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Truk Lagoon with a difference...


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#1 jtresfon

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:28 AM

Truk Lagoon… it has a certain ring to it, an aura of mystery and intrigue. Many divers have heard of it, a few have it on their must do list and even fewer have actually been there. So what and where is it exactly?

Truk Lagoon, nowadays known as Chuuk State in Micronesia is located in the South Pacific. Geographically speaking it rubs shoulders with Palau, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Yap, The Solomon Islands, Guam and so on. You get the picture, this is right smack in the middle of diver’s paradise. The water is a balmy 30 deg Celsius and the marine biodiversity and biomass is among the best in the world. But Truk itself is of course famous for its wrecks more than anything else.

In 1944 Truk was a major staging point for the Japanese Navy and was home to the combined fleet, a huge armada of ships scattered throughout the various anchorages. Truk appeared largely invulnerable to bombardment by surface ships, but a photographic overflight by US bombers revealed the threat of aerial bombardment. Following the overflight most major fleet units were moved out and two weeks later a two day aerial bombing offensive was launched. The operation was called Operation Hailstone and was described as one of the most aggressive actions taken by US Forces against Japan.

Over sixty ships, submarines and aircraft were sunk and the legacy of this action is that today Truk is a wreck diver’s paradise. It first came to the world’s attention in the 1970s after a documentary filmed by the legendary Cousteau team was released. Today many tourists make the pilgrimage to dive these amazing wrecks.

Following a successful expedition in 2008, Pete Mesley already had most of the supplies in place for another trip in 2009. Pete’s trips cater almost exclusively for rebreather divers and their special requirements in terms of gases, cylinders and scrubber materials. Now while I am not an ardent rebreather fanatic who will advocate their use over any other system for any occasion, I do believe in using the right tool for the job. And there is no doubt that these machines are the perfect tool for exploring the wrecks of Truk Lagoon. The deeper and lesser dived wrecks can be explored at leisure without the same time constraints as open circuit. And of course the rebreathers offer almost unlimited bottom time on the shallower wrecks.

So 2009 saw the meeting in Guam of three separate teams from around the world. The British team headed by Leigh Bishop, the Kiwi team led by Pete and including Simon Mitchell, and the South African team (including one living in LA and one in Perth). The trip got off to a sober start when the SA team member living in Perth was not allowed through Guam due to a visa problem and that was that, trip over for him. Also several members of the various teams were severely punished financially with excess baggage charges. Try bringing a rebreather and a full photo/video system on holiday and see what I mean!

Arriving in Truk we were met at the airport and delivered straight to the Blue Lagoon Resort. After check in it was straight to the dive shop for kitting up in preparation for the following day. Pete’s organisation was magnificent and all gases and gear were ready as promised. The following day’s diving was a real eye-opener to the size and scale of these wrecks. The rough plan was max five people per boat and one boat per wreck to maximise enjoyment and minimise silting etc. We had a total of 23 planned dives each and unless one wished to repeat a certain dive, these could all be on different wrecks, which would still leave about 40 still to do! (Next trip is a must!) The morning dive would generally be a deeper one (max 62m) and then this was followed by an afternoon dive on a shallower (35m) wreck. The rebreathers allowed a bottom time of around 50 minutes on the deeper wrecks and around 100 minutes on the afternoon dives. We soon settled into a routine and got on with the business of diving and image making.

Inevitably there were several setbacks and issues but on a trip of this duration and intensity this is to be expected. Two members of the UK team suffered floods to their video housings, one of them a very expensive piece of kit. One member of the SA team suffered a bend requiring chamber treatments and putting paid to the balance of the trip in terms of further diving. Almost all member from all teams went down with flu at some stage and most missed a days diving at the very least. But overall these were minor issues (except to those that suffered them!) and the trip was a great success.

Blue Lagoon were fantastic, and both the resort and the dive operation gave first class service. The people were extremely friendly and helpful (too much so in one instance where a skipper had to go to hospital after picking up Nick’s rebreather!)

