Claveria diving 3.4, Last Dive, We dive the Pyramids
and last day of diving provided a rather unpleasant surprise when we unloaded
our last four supposedly full tanks and discovered that one of our large 100s
did not get re-filled at the Terra Rika like we thought it did. It was the 100
that I had used when we dove the beach. It had only 1700 lbs in it which meant that
one of our dives on that final fifth day would have to be necessarily abbreviated.
problem solver, Don proposed a solution to our dilemma. His idea to maximize
our final dive was that I would dive with a full tank while he used the half
filled one. Then, whenever we moved from site to site he would go off his tank
and swimming above and behind me in trail, he would breathe off my buddy
regulator. It sounds easy and it actually is, but it does take a little practice
to do it smoothly.
what we did on our very last dive which we decided to make in a spot that we
had never been to before, and that was down and around the two pyramidal shaped
rocks at Claveria Bay’s western point. These rocks are iconic; when seen in
photos they ARE Claveria.
We had been
told that the area to the east of the Claveria Rocks, on the bay side of the
rocks, is a fish sanctuary. Even though I was skeptical that such a real sanctuary
full of unmolested fish actually existed, at least other than in name only, I still
wanted to go and check it out so we could say we did. Don agreed and diving
that area became the plan for our final dive, that and the fact that we would breathe
the first half of the dive using my tank alone until we both had about the same
amount of air left in both our tanks.
and his son took us out to the Claveria rocks, careful to drop us off on the
western side to keep the boat out of the declared sanctuary area. Don went in
fully geared and then I dropped in where he assisted me into my own scuba gear
on the surface. Once we were both checked out and good to go gear-wise off we
went. Or did we?
in the boat Don suggested we stay on the surface and make our way over to the
rocks before submerging. So, as soon as he gave me the okay on my equipment and
I did the same for him, I turned over on my back, and looking over my shoulder
began to use my flippers to power over to the larger outer rock. I noticed a
powerful current fighting me hard but I mostly overcame it by kicking harder
Sea squirts on the bottom of an overhang of rock
I was within
ten feet of the rock looking back expecting to see Don nearby in the water; but
no, the current had prevented him from making any headway whatsoever. In fact,
he and the boat were even further away from the rock than they were before he
started. At that point he decided to let the boat drag him over to my location
with him holding onto an outrigger. I’ll give him credit for being able to do
that, because although I seem to have more stamina and power using my flippers,
I am completely unable to use my hands and shoulders to hold on to the
outriggers, especially when there any kinds of waves or current to deal with. I
guess all these years in the gym keeping my heart in shape on the cardio
machines have paid off.
The rest of
the dive came off exactly as planned. For the first 20 minutes after submerging
at the base of the pyramidal rocks Don held onto the top of my tank by gripping
the manifold connection while we moved to each new site with the two of us
breathing from my tank. On occasion I held my console turned up so he could
read it and know when our tanks held about equal air.
See the scorpion fish? Its center left head down.
out to be no big deal; it worked like a champ. Sharing my full tank for twenty
minutes completely saved our final dive and allowed us to check out an area we
otherwise would not have been able to see. It even lasted a decent length of
time, giving us almost 50 minutes of scuba time. Not bad at all.
I doubt if
we ever dive Claveria’s sanctuary again, at least not on the bay side of the
pyramid rocks. There are some fish over there but nothing remarkable, and what
I didn’t like about the area on that side of the rocks is that the seafloor
there is uniformly mucky and silty.
embedded video entitled “our last day of diving” the first segment provides a
look at the geologic features right around the base of the pyramidal rocks. Fish
or no fish, diving next to soaring sheer sided rocks that tower many tens of
feet above is thrilling and that’s what is going on in the first 45 seconds.
directly around the base of the pyramids is actually somewhat noteworthy and
worth a dive or two. On our way into the bay we swam between the pyramid shaped rocks and a smaller rock barely jutting from the water. It wasn’t exactly thrilling but the
view of water and perpendicular stone enclosing us on two sides was interesting
Once we made
it through the rocks and officially passed into the bay, we turned right angling sharply to the bottom where we found a shallow cave, more like a deep overhang
really. In the video above Don uses his spotlight to light
up the inside for my video taking and a lot of fish are seen swimming in
schools around us. The only thing that detracts from it is the thick silty muck
in there. I did my best to keep from stirring it up but once it happens there’s
nothing to be done except to go.
the sanctuary area we came across a few large coral lump formations which we
checked out but really nothing struck us as all that exciting. Again, the mostly
silty mucky nature of the area detracts from the experience; so, a half hour
into the dive when Don gave me the go ahead to head back to the other side of
the pyramid rocks I was eager to get on with it.
I took lead
and Don followed me back out of the bay’s sanctuary side where I used “seat of
my pants” dead reckoning to take us back towards the boat by going around the
smaller outside rock. In no time at all I had us at the outer pyramid where I
immediately began enjoying the much cleaner non-muck-covered towering rock
faces. The water there was deep, the currents delightfully in our direction, while
the sea-life was active and begging to be observed and photographed.
that going on I lost track of my situation, paying more attention to what I was
photographing than what was on my dive console. Finally, I took a casual glance
at the computer and was surprised to see that I had drifted down to 65 feet.
The depth itself didn’t bother me so much as the information that I had only a
few minutes left at that current depth, mostly due to the tissue loading that I
had already been subjected to during our earlier dive of the day.
did I get down here?’ I asked myself as I pushed off and began to slowly
ascend. While doing so I looked up and saw Don beckoning me concernedly to come
back up but of course I was already ahead of him.
Amazing scorpion fish. See it?
Up on the boat after the
dive I took the camera out of the underwater housing and took some video footage on the way back into the lagoon which I include as the last half of my YouTube clip above. At the very beginning just after taking it out of the plastic housing I still had time (barely) to pan back at the
pyramidal rocks to show where the dive took place. Watching the video just now again makes me
wish I was back there about to make another dive. We still have lots of areas
left to explore in the Claveria area. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to make it back up there again someday.
Well, I still have a few outstanding photos I want to post so I'll put them below. Enjoy!
An Air Force brat born in Japan in the late 50's. Attended more than a dozen schools before graduating from high school. Immediately joined the US Marines, after 5 years transferred to the US Air Force, retired in 2002 after 27 years of service. Now lives in the Philippines.