September 29, 2008

Narc'd & Stung, But Lovin' It


I joined the Coastal Cleanup held last weekend at the Outrigger Resort in Anilao, Batangas. The cleanup was done during the first day (Saturday), and we had a whole day of fun dive the next day.

Day 1
Me and James arrived at the resort around 9 am - we took a 5 am Jam Transit bus from Kamuning Station to Batangas City, then took a Mabini/Anilao jeep to Bauan pier. The rest of our party arrived shortly after: Mark, our diving instructor, and three new dive buddies, Anna, Mikkie and Rommel. 

The first dive was a shore entry, and we descended to as deep as 80 feet. I was a bit apprehensive during the dive, as I haven't done it in more than 2 months. My apprehension, coupled with lack of sleep, probably contributed to me being narc'd at 80 feet. For about 5 seconds I experienced vertigo and I got dazed, and I started hyperventillating. I made the conscious effort to control my breathing and ascended to about 70 ft, and the narcosis was gone. 

On our way up, when we were doing a safety stop at about 20 ft, I felt a sharp pain in my right arm, and when we got back to land, I noticed itchy and painful welts - jellyfish stings (or it may have been fire corals, but I'm not really in agony, so maybe not). I never miss getting these stings, I think I have a natural affinity for them. 


Aside from the narc and the stings, the first dive was pretty much uneventful, as we did not enjoy the scenery much, as we were gathering detritus from the bottom of the sea. Anna gathered the most garbage than any of us. 

The second dive - made after lunch and a short power nap - was more enjoyable. We dove at a site called Steps. The reef is magnificent: there were lots of cabbage-like corals attached to the reef wall, and  we have seen among others a sting ray and a humongous cuttlefish. We also saw a wreck of a small boat (just the hull) during this dive. Our max depth is 60 ft, and we stayed underwater for about 40 minutes. 

A sort of festivities was held during the night after dinner. There was a band (music's not so good :p) and plenty of free beers and pulutan for everyone. Because we are diving again the next day I only had a bottle of San Mig Light (but ate plenty of fried foods that the waiters keep shoving on us), and called it a night at 9 pm. 

Second Day
The surface conditions on the second were rough (Mark says an earthquake occured somewhere near Galera, aside from the effects of the typhoon Ofel). The first dive was in Cathedral (I've been there before, during my checkout dive in May), but we went deeper this time: 97ft! So far that's the deepest I dove yet. 

On our way done I got bitten by a clown fish (not so funny, really), and I got a number of cuts and bruises from the corals, as there was a bit of  a current. We saw a very unusual fish - brightly colored with huge fins that resembled wings. We also fed the fishes at the Cross - and I was even able to touch the batfishes - flatlike and as big as serving plates - who are too eager to get morsels of bread that we were handling out. 

After an hour of surface interval at a beach, we went back to do our second dive, at a site called Twin Rocks. We saw a school of jacks (talakitok in the vernacular, my Mom cooks them in a simple broth), which is very cool, as they were just there, circling around us like a giant solid silver belt. I also saw a small lion fish which I followed, which caused my DM to frantically signal not to touch it, as it is poisonous.  

We stayed underwater for about 30 minutes, at a max depth of 50 ft. 

After lunch, I took a nap and we went back to Manila around 3 pm.  I will post more pics later, when Mark uploads them on Multiply. 

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