We were up bright and early for Jenn’s final scuba lessons. We hoped to squeeze the pool and two open water dives into one day opening us up to diving the following day.
We caught some breakfast at the Blue Ribbon dive resort around the corner named and styled after the blue ribbon eel. I had the banana pancakes still trying to find some as good as the ones I had that morning at Seadive. All of the places here in Sabang make one giant pancake, but I think the key is to make normal sized pancakes with lots of thin slices of banana.
At the shop in time, Corey, Jenn’s instructor, goes over the different skills she will be practicing and how they’re done. He then grabs her and her gear and takes us to the next hotel over to use their pool for training. The plan was to do both confined water sessions at once instead of broken up over 2 days. I brought along Cloud Atlas, a book Jenn and I have been both reading to keep myself occupied while she was below the surface. I managed to get through nearly two whole chapters of Cloud Atlas, the story is just sooo good. I highly recommend it, if nothing else, for the novelty of how it’s written.
Jenn breezed through nearly all of the drills showing her aptitude and more comfort in the water. I think the two DSDs helped. But the drill she had struggled with in the past, the mask removal and clear reared its head again. It’s harder than it sounds, underwater you have to remove your mask, replace it and clear it of water by tilting your head back while blowing air out of your nose. The hard part is the foreignness of it. You get a splash of cold water over your face which can trigger an instinct to breath in that has to be ignored. The bubbles from the regulator hitting your nose can also be a problem. You then have to close off your nose like you have a head cold and not let out air or let in water. Then once the mask is back on you have to clear the mask as I described. But after a few tries she was able to do a circle of the pool with our instructor fine and moved on to the rest of the program. Squeezing two confined sessions into one tank was tight, when Jenn finished she had maybe 10bar left in her tank, nearly empty, not that this was a danger, she could stand up at any time if it did run out.
We then had some open water skills to practice so after a quick break we went out on a boat into the harbor to go dive some wrecks. The dive site was called Sabang Wrecks and has us diving in amongst bangkas and party boats. We were advised that when in doubt, try to surface next to a mooring line, boats will aim away from them even if they aren’t looking for divers. Down below, the water wasn’t as murky as I expected, the ground slowly sloping away deeper. Jenn continued to ace her drills while I looked around at the small clumps of coral near the sandy bottom. One little thing caught my eye, it looked like a tentacle sticking out of a piece of coral, it waved but not with the surge. I couldn’t tell what it was so I took a photo for later. Back on the surface with the help of a fish identification book we found it was called a Squat Shrimp. I was amazed how many different sizes and shapes shrimp came in down here, most evolved sophisticated camouflage. Corey also found us a sky blue colored Moray Eel that had found itself a pipe to live in.
The wrecks themselves, unlike the ones in Coron, were teaming with life. Fish flurried all around it. The depth now was at our limit we were advised to stick within for our level of training at 66 ft. Swimming around the wreck I saw all kinds of fish I’d never seen before, some plausible, others hardly. I saw one fish about 2 ft long thin as could be with a long beak and a diamond shaped pair of fins at his tail. I couldn’t figure out what it was, why it looked that way, or how it managed to get through the water with any kind of speed. We also saw a cow fish with its pair of horns and strange figure, and a puffer fish brisling with spines. The second wreck was made of metal not wood like the first and was much more held together. You could make out the cabin quite well and a fairly pronounced keel. I strayed around this boat a bit too much perhaps, looking under the stern I managed to hit 69 feet of depth. Ooops!
On our way back up Corey found a sea snake sitting on the bottom not moving. He tried to get the snake to move but was tentative and only got it to budge an inch before giving up. I got a decent shot at least.
My camera is rated for only 33ft, so taking it down to 69ft was a bit of an ask but it seems to work fine and survived. The buttons kind of stopped working at a point however, like the power button got stuck down and took some wiggling to get it to trigger the camera back on. The flash also turned itself on with pressure. Plus with the edges of the screen looking clearly to be receiving pressure and changing colors a little I doubt it would survive much deeper. If I want to have a camera that’s reliable at depth I think I either need an expensive enclosure for my SLR, or a GoPro Hero3 that lets me shoot in raw.
Jenn did her CESA which is a self-recovery technique on her way back to the surface. Corey and Jenn went through some surface drills like taking off and replacing a weight belt which looked much harder than the weight pockets we used for my training. Meanwhile I took my time getting back on board.
We had another dive to do, but the day was getting late so we were to come back first thing the next morning to do the last open water dive for Jenn’s cert, and perhaps a couple more fun dives.
Jenn though had more trouble with her ear sadly, it seems the decongestants her doctor told her to take wore off too soon with how long we were out and she got a bit of a reverse block coming up which is fairly painful. So while I sorted out our plans for the next day she rushed back to our room for some Afrin and Sudafed to relieve the pressure. We would need to see how she felt and possibly postpone a day. Luckily we have flexibility in our schedule still so it’s no problem. I was worried it was more like the first day we went diving and I really didn’t want her hurting her ears especially with less than a week till our flight home. She insisted it wasn’t nearly as bad and by the end of the night she thought it was pretty close to better. I feel guilty pushing her towards a sport that’s clearly been hard on her ears.
We had dinner at our hotel’s restaurant. We’d come to realize that in Sabang all of the restaurants serve huge plates and charge by Philippines standards huge prices. Capt’n Greggs had a BBQ thing going at night and the kabobs sounded nice but neither of us was horribly hungry so we determined to split a plate. Only that wasn’t easily communicated and we ended up with two expensive plates showing up.
I’m having trouble with the galleries, so I’ll have to come back to that later. I don’t want to fall too far behind with the posts. I’ll make another post when the galleries are up.