Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scuba trip to Mindoro, Nov 12 - 20 2010 part 2

Days before arriving at the resort we had already learned that the dive boat motor was no longer running. The same had been true when we had arrived on our last visit but that time Don had gotten it going in fairly short order. This time however, it was not to be. Someone in the staff let us know that over its time as the resort’s boat it had foundered twice during exceptionally foul weather, both times completely submerging the Mercury engine. Salt water and wiring are not compatible and the more Don delved into the wires, which mostly support the ignition system, the more he discovered pervasive corrosion and broken and loosened wires. He repaired as much as he could see, but some things just have to be replaced. According to the multimeter the electronic ignition module was the culprit; it had no output at all. We would have to do all our dives without it.

Even though some good things are certainly within scuba swimming distance of the resort’s waterfront, options become limited without a boat. The ideal situation is to be dropped off and picked up; otherwise, air is wasted getting to and from the dive, if the site can be reached at all.

With that in mind Don doggedly troubleshot the inoperative outboard for more than two days. Before finally declaring the outboard a lost cause we kept our dives close to home mostly going out to the buoy directly in front of the resort, exploring outward from there before having to return before our air ran too low.

During one of these early dives Don and I found ourselves at the buoy mooring point some 100 yards out and about 35 feet down. While he studied his compass I ventured a few feet away to check out a small fish. Suddenly I heard something that caused me to kick strongly away from where I hovered a few inches above the seafloor. It sounded urgently metallic, a high pitched continuous rattling sound. Where I had just been the chain holding the buoy in place overhead was now in a heap. That’s what I had heard, the chain links clinking together as they fell. It wasn’t a real heavy chain and the water slowed its fall enough to keep it from causing any real harm to me even if it had landed on me, so no real drama there. The question we had though, was why the chain had fallen in the first place?

Sure enough, upon our return we clearly saw that the buoy was now merrily bobbing its way toward the local barrio beach. Inspecting it upon retrieval we discovered that the old steel attachment ring although rusty and much reduced from corrosion had clearly been roughly broken through from where the chain had pulled through it. And actually, we even knew who had done it. A large bangka boat contracted by one of the Filipino guests of the new manager had been tied to the buoy while we were below. It seems they had forgotten to untie as they motored away.
The humorous thing though is that Don queried them about what happened, explaining how the broken chain had nearly brained us, over dramatizing the story for effect. They must have all “gotten their story straight,” because they all denied any knowledge of doing such a careless thing. Don and I figured they decided to deny it to avoid the responsibility of reattaching it.

They needn’t have worried. Don soon decided that we would repair the wayward buoy. With me as his sidekick I would help and basically be along for the ride, a very bumpy ride as it turned out.
Don was going to fix something by God, if not the boat then the buoy! And I would assist, sort of… That’ll be part 3.

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