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Receiving Some Invaluable Experience

sunny 35 °C
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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)

I am Second-Hand

semi-overcast 35 °C
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Am feeling rather fragile after what began as a quiet night out to the Lighthouse, and ended this morning in a harrowing display of projectile vomit at 63 feet. I hold Gregg ultimately responsible for my current condition, which was partially influenced by the ridiculously amazing frozen Margaritas on offer at the Lighthouse restaurant on the waterfront.... and then the ridiculously amazing margaritas on offer around the corner at Swell Bar where Gianne works. large_100_1052.jpg

No matter how mouldy I may have felt, I am so glad I didn't miss the chance to dive the L.S.T. again. Where the middle of the ship has collapsed in on itself (totally stable, yea?), you can manage to swim up inside the wreck and make your way through the crew's quarters where there are still remains of the steel bed frames against the walls, bathrooms and electrical cables hanging from the ceiling. The exit is up a steep flight of stairs with only a few shards of natural light penetrating the roof and illuminating hallways. I honestly think it could be the location for an underwater horror movie. Creepy!

Out of the 72-odd photos I took on the LST today, only one came out well and I am a little proud of the ghost pipe fish I found, considering the state I was in. Please ignore the big smudge mark on the lens.
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Mark is an Australian guy who has been diving with Vasco's for three of four days now. He has just bought a whiz-bang underwater camcorder and has promised on pain of death that he will share said photos and videos with me in the next day or two. I believe there is a rather flattering video of me convulsing, purging my reg and just generally epitomises how rotten I feel. He felt so sorry for me that when he, his partner Patricia and friends came to Vasco's for dinner tonight I was invited along to commiserate. The live band arrived; a family of four beautiful singers and musicians. A solid mango shake later and I was good to rock n roll. We spent the evening listening to a sweet mix of Bob Marley, Elvis, Shakira and the Eagles. Yes, they do requests too!

Today's date sparked a conversation like most dinners I've experienced here; discussions about 2012. Will it? Won't it end? Allegedly someone predicted the sky will fall tonight, at 6pm New York time. Here, that will make it 6am tomorrow. So with the apocalypse allegedly arriving in 7 hours, and another typhoon looming over the mountains, we wait around for the world to end. I will be seriously disappointed if I die with a hangover.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 14:20 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)

Diving and Marketeering

The L.C.U. of Triboa Bay

sunny 36 °C
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Learning to clean a reg has it's advantages; not just to the owners of a dive shop who can then employ you as a slave, but breathing through a freshly scrubbed reg is more like breathing silk. It makes diving feel like a completely new experience!

I may have already done this dive close to six or seven times but the L.C.U. still leaves me feeling inside out and back to front.

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The 'Landing Craft Utility' lies on the sea bed of Triboa Bay on a queer angle of about 50 degrees. If you forget yourself whilst swimming across the deck, you may find yourself grazing a rust covered wall that came out of nowhere and disappearing into thick orange cloud which leaves you sideways with bubbles dragging up your mask.

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It is absolutely alive with marine life, and upon entering the boiler room you become surrounded by tiny, curious tropical fish who don't seem to mind if you reach out and give them a stroke. A tiny pipe fish made his way along the ships hull and the obligatory lion fish got a big agro and flared up at me...
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We ascended up the line to a family of fifteen or so baby squid in a streamline and glittering formation.
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The visibility is always unreal.
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This afternoon I went shopping with Rose to the Olongapo local market. From what I assumed would be a giant food market I found so much more. A treasure trove of souvenirs, mountains of colourful clothes and tourist t-shirts, bags upon bags of rice, amazing fresh banana fritters, thousands of pirate blu-ray DVDs (don't ask me about their quality!), garlands of jasmine flowers, piles of fresh and exotic fruit and an intoxicatingly pink store dedicated to Hello Kitty.

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You can even have a handbag made out of a cane toad if it tickles your fancy.
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I was most surprised by the local's attitude to my camera. I expected the familiar refusal or the Thai choral "One dollar!" and instead found the shiny, happy people leaping in front of my lens for a single opportunity to be caught on film.
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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 12:56 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving market shopping resort souvenirs wreck service equipment treasure subic fresh repair produce subic_bay salvage subic_dive_centre regulator dive_centre vasco's Comments (4)

USS New York

overcast 30 °C
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We had some ridiculously good visibility and the photography went nuts! Yes, I went a bit overboard, BUT today the USS New York made me a very happy girl :)
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I saw a cuttlefish! I great big purple, gorgeous cuttlefish who literally sat and posed for the camera. P1010312.jpgP1010316.jpg My Dad will remember me called them 'Bumpies' since I was a kid watching the cuttlefish bump their heads on the glass of their tank in the Merimbula Aquarium. I never thought I'd see one in the wild but Subic continues to throw up new surprises!

The star attraction among Subic's wrecks. The USS New York was a battle cruiser launched in the USA in 1891, but scuttled by US Marines in 1942, to prevent her falling into Japanese hands. The 120m-long hull lies on it's port side in 27m of water.

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The USS New York has gone through some name changes over it's service life, beginning as the New York before changing to Saratoga and then as Rochester, was laid up at the Subic Bay naval base in 1933 to be cannibalised for spares.

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This has been an unforgettable dive and is a little bit creepy. The fore and aft twin 8in main gun turrets remain intact and there is the opportunity for some remarkable swim-throughs on the starboard side corridors. Until today, the visibility has been limited to 4 or 5m which just adds to the atmosphere of diving here. To descend upon the New York and to see it in it's enormity emerging out of the murky gloom is a really remarkable experience.

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Slightly more remarkable was the fare-welling of one of my beloved black fins, 60% of which now lies on the sea floor of Subic Bay.100_1050.jpg100_1049.jpg
I might needlessly add that Brian has taken to it with some poetic liberty and a kitchen knife.... it shall eventually be mounted in Vascos Restaurant with this plaque:

Natalie Osborn
(1989-2011)
Shark Attack

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 13:56 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches birds boats diving philippines world bay tour scuba dive war wreck two wwii subic vascos dive_master subic_dive_centre uss_new_york Comments (5)

The Best Treasure.....

Trying to blog but have just been rudely interrupted by a couple on holidays that I met in Vasco's bar last night. I must have been charming because they have just decided to start their SDI Open Water Course.... tomorrow! Honestly, the nerve!

sunny 35 °C
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So it seems I have inherited a slice of Brian's treasure hunting finesse during my time at Vasco's.

This morning we took his young bloke Connar, and cousins Amanda and Justin; all undertaking their open water, to the site of some sunken barges close to Subic Airport.

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It's a really shallow, easy dive and Brian sent us all out the find glass coke bottles which look amazing on the bar in Vasco's Restaurant.
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Needless to say, we did actually find one or two coke bottles, but I did him one better....

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Surfacing not wearing my mask, but sporting a pair of brand new, made in Italy, VERY real Ray Bans!!!

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I'm pretty sure my find is valuable enough to rival some of the more rare and ancient pieces uncovered by Brian in the past.

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Just before our second dive of the day, Connar requested I take some photos of him learning to dive with Jayson so he can take them to school for show and tell:

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Pieces of the barges as we drifted across them:
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Some beautiful marine life I saw along the way:
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Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:44 Archived in Philippines Tagged diving resort wreck service equipment treasure subic repair subic_bay salvage subic_dive_centre regulator dive_centre vasco's Comments (6)

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