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October 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Kosrae and Yap, Micronesia

two magical stopovers in the mid-Pacific

from the October, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

"How many sharks did you see?" "There were so many, I lost count." "I saw at least three dozen." "And what about that awesome group of eagle rays?" Had you been aboard my dive boat after our dive at Hiroshi Point in Kosrae in July, you would have heard this exuberant conversation. Pretty amazing.

One of the four Federated States of Micronesia, Kosrae earns its reputation as the "hard coral capital of the world," but it's also a hard-to-get-to destination, requiring stops at Majuro and Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands, after departing from Honolulu. Because the United Airlines flight doubles as a U.S. mail and island supply flight, our plane departed late to accommodate cargo loading. When I deplaned nine hours later into the heat and humidity, I felt like I had hit a brick wall.

Kosrae Nautilus ResortKosrae Nautilus Resort sent a driver to pick up my buddy and me, and the 15-minute drive there offered a preview of the "Island of the Sleeping Lady," a mountainous island covered with dense vegetation, banana trees and coconut palms. Doug Beitz, once an Aussie fireman, and his wife, Sally, run the resort, having built it in 1994 simply because they wanted to do something new. After we checked in, softspoken Doug sat down with us to discuss the kind of diving we wanted. The weather had been unusual, he said, with typhoons to the north sending swells, reducing visibility and lowering the water temperature to 80 degrees from a year-round normal of 83 degrees. Each morning, Doug would check the weather to determine which side of the island would have the best conditions before deciding what boat to take. He keeps one at two different marinas to get to the best diving.

Daily, we traveled five minutes by van to their 27-foot Poseidon, a comfortable covered aluminum boat with tank racks down the center, a bench for gearing up, and plenty of storage. Departing from Lelu Harbor, we dived the north and east sides of the island, once as the only divers, twice sharing the boat with two others, and never saw another dive boat. Sixty mooring buoys mean dive boats are not dropping anchor, so the reefs, which begin at 30 to 40 feet along a wall sloping down for hundreds of feet, are free from diver destruction, though they show occasional storm and surge damage. Being someone who mostly dives the Caribbean, I was amazed at the range of coral species. At Hiroshi Point, going no deeper than 60 feet, I swam through a Dr. Seuss storybook, with fish everywhere, including Moorish idols, emperor angels, bird wrasses, pyramid butterflies, and clownfish. The coral looked like dripping sand castle homes that might be found in Whoville. Resembling inverted icicles, another type of coral reminded me of a cave full of stalagmites, although I was still in open water....

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