News from El Galleon Dive Resort & Asia Divers, Puerto Galera

Types of Scuba Diving Certifications and What You Can Do with Them

Scuba Diving Certifications

You’ve probably heard of scuba diving certifications before, whether or not you’re aware of their purpose or not. Those certifications aren’t just for show. They’re used as a way to measure the capacity of an individual, and whether or not they can safely control themselves to certain depths as dictated on the certification.

With that said, there are many scuba diving certifications out there, each one serving a different purpose and measuring different water skills for the divers who take them. In this article, we’ll briefly cover what those scuba diving certifications entail and what you can do with them.

Open Water Diver

The Open Water Diver certification by PADI is one of the most common and popular scuba diving certifications for recreational purposes. It is an essential course that opens the path to other more advanced courses for divers. The Open Water Diver course teaches the fundamentals of how to safely manage yourself, as well as your equipment underwater. With this certification, you will be allowed to dive in open waters up to a depth of 18 meters.

Advanced Open Water Diver

Advanced Open Water Diver is a course that takes the previous certification to the next level. Participants will need to have taken the Open Water Diver first as a prerequisite to taking this course. Once completed, divers will have their depth limit increased from 18 meters as certified by the Open Water Diver to a deeper 30 meters. This course will again include theory learning as well as practical training, that will both be subject to assessment by the dive instructor.

Rescue Diver

The Rescue Diver course educates divers about essential emergency rescue protocols, safety skills and how to manage a crisis situation underwater. This is another essential certification that many divers opt to take due to the valuable, lifelong skills that are offered in this course.

Divemaster

Divemaster is the course where divers refine and hone in their water skills to a professional standard. In fact, for many diving associations such as PADI and SSI, the Divemaster is considered to be the first professional rating. This course also puts an emphasis on building the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise to lead and supervise a diving team. Participants of Divemaster courses often intend to become professional divers or are on the way to become dive instructors.

These are just some of the most common scuba diving certifications out there. Some of these serve as the foundation of all scuba divers such as the Open Water Diver and are mandatory to take before advancing into more technical water skills.

Do these scuba diving certifications sound familiar to you? If you’re a frequent diver, it would be wise to invest in yourself and learn the water skills and knowledge offered in these courses. Not only will they increase your confidence as a diver, you’ll also have more opportunities to access dive sites that are deeper and more exotic in the future!

Learn more about scuba diving courses with us at Asia Divers.

Benefits of Freediving for Your Health

Benefits Freediving

Freediving is a sport that opens a pathway to many abilities that elevate our mind and body. It’s a sport that plunges us into the very depths of the ocean with nothing but our mind and body. Immersing ourselves in an environment that is not in our element allows our bodies to adapt in ways that benefit our health and overall wellbeing.

Relieves Stress

A skill that all freedivers must master is being able to dedicate their focus and attention to slow down their heart rate and manage their breathing. By focusing on the present situation, your anxieties and problems seemingly dissolve – you might even discover new ways to see those problems, from a different perspective, quite literally.

More Aware of Our Wellbeing

Freediving involves carefully managing your energy, your mind, and your body. Every small movement matters when you’re underwater. Therefore, you develop a sensitivity and awareness of your mind and body, as well as knowing what your body is truly capable of. Additionally, you’ll also develop confidence in yourself and increase mental clarity as you focus only on your body and surroundings, melting away all your worries.

Opportunity to See Marine Life

With freediving, you’ll be able to witness marine life truly in their natural habitats. Since it’s just you, without any scuba diving equipment, the experience will be more intimate and genuine. Marine life will also be less likely to get startled since you’ll blend right in with the environment.

Enhances Blood Oxygen Management

The human body is incredibly adept at making changes to our environment. The more frequent you freedive, the more efficient your body will become at using oxygen. Freedivers are taught a natural reflex found in all mammals known as the mammalian dive reflex. This reflex is a physiological response that engages when our bodies are submerged underwater. Three changes occur, first it slows the heart rate down by 10%-30%, then narrows the blood vessels to ensure vital organs receive enough oxygen, and during deeper dives, the spleen also releases extra blood cells to protect the body from the increased water pressure surrounding our bodies.

