Saturday, May 19, 2012

From snorking the old wreck to watching someone nearly drown.

Today started off as usual in paradise, to awaken to another amazing sunrise.
 I had been promising to meet a friend but sometthing would keep happening, today would be no exception and I am ashamed to say light cloud cover kept me on this island for one more day. Light cloud cover you ask? well ya, I got a sunburn nearly a week ago, it is peeling now and the cloud cover gave me a chance to go and enjoy one last snorkle adventure in one of the most amazing dive/snorkel areas in the Philippines and I jumped at the chance.
I would start out merely snorkling around the private beach/cove of the resort I stayed at. On the previous day I had observed much in the line of reefs and some basic sea life so I thought it would be a good start. And it was, I saw a coupple more things I have never seen before, like the Hairy Crab and some scary orange jelly fish which chased me like the blob. I enquired about the jelly fish at breakfast and was informed it did not bite and was harmless unless you touched it, then you had a problem as its skin was toxic.
 I was not buying the harmless part as it chased me and had toxic skin, how can that be harmless?
With the advancing storm clouds and armed with the knowledge that Orange Jellyfish are cranky I would book a dive boat, at roughly 20 dollars to take me to key dive sites how could I not?
 The first site would be the old japanese ship, the guide was old and his english as basic as my Spanish, but that much I understood, further questioning him over how the boat sank, if it was sank or scuttled ended with a confusion and the repeat "It sank in the war" I think should I have fully understood him it would have been "Look jack ass it was sank in the war what part are you not getting?" Oh well unimportant anyhow and off I would go, I have to admit I was hoping for something like on TV, with a fully I Identifiable boat with turrents and the like, but this was a ship that had been bombed so being in pieces scattered around the ocean floor in 20 feet of water made sense. Diving a wreck is like visiting an old fort, your mind races with images of the final battle, you can almost feel the wreckage.
I had no real desire to touch it, only to dive around it and watch the sea life growing on it slowly claiming it to the point it would no longer be identifiable in a few more decades.
We then would move on to some reefs where I would watch clown fish darting about and see the amazing colors of other exotic fish explode.
 It is simply amazing how bright their colors can be. The final dive site would be in an area with strong currents among jagged rocky out croppings that promised the possibility of squid and maybe if I was luck ya shark. First in the water I would not notice tthe current so much until dragging my friend who was wearing a life vest was almost like dragging an anchor, and the ocean floor seemed to move at inches rather than feet. This concerned me as the penalty for failure as we rounded the first set of rocks were razer sharp barnacles or worse being sucked under into some sort of erosion cave.
But I was pretty experienced with river s norkling so I did feel confident with thte current, I held to the rule of swimming into thte current first and letting it carry you back so your muscles could rest.
 I would let her go only once so I could photograph a cave, we were on the other side of a rock and out of site of the boat, she drifted away at a predictable speed and within a minute was a good fifty feet away, undoubtedly wondering what the hell was happening. I would swim back and take her to the boat, she was beyond grateful to feel the outrigger again and climbed aboard the safety of the vessel.
 I would take a small rest and then head out again, determined to see a squid, but nothing, just more caves and colorful; schools of fish darting about. I would retreat back to the boat to rest when he would inform me that the water had increased to about 3 knots, thata is a pretty hefty current and it seemed to be getting worse. It was at this time when another boat would shop up filled with Filipino many wearing life vests, not a good sign.
Our guide would yell over at a the young dive guides about the danger of the current, and that they were dropping anchor in a dangerous spot.
 His warning would be ignored and a young diver without flippers would enter the water wearing only a mask and a grin from ear to ear.
His grin would leave quickly as the current took him away, he yelled and the boat panicked with the young guides not sure what to do.
I grabbed my flippers and my mind raced wondering if I could cover the couple hundred feet in time before he would drink to much water but was grabbed by my guide "Let them handle it" and they would in third world fashion, they let out more rope from the anchor and put out a long pole for him to grab.
 His time was running out though, he was flailing frantically in obvious panic just at the end of the pole.
 I was ata this time at the nose of our boat pulling on my second flipper when he would finally grab the pole anad be pulled to safety. They left as quickly as they came, their happy day ruined with a minutee of near horror.
I tried one last dive myself, but coming back to the boat was difficult as the current had picked up more in just a few minutes.
This is the problem with diving in an area like this, bad communication from the guide and no knowledge of the area myself could have lead to problems for many people, lesson learned but a dream day for us non the less.

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