Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

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Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:02 pm

Hey gang...I have been having a great time here in the Philippines...so much to see and do. The diving here is absolutley world class. Here are a few pictures:Image This is as we approached Puerto Galera.

Image A small fish guarding its "nest" which is an anenome

Image Here are a couple of our divers hanging on to a piece of a wreck at about 90 feet...we were caught in a raging current that eventually swept us to open water where our boat picked us up. (Don't worry...we actually planned this)

Image Verdi Island. Probably the finest scuba dive I have ever had. Absolutely spectacular underwater "cliffs" (walls) and living organisms on every single inch.

Here is a journal entry that I sent to my wife Bonnie...a recap of our experience on Verdi Island:

Wow...what a day! We planned a special side trip to Verde Island. As usual, it was the 4 amigos and the two gals (two SF cops). The first dive there was one of the most spectacular dives any of us have ever been on. Even Steve and Rick with 500+ dives each were hard pressed to remember a better one. The wall was amazing...hovering over 300+ feet of blue water with a wall literally covered inch to inch with life. Our first dive went really well. Verde is known for highly technical, challenging diving and we found this to be true in our second dive. Essentially we did the "same" dive as the first one, but came to the end point from the opposite direction as the first. We were swimming along around 75 feet when I stopped to take some pics. The group went on...no sweat, the visability is so good that you can always spot your buddies. However in this case, the wall took a sharp turn (like going around the corner of a building). So, figuring that there was only one way to go...I "followed" the course. I was starting to pick up some drift and compensated by kicking a bit harder...then, I saw bubbles...being blown totally sideways and thought..."holy _hit, what could be causing that"?. A minute later I found out. I saw Scuba Steve and Rich literally clinging to anything they could hold on to to stay on the wall. We were caught in a tremendous down current. In a matter of seconds, I was pushed to 90 feet...10 feet deeper than my planned depth. I angled up and started kicking as hard and fast as I could. I was still losing ground, but not as fast. Rich looked back with a "can you believe this?!" look in his face. Finally, I thought, "wow, I have got to get some positive boyancy" to offset this "liquid wind" that was blowing us to where we did not want to be. I started filling my BC as fast I could...I poured enough air into that thing to normally rocket to the surface. Finally...slowly, I started rising as I kept swimming directly toward the wall (even though I was only a few feet from it). I got up on top of the underwater river (current) and glided to a lee where I could rest. The other guys, literally swam and climbed the wall to get through it and burned a huge chunk of their air. After that encounter, we cruised through the rest of the dive and saw some spectacular things. We all know why Verde is rated as advanced diving and I felt like I earned my stripes on that one. We all relayed our experience to our dive master, Ambo. He had his hands full taking care of one of the lady cops who in fact was a novice diver. To his credit, he took her through a different route (we did not know he had, or that the alternate route existed) and managed to miss all the excitement. The other guys were flabberasted at the speed and ferocity of the current and basical ly said they swam though it. I told Steve and Ambo about the inflation technique I used as I "swam" towards the lee....Ambo, said that was exactly the right thing to do. Even Steve-o was a little sheepish on that one. Steve said he never encountered anything like that in his life. Anyway, we all reveled in the beauty of the place and the achievement of dealing with unknown extreme conditions.

Our third and last dive of the day was even more intense. However, this time we charted and fully planned our approach to a site known as "Washing Machine". If you can picture a sloping array of three ridges and valleys with a huge river of water, running through the "slots" that is Washing Machine. We approached perpendicularly from the side, at the bottom of the ridge. Just like the prior dive, as soon as we turned the corner we were met with a storm of water sweeping anything not tied down away. At least this time, it wasn't driving us into the sea floor, but rather out to open water. We each kicked as hard and fast as we could and took shelter in the lee at the bottom of the trough. As soon as everyone gathered and caught their breath, Ambo gave us the signal to attack the next ridge...up and over and then "blown" down the chute until we could find a lee and a hand hold. Once again, we rested and then up and over. We did this three times, and finally found a nice calm spot behind a large area of the ridge. Once everyone was assembled, we stuck our heads up and were all "swept away" into the open ocean just as planned. The whole dive lasted about 45 minutes. We all made our safety stop in open water, but were riding a huge current. Our boat swung over and skillfully picked us all up. Wow...what an experience!! This was an E-ticket ride if there ever was one. After the dive, beers were passed around the boat to all for a celebration toast. Short of a highly technical deep decompression dive, this was probably one of the most technically demanding dives I have ever done. We had excellent guidance and instruction and thoroughly enjoyed the "ride". I have to say though that after an entire day on a boat and diving etc., my body is still moving as I sit here...I guess I will sleep well tonight


