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

Charity may begin at home, but it certainly doesn’t stay there.

At least, not in the case of Tommy Soderstrom and Allan Nash, but let me explain.

My Name is Terry Llewellyn and for some while I have been sitting on my bum in the UK working on the Asia Divers web site and wishing I was once again in the Philippines.

Tommy and Allan are about to embark on a monstrous undertaking in the name of two charities and with all the organizing and preparations going on here we could not expect them to drop everything and write blogs for us, so I have taken it on myself to try and explain what is happening and why and the progress being made.

Being an outsider here, I can tell you things which Allan and Tommy would not.  These two have taken $30,000 of their own companies money and are spending it doing a trip right round the coast of Australia to raise money for  PADI Projectaware and the Springboard Foundation.  The PADI project is to make people realize that we are killing our oceans.

BMW Bikes being used for the trip.
BMW bikes.

For instance, there is a section of the Northern Pacific where the submerged rubbish is lumped together in a gigantic clump  Size  estimates vary with some saying twice the size of Texas .  Others say that is an over estimation but nobody disputes that it is at least the size of Texas.  The clump starts off Hawaii and finishes up off the Northern coast of Japan.

This clump whilst enormous in size is invisible to satellites because the clump is largely composed of degrading plastics just beneath the surface of the water. It is however very visible in places as you will see in this picture.

Pacific garbage dump.
The tip of the iceberg but if you look, deep enough to walk on

Look carefully and you will see a man actually walking on the rubbish and a second man sitting on it.

Unfortunately this is a problem not just in the Pacific, but there is a similar though smaller rubbish clump in the North Atlantic.

There is a very good  but short blog at this URL which if I had my way, every person on the planet would read.  Pacific Rubbish Vortex

You can imagine the hazard to shipping, but the danger to ocean life is devastating and is killing large amounts of fish, turtles and other marine life.

The other charity which Tommy and Allan are working for  is concerned with saving street children in the Philippines and for many years this charity has been quietly housing, feeding and educating hundreds of children in probably the only safe environment these children have ever known.

If you ever saw ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ you could be for thinking this was pure fiction.  The author may have been intended it as such but lots of homeless children in the Philippines are living lives very similar to Slumdog.

You can see the kind of valuable do by clicking on the picture here, but be sure to have a hankie at the ready.  There is a movie on the page that most will shed a tear for.

Life really is like this for Philippino street children.
Actual street children where the older brother cares for his sibling.

It is not until we see things like this we realize just how lucky we are.

Tomorrow, I will write more and tell you the companies that are sponsoring the trip for the charities named as well as just what Allan and Tommy are going to do during this monster bike ride.


Verde Island…a must do!

With over 250 dives on the Verde Island pinnacle or San Agapito, as it is called locally, I can still feel like a Verde virgin every time I drop into the pristine turquoise water. My body is encompassed and wrapped in a luscious blanket of warmth, which is teeming with abundant fish life and creatures beyond imagination.  Some days I still have to pinch myself to make sure that I am really experiencing all of this. And this is all in a day’s work…

Experts have called The Verde Island Passage the “centre of the centre” of the world’s marine biodiversity. Life enhancing nutrients from the Pacific mix with waters of the South China Sea. You would never guess that beneath the surface are spectacular reef formations with more than 300 species of corals and underwater rock canyons that host nearly 60 percent of the world’s known shorefish species. The World Conservation Union describes it as the marine counterpart of the Amazon River basin,” which put the passage at the peak of the “Coral Triangle” that spans the Sulawesi and the Sulu Seas in the southern Philippines and nearby Indonesia.

The Verde Island passage is situated between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, which happens to be my backyard. A trip to Puerto Galera is not complete with at least one visit to Verde Island. Since it only takes 20 minutes by our speedboat, I encourage our divers to get over there early in their stay because no doubt that they will want to go back again.

The most well known dive site is the “Verde Island Drop off” or “San Agapito” about 300 meters off shore. Approaching the dive site you are greeted by the rough tips of pinnacles breaking the surface. I imagine that there must have been a few shipwrecks on these over the years! From the surface it doesn’t look like much, but as soon as you drop in, you’ll see that these pinnacles are like the icing on top of large colourful birthday cake.

