Southern Leyte – March 2018
A couple of us head out to the far east to escape the Beast from the East!
Southern Leyte travel day #1
Well, all fairly standard stuff though we went from LGW for a change (it was cheaper). Painless connection at Dubai then on to an early arrival in Cebu.
A transfer to the Henry Hotel took about 45 minutes in rush hour traffic but it was great to get in to our room and some air conditioning. It was 31 degrees in the late afternoon and sunny.
We are currently dining at the oversized table, hopefully the portions will not be quite so oversized.
Iced tea (but not the one from Long Island).
All set up for a 04.30 pickup to go to the ferry in the morning. The need for sleep is considerable!
Southern Leyte travel day #2
After one of those sleepless nights like you get when you move around the planet, I awoke to be told I had to sleep for another 6 hours.
After 5 of those we resorted to an hour of telly before finally getting up.
Down to reception to collect our travel breakfast and coffee then a short taxi ride to the ferry terminal.
The terminal seemed almost as busy as ever despite it only being 5.00 in the morning. Dispensed with the luggage (when shall I see you again?) And then into a holding area to enjoy our breakfast and be entertained by the blind entertainers.
Only one of then so far, others are still tuning up!
The ferry departed on time. We found ourselves sharing the entire business class section with probably 4 or 5 other travelers.
The crossing was smooth.
We were treated to most of one film (all apart from the last 10 mins) and some of another, the sound was fairly quiet so you had to make up your own dialogue most of the time!
Arrival at Ormoc was uneventful, we managed to secure the release of our baggage from the ever so hopeful porters, one of which put it upon himself to escort us all the way to our transport. He was of course handsomely rewarded with a smile and a thank you though I was clutching a twenty peso note just in case things turned nasty.
We met our taxi driver, Bambi, and got into his old but very comfortable car which had been bedecked in tasteful brown corduroy with a few scatter cushions thrown in. Lovely! Perhaps time for a snooze…? Just to go with the 70s theme we have The BeeGee’s Tragedy on the wireless…
Ormoc is a hustle bustle sort of place. A riot of colour hits your senses as you leave the port. Market stalls line the roads selling every type of exotic fruit you could wish for and the roads are full of brightly coloured tuk-tuks. But within five minutes you have left the town behind.
The scenery is beautiful. We are driving through paddy fields, which are being tended by farmers and dotted with the odd water Buffalo, in the distance are mountains and between the two is rain forest. The sun is shining as a few puffy white clouds go past. The paddy fields are broken up by small clusters of homes, ranging from brick buildings to shacks all with their own beautifully tended gardens. It is all so very different from home.
Southern Leyte dive day #1
Sleep wasn’t as solid as we would have liked. Richard swears blind that he has been awake since 1am. I can assure you that he hasn’t! I, however, was awake for a couple of hours in the night and they seem very long hours when you can’t be sure that you are going to fall asleep again.
Alarm went off at 6.15 and that was very shortly followed by a cup of coffee being brought up. The sun is up and the sky is blue…
Then on to breakfast and a quick chat with Pedro about today’s diving. Starting with Richard’s favourite dive site in all the world… SANTA PAZ!!!
Oh, saw this and thought of…
… Answers on a postcard.
Sogod Bay Dive Resort has a new boat. The previous two (Kermit and Baby Kermit) were smashed to pieces during a huge storm over the new year, when a boat from a little further up the coast broke free from it’s mooring (poor maintenance I believe).
Anyway, the new boat, is huge and incredibly sturdy. Ten of us on the boat today, with oodles for space spare. Nice and easy to get out of too, using a low rise stair case. In fact, easier to get out of the water than it is to climb the stairs at Ron’s House.
So to the dives…
In the morning, Santa Paz/Ghost Town followed by Olly’s Wall.
Santa Paz is Richard’s favourite dive site in all the world. We did it in a more gentle style than usual. Just popped in and with the current followed the wall round to Ghost Town, finishing the dive off as a muck dive on the sand in the shallows.
Saw a blue frogfish, shrimps in anemones.
Olly’s Wall was a steep slope. Prefer this to wall diving as other divers bubbles don’t mess up the water quality whilst trying to take pictures.
We saw a couple of turtles, slugs, a ray.
Most interesting was the baby whaleshark that swam past as we were getting ready to go in. Unfortunately, it had scarpered by the time we made in in the water.
Lunch – on the terrace
We are trying to get our food ordering under control.
Tuna and Coleslaw Baguette for Richard and a salad Baguette for me with sweet chilli sauce (the mayonnaise has milk in ☹️)
Baluarte – just north of SBDR (Sogod Bay Dive Resort)
Coral outcrops on a sandy slope.
Got lost at one point.
We saw a large brown frogfish.
A very lovely dive.
Dinner was a trip out to Alma and Jerry’s. Lumpia for starter (spring rolls). Sweet and sour pork, vegetables and shrimps in coconut milk with garlic rice.
A couple of games of crib were played but the results are of no consequence, although Richard might disagree.. 🤔
In bed by 8.30,still on the wrong time zone.
Southern Leyte dive day #2 (Saturday I think)
Slept through the night, Hurrah! The first deliberation, what to have for breakfast? I decided to try a local delicacy today, eggs on toast!🍳
Today’s diving: Napantao, North and South, this is a marine reservation site and (from memory) is full of life. A really impressive wall around a corner with a resident frog fish 🐸🐟 and loads of amazing soft corals, well that’s how I remember it anyway!
With regard to any news about last nights crib, I can confirm that the results are actually of significant consequence, two excellent games with excellent outcomes, both were very close but ultimately, one of us prevailed.
This mornings dive consisted of two dives on Napantao, one from North to South, no prizes for guessing which way we went on the second one.
There was almost no current at the start as we made our way down the reef towards the wall.
The wall was as spectacular as ever with outcrops of hydrozoa and soft corals. The place is festoon with fish (including 🐸🐟) in all sizes.
