Coron Adventure Diving: Wrecks, Caves, Lakes! Trip Report (Jan 21-22)

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chip104

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First here's Halthron's interesting pics.

http://www.scubaboard.com/showpost.php?p=1510008&postcount=178

Halthron:
I'm sure everyone has lots of pics, there were more than enough cameras going around. Here's a few shots of interesting things. I was stupid the first day and had problems with the camera so no wreck photos from me.

The resort dock (The resort buildings are behind trees):

DD_Resort.JPG


We stayed at Discovery Divers which was a generally friendly place. The rooms are pretty rustic and certain things need repairs, like the doors in cottage four so that they open and close without problems.

Gunther's Cathedral is an AWESOME dive. It's a cave that can go to zero viz very easily but it's a short run through the tight area and when you pop out, you're in a flooded cavern. You can surface and see:

IMG_0166.JPG


IMG_0194-min.JPG


It's even possible to rappel into the cave from above. I'm not sure how you'd get up there though, the walls we saw were all sheer.

IMG_0172-min.JPG


Barracuda Lake is separate from the ocean and is a mix of fresh and salt water layers. In addition to the difference in water types, you have a wide difference in temperatures. It's a bit of a hike to get there, you take a boat to the entrance (fee PhP 75) then have to carry equipment (chicks can have their stuff carried by the nearest guy that wants to be helpful or the boatman if the guys are feeling lazy or are carrying their own)

Climb_to_Barracuda_Lake.JPG


Note for Iris' fan club: Iris carried her own gear up and down these rocks to the water. I took a pic but as she started moving when I did, it's pretty much a picture of her rear end. Out of respect for her, I decided it would be inappropriate to post it.

The lake itself is interesting because it's so different. There aren't swarms of fish and the schools that are there are mostly small fry. However, the lake does bring a new meaning to the word "barren".

Under_Barracuda_Lake.JPG


At about 85ft, the dirt turns red, it's pretty unnusual.
 
OP
chip104

chip104

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So here’s my write up. I told Spoon to do it, but I could tell he didn’t want to so here’s the day one trip report and pics. I split up the sections into threads so you don’t have to read them all.

In general, I would have to say that the Coron weekend is purely an adventure (even before the diving begins!) and it is NOT for divers who like being pampered. I love to travel gritty so I loved the experience.

HPIM1034.JPG

SB members before the 4th dive on the first day. I’m completely naked behind the banner :wink:(that’s the reason why Halthron’s finally smiling in the pics!) (L to R): Spoon, Halthron, Chip104, Purple, Iris_Ice
 
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chip104

chip104

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So we began by taking the superferry (overnight trip). We met our dive guide, Bobby Manas, in the first class lounge. From there, he briefed us. We drank a couple of san migs and headed off to bed. Spoon said the next time he'd fly in since it's quicker. So that's another option you can take. Here are some pics:


Line for the porters was TOO LONG!!! So we just carried our bags. And I carried Purple’s humungous bag. She should have given me cell load for that… (can you even see the lines?!?!?)
01.JPG


Here’s the superferry. That’s Purple and me:
02.jpg


Heeding to Tom’s advice, we woke up early for the sunrise, but too many clouds to properly see it:
07.JPG


First signs of Palawan, the steep hills:

05.JPG

Me!

06.JPG

Iris and Purple
 
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chip104

chip104

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We stayed at Discovery Divers. Gunther is the owner and is a very nice guy. Veronica is the newly hired manager and she was super sweet. The accommodations were decent enough and fits 2-3 (no aircon just fan), and I wanna thank the ladies (Purple and Iris) for putting up with me! Cause there is no door to the shower. No peeking… :) I'd have to say that the service was pleasant and the food was filling but nothing special. I loved the view from the dock.

Here’s the dock looking out:
HPIM1049.JPG


Here’s from the dock looking in as you get off the boat. Sorry for the over exposure:
HPIM1063.JPG


To the right (looking to land) of the dock is the main dining area:
HPIM0990.JPG


The cottages are behind and built into the hill. That’s our cottage!:
HPIM1065.JPG


Halthron relaxing like the government worker he is: :)
HPIM1068.JPG
 
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chip104

chip104

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In general, I know wreck diving is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I thoroughly loved them! If only the vis was good enough to take pics. I did get some from Spoon’s cam, but most are of the deco stops (to be posted later I guess).