To conclude, what did you think of the health benefits of freediving? As you can tell, there are real tangible benefits for freedivers. Are you ready to take the plunge? Reach out to us at Asia Divers, and we’ll help you take the first step on your journey to dive and explore the ocean.

Double birthday celebrations!

It’s been quite the weekend for birthday celebrations around here, starting off with Chuck Dreyfus hash run on Saturday to celebrate his 65th birthday. Chuck had a large turnout including many of us from El Gal and Asia Divers who rarely venture out on these events. Happening the same evening was a family birthday dinner in the resort for Malcolm Ward who is here for his 60th birthday, than on Sunday Malcolm and Amy hosted a cozy birthday party in the Point. On Monday, Chuck had his official birthday party on the platform. It was so nice to have everyone together including some of Chuck’s friends who came from overseas, many of the staff from here, lots of his hash friends and several other folks who live here or are on their holiday here. The party included lots of fun, booze, fantastic food from our kitchen, a very big roasted pig and a live band to keep everyone entertained. Thank you to Chuck and Malcolm for a weekend full of fun and frolicking!

If you would like to book your birthday party, wedding reception or any special event here please contact us so we can fill you in on all of the details. We have a wonderful beachfront resort to host your special event.

Chucks very cool Hash shirts were given out to everyone who participated on the run.

Many well wishers at the “On On” for Chucks birthday Hash Run.

Malcolm is preparing for his birthday dinner…

Family and friends celebrating with Malcolm….Thanks for a great party!

Dwight, Sue and Chuck…party time!

What’s been happening this week

Lars and Betsy Nagel proudly showed off their AOW certifications after completing PADI Open Water course and Advanced courses with Arthur. Lars and Betsy had done eLearning at home prior to their arrival so that they could spend more time in the ocean enjoying all the colorful reefs and exquisite marine life that Puerto Galera has to offer. You can join us here in Puerto Galera to get your PADI certification in a beautiful location in the Philippines.

Katja is back again after a 6 year break. Katja did her Divemaster course with us in 1999 and has been back a few times since then, but her last visit was in 2014. This time she spent time with Sam at Tech Asia doing Trimix course. The wonderful thing about scuba diving is the people that you can meet from all over the world who share the same passion as yourself.

Love is in the air!

The guys in the dive shop got into the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Wedding plans for Maria and Jamie are well underway now for the March wedding.

Valentine’s Day dinner at El Gal was very yummy and romantic with over 25 people joining it. El Galleon’s restaurant has been keeping tummies happy for more than 30 years. With our killer waterfront view you can’t ask for a better location to enjoy a meal.

Top Reasons to Try Diving in Puerto Galera, Philippines

Recognized for some of the best reef diving in the world, Puerto Galera in the Philippines is known as a spectacular scuba diving haven by divers worldwide.

The fish variety exceeds the fish found in the Red Sea and boasts to consist both of more hard and soft coral variety than the Great Barrier Reef.

The water in Puerto Galera offers excellent visibility all year round with an average water temperature of around 29’C. Colorful and vibrant reef dominates the waters along with an abundance of sea life making the reefs their home. Most of the dive sites of Puerto Galera are suitable for divers with Open Water qualification, but there are still plenty of sites technical divers will enjoy.

Here are the top dive sites in Puerto Galera that should be on your list:

Sabang Wrecks

Sabang Wreck DivePhoto by Beth Watson

Two wooden wrecks and one steel hull yacht are part of the Sabang Wrecks. It’s an excellent dive experience, especially for beginning divers with a max depth of 21m. Be prepared to meet a school of batfish once you reach the first wreck at about 11m. The three wrecks are surrounded by all kinds of marine life.

Monkey Beach, West Escarceo and Dugong Wall

Puerto Galera Underwater
Photo by Beth Watson

A great diversity of marine species and colorful corals are found within these three dive sites as part of the continuous coral garden within easy reach from 5 to 25 meters. This spot is a favorite among marine photographers with the wreck of a small sailboat found in the area.

The Canyons

Puerto GaleraPhoto by Beth Watson

For a more thrilling and adrenaline-pumping time in the depths, the Canyon consists of 3 canyons with a maximum depth of 32m. Diving in these strong currents is only for advanced divers. You’ll get to watch schools of trevally tuna and even barracudas effortlessly drifting in the currents.

