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I saw a Turtle I saw a TURTLE!!!!

sunny 35 °C
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Today was probably one of the BEST dives I've done so far in Subic! And I've been so distracted these last couple of days I forgot to mention we have discovered a completely untouched, never before dived, absolutely unbelievable coral reef that just about blew my mind! .... So we've called it 'Nat's Reef.'

Not only was it a mass of coral in every shade of the rainbow, but there were also large nudibranch on this site that I havn't seen in any other dive site in Subic or in fact anywhere at all! As we descended we ran into a freakin turtle!!! A little smaller than the first I ever saw but he didn't seem to mind us at all and just plodded along in front, playing dive master and giving us the official induction to Nat's Reef. Of course, knowing that it would be so spectacular, Einstein forgot to charge to camera and so I have done my best to (unsuccessfully) recreate the moment through Google Images;

pink-slug-160.jpg According to the fascinating read that is 'Nudibranch Behaviour' this guy is a reticulated wart slug, which sounds really appealing!pyjamas_nudibranch.jpgThis guy, and I'm not kidding either, is a Pyjamas Nudibranch! But last, and not least....
sea-turtle-2.jpg It goes without saying that the turtle is the most beautiful thing in the sea.

On a less sober note, you know you're getting old when evenings in the 'Captain's Corner' at Vasco's have been dominated by Brian's new party trick with his personal blood pressure machine. Lowest score buys the round, and I have been blessed with the blood pressure of a half-dead Buddhist Monk.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:31 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving beach island philippines summer sun paradise tropical scuba manila asia turtle luzon subic south_east_asia dive_master subic_bay dive_centre blood_pressure Comments (3)

Lazy Days

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Have taken a break from designing jewelery with Gregg this afternoon to have a bit of a gloat about the little jaunt I took on the boat this morning to Silanguin Island; a little slice of heaven just beyond the watercolour mountains I stare straight at, out the office window. I had a whole stretch of glittering black sand beach to myself. It was beautiful. Enough said.

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9100_1153.jpg These beautiful shells washed up on the shore before my eyes.
100_1162.jpg These are my snazzy new sandals on my freshly painted feet, which cost half the price that they would back home... the sandals not the feet. About 30 seconds after this photo was taken a freak wave flew up the side of the boat and snatched one clean off my foot. It took 15 minutes, half a tank of fuel and some skillful maneuvering by Captain Rodger to retrieve it.... Totally worth it!

Found a new dive site yesterday in Triboa Bay; a steep wall of beautiful hard and soft corals and the busiest concentration of fish I have seen in Subic Bay. We will be back in the next day of two to suss out the rest of this reef and hopefully attach a float so we don't have to put an anchor near the coral.

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3P1010172.jpg The first and only orange nudibranch I have seen here; so precious!
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P1010170.jpg Yes, I know you're not meant to touch the coral, but this purple one felt like cotton wool!
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Gregg wants to call it 'The Drop Off' but I think it should be given something cooler like 'n@'s Wall' but any other suggestions would be appreciated?

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:18 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving beach white philippines sand black wreck sunburn dive_master subic_bay subic_dive_centre sunbathe Comments (5)

San Quentin

On the morning of April 27, 1898 the gunboat San Quintin and two merchant ships were scuttled to block the eastern entrance to Subic Bay....

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In a futile attempt to stop the invading Americans, Admiral Montojo of the Spanish Navy, thought that by blocking the eastern channel between Grande and Chiquita Islands, he could concentrate his land-based cannons on the western entrance. Coming ashore at Grande Island to inspect the defense works, Montojo was disappointed to find that four KRUPP 6 inch guns had not been installed due to lack of cement. A defense disaster for Montojo but a blessing for divers a century later.....
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Since Brian and his team discovered the wreck, it has deteriorated significantly; with it's guts strewn about the sea floor, but with the two large boilers still visible from the surface, as too the bow, stern and many of the ribs. 100_1132.jpg

There's very little current and plenty of young coral and tropical species of marine life. As a wreck dive, it is historic and doesn't have the hazards of modern shipwrecks. There are no areas to penetrate, but also no silt to stir up as the area is almost entirely covered in young coral growth. The San Quentin was the location chosen for me to test out a super groovy new wetsuit; significantly thinner than my previous one which requires me to carry only 4 pounds of weight now and has a large, reflective V down the middle which makes me feel like a Power Ranger. Unfortunately Jayson made a point of telling me I actually had it on backwards...... Dive Master FAIL!

Once I got my act together, I discovered The San Quentin is in my opinion, exactly what diving was meant to be... fun!