Dive 1: Tangat Wreck (57 mins)

A Japanese Freighter sitting upright in approximately 30 mts of water and located very close to Tangat Island in Coron Bay. The Olympia Maru is 122 metres long and almost 17 metres wide, displacing 5612 tons.
Wreck_-_Tangat.gif

Time In: 11:13am
Time Out: 12:10pm
Viz: 0 – 10 m
Max depth: 29 meters

Overall:
* The group was split into two. Spoon, Halthron, and I went with Bobby. We descended from the bow line, went all the way to the stern and back to the front. Most of the time we finned up and down in between the fallen structures and holes in the cargo bays. Great intro into wreck diving. You could even see the direct hits of the bombs on the bridge.
* We performed ‘deep’ penetration twice (actually the entire dive was penetration, but these sections were a little more complicated):
- The first time was in the collapsed cargo bay. Bobby led, me, Spoon, Charlie, Halthron. It was a nice intro into serious penetration …pitch black but the intermitting light beamed into the neatly spaced portholes. The exit was tight but manageable after manipulating the position of the sidemount. Halthron got separated but we joined up at the exit point.
- The second penetration was in the small bow storage section for the ropes and anchors. Since the path was just a ‘U’ shape, Spoon and I stayed inside longer to look around longer while the others ascended back up the line.

Notes:
* First time Spoon, Halthron, and I tried nitrox sidemounts. Pretty cool and porma (good looking for show)!
* During penetration, the bottom of my sidemount smacked hard into the overhead and gave out a loud “DONG”. Funny.
* While Spoon and I were doing our deco stop a school of batfish kept us company.
* I really didn’t notice any extra ordinary marine life – was paying more attention to the wreck! I did notice a lot of beauty imperial anemones.
___________________

After a nice 1hr 48min SI which included lunch, we all geared up and made our way to the second dive…Here’s a pic of the ladies just before they descented:
HPIM1017.JPG


Dive 2: Kogyu Maru (46 mins)

The Kogyo Maru, was a Japanese freighter carrying construction materials for building runways for the Japanese war effort in the Pacific. The ship is 6353 tons, 129 mts long, and 18 mts wide. Her home port was Osaka. Lying on her starboard side in 34 meters of water the Kogyo Maru offers swim throughs into all six holds and through the engine room and bridge area. Kogyo Maru's second hold contains an incline of cement bags which tumbled as the ship sank.
Wreck_-_Kogyo_Maru.gif

Time in: 2:05pm
Time Out: 2:51pm
Viz: 0 – 15m
Max Depth: 28.6 m

Overall:
* A really nice wreck which we spent most of the time exploring the cargo areas, the bridge, and the boiler room. We descended bow and ascended bow again.
* We continually entered and exited the wreck – since the wreck is on starboard, the masts looked like guns!
* Passing through the boiler room was beautiful! Just seeing the massiveness of the boiler and the direct hits of the bombs.
* We did a serious penetration once through the base of the bridge. I went last so had to endure the silt (zero vis). Got lost for a bit which made me skip a breath but thankfully found my way!
* Since Halthron was low on air he surfaced earlier, while we squeezed out another 15 mins.
* My favourite part of the dive was the end. We finned through a small open structure and finned through – like flying the x-wing through the deathstar! There were gorgonian sea fans hanging down and corals cropping up so we had to be precise and careful manuevering. Bobby made me go first which I thought was cause he had confidence I wouldn’t silt up the entire corridor, but it was only cause I had a camera and maybe wanted to take pics…

Notes:
* Apparently in the cargo hold there was a bulldozer, but I missed it. I did see cement bags though.
* Spoon got stuck in the bridge for a while since he couldn’t fit through the window hole (but somehow I did it with ease???). Pretty funny watching him meticulously manoeuver his body through!
* I didn’t silt up the corridor. :14:
___________________

After an hour SI, of just relaxing, Bobby and Halthron decided to sit this one out and Charlie decided to go with the other group. So it was just Spoon and I. :drejnd: We embarked excitedly upon the third wreck site….

