AM dived on I169 submarine. This is a huge sub 345 ft. long. We
did not penetrate this one. We saw a couple lionfish and got some good
pictures. 115 ft. for 37 min. This is the first submarine that I have dived on
but it is not a very pretty dive, not much soft coral on this dive.
dive 87 ft. 58 min. Fujikawa Maru. This is probably the most popular dive in
Truk. This one has lots to see. Several airplanes are in one of the holds.
Lots of soft corals and blue fish. There is a real big cannon on the bow that
is totally covered with corals now. The structure of the ship comes within 30
ft. of the surface. It is a very pleasant dive.
dive Heian Maru 80 ft. 48 min. The biggest ship in the lagoon. Submarine
tender has torpedoes, periscopes and other things needed to repair and supply
subs. This is a deep penetration
dive and is dangerous in my opinion. We spent much of our time inside the
ship. Visibility was not real good on this dive , about 50 ft. Took some
pictures way inside of ship of stacks of plates and bowls.
dive, We went back to the Fujikawa instead of diving on a Betty Bomber
airplane 68 ft. 53 min. We wanted to get good pictures of the soft corals.
This dive was just before dark and some more of the corals were out. Also
photo ops of a big friendly puffer fish about 2 ft long. A big anemone had a
family of tiny Peterson shrimp living in it. I hope these photos come out.
11th. Good breakfast waffles, cinnamon rolls, eggs and bacon.
dive. We all skipped last nights dive to get caught up on our sleep, of
course we did spend some time in the hot tub drinking beer and smoking cigars.
8:00 AM 145 ft. 41 min, Nippo Maru. This is one of my favorites. There is a 2
man tank on the deck and lots of gas masks, canteens and personal stuff. The
bridge area is outstanding and has an engine telegraph and all the
navigational gear. I went 11 minutes into deco. But thatís no problem, after
off-gassing at my stops I still had enough air that I could have easily stayed
another 20 minutes in the water if I had needed to. We are all using 2
computers each. All of our divers have Suunto Spyder computer watches and most
of us have cobra computers. These Suuntos are the best you can buy. The camera
I am using is a Sealife digital 200 with 2 strobes and 3 lenses. I am
recharging batteries between each dive and swapping them out. I can shoot
about 40 shots each dive and I donít have to buy film or get them developed.
I save much money this way and can look at the photos on the TV in my room and
delete what I donít want.
dive, Yamagiri Maru , 98 ft. 51 min. 85 degrees. Deep in this ship is the
skull and bones of a Japanese seaman. The skull is embedded in the bulkhead,
blown into it by the force of the explosion that sank this ship in less than 1
minute. All aboard were killed. The ship was a supply ship and was carrying
the huge artillery shells for the battleships.
dive, Shinkoku Maru, 90 ft. 53 min.
Donít hold me accountable for proper spelling on the shipís names. I could
go back and look them up but Iím tired now. This ship has the most soft
corals and is a great dive but the vis is not so good on this one.
Telegraph in Wheelhouse
Machine Guns and Ammunition
Iíve forgotten what day it is now, but I have made 11 dives so far.
8, night dive 39 ft. 30 min. Sutsuki.
We dived on a destroyer and the vis wasnít real good. OK for close up photos
but not good at any distance.
9 Kansho Maru 146 ft. 38 min. Clear water and lots to see. I took a lot of
pictures in the bridge area of navigational equipment and the engine
emergency, I had asked Narita and Betewen about eating some of the sea shells,
so Betewen picked up a large Murex type shell on one of our dives. The cooks
sliced it up and cooked it for a snack for us. It tasted similar to lobster
but was very tough and chewy. We all ate a little of this and it was pretty
good. Perry ate a piece and had an allergic reaction. Within 2 minutes of
eating his piece his face had lost its color and was puffing up. He lost his
voice and his throat was closing off and breathing was difficult. He had a
burning feeling in all his insides from his mouth to his rectum. We were
fortunate to have our divers: Greer Geiger who is a doctor and Terry Banks who
is a pharmacist with us. They gave Perry attention and some pills which
started relieving the swelling within about 10 minutes. He had to wait about
an hour before feeling better. Perry and I were grateful to have Greer and
Terry with us. This could have been a dangerous situation without them. Thank
you Greer and Terry.