Here are some of the popular dive sites that made Puerto Galera a worldwide diving phenomenon. Other locations include caves, muck dives, other shallow coral fields, and drift dives. Planned to visit Puerto Galera on your next diving trip? Contact Asia Divers for unforgettable diving tours in Asia including the Philippines.

Why go scuba diving in Verde Island Passage in the Philippines

Have you heard about the amazing scuba diving in the Philippines? Have you read about Puerto Galera and the world-renowned Verde Island Passage? Read on to find out why diving in the Verde Island Passage needs to be on the bucket list of places to dive for every discerning and adventurous scuba diving. This impressive area, location, situated at the heart of the Coral Triangle (the epicenter of marine biodiversity on the planet), will take your breath away and keep you mesmerized for dive after dive!

Diving Verde Puerto Galera
Our beautiful base in Puerto Galera is ideally located for diving Verde

Where is the Verde Island Passage?

The Verde Passage is a Strait which separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro in the Batangas province of the Philippines. The strait connects the South China Sea with Tayabas Bay and the Sibuan Sea beyond.

The passage is known as both the Verde Passage and the Verde Island Passage – with Verde Island positioned in the center of the Strait. The 1.14 million hectare passage is extremely rich in marine biodiversity, in fact, it’s among the richest areas in the entire Coral Triangle and one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. These waters continue to yield new species to science, further underscoring its global biological significance.

For scuba divers, the easiest access to the beautiful waters of the Verde Passage is from Puerto Galera – which is why we chose this beautiful town as our base!

Mantis shrimp
(Mantis shrimp) From schooling fish to macro critters, Puerto Galera and Verde have something for everyone

Why Dive Puerto Galera and Verde Passage?

Ask anyone who’s dived here! From beginners through to seasoned professionals, scuba diving Puerto Galera and Verde offers a range of dive sites for all levels, stunning coral reefs, diverse marine life and incredible visibility. Our warm tropical waters are simply bursting with a kaleidoscope of colors and teeming with life. From passing pelagics through to schooling fish and even macro critters, there is something for everyone. If you are an underwater photography enthusiast, both wide-angle and macro opportunities abound, and no matter what your experience level, with over 30 dives sites to choose from, you’re literally spoiled for choice.

For those who have an interest in maritime history, the wreckage of a Spanish galleon that sunk in 1620 was found in the southern part of the Verde Passage. Most of the ancient cargo was salvaged from the wreckage in the late seventies and again in the early 80s but some remnants of her bounty still show up on the beach. Whilst beachcombing it’s sometimes still possible to stumble across pieces of broken porcelain, which date back to the late 1500 and early 1600s!

Canyons
Vibrant, healthy corals and a kaleidoscope of colours in Puerto Galera

Conservation and the Verde Passage

In 2006, a team of marine conservationists declared the Philippines a “Center of Marine Biodiversity” in the world and Verde Island Passage as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity”.

Many threatened species, which include sea turtles like hawksbills, olive ridleys, and green turtles; humphead wrasses, giant groupers, giant clams and the rare red fin wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis) are present in the Verde Island Passage.

There is a complete moratorium of all types of fishing in the Batangas Bays and around Mindoro island. The fish sold in the markets of Puerto Galera come from distant places such as Romblon. This is a very healthy sign for the development of marine diversity – there is more work to be done but Verde Passage continues to thrive.

Dive in Puerto Galera at Asia Divers

Ready to go Scuba Diving in Puerto Galera?

At Asia Divers, we have over 30 years of experience and our friendly team of professional PADI Instructors and Divemasters are experts in our region. We operate flexible schedules so that you can make as many (or as few) dives as you like, including night dives and blackwater diving. We have a spacious camera room and dedicated rinse tanks for photography equipment for underwater photographers. And we keep our dive groups small so you get the personal service you deserve! Our comfortable, purpose-built speedboat makes day trips to Verde Island easy to arrange without unnecessary lengthy time on the boat.

For more information, or to make a confirmed booking, email us at [email protected], or fill in our online contact form and we will get right back to you.

We look forward to scuba diving Puerto Galera and the Verde Island Passage with you soon!

Shipwrecks in Puerto Galera (Near Our Beach Resort!)

Shipwreck Dive Sites Philippines

If you are looking for one location with one of the greatest concentrations of shipwrecks, look no further than Puerto Galera, particularly the Sabang Bay area.

