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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
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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: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)

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?
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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)

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