A Travellerspoint blog

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History of Homan: Part 1

The first discovery in 1983

sunny 35 °C
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Breakfast of Champions:
Brian was a little concerned the other day that he had a doctor's appointment at 8 in the morning. Probably the worst of this was the fact that he had to stop drinking at 8 the night before so they could perform some tests.
At 11am today I finally got out of bed, it being my day off, and ventured down to Vasco's for breakfast. Brian came over to show me the magazine that signifies the peak of his colourful career; a feature in a Dutch 'girly' magazine.
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I said I assumed the test results had come back ok and he said "Of course! I've had two drinks already!"

I told Brian he must have a secret to finding so many wrecks throughout his illustrious career. He said it is partly a matter of luck, partly a matter of knowing your history. Brian has made a point of documenting where the ancient trading ports were; such as Manilla, Malacca and Puerto Galera; the location for his first wreck discovery. Determining the direction of prevailing winds in these locations as well as significant headlands and the depth and location of shallow reefs nearby, it is a relatively straightforward process of scanning the ocean within a 6-7km radius of these points for anything 'unusual.' By unusual he means shapes that are not created naturally; for instance a perfect circle or a straight line, an unnatural rise in the sea bed which could signify a buried pot or vase. Whatever the trick may be, it is true that Brian's expeditions have led to the discoveries of several valuable and historically significant maritime wreck sites, and the recovery of many marine artifacts.

1983:
"As always, the wonders of the underwater world encompassed me as soon as the waves were a few feet above my head.... I wasn't looking for anything in particular, when I spotted a circle in the golden sand of the sea bed... The excitement within me was now so intense I could hardly breathe into my regulator. Currents slowly cleared the water and there, shining golden a few centimeters in front of my face, was the curling, clawing be-fanged emblem of the Dragon Throne of Imperial China."

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In the passage of Puerto Galera, off Mindoro, which here proves to be a 'Port of Galleons,' Brian first fell in love with, and began his life in the Philippines with his then-wife and business partner Alin at Captain Gregg's under the coconut palms of Sabang Beach. This is where he made his first in what was to become a career and lifelong obsession with wreck salvaging. The discovery was of a 15th Century 'Balanghai,' or Malay-edge dowelled sailing vessel, containing hundreds of pieces of blue and white Ming Dynasty pottery resting in the sands of the Philippine sea floor. The find has been conservatively estimated to have originated in 1500 AD. What has caused such insurmountable interest among experts here in the Philippines is not only the unique and historically priceless value of the cargo, but also the ship that carried it. Investigations have concluded that it was made of South East Asian black teak (found in areas of the Philippines but not China), indicating that big Chinese junks carried trade goods down to the Philippines and then cargoes were loaded on to local vessels for distribution. This would indicate a much more sophisticated trade pattern than previously imagined.

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"But out there, somewhere amid the twisting channels and countless waterways, through the passages and lagoons that separate the Philippines Islands, I believe there is a lot more to discover that can bring us closer to an unrecorded past."

References:

Homan, B. (2011), 'Looking For Lobster,' Active Boating and Watersports magazine, March, Vol. 11, Iss. 1

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Some of the treasures from Brian's first discovery....

'Taking a Plunge Into History,' South China Post, June 9, 1984

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Sinclair, K. (1984), 'Riches of the Incredible Hulks,' Sunday Telegraph, July 22, 1984

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Lammoglia, Umberto (1988), 'Brian Homan is Capt'n Gregg,' Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday, July 17, 1988 (also my birthday woohoo!!!!)

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Sinclair, Kevin (1984), 'Treasure Island,' Discovery magazine, September, Vol. 12, No. 9

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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:00 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay tour scuba dive wreck subic vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre Comments (1)

Night Diving

No blog yesterday, I had more important things to do.....

sunny 34 °C
View Dive Master Lifetime Adventure on VascoDiveMaster's travel map.

It was a running joke during my Fiji trip last November, that of every turtle siting on our dives, I missed Every. Single. One!

Until last night..... I saw my first EVER green sea turtle!!! No longer can my friend Bill, (who has just subscribed to my blog!) have a chuckle over my desperation that I just wanted to "see a freakin' turtle" but can now instead picture me having a cry into my reg and then trying to unfog my mask.

Night diving on the beautiful 'Canyons' site behind the quaint Grande Island is smack bang in the middle of Subic Bay. Believe it or not, Subic Bay isn't just about wreck diving, the amazing coral reefs that are abundant here have somewhat been left in the shadows; but that's just what we were looking for last night. The topography of Canyons is spectacular, weaving in and out, up and down the many valleys through the reef, cutting deep into the ocean floor, giving it it's name. At a maximum depth of on 14m, Canyons is a really beautiful dive for beginners, but the abundance of marine life; corals, fish, crustaceans and as I found out, turtles (!) makes it a photographers dream but which I found out, whilst trying to hold a torch steady in one hand, a camera in the other and also maintain your buoyancy... is actually quite difficult!