In fact, we love Sabang Bay so much, our beach resort El Galleon Dive Resort sits right on the hotspot for wreck divers and reef snorkeling lovers! Check out these three wreck sites that are ridiculously close by our beach resort.

The M/V Alma Jane

This shipwreck is just off the end of our very own pier!

At 30 meters deep, the M/V Alma Jane was sunk perfectly in front of our resort and is so diver friendly that it practically becomes our own playground for beginner dive sessions. It’s also a perfect training ground for various dive courses.

The ship was once mixed steel and wooden cargo vessel and was sunk in March 2003 by the Puerto Galera Dive Association (PGDA). This purposeful sinking was to create a reef habitat to counter the receding coral reefs due to the unregulated tourism of the late 90s in Puerto Galera.

The ship has had all hazardous items removed to prepare it as a wreck dive site, so it is possible to get inside the ship! You will discover moray eels in their hiding spots and hard and soft corals such as the gorgonian sea fan and sea whip making the interior their home.

The exterior of the ship is also spectacular – perfect for wide-angle photography. PGDA has left the main mast of M/V Alma Jane intact.

St. Christopher

At a depth of 24 meters, this wreck was truly devastated by the elements – also because of the fact that it is almost entirely made of wood.

The St. Christopher has a rather unique history. Way before it was sunk in 1995, it was a cargo vessel originally owned by local traders. It meandered its way around the calm Batangas Bay, Marikaban, and the north-east of Mindoro in its active days.

The cargo vessel was then converted into a diving live-aboard ship, serving an entirely different purpose and was refurbished. Unfortunately, the service didn’t last long. The last owner failed to settle a dispute – we are not sure about the details, but we do know that it ended with the ship’s untimely demise to the bottom of the sea in Sabang Bay.

Sabang Wrecks

There is not just one shipwreck on this site, but three! Three shipwrecks triple the biota that makes the shipwrecks their home, and this is what makes the visit worth it. Visiting the site itself won’t take too long either. It takes just two minutes from El Galleon by our local Bangka (outrigger) speed boat.

The three wrecks are at various stages of decay. Two are old wooden Chinese fishing junks and are decaying much faster than the steel yacht. However, the three wrecks still retain the shape from their better days. You can explore all three of them in one dive session. Swimming between them should not take more than a few minutes.

The area is perfect for both daylight and night diving. In the afternoon, the shallow 18 meter wrecks can be fully visible, featuring your favorite local critters: the batfish, large surgeonfish, lionfish, damsels, and trumpets. The elusive stonefish and flounder are attracted to the area because of the sandy surroundings. And don’t miss the ghost pipefish and mantis shrimps crawling among the wrecks!

Asia Divers’ El Galleon Resort is located on Small La Laguna Beach, Puerto Galera. Asia Divers offers PADI courses from entry-level to instructor level. Daily diving includes five scheduled daily dives: 8:00, 10:30, 13:30, 16:00 and 18:00 (night) with a choice of dive sites at each time. Join us on your next dive holiday adventures!

School donations from Australia

Special thanks go to Mr. Geoff Down, Past President and member of the Rotary Club of Subiaco, District 9455 in Western Australia. They again helped to cover some of the transportation and freight costs, and they also donated a fantastic quantity of used primary school reading books that were very well received by the schools and the teachers. Thanks to all the Subiaco Rotarians, we simply couldn’t have done it without your invaluable support.

Greg Barraclough and Craig Broderick from United Office Choice in Australia have again very generously donated a lot of assorted school supplies and consumables that are always very much appreciated by the lucky schools that receive them. This is the second year that United Office Choice have supported our efforts to help these very needy schools. Thanks again for your incredible generosity.

This past week El Galleon visited two schools in our area with the above donations along with rice and painting supplies which were funded by Larry and Kris Birds wedding gift donations from their guests.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join in with us and help support our charity efforts with these Mangyan schools on our beautiful island here, just contact [email protected]. We will keep you fully informed of everything we do to help these desperately poor schools.

Australia Day Bush Fire Appeal

El Galleon/Asia Divers made a donation to the Australia Day Bush Fire Appeal. A great day was had by all they raised 172,005.00 pesos which will be sent to the NSW Fire Service.