As we went around the point the current picked up a bit, at one point, all the fish swimming upwards and making little progress was a clue, then it eased off again as we rejoined the reef for the rest of the dive. We spotted a couple of small white tip reef sharks doing their best to hide under some table corals. At the end of the dive we were surrounded by thousands of anthius and other species as well as a few jellyfish.
The second dive was similar but in reverse. Scorpion fish must be extremely rare here as there is much excitement when they are spotted.
There were turtles at the end of the dive.
After a light lunch it was back on board for dive three. The site (Tamos?) Is mostly known for the pygmy seahorses, it did not disappoint, also seen: ornate ghost pipe fish and various nudis.
Side note: the new dive boat is massive, it easily copes with the number of divers here with space for more. It has a newly fitted Mitsubishi engine and great ladders for exit. Because it is so big there is quite some delay between leaving it and hitting the water, and when you do eventually hit it, returning to the surface also seems to take a moment or two.
Back on land now, logging and blogging before dining and cribbing. Some of us maybe hoping to improve on their recent performance.
… And despite their efforts, the winning streak prevailed! Food arrived during the second game which halted proceedings, then a couple from Belgium that we had been chatting to turned up and joined us so it was quite some time before play resumed and when it did Jo fought back spectacularly to win the second game by a considerable margin!
In other news, upon our return to the room we discovered a cockroach. The cockroach put up a brave fight but is sadly no more.
Southern Leyte dive day #3
I have be advised that, before I was awake, one or two dark clouds came over, the other side of the bay disappeared and the reasonable amount of precipitation moved in a horizontal direction. I was also advised that Richard was heroic in his rescue of the shorts and bikini which had been drying outside.
Hmmm…. This is my current view from our bed.
As it turns out…
It has poured all morning. Really poured!
Within minutes of leaving the mooring, the shore was out of sight. The visibility was dreadful. We did, however, make the trip across with no issues.
We did two muck dives this morning.
Dive 1 – Marayag
Sandy bottom, max depth of about 13 metres.
Dive 2 – Marayag
Sandy slope, max depth about 17 metres.
This morning, we saw lots of stuff.
- A Wonderpus – found by Richard (He was very excited, Richard that is, not the Wonderpus – the Wonderpus was more, OMG what is that!)
- Mantis shrimps
- Skeleton shrimps
- Cuttlefish, medium and small
- Juvenile box fish, tiny
- Lots of Juvenile lionfish, about 1cm long
Still pouring on the way back, so very poor viz. Lots of arm waving and gesticulating from the crew to the captain (standard Philippines navigation), allowed us to make our wiggly way back to SBSR, for lunch. 😊😊
Guess what… Still pouring…
Dive 3 – Max Climax 2
This site is just the left of the dive centre looking from the boat. Sand and coral outcrops.
This afternoon it was just Richard and myself with Pedro.
- Large grey frogfish, which had its mouth open
- Shrimps and stripy crab on red anemone
An excellent dive.
Current picked up at the end, so came up under an SMB. Turned out we were next to the boat, so we swam back.
It really has been a bad weather day, although we have thoroughly enjoyed the diving.
We are currently thinking about food. What delights shall we be ordering from Alma and Jerry’s tonight?
And a rematch in the crib tournament… Just as well, at the beginning, when I was winning, Richard said we shouldn’t keep count.
One thing I shall try not to do tonight is kick the cat! During our evening meal on the last couple of nights, the resident cat has joined us, under the table (that’s the cat, not us). Unbeknown to me, thinking my husband was playing footsie with me, I extended my foot in a sharp manner, to suddenly find it being licked. No! Not by Richard!
So anyway, we had a lovely tea and played a game of crib. It was level pegging…
… at the beginning…
Oh, and I only kicked the cat once. Shame, it’s really very sweet (what I mean is that it is a shame that I kicked that cat at all, NOT that I only kicked it once – blimey, this is getting complicated!). The cat just chooses the wrong table to sit under.
Southern Leyte dive day #4
Today’s covert news is that it is Jo’s Birthday but I am not supposed to tell anyone over here, so I’ll just tell the rest of the planet instead! For a special treat I have arranged muck diving at Little Lembeh!
A little overcast this morning but no wind and the sea is flat.
The boat is loaded and breakfast is on it’s way.
We headed off to Little Lembeh, so called because it is known as a muck dive site like most of the sites in Lembeh, Indonesia.
On our way there we were treated to a spectacular display of a very large (1.5m+) sword fish repeatedly jumping out of the water. It’s sword looked extremely pointy and all together not the sort of thing you would want to face under water.
The dive failed to disappoint. Several Ghost Pipe Fish and a Flamboyant Cuttlefish were some of the larger sightings. Smaller cuttle fish and nudibranches were also seen in some abundance.
We moved down the coast a little and did a second muck dive by a small village. More cuttle fish and nudibranches amongst a plethora of coal outcrops, each with their own microcosm of sea life.
Back for a swift lunch, a salad roll for Jo and extra spicy fried rice with chicken for me then out on to the boat for the afternoon dive which will almost certainly be something ‘local’.
And local it was! Voltaire’s Rock, just off the moorings, a pleasant bimble amongst coral outcrops, mahoosive frog fish and other such marine life.
Back on dry land for the Red Horse and Calamansi juice.
There is a general order of things once diving has completed. Once we have made the precarious journey shore on the aluminium tea tray, we have to dunk the cameras then dunk ourselves. The first one out of the shower had to disassemble the cameras and commence battery charging, then it’s logging and blogging before heading over too Almers and Jerry’s for crib, more beer and tea. We can usually get one or two games in whilst tea is being made. After that I mostly tend to pass out whilst Jo downloads the photos and deletes all the rubbish (and I do take a lot of rubbish).
Then we both tend to pass out completely before doing it all again!
The weather is much improved. There is more blue in the sky than white or grey, which is nice.
Today’s pictures are mostly about cuttlefish, flamboyant and non-flamboyant though there may be other contenders in the nudi department, time will tell.
