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Subic Summer

semi-overcast 33 °C
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I am still in a state of shock after finding out about the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan after almost 10 years. While it must be a relief and a sense of comfort to those families who tragically lost loved ones as a result of his terrorism plots, what a dreadful shame that we still see images of people celebrating this out on the streets; drinking and partying like it's new year. Congratulations you are a credit to instilling a sense of revenge and hatred in our next generation. Hate breeds hate.

Have vented my frustration with the BBC's glorification of Bin Laden's demise by smashing out my rescue diver scenarios this morning; including mastering rescuing Jayson, who played the unconscious diver inside the salvaged FedEx aeroplane and then threw in a little drama as the 'distressed' diver, focusing on calming the person before swimming below them, coming up from behind to grab their first stage, their inflator and dragging them back to the boat/shore. Between the physical exertion of dragging someone from the bottom of the ocean and today's 35 degree heat plus humidity which has hit my like a brick to the face, I am stuffed.

On the plus, I am slowly revving up the paces to becoming a dive master. The first lesson this afternoon was in filling tanks, which requires checking about four switches, two valves and three different gauges to make sure nothing explodes... no pressure right?

Today we picked up two divers who are diving with Vasco's for the entire week! They are staying in Sheaven's hotel;THE most beautiful hotel over the bay in Barretto, owned by Brian's ex-wife, also Gregg's mother. Vasco's regularly takes the speed boat out, or the beautiful bunker and picks up divers from their resorts all over Subic, diving equipment in tow, which saves them a lot of travel time. Mark, one of today's divers noted that it was a big advantage for Vasco's to do hotel pickups which is a service not offered by other dive centres in Subic.

I got to experience a brand new wreck today; in my opinion the Japanese Patrol Boat is the best I have seen so far! Comparing it to the L.C.U. wreck which sits on a dramatic almost 50 degree angle to the sea floor, which we dived again today, the Patrol Boat sits perfectly flat in 24 m of water. It could almost be mistaken for a garden, being absolutely overloaded with hard and soft coral, flooded with tropical fish (my favourites including moorish idols) with some fabulous swim-through's. Out on the L.S.T. again, I was really looking forward to the couple seeing the beautiful spotted eagle ray who is a resident of this awesome wreck dive. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen. I assume he has a Wednesday book club commitment or some such engagement.

One BIG thing I have learned from today's divers is to be aware of your fins. The coral here is so delicate that the slightest knock can damage it. Fins are an essential part of the diving get-up but divers are seldom reminded to watch where they end up. So this is me having a whinge- BE AWARE!

When it is as hot is it has been these last few days, forget the fan, forget air con, forget beer or iced water. There are few things that will satiate the heat quite like a good swim in the ocean. Out the front of Vasco's, the water is, in fact in ALL of Subic Bay, the water is so ridiculously clean sometimes I forget it is actually a shipping port! What you wouldn't believe is that there is also an abundance of beautiful coral here to rival some of the best dive spots in the world. When I am doing laps and watching the steam rise off the water I am counting my good fortunes on my fingers and toes.


Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:31 Archived in Philippines Tagged beaches diving terrorism philippines paradise america resort pakistan wreck cnn bin bbc dive_master osama laden Comments (0)

The El Capitan

The WWII wreck of Ilanin Bay, Subic

sunny 36 °C
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It is a very cool experience to watch your expired air bubbles snake their way up the walls and between corals and clams on the wreck of the El Capitan. Even more cool to surface inside the wreck in a large pocket of trapped C02! Warning: DO NOT BREATHE!

The 3000-tonne freighter, launched in 1917 was built to transport merchandise during WWII. While it was moored in Ilanin Bay, Subic, awaiting a refit, an enemy Japanese Submarine approached and fired upon the El Capitan causing irrepairable damage. Over two full days in 1946, the El Capitan died a slow death, where I find her today on her port side in an average of 18m of water.

It is a site where I have seen more marine life than anywhere else in Subic.

Jayson found the most delicate looking ghost pipe fish lurking near some similarly fragile soft orange coral and a blue ribbon eel gaping from his cave beneath some coral starkly resembling a vintage gramophone.

Ghost Pipe Fish

Ghost Pipe Fish

Blue Ribbon Eel

Blue Ribbon Eel

I could hear a high-pitched squeaking of what I thought was my ears being squeezed but turned out to be the singing of the Dolphins next door at Ocean Adventure!!!