Travel

 Truk Lagoon Liveaboard – MV Odyssey Sept 26th 2020

Tech Asia has another liveaboard trip organized aboard the Odyssey spanning the October 1st holiday this year. Truk offers beautiful diving, unmatched in the world of Wreck dives, and pretty hard to beat also for big fish and sharks swimming around as well. Add warm and clear water, not a lot of current, and a vessel Captained by one of our former guests and students who couldn’t be more helpful, and you have all the right boxes ticked for a fantastic trip!

What are we going to see? Over thirty Japanese shipwrecks lie here in a large sheltered Pacific lagoon, all sunk by an American Carrier strike in February 1944. The wrecks are almost unsalvaged, many hadn’t yet been unloaded when they sank, and therefore full of things to see from torpedoes to aircraft parts to crates and crates of Saki. And covered in tropical reef. Fantastic!

The dives will be kept mainly in the nitrox diving range, very suitable for comfortable recreational divers. Double tanks, sidemount and rebreather support are available for tech divers who want to spend longer on the bottom or go wriggling around in engine rooms. A few places are still free, you can lean more by emailing [email protected] or have a look at this link

They’re back……

The Thresher sharks in Puerto Galera are back and WOW are they ever!! There have been numerous up-close interactions and sightings over the past few weeks. It looks like there could be five different sharks around including one juvenile. Our divers have been super happy seeing these beautiful creatures up close. Scooter dives have been epic with the scooter team just cruising along with the threshers almost bumping into them on a few occasions. Best time of the year to see them is from now until April…the sooner the better!

It’s very good news that the Alert Level had been lowered to 3 and we’re hoping to see it drop even more soon. Puerto Galera has had no affect whatsoever from the Volcano and we hope that everyone can get back to a normal routine in Batangas. So…book your holiday in PG now!

Keep up to date on the latest Taal Volcano news on the PHIVOCS website:
https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/…/volca…/volcano-bulletins3

Ocean Art 2019

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Congratulations to all the winners of the Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2019 and especially to the winner who won a trip to our resort. Francisco Sedano won 1st Place in the “Underwater Art” category of this stunningly creative photo “Psychedelic Seahorse”. We’ll be happy to see him here with us at some point in the near future.

You can find the full 2019 winners here: https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/ocean-art-contest-winners-2019

Whats been happening

Congratulations to Grant Mackenzie our newest certified PADI Divemaster. Grant has been here for the past few weeks checking off the boxes and working towards his goal. He had lots of great experience helping out with students/divers and of course enjoyed the great diving in Puerto Galera. Asia Divers is a PADI Career development center and offers top notch training in all PADI Courses. If you’re considering doing the DM course have a look here for details: https://asiadivers.com/padi-diving-courses-philippines/padi-recreational-scuba-diving-courses/

Ulrik was a busy man during his short stay with us. He completed Nitrox, Wreck and Night specialties….he is on his way to Master Scuba Diver!

 

Looks like we’ll be needing a new T-shirt for this evil shot roulette drinking game!

 

Reach the Deepest part of the Canyons in Puerto Galera

By Andy Xie

The “Canyons” is a dive site located in the northeast of Puerto Galera, a place dubbed as the Pearl of Mindoro in the Philippines. With spectacular underwater formations, large sea fans, schools of batfish, jackfish, large Groupers, and hair raising currents, Canyons became a preferred site for experienced divers.

In June 1981, Neil “Snake” Krumbeck, who was certified as an open water diver at that time, discovered the Canyons while exploring the dive sites. In 2012, CNN rated it as one of the “50 most beautiful dive sites in the world”.

In 1986, Snake Krumbeck, Willy Tobler, and Jim Wilson completed the first deep dive on air outside the Canyons to 76 meters. Then Allan Nash and Dave Penman achieved a record of 91 meters on air in the same area.

 

In 1997, John Bennett and Aaron Gillespie using Trimix 12/45 accomplished a 122-meter dive and set the record for deep dive in southeast Asia.

 

In June 1999, John Bennett and Chuck Driver dived with Trimix 6/79 to 200 meters, and set the world record for untethered open water diving at that time. In the same year, they again successfully updated the record to 225 meters.