Several folk here are off to Moal Boal next, we have met divers from: Canada, USA, Belgium and Germany, all very sociable. The group of 5 Canadians booked this through Tony (actually their second trip with him) and the two Belgians bumped in to Tony at Malapascua last week, he sent then here!
Tomorrow we are assured that we shall be visiting Limasol island (3rd time lucky) for a couple of dives at least.
Birthday dinner and crib tournament was a great success with Jo winning the first game. New menu items were tried, tonight we had deep fried Lumpia
followed by Pork Sinigang along with sweet and sour chicken, garlic rice and pickled papaya,
One of the restaurant staff is always on hand and they constantly like to check that everything is OK
This the the same cat that was recently on the receiving end of Jo’s foot when she thought it was me.
Southern Leyte dive day #5
Well it looks like I got away without Richard making a big thing about my birthday. Thank goodness.
But my politics… That a different story, one for later…
We had a lovely evening at Alma and Jerry’s. Followed by a little work on the photos and asleep by 8.30. We really know how to party.
I am working very hard on trying to keep the photos to a manageable amount. Getting home with over 10,000 photos to sort through is a bit ridiculous, but we have done it before, many times. I have been able to delete loads and we currently have 750 for the first four days of diving. But it all takes time and generally I do this when Richard is sleeping.
Anyway, to today. The sun is shining. Hoorah! I am ignoring the black clouds and thinking about the clear spots. We’ll see if positive thinking really works.
It doesn’t! Cloudy and raining all morning.
Two nice dives though, both on Limassol Island. As always Pedro looked after us. We need to say more about the lovely people here. We will do in due course…
Back to the diving…
Dive 1 Zak’s Cove
Wall dive with a long drop off.
- Three frogfish
- A couple of turtles
- Banded sea snake
Dive 2 Adrian’s Cove
Another wall with amazing topography including a swim through.
- large white and black nudi
- Huge red scorpionfish
- Lots of brightly coloured sea squirt
As I like to liven things up a little, I had the fried rice with an egg on top for lunch rather than salad baggette. Richard had the pancit, egg noodles. Nice!
Dive 3 – Baluarte
Dived this one before but must have dived it differently, as we recognised very little of it.
- Lovely sea fans – which kept Richard happy
- Lots of shrimps, squat lobsters, crabs in a stag coral (when I say lots, probably a hundred, lots!)
- A shrimp in a blue sea squirt.
- The tiniest clown fish in a tiny anemone
Coming up from the dive we encountered some jellyfish in the water. I got stung on the lip, Richard had more of a face hugging experience. Think scene from The Alien.
I spent a while pouring vinegar on his face. After much discussion, we decided it might not be appropriate for me to wee on his head. So, instead, I fed him ibuprofen, paracetamol and antihistamines as if they were smarties.
We are sitting on the terrace having a drink before going down to Alma and Jerry’s for tea. The sky is blue, for the first time today.
Perhaps that positive thinking really works…
Quick round up…
Photos kept from today? 130.
Crib? Not worth mentioning …
Cat kicking? Only once. My excuse, it will sit in front of my feet.
Oh, yes… Now, back to the political story…
We have met some lovely people, two of which are a young Belgium couple, Jorvis and Lyn. We are sitting on the boat, chatting about nothing in particular, as you do, when completely out of the blue, Richard blurts out, “It was her, she voted to leave!” Nice one, Richard… Thanks for that!
Southern Leyte dive day #6
Today, the sun is shining and there is a certain degree of excitement as it’s whale shark trip day.
After our usual breakfast we step on to the boat and head over to ‘the other side’ for a dive at Napantao. This is a Marine Protected Area (no fishing) and seldom disappoints.
A gentle slope down a mostly hard coal reef gives way to a fantastic wall which is festoon with life at all levels. Soft corals, hydrozoa, all manner of fish (big frog, small frog and others) after about 30 minutes we reverse direction and come back a little higher where we see a continuous cloud of anthias, more frog fish and other stuff.
Here is our vessel!
Then we are off to Sonok Point to look for the elusive whalesharks. We pick up the spotters along the way, about a dozen men in very small canoes with outriggers. They get towed along as we make our way to the whaleshark hotspot. On the way their knot tying let them down a couple of times and we had to stop whilst they re attached several canoes.
Once we arrive, the drill is as follows: the spotters paddle about looking for passing sharks whilst we wait on the boat with masks and fins on ready to jump. When one is spotted, the boat moves ahead of it’s predicted path and we are given the order to jump. At this point mayhem ensues as we have to jump in order (the boat is still moving forward), some take longer than others to jump and some just push in.
Once in the water we all swim like crazy towards the action and glimpse whatever we can of the beast.
Once the drama is all over, the boat moves into position to pick us all up rather like lifeboats from the Carpathia picking up survivors from the Titanic, we are all over the place.
Back on board we reset, put our fins and masks on again and get ready for the next sighting.
I think we all jumped about 5 times and I saw three sharks. After that we are all fairly whacked and agree to call it a day.
We drop the spotters back at their village and make our way back to base for a dive on the house reef followed almost immediately by a night dive on Padre Burgos town pier.
This dive is a little like diving under the lifeboat station, lots of pillars and all sorts of life. We spotted frog fish, seahorse, nudis, anemones, star gazers, squid, bobtail squid and other stuff.
One point worth mentioning is the fact that entry to and exit from the dive is via a very step set of steps, half of which are covered in the most slippery substance known to man. Consequently, and despite warnings to this effect, I managed to expedite my entry to the dive by slipping on the steps and landing on my backside. My descent was finally arrested when I skillfully caught the bottom of my cylinder on one of the steps, order was one more restored.
We get back to base feeling more than a little knackered, no crib, just dinner then bed. The next thing I know it’s 06.15 and we’re off again.
Southern Leyte dive day #7
Almost half way through the holiday, already…
I’ve been thinking that we should be giving credit of our wonderful diving to the team here at Sogod Bay.