So...today (Saturday here) is my last day of diving in the Philippines. I'll be back at my post for work on Monday. "Talk" to you then. Warn regards from the Philippines to all my B.com friends
Jamie

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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Serenity » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:58 pm

Jamie, it looks wonderful! Maybe you should do a Survivor stint next! :crazy:
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby piqaboo » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:35 am

Wow!
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby BigJon@Work » Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:52 pm

Double Wow! :shock:
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Trumpetmaster » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:57 am

Triple WOW! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Looks like you are having a GREAT Time!!!
Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:56 am

I think the whole :wow: response is unanimous. :shock:

Amazing.
>^..^<
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:43 am

Hey folks...home safe and sound now. Nice to be back in the USA. Glad you all enjoyed the journal of one of the dive experiences. It was quite a trip and one worth repeating if the opportunity ever comes. Next stop is Fiji in February. That should be a bit more "laid back".
Jamie

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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby barfle » Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:49 pm

SCUBA is one of those things I always thought would be cool to do, but never got around to.

Maybe it's because I took bar snorkeling once, and she pretty much swore off of being able to see in the ocean.
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Schmeelkie » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:59 am

Did some snorkling in the Caribbean on a cruise several years ( and 2 kids) ago. Really enjoyed it, but never got the hang of rebreathing so I could go deeper. Always thought SCUBA would be great - but big learning investment and equipment if you want your own...and upstate NY isn't known for it's great reefs... When the little ones are bigger, I want to take them somewhere tropical and go snorkling again.
"Up plus down equals flat" Pumpkin, 3 yrs, 10 mo, July '07
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Catmando » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:12 am

Awesome pictures Jamie! So then, "you are for SCUBA?"

Did you swim....with the belugas? :P
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:29 am

Did not encounter any Belugas during our week in the Philippines. We did encounter a 6 foot sea turtle, 7 foot sea snake (extremely venomous, but docile), a huge number of lionfish, scorpionfish, clown fish, frog fish, ribbon eels, sting ray, batfish, and unfotrtunately some jellyfish and stinging corals that managed to get inside my full body wetsuit.

SCUBA is a real passion of mine. This was a wonderful trip to one of the most diverse and heavily populated ocean sancutaries that one can dive. The ocean in the Philippines is akin to the rain forest in Africa.
Jamie

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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby piqaboo » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:36 am

Snorkeling is fun - spontaneous, easy, low equipment.

Scuba is like learning to run after only knowing how to crawl. Scuba is awesome.
It requires one to have a modicum of forethought (along the lines of "I've done 6 dives, maybe I should skip the night dive on the wreck at 100 feet"), and the ability to shut off panic.

Some of the best diving I've done (I have very limited experience) was in snorkeling waters.
The reef was only 14 feet deep. Many people were snorkeling and having a grand time. I was hovering 1 foot above the sand, face to face with the reef, watching one 4" long metallic blue damselfish defend itself against the territorial invasion of my mask, and another vs my flipper. I held still there for quite some time. Cant do that with a snorkel. Incredible.

I've been told our local kelp forests are some of the most beautiful and majestic diving there is. I may never know. Our water is cold. Wetsuits dont keep me warm in it. I wont afford a drysuit.
Jamie, come on down some time and check it out. We'll feed ya afterward, so we can live vicariously thru you! :wink:
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:52 am

piqaboo wrote:...Jamie, come on down some time and check it out. We'll feed ya afterward, so we can live vicariously thru you! :wink:

You can show us pictures, and we'll admire them. A lot.

One of the guys in my office is a diver. He brings in some of the most amazing photos of our local offshore wildlife. I don't think he cares about the local water temperature, though - he's one of those people who finally puts on a long pants about the time I'm wearing three layers of wool. You should plan on fairly cool water.