 

In 1999, a deep air record attempt was made: Mark Andrews diving out of Capt’n Gregg’s reached 156 meters on air. However, the record was unrecognized, since when he reached the bottom, he was almost unconscious due to gas narcosis. His deep-water support divers Chuck Driver and John Bennett (on Trimix) found that he could hardly control himself, thus inflated his BCD helping him to get off the bottom. The support divers in the shallow waters caught him, but it was too difficult to help him deflate the BCD. The ascent was too fast and a series of decompression obligations were forfeited. However Mark, with incredible fitness and willpower, changed tanks at the surface and descended to 30 meters. After 3 hours of decompression he managed to surface without any signs of decompression.

Nowadays, deep air dives have gradually dropped out from mainstream practices due to the progress of diving science, philosophy and divers’ attitudes. It is not worthwhile anymore to challenge the proven theories and natural rules just for showing courage and willpower. But we appreciate the predecessors for their exploring spirit, expanding the boundaries where humans can reach.

On June 4, 2000, John Bennett again dived to 254 meters on Trimix. On November 6, 2001, he successfully set the world record of 308 meters dive on Trimix. It then took him more than a month to recover from the duration and consequences of the dive.

 

Plan for Deep Dive in Canyons

About 10 years ago, as a novice diver, I made my first trip to Canyons following a local dive guide. In the strong current, I struggled to hold on to a rock. My narcosis level was increased due to stress and overexertion. My mind was reeling, but at the same time I was struck by the beauty in front of me. Bubbles formations were torn apart in the current and sucked down into the depths… The dark abyss was close at hand.  I was filled with fear and excitement: “What kind of world would it be if I gave up struggling and fell into the darkness and flowed with the current all the way down, down to the bottom”. This question has stuck me all those years.

It has been eight years since I became a full-time diving instructor in Puerto Galera. The dive centers I work for, both Tech Asia and Asia Divers, have provided me with a world-class training condition, and plenty of opportunities to practice deep diving. The right time and the right place finally gave me the chance to fulfill a dream I had ten years ago——to explore the bottom of Canyons.

 

From September to November 2019, Aaron Gillespie and I conducted a series of exploratory dives in the deep areas around Canyons with rebreathers and DPV’s (scooters). Due to strong currents and complex topography, many cases of missing divers or casualties occurred in this area. Even technical divers and technical dive instructors residing in Puerto Galera rarely set foot here. In order to safely and successfully complete our exploring objective, we took advantage of the dive shops we work for, and practiced for about 30 to 40 hours to get prepared for the task at hand, including equipment maintenance and calibration to prevent potential hazards, buoyancy control fully equipped, multiple bailout cylinder rotation, scooter configuration with rebreathers and several cylinders, advanced tow with scooters , low visibility and night dives, strong currents, and various kinds emergency response to equipment failure.

 

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The ridge in the center of the image above, between 23 and 30 meters, is an area frequently visited by recreational divers. The current flows all the way down the ridge to the bottom. The red circle is the approximate area we explored during our five deep dives.

 

Dive logs

September 19, 80 meters, 121 minutes.

September 21, 104 meters, 154 minutes. We descended along the Josh’s Wall to explore the way to the basin of the Canyons, and to become more familiar with the surrounding terrain and current trends. We scanned Josh’s Wall and its surrounding area, and took it as a place for training in these two dives. Josh’s Wall is a deeper area outside Canyons and Fishbowl, discovered 1996 when John Bennett and Aaron were preparing for the 122 meters dive. They used to dive on air to around 100 meters in this area and also Deep Dave’s rock every the other day to improve their nitrogen tolerance. After months of training, John named this site after his first born Josh.

September 22, 81 meters, 129 minutes. Descending at Wreck Point, we scootered east, covering large distances towards our target destination looking for formations and other entry points to the pit.

October 29, 120 meters, 217 minutes. We again reached the edge of the pit, and explored a wider range of surrounding area with scooters.

On 19 November, it was sunny and the current was mild, providing ideal weather and water conditions for our deep dive. We dived to 155 meters (temperature 15℃), with 20 minutes bottom time, and 375 minutes total time.