group went on a land tour to Dublon Island. We walked through a pretty village
and gave candy to the kids. The gasoline storage tanks that were the supply
for the Japanese ships were heavily bombed and shot up. One of the local men
was shooting at birds with a slingshot. Bats and pigeons are popular eating
here. We came back to the ship for lunch then made dives10 and 11. 86 ft 56
min. and 74 ft. 42 min. night dive.
12: San Francisco Maru 184 ft. 35
min. This is the deep one. The water was very clear 100 ft. or better vis. We
saw 2 or 3 tanks on the deck. We went into the forward hold and saw wooden
cases of fuses for mines. Many stacks of mines in there too. I had 14 minutes
of deco time but my cobra computer handles all the thinking for me. This is a
13, Sankisan Maru, 76 ft. 53 min. Thousands of rounds of small arms ammo
and cases of artillery fuses are in the holds of this ship. Large areas of
medicine bottles. Machine guns are laying around on deck. This is one of the
best dives and vis. is good.
14, Rio De Janeiro Maru, this was a passenger ship that was used for
troops and freight. 112 ft. for 50 min. Hundreds of cases of sake bottles are
in one hold. Big engine room to go through and see all the gauges.
15 Hino Maru, 56 ft. 51 min. This
small freighter was blown apart by two bomb hits and sank in shallow water. It
has one small cannon on the bow that is only a few feet underwater. We found
lots of seashells here. I was digging up 50 cal. bullets and cloth in the
rubble pile. I dug up a rubber sole from a shoe. I made 4 dives today and they
were the best of the trip so far.
16, Amagisan Maru, 158 ft. 35 min. Clear water. Ship lies on port side,
has a good looking cannon near the bow which is good to get under and photo up
toward the light from the surface. Stacked up bicycles and a car in the holds.
We are anchored off the island of
17,Yubae Maru, 121 ft. 44 min. Saw phonograph records, nudibranch and a
flatworm. Had 16 minutes of deco on this one.
18, Gosei Maru, 109 ft. 53 min. This is always one of my favorite dives.
She lies at a steep angle on the reef and comes up to about 15 feet from the
surface. There are lots of torpedoes in the hold and big bombs and shells. One
big yellow painted bomb that I remember from my last trip to Truk is not there
now. The locals raised it to remove the powder and use to blow up fish.
Thatís a popular way to fish here. Very dangerous unloading the munitions.
That bomb probably weighed well over 1,000 pounds. I had a fun encounter with
a big octopus on this dive. It was in the coral but not real shy. I came at it
from below and controlled my breathing to not scare it. I put my fingers about
8 inches from him and curled my finger to get it to come to me. It watched for
about 1 minute then slowly raised up and reached out to me with one tentacle
and shook my hand. Perry videoed this and will probably show the video on his
show on the Outdoor Channel. His show is Prospecting America.
19, Sankisan Maru, 54 ft. 48 min. Night dive. The Aggressor was anchored
on this wreck so we had several extra divers this time. I saw a flatworm that
swam around for me. I think these little creatures are very interesting and
beautiful. Iíve been using my Nite Rider HID headlight and it has worked
great and freed my hands for my camera. I recharge the light and camera each
night in my cabin. Iím using a Sea Life digital camera that lets me take
over 300 pictures on the flashcard. I can take over 1,000 if I want just email
quality. Five of us have a total of 9 Suunto computers that we use and they
have worked great. When diving as many deep dives as we are it is best to have
two computers for some redundancy if one quits or gives trouble.
