It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Philippines 2012: Day 2: Two dives with Tech Asia

On Wednesday morning, the boat from Tech Asia picked us (and more importantly our gear) up from the resort.  It was just a couple minutes ride over there, but I guess they thought this was the easiest way to move the gear.  We walked up to the shop, and met our guide, Ferg.  He told us we would be diving with another GUE diver, Steve, who showed up shortly after us.  It turns out (though we didn’t realize this until later) we had met Steve in Florida before.  Steve has done all of the dives in the area before many many times, so it was basically like having two guides.  We ended up doing a dive in the morning and a dive in the afternoon.

For the morning dive, we went to a site called Deep Monkey Wreck, which has a series of walls in the 18/45 range.  And then we would work our way up the reef (if the currents behaved) and deco all the way up the reef.  Woohoo.  After a briefing with a chalkboard and everything, we loaded up our gear (well actually WE didn’t load anything) and got going.  The boat we were on was a smaller version of one of those outrigger boats.  It was a nice spacious ride, but rolling off of the side was a bit nerve-wracking, at least the first time, for two reasons.  First, it is pretty high off of the water.  Second, there are those outriggers, which I was afraid of hitting on the way down (yes, I know that's ridiculous).  Actually there was a third thing too.  We were diving with scooters (Gavins, barf), and the usual protocol is to sit the scooter on the rail next to you, clip it to you, and then roll in with your hand on the strap.  I noted that I had never rolled into the water with my scooter before, and was given the option to have it handed down instead.  While mulling that over, I asked what would happen if I somehow screwed up the roll-in-with-scooter maneuver.  I was assured that the worst that would happen would the scooter would land on my head, so I decided to go for it.  In all, over the course of the trip, I rolled in off of that boat 4 times with a scooter.  I think the scooter landed on me at least twice, but much more impressively, on at least two of the dives, I did a complete 360 underwater before popping back to the surface.

Anyhoo, back to the dive.  The dive ended up being a little shallower than I expected;  I don’t know if we dropped in a different spot, or just didn’t cover as much ground as expected.  My scooter turned out to be a bit mis-weighted, so that when it was running, the handle was about 30 degrees off from where I would like it.  So that took a little getting used to.  We were initially over a slopey area, and then ended up on a wall, though it wasn’t a very tall wall (by local standards anyway).  The thing I found noteworthy about the site was that it was covered with sea whips (I think that’s what they are called… the things that stick out and look like fat pipe cleaners).   I was terrified of a sea whip versus scooter incident, so I was giving them quite a bit of space :P  Those were there on the slope and on top of the wall.  Once we got to the wall, there were also some really big sea fans along the side of the wall.  Eventually we turned around and headed back the way that we came.  Rob kept making me pose behind sea fans, which was tricky with the current.  I would scooter way up current and then get in position and drift along and hope he could get a shot or two before scootering back up-current and doing it all over again.  As promised, we deco’d up the reef.  And I got to enjoy crinoids in every freakin’ color of the rainbow.  I love crinoids!

After lunch at El Galleon resort, which is like a 2 minute walk from the dive shop, we met up again in the afternoon, and went back out for another dive in the same depth range.  This site was called Sweet Lips Corner, and featured a neat swimthrough with lots of sweetlips congregating at the exit.  We dropped in fairly shallow water, and then scootered down a long gradual slope, and eventually hit a dropoff.  After following along this dropoff for a bit, we found the swimthrough which went into the wall, then there was a sharp turn to the right, and it came out on the other side of a bend along the wall.  I swam into it first, and once I got to the area where it turned, I looked out and saw a bunch of fish congregating at the exit.  I figured if I swam out, it would disturb them, so I turned around and went back out, and told Rob to go through first.  He swam in and was in there forever and ever and didn’t end up taking pictures of the fish.  Not sure why.  Eventually I went back through and posed for pictures at the exit.  By this point the fish had mostly scattered, so they aren’t really evident in the picture.  Once we headed up the slope to start our deco, we found ourselves in a howling current.  It was crazy.  Until we got up to about 20 or 30 feet, we were just flying over the reef, which was fairly barren.  I entertained myself by videoing us being dragged along.  When we got to 30 feet, some patches of reef appeared, and then it was denser at 20 feet.  The current also died down, so we could actually swim around looking at critters.

We made plans to meet again in the morning for some more diving, and we walked back to Atlantis (which was an 8 to 10 minute walk along the water).

No comments: