Truk Trip Report
We departed from Yap (see my Yap trip report) early in the morning of November 21 on a Continental flight to Guam; arrived in Guam at 5:30 a.m. and had arrangements for a day room at the Santa Fe Hotel until our flight to Truk Lagoon later that evening. It was great to sleep a few hours and then have the time to relax or explore the beach in front of our resort.
Our flight to Truk Lagoon left at 7:30 p.m. and arrived on the island of Chuuk at 9:00 p.m. Our hosts for the week, Truk Odyssey, had staff at the airport to meet us after we cleared Immigration and Customs and we were taken directly to the dock where our gear and ourselves were loaded onto a very spacious aluminum skiff and headed five minutes out into the Lagoon to board the Odyssey
Captain Lenny & Cara, his wife (and Assistant Captain, Cruise Director and wearer of many other hats!) greeted us and showed us to our spacious, air-conditioned cabins. Soon afterwards they held a short briefing in the beautiful dining room and took care of all the required paperwork. We then had the option of setting up gear that evening, which everyone opted to do.
Each diver is assigned a žstationÓ on the dive deck and their žairÓ choices are indicated. 30% Nitrox is available free of charge aboard the Odyssey so most of the group opted to dive Nitrox and everything was set up. One of the guys® favorite options was the availability of 112 steel tanks».wow, they were in heaven! Mask, fins, flashlights, spare gear were stored inside the seats at your ˇstation®; BCD®s and regs were set-up on your tank and refilled in position after each dive. The Odyssey has two Nitrox analyzers available for divers® use; a signed log with O2 %, MOD and signature were required for each tank fill.
We had two divers in the group who were not Nitrox-certified and they were encouraged to obtain the certification during their week in order to extend their bottom times & safety margins.
The Odyssey is the best-organized liveaboard I have traveled on thus far and I®ve been on some wonderful boats! They have the most thorough briefings in the industry. Of course, diving in Truk Lagoon means shipwrecks, some of them over 500® in length and at various depths. Truk Lagoon diving doesn®t necessarily mean deep diving but it does mean extended-time diving due to the sheer enormity of the shipwrecks.
Every dive briefing featured a permanent outline of each wreck with very detailed diagrams of the features of interest on the wreck; all holds were diagrammed with contents and depth; the diagram was the top view of the wreck. Items of interest such as anemones the size of small Volkswagons and other features of note were also diagrammed on the outline. Depths of all the external structures, the deck, the props, the masts, everything was detailed so it was very easy to plan your dives and dive your plans. The Odyssey also sells waterproof flashcards of each wreck with the major depths/features on them so you can mark your plan in pencil and dive with your slate to keep you on track in your plan! Dive guides were available to escort you into the wrecks to the interior areas of interest to help you maximize your time at depth. They know the wrecks intimately and know the fastest, shortest, safest route to all the areas divers are interested in seeing. Our guides were Harty, Kent & Hoi and everyone thoroughly enjoyed diving with them and having them show them the artifacts and interesting features of each wreck.
Most wrecks were dove at least twice; some as many as four dives if there were multiple areas that divers wanted to see. The usual dive day was two dives in the morning on one wreck, then move to another (perhaps larger) wreck in the afternoon and stay there for the remainder of the day, giving everyone ample opportunity to thoroughly explore the wreck. It was not uncommon to see eagle rays off the wrecks; some turtles were spotted both on the wrecks themselves and off the wrecks. Currents were negligible in the Lagoon but there was lots of plankton in the water making visibility less than optimal for ambient-light wide angle photo opportunities.
The wrecks themselves are virtual coral reefs after 60 years. They are totally encrusted with hard and soft corals, fish of all sizes and species and huge schools everywhere! Large grouper make their home on the wrecks; so do giant puffers! Sometimes when they®d tell you there was a machine gun or anti-aircraft gun žon the bowÓ you®d get there and say, žRight!Ó».there was so much coral encrusting that it was difficult to make out some of the features of the ships. All ships were penetrable; some areas were recommended as guided dives only; most were easily negotiated and lots of light filtered into the ships to keep it well lit.
Artifacts ranged from saki bottles (thousands of them) to shoes, to lanterns to china and bowls and rice cookers and stoves and bathtubs. One of the wrecks had equipment remaining in what was an operating room. There are a few areas where skulls had been imbedded during the explosions that sunk the ships, the Japanese government had previously removed all human remains that they could but everyone was most respectful of the ships themselves.
Needless to say, photographers were in their glory, shipwreck lovers were in their glory, žfish & coralÓ people were in their glory! You have to see it to believe the beauty and magnificence these shipwrecks portray.
Another feature of the week aboard the Odyssey is their žshark diveÓ which takes place just outside the lagoon at the edge of the wall. They have a permanent mooring in place to facilitate the shark feed. Divers are sent down to around 80® where a previous typhoon has damaged the coral reef and left it in a sort of žamphitheaterÓ condition. Divers find a place to settle down in the rubble and in the meantime, a signal is sent up the mooring line and then a frozen tuna is sent down the mooring line. While the divers are getting in position, the sharks are beginning to assemble and circle the area; the arrival of the Odyssey signals žlunchÓ to them and they are patiently waiting for its delivery! Once the frozen tuna reaches either their smell or vision, they start nudging it and taking nibbles from it; depending on how big the sharks are, how frozen the tuna is and how aggressive they are depends on how long the action lasts! This occurs twice during the dive and once the food is gone, so are the sharks! Photo opportunities abound and everyone got some awesome shark photos. The sharks are mostly black-tip reef sharks with a couple of white-tips swimming in for a piece of the action; lots of the sharks are juveniles.
Food aboard the Odyssey was wonderful! We were there for Thanksgiving and we had roast turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings! Pretty good that far from home! Snacks were served between meals so no one went hungry»that®s for sure! Every morning there was a buffet set up with fruit, cereal and toast; hot breakfasts were prepared for those who wished; the fresh banana pancakes were delightful.
The rear of the top deck is a wonderful sundeck; there is a shady area between the sundeck and the dining room for those who want to stay out of the blistering sun. The cabins are also air-conditioned with individual controls and flat-panel DVD players in each. There are 6 double cabins with either one king or two twin beds; one with two bunk beds and two designed for single divers. All cabins have ensuite baths. On the dive deck level there is also an air-conditioned salon with lightbox tables for those E-6 film shooters who want to view their slides. They also have a computer & CD burner in that salon for digital shooters who don®t bring their own laptops. Their well-stocked boutique is located in that salon also. It is a fabulously equipped boat; there is nothing that could possibly be added to their program/itinerary that could make it better!
All dives are done from aboard the Odyssey; you just walk down the ladder at the rear of the dive deck and step into the water. They have a wonderful permanent hangbar with a spare regulator for your safety stops. There are two hot water showers on the swim platform for after your dives.
Our seven nights aboard the Odyssey ended too soon; we were transferred to the Truk Blue Lagoon Resort where day rooms had been booked. We were able to nap and spend the day relaxing before our long flights home.
The flight from Chuuk leaves at 2:30 a.m.; arrives in Guam and then proceeds on to Honolulu & Houston where Customs is cleared. Our arrival back in Detroit on November 29 marked the end of a wonderful two week adventure!
Read the Yap trip report.