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May 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Truk Odyssey, Chuuk, Micronesia

great rooms, food, and wreck dives, but an unattentive crew

from the May, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

The 132-foot Truk Odyssey arrives at the dock at Blue Lagoon Resort every Saturday at 5 p.m. sharp to pick up guests. My dive buddy and I were ready to be loaded onto a skiff with our luggage for a seven-day charter. The other two with us were a Canadian couple in their 50s who had dived the world but had never been to Chuuk (the island's official name, although Truk Lagoon is what the world-famous dive site is typically called). They weren't technical divers, but as I mentioned in last month's travel story (I wrote about my three-day stay at Blue Lagoon Resort so I could compare Truk's land-based and boat-based diving), many of the dives, featuring wrecks of Japan's WWII fleet, are within sport divers' depths. Still, would they have the skills to handle diving down deep into dark, cramped ship holds? And could they do that all easily with an 80-cu-ft aluminum tank, and without dive guides there to monitor them? As I found out, my fellow divers on this trip were a great example for showing the pros and cons of sport diving on wreck dives below 100 feet.

Truk OdysseyThe Odyssey crew gave us four a cordial greeting, then showed us to our cabins -- the ship has seven doubles and two single for up to 16 guests. Captain Mike Gerken, who gave up the corporate life in New York City to become an Asia-Pacific dive pro, cheerfully went through the formalities of waivers and delivered a safety briefing. In his early 50s, Captain Mike is also a photographer and documentary maker who has been in Truk Lagoon for 16 years.

As an early boarder, I took first dibs on dive stations, and started setting up gear. The dive deck was a spacious one, with storage bins under the seats and room for two tanks in racks at each station. My buddy and I were doing side-mount diving (read John Bantin's story last month about why it's so great). With side-mounted tanks, the one on my left side is set up with a standard valve, while the right has a valve with the handle on the opposite side, so that the two valves are mirror images of each other. The Odyssey carries sets of double tanks, each with right- and left-hand valves connected together, that can be taken apart to make two tanks with the proper side-mount valve configuration. But on my trip, the not-so-great crew (more on them later) was reluctant to split them up. Fortunately, I brought my own nonstandard valve for the right tank, and the crew fulfilled my request by installing it on one of their 80-cubic-foot aluminum tanks. Nitrox was included for those certified, and it ran at 29 percent....

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