The images (both photographic and mental) are enough to last for a lifetime. I found it very difficult to choose a favourite wreck as they are all so different and each offers something unique. The deeper wrecks tended to be less “worked on”, have better visibility and offer a more genuine experience. The shallower wrecks offered much longer bottom times and stunningly colourful coral growths, but the visibility was not always great and in several instances items had been “arranged” by dive guides for photographic purposes and I found this quite disturbing. It seemed fake and actually detracted from the experience of the wrecks. Luckily it happened only in a few isolated spots.

One thing that quickly became apparent was that it is necessary to research the wrecks before diving to maximise the enjoyment and understanding of the dive. Also unless taking pictures as a reference, the wrecks quickly tend to blend into one another and it’s difficult to remember what was seen on which wreck. A lot of life was lost during Operation Hailstone and on some of the wrecks you can actually feel it… some of the wrecks are just plain spooky!

Wrecks that were highlights for me include the Nagano, the Oite, the Hoki, the Nippo and of course the San Francisco. The best kept secret of Truk is of course that there is so much other fantastic diving other than the wrecks. There are caves, walls, shark cleaning stations and much more, but most tourists only want the wrecks. Our group was a bunch of serious wreckies who could spot a telegraph from 400 fin kicks away and liked nothing better than to spend hours scratching through tight places inside engine rooms. One very well known UK wreck diver and photographer spotted an anemone that had folded back on itself and was heard to comment on “the purple skin thing with wormy bits in the middle”! Those with more of a naturalist bent and who are not so wreck mad will be equally at home underwater at Truk, as the sheer abundance of marine life is fantastic. There really is something for everyone there.

Of course all good things must come to an end and so it happens that I find myself back at home with a large check mark against one of my life’s ambitions. But somehow it does not seem real, I still have so much unfinished business in Truk! Oh well there is always next year!

Some pictures can be seen HERE

Regards
Jean.

#2 petemes

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 01:00 AM

Thanks heaps for your kind words Jean, Yeah, we had a ball this year. Without a shadow of a doubt the best consistent brilliant wreck diving on the planet. Here are some images of the trip. There is just everything for everyone!! I wont bore you with all the images I took over the trip (3000+) but here are a few.

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8 second exposure at F22


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Another angle of the same engine room of the Kensho Maru.


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Bow section of the Destroyer Oite sitting in 60m of water with schooling Jacks.


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San Fransisco Maru in 59m of water. bow section.


In one of the forward holds of the San Fransisco Maru some truks


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Also for the "plant lovers" the aquatic life and soft corals were amazing!!!

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If you want to come with us each year have a look at my site www.petemesley.com/truklagoon.htm for all the gorey details. Wreck divers paradise!!!! I will have all my images up on the site soon.

All the best


Pete Mesley

#3 allen

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 11:58 AM

Looks like you guys had a bit better viz than we did in June. I would say we had below average viz. Our first trip was better.

Here are a bunch of my photos - I am just starting out so lots of room for improvement.

http://www.sci.utah....Pictures/Chuuk/

Warning they are full resolution ...


Speaking of anemones which ship was it on? I saw one on the Kansho and oddly enough one very experienced diver had never seen an anemone feeding.

Posted Image

Edited by Giles, 25 September 2009 - 07:24 PM.
reduced image size


#4 petemes

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 01:35 PM

Hi Allen,

Yeah the viz for us was well below average, The inner lagoon wrecks were really bad this year. Averaging the viz round 6-10m But the outer lagoon dives (Oite, Katsuragisan etc) were amazing! also the deeper wrecks off the eastern side of Dublon were good too. But with the viz down we just focused on the internals of the wrecks.

The anemone was taken on the Shinokoku Maru. A shallow tanker sitting in 30m of water. The aquatic life on this wreck was stunning. Just a recommendation with posting your images. You have posted your one at top resolution. Try and reduce it to about 600 pixels across. This will make it easier for people to view and faster to download.

Who did you dive with in truk?


Pete





[quote]name='allen' date='Aug 9 2009, 11:58 AM' post='221308']
Looks like you guys had a bit better viz than we did in June. I would say we had below average viz. Our first trip was better.




