11days aboard the Philippine Siren!
Trip Start May 26, 2008
104Trip End Ongoing
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Philippine Siren, World Wide Dive & Sail
After about a year of anticipation it was finally time to board the Philippine Siren with a crazy gang of friends of friends & a few more friends. We were going to be on board for 11 days with a potential 30 or so dives to be had, leaving from Cebu heading out around Mactan Island towards Bohol & onto South Leyte. I couldn't wait! And would we get to see whale sharks??? That's the dream!
The first couple of days was great with an amazing brand new sailing yacht, a great bunch of people, fabulous food & plenty of diving. Athough the visibility was disappointing. I can't be sure if it was the recent bad weather to the north or if the Philippines just doesn't have the clarity. We hoped it would improve but it didn't much.
Sadly by day 3, I was starting to feel like crap. I was hoping it wasn't caused by the dives & was in fear that a full blown cold was coming. Diving & total sinus blockage don't mix; so I dosed myself on everything I had (and I travel with a mobile pharmacy).
Over the next couple of days I struggled while on board; with massive fevers, a huge headache & no appetite to speak of. On the ocassions I forced myself to suit up & get in the water I was always amazed at how good I felt under the water. Considering my chest was started to hurt to breath up top I thought it would be crushing me under the pressure of the water but strangely it felt fine.
To this day I have no idea what it was I came down with onboard. My suspicion is it may have been Swine Flu or the true Influenza as I never really got a head cold, I don't get sea sick & I wasn't suffering the bends. I've never felt as sick as I did one particular night on board. I hadn't eaten for 3 days & was spiking a 39.6'C temperature. After taking 3 times the recommended dose of painkillers, decongestants & I don't even remember what else I still wasn't feeling any better & gave myself another 2 hours to improve otherwise I would ask one of the crew to take me to the nearest island with a hospital in one of the dinghys. Next thing I new I woke up the next morning feeling slightly better. Gotta love an overdose!!
There is one thing I can thank that illness for. Whilst most of those on board went for a dive just off the south coast of Leyte; Jordy, Maggie & myself stayed onboard. Jordy was suffering a cold & so we were both feeling a little sorry for ourselves. But then Lok started yelling "whale shark!!!!!!". In a flash the 3 of us were on our feet & at attention asking "where is it??" We only had time to grab our mask & whatever fins were nearest & we were on our way in the dinghy.
I slid in the water first & instantly the 6m or so juvenile turned & slowly swam towards me before dropping its tail down to hang in the water beside us. We were inspecting it & it was wondering what kind of crazy arse freaky fish we were. Then it turned back towards the propellor of the dinghy & hung there checking it out. After what seemed like ages but was probably only a couple of minutes it slowly turned around & began to swim away. At first it went nice & gently & we could easily swim along but then it picked up speed & headed for the depths. And that was my first experience of the whale shark...in my opinion one of the most beautiful creatures in the world & by the far the animal I most wanted to see. We never even thought or had time to grab an underwater camera to capture any of this encounter but the three of us all agreed that's what probably made it even more incredible. We weren't trying to get the obligatory shots we were just taking in the experience & loving every second of it.
We did get a few more chances to swim with the whale sharks but none were as good as that first one. The other times there were a dozen or so of us in the water & everyone was thrashing through the water trying to get close to it & of course it just scares them off.
So after 11 days it was time for us to disembark the Philippine Siren. It had been a good time (when I wasn't feeling like death warmed up) & hopefully I'll get to explore more seas with this crazy bunch of people again sometime. Especially if it comes at the right price again ;)