We reached the bottom of the basin along the walls and steps.  The sea of great depth was filled with darkness, serenity, and desolation. Time seemed to stand still. This was the first time for humans to arrive here. We were sober and agile, thanks to the high percentage of helium and low temperature of the water. We had to remain alert every second to adhere to the dive plan, the route, water flow, our physiological and mental state, condition of the equipment, gas consumption and each other… Meanwhile, we could not help but imagine about what we may encounter at any coming moment. Will it be some strange fish, Giant sea fans, walls, large marine animals or perhaps traces of the missing divers that have yet to be recovered.

The area in the center of the cross showing above is the bottom of deep Canyons, measured at 155 meters, three meters deeper than the provided charts. The bottom is about the size of a football field, mostly sandy, with a few boulders and cascading cliffs, strong currents, large sea wolves, jack shoals, and crabs. As the first divers to reach the crater, we named this new dive site “Aaron’s Asshole.”

Main equipment

Closed circuit rebreather: JJ CCR, Megalodon CCR
Regulators: Scubapro MK25, Halcyon H75, Akuana F1, Apeks DS4, Apeks XTX200
Dry suit: Navyfel Explore
Primary lights: Akuana, Orca Torch D630
Back-up lights: 3QRS
Video lamp: Scubalamp V6K Pro
Diving computers: ISC 2.7 APECs, Shearwater Petral, Shearwater SA
Scooters: Suex VR, Suex XJ37, Suex XJ14

We applied some equipment from emerging brands and found them to be of really good quality, including Akuana’s primary light for tech dive, regulator, CCR wing, and titanium plate and D-ring; Navyfel’s drysuit, Orca Torch  D630 primary light, Scubalamp’s V6K Pro video lamp, 3QRS’ back-up light. All the products have functioned well and been reliable in deep and long decompression dives. Thanks for the support from those manufacturers. We believed that there will be more excellent manufactures in the future providing reliable and also economical products for exploratory diving activities.

Postscript

I was often been asked by some divers, “what can I see in a deep dive?”

For me, it not a matter of what to see, but enjoying the dive itself. To achieve a goal, a tech diver must go thought tons of repetitive practices, endure the loneliness that others cannot understand, calculate, plan and execute accurately each step. Any slightest fault of physical or mental evaluation, equipment, calculation or other aspects is not affordable in this type of diving. The price may be an injury or fatality. The process of pursuing extreme perfection is attractive enough for me.

Many years ago, limited by finds in decompression sickness, diving computer, and open circuit system, deep dives were mostly restricted to wall dives, or using ropes as reference, with short bottom times. Many people were aiming for a record depth. Today, with the advance of science and technology, the progress of equipment, diving medical science and decompression theories, divers no longer challenge the limit for showing strength and courage. We can easily use scooters and rebreathers to extend the bottom time, reach greater depth, and explore for longer distance. Of course, we also have to face the new potential risks those equipments bring about. In addition, latest cameras and waterproof shells for great depth allow us to record the dives with clearer images and videos. We can enjoy the pleasure of exploration, rather than just pursuing the number of depth.

For exploratory tech dive, some people think it is too dangerous, even life risking. It does not have to be so. In fact, divers must meet the requirement of knowledge acquisition, diving experience, and training hours to go through each level before conducting a seemingly “dangerous” dive. Risks are quite manageable if a diver keeps learning and practicing with patience. The 100 meter dive course is conducted as a fully-developed course in many diving organizations. If a diver develops his/her skills step by step down-to-earth, he/she can reach 100 meters with confidence just as an advanced open water diver reaches 30 meters. Except for a more complicated diving process and some new skills, there is no big difference. Diving to 100m without training, equipment or experience is totally unnecessary and inviting trouble.

Some take exploratory diving as pushing the envelope and conquering the ocean. To be honest, human beings are quite insignificant while facing the nature, as a grain of sand facing the desert. Those who talk about “conquering” can only show their ignorance.

There are some others saying that “deep, wrecks, and caves are my goals.” Having an objective, of course, is a good thing. But, first, one should have a rational understanding of his own ability and experience, and then keep training with patience, improve the skills, update the knowledges, to get fully prepared for the goal. We never encourage dives to a depth or a complex environment beyond what was taught in the courses. But if you feel ready, and aware of the risks and consequences, it is feasible to conduct an exploratory dive with a reliable team. Just keep in mind that do not be mislead by the fever that deep, cave, or wreck creates on social media, and set and pursue unreal objectives prematurely.