20, Aikoku Maru, 165 ft. 39 min.
This ship had the largest loss of life at Truk Lagoon. It was used as a troop
carrier and over 1,000 died when we bombed it. Half the ship blew up and she
sank immediately. Many skulls and bones on this wreck. This is a ghoulish dive
and I donít like this ship. Don, Terry and I got lost inside the debris. I
was trying to follow Betewen into the ship but I lost him. I could not find my
way and we couldnít see any light from the outside. I turned us around and
tried to find the way out. We could not find the way we came in, but we did
finally see light and went that way . There was a small opening and we forced
our way through it. We were damned glad to get out of there. Lots of hangtime
on the line. No corals at all on this ship. A real scary dive and not fun.
21, Gosei Maru, 110 ft. 63 min. We went back to this ship, always a great
dive , lots of life. We found seashells and saw another octopus.
22, Fujikawa Maru, 75 ft. 54 min.
Beautiful dive. We saw 3 nudibranchs, some banded coral shrimp and a puffer
fish. Many medicine bottles are laying out where some divers have dug up and
left for others to see. The bottles are still corked and you can see pills and
stuff in them. I saw a wooden box full of paper books in Japanese writing. I
think they are music books. These will deterioriate fast now.
23, Da Hino Maru, 81 ft. 62 min.
Late afternoon dive, the ship comes within 5 feet of the surface and is a fun
dive. We saw another octopus and found lots of seashells. All of our group is
using Sea Life cameras or Ikelite housings for video. None of our cameras have
flooded or gave any problems. Our new Aqua-Lung Legend regulators are
fantastic. Easy to breathe even at great depths. All the Suunto computers are
working perfect. One old computer could not handle the depth and shut off,
going into error mode. This one is not a Suunto and was not capable of the
24, Fujikawa Maru, 102 ft. 66 min.
This was our 3rd dive on the Fujikawa. It was our choice to go back
again because there is so much to see. Saw a turtle, 5 nudibranchs, a live
tiger cowrie, 1 shark , 1 eel , 2 airplanes, lots of machine guns, the big gun
and lots of everything. That was our last dive from the Thorfinn. After lunch
we are going to Falos Island for two more days.
Dives 25, 26 and 27. Falos Island. Two years ago our group was the first from the outside to dive on Falos. No dive store group or individuals other than local snorkelers have dived here. I set this trip up both times and we really enjoy the time on the island. There is no resort here, just a few concrete rooms. No fancy stuff like tables or chairs. We sleep on plywood cots with about 1 inch foam mattresses. We do have a commode but you have to pour buckets of salt water in it to flush it. We came with 4 crew members from the Thorfinn to take care of us and cook. We eat lots of barbecue and drink lots of beer. This time we brought up a small giant clam that Narita wanted us to bring her. She cooked it for us. She also fixed us some octopus and local tapioca. Iíve grown quite fond of Narita and Betewen over the last 2 trips here. Iíve been on many live-aboards and usually have a good time but none compare to the Thorfinn. The crew of the Thorfinn are Chuukese and cater to all our wants. They constantly are handing us a fresh towel, or setting up our gear, or bringing us coffee or a beer. Betewen takes great care of us on our dives and keeps us safe. The only times that we dive without Betewen is shore dives from the island. The island trip is like a private paradise for Southern Skin Divers and I just love it. Most live-aboards are crewed by rich kids who are on permanent vacation and vastly overrate their skills and experience. I mean thatís fine for them and divers that know no better but I want an adventure and we got a special one this time. Our 6 diver group was a pleasure to be with. We had no whiners, bellyachers or macho chest beaters. They were all real good divers who wanted the best dive trip they ever had and they got it. We took over 1,000 pictures and many hours of video. All of our group have told me to sign them up for our next trip to Truk Lagoon in 2005. Join us if you can. Check out the web page to see the rest of the 2003 Truk pictures.
More Truk 2003 Pics here
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