P-MAN VI Update #9
Thursday, January 22, 2004

This was definitely a boat day. We began in the area southwest of Babelthuap, by mapping both sides of a north-south channel that Ricky believes is associated with the "Grumman" wreck. The mapping consists of driving along the edge of a long coral platform and capturing a GPS waypoint every few seconds, providing a picture on the GPS that shows the present contour of the edge. Then we made 3-abreast sweeps along both sides of this channel, near the bottom of the large coral platforms.

We then moved back to the area where we made our first dive, which is a spot where we noticed several splashes in one of the NARA photos - patterns of splashes that don't look quite like bomb patterns, and which happened about the time the Arnett fuselage should have been splashing down. We made a west-to-east pass across that channel between coral heads, but we suspect that we may have been a bit north of where we intended to dive. We saw nothing of interest, and the visibility was clearly getting worse. The area between coral platforms here is fairly wide, and we probably won't go back until the rest of the team arrives early next month. With several more divers in the water, we'll be able to cover a much wider swath on each sweep.

Finally, we went back to a spot near the east end of Koror Harbor, where we saw on a NARA photo a small, tight splash pattern which, like the earlier spot, also doesn't have the linear characteristic of a string of bomb impacts. We've begun to refer to this area as the "three degree" spot, because on the marine chart the edge of the reef forms a pattern with several lobes. The eastern-most part of it looks almost like the number 3, and there's a very small depression just to the northeast, such that the area looks like 3°. This area turned out to be substantially deeper than we expected, and the visibility made me feel right at home (much of my early SCUBA diving and teaching was done in western Pennsylvania, in dark, silty water). Sorry, no photos of any of these areas; the visibility got progressively worse, and we mostly saw silt and more silt and ... silt.

Tomorrow (Friday) will be a down day for us. Not a day off, just a day with no diving or hiking. Our collection of interviews, maps, photos, and leads is growing rapidly and even on a day when we make four dives, the to-do list has grown rather than shrunk. We need to spend a quiet day reviewing our findings and figuring out what they're telling us, so we can more intelligently plan the next few days.

Roddy and his brother did not get back to the lighthouse yesterday, but may have gone this afternoon. But in the meantime Joe talked to someone (also a pigeon- and fruit-bat-hunter) who independently confirmed the existence of an aircraft near the lighthouse, "with bones still in it." We're sure that one way or another we'll be going back up there.

Tomorrow, one of my goals is to sift through everyone's digital still photos and grab a few that I can go back and add to the previous progress reports. So if you've been reading the reports and wishing there were more photos included, give it a day or so and then go back and re-read the earlier ones. I'm hoping to punch 'em up with some cool images.

Onward and upward! Strength through joy!

- Reid