Our dive guide is Pedro. He is excellent and together with the rest of the guides, Dave and Iain (Pedro’s cousin) , gets us all organised. By the way, Pedro says hi to Jen and Jo, who he guided when the four of us came out in October 2016.
The boat crew are also excellent. In no particular order we have…
Puloy, always ready to make you a coffee and ply you with biscuits and fresh fruit.
Arnold (Pedro’s nephew), who is normally driving the boat.
Tata, is another essential crew member, very helpful getting us out of the water but also seems paramount in the direction of the boat.
Picture is of Puloy, Pedro and Tata (left to right).
All of the crew help with the ferrying from shore to boat and, of course, back again, in the tea tray (so called by Richard). Nice and easy when the weather is beautiful, like it is today.
Back in the dive centre looking after kit is another helpful guy.
Back at base, we have the ever efficient, Annalyn, and the very helpful, Rai.
There are also people we don’t get to see… The cook, the cleaner and the gardener.
It’s cloudy today but the sea is completely flat. If the sun comes out, it will be perfect.
Heading across the bay to Santa Paz and Napantao. Should be good!
Yesterday, we had 17 guests on the boat.
Today… 3… us and a lovely lady from Germany that we have met here before, Gisela.
The boat is able to take 30 divers, but I feel that would be a little cramped.
Sometime between breakfast and getting on the boat, the clouds disappeared. Brilliant sunshine and no wind.
Ahh, change of plan. Diving locally, instead. The deeper parts of Voltaire’s rock and Bunga Bend.
Dive 1 – Voltaire’s rock
Down to about 30 metres on the plateau to see the pretty sea fans and hydrozoas.
- Two very large brown frogfish
- On the safety stop, a large amount of very tiny jellyfish
Those jellyfish, boy do they sting. We stink of vinegar now. I know one person that would find us irresistible…
Dive 2 – Bunga Bend
Another deep dive, to the rocky out crop and overhang. Absolutely festooned with soft coral. Richard was a happy bunny.
We also saw
- A couple of seal cub slug (think that might be a local name)
- A very weird pink jellyfish
- Some microscopic slugs, too small even for my camera.
- More stinging jellyfish at the end.
It was a lovely trip back. I took some photos along the way.
The two boats on the left are Kermit and Gamma Kermit (Gamma = baby), washed a shore in the storm on 2nd January this year.
As there were less divers on board we were back at shore by 1pm, in time for lunch. Then a little R&R before heading back out at 3pm for the afternoon five.
The dive was just off from the dive centre, so not far to go.
Dive 3 – Max Climax Wall
Slope down to about 22 metres then a beautiful wall covered in soft corals and hydrozoas.
- Lots of jellies as we got in
- A Turtle
- Pink/Grey frogfish – yawning
- Beautiful feather worms
- No jellies as we go up, phew!
We have done a lot of diving and very little surprises us, but the way that Pedro made the boat appear at the end of the dive would have rivalled David Copperfield. It was just there! Brilliant!
I spend a lot of time watching the animals under water and I was wondering…
Do fish chew their food? I swear I saw a fish chewing, swallow and then taking another bite.
Anyway, off to have a pre dinner drink. Ahh, the joys of being on holiday…
Quick round up…
Photos kept from today? Ahh, not up to date, hundreds
Crib? All square!
Cat kicking? Once only.
Southern Leyte dive day #8
The half way point has been reached as we enter the second half of our adventure. Clear skies, flat water and plenty of sunshine greet us today.
One point on the crib, when we say all square, we refer to last nights games only where it was a draw. Overall? Not so sure where we stand 🙄
The plan is (once again) to cross to the other side of the bay to dive in the MPA at Santa Paz and Napantao. If we get there we shall be searching for a particular green frog fish 🐸🐟.
Whilst waiting for the boat yesterday we watched a trio of local gents stroking their nicely turned out Cocks. They were obviously very proud of them as they showed them off to each other.
Alarm bells rang at one point when this stroking turned into pushing and pulling. One of the men had a firm grip on his Cock whilst the others went at it with a hacksaw, a bit harsh we thought. It turns out that as the bird (you did know what I was talking about didn’t you? 🐓🐓🐓🐓) gets older it has a sharp growth extending from the rear of its ankle, this can cause a lot of damage when they are in the ring. So they keep them trimmed to prolong the action.
On to the diving, the sun is shining and the sea is flat for our crossing of the bay, a lot less busy on the boat today, just us, Gisela, a Danish couple, Jerome and Pyaulla and the American, we learn later that his name is Dave.
As we arrive at Santa Paz I catch a glimpse of some healthy looking current on one of the buoys. It is decided to do the dive in ‘reverse’ dropping in on the muck dive site called ‘ghost town’ and then make our way with the current to the pinnacle.
Drama ensues when moments before jumping, one of my fin straps snaps. I reach confidently for my spare, fit it with Jo’s assistance and we’re off again, not had a fin strap break in a decade (as far as i recall anyway).
When we get down there is a down current, so it obvious that we shall be sticking to the wall for most of the dive. After the wall there is an up current. The current eases and we find ourselves in an area full of coral outcrops and overhangs. This soon turns in to a labyrinth of corridors and overhangs, little caves and tunnels, all very exciting. Then we head up for a safety stop followed by the boat picking us up.
The surface interval is spent drinking coffee, eating biscuits and eating fruit, or it would have been if the newest guest hadn’t decided to make the fruit his own. We watched with some surprise as he made his way through almost the entire water melon!
We make our way over to Napantao for the second dive. After only 10 minutes in the water, another fin strap snaps, really? So I carry on whilst others look on and occasionally advise me that it’s broken. A lot of finning on one side for me then. (Jo’s note – Picture Richard swimming round in circles!)
The dive delivers the usual plethora of goodies as we drift slowly along the wall including Red Frogfish, Green Frogfish, Giant Trevali and other delights. Once again the current fish was present.
When back on board the crew swiftly replace my broken fin strap with one from their stock (my stock of supplies had been reduced to zero) and we’re good to go again.