The Drop Off can be described best as steep slopes with stunning vertical walls that drop down to 70 meters or more. Beautiful gorgonian fans, basket sponges and anemones nestle in and make their home here. Numerous nooks and crannies are home to all sorts of reef life including shrimps, sea snakes, scorpion fish and moray eels. Volcanic bubbles rise up through the corals and create a magical effect. Anthias and red-tooth triggerfish are so abundant that I tell people that there are so many fish on the pinnacle that they’ll have to push them aside to see the reef.

This is one of those dives sites that you can happily use a wide-angle lens or a macro lens and come away with great shots. Since Puerto Galera is known so widely for its macro I sometimes encourage the photographers to pull out their wide-angle lens for a day on Verde to take advantage of the spectacular pinnacles and beautiful gorgonian sea fans. These teamed up with the colourful anemones and reef fishes make an excellent backdrop and are a great area to shoot wide angle. Nudibranches are plentiful and you’re bound to see a gnarly scorpion fish or two, so a macro lens will come in good use as well.

The currents on Verde can be tricky, but going with an experienced guide you can safely manage them. With an experienced group I like to get on to the corner and “watch the show”. This where you have the best chance to see many of the larger fishes including schooling jacks, sweetlips, tuna and snapper all dancing in the current.

A Spanish galleon, the Nuestra Senora dela Vida, which sank in 1620, was discovered in the late seventies just off Verde Island. Unfortunately it was heavily salvaged in the 70’s and 80’s and nothing remains of the wreck except for a few pieces of porcelain. The larger plates and terracotta jars are now long gone. I like to take my divers “treasure hunting” for these little pieces of porcelain during their surface interval. If you walk along the beachfront and look in the sand you can be sure to find a few pieces wash ashore. It’s a nice little souvenir to go home with.

A day trip to Verde Island is a great experience for our guests. They get to dive on a spectacular dive site with prolific fish life, learn a bit of local history and perhaps even go home with a small piece of porcelain treasure.

New arrivals from Cressi

We are please to let you know we just in time for the summer have received the NEW long sleeved Rash Guard from Cressi. Same designed as the short sleeve we already have but with the long sleeves to give even more warmth and protection.

Protection from the sun while on the beach or on the boat. Also great to wear under your wetsuit while diving or on a really warm day just wear as it is.

Rash Guard Ladies version
Rash Guard Ladies version
Cressi Rash Guard the male version.
Cressi Rash Guard the male version.

You can find these in our stores in :-

Puerto Galera [email protected]
Manila [email protected]
Cebu [email protected]
Boracay [email protected]

New Promotional video to share with friends.

Many of you will have noticed gradual improvements in recent months both in the El Galleon beach resort and in the web site promoting El Galleon and Asia Divers.

Now, we are happy and proud to release a new video all about the El Galleon resort, the diving and things other than diving you can enjoy when having a vacation with us.

Please see the movie and if you like what you see please pass this blog address http://blog.asiadivers.com to your friends.

El Galleon’s honeymoon hideaway.

For many years El Galleon has provided top rate accommodation at what we are told are very reasonable rates. What is not so well known though, is that 150 meters from El Galleon is a very special complex called Waimea.
This complex is owned by El Galleon and specialises in providing top of the line accommodation for people who want to be out of the gaze of the general public. This is one reason why the guest book of Waimea reads like a Whose Who in the movie and TV world.
Waimea is very private and inside a walled garden with just one entrance which is policed 24/7
For honeymoon couples this has to be one of the most wonderful settings Asia. I could go on and on about how lovely Waimea is but this movie will allow you to see for yourself.

For further information on prices and availability please drop us an e-mail to [email protected] mentioning your interesWaimea.

Tommy from Asia Divers dancing with Manta Rays.

Asia Divers livaboard for things like this.
Sharing space with Manta Rays.

I’m one of the lucky guys who has had the pleasure of diving with Manta Ray’s in big number on a few occasions both on the island of Yap and also in the Maldives. Last month I spent 12 days on a live-aboard in Raja Ampat, West Papua to get the opportunity again to dive with a group of amazing those animals.

