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Me diving

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Philippines 2012: Day 3: Some more tech diving

We planned a slightly deeper dive for the morning, to a site called Deep Atolls, which is basically just further out than a popular recreational site called Canyons.  So we dropped at Canyons and scootered out from there.   The scoot out was quite nice, zooming through the canyons, which had quite a bit of soft coral on them.  Not the brilliantly colored stuff that they have in Fiji, but just lots and lots of pastel-colored stuff.  After quite a bit of scootering, we eventually came to deeper water, with these spits of reef that extended out, with patches of sand between them.  They totally reminded me of pinnacles, NorCal style.  In fact, I was thinking as I scootered along them just how similar it was to diving at home.  Big structure, colorful reef, lots of gorgonians.  But just a teeny bit warmer! :)  We saw a school of barracuda when we got out to the end of the first deep pinnacle.  We looked around there for a bit and then continued out to the next one.  After just a moment there, we headed back over to the first one.  When it was time to switch off of my stage bottle, I went to clip off my light, and the double-ender just slid through my fingers.  Sadly, I was over a bottom that was just a bit too deep to go after it.  So after yelling a few choice words through my regulator, I figured out how to make do without the double ender (because I didn’t have a spare… Rob always has a spare, but since he was diving sans pockets, that was no good).  Amazingly, this was just the second time I’ve ever dropped a double ender in the water, and the first time was the week before! (But that was during a Fundies class, so I recovered it the next time we dropped down the line.)  So needless to say, I felt like a moron.  After I finally dealt with the light, I went to pin my trigger, and found that my trigger pin had gone walk-about.  And since this wasn’t my scooter (which has a nice little spot to stow the pin AND a backup pin), I had no backup, so just had to deal.  Grumble!

Not too long after the bolt-snap debacle, we headed in shallower.  The great thing about this site is that it’s a really nice dive site the whole way up to 20 feet.   After a fairly long scoot in, we stopped at 80 feet, and the whole time, I felt like I was forgetting to do something, but couldn’t figure out anything I should be doing.  When we got to 70 feet, and I switched to my deco bottle, I finally realized that lately, whenever I do a 3-bottle dive, it is 3 deco bottles, so usually I switch to backgas at 80 feet.  Once I figured that out, I felt sort of relieved that there wasn’t something I’d actually forgotten.  Once we got onto our bottles (and I dealt with my GD light without a bolt snap and GD scooter without a trigger pin), Rob whipped out his camera for a few shots.  Then we slowly scootered in from stop to stop.  I must confess that pretty much the whole 50% portion of the deco, I was a bit confused about what our deco schedule was.  We had discussed one thing at 70 feet, and then seemed to be doing longer stops, so I just waited until everyone else was ready to move and followed.  There was also an accidental gauge reset somewhere in there that added to my confusion.  Apparently Ferg had countered our proposal, and I had missed that.  On the way in, we passed a group of divers from Atlantis, being led by Cris; we waved hello to each other.   When I got to 30 feet, and started fumbling with my light, I looked up and Steve had a spare double-ender for me.  Phew.  Then I asked if he had a trigger pin; he handed me one and I proceeded to drop it (but since I was over a hard bottom, I was able to retrieve it).  I think my hand was cramped from scootering with a slightly off tow cord length.  The 20 foot stop was quite fun; there was lots of stuff to look at to pass the time.  We did an excessively long deco (in my opinion), but who cares in water like that?

Once back on the boat, we headed back to the shop, and after making plans for another dive in the afternoon, we adjourned for a couple hours to have lunch and leave time for gas fills.  We planned to meet a little bit earlier, because we were heading to Verde Island for the afternoon dive.  We were headed to a spot called Black Fish, which is on the near side of Verde Island.  It is on one corner of the island, and apparently lots of fish like to congregate there sometimes.  Unfortunately, when we were there was not one of those times.  We actually saw relatively few fish in the deep areas on this dive.  Anyhoo, on this dive we scootered down a fairly steep slope, and eventually hit a dropoff, and the followed the wall in one direction.  Off of the wall there were some little pinnaclets on which there were more of those nice big sea fans.  We also saw the one and only shark of our trip on this site; a nice-sized reef shark just milling about.  The wall at this site was quite dramatic, so for me, the site was really about structure (at least the deep part).  We eventually turned around and headed back along the wall in the other direction.  My scooter stuck on in a manner that I was unable to resolve myself.  So I jammed my hand into the hub (and got a nice hub-shaped bruise in the process) as the scooter proceeded to not de-pitch itself, and started scootering in a big loop around Rob.  Eventually Rob and Ferg unclipped it from me and Ferg switched scooters with me.  Once I was finished clipping his scooter on, I looked over and saw that mine was no longer running.  I wondered what trick he had up his sleeve, but apparently the scooter finally just wore itself out and died.  So from there, Steve towed Ferg (despite my offer to give Ferg’s scooter back to him and be the towed). 

By this point it was time to head up the slope anyway.  This was actually the nicest part of the dive.  From about 100 to 70 feet, the reef was really quite stunning.  Lots of fish, lots of color, this would make a great recreational dive spot.  Despite some dire warnings about possible downcurrents as we worked our way up the slope, we basically had no current on the way up.  So it was a nice relaxing deco.

When we surfaced, it was raining and the ride back was kind of ugly.  But it added to the adventure.  When we got back to the shop, we decided that we would dive the next couple of days with Atlantis, so we took most of our gear back with us, at least what we would need for recreational diving over the next few days.  Or so I thought :)

Rob did a night dive that night, but I had spa plans, so I skipped it.  So of course they went out to an awesome muck site that I wanted to go to, and found flamboyant cuttlefish.  Boohoo.

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