Back to base where we meet a new guest, nice chap from Somerset and have fried noodles and salad baguette for lunch.
Back out on to the boat for the afternoon dive, a bumble along max climax wall from south to north to follow a virtually non existent current.
We jump in to the calmest of waters and make our way down.
A lovely wall with all sorts of contours and outcrops, lots of soft corals and teeming with life. At the end of the dive we come across a barracuda, a definite keeper! Then its up to the surface, dodging the plankton on the way (to avoid the stingy stuff). When we get to the surface all hell had been let loose, a good four gusting a five I would say. The upside of this however is that everything is much more comfortable on land, a lot less humid, which is nice. Also good for drying the diving gear which has just had a well overdue wash.
When we arrive back on shore we found a couple of kids 🐐🐐 playing in front of the apartments (pictures may follow). They had escaped but it want long before their owner had them tied up again.
Just enjoyed a couple of pre crib beers, calamansi juice and peanuts, yum!
As predicted, all clothes super dry and all ready for getting wet again!
Southern Leyte dive day #9
Windy today but the sun is trying to shine. Should be a good day.
Possibly four dives today, depending on the wind.
A couple at Little Lembeh this morning, Baluarte this afternoon and, if the wind drops, night dive on the house reef.
We shall see…
On the way out to the dive site, the sun comes out. Still a little windy.
Dive 1 – Little Lembeh
Swimming out from the boat, keep the ‘reef’ on the right, then to the shallows and back to the boat.
- Black ornate ghost pipefish
- Sea moths
Dive 2 – Little Lembeh
Swimming out from the boat, keep the ‘reef’ on the right and keep going.
- Two seahorses
- White Robust ghost pipefish
- Imperial shrimps
- Juvenile leaf fish
A very excellent morning of diving. Now for a quick lunch and then back out again at 3pm.
Dive 3 – Baluarte
Dropped in about 150 metres from the mooring and swam back. Lovely bimble.
- Tiny shrimps inside sea squirts
- Porcelain crabs
- See through shrimps
- Eyeball on a string
- Very pretty small scorpionfish
Another excellent dive.
Too rough to do the night dive from the shore, so logging, blogging and drinking before tea…
Tea was a large affair. If it had been the first night we could have called it ‘first night madness’, but it’s not. So we shall just have to call it madness. We had spicy pork ribs, sweet and sour chicken, vegetable tempura with sweet chilli sauce, stir fried vegetables and garlic rice. PHEW!!!
Feeling a little lardy… But it’s ok, I know how to get a bikini body…
Put your body in a bikini!
Anyway, after dinner we popped to the shop next-door to Alma and Jerry’s. We bought Rhum. A litre and a half for 140 pesos. That’s about £2.00.
Just realised that the only pictures I have included today is of alcohol. Hmmmm…..
Southern Leyte dive day #10
A mixture of sunshine and clouds with a moderate breeze greets us this morning. We say good-by to the Danish couple at breakfast, which leaves four divers on the boat today, plenty of room to run around as you do!
There is a friendly dog (oxymoron) that spends a lot of time on our doorstep, this morning Jo discovers that it is camera shy, the challenge has been set.
The bad news is that we have lost the 6 of ♣, the good news is that the restaurant owner claims to have it in hand, we shall see how that plays out later.
On the subject of restaurants, we really must try to order less food🍛🍜🍝🍔🍗🍖🍟🍕🌭🍲🍚🍾🍷🍺. So far we have failed to avoid temptation.
This mornings diving is currently planned to be at Limisawa Island which is about 40 minutes south by boat. We already dived their once this trip, hopefully we can repeat the excellent wall dive at Adrian’s Cove (fate has now been tempted) which has many inlets and outcrops, there is also plenty to explore on top of the wall. Let’s see how that goes.
We made it, it turned out to be a gloriously sunny and not too windy day so we did the dive on Zak’s cove where we saw many frog fish on various colours, the nicest one IMHO was a green painted one. A lovely wall dive, the first half on the wall then the second half higher up and on to the reef.
Back at the boat or was time for coffee, biscuits and fruit. The guides and crew performed boost maintenance during the surface interval. This mostly consisted of barnacle removal from the hull and the engine water coolers.
After a little sun 🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞 and the appropriate interval⌛⏳⌛⏳ we headed over to Adrian’s cove for the second dive. This was a Bible along the top of the wall and then back over the reef.
Back on board, more coffee and more fruit as we made our way back to base for a light lunch.
This afternoon it’s a local dive called Bunga Bend. This dive starts off shallow in an area where we hope to find ‘Seal Pup’ nudibranch. Then we make our way down the reef towards a corner (Bend) where a hard coal overhang is festoon with soft corals.
Let’s see how this plan turns out! If all goes well then we may even squeeze in a fourth dive before tea.
Well so far so good (and all good at Sogod Bay). We went around the Bunga Bend, we found the seal pup nudis and we made it to the overhang at around 31m which was indeed dripping with soft coral loveliness.
Back on board and now soaking up the remnants of the sunshine as we prepare for the dusk dive.
… and then there were two!
Just spotted this rainbow, fortunately no rain here!
The sun is now over our horizon, time to go dusk/night diving!
.. and it was indeed a most excellent dive, the highlight of which was most definitely the juvenile painted frog fish. Black with orange spots and about 3 to 4mm long.
After about 70 minutes we surface right next to the resort, amazing!
Dinner was most excellent, we ate at the resort and dined from the specials menu, Hot and Spicy pork and onion, well, it was hot!and all washed down with calamansi juice and Red Horse Beer.
Southern Leyte dive day #11
It seems like we have been here forever… The snow and ice at home, seems so far away that it could be the other side of the planet…
Oh, it is.
Four more dive days, including today. Hoping to do four dives today and three at least for the next three days. Chasing the big 1200 and would rather do that here than in Chepstow two weeks after we get back.
