What Divers Dreams Are Made Of, The Philippines

 

As I sit here six hours into my fourteen hour flight from Manila back to London I finally have a chance to reflect on the ten days I spent diving in Puerto Galera and Dumagueta, Philippines with Dive Worldwide at Atlantis Dive Resorts. 

As my parents can testify this trip began like every other, with a sudden realisation twenty four hours before the flight that I was going abroad and crap are my jabs still in date, did I need to get anti malaria's, were the hell is my diving equipment….and oh yeah hang on wasn’t I meant to get a new passport! Luckily to date I have always managed to avoid disaster even with my preference for last minute packing and I was met at Heathrow with a speedy check in and enough time for a pint of Guinness (my Irish mother was very good at ensuring I got my daily iron intake). 

Fast forward a flight, a night in Manila and a beautiful boat journey accompanied by dolphins I touch down in Puerto Galera with my eight fellow diving companions. There is no faffing about in this place and gentle efficiency means we are diving just a few hours later and WOW… I have never seen so many colours and types of coral. We spent four days diving in Puerto Galera and for any nudi lover (no not the naked picture type), there is the best assortment of sea slugs I have ever witnessed. Our guides were incredible and could spot the tiniest and most camouflaged of marine animals. I personally managed to tick off two critters from my bucket list, the Pygmy Seahorse and the Orangutan Shrimp. Whilst there we did a day trip to Verde Island “the centre of the centre of marine biodiversity” and it certainly lived up to that title. I’m not used to being the customer and I kept thinking I should be loading the boats or changing the cylinders but the Atlantis dive crew made sure everything was done to such a high standard you literally just fell in and out of the water, no brain power needed. 

The time came to leave Puerto Galera and we journeyed onto Dumagueta. Now if I thought the resort at Puerto Galera was great then Dumagueta was what dreams are made of…my bed was big enough to fit me in it ten times over, unfortunately I only had a half dozen pillows to join me in it but even they were incredible.

Critters galore is probably the best way to describe Dumagueta’s diving, a mixture of muck and reef diving and a haven for some of the most fascinating marine animals that inhabit our Oceans. Any underwater photographer or marine biologists would be in their element there and if you prefer the bigger marine animals then I can guarantee you will be bored of turtles by the end there are so many. Unfortunately for anyone reading this that is already envious it only got better when we arrived at Apo Island. Just to put into content how beautiful the diving at Apo Island was, in our group we had one of the most widely dived gentlemen I have ever met and it was the best dive of his life! For those of you who have dived with me you guessed right I cried in awe during our dive at Apo Island, whilst drifting I was encircled by a huge school of Jacks as a giant Trevally swam past and a Turtle drifted to the surface for air. Our wondrous Ocean was truly showing off all its finest wonders that day. 

So whilst I reflect on this trip I realise how fortunate I am to have explored another tiny part of our incredible Ocean. The pockets of beauty I found in the Philippines have made me hopeful for the future of our Oceans. If you haven't made it to the Philippines already then you need to move it straight to the top of you bucket list and if you have already ticked it off then I'm almost certain you need to re add it and go back again. I certainly will be!

Amy :)

If you want to find out more about booking your own trip to the Philippines get in touch via email or call Diving Leisure London for exclusive deals. 

 

Explorer Series: Diving Malin Head

In our first Explorer Series instalment, find out what its like to dive Malin Head. Aileen shares her experience of diving such iconic WWI and WWII wrecks as HMS Audacious, HMS Justicia, and HMS Empire Heritage.

Read More

Porthkerris Trip Report by Phil Lloyd

Another awesome summer trip with DLL!  Cornwall was the stage for July’s excursion, with its unique combination of river, wrecks, reefs, pasties, prosecco and peacocks.  On-site accommodation, two dive boats, permanently sunny weather (this may not be entirely true) and an exceptional food shack on the beach, make Porthkerris Divers in St Keverne a venue with little room for improvement.
 
Travelling down on the Thursday were the advance party of Doris & Darren, Di, Fernando (first DLL trip!), Charlotte and Phil, who quickly dumped their bags and made for the nearest pub.  Unfortunately Suse couldn’t attend – don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of fun stuff?  Erin and Hannah, meanwhile, were left to navigate the tiny Cornish roads in the dark with excellent night-time navigation tips such as “look for the apartment with the lights on” while Sevar made the dubious choice of travelling by motorbike.  Approaching midnight we were becoming a little concerned, but on the walk back we were greeted with the growl of the SV650 engine and a very relieved rider.  But all’s well that ends well, even if this was just the start.
 