Besides, you have yet to try OT's favorite barbeque joint.
>^..^<
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:00 am

Thanks for the invite Piq...I will take you up on that sometime. I am hoping to do a Channel Islands trip sometime next year. I have been in the kelp forests in Moneterey many times. As you say, they are majestic (and a bit challenging). We see extraordinary numbers of plants and animals enjoying life "under the canopy". It's almost like walking through a redwood forest...same cathedral-like feeling. Makes you glad just to be alive to experience it.

You are right about SCUBA. It's not inherently dangerous, but it can be unforgiving. Panic/fear are killers and when confronted with an emergency, one must control one's emotions and use logic, and experience to overcome the problem. Panic can create multiple layers of problems/mistakes which in turn create more panic. Gear has to be well cared for and checked and rechecked before diving. Experience counts, but no one is risk free. John Bennett who set the world record deepest scuba dive at 1008 feet, died a couple years later in a "routine" 230 foot dive. (PS...here is a very interesting article on the record setting dive: http://www.tech-dive-academy.com/journey.html John performed this dive at the very spot I was at in the Philippines...Puerto Galera, Atlantis resort)
Jamie

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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby piqaboo » Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:51 pm

A friend in college who was a professional diver and instructor got bent one weekend, sold all his stuff and gave it up. He never got full sensation back in some places.

I saw someone jump into the water once without turning on their air. There was much flailing, sputtering and cursing til that got remedied. (Its not really possible to reach your own air valve once you are strapped into the bouyancy vest with tanks.).
And I once followed a much more experienced diver, who was carrying a depth gauge. I wasnt. I was slowing her down, because I had to keep stopping to clear my ears. Turns out she was not mentally sharp that day and we just drifted slowly down a shallow incline. Our planned 35ft dive maxed out at 105 - for rather longer than the charts recommend. We'd have gone deeper but my buddy was running shy on air so he and I had to surface. We went up in a shallow angle aimed back at the boat, just to avoid other surface vessels. Because we had no idea we'd gone so deep, we never thought to do a rest stop. The dive master, who had stayed on the boat, was not amused, and had to rack his brain for a suitable second dive.

I learned a couple lessons that day, including "believe my ears".
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby BigJon@Work » Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:50 pm

piqaboo wrote: A friend in college who was a professional diver and instructor got bent one weekend, sold all his stuff and gave it up. He never got full sensation back in some places.

Isn't getting bent and getting the bends two completely different things? :lol: :lol: :lol:

piqaboo wrote: The dive master, who had stayed on the boat, was not amused, and had to rack his brain for a suitable second dive.

I learned a couple lessons that day, including "believe my ears".

The second dive was punishment???
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:41 pm

I finally went through some of the pictures that I took (underwater and otherwise) while in the Philippines. Here are 5 or 6 for your viewing pleasure:

Image This is a view of Sabang Bay from our hotel/resort, Atlantis.

Image A typical room and patio at the resort.

ImageI have not determined what kind of fish this is yet...it was the only one like it that I saw.

Image...eeeeewwwwwoooo, a slimy eel...

Image A very venomous Scorpionfish doing what it does best...hiding in its camoflage.

ImageHey look! It's Nemo and his wife! (Clownfish)
Jamie

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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby Serenity » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:11 pm

You should embed a lawn gnome or a Waldo somewhere in the picture for fun! :D
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby BigJon@Work » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:41 am

What photo equipment are you using under water? They look good.
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Re: Hello from Jamie - Puerto Galera, Philippines

Postby jamiebk » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:53 am

Thanks Big Jon,

My camera equipment is really, really basic and I have been very frustrated with my pictures for many reasons. That said, I am using an Olympus 5000 with an Olympus underwater housing made for the camera. As yet, I do not have an external strobe and this has been the root of much of my frustration. I need to get one if I am to make the leap to better shots. However, they are quite expensive, ranging from $400.00 to more than $1000.00. I don't know that I am ready to make that sort of commitment to what falls in the category (basically) of vacation shots.

There are some other digital cameras (Canon powershot, for instance) that actually have an underwater setting. This restores the color balance that is missing once you dip down into the blue. Except for some of the up-close flash shots (most of those that I posted were...) my shots come out very blue/green and I have to manually color balance them at home on my computer. The underwater settings on some of the cameras allow the cameras to adjust the white level to restore the warm colors (reds mostly) that disappear at depth. They also minimize the blues, and greens that are predominent.
Jamie

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