Scuba Diver Girls – w/ the Ackers

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The southern tip of Yap’s barrier reef is where the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Sea meet. It’s home to the most sea life diversity, brilliant coral, fun topography and water clarity in Yap.

IMG_2394We saved this dive so that the Acker family can take the girls on a personal tour of Yap Caverns.

Today’s dive guides were Bill, his wife Patricia and daughter Numie.

The girls and I have been redlining our dive computers on every dive so far, this morning we went straight down to over a hundred feet and rallied up for a group photo looking like a Mares party dive team.

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IMG_2413Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers is, and always will be, family owned and operated. Bill started diving here with his wife back when Fu Manchu mustaches were in style.

Today’s dive report is rich with a couple of cool surprises.

We started out on a wall drift towards the Caverns. Just as we’ve had the last couple of days we had triple digit visibility with good vibes to settle us into our first dive.

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IMG_2646 Scuba Diver Girls are sponsored by Watershot, makers of cool lights and camera accessories… who are also responsible for the iPhone housing.

Watershot gets credit for making a Yap Diver moment happen on the reef wall half way through our drift.

Margo has a one-handed do-it-all Go Pro pistol grip tray and video light combo that made its debut in Yap.

She was exploring some overhung crevasses with her 1800 lumen video light and I watched her disappear into the reef wall. As I drifted past, I discovered the attraction, in a small cave there was a nurse shark sleeping. Sharks are one of Margo’s favorite animals. Little does she know that the Yap shark show has yet to be performed, that’s tomorrow’s agenda.

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Our wall drifted continued with another surprise, this time it was Stephanie’s turn. I saw her lock onto something down the reef and get kicking, it was hawksbill turtle.

IMG_2476I caught up to both of them and released the shutter a few times and caught the two of them making eye contact in one of my shots.

The turtle didn’t mind us too much and we got to swim with it for a distance.

That photo sequence cost me about 400 psi and shortly after it my wrist was beeping enough to send me to my safety stop.

Today’s surface interval wasn’t sunbathing, but it did have some Mares gear highlights. Bill just got re-rigged with a new Mares hybrid pro tech bc and Stephanie put on a modular demonstration… right there on the dive boat.

IMG_2488It’s a wing inflate with a separate backplate system that comes with a weight integrated jacket – all of which are their own piece.

You can mix and match modules, add additional pockets, move d-rings and totally customize and adjust this piece of gear.

Bill got setup for the way he likes it, he’s old school and dives with a weight belt, so the weight integrated jacket was removed by Steph in about 8 minutes while anchored.

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IMG_2513She’s a real Mares girl now, and so is Bill. There you have it, weight integrated or old school. Comfortable and customizable… and just wait until you hear Steph rage about the optional pocket.

After our Mares gear class, we Go-Pro’d up and rolled into our second dive.

There’s 3 dive sites at one mooring, the Caverns as well as Lionfish and Gilman walls.

This is where you see it all, from big reef sharks to fingertip-sized indonesian clownfish surrounded by vibrant coral – and there’s nobody better to host an open house on this reef than the family who started it all in Yap.IMG_2516

Instantly we were greeted by a strange little fish that hung with us from the surface to mid water – can anyone identify it?

None of us knew what it was, sometimes it was curled up and it looked like a baby eel, I’m hoping someone chimes in with some detail here, I’ve never seen anything like it.

With Watershots in hand, the girls followed Bill on a swim through tour through and under the reef.

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IMG_2630Pointing out ghost pipe fish, indonesian clown fish, mini rock mover wrasse, eels, porcelain crabs, anemone shrimp, even squat lobster under crynoids.

Yap Caverns is a macro shooters paradise, but it has high value wide angle targets as well, white tip reef sharks, big grouper, brilliant pinnacles with every color soft coral there is. Dramatic carpet anemone can be found at every depth.

The reef is loaded with little swarms of pink and yellow fish that come and go from holes in the reef.

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IMG_2583Bill, Patricia and Numie took turns pointing out exotic sea life. The whole family dives and anyone who wants to get the personal Acker tour of the reef can get it just about any day of the week.

Most weeks Bill puts up a special full day dive tour on Popou with Patricia and generally moor up at the Caverns to kick the action off.

The environment changes from a white sand bottom amphitheater to rich walls that drop hundreds of feet to a deeper white sand and coral pinnacle level of the reef.

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IMG_2639Below the amphitheater is a reef shark cleaning station that always has customers, today we saw white tips and some large grey reefs in the area.

After several days of Yap diving we’ve got the Suuntos dialed in and we can make almost half a dive now before someone’s alarm sounds.

The Caverns is such a rich site that you could spend three tanks here in one day and not see it all. The girls were so stoked that we already decided that Friday we’re going back.

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Coming up on almost 30 years in business, Bill and his family are still the same old operation that started out here with one boat.

The Ackers know Yap diving and good times.

Tomorrow we wake up and go freedive a plane wreck in the lagoon, then we’re going out with Jan, the dive op manager, to pet the reef sharks at Vertigo with snorkels, then with tanks.

Margo and Stephanie are diving the heck out of this island and we’re only half way done with this trip.

We’re hitting the reef at night and going back to the Caverns on Friday to get more of what we saw today.

This kind of diving doesn’t get old, I overheard Bill talking on the dock about the schedule and said, “If there’s another boat going down south again tomorrow and it’s nice out, I’d like to be on it”. Even after 15,000 dives here.

I think the Scuba Diver Girls love Yap, it looks like a party every time they are in the water.

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Stay tuned on the Scuba Diver Girls and the Manta Ray Bay facebook feeds and don’t miss out on a drawing where we’re giving away one of these dive packages. After tomorrow’s shark fiesta on the reef, I’m putting together a special shark dive package that you can click and reserve with a small deposit, good until the end of 2014. There’s more to come before Margo and Stephanie are done with their Yap party.

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