I think Coron is my favourite place in the Philippines so far and we haven’t even seen the good bits yet. The people are friendly, there’s some great wreck diving (to be experienced tomorrow), there’s actually some OK street food available around the market, costs are pretty low (550php = $13.75 for double room, shared bathroom), but there’s still the basic facilities that make life easier such as pharmacy, ATM (still to be found) and a selection of bars and restaurants in walking distance. It doesn’t feel too touristy, and the tourists who are here are generally like-minded divers.
On the downside, our overwater guesthouse (on stilts and shakes occasionally) was very hot and also noisy due to the dogs last night.. Then the thunder which was constant from around 5am until midday.. So we didn’t sleep at all well.. It rained from the early hours until around 2pm so we decided not to dive today – the time spent on the surface would have been uncomfortable.. So we slept in instead.
At least we made some good use of the afternoon studying our manuals for our enriched air nitrox course. We’ll complete this certification tomorrow – it’s a useful capability particularly for wreck diving, which allows us to dive with air mixtures with a larger percentage of oxygen than normal air – and hence a lower percentage of nitrogen. This reduces the rate at which nitrogen dissolves in our blood at depth and so allows us to stay at depth for longer without getting a dangerous amount of dissolved nitrogen that would lead to decompression sickness. This means that we can spend much longer on a wreck at 30 metres instead of just 20mins – which would be the absolute limit with normal air (and if we start diving to 40m as we might wish to do on the Coolidge in a few months – it will increase our bottom time above 8 minutes – very short with air!). Also we can do our second dives sooner, and for longer. There are some technicalities to understand, but our dive computers make everything so much easier than it would have been 10 years ago – nitrox has become so mainstream largely due to that.
So, we are pretty excited about tomorrow, to take a look at some of the remains of the Japanese fleet sunk by an American attack on 24th Sept 1944.