Last night's dive began with a rough start; it is only my second night dive (ever) and started off finding out that my brand new torch doesn't work. I may not have admitted this to many people before today but I am actually quite scared of the dark! From now on I draw the line at purchasing any more Cambodian-engineered diving equipment. Without having much experience, diving at night is really difficult to relax yourself into; with the absence of light you really feel like the water and the darkness is suffocating you; the only life that exists for you in that moment is what lands within the beam of your torch. Turn off your torch and you can't see your hand in front of your face. Turn your torch to your left or right and you just escape crashing into a column of rock and coral you didn't know was there! All you have to trust in is your own equipment and the dancing beams of light from the other divers. Once you can get past the disconcerting claustrophobic feeling, you suddenly become aware of all the amazing things going on around you that you miss during day light hours; electric yellow eels poke their heads out of their caves to inspect:P1010172.jpgP1010174.jpgP1010191.jpgP1010193.jpg
Tiny crabs and enormous hermit crabs are conducting their business:P1010181.jpgP1010180.jpg P1010141.jpg
Blue painted lobsters can be seen hiding under ledges and everywhere you turn, hundreds of beady little eyes are peering out at you!P1010164.jpgP1010163.jpg

But the absolute highlight was the amazing green sea turtle. P1010200.jpgP1010199.jpg
This beautiful creature, poor thing, was asleep under a ledge before Jayson spotted him and woke him up. To say thank you, the turtle did a graceful little dance, let Jayson rub his shell, bumped me out of the way and took off! Probably the most awe-inspiring moment of my life.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:04 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay tour scuba dive wreck subic vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre Comments (1)

Night Diving

No blog yesterday, I had more important things to do.....

sunny 34 °C
View Dive Master Lifetime Adventure on VascoDiveMaster's travel map.

It was a running joke during my Fiji trip last November, that of every turtle siting on our dives, I missed Every. Single. One!

Until last night..... I saw my first EVER green sea turtle!!! No longer can my friend Bill, (who has just subscribed to my blog!) have a chuckle over my desperation that I just wanted to "see a freakin' turtle" but can now instead picture me having a cry into my reg and then trying to unfog my mask.

Night diving on the beautiful 'Canyons' site behind the quaint Grande Island is smack bang in the middle of Subic Bay. Believe it or not, Subic Bay isn't just about wreck diving, the amazing coral reefs that are abundant here have somewhat been left in the shadows; but that's just what we were looking for last night. The topography of Canyons is spectacular, weaving in and out, up and down the many valleys through the reef, cutting deep into the ocean floor, giving it it's name. At a maximum depth of on 14m, Canyons is a really beautiful dive for beginners, but the abundance of marine life; corals, fish, crustaceans and as I found out, turtles (!) makes it a photographers dream but which I found out, whilst trying to hold a torch steady in one hand, a camera in the other and also maintain your buoyancy... is actually quite difficult!

Last night's dive began with a rough start; it is only my second night dive (ever) and started off finding out that my brand new torch doesn't work. I may not have admitted this to many people before today but I am actually quite scared of the dark! From now on I draw the line at purchasing any more Cambodian-engineered diving equipment. Without having much experience, diving at night is really difficult to relax yourself into; with the absence of light you really feel like the water and the darkness is suffocating you; the only life that exists for you in that moment is what lands within the beam of your torch. Turn off your torch and you can't see your hand in front of your face. Turn your torch to your left or right and you just escape crashing into a column of rock and coral you didn't know was there! All you have to trust in is your own equipment and the dancing beams of light from the other divers. Once you can get past the disconcerting claustrophobic feeling, you suddenly become aware of all the amazing things going on around you that you miss during day light hours; electric yellow eels poke their heads out of their caves to inspect, tiny crabs and enormous hermit crabs are conducting their business, blue painted lobsters can be seen hiding under ledges and everywhere you turn, hundreds of beady little eyes are peering out at you!

But the absolute highlight was the amazing green sea turtle. This beautiful creature, poor thing, was asleep under a ledge before Jayson spotted him and woke him up. To say thank you, the turtle did a graceful little dance, let Jayson rub his shell, bumped me out of the way and took off! Probably the most awe-inspiring moment of my life.

In case your wondering I DO have proof, but we are currently experiencing technical errors. Trust me, photos are on their way!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:04 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines bay tour scuba dive wreck subic vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre Comments (1)

The Case of the Health Inspector

sunny 36 °C
View Dive Master Lifetime Adventure on VascoDiveMaster's travel map.

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.
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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!

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The Waterfront

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Waterfront Sunset

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One Too Many

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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)

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