We are going to the other side today. Hoping to get down to the pinnacle on Santa Paz, if the current will allow, followed by another dive on the beautiful Napantao. Tomorrow there is a whaleshark trip, we have decided that if the wind is calm we will stay on this side of the bay and take a road trip to Little Lembeh for a couple of dives. It the wind is up then we will go on the trip which is in the shelter of the prevailing wind.
I would say that someone was whistling on the boat yesterday! My thoughts turned to Willy and his view on this and those little animals with long ears and fluffy tails. Well at least we can say MacBeth on the boat! Not sure why you would, but you could, if you wanted, just saying.
When there aren’t so many guests on the boat, they sometimes play music. I am not a big music lover but I like what I like. Turns out that the guys here are really into Queen. Took me back to us all singing Bohemian Rapsody on the transfer from Phuket to Ao Nang.
Dive 1 – Santa Paz
First dive done to plan. Down the wall to the pinnacle at about 30 metres. It is so very beautiful. Back up the wall to the sandy part where we both got viciously attacked by clownfish. Aggressive little buggers! They even drew blood.
- Beautiful hydrozoas on the pinnacle.
- Orangutan crab
- Tiny very bright red and black spotty slug
- Very pretty shrimps trying to land on my camera.
Special Ops for Pedro and Dave. New mooring put in at Santa Paz.
Picture to follow.
We have now arrived at dive site number two. Napantao.
The water looks so amazing.
Ahh, a slight issue…
The boat has clutch failure…
Pedro, in a former life, was a mechanic. So, very like in England, one person in there doing the actual work, every one else standing around the hole, looking in with their hands on their hips, trying to look as helpful as possible.
Once Pedro was satisfied that the boat will get us home, we went for our dive.
Dive 2 – Napantao North
We found the current fish. It was lost and went in every direction. Left, right, in, out and up and down.
Not my favourite dive of the holiday, but it was a very pretty wall.
- Bright red scorpionfish
The trip back was fine although it was a little slow in the beginning. Back at SBSR, mooring was a little hard due to the lack of reverse gear, but the crew dealt with it brilliantly.
So, the plans for the rest of the day have changed. Pedro is tied up sorting the engine out so we are going to dive from the boat to the shore with Dave. Pedro has called it a mini divorce… Or perhaps a cooling off period.
Additionally this evening, it looks like the night dive is off. Hopefully we will be able to do the pier dive on Wednesday.
Lunch was taken on the veranda. Here is the view.
The crew and guides taking kit from the boat to the dive centre.
Unloading at the dive centre.
Dive 3 – House reef
Our dive guide was Dave for this one. We had a bimble about near the boat and then swam back to shore. Lovely relaxed dive.
Soft coral crab
Blennies on glass bottles
Now, in the absence of Mike or Jen here to fall over, I took up the challenge…
Coming back into the apartment, on the nicely polished floor, in slow motion, my right foot slid forward and my left knee hit the floor with a bit of a whack. Ouch, I said…. Currently can’t feel my knee cap, but that might be because of all the ice I have applied. I think I might get a bit of a bruise. It also tore a hole in my very tasteful underwater leggings. 😣
Dinner was excellent as always. Lumpia for starter.
Only one crib game today. It was a close thing…
I won, I won, I won!!!!!!!!!! (I was blue)
Southern Leyte dive day #12
Woke slightly earlier today so I decided to get up anyway and prep for the day.
After the almighty down pour last night everything is now calm. Not a breath of wind and a flat sea.
The team were on the boat just after five to fix the clutch, clutch mechanism or whatever it was that broke yesterday. Perhaps the lack of frenzied shouting suggests that all is now well, time will tell.
Time for breakfast #1
Today we are trukin’ off to Little Lembeh, transport courtesy of Isuzu. A well appointed vehicle with fully adjustable seating in the rear. Journey time could be up to 20 minutes so we might as well be comfortable!
Well that is not how it turned out. When it was time to go the Isuzu megatruck had been replaced by the small flat back micro wagon and trailer. We load the trailer and climb on board.
It don’t start! After many attempts it is decided that a different vehicle is required. Ten minutes later we are all loaded up and headed towards Little Lembeh.
The trip takes about twenty minutes and there is plenty to see along the way. The village (more like a town) is called Malitbog, our right hand man pays the required fees at some office then we head off for the diving.
We unload and kit up about twenty metres from the waters edge. It’s super flat calm and no current so in we go for what turns out to be a great muck dive.
When we surface at the end of the dive it is raining. We get out for a cylinder change along with coffee, biscuits and fruit whilst the surface interval plays out.
The rain dries up and the sun comes out for the second dive which was equally spectacular.
- Sea horses
- Ornate ghost pipe fish
- Robust ghost pipe fish
- Sea moths
- Cuttle fish
- Flamboyant cuttle fish
- Shrimps various
- .. And loads of other stuff
When we get out the sun is shining even more brightly.
The van is loaded and we head south back to base where we take the usual lunch whilst watching the sunshine and flat sea!
In the PM we do a shore dive with Dave which was really nice, the water is warmer and clearer than of late and we go a slightly different route taking us to new coral outcrops and sandy areas. We go set for macro photography but during the dive we encountered a group of about six sweetlips and they were mahoosive do we day and watched them for a while whilst they did pretty much nothing apart from watching us! There were also a few giant trevally cruising around and occasionally picking off the more absent minded smaller fish.
Many of the larger pinnacles were teeming with small Fry as well as the relatively larger Anthias. At one point all I could see was a mass of tiny fish in all directions. I suspect that each of these outcrops also had a resident lion fish keeping a firm grip on population control.
There were still a few jellyfish in the water, one of which got Dave on the lip just before the end of the dive, much swelling ensued.
Back on land we note that the boat had returned from another successful whale shark trip. This time Pedro had the gear lever in his hand. After helpful comments like ‘what have you broken this time?’ He assures us that he is performing preventative maintenance and that all is still well with the new engine.
Just to recap, not only is the boat new to the dive center but the engine (Mitsubishi) is new to the boat and as well as being an instructor and guide, Pedro is a properly qualified diesel engine mechanic. He fitted the new engine to the boat the week before we arrived.