Just as an aside, remember to bring a torch with you for the wreck penetration; it's an easy swim-through amid shafts of light that beam down through gaping holes in the starboard side, but a little extra light can show you some hidden treasures in the way of abundant marine life.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:21 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches parties night boats diving philippines dive wreck subic vascos Comments (2)

The Case of the Health Inspector

sunny 36 °C
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When I last spoke to Brian last over some oh-so-good Filipino breakfast loganissa, I mentioned the restaurant was not quite complete without a REAL parrot to complete the vintage Pirate-esque feel he has going on at Vasco's.
This is the closet thing Vasco's currently has to a real parrot :(

I was devastated to find out that not too long ago, there were TWO parrots and a white cockatoo!

Brian went on the explain that tragically he had to get rid of the birds after he was visited by 'The Health Inspector.' She came, she saw, she handed down three violations, of which Brian questions:

  1. 1 The restaurant needed to be fumigated
B: "What does this involve?"
I: "Well, you call the fumigators, you close all the doors and windows and they let a bug bomb off."
B: "I havn't got any doors or windows."

  1. 2 There was no fire escapes or emergency exit signs
B: "I havn't got any doors or windows and my restaurant is built over the ocean."

  1. 3 No birds are allowed in the restaurant
B: "So what do I do about the swallows and the sparrows?"

The solution to the fire escape situation was to hang life jackets from every door and window with the word "EXIT" scribbled on each of them.
The unfortunate truth is that Brian had to remove the parrots from the restaurant, who up until that point had mastered sneaking away with bottles of local Tanduay Rum and getting drunk and rowdy like some customers. But for the sparrows and swallows, the solution is below:
The solution

The solution

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:11 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay tour scuba dive wreck subic vascos dive_master Comments (2)

A Civilised Afternoon

What began as a civilized afternoon at Swell Cafe, visiting Gianne at work, quickly degraded into another raucous evening at Vasco's Restaurant.

sunny 36 °C
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The Girls at Swell Cafe

Due to the 36 degree heat, we had not only Swell, but the entire Waterfront to ourselves!

The Waterfront

Waterfront Sunset

One Too Many

A Few Too Many

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 17:57 Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay dive wreck subic vascos Comments (2)

Just Hit Dive 50!!!!

sunny 31 °C
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Two beautiful dives this afternoon has got me to crack the big five zero on my log book! Only ten to go and I can begin my dive master....

Jayson has been gradually tweaking my equipment to make diving as comfortable as possible. I've switched between regular air tanks and nitrox, having regular fins to now using some super awesome heavy duty chaps that let me fly through the water. But the best new toy I've been given at Vasco's is an unusual BCD with a rounded, donut-shaped bladder that apparently lets the air circulate in a different manner, to create equal buoyancy (or something like that) but boy! is it so much more comfortable to carry!

My new BCD with the Donut-shaped bladder

My new BCD with the Donut-shaped bladder

Now that I've tried this I don't think I will switch back.

I met another diver on the boat today named Steve. It's his second time diving in Subic, and what I HOPED was that he would be able to give Vasco's and the diving here in Subic a bit of a wrap up, as I assumed he had such a ball last time it had drawn him back. That's not exactly what I got. Thanks to the quality of Filipino internet and some technical difficulties from Traveler's Point, my video won't load but you can watch it on YouTube here:
Fun Diving with Steve and Vasco's

Today was my last day of fun diving before I get stuck into my Rescue Diver course tomorrow at 10am! We spent a lazy summer afternoon in the clearest blue water just off Grande Island at a dive site called Barges, ironically, because the US Navy used to site to scuttle about 6 of their old barges! A stone fish the size of my forearm had perched himself atop a precarious-looking larger stone whilst Jayson terrorised a poor sea cucumber which shot horrendous long white tentacles out at him, and the most delicate little fish I've ever seen which was apparently a lion fish minus the evil spines! The customary schooling trevally floated past us in a silent, glittering haze that temporarily blocked the sun whilst two fragile litttle cuttlefish bobbed past on my ascent. Today was the most relaxed diving I have had in Subic; the sun has not stopped shining, and a gentle breeze has been sailing through the resort. This is the view I am currently stuck view. Sometimes I find it difficult to put up with.


Posted by VascoDiveMaster 19:11 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay dive wreck subic vascos Comments (1)

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