My family went on six dives spread out over three days but I only went on two of those dives on the second day, opting to keep Amy company at the resort on the first and third days.
Date: 1 Jan 2009
Location: Sepok Wall
Maximum depth: 85 ft
Dive time: 50 minutes
Air used: 2500 psi
Off the northwest tip of Maricaban Island, Sepok Wall starts as a flat reef at 20 feet, from where the gently sloping sea floor forks off and descends down to 80-100 feet, forming a wall teeming with coral and fish. There’s usually a moderate current in the area (my first time there, I was swept off the reef by a fairly strong flow) but that day it was mild, and cancelled out in the shallows by surface swell. I got to see a baby banded sea snake, a moray eel, and a mantis shrimp.
One equipment issue plagued me later in the dive — I had not used enough weight. As my air ran out I found myself tending to float upwards even when fully exhaled, and had to fight more and more to stay down, expending more air in the process. Towards the end of the dive, out of air and unable to maintain neutral buoyancy, I had no choice but to shoot up through my safety stop and fin back to the banca to rest. The really painful thing about this is that it means I’ve gotten fatter since last year, when I used the same amount of weight.
Date: 1 Jan 2009
Maximum depth: 45 ft
Dive time: 55 minutes
Air used: 2000 psi
After a surface interval with lunch, hiking, and snorkeling with Amy (her first time!) at Sepok Beach, we left Maricaban Island and crossed the channel back to the Batangas area, where we dove Koala, a beginner-friendly reef. Koala is easy and shallow, but fairly well-populated with wildlife: lots of anemones with clownfish, and this dive featured a high concentration of lionfish. My brother Javi also found a strange, cross-shaped starfish, its arms possibly mutilated in an altercation with other local fauna.
I carried enough weight this time, but failed to spit enough into my mask, so it fogged up far too often, necessitating frequent floods and purges — meaning further air expenditure. Still, I lasted longer than I did at Sepok, and managed a safety stop this time. (Koala is so shallow that most of the dive is practically a safety stop anyway.)
In retrospect I should have gone on the next day’s dives as well; as evidenced by the latter half of the above video, that was when the fish came out to play.