An Afternoon in M’il Channel & Manta Fest
Dives like this are about as good as they get. Yesterday a group of seven hit M’il Channel on a gentle incoming current in Yap’s blue water. After you splash in you glide down to 80 feet in crystal clear blueness.
Everyone in the group started the drift like a bunch of kids playing in a giant pool… we had divers upside down, floating on our backs watching the light dance down to the channel bottom and just having a great time in the silent world.
This is what you do in Yap… roll in and go with the flow.
The current is so gentle here, drift diving is like laying in a hammock. This dive is setup perfectly for an hour on Nitrox, we hit the bottom and glide in between the channel walls watching shark silhouettes above and once we got close to the ridge, it was an underwater wildlife spectacle which created a target rich environment for Manta Fest participants.
The first thing we encountered after passing over a purple soft corral forest was an umbrella school of jacks. A cloud of fish that occupied the north side ridge. With photo ops in sight, everyone holding a camera started kicking and went to get setup for their shots.
I went kicking in behind the photogs so that the real cameras got in on the action before my presence blew an op. If you want to know how to disperse hundreds of fish at once, as Frank Schneider. He came up to the main mass and herded the school right off the ridge and out of sight. But before he was done, he herded them back and a couple of us found ourselves in the swarm surrounded by fleeing mini jacks.
After chasing the jack swarm on and off the spot, I kicked back to Manta ridge just in time to see a big spotted eagle ray go overhead and hook up with Anke Rorbach from Germany who is gunning for the win in the Manta Fest photo contest.
Here, Anke was shooting wide angle and there were two leaf fish posted on top of corral, a school of little yellow bait fish, brown snappers, feeding skipjacks swooping in and out on the bait fish, sleeping white tip sharks just behind us and on a look up I watched two big barracuda pass through the dancing light above us. There wasn’t anything missing from this dive.
Everybody went back to the boat with an energy boost, was all smiles and jokes topside. Dives like this you could ride out strangers that just met and come back friends. Something special happens underwater when it’s this good.
Nobody needs to ask this group how they get along with Yap water. I call this zen-diving… that’s when time gets lost and there’s nothing else happening but being a part of Yap’s year-round magic.