Dive 3: Olympia Maru (54 mins)
Also known as the Taiei Maru but its definite name is unknown. It's a Japanese freighter 137 meters long, lying on its starboard side. The big cargo rooms and the engine room allow easy penetration of this wreck for Wreck Diver Certified divers. The two massive boilers in the centre of the ship are a big attraction on this dive. You can pass behind the boilers and see the damage resulting from one of the bomb strikes that disabled the ship. It is possible to do a swim-through and pass from bow to stern without exiting the ship.
Wreck_-_Olympia_Maru.gif
Time in: 3:56pm
Time out: 4:00pm
Viz: 5-10m
Max Depth: 25.9 m

Overall:
* This was by far Spoon’s and my favourite wreck! We didn’t do sidemounts so had more freedom to manoeuvre. We literally ate up this wreck, taking a different route down and up! :)
* We descended from the stern and went around the ship to view the back first. No propeller though since it’s been scavenged already. We entered the wreck through the back cargo bay.
* From there we went through every crevice we could find and went from top to bottom. It was complete swiss cheese to us! :)
* We maxed our depth at the very end, when we came out a hole in the bow storage compartment. Here we stumbled upon a large school of huge jacks. Too bad the vis wasn’t great cause we would only stumble upon 4-6 at a time around the area!
* In the bow area, we met up with the other group. I tried to take Iris with us but she wouldn’t budge. Ah well…we continued to eat the wreck up going back through the front cargo bay.
* Going back up we were passing through the bridge area and spoon wanted to descend through another passage. I was game, but I couldn’t equalize so went to the boiler room instead (sorry bro, I really wanted to!)
* So we passed through the boiler room and got to see the boilers and the damage inflicted. After spending some time in the room, we ascended through the hole in the portside of the ship (facing up – see pic) and made our way back to the stern bow line.
* This was the first time I noticed the corals – very silted up, but full of life. A lot of soft corals compared to hard corals.
* Once back at the ascent line, we got back around the same time as the other group. Since we still had a fair amount of air left, Spoon and I explored a bit longer around the propeller area.
* try to imagine this: I was just chilling during our deco stop in 3 meter vis when all of a sudden I see a 2 foot reef fish swim up from the depths just to check us out. It swam around us for a while and even brushed up against me then descend back down.

Notes:
* there were multiple schools of small reef fish within and outside the wreck.
* Lots of gorgeous sea fans and soft corals hanging all around.
* There were a variety of large reef fish as well (which I cannot remember). But it was awesome stumbling upon them everytime we turned a corner or came through a hole!
* in the bridge area, we surface vertically through a hole and saw a huge fish down the corridor! Just chilling there and then swam away after seeing us.
___________________

SI was 46 mins. For the last dive of the day only Iris, Purple, 2 other divers, and I descended with Spoon leading us….

Dive 4: East Tangat Wreck (31 mins)
This ship was a small gunboat or submarine hunter 40 meters long and located inclined on the coral reef on the east side of Tangat Island. This dive site is good for wreck diving beginners and underwater photographers. It is also a lovely dive between deeper wreck sites.
Wreck_-_East_Tangat.jpg
Time in: 5:36pm
Time out: 6:07pm
Viz: 0 – 5 m
Max Depth: 17.2 m

Overall:
* A “small” wreck (compared to the others!)
* Spoon led the dive, I was sweeping. While Iris and Purple kept up with Spoon, the other 2 girls aborted early in the dive cause they weren’t weighted properly (I accompanied then went back down).
* We just went around the wreck and then Spoon took Iris and Purple in one at the time to penetrate. I stayed outside while they played around inside.

Notes:
* Great easy dive to end the day!
___________________

So the day was done, but the battery of the boat was dead! When they sent out the speed boat to bring us a new battery, it broke down! So we ended up having to wait 2 hours before being rescued. Ah well, at least the beers were free flowing. :)

So that was the end of day one. I’ll wait till tomorrow to write up day 2 and shortcomings…
 

Narcd_dvr

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Hey Chip,
Great trip report. Cant wait for you to upload the wreck pics.
 

midwestdvr

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Great trip report and pics. No doors in the bathroom, eh? I find it hard to believe that you were a complete gentleman the whole time, pasaway that you are :D . Can't wait for the second part. No wreck pics?
 

Narcd_dvr

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WRECK PICS!!!
WRECK PICS!!!
WRECK PICS!!!
WRECK PICS!!!

Whats the hold up :D
 

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