Here are a bunch of my photos - I am just starting out so lots of room for improvement.



Speaking of anemones which ship was it on. I saw one on the Kansho and oddly enough one very experienced diver had never an anemone feeding.[/quote]

#5 allen

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 03:36 PM

Hi Pete,

We dove with the Odyssey. It was our second time with them. Somewhat of a last minute trip as we were on our way to Palau and they had room so we went a week early. Good fun.

Sorry about the full res. I had put them there for some of the other folks on our trip and had not reduce them.
Click the links to see the images in full res.

Here are a few of better ones (nothing spectacular)

Truck on the San Francisco Maru:

http://www.sci.utah...._Maru_Truck.JPG

Goby with a bullet proof home:

http://www.sci.utah....ikawa_Goby1.JPG

Engine room skylights on the Nippo Maru

http://www.sci.utah...._SkyLights2.JPG

Edited by Giles, 25 September 2009 - 08:26 PM.


#6 petemes

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 01:39 AM

Nice shots Allen.

I looked into liveaboards in a big way before I started going to Truk and found that they couldnt serve what I was looking for, but I have heard that they do a great job. Either way truk is a great place. I head off there each year. Heading back in June 2010 and probably sept too. Talk soon

Pete

#7 Shasta_man

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 03:41 PM

62m! Whewee! :-) Nice shots guys.

#8 kpoxaAU

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 02:35 AM

For some of you, guys, who are still dreaming about the Lagoon, here is the latest shot of my favorite IJN DD Oite:

http://www.thedeepbl...jn-dd-oite.html

alternatively http://blip.tv/file/3410741


Sorry about all those camera jumps and blind picture sometimes - I am still a noob, concentrating more on diving technique itself rather than video :)

#9 Lancer4545

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 01:34 PM

For some of you, guys, who are still dreaming about the Lagoon, here is the latest shot of my favorite IJN DD Oite:

http://www.thedeepbl...jn-dd-oite.html

alternatively http://blip.tv/file/3410741


Sorry about all those camera jumps and blind picture sometimes - I am still a noob, concentrating more on diving technique itself rather than video :)


Nice video, I was in Truk last October and got some great shots of the Oite......It was one of my favourite wrecks also. So naturally I am going back again this year :)

http://www.closedcir...om.au/id22.html

Regards,

Lance
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#10 kpoxaAU

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:34 AM

Just updated Oite with last year video - going through Engine room.

Either www.thedeepblue.tv or directly from Vimeo:

#11 warrior63

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:36 AM

Wow that was a great vidi, i would love to know how you got into the engine room, such a tight fit. will be going back this may and want to pentrate the oite myself, haven't thougth of a safe way yet. did you have to ditch most of your gear?

#12 kpoxaAU

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:38 PM

I've used set of twins 11lt Ally backmount, leaving only one deco stage on the deck. Sidemount will work too. You want proper trimix for this dive, the average engine room depth is 61msw, you may easily hit max 64msw. It is narrow, silty, 9/10 of the way is with no natural light access, you have to move very slowly, most places you can not turn (only move forward and back with the fins); hence you definitely have to know what are you doing. If you will really convince Rob that you are on skills - he may choose to guide you directly to the entrance point and you are on your own from there.

I am back in this May too, in Truk Stop till 16th. Are you one of two guys coming of Odyssey on 19-20?

#13 warrior63

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

I'll be there the 28th staying at the blue lagoon with pete mesleys group. then on to bikini. dive a breather, (and a little chunky) that I didn't think I could get through the hatches with my gear on. Have given some thought to ditching the breather at the hatch and go with a single ali 12l front mounted (to take off when needed,) and my trusty go pro and then re don the gear as I exit. will take some serious planning to do this safely if at all.... I am told you can penetrate the submarine as well if you are so inclined as well, not sure though. would be fun to cosider for now, whether practical later. From your vidi, I can see it is a tight squeeze and perilous. but great job! Steve

#14 kpoxaAU

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:22 PM

Well ... I am not saying it will not work, I am saying - complex and has a lot of space for problems. Personally I would not ditch main equipment and change the setup under water, unless it is absolutely necessary. I would rate Oite's engine penetration as real cave dive and plan accordingly. My choice for that dive would be sidemount (if I do not have camera) or backmount (if I do). And I would never enter Oite's engine room with single tank, even a dozen of tanks waiting for me on a deck. Remember, that Oite's sistership - Fumitzuki - already has taken three lives recently off the people who thought they can go inside with singles. And Fumitzuki is just about 40msw.