Manta Rays dance
Manta Rays dancing with Tommy from Asia Divers

One of the dive sites is called Manta Sandy, yes you guess right, a place for Manta’s. The number of Manta on this site was well over 10 and often we had 4-6 of them around us in the same time. I did behave the first dive and just sat on the bottom to watch and so did the second dive go until just before it was time to slowly accent to the surface. As already left the bottom I saw two Manta’s coming right to me, the first with the usual white the belly and the second completely black that just followed. I stopped, hold my breath to avoid scaring them with my bubbles. They passed just on top of me at a very close range and as they passed I

Manta Rays dancing
Such a privilidge to share thee.
span around and in the same time twisted a bit to get a better view as they passed. This movement seems to trigger an interest in the first ray as she turned around with the black one followed close behind. She got right up to me and had a good look at me, its something else when you look right into the eye of such a big animal half a meter away. Now the dance started and for the next 6-7 min we span around, swam belly to belly (mine being bigger thanks to San Miguel and Bintang beer). She was right on top of me to a few seconds later right below me. Our friend, the black one followed nicely behind and more then once gave the two animals me a gentle tap with their wings. I was so close most of the time that I could easy touched them but of course I didn’t, I was there with their approval not to be misused. The rest of the group of divers just watch the dance and fortunately there was more than one photographers in the group so I have plenty of pictures. You can see some of them here, thanks to Lee Black and Helmut Trinczek-Gaertner.

Asia Divers goes to Cocos for the 4th time

Wind Dancer luxury, diving liveaboard
Wind Dancer luxury, diving liveaboard

The first time Asia Divers went to Cocos Island (the Treasure Island), Costa Rica was in 1998 and the experience left deep mark in our dive souls. More or less completely without  corals the island still offer perhaps the best diving in the world. The number of sharks and other big marine life make up for the lack of colourful corals. It is not just the Scalloped Hammerhead sharks that make the island so famous but also a wide range of other sharks. Like Whalesharks, Silky’s, Galapagos sharks, Silvertip and hundreds of Whitetip Reefsharks to mention some.

Hammerhead shoal at Cocos
Sharks a plenty !

Add to this plenty of Marble, Manta, Devil and Mobula Rays. Add huge schools of Snappers just to mention some of the fish that are domestic around the island and Lobsters under more or less every rock (sorry you can’t take them and I think they know it). If you like big stuff and plenty then Cocos Island is for sure the place to go.
The trip starts in San Jose with an overnight to get everybody together for the land transfer to Puntarenas where we board the Wind Dancer from the Dancer Fleet. A 30-36 hours crossing out to the island give everybody a chance to get familiar with each other and the Costa Rican beer. When out there we have 7 fantastic days of diving before returning to Puntarenas.
Dates for Asia Divers trip number 4 to Cocos is April 28-08 May 2012.  For more indormation Click here

Salsa night at El Galleon

Wow!

When the new pier and store was opened in front of the Point Bar at El Galleon, we were promised that it would be the center of much entertainment and fun and that has proved to be the case. There was a big Christmas party on the deck and some pictures were shown in our blog a few weeks ago about that.

We were told that the first ‘event’  would be a Salsa dance night and the staff of El Galleon entered totally into the spirit of the night.

Allan Nash opens Salsa night at El Galleon
Allan and the El Galleon staff ready to start the Salsa evening.

The event was very well attended and the following short video will give you some idea of the fun which our El Galleon guests and staff enjoyed.

El Galleon staff enjoying the Salsa evening.
So many beautiful ladies.
El Galleon girls on Salsa night.
Girls just want to have fun

There was much food, more than a little drink and an excess of fun.  Here you can see Allan saying ‘Thank you’  to some of those who made the night such a success.

No blog ever seems totally complete without a caption competition.

Can you guess what Allan Nash is thinking ?
What is Allan Nash thinking ? That is Allan at top right.

Entries  for the ‘What’s Allan thinking’ competition can be submitted at the end of this Blog entry.

The next event we are told is a 60s night which will be held probably sometime in the 3rd. week of February.  After which we are TOTALLY open to suggestions.  Send us a note with your ideas and I promise every one will be properly considered.

Terry