Bill Acker & his wife Patricia met up with several Canadian friends of Greg Wilson for dinner and drinks to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Music was provided by Wally Duff and Ian Wheeldon on the guitar with Greg Wilson singing along. It was a greaqt time all around and oh by the way, it was also Patricia’s birthday.
The venue was spectacular in the late afternoon as the sun was setting and the waves were crashing on the beach as seen through the lush tropical garden setting of the Waterline Restaurant. Even after dark, with the group gathered around the guitar, the atmosphere was stricktly party mode all the way.
Wally, originally from Belfast, is the only true green Irishman in the country and we had him for the evening. The evening’s music ranged from Irish ballads to Elvis Pressley with at least two renditions of Happy Birthday for Patricia.
Patricia and I have arrived in the Cook Islands where we are staying with local legendary dive pioneer Greg Wilson, owner and manager of Cook Island Divers. Greg has been a close personal friend for a number of years and has been to Yap over a dozen times. Believe it or not, this is the first time for Patricia and I to visit the Cooks. Greg regularly reminds me that he has been working 20 years to get us to visit.
We have done the various tourist type things, round island drives, up to scenic points, visiting local watering holes and participating in Island Night at one of the local hotels for a traditional feast and dancing. All of it has been good but the highlight for us has been the diving.
We have been out on the dive boats with Greg for the past 4 days and have seen some very good fish life, clear water and some stunning underwater vistas. I have to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised by the dive quality but I suspect a lot of this has to do with Greg and the fact that he has been diving these waters since 1973. We regularly see other dive operators’ boats in locations that we don’t dive and go past them to what Greg says are much better dive sites. Seems that saving fuel is part of other operations plans while Greg and his staff go out of their way to put you on the day’s best diving. Greg obviously shares my views on giving customers more than they expect.
At Yap Divers, we stive to under promise and over deliver and Cook Island Divers seems to share this viewpoint. I urge anyone reading this to consider a stop in the Cooks for any planned New Zealand or Tahiti trip. Managed by a transplanted Englishman, Ian Wheeldon, Greg’s dive shop specializes in SCUBA Training from Discover Scuba through to Instructor with PADI, NAUI, SSI or CMAS. You will be in good hands as a new or experienced diver.
Next up, St. Patrick’s Day and Patricia’s Birthday and then more diving.
Manta Ray Bay has often been the base for film crews. We have just finished hosting an Australian TV crew called Kaufmann Productions . They were here as part of a larger filming project which is concentrating on the four main manta hotspots around the globe, namely, Mexico, Maldives, Australia and of course Yap. Yap has recently been designated a manta sanctuary, which will thankfully help to protect the resident population of mantas from being hunted like they are in many areas of the world. Speaking with Gisela Kaufmann, the team leader, she told me one of the reasons they came to Yap was purely down to the years of hard work Bill Acker has done working with these amazing creatures and helping to put them on the dive map.
Bill spent most of his days working with the crew, taking them to various dive sites such as Miil Channel, narrating to the camera and giving his observations over the years. The crew managed to get some great manta footage; including the amazing mating ritual, where it is possible to see more than a dozen mantas circling in the water as part of their courtship ritual. The crew also managed to get down Yap Day which was held this year in the municipality of Tamil to get some fantastic footage of Yapese culture in full swing. Yap Day is a celebration of Yapese culture and draws visitors from around the world and is held every year on the 1 – 2 March.
Part of the filming team included Dr Kathy Townsend, the lead scientist with Project Manta in Australia. Speaking with her she told me of her excitement of what they had filmed and potentially discovered in Yapese waters in respects to manta behavior. She believes that Yap may be a manta nursery. If this proves to be true, it will be one of the very few identified on the planet and will thus help us learn way more about these elusive gentle creatures.
When complete the documentary will be shown on leading European and Australian public television channels sometime in mid 2011.
Wednesday 24th February, was Scuba Safari with Bill Acker day at the Manta Ray Bay Resort. This event has really taken off, so much so we needed to take out Popou, our largest dive boat to carry all our guests.
Scuba Safari is a great way for guests to get to dive with Bill, the pioneer of diving in Yap. He has discovered more than 50 sites here in these beautiful islands, so this is a wonderful way to get the spirit of discovery and group camaraderie all in one. Bill tries to use these Safaris to search out potential new dive sites as well as visiting some of the more rarely dived areas. He also doesn’t neglect some of the more famous sites so the weather and water conditions determine where these Safaris go each week.
Today 15 intrepid divers took to the Pacific for a three tank dive with lunch provided from the Mnuw; they were, Bill & Vicki Wells from Belmont CA, Johan & Maria Edelsvard from Taby Sweden, Andrew Revel from Heboken NJ, Brian Buzzeli from Pennsylvania, Reindhart Arnd & Ursula Nuutinen from Berlin Germany, Joe Becker from Beaverton OR, Craig & Colleen Barlett from Vermont, Alex & Dolores Sastre from Buenos Aires Argentina and Kriss Kirchoff from Libertyville IL.
This gang of divers joined Bill assisted by Chomed, one of our Dive Masters and Willy, the skipper of Popou. They did Magic Kingdow, Spanish Walls (actually began North to see what that part of the reef was like) and the day culminated with Yap Caverns/Lion Fish Wall as a combination. There were smiles all around both before and after the trip with the only disappointed people being those that were leaving the night before.
We have guests, and prospective guests, from around the world, and some of these people can not transit Guam, due to U.S. visa regulations. For these people, the only way to get to Yap is via Manila to Palau to Yap back to Palau for a day and then back to Manila. Not all that convenient but workable with the big drawback being prices for airline tickets.
Thanks to our friends at Continental, the price portion has been solved! We now have a base price of $450 for airline e-tickets, from Manila to Palau to Yap back to Palau and back to Manila! This is very good news indeed, especially for our friends not on the U.S. visa waiver program.
If interested, please contact Bill Acker directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is here to help you and can now help you with flights from Japan to Yap, from Palau to Yap and from Manila to Yap, via Palau.
By the way, the reason we are doing all of this, is to help introduce you to the wonders of Yap and the ambiance of the Manta Ray Bay Resort. The weather has been perfect lately, the diving superb and all that is really missing is – you.
As mentioned in the last blog post, Bill has been working with the good people of Continental Airlines in order to try and help our valued customers get to Yap cheaper and easier. The result of these talks is a Special Net Fare Agreement between Continental and the Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers.
We have been given special net rates from Tokyo, Japan and Nagoya, Japan to Yap via Guam with an add-on fare for Palau. The base rate starts at $600 per person from Nagoya and $650 from Tokyo. The add-on for Palau, from Japan has a base price of $250. We also have a base rate from Palau to Yap to Palau of $335. We say “base rate” because there are some taxes and fees that go with these rates but, in general, they are very minor. If this is of interest to you, please e-mail Bill directly at email@example.com and he will get a firm quote for you.
Continental Airlines is a new member of the Star Alliance which means carriers from Europe to Tokyo would include Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss Air, Austrian Air & LOT just to name a few. If you are a frequent flier with any of these airlines, you will earn miles for your entire trip. The best thing about these fares out of Japan is the travel time and ease with which you can get to Yap. The connections in Japan are excellent, your bags are checked to Yap, or Palau, at your departure airport and the connections in Guam are excellent as well. No layovers, no stopovers. From your bed to our dive boat as fast as possible.
For those going to Palau with China Air, you can use our special priced tickets from Palau to Yap to Palau to help you expand your dive trip to two islands for the price of one trip. Again, for more information, please contact Bill Acker at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you in Yap soon!
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