Yes, you can penetrate the sub. Sidemount will do, not rebreather or twins. Different, but as complex as Oite's engine and not much to see.

Edited by kpoxaAU, 27 January 2013 - 06:23 PM.


#15 max gleeson

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:30 PM

Just a note to let those who are interesed in the diving in Truk. Th first of a two dvd seires on the wrecks of Truk lagoon will be out this July. There is a short trailer on my website (DVD previews)

www.maxgleeson.com

 

 

 

cheers

max



#16 kpoxaAU

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:38 AM

First out from May 2013 trip - 



#17 Aussiebyron

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:15 PM

Great video kpoxaAU. I am heading back in April 2014 and staying at Blue Lagoon again. 

 

Got a question for you. Is there anywhere else to go for meals other than Blue Laggon and Truk Stop? Heard something about a Japanese Restaurant in Town but no info on it..

 

Cheers Mark


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#18 kpoxaAU

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 12:19 AM

Never heard about Japanese Restaurant there. 



#19 kpoxaAU

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:23 AM

BTW

 

I do not like to write reviews :)

To be specific – I do not like to write long, detailed reviews.

So … if scroll down directly to the point:

My warmest Thank You, Rob and Cindy and 
Thank You Truk Stop Dive Center crew
.

That is, basically, it. And the following are IMHO bells and whistles, skip it if not interested  :evilgrin: 

********************************************

This May dive trip to Lagoon was one of my best. BTW, I am real Lagoon addict and I am there every year since 2007 at least once a year … and twice a year, if I am lucky at work. So my knowledge about Lagoon’s services and conditions could be rated as “more than an average tourist level”.

Let’s look at the bullet points:

• Where in Lagoon you can have twin set and deco stages (as many as you need), filled as accurate as you ordered precisely at the time? Answer: only Truk Stop (Thanks Rob and Teno)
• Who in Lagoon is maintaining real clean technical filling station? Answer: only Truk Stop
• Where in Lagoon you have cheapest helium, due to Haskel pump equipped into filling station? Answer: only Truk Stop
• To what DC in Lagoon you can come with very specific demands (as myself, doing video, carrying annoying large/bright lights, stopping under water often to get proper video capture, ignoring common “tourist” path through the wrecks due to video) and get the dive guide/buddy, professional, who appreciates your needs and takes full care about your stupidity? Answer: only Truk Stop (my deepest Thanks to Rob).
• Who in Lagoon can show you different Nippo, different Fuji, different Heian – who can show you underwater Lagoon with the difference? Answer: Rob. The only.
• Who in Lagoon really takes care about the buddy, even analyses your setup and gives you valid concern (even you have already a thousand dives behind you)? Answer: Rob. You can rely on him.
• Who is the Manager in Lagoon, who answers you every question via email before you come and reminds you all “small things” which you may forget, and reserve every small piece for you, and saves you dive with spare hose (when yours is broken through the dives)? Answer: Cindy (my warmest Thanks to Cindy).

• Who in Lagoon definitely cares about wrecks and wrecks conservation? Who never damage or broke a thing, never move the bone? Who wants to keep the wrecks as they are, to be able to show them to you and to your next generation? Answer: Rob, Cindy and the Truk Stop DC crew. The only.

Well… Are there any more questions why I am returning to Truk Stop every year for last six and going to continue to go to the only Truk Stop?



#20 max gleeson

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 01:56 AM

http://www.diveoz.co...?TOPIC_ID=27536

Taking orders now $40 us airmail to the USA


Edited by max gleeson, 20 August 2013 - 02:01 AM.