Monday, March 14, 2011

19 Feb 2011 - Sneak preview to the sardines

Apparently not many people turn up for breakfast this morning. I have my Mexican vegetable omelette and mango juice for breakfast. Once done with the food, we head off to the dive centre to rig up our gear. A typical dive day includes 2 boat dives at 8.30am and 1.30pm, and a shore dive at the house reef at 4pm.

I like to maximize my underwater time as far as I can and hence have opt for additional night dives, which turns out to quite awesome at the house reef. As far as it seems, the majority of the divers there were Caucasians and they like to take it at an easy and relax pace with just 2 - 3 dives a day. Hence I would suppose night (not dusk) dives were quite uncommon there at Moalboal. I wonder if they would have thought of us as a bunch of crazy fellows pushing for 4 dives a day. Oh boy, if they can open much earlier for dawn dives, I would have done that too for 5 dives a day! :p

The least enjoyable part of each dive was getting to and back from the dive boat or the house reef, particularly during low tide. Typically, you'll rig up your gear at the dive centre and carry your tank, gear and camera down a flight of stairs to the shore below. Going down was bad, getting up with the wet gear and camera was a torture. The crew does help to bring the gear up and down for the ladies and some others. For some reason, I always had to haul all my gear up and down for every dive. Haha. I guess I should take comfort in that perhaps I look stocky and fit enough to handle all my own stuffs. The other hassle besides the stairs is the long walk in knee/waist deep water for the shore dives and a shorter walk for the boat dives. The topology of the shore is quite interesting with very shallow reef flat stretching out for perhaps a hundred metres or so, followed by a vertical drop (wall) down to around 50-60 metres.

The dive boat is the typical bangka (aka outrigger) that you see around in Philippines. I only saw one boat for Blue Abyss, which was about the same size as the one I used previously in Malapascua. The only noticeable difference is the absence of a "covered" toilet in the Blue Abyss boat. Similarly, the boat here couldn't turn very well and I suspect it was also powered by some engine from a truck or something. 

Divers going down to the beach during a very high tide (Photo courtesy of GT)

Divers heading out to the outrigger (Photo courtesy of GT)

Divers getting onto the outrigger (Photo courtesy of GT)

Heading out for a dive on the outrigger (Photo courtesy of GT)

Diver (me!) caught by surprised. :p (Photo courtesy of RL)

Divers returning with empty tanks in between the 2 boat dives (Photo courtesy of RL)

Stairs heading up to Blue Abyss Dive Centre from the shore
Anyway, we started the morning with a dive to the much anticipated Pescardo island where the huge sardine balls were known to lingers. The sky looks pretty over casted and the sea was pretty choppy with 1-2m waves on the way to the island. Near the island, we saw a row of small bangkas with fishermen doing line fishing. Nets were banned in the area which allows the marine life to continue flourishing. If not for the ban, perhaps the only sardines we’ll see here will be in cans. While I didn't feel cold in the dive, the boat ride back in the wind and rain was certainly a little chilly for me. Phew.

Only VT, RL and I opt to do the night dive along with the DM while the rest chill out somewhere on land. Hit the water around 6pm+ after the sun has completely set and got back an hour later. The dive was awesome with plenty of crabs and shrimps around. The crews were eagerly waiting for us to unpack up our gear and promptly close the shuttles to the dive centre as soon as we stepped out.

After a quick shower, all of us venture over to the other noisier stretch of the beach where most of the resort, dive centres and eateries are located. There's a number of restaurant selling freshly caught seafood which presumably were pretty cheap and good. We didn't take long to pick a place and settle in at Silver Ray Bar & Restaurant. Some of us went for the seafood while GT, RL and I shared 2 pastas, 1 fried rice and a pancake. To my crude taste bud, the food is just about average and pales in comparison to what I had at The Last Filling Station. We took a short walk around after dinner before heading back to the room to prepare my gear for tomorrow. 

Outside Silver Ray Bar & Restaurant (Photo courtesy of GT)

Hungry diver after 4 dives with 2 pastas, 1 fried rice and a thick yummy mango juice (Photo courtesy of GT)

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