The visibility is so great here because it actually lies just outside the bay, with a good variety of marine life. It was also where we gave Mara her first un-official diving experience.
P1010076.jpg For a first try she was amazing! Connar came along and is starting to scare us a bit with his confidence and tends to stray off on his own....P1010082.jpg
Fortunately Gianne and I were there to keep things under control! P1010089.jpgP1010072.jpg

It was a dive of 'big things.'
Big visibility (10-12m)
Big pipe fish

Big clownfishP1010133.jpg
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Big (I mean GIANT) clams and other shell fish
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Big nudibranch P1010150.jpg
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Big hermit crabs
Big blue-spotted stingray

Big blue-painted lobstersP1010104.jpg
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And one iddy-bitty baby lion fish... so cute!
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It is allegedly one of the best night dives in Subic, so I am dying to try that out!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:52 Archived in Philippines Tagged turtles fish diving ocean philippines big tropical marine sharks asia scuba_diving whale subic lionfish clams dive_master subic_bay dive_centre Comments (6)

San Fernando

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I have had an epic couple of non-diving days. Yesterday the girls and I shopped up a storm in San Fernando, under the guise of allegedly getting Karen's car serviced. SM is the probably the most enormous shopping center I've ever seen in my life. We spent a good 3 hours wandering the SM department store; like DJ's or Myer back home but is comparable in size to the Telstra Dome. There was a point where I got lost amongst some 4000 pairs of thongs.

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Karen's son Cuther and Rose's son Connar got distracted by the unreal arcade at SM, but in the end at only 120 peso for a giant bag of tokens and hyped up on sugar, I think I had more fun than them!

Today has been similarly exhausting. Right now the roof is echoing with some solid cracks of thunder as another typhoon looms over the bay. No big deal really as the Philippines is like, a veteran of natural disasters.
Connar and I have spent the whole day fishing, swimming, kayaking and eating. P1010042.jpgP1010041.jpgP1010039.jpgP1010038.jpg

Shopping in Royal today the 'slightly larger' lady in front of me at the checkout scanned through nothing except a promotional 6-can box of Pringles chips, 2x 6packs of Kit Kat chunky's, a king-size Toblerone and a 10-pack of 'sugar-free' hot chocolate....enough said.

Am going to require therapy after missing the first State of Origin game last night. Of course, it was broadcast live in Australia, however the Australia Network here felt that the Great Game was less important to the Aussies abroad, than 4-year old re-runs of our only successful tv soap 'Home and Away.'
Tonight is the season finale of America's Next Top Model... regularly referred to by Gregg as his favourite show ;-) I don't mind it either, and have a date with the couch and a 'sugar free' hot chocolate.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:10 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines world bay tour scuba dive war wreck two wwii subic apocalypse end_of_the_world vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre uss_new_york 2012 Comments (2)

Receiving Some Invaluable Experience

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I've been entrusted to lead the group! I was nervous to start with, but I don't think your supposed to tell your customers that? However I managed to navigate myself and my divers around the Coral Canyons of Grande Island with no drama, ascending only about 5m from the boat, always feeling confident and in control. After being separated from Jayson at the Barges, I also led the group through the twelve blocks of demolished barge which Mark calls the Refern Dept. of Housing. I even had a chance to find three enormous blue-painted lobsters!

The El Capitan was a different story, diving with Josh; currently doing his open water and only on his second dive. Josh got distracted by the dolphins next door and forgot to check his air. Josh consequently ran out of air, however I was able to share my alternate before things got too scary. I had to thank him for providing me with some invaluable divemaster experience. He is now very much alive and after a few roadies on the trip back to Baretto, is still mad-keen on completing his open water course.

Yesterday, Gregg, his friend Cyril and myself tried to put our treasure hunting prowess to the test, checking out a cluster of surveyed anomalies mapped in the bay just next door to the restaurant. We were cut tragically short when Cyril tried to herd a lion fish away with his hands....

We sat around watching tv shows until 10pm when Gregg and I looked at each other and said "I'm bored, lets go diving!" Ordered a pizza, backyard engineered some mining-inspired head torches and went terrorising the resident lobsters beneath Vasco's, spotted a sting rayP7200486.jpg cuddled a puffer fish, played with some shrimpP7200501.jpg, stayed AWAY from the invisible and crafty stone fishP7200495.jpg less I end up in a similar predicament as Cyril, and got head-butted by a parrot fish. We didn't surface until 11.15 then tucked into the pizza which was waiting for us in the dive shop along with Gianne just back from work.
Before this, I never knew there were fish who fall asleep on their side, out in the open! They don't realise there are predators about until one by the name of Gregg has already picked it up. P7200483.jpg

We celebrated by having a barbecue on the balcony of Gregg and Gianne's apartment the other night with the whole family. Ate the most amazing steak of my life and had one glass of red, which according to Brian, is as close as you get to 'never drinking again.'

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:27 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines world bay tour scuba dive war wreck two wwii subic apocalypse end_of_the_world vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre uss_new_york 2012 Comments (1)

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