Truk Lagoon

Carol was a friend of ours who sadly died after one of our trips to Truk (not diving related), this page and her notes on other pages are placed as a memory to her.

Calling all divers - start saving now!
Calling all non divers - start diving now!
Truk's the place to be!
After 2 weeks there and a week in Palau, I'm now recovering in Australia.
This is the story of me and my dive buddies Joanne Leigh, Malcolm Brewer and Pete McKeone.
Left Heathrow at midday on Saturday to Singapore. (Fly Singapore Airlines if you ever get the chance, you get your own TV screen and headphones with 10+ films to choose from, play station type games,Carol in Truk music channels and a flight plan giving current info on height, speed etc with a map of where you are, oh, and you get free gin & tonics too! Singapore to Manila was as much fun, then it all falls to pieces. A change of airlines means collecting luggage in Manila, out through immigration, upstairs to departures, back through x-ray and into the check in room which was to be our home for the next 8 hours. There were toilets hidden down a corridor, but nothing else apart from hundreds of check in desks, a few hard plastic chairs and plenty of hard cold floor to crash on. Armed police keeping people out of the airport put one off wandering around outside. We weren't totally unprepared though, and we survived thanks to Jo's half litre of water and Pete's mars bar. The flight to Guam on Continental Micronesia couldn't come soon enough, then through to Truk (Chuuk now, but who cares). Interesting landing, land a bit too soon and you would be adding to the underwater wrecks. Our pilot had no such problem though, despite slamming on the brakes as soon as we touched down and screeching to a halt, there was still about 3 plane lengths of the runway left, no problem.
So, Truk at 10am Monday morning. Our first glimpse of Moen (We know now, but who cares) Island, 'capital' of Truk state. Well first glimpse for Jo and I anyway, the two lads had been twice before. We were a little perturbed as we crawled along the main (only) road at max 15mph, (Any faster would do serious damage to the toughest off road vehicle), through what at first sight bore an uncanny resemblance to the slum area of a shanty town somewhere you've never heard of, but it grows on you. Brightly coloured, graffitied shacks, some of which were shops, car repairers (a booming trade) and 'government' offices, but with a lack of signs saying so, one must assume that the locals know where they are if they ever need them. Courtyards and gardens make way for discarded junk including many dead cars, some still with number plates on them. Too many people watching coupled with no screwdriver to hand meant I had to buy my number plate from a taxi driver for $7 (a bit of a collectors item, 'Truk - Diver's Heaven'). That'll go up on my lounge wall, when I get a lounge... .
Anyway, at the end of the 3 mile 20 minute journey, we entered paradise - Blue Lagoon Dive Resort, formerly Truk Continental Hotel. Well it will be paradise when they've finished renovating it. It was a bit of a building site, but not too much of a problem. Set in extensive grounds on a corner of the island, there are various blocks of two storey wooden buildings, all rooms with balcony and view of the lagoon. The jetty where the dive boats go from is a mere two minutes walk with attached dive lockers for kit and fresh water sinks for rinsing gear. A real struggle! The outside bar is close by, covered by a palm leaf thatched roof, and bar stools occasionally occupied by the odd Japanese or American diver, or American CAT (Civic Action Team) bloke, it's the best place on the island to drink apparently. We tended to be there during Happy Hour, 5-7, for the odd can or three of bud and the occasional cocktail, just to get us in the mood for a stunning sunset (well we had a few good ones anyway). carol
The dive shop was a short stroll away, and was amazingly well stocked with T-shirts. Sad I know but I couldn't resist the 'I dove Truk' one. There was a rather nice little beach, a large pool with a few turtles and fish in, and large areas of grass scattered with palm trees, seats, shelters and mounted machine guns from sunken ships and zero fighters just for fun. They didn't work though.
A separate block contained the reception and restaurant. Breakfast was pretty good, dinner was fine for the first few evenings. The service ranged from mildly amusing to totally hilarious (well I thought it was funny when after waiting for an hour, the main course arrived before the starter). The choice for dinner was a bit limited, so after getting a bit weary of your 'favorites', the temptation was to be adventurous. 'Reef Fish' was found to be a bit of a gamble, and if you're ever offered 'Nibnib" by a waitress who smiles and giggles as she says it, go for the Chicken Yakatori or Chris's Chopped Steak at once. Pete didn't, and Jo + Malc who were sitting downwind from the aircon from it, were genuinely surprised he was still alive and in working order the next morning.
Anyway, the reason we were there - the diving.
The wrecks are all Japanese ships bombed as part of Operation Hailstorm during the war. Any more info than that you'll have to ask Pete or Malcolm or look it up in a history book. My history is appalling and my memory even worse. It was 'low' season there, rainy season, although it was less windy than at other times of the year. Only us 4 on the boat, we had Nick as our dive guide and Doone as the boatman. After the first day the were asking us where we wanted to go rather than choosing for us. They all dive with single tanks over there, so we insisted on three tanks a day, two on the first dive, then swapping the emptiest for the third one on the second dive. We even converted Nick to two tanks after a few days. Two dives a day, out at 9am, back by 4.30pm, all wrecks within 25/30 mins boat ride away. Kitting up took a bit of getting used to. Lycra suit and socks on, knife on (just out of habit), slip into BC, buckles far too loose as last used over drysuit, cram pockets with weights for when the aluminium 12ltr cylinders decide to become as bouyant as the Titanic should have been, when they're emptied, mask on, valve in mouth, convince yourself that you have everything, ask Doone to pass down your computer from the rail, strap it on, convince yourself again that you have everything, hold torch in one hand to stop it catching on the seat as you go in again, and flop into the bath water temperature water. Bumble around leisurely to the shot attaching the boat to the wreck (they don't seem to have got the hang of tides over there), wait for someone else to appear, dump your air and free fall downwards mumbling 'WEEEEEEEEEEEE' through your regulator.
Coral everywhere. A bit less on deeper wrecks but coral and colourful fish everywhere. August is low season as it's the wet season, although first week was glorious. It's generally less windy in wet season which makes the rides to the wrecks that much more comfortable and dry. Very few other divers around, the locals reckoned this is the best time to come. Lunch was not included, and usually consisted of a few cans of sprite and pringles or nuts or biscuits from the hotel shop. Lunchtime/de-fizz time was usually spent on the island of Eten, where the dive shop has erected thatched wooded shelters and benches, and has a rather basic toilet. It also had loads of palm trees and banana trees. One day we went to an island about 20m in diameter, boasted 14 palm trees, a large shack-type building in the middle, a few sun shelters and a loo. It was surrounded by sand made from broken up dead coral. Two guys seemed to live there, couldn't quite work that one out.... Another day we stopped on Dublon, Truk's second island. It was the Japanese Military HQ, and when the yanks arrived, most of the Japanese were on Dublon waiting for lifts home, so they chucked them all over there and made their base on Moen. Dublon is where all the dive staff seem to come from, and Nick guided us around some of it. There are no roads to speak of and is very rural compared to Moen, but rather nice and laid back, and hot! Well, that was it for Truk. Kit had to be dried out and packed ready for the lift to the airport at 3pm on Saturday.