Story and Photos by Tim Rock
The Manta Fest days are officially underway with Andy and Ray and myself slated to be giving seminars starting this week.
The first day of diving was highlighted by a great gathering of reef sharks at Vertigo. Bill Acker brought down a small bait basket that kept the sharks interested while people snapped away and shot video.
Ai again tried some free diving with these gray reefs and looked right at home in the blue, clear water with her toothy friends. Our second dive also produced an eagle and some beautiful corals covered in a cloud of glassy baitfish.
Today we also saw five sharks getting cleanings and coasting in the current at Gofnuw Channel’s Car Wash. One shark had two pesky remoras that were driving her crazy.
This afternoon back to Vertigo and hopefully more great shark action.
Story and Photos by TIM ROCK
What would Manta Fest be without mantas? Well, they showed up today to the glee of early visitors. And not without a bit of fanfare.
We returned to Miil under sunny skies and a bit of a breeze. Low tide was just at slack and the channel visibility on the first dive was fit mostly for macro. Guest Judy found wire coral gobies and some colorful commensal shrimp hanging out on bubble corals. Ai and I went to the deep cleaning station and found willing longnose hawkfish in the golden gorgonians there.
But no one saw any mantas.
While having our morning hot tea and banana bread, we discussed where we should go next. That was settled when a manta actually lept out of the water right next to our boat! After seeing this big splash and announcement of “we are here” from the rays, it was back into the water where we had a tango with three mantas, an eagle ray and a few sharks. The mantas were lazily cruising in the incoming tide, getting cleaned a bit and taking a few stabs at being amorous it appeared. JR’s group had all three circle overhead at touching distance (no they didn’t, but they were close enough to touch).
In all, it was a nice dive with clear water and we spent a lot of dive time with man’s & woman’s best friends… mantas.
Tomorrow we expect to see more divers and some full boats as Manta Fest officially kicks off. But for the early arrivals, it’s been fun already.
Story and Photo by TIM ROCK
Manta Fest in Yap is slated to begin this weekend. A few of us are here early including my free diver friend Ai Futaki. Here is Ai at 50 feet off Vertigo Wall with a gray reef shark (or six). We had sunny skies and clear, incoming tide waters to dive Miil Channel and then go outside the reef to Vertigo.
Mill produced a school of bumphead parrotfish, jacks and gray reef and whitetip sharks. We then headed to Vertigo. Henry gunned the engines a few times before anchoring and we were greeted by the hungry pack of gray reef sharks hoping for a feeding. They stayed around for the whole dive and Ai put on a show by easily going to 60 feet and shooting video.
Tomorrow we head back to Miil hoping for mantas this time.
Check out the action with daily blogs and posts on the MRBH website.
There was some rain last week, …but there is nothing wrong about that, unless your plan is to play tennis or golf. Fortunately we are diving here in Yap Island and the umbrella of the ocean’s surface protects us from the cool showers.
While waiting for the Manta Rays to arrive at the cleaning station in Goofnuw Channel, I spotted my first Crocodile fish. Actually if I would have been the first diver to ever see a crocodile fish, I would have named it differently. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this amazing animal, was a duck. When I moved around him, he remained motionless, only the eyes followed my movements. This gave him some personality, …kind of a special character. My next thought came with a big laugh and I almost spit out my regulator. “Donald” I thought, …Donald (Duck) Croc , …Hi Donald, it is nice meeting you …”.
But before my fantasy could drag me deeper into Peter’s Wonderland, … a big female manta ray showed up on the horizon and glided into the cleaning station. Opening her gill slits to let the cleaning crew in, …she was hovering above the coral heads, but today only express cleaning was scheduled as she left after a couple of minutes. So did we, …moving to the second station. I swam a bit in front of our group, when a second manta appeared, …swimming towards us. I had no time to signal to the other divers and just laid down on the bottom and stopped breathing. The big ray didn’t show any signs of hesitation and continued its travels. This has happened to me so often in my three weeks in Yap but I always get a rush of euphoria. Yes, I got in the mood.
Some minutes later the silhouette of another ray appeared above us. This time it was an eagle ray. Like a kite he was hovering motionless in the current. Then turning and sailing a bit downstream, …turning again and sailing upstream . With every circle he came a little closer, …closer and closer until his wing almost touched my camera.
Yes, these are the magical moments in diving, …. when you are just feeling like staying submerged forever. But as this is not possible we only can comfort ourselves by looking forward to the next dive, …the next exciting encounter here in Yap island. I hope to see you soon (again)!
And those, who unfortunately had to stay in the Hotel, ….they also enjoyed life, … despite the rain. Of course they needed the umbrellas to protect their beers from being diluted.
Cheers and happy bubbles,
While my wife Patricia and I were driving to town this morning on our way to pick up our youngest granddaughter who is scheduled to spend the weekend with us, I suddenly realized something special. The day is glorious, sun is shining, breeze is blowing, everything is green from the summer rains and then it dawned on me. Exactly 17 years ago, to the day, I was making this same drive as the brand new owner of the Manta Ray Bay Hotel, Yap Divers and Wave Crest Travel Agency. Sure, I started each of these businesses and ran them from the day they opened but August 1, 1973 was the first day that my family and I actually OWNED them.
What a time it was. The oldest and youngest kids had turned 12 & 4 years old less than 30 days earlier while the middle two were 8 & 6 respectively. Today, Numie the oldest one, has just turned 29 with a degree in Hotel Management from the University in Canberra, Australia is married and has a 14 month old daughter – Mary Patricia. Numie is now the Human Resource Manager for the Resort after having spent her life working at just about every job we have here. Next in line is Nathan a 24 year old Lance Corporal in the US Marine Corps who spent a year in Engineering School at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and 2 years at the University of Hawaii before finding his calling in the military. Nathan also spent 2 years as our chef between the time he was in Hawaii and the time he joined the Corps.
Valerie is next in line and she is back home working as a dive guide for Yap Divers after spending two years in the Business program at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth where she was double majoring in Accounting and Entrepreneurial Studies. Val is now married and has an 19 month old son – Thaddaeus. Last, but certainly not least, is Oliver Patrick “OP” Acker who has just celebrated his 21st birthday and is set to graduate from the College of Micronesia in Pohnpei with an AA degree in Computer Information Systems. OP is looking forward to enrolling in the University of Hawaii at Manoa in January (the same school I attended for Graduate School).
I have been married for more than 25 years to Patricia Mangthin, who is sitting beside me this morning as we head for town. She is happy to finally be a grandmother and realizes how lucky we are that they are all living close to us in Yap. Patricia has a wonderful family spread between Yap, Saipan and the United States, my family are all still in Texas and doing well. The kids are healthy, there are two grandkids in Yap, the business is better than it’s ever been so, as Joe Walsh would sing . . . “Life’s Been Good to Me So Far.”
Okay, we all know that Greece put the Euro into trouble, but who would have thought that our stone money makes it to the Azores in the mid-Atlantic. If you take a closer look you see that this disc is only a poor copy of our handicraft originals… At least it is located in front of a house – the way it should be – in Madalena, Pico Island.
Okay, wir wissen ja alle, dass Griechenland den Euro in die Krise gestürzt hat, aber wer hätte gedacht, dass ausgerechnet unser Steingeld den Weg in den Mittelatlantik zu den Azoren findet. Beim genaueren Hinsehen enttarnt sich das gute Stück aber nur als schlechte Kopie unser handgertigten Originale… Immerhin steht es im Vorgarten eines Hauses – so wie es sich gehört – in Madalena auf der Insel Pico.