From what I can tell, that means fixing it to the hull and then connecting the clutch and gear controls in a relatively ingenious/Heath Robinson/Philipino style. The cooling being provided by a series of pipes fixed to the outside of the hull below the waterline. The ships wheel (also from a truck) has an oversized bobbin on the end around which ropes that ultimately lead to a rudder are attached. Further questioning revealed that it runs best in third gear though the lower gears are available for going up hill and the higher gears for economy on a longer run.
After washing the cameras and ourselves we nip down for a drink 🍹🍺 and a game of crib ♠♥♦♣. One win each, let’s call it a draw? No, we move over to Alma and Jerrys to play another game whilst we wait for our food. Another close match, level pegging most of the way around though ultimately one of us managed to creep over the line only a few points ahead.
Dinner consists of the near compulsory Lumpia (meat filled spring rolls) followed this evening by vegetable and fish curry’s and garlic rice.
I feel that a return to the sweet and sour chicken will be on the cards for our last meal there. We plan to do a night dive under Padre Burgos pier tomorrow so back to A&J’s on Thursday.
Another side note:
A couple recently arrived from Spain, they were going on yesterday’s whale shark trip. We advised them to do what we noticed some of the guests did when we went. Immediately after jumping in, they summoned one of the spotter canoes to pick them up and head straight for the shark. The Spaniards did this and had very close encounters.
It was lovely to hear that our advice worked well for them. They were so excited to tell us about their encounters.
This happened the other day too, a Danish Lady doing her last dive of the trip wanted to see a Seahorse. It was to be her 10th dive (I had to do 100’s before I could see a Seahorse!). Sure enough, during the dive at Little Lembeh, we find the required item and drag her over for a look. She was so happy.
Southern Leyte dive day #13
As our holiday is approaching its end (today is the penultimate dive day), I am still chasing the elusive 1200. This means four dives today…
It is not sunny yet, but that can change in the blink of an eye. The wind is about a force 4, in contrast to yesterday’s complete absence.
Just for completeness, here is a picture of our photophobic dog.
Just outside the house we have a goat. No I am not kidding you.
So, the order of the day is four dives and no swimming against the current as my knee is still in recovery.
We crossed to the other side of the bay as the dive sites are protected from the wind. Calmness and serenity…
Dive 1- Santa Paz
Down to the pinnacle, the back up along the wall to Ghost Town. The pinnacle really is very beautiful; it’s covered in white hydrozoas.
We also saw…
- The killer clownfish!!!!
- Pretty shrimps
- Razor fish
Now, what is the sign for Razor fish? I gave it a go, pretending to shave my face, obviously male Razor fish… Richard gave it a go for the female Razor fish… Made me laugh and laugh, water filling up my mask. Richard shall be demonstrating in person…
Really bashed my bad knee on the giant stride so going in via the ladder on the next one.
Dive 2 – Napantao North
A steep slope, followed by a vertical wall, followed by a bimble back across the top of the reef.
- White tipped reef shark
- Large turtle
- Lots of Christmas tree worms in different colours
- A very photogenic balled up anemone with anemone fish
That’s it for the morning. Lunch followed by a dive at 3pm.
I am on track!
Two more dives done.
Dive 3 – House reef
Excellent dive. Us, Pedro, Iain and Clark (if you’ve seen a photo posted by SBSR then it is probably one of his).
Just a bimble about really.
- All the usual suspects
- Very pretty nudi at the end under the boat.
After the dive I stayed on board whilst Richard went ashore to change the lens from wide angle to macro.
Dive 4 – House reef night dive
We jumped from the boat and swam back to the shore. 98 minutes!
- Lots of tiny squid, about 5mm
- A very large turtle with two remoras, found twice
- Unusual shrimps
- Juvenile trumpet fish, about 10cm long
The trumpet fish, were manic, swimming in circles then swimming repeatedly at my head. It turns out that space is not the only place where no one can here you scream. Arghhhhhhhhhhh!
During the dive, I was completely lost! Luckily Pedro wasn’t, and we made it back to the dive centre.
We had dinner at the resort. No crib. Sleep. Didn’t even finish looking at today’s pictures.
Southern Leyte dive day #14
This is it, the last day has finally arrived, sadness is in abundance 😭 We do however have three more dives here so all is not yet lost!
The plan is to do Bunga Bend and Voltaire’s Rock this morning. Both dives feature spectacular topography and are teeming with life.
Mixing things up a little I changed my breakfast order to French toast, yum!
Excitement is starting to mount as preparations are well underway for Jo’s 1200th dive. We have dive gear, a diver and a boat, totally ready for it.
Morning dives completed as planned, a lovely dive on Voltaire’s Rock with some bog frog fish action at the end, they really can swim!
After or surface interval we jump in on Bunga Bend. The first job is to find the Seal Pup nudis, epic fail!
We head off (and down) to the bend where at around 32m there is a spectacular overhang which is dripping with soft and other corals n crystal clear water.
We make our way back up again to a very sunny reef of coral outcrops where we actually do manage to find a Seal Pup nudi!
Back on shore it’s lunch time, we just heard that the afternoon dive will be at 2pm and not 3pm which is great for drying stuff and no fly time, not so good for the slightly larger than usual lunch we ordered. Maybe we shall be hearing from that again (probably for the entire duration of the last dive).
The sun is still shining and there is a helpful drying breeze as we prep for the last dive. A group of 10 had just arrived from Sweden and they are joining us on the boat this afternoon, a good time to be moving on I feel, 4 of us on that tea tray is bad enough!
Jo and I will be jumping from the boat and swimming ashore at the end of the dive whilst the new arrivals do their own thing somewhere else, result!
A briefest of lunches was taken in the shortest of time, the consequences of which were indeed felt (certainly by me) throughout the entire dive.