The first day’s diving was a double-header off the Celtic Cat.  First up was a drift dive along the mouth of the Helston River, 5-6 m deep with plenty of life and the ebb tide whisked you along with no effort at all.  A spotted ray within the first few minutes was a welcome sight.  Homemade lunch on the boat went down a treat although the choppy sea was almost too much for at least one diver.  The second decent was on the Manacles, infamous for cruelly destroying ships when they thought they were home and dry.  The Spyridion Vagliano was a Greek steamer which met its fate there back in 1890, and not to miss out on an opportunity for a bit of historical exploration, we had a good look around.  Back at the shore, we alighted with most of our kit and a face full of leftover cake ready for the evening.
 
The beach barbecue was fired up for dinner with Porthkerris’ Jo providing the feast and chef Erin cooking it to perfection.  A wander along the beach, stone-throwing at a variety of targets and exploration of a creepy cave followed, each with its own unique photo opportunity.

Photo courtesy Doris Niederwieser 

The second day’s dives were off the smaller Celtic Kitten, starting on the huge Volnay wreck with its hidden stash of shells and detonators.  Back ashore for the obligatory Cornish pasty, then in the afternoon a magnificent drift dive along a reef with a huge wall and many gullies to explore.  The current was so strong it really felt like you were flying along.  A phosphorescent disco jellyfish added a bit more colour to the dive and a new dive sign/dance was born – must inform PADI.

A Saturday night means everyone and their dog piles in to the nearby Five Pilchards pub, where we kicked back with some fine food and a pint or three of Devon Dumpling.  The calamari was amazing.

A review of the trip would not be complete without mentioning the resident peacocks, especially the fearless white peahen which allegedly goes by the name of Morris.  A selection of other names were ascribed to this inquisitive creature but are all unsuitable for print.  The fact that we all came away with our feet in tact is testament to our nimble footwork in avoiding the friendly pecks, and our bravely hiding inside the apartment until they’d all gone away.

Photo courtesy Doris Niederwieser

It was a trip of firsts for many people:  Fernando’s first foray into UK diving after leaving behind the Argentinian lakes; Hannah perfected the ninja hover, almost prompting her buddy to check for a pulse at the safety stop; Erin had a dry drysuit for possibly the first time; and it’s definitely the first time I’ve told a peacock to f**k off.

Happy Diving!


 

Why become a Rescue Diver?

Let's start with a question. Would you rather be diving with a rescue diver, or someone with no rescue training?

Thankfully scuba diving, when done properly is so safe that it is unlikely that you'll be involved in a real rescue. This isn't a reason not to become a rescue diver though. If you are someone who likes to dive and intends to continue diving, then becoming a rescue diver is the least you should aspire to. As a parent, I wouldn't not learn child CPR & First Aid because I hope that I'd never need to know it. If something happens anywhere, in any walk of life, I would want to help to the best of my ability. 

This great course doesn't just train you to be able to rescue someone, it trains you to recognise some situations developing, and therefore may help you prevent something before it happens. Along with that, it boosts your own self confidence and self reliance.  

During the rescue diver course, you are taught a sequence of steps to enact, which will come naturally to you if you are ever involved in a real situation. You are also taught that you are far less likely to be performing a solo rescue, but more acting as part of a team of people, each doing what they need to to ensure the best outcome. If you are ever involved with a diving related rescue, or if you find yourself in a situation where your CPR/First Aid training is required, you will find that those skills you learnt fall into place.  

If you are not a rescue diver, BOOK ON, it really is a brilliant course.

10 hacks to making your scuba diving better. Because everything is a hack these days...

It's just not cool if it isn't. So while practice and knowledge developement are key, if you can hack it, it's just so much better.

HACK #1. Keep diving.

The more often you're out there having fun in the water, the better you'll be. Long lapses can make you as rusty as a paper bag full of nails submerged in a puddle. Nasty.

HACK #2. Observe.

Look at other divers and see what you can learn from them. Try not to look at them through your nose though.

HACK #3. Think thermal.

There is never a need to be cold on a dive and if you are cold, you'll struggle to fully enjoy the dive. Find out the water temperature at your planned depth before you jump in and make sure you've got the right suit for it. You wouldn't go skiing in your underwear would you? 

HACK #4. Weighting is key.

Figure out what is best for you by making small adjustments to position and amount of weights you use. Overweighting and underweighting lead to poor positioning in the water, overexertion and higher gas consumption.

