TheLoneRider
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Freediving

Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center June 16, 2017

Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center

SeaQuest Dive Center Instructor: Ben Meerhaeghe
Dive Site: SeaQuest beach front - the deep end
Dive Shop: SeaQuest Dive Center
Website: seaquestdivecenter.com
Email: info@seaquestdivecenter.com
Phone: (63) 38 502.9069
Mobile: (63) (0)999.380.2420 (Smart) / (63) (0)927.309.6383 (Globe)
Location: Alona Beach, Panglao, 6340 Bohol, Philippines
GPS waypoint: 9°32'54.5"N 123°46'23.6"E

Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center
freediver
Bohol Freediving
Since finishing my freediving course in Apo Island, I'd been itching to get back. I didn't expect it here in Bohol, but it just happened. I couldn't ask for more - great instructor, Ben Meerhaeghe and great dive center with their course facilities, SeaQuest Dive Center.

Ben Meerhaeghe
Ben is an animated guy with many adventures to talk about - restauranteur for a Mexican resto, English teacher in Japan, Aikido martial artist, skier, snow boarder, Vipassana meditator, etc. He lives the life! Currently, he runs SeaQuest and overlooks scuba diving and freediving - things that get you wet. Not just management, but he is also an instructor for both disciplines. He would be my teacher for freediving.

9:30am Freedive
A small boat took us to the deep end of SeaQuest's beach front. A bouy was tied to the boat by a 5m line and a weighted line was tied to the bouy, going down 10m for our warm-up. The current was strong and the weighted end of the rope was nowhere near the bottom - I couldn't even see the bottom. Jamel, a veteran dive instructor at SeaQuest, joined us. He has long wanted to learn freediving and now has time to pursue it.

We pulled ourselves down the rope and stayed as long as we could at the 10m depth before slowly pulling ourselves up. Ben showed us how to do it first and guided us along the way. He also taught us how to forcefully exhale the air out upon reaching the surface. We did this a few times before the line was lowered down to 15m. We did exactly the same thing - pulled our bodies down and stayed at the 15m depth as long as we could before heading up.

Lastly, the exercise was to remove the mask at 15m, hand it to Ben and climb our way up with no mask. Sometimes, masks get removed accidentally or a mask might get flooded with water. This exercise acclimatizes the body to that sensation so panic doesn't happen. With my scuba diver training of removing the mask underwater gave me confidence in doing the exercise right. I was surprised at the ease of doing it. I expected to struggle, but everything seems under control for me.

Finally, Ben lowered the line down to 18m. My record in Apo Island is 16.6m - at that level, I could no longer equalize and had to come up. Now, 18m? I was a little apprehensive. To my surprise, although challenging, I did not struggle. I methodically pulled myself down with no equalization difficulty and even managed to stay at the bottom for a few more seconds before heading up. I still had juice left when I surfaced. I really surprised myself this time. Ben assured me that I could easily reach the 20m mark, but there was no rush - some other time. For now, the 18m would suffice. I was happy to have a new record depth - 18m!

2:30pm Freedive
This time, we did the dive without being connected to the boat - although the boatman had strict instructions to keep an eye on us...otherwise the strong current might drift us all the way to Siquijor! The bouy was free-floating with the current. The line went down 15m this time. It was just Ben and me.

We did the 10m warm-up, then the 15m and finally the 17m. This time, instead of pulling down the rope, we did a duck dive and finned our way down, visually guided by the line. Upon reaching the bottom, I sommersaulted forward and started finning myself up, again, guided by the rope without touching it. It was more challenging but still do-able.

The strong current was dragging the bouy closer to land where we got too close to the wall. When Ben took his 3min hang, I struggled to fin against the current so the bouy doesn't hit the wall. It exhausted me. I was afraid if Ben had to be rescued down, I would no longer have enough air or strength to go down 17m. Thankfully, nothing like that happened and all went well.

Ending Thoughts
To my astonishment, I was able to do all the exercises without really struggling. I broke my own 16.6m record by going 18m with still some juice left in me. I was able to normally equalize at that level - something I couldn't do in Apo Island. Ben has a good instinct for restrain when he didn't rush to do the 20m with me. As an instructor, he teaches the technical details but he also inspires confidence. He knows how to bring out the best in you with his subtle persuasion.

In Apo Island, I saw every dive as a face-to-face with death, pushing it until you think you'll die but you tell death, "not today, my friend". This time though in Bohol, it was not that macabre. It was more full body mindfulness while going down and staying down. I was more aware of how my body was reacting or non-reacting. I was more concentrated on perfecting my game. The spectre of death was nowhere - that's a good thing. Altogether, the whole experience has given me confidence to push my limits further. Freediving is liberating!

I am privileged, honored and humbled to have 2 great freediving teachers - Jean-Jacques Gautier of Plongeurs du Monde and Ben Meerhaeghe of SeaQuest Dive Center. With everything I learned from them, I get this surging confidence that Marianas Trench is not deep enough. Thank you JJ, thank you Ben.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - If you want me to objectively write about a freedive experience in your dive shop, email me.