We get back on board ahead of the Swedish contingent (who’s gear has already been taken on to the boat). I think that Sweden must rank fairly highly on the Hollis worldwide sales chart -it’s sidemount city and sure enough, as they get on board mayhem ensures as they all need to prep all their cylinders with weights, steps, regs and guages. Fortunately for us, we are being dropped off somewhere else for our dive and in moments we are away. Were were joined by one more guest for the dive so Jo and I get in. By now we have established that when we are ready, we can go down and start the dive whilst waiting for the rest of the group, so we descend.
After a minute or so it becomes obvious that the other guest had some problem descending so I digest that we commence the dive proper, we have a plan so we dive that plan, exit is to the shore and we are in familiar territory. We descend over ‘The Bight’, make our max depth about 20m and start hunting for photo opportunities. We move slowly along the wall looking at all kinds of stuff. After about ten minutes we catch sight of Pedro and the guest, all is well. They stick to above 18m as we continue along the wall. At one point I get close to a fairly large Sweetlips which is being serviced by cleaner wrasse.
We then start to reduce our depth, the objective being to find the spot where we had previously spotted a large number of these massive fish. Sure enough, there they were, not doing much, just slowly moving around each other as we watched them. My wide angle lens was too wide to get any close pictures, Jo’s was to Macro, need something in the middle!
After this we continued or bimble around large coral outcrops, each festoon (sorry for the over use of that word but that’s how it was) with soft corals and thousands upon thousands of tiny fish and Anthias.
After 70 minutes we exit the water, all dives done, Jo’s 1200th done, all pictures taken, time to think about packing.
Pedro and Puloy grab our kit and commence desalination. We grab the small stuff and cameras and retire to our room to work on that.
After about an hour we head down to the restaurant area with the idea of having 🍹🍺 and ♣♦♥♠ but instead we end up taking with Pedro for an hour (whilst taking 🍺🍹) before moving on to Almer and Jerry’s for our final meal there.
We arrive and it’s none too busy (just us and the Russians). So we commence crib. After half an hour we are joined by Gisela and Tim (as we have been on previous occasions). They were also expecting to be joined by Pedro and Clark (Clark spends months at a time here). Then a couple of retired Australian gents with there Filipino wives turn up and finally the Swedish 10. The place is heaving! Consequently food takes a while to arrive. We finish our game, Jo scrapes a win by some considerable margin, food arrives and eating commences.
For our last meal we had the near compulsory Lumpia (small pork filled spring rolls) followed by sweet and sour chicken, spicy pork ribs, stir fried vegetables and garlic rice. Slightly more Red Horse was consumed than usual. Finally we finish eating, say our goodbyes to Almer and Jerry then head back home at which point we mostly collapse and so head to bed 😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴
Side note: we must tell you about:
The Russians (Doctor Zivago)
Gisella’s boots and hat (There’s something about Mary)
Our suspicions about the Swedish group (glug)
.. And in other news, just arrived today:
Jen and Jo fox would especially like these!
Southern Leyte the return journey
We are sitting at the terminal, awaiting the arrival of the ferry to take us to Cebu.
It has been a sad morning…
Saying goodbye to all the people at SBSR, both staff and new friends. Making sure that that they don’t see anything on the dives that they do today and that they miss us greatly.
We didn’t sleep well, possibly something to do with the fact that we were too busy having a nice time last night and didn’t do any packing.
We both awoke earlier than usual and we set to with sorting everything out. A hot business! Breakfast was the normal at 7am followed by the long goodbyes. We had to be ready by 8am and at 7.57 Richard still had no clothes on! We made it, followed by more goodbyes.
The transfer, in Bambi’s taxi, bedecked in brown corduroy with scatter cushions, was a relaxing affair. We made it to ferry terminal in plenty of time.
The ferry has arrived, so that is good!
The luggage arrangements on the ferry are much improved. The bags are stacked in the third class section rather than on the back.
We are in our seats 1A and 1B, right at the front of the first class section and a spare seat next to us. Oh yes!!
We have an excellent view of Celine Dion on the telly. Although I appreciate that some may think being in third class would be better than being subjected to the theme from Titanic for the billionth time.
As Celine is was giving her rendition of ‘I drove all night’ I though it might be best to look out the window, greeted by this….
They really don’t like the sun here. They want their skin to be white. There are lots of potions and ointments to make this so. This was the body wash in the apartment.
‘Whitening and refreshing’ sounds more like toothpaste. Obviously, we didn’t use it, didn’t want to come back white.
Oh… We are off… 65 nautical miles to go…
Been going about two hours, we had about 20 minutes of the film John Wick followed by some dreadful film with Mike Tyson and Steven Seagal, The China Salesman. (3.9 out of 10 on IMDB) We have opted for our own entertainment. Me – Harry Potter for the umpteenth time 🤓, Richard – various music, probably from the seventies and possibly prog rock 😵.
Whilst looking out the window I have just seen a manta jump out of the sea! Never seen that before. It does remind me that we saw a swordfish repeatedly jump out of the sea on one of our trips to Little Lembeh (don’t think we put it in the blog).
The ferry was on time and we were collected by Nelson, who was very chatty.
Smooth, so far.
We arrive at the airport early, about four hours before departure.
That is kind of where things ground to a halt.
A queue to go through initial security. We had to join the queue half way to the other wing of the terminal, outside!
Check in was easy.
Queued to pay the terminal fee.
Queued to go through second security.
Queued for passport security.
At last! We are in and it only took about two hours!
In the lounge now. Richard has taken to drink.
The flight to Dubai wasn’t so long as expected. I think I might have had a snooze…
At Dubai Airport now. An hour and fifty minutes between arrival and departure. No problem. At the security entrance to the gate I get waved through leaving Richard to go through with the rest of the plebs!
The flight to Gatwick was uneventful, for us. A couple of people on the floor with their legs in the air whilst sucking on 02.
Ebo was waiting for us when we arrived, as reliable as ever. The taxi ride was filled with Ebo winding Richard up, as usual.
So over 32 hours, door to door. It’s a long way.
We had a wonderful holiday, just trying to work out when we can go back. Is June too early????