I did it, finally I managed to dive in Coron and found out for myself what everyone's raving about. I heard that diving in Coron is one of the most memorable experiences a diver could have in the Philippines.
On the way to Coron, I felt lucky to be part of the trip and I was so excited. Thanks to Guenter for organising it and Tony for inviting me. We had a party (read: lots of booze) on the M/V Our Lady of Medjugorje last Friday night and arrived in Coron on Saturday, July 16 at around 6:00 am.
I learned a few things in this trip:
1. Going inside a wreck is not for me. However, seeing the recruitment (or others would say colonisation) of marine life on the wrecks never ceased to amaze me.
2. Going inside a cave is only fun when there's an opening on its roof. I am claustrophobic, that explains everything.
3. I still prefer to see corals and fish... rusty, broken metals I've seen enough of.
4. Coron is really beautiful: over and above the water.
5. What a divemaster should not be... I got left outside a wreck at 30+ metres with no buddy because the divemaster didn't even check that I did not go inside the wreck with the group despite being told that I might not be able to go in.
140 metre long Japanese seaplane tender.
This is my second real wreck dive (years ago went to a wreck in Bolinao) and even before the divemaster entered it, my heart was pounding out of excitement and fear. When he entered the wreck at 30 metres, I looked inside and started hyperventilating and decided not to go in. After the last person entered, I realised that the other divers who decided on the surface not to go inside were nowhere in sight so I called the divemaster's attention with my sonic blast (quacker). After a minute or so, realising that the divemaster did not go back to check if everyone made it inside, I looked around and decided to go to the wreck's top (around 25 metres) and look for their bubbles. I found their bubbles escaping from the ships portholes and cracks and decided to follow them. I looked around and saw some fishes despite the bad visibility. I kept thinking: if I were an inexperienced diver I might have panicked and decided to surface or, worse, go in alone and look for them.
Quick thinking and experience counts! Every diver should remember this: Stop, Breathe, Think then Act!
formerly called Taei Maru, Japanese Tanker 200 metres long
I found this dive more enjoyable since I was not pressured to go in and I was with other divers who will explore the wreck from the outside. There was a slight current and the visibility was not any better. Saw some cool nudibranchs, a lobster and a stingray on the hull as well as under the wreck. When we reached the stern (back) of the ship, we swam through the crack and saw lots of large batfishes, snappers, fusiliers, sweetlips and I even saw some jacks swim by including two or three giant jacks (Caranx ignobilis). I enjoyed this dive and felt more relaxed.
formerly Tangat Wreck, Japanese freighter, 140 metres
This was the best wreck for me last Saturday. There were thousands, probably even millions of juvenile barracudas swimming around the wreck. The way they were being so skittish we assumed a predator was no the prowl and started looking for a big fish attacking them but didn't see any. I also saw a lot of large groupers and even saw one that was around 80 cm long. Obviously they were there for the easy pickings.
What I really enjoyed on this wreck was how marine life has encrusted the ship with all sorts of shapes and colours. There was a lot of corals (soft and reef-building) on the hull and the seafans, sea whips and black corals were just beautiful.
When I saw the boiler room, I showed the other divers my underwater "parachute dive". Guenter pulled me down and I decided to try going inside. It was dark and I could feel my heart starting to pound again but being with someone you trust helps a lot. When we got out, we explored more and when I saw Guenter go inside another hole with Monique (she has a video camera) I looked in and saw Guenter gesturing me to go inside. This time I decided to try it and gathered courage, took a deep breathe and squeezed myself through the hole avoiding the corals as much as possible. It was a huge chamber and this time, even though I was hyperventilating a bit, I learned to appreciate why people like wrecks. The light seeping through the holes was very dramatic and beautiful, especially where there were some corals and a red sea fan. On the way out, it felt like a dream seeing the dark turn to light and the colors become more vivid. When we got outside, Guenter wrote in German: "I am proud of you". I wrote: Ich auch (me too!)...
So that was day 1 or our Coron diving! A splendid day indeed.
More to come... have to go back to work.