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Night Diving

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

sunny 34 °C
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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 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.

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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.
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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)

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.

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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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