Jul 12, 2013
Rite of Passage on Cantrasa Shoal
Location: Brgy. Punta Bilar, Surigao City, Province of Surigao del Norte
Currents of Surigao
As good fortune would have it, I was again tagged along by the nice folks of Punta Bilar Dive Center to join them for a dive. This time, it's the Cantrasa Shoal, just off Punta Bilar's shoreline. But here's the deal - the current is strong. I've heard of horrifying tales about Surigao's current - it can pull the regulator off your mouth and rip your mask off! It has shamed many experienced divers. First time I heard it, I was excited and at the same time fearful to give it a try. Now that I'm faced with it, I feel butterflies in my stomach.
Cantrasa Shoal (general area)
We were to hang on to the rope connected to the anchor line and jump, pulling ourselves down. Zati jumped ahead of me, but due to a misunderstanding with the boatman, she jumped on the other side of the boat - there was no anchor line to hang-on to! Immediately, the current grabbed hold of her and pulled her out, like quicksand sucking you in. From the boat, the crew, Jeanne and everyone else were quick to grab her by the regulator before she drifted off. It was a harrowing ordeal until she was safely pulled back into the boat - sigh of relief to everyone, specially Zati who was left shaken. She opted not to dive anymore that day - good call. That episode was one for the books.
The thing is, after Zati, it was my turn to make the jump. Yeah, right! I started reliving a mountain bike episode back in the day when I was next in line to make a big-air jump. The guy in front of me took his turn, over-compensated and landed on his tailbone and writhed in pain - no one wanted to be next after that. Now, looking at the water, I wanted to tuck my tail between my legs and come up with a plausible bailout...headache? toothache? LBM? I would have tried all the excuses but there was no fig leaf to be found.
Leap of Faith
"Forced to Good", I grabbed the rope and jumped, pulling myself down the anchor line. Yes, the current was quick to call my attention. I could feel my mask loosening - I had to press it against my face. When I let go of the rope, the current took control. I finned against it, but I was still being pulled. Someone should have taken a shot of the horrified look on my face. Not seeing anyone, I clung to the coral wall - with no gloves. At that point, my breathing was shallow and fast, and I was probably pale with a near-panic look in my eyes. I was afraid I'd use up my air too fast. What the f#$@ did I get myself into this time?
The Good Samaritans
Clint appeared from the shadows and gestured me to follow him. Whew! Seeing him was like a new lease on life. Now I know how Moses felt when he saw the Burning Brush on that mountain top. Salvation was at hand! At some point, I lost sight of Clint but there was Jeanne. Confidence was back with her around.
As we continued our dive, the current felt less and less until it felt normal - I could maintain bouyancy while staying on one spot. The whole time, I thought the dive would be under torrential current conditions! That ordeal was quite something. I got scared despite managed expectations. But what I went through is not nearly as extreme as some of the stories I've heard. That current only loosened my face mask. It didn't rip it off. I didn't feel my mouthpiece (primary second stage) being pulled from my mouth. But I'd been told of such extreme diving conditions when divers would even employ a commando crawl on the ocean floor to weather the current. I'll leave that part to the intrepid divers of Surigao. For now, this experience is plenty for me. Diving Surigao's semi-strong current...check!
Many many thanks to Jeanne, Zati, Marlon, Clint and Anna for a dive worth retelling to my future grandkids!
ps - If you want me to objectively review a diving gear or cover a dive for your dive shop for this website (scuba gear, party boat dive, wreck dive, snorkeling, etc.), email me.
To make scuba dive arrangements in Surigao City and the Caraga region, contact:
Brgy. Punta Bilar, 8400 Surigao City
starting at P800 for shore dives and P1200 for boat dives, minimum 2 pax. If you are diving alone, then you pay P500 for the divemaster, which already includes his gear. Gear rental for whole day is only P750
- Surigao divers are strong divers, able to swim against currents that shame the most experienced divers. Some divers at Punta Bilar Dive Center are among the country's most adept cave divers. Read: You're in good hands with Punta Bilar Dive Center folks!
