May 6, 2009

Wreck Diving

When I first went to Coron last November I got my first taste of these underwater remains while I snorkeled in Skeleton Wreck during an island-hopping jaunt. I promised myself that I will do some wreck diving the next time I'm on the island. The wrecks are remnants of the Japanese supply fleet sunk by US forces in 1944 during World War II. 

Last weekend me and some friends from UP AstroSoc went to the island, and surely, wreck diving is part of my itenerary. There were 2 diving parties in our boat - one group was composed of a Japanese, Indonesian and German divers, and the other was me and James, plus a DM.  

Our DM from Seadive Resort did not allow me to join the deepest dive, on Irako, which was about 40 meters deep; I was allowed however to join the next two, Olympia Maru (30 meters) and Tangat gunboat wreck (18 meters).

Olympia Maru, pictured above, is a freighter, 122 meters long and 17 meters wide, with more than 5,600 ton displacement. 

We were able to penetrate the cargo hold of Olympia Maru right after we descended, and the site was pretty impresive, albeit it was a bit claustrophobic swimming through the dark cargo hold with just our flashlights and the distant shaft of light providing illumination. The ship also has an impressive growth of corals, and is teeming with marine life. 

The third dive of the day (and my second) was on to the wreck of a gunboat located on the east side of Tangat Island, hence the name Tangat wreck. The ship is about 40 meters long and rests on shallower waters: the bow is abour 5 meters deep, and the ship slopes down to 20 meters at its deepest. 

We did not penetrate the interior, but we spent most of the 30-minute dive exploring the deck and the sides of the ship, which, like Olympia Maru, is teeming with corals and marine life. I asked the boatman (that's him divinng without a BCD) to bring my Olympus camera down (only rated up to 33ft) when we were at about 10 meters deep, so I can take some pictures of the dive. 

pics: me on the bow of the gunboat, poster of Helldivers, which sunk the Japanese ships in WWII, Olympia Maru, the boatman who dived without a BCD


How to get there:
Getting to Coron is easier these days. Flights from Manila to Busuanga (then a van from Busuanga to Coron, 150 pesos each way) are serviced by four airlines (Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Zest Air and SEAir). SuperFerry is also an alternative, which has a weekly voyage from Manila to Coron. 

We stayed in Seadive Resort (, rooms are 700 pesos a night and good for 2 persons. Seadive also has a 5-star PADI certification and can arrange the diving trips. They charge P1,700/dive. 

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