HACK #5. Feel it.

Don't just rely on your vision. You can detect small pressure changes inside your ears, which will help you determine if you are going up or down.

HACK #6. Control.

Make small adjustments to your buoyancy on ascent and descent. Don't just rocket down and then frantically add air as you face-plant the sea bed; adjust little and often.

HACK #7. Relax.

A cool calm and collected diver is better able to address potential problems than one constantly paranoid about potential problems.

HACK #8. Kit configuration.

Think about what you need for the dive and where is best to secure it for easy access, to minimise drag and eliminate snagging risk.

HACK #9. Hone your skills.

One of the best and quickest ways to do this is to take a course with a qualified instructor. They will likely know many tips and tricks to help you develop that you hadn't thought of.

HACK #10. Share.

If you are feeling uncomfortable with anything for any reason, let someone know. As with all aspects of life, if you keep something that troubles you inside it can grow bigger than it needs to be. 

 

As with HACK #1 the best way get out there and get diving. It's so much better than watching YouTube videos and reading blogs. 

 

The EON has landed.

In April 2014, Suunto took a large group of scuba industry personages, including me to Brussels for a big bells and whistles launch of a lovely new shiny toy.

We were collected early on a Friday afternoon by coach and driven to Brussles in time for dinner and followed by a beverage or two in the beer capital of Europe (depending on who you ask). The following morning the group were shuttled off to Nemo33 for the announcement of the new Suunto EON Steel. It looked very rather impressive, but would it live up to the test?

Suunto EON Steel

After the presentation we all spun around really fast until we were in our scuba kit and hopped into what at the time was the world's deepest swimming pool, each wearing a EON Steel demo unit.

First thing I liked about the EON is its' bright full colour dispay, which shows all the information you need in a very asthetic way. We weren't giving an instructing manual before hand, but that wasn't a problem. It is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. After pressing the buttons a few times, I quickly worked out how to navigate through it's settings and customisable displays.

This is a fantastic piece of kit, which I feel is very suited to diving in cold water. The strap is large and long enough to easily fit around a drysuit sleeve, though if you fancy it, the EON Steel is supplied with a bungee wrist mount option as well. Also in the box, you get a rubber 'boot' to protect from knocks and scratches.

As it is big, you can probably drop about a kilo from your weight belt, but it's not so heavy that you'll have significant muscle gain in the arm you wear it on.

All in all, the EON Steel is functional, totally bling and a great dive computer for the avid UK diver.

Get yours here.

Why are the media obsessed with villainising sharks?

Every time I see an article written about a shark attack, or how dangerous sharks are, it pisses me off as these are very rare events that should not be newsworthy. The latest one I've seen is a stupid article from the Daily Mail (not that they publish anything but stupid articles) about X-Factor judge Cheryl and her man narrowly escaping a shark attack. Perhaps she was unable to judge how unlikely that was.

This should not be news. Joe public, who has no idea about the importance of sharks, or even their endangered status, is being instilled with a misguided sense of fear and resentment towards sharks by the media. This in turn will lead to a world with more idiots like Colin Barnett, who think it's the right path to cull an animal because it misidentified a human as what it thought was food.

To put it into perspective, more people per year are killed by dogs, yet still millions of people around the world won't hesitate to get a pet dog. One hundred times as many people per year are killed from falling out of bed than by sharks. Are you going to sleep on the floor?

If you think sharks pose a huge risk to your health, you are greatly misguided. Just look at the infographic below.

You've also got more of a chance of drowning than being killed by a shark, so if you're going to be afraid, FEAR WATER!

Dear media,

Please stop reporting these rare occurrences in such a sensationalist way and and instead, report more on the critical importance of this species and their terrible plight.

'nuff said.


Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014

Do you know someone who loves shiny new dive toys? I do. Me. To help you with gift ideas for your dive geek buddy, here are a few suggestions within certain price brackets.

Below £50

The EezyCut line cutter should be an essential part of any divers equipment. If you know a diver that doesn't have one, this is a great stocking filler for £19.99. Click here to buy one now.

£50-£100

Compact Dive Rite Dive Light BX-1 | £76.95

The BX-1 is a neat little back-up torch at only 12cm in length. It easily fits into a pocket and is a bright 220 lumens, so works well as a travel torch. Click here for more infomation.

£250-£500

Intova Edge-X | £259

This compact sports camera is designed for use underwater use. It has a housing that is depth rated to 60m, customisable white balance, and a whole host of accessories. Click here to find out more.