Surigao del Norte
Goodbye Surigao July 23, 2013
Island Hopping Adventures in Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte July 23-25, 2013
Exploring Siargao's Cloud 9 July 18-20, 2013
Judging Del Carmen's Beauty Pagent and Street Dancing July 15-16, 2013
Rite of Passage on Cantrasa Shoal Jul 12, 2013
Diving the Reef of Cagtinae, Surigao del Norte Jul 7, 2013
Karma Yoga in Surigao City July 5, 2013
The Wooden Footbridge and Waterfall of Cantiasay, Surigao City July 1, 2013
Outdoor Adventure Tour in Nonoc Island, Surigao City Jul 1-2, 2013
The Deadly Bitaugan Whirlpool of Surigao City Jun 26, 2013
Beaching it at Pebble Beach and Looc Beach, Surigao City Jun 22-24, 2013
Exploring Silop Cave of Surigao City Jun 22, 2013
Surigao City Flow Jun 22, 2013
Free-Diving the Coral Reef of Birok Islet, Surigao City June 12, 2013
Boat Ride through the Floating Village of Day-asan June 12, 2013
Surprising Twist in Surigao City May 28, 2013
(along the Surigao coastline from Surigao City to Surigao del Sur)
- Rite of Passage on Cantrasa Shoal Jul 12, 2013
- Karma Yoga in Surigao City July 5, 2013
- The Wooden Footbridge and Waterfall of Cantiasay, Surigao City July 1, 2013
- Outdoor Adventure Tour in Nonoc Island, Surigao City Jul 1-2, 2013
- The Deadly Bitaugan Whirlpool of Surigao City Jun 26, 2013
- Beaching it at Pebble Beach and Looc Beach, Surigao City Jun 22-24, 2013
- Exploring Silop Cave of Surigao City Jun 22, 2013
- Free-Diving the Coral Reef of Birok Islet, Surigao City June 12, 2013
- Boat Ride through the Floating Village of Day-asan June 12, 2013
- Island Hopping Adventures in Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte July 23-25, 2013
- Exploring Siargao's Cloud 9 July 18-20, 2013
- Judging Del Carmen's Beauty Pagent and Street Dancing July 15-16, 2013
- Diving the Reef of Cagtinae, Surigao del Norte Jul 7, 2013
- Ayoke Island May 27, 2013
- Casarica Island May 27, 2013
- General Island May 27, 2013
- Sua Cold Spring - in Brgy Esperanza. From main highway, get off at Madrid terminal and take motorcycle ride for the spring. If coming from Lanuza, get off at crossing of Cangcaban then take habal-habal for the spring
- Hubason River May 18, 2013
- Lanuza Marine Park and Sanctuary May 17, 2013 - coral reef, snorkeling, cafe. Also a short walk to Magkawas Falls.
- Magkawas Falls in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur May 16, 2013
- Silop Spring May 16, 2013
- Campamento Cave May 16, 2013
- Herrera Ancestral Home
- Lubcon Falls - from Tandag, take jeep for Cantilan or Cortes and ask the driver to drop you off at Lubcon Falls, P25, 30 mins, 15 kms
- Burgos Togonan Falls
- Laswitan - strong waves crashing against the rocks and spilling over to fill up a rock pool (while you're dipping in it)
- Campiri Rocks - going over huge boulders, dipping in a rock pool, standing on a rock summit as waves hits and splash against it, and to cap all, you rest on the base of the light house perched on top of the rocks in full view of the magnificent Pacific Ocean
- Bakwitan Cave - a refuge by the towns folk during the Japanese occupation and during the typhoon of 2004
- Buybuyan Beach - small beach, almost like a personal beach, fine white sand (there are no commercial establishments on the beach...its undeveloped)
- Sihagan Beach - fine white sand for long walks on a beach (there are no commercial establishments on the beach...its undeveloped)
- Uba Marine Sanctuaries - scuba dive with gear from the LGU. At P250 per dive, you can't beat it!
- Capandan Marine Sanctuaries - scuba dive with gear from the LGU. At P250 per dive, you can't beat it!
- Balibadon Marine Sanctuary
- Mabahin Marine Sanctuary
- Tigao Marine Sanctuary
- Poblacion Marine Sanctuary
- Exploring Dayao Cave of Tandag, Surigao del Sur May 12, 2013
- Brgy. Bongtud - Twin Linungao Island, Mancagangi Island & MPA (Marine Protected Area - fish sanctuary)
- white sand beaches
- Britania Islets May 6-8, 2013 - small islets dotting the bay. Island tour, beach, mangrove forest.
- Enchanted River May 6, 2013
- Sibadan Fish Cage May 5, 2013
- Tinuy-an Falls
Jul 12, 2013
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