Freedive Training Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Freediving with Jean Pol Francois of Freediving-Planet July 22, 2017
  2. Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center June 16, 2017
  3. Freediving Certification Course in Apo Island with Jean-Jacques Gautier of Plongeurs du Monde Apr 11-22, 2017


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Google Map Bohol, Philippines

tourist attractions in Bohol tourist attractions
  • Danao Adventure Park in Bohol Danao Adventure Park - zip lining, cable car ride, caving, river rides/trekking, off-road buggy ride, root climbing, rappelling and ultra-glide rides
  • Alona Beach in Bohol Alona Beach - hub for tourists with hotels, resorts, restos, bars and dive shops
  • Chocolate Hills in Bohol Chocolate Hills - hills side-by-side shaped like giant Kisses chocolate
  • Tarsier in Bohol Tarsier - pocket-sized marsupia looking like a monkey
  • Balicasag Island in Bohol Balicasag Island - one of the best dive spots in the Philippines
  • Loboc River in Bohol Loboc River - river cruise on a boat
  • Anda Beach in Bohol Anda Beach - fine white sand beach with resorts, restos and cottages, 3 hours by bus from Tagbilaran
  • Cabagnow Cave Pool in Anda, Bohol Cabagnow Cave Pool - brackish water pool about 5ft deep inside a limestone opening on the ground, 8 feet deep, P50
  • Lamanok Island in Anda, Bohol Lamanok Island - walk on a 100m bamboo bridge on stilts to a resto area to take a boat tour to caves and nearly attractions, P300
  • Combento Cave Pool in Bohol Combento Cave Pool - cave pool with underwater cave system, P20
  • Can-umantad Falls in Candijay, Bohol Can-umantad Falls - long narrow drop until it hits a bulbous mound spreading it into a a curtain-like water canopy and down into a splash pool
  • Canawa Cold Spring in Candijay, Bohol Canawa Cold Spring - deep refreshing cold spring with developed pool area
  • Firefly Tour in Candijay, Bohol Firefly Tour - evening boat ride into the river to watch fireflies
hotels in Bohol hotel
  • Fox & The Firefly Cottages Fox & The Firefly Cottages - SUP paddle boarding, luxury riverside native cottages, mountain bike tours, SUP yoga
    Baranggay Valladolid, Loboc, Bohol
  • Bohol Tropics Resort Bohol Tropics Resort - seafront location, manicured surroundings, swimming pool, resto/bar
    0133 Graham Avenue, Brgy. Cogon, Tagbilaran, Bohol 6300
  • Oasis Resort - Alona Beach location, dive center, resto / bar
    Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol
yoga in Bohol yoga
  • Jing Yoga - health & well being through yoga
    Jing Yoga The Courtyard - Airport Road fronting the church
    Jing Yoga Bohol Meditation and Yoga Center - 2nd Floor Lim Magtajas Bldg. CPG Avenue

Bohol FYI / Tips

Tagbilaran Port to Panglao

You can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
  1. don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
  2. in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)

Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat

** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
  1. Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
    one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
    round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
    round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
  2. Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
    +63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
  3. SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    P 500.00
    +63 32 233 7000

Things to do, Places to go in Bohol

  1. Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
  2. Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
  3. Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
  4. Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.

Bohol

    Anda
  1. Exploring Combento Cave Pool June 29, 2017
  2. Visiting Cabagnow Cave Pool of Anda Jun 28, 2017
  3. Exploring Anda, Bohol June 25-30, 2017

  4. Candijay
  5. Roadtrip from Candijay to Ubay July 1, 2017
  6. Firefly Tour in Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017
  7. Freediving Canawa Cold Spring of Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017
  8. Splashing at Can-umantad Falls, Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017

  9. Carlos P. Garcia Island
  10. Exploring Carlos P. Garcia (CPG) Island by Bike Dec 1, 2017

  11. Corella
  12. Cycling to the Tarsiers of Corella Oct 26, 2017

  13. Dauis
  14. Cliff Dive at Molave Cove Feb 11, 2018
  15. Freediving at Molave Point, Dauis Nov 6, 2017
  16. The Return to Hinagdanan Cave Nov 5, 2017
  17. Exploring Hinagdanan Cave Oct 24, 2017

  18. Loay
  19. The Ride to Morning Hill Oct 22, 2017
  20. The Ride to the Old Spanish Tower Oct 21, 2017

  21. Loboc
  22. Goodbye Loboc, Goodbye Philippines Mar 15, 2018
  23. The CubbyHole: Envisioning a Utopian Shangrila Mar 10, 2018
  24. Fat Shredder with the Russian Twist Mar 2, 2018
  25. No-Dismount Climb to Cruz Daku Mar 1, 2018
  26. Jeffrey's Cardio Program Feb 26, 2018
  27. SUP Yoga with Lalah de Dios at Fox and the Firefly Feb 25, 2018
  28. Bike Ride with Juan Huerte: Loboc, Sikatuna, Corella and Baclayon Feb 25, 2018
  29. CT Scan Result Feb 23, 2018
  30. The Silent Killer has Arrived Feb 19-22, 2018
  31. 24+ Days at Lyn's Backpackers Inn Jan 23 - Feb 16, 2018
  32. All Day Fun with the Loboc Crew Feb 11, 2018
  33. 20-Minute Rope Skipping w/ Pranayama and Meditation Feb 9, 2018
  34. Calisthenics with Jeffrey Feb 7, 2018
  35. Abs-Core Workout with Jeffrey Feb 5, 2018
  36. High Intensity Cardio Workout Feb 2, 2018
  37. Ride to the Landslide with Jeffrey Jan 31, