P-MAN XIII Update #35 - Diving on the LVTs. Jungle hiking. Starting to think about the end of the mission...
Today was spent on the water. Cut, a Palauan free diver, says he found an engine in about 40 feet of water off the eastern reef. Coincidentally, abeam the wreckage of a Marine TBM Avenger. All we've ever found of this Avenger is a landing gear leg and a few bits of NSM. IF we could find a significant part, that would be great.
Of course having the tourists along slows down the locals. So Cut went off with his snorkel and Joe went off with a tank. About an hour later, Joe surfaced and about 20 minutes after that we located Cut. This guy can swim and hold his breath like no one else we've seen. They both covered a lot of ground and could not locate the engine. We'll put this on our list of things to do in the future. However, the spear that Cut carried had two fish on it, which would play a role later in the day.
We traveled around the east side of Peleliu, which is a rare thing for us to do. A great look at the Purple and Scarlet invasion beaches. Rough water too, so the camera was put away.
We entered the south dock area for lunch. Logan, who is Joe's assistant on the boat and the boat captain when Joe is underwater with us, cut up the parrot fish Cut had caught and we had fresh sashimi along with our PB&Js and other treats. Normally, parrot fish isn't very tender as sashimi. At least it hasn't been when we've had it before. This one was wonderful.
We geared up at the dock and headed out to the LVTs, this time with camera in hand, so we could document what's down there. The whole group went down. Joe and Flip once again went down to the lower LVT in about 95 feet of water. He measured it and Flip took pictures. Flip swam down to about 105 feet to look at what could have been another hull. It was a big rock.
Came back up to the LVT at 70 feet and took some more photos. We agreed that regardless of how much air everyone had, we would go up when the first person reached a thousand pounds of air. When that happened, Flip led the merry band up, taking care to get our safety stops in. This year, we instituted a 30-foot and a 15-foot stop. Each for 3 minutes.
On the way home in German Channel, Joe spotted a manta ray cruising from the east side to the west side. We stopped, hopped in and got some photos. I think Molly or Wesley got the best ones.
It was Wesley's last day with us, so in BentProp tradition, he got to pick where we ate dinner. He picked The Palm Bay Bistro, now renamed "The Brewery" by us for ease of communication, since that's also where Red Rooster Beer is produced.
Derek bid farewell to his son way later than I was up. Now we're down to five.
Tomorrow, we're hiking with Melvin.
We got up early as we had a time to meet Melvin at his dock. What we didn't realize was that in Melvin's mind, our date was set for island time, not watch time. We lost out on 45 minutes of sleep.
Melvin is a Palauan who has seen a number of potential wreck sites, and has heard of a couple as well. The plan was to look at as many of them in one day as we could. Unfortunately, not only was our appointment set for island time, Melvin had to work until noon today. So off we went to check on a couple of things he told us about that could be done from the shoreline. We went to a beach we had been to before and where he said we would find aluminum. And we found some. The interesting thing is that in the middle of this island, a friend of his says there is an airplane that is missing one wing. And Melvin said there used to be a wing on this beach.
Then we went to a spot where there was easy access to the interior of the island. It was a spooky setting. Something beyond Hollywood. No set designer could have thought this up in its entirety. We hung out there for a bit and then it started to rain. Joe found us a shelter to have lunch in. Then we went to pick up Melvin.
He took us to the German Lighthouse trailhead on Ngeruktabel. But prior to the lighthouse, we veered down a draw, traversed across a hillside, down into a valley and traipsed through more jungle. We were looking for a one winged airplane that was pointing uphill. Needless to say, we didn't find it and neither did Melvin or Joe.
We hiked back out and had a nice boat ride back home. However, the day was not a total loss. Throughout the day we saw wonderful sea life from the boat. We saw a manta ray feeding, a turtle swimming, a large jelly fish undulating (unlike jelly fish lake, this one had long stinging tentacles) and blue travelers eating. Nature-wise, it was a great day. Melvin is going to have his hunter friend take him to the wreck and he's going to take pictures for us. And hopefully he'll be available later in the week to take us to the other sites.
We headed out to a restaurant we hadn't tried yet: the Japanese restaurant at the Sea Passion Hotel. It was really good. Both the Japanese and Korean dishes we had were superb.
Dan went out to buy some groceries and the rest of us watched Star Wars, Episode IV - digitally remastered, of course. Having read "The Case For The Empire," I think I rooted a little too strongly for Darth Vader for my teammates' tastes.
Tomorrow is our last pancake breakfast. I'm pulling out the stops: real bacon, bubbly water for the pancake mix and extra bold coffee. A bit of logistics work in the morning and then we are taking Steve from Cleared Ground along with Jolie Liston up to Police Hill. We're going to have him take his very sensitive metal detector to a couple of places on Police Hill to see if he can find anything for us.
We have three more working days here, with one day for pack-out. Of course if something really cool pops up we could use that last day for searching. But either way, P-MAN XIIIb is winding down.- Flip