Ventura Dive & Sport

Posted by: B_rad

IMG_3674 July promises calm seas, light winds, sunshine and a wide open Yap dive map.

Ride shotgun with Ventura Dive & Sport on a 7/5 super size package, getting Micronesia the way it use to be, still is…

This time of year you get everything but mating manta rays and trade winds. This was a busy dive week for two of the boats – California divers get right in it and keep the Nitrox flowing for 3 to 6 dives a day.

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The week’s dive logs included the whole Yap wildlife safari, from mantas and sharks to turtles and manderinfish, with high quality interactions in excellent visibility and some rock and roll dive moments.

IMG_4622This is how another dozen people learned what diving Yap means;

  • diversity of underwater environments
  • marine life big and small
  • small boat groups on exclusive dive sites
  • large animals up close
  • clear blue water with consistent 100+ foot vis
  • personalized dive schedules
  • personal dives with Bill
  • hand crafted micro-brew beer
  • one of their most memorable dive trips

Diving here means that you set the schedule, determine how long your surface intervals are, when you have lunch and if you want to eat on the boat or at the resort before 3rd and 4th tank dives. This group came ready to dive, they were on the boats early and modified their departure time every day of the week based on how things were going.

A Rare Manta Encounter

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A unique experience early in the dive week was a deep wall dive manta pass on the outer reef in clear water.

We typically see these guys in shallow water inside the reef at one of the 7 known cleaning stations, or transiting a channel.

IMG_3756 We were at Vertigo watching the sharks for a while then kicked off the wall and started a mellow current drift as a group.

I gave a long exhale down the wall to a hundred

feet and just as I got there I heard a guide’s rattle go off and started looking around.

A male manta appeared out of the blackness and was winging right for me.

I had enough time to judge his speed and depth, put myself adjacent his path, pull up my viewfinder and wait for him.

This was a cool encounter, a rare sighting and not a bad surprise kicking off the dive week.

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IMG_4011You can get it however you want here, there’s easy family style diving as well as advanced conditions.

This week we mixed it up and did a little of everything and the group got a taste of the whole Micronesia spectrum.

Each day the dive planning added something different – sloping reefs, sheer walls, intricate reef canyons and topography, cavern swim-throughs, current and depth.

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IMG_4154All of the dive sites have a signature that includes sea life.

At Eagle’s Nest we drift over the reef with white sand bottom mini canyons harboring giant sting rays and grouper.

On the same drift we pass coral pinnacles with white spotted eagle rays hovering in the current with huge napoleon wrasse silhouettes above.

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At the southern tip of the island we get into the richest coral walls with sponges, different color soft corals, sharks and big fish.

By the third dive day you have circled the island at least once and have seen all of the mangrove coastline with its gold sand beaches dotted by traditional men’s houses.

 

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IMG_4281Yap is an unspoiled destination with a maximum capacity of about 100 divers – if every single room and boat was full island-wide – which never happens.

Here, you get to vacation away from crowds and the pace of modern day life.

There’s still some excitement to balance out all of this calm natural beauty and we get this done out at Vertigo with our friendly group of sharks.

Shark Diving

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IMG_4333 Here you get to see sharks on just about every dive, but at Vertigo you get to participate in a reef shark concert.

One of the week’s coolest roll in moments was Dr. Dan who was greeted by over fifteen six-footers circling him on his way down to meet us on the reef.

This photo is going on the wall at his house, his office and probably his screensaver – that’s a Yap diving moment of awesomeness with our resident shark school at Vertigo.

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IMG_4345Shark specialty dives are something that everyone should get on when they’re here. Hang out with black tips and grey reef sharks for your entire tank and fill your SD card with as close of an encounter as you’re comfortable with.

Diversity

One of the dive areas that can deliver everything there is to see is M’il Channel, home to 6 dive sites from the clear blue to deep inside the lagoon.

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IMG_4627Here you can be buzzed by a manta ray, investigated by sharks, circled by a turtle, be eclipsed by fish schools, drift in a deep current over brilliant anemones, spot scorpion leaf fish on coral heads and even see thousand year old Yapese stone money at 90 feet.

There’s even old Japanese war relics encrusted in life at the channel bottom and the most active manta ray cleaning station deep inside the channel.

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IMG_4676One coral head in M’il is home to about six different colored scorpion leaf fish, banded cleaner shrimp, nudibranchs and little gold and white see-through fish schools that I forgot the name of.

You could spend 2,000 psi at this rock and not run out of things to see.

Sometimes small jacks and black snapper are seen feeding on the little fish or a moray getting a mouth cleaning from the shrimp.

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You never know what you’re going to see, I call it adventure diving, in the brochure we used “Frontier Diving”.

Last week, guests jumped in on a blue water bait ball feeding frenzy with birds, tuna and a school of big silky sharks… then snorkeled with feeding manta rays, right after a shark dive on a third tank boat.

When you make your own dive schedule and pace, you can modify it on the fly to get in on more action.

Memorable Diving

This trip had it all and within days the inside jokes were rich, nicknames were being born and everyone agreed that it was going to be one of the most memorable dive trips they’ve had.

There was a birthday party at the Crow’s Nest Bar, some new hand signals that are still funny and a bunch of pictures to tell the story.

This was a diverse group, including a family with small kids and everyone got the experience they were looking for… including a couple of surf trips at the mouth of M’il Channel.

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IMG_9049Along with all this blue water adventure and big animal diving there was daily topside good times, plenty of Stone Money beer and a few land laps around the island after all the massages and spa treatments.

A few of us went for a beach walk on the north Island, Maap, and sat at a cafe for a cold drink.

There’s a few things to do around the island and all it takes is to ask. Go watch the sunset, BBQ on a private beach or get cultural demonstrations.

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Ventura Dive & Sport

Jim and Christie have been in the business a long time and putting together dive trips all over the world out of their dive shop in Ventura, CA.

Along with exotic dive trips, they host local California dive trips on their own boat, the Raptor, specializing in Channel Islands dive charters.

You check out Ventura’s newest dive boat and one of southern California’s best dive training facilities on facebook.

Next year we hope to see Jim and Christie back on a multiple island Micronesian tour.

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Date Posted: July 16, 2013 @ 11:08 am Comments Off

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