Okay lets visit the Island of Lukunor and the Mortlockese people that live here. The People of Lukunor are organized into a number of matriarchal units, which best I could understand was related somehow to they arrival on the island as in a long long time ago. These units are ranked with the elders of the highest ranked unit (those whos ancesters sailed to Lukunor first) are the big bosses within the units are large families and they seem to be the real working connections a family unit may have a number of huts but will share a common place to cook and support child rearing and food gathering fishing that sort of thing.
One experience of a life time is to sail in an ocean going traditional Micronesian wa waiy it is one of the "finest types of sailing outrigger canoe ever designed." The guy who discovered Guam was very impressed when they went whizzing by the Spanish fleet like they were standing still. The sailors can find their way in open ocean using stars to navigate very impressive in fact they have in their traditional belif that the stars and the sea flow together.
The Mortlock islands run across a large strech of the pacific and are about 200 miles (300km) south and east from the Chuuk Lagoon. The Mortlockese are really very kind gracious gentle, laid back folks. The Mortlockese seem to be quite a religious bunch. I attended a number of churches and even a tradition (sprit visit them after a member of the family dies) anyway the local church seems to be the center of life for many. But that being said traditional beliefs still run very strong and they still carve the wonderful Mortlockese masks out of hibiscus wood. The adventure of going to the "outer islands" is really exciting and very much worth the effort. The outer islands are so very peaceful and calm, and modern "niceties" of life are not to be found imagin no TV -- one place on earth. The only way to interact with the rest of the world is by solar powered radios using gasoline- or solar-powered radios. To get to may of the other outer Islands in the Matlocks, you need to sail aboard one of the state’s two ships.
Well as you can imagine diving or snorkeling (which is far easer with out real dive support) is as you can imagine something fantastic when you are the only one doing it and you will be in the Southern Islands of Chuuk for sure. The Claims are so huge, the fish so bright and beautiful in water that is as clear as gin with visibility of 175ft (60 meters) being quite common. The Water Temperature is around 80 F degrees (27 C degrees) 365 days a year.
The visibility often exceeds 150 feet (50 meters) and can top 200 feet. Where there are currents visibility varies from 30 feet (10 meters) up to 100 feet (30 meters) with the average being about 50 to 60 feet..
Island Life is very simple yet culturally so rich with their own music dance and wonderful stories that go back thousands of years. The Islanders seem to have plenty of the staple foods such as seafood, bananas and Taro. Also they have chickens for the special occasion. I was thirsty and wondered up to a village hut and was asked if i want to drink yes i said.. So the Elder in the family pointed at a 10 or 12 year old boy who went up a coconut palm whacked off a coconut and I had a tasty safe drink much better than bottled water.
The Nomoi or Martlock Islands are the southern most group of Atolls in the State of Chuuk which is the central group of Island that makes up the Federation of Micronesia. The atoll of Lukunor is one of the Martlocks/Nomoi Islands and it along with the other Islands in this group has its own language and culture.
Now this is the place that invented long range navigation. About 6,000 Mortlockese (also know as Takuuese) live in Island with names almost no one has ever heard of and place almost no VTer has been -- places like Lukunor, Nama, Satawan, Losap, Namoluk, Piis, Oneop, Etal, Kutu, Moch, , and Ta. But they are oh so nice, so far away and so untouched by tourists still.*
As with most of Micronesia, the Chuukese sunsets are just amazing. Each day the clouds lay a little bit differently against the horizon, but you are invariably treated a glowing sunset over the lagoon...
As fortune would have it, the best bar in town is situated in the perfect spot for watching the day's lights fade away...
And I must say that a couple cans of Fosters, whilst tell big fish stories with your mates just adds to the enjoyment...
There are a bunch of small local kids on the island, and they will invariably follow you around as you tour the sites.
Since this island is private land, they ask you to donate a dollar for access. I didn't have any small bills in my wallet so I offered the kids some foreign currency that I had. Even though they'lll likely never be able to spend it, they seemed to get a kick out of trying to read the foreign scribble on the money....
So if you ever run into some kids in Chuuk packing Egyptian Pounds or Burmese Kyat, its a pretty safe bet where they got it from...
Eten Island is a fun place to kill some time between dives. It was completely leveled by the Japanese military and turned into a big air base. (looked just like an aircraft carrier from above).
The old runway is now covered with palm trees, though you can still find pieces of bombed out planes in some of the craters on the island.
Also, the old command buildings still remain here in their bombed out state.
The Sankisan was one of my favourite dives in the lagoon. Beautiful soft coral growth, and the holds are full of memorabilia to explore and a divable depth. (Max is about 100 ft)
Also interesting to the the aft half of this ship which was complete blow apart. (obviously the result of some sort of secondary explosion of ordinance in the holds when the ship went down....)
Dont miss this one...
The Heian Maru is a large cargo ship, which is about 500 ft long and sits in 110 feet of water. Its famed mostly for for having it's name still legible on the bow of the ship and for an extensive collection of chinaware.
The Rio de Janero Maru is a passenger ship which is both a pretty easy and attractive dive.
The ship sits on its side in about 85 feet of water. Look for the scads and scads of Sake bottles in the cargo area.
I dunno, this seems to be a recurring theme on a few of these ship... (Many. many more Sake bottles than bullets, or guns or tanks...)
Deciding factor in WW2 ?? I dunno, you can decide for yourselves...
Though certainly not the most exciting dive in the harbour, the Betty Bomber does make for a little variety from all the ship wrecks.
The fulelage and wing sections are mostly intact, with the cockpit broken off just in front. You can find both engines about 50 off the left side of the aircraft.
The plane sits in about 50 feet of water, so it makes for a real relaxing third dive of the day...
Amazing amount of colourful soft coral growth on the masts of this ship. Rather than ascending up the boat bouy line, come up at along the masts and take your safety stop over there.
This will give you more time to enjoy the coral and fish circling the upper parts of the ship.
Zeros is the hold... Wonderful to see, but a b*tch to take a picture of.... (Dark and extremely silty down there...)
But the Diving Gods were with me on this particular day... Because, as fortune would have it: (1) There were only two divers on this dive so it kept the silt down a bit, and (2) My buddy's camera dropped dead just before the dive, so I was able to slave his and my strobes together to get a bit more light on the planes...
Still not a great picture, but at least you can see the features pretty clear....