A fact easily overlooked is that a successful deep dive, or a wreck or cave exploration begins hundreds of hours in advance. It includes education of various stages, accumulation of diving and teamwork experience, acquisition of up-to-date knowledge, and even lessons from the failures. A diver who has not been through pressure, tears, or even injury will not go further with courage and luck alone. Regardless if it’s a recreational or technical dive, whether you come back safely may not matter to others, but only to your parents and the one who really love you. For those who truly care about you, it is worthwhile to pay more effort and time to improve your capacity.

The most important and valuable stage for all divers is the open water (OW) course. More than 95% of diving accidents can be avoided, prevented or solved if we take the OW course seriously. Many tragedies, in fact, begins since the first choice of a cheap and fast tracked OW course.

The most important and valuable course for a tech diver is the introductory course to tech dive (such as TDI Intro to Tech, GUE Fundamental, WUD Rec 1/2). Most tech diving accidents, in the end, are caused by lack of practicing of basic skills, up-to-date knowledge, right concepts, rigorous attitudes, or a calm state of mind, which a diver should have got from a basic course of tech dive.

It is easier to train the skills than the brains. As the times progress, we can draw valuable experience from predecessors, improve our skills through scientific trainings, access to countless information on the Internet, so that avoiding detours and saving plenty of time of learning theories and skills compared to the divers 20 years ago. But the efforts to grow into a qualified exploring diver, to keep evolving, to understand others, to develop mature mindsets, to recognize and control emotions, and to travel and open up minds, will not shrink regardless of the progress of science. Seeking for instant success will be absolutely fatal in this kind of diving. To be patient and plow ahead one step at a time in an impetuous society is the most valuable character of a tech diver.

To quote Edward Whymper, a famous mountaineer in the 1860s, “Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

Slow down and enjoy your journey, young fella.

Taal update

El Galleon and Asia Divers are up and running and have had no effect from Tall Volcano eruption last week, nor did we get any ashfall in Puerto Galera area. The diving is spectacular as ever!
The Alert Level 4 is still in effect but we’re all expecting it to drop soon. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) say that the high-risk areas are within the 14-km radius from Taal Main Crater which is over 60 km away from us and not our island. We know that many are concerned for us, but we’re doing absolutely fine and are looking forward to seeing you here. There are areas in Batangas that really need some help with food, clothes, donations etc. If you want to help just let us know and we’ll put you in touch with some good people who are coordinating relief efforts.
Keep up to date on the latest Taal Volcano news on the PHIVOCS website:
https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/…/volca…/volcano-bulletins3

British School HoChi Minh

For the 7th year in a row we’ve had the pleasure of hosting BIS Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The 14 students and 3 teachers had a great time doing their diving courses, fun diving, enjoying the awesome food, and just being on the beach. Everyone worked very hard and should be super proud of their accomplishments.   Congratulations to our 12 PADI Open Water divers, 1 PADI Advanced diver and 1 PADI Rescue/EFR diver. Once again, thank you to Daniel Gamwell who organized everything to make this happen and to Bee and Stu for keeping things rolling along while they were here.

 

The school group visited a local school in Sinandigan and brought a nice bunch of school supplies and soccer balls to donate to the school.

 

The kids from BIS Ho Chi Minh had a great time running some fun activities with the kids in the Sinandigan school on their last day in PG. It’s always nice to do a bit of community service with our visiting school groups.

100 Dive Club…almost!

Josh and Sheryl left here today with a new T-shirt for Josh. On his last day of diving we had found out that his last dive of the trip would be his 100th so of course we prepared a T-shirt for him. Unfortunately he had to miss the last dive so he never quite made that 100th dive, but the shirt was already done….so a quick modification and all is good!

Photo Workshop 2020

Looking to learn more about underwater photography? Join us this coming June for our workshop https://asiadivers.com/blog/underwater-photography-workshop/

E-IDC update

Yay ! A new PADI Instructor was born… Johannie passed her PADI IE with flying colors

A huge congratulations to Johannie for becoming a PADI Instructor today! This also means another 100% pass rate and still unbeaten record for our IDC.

Johannie is very passionate about her new career and showed off with almost perfect scores during the IE (despite being a little nervous)– and we all wish her the very best of success for her future plans!! Thanks to everyone involved in the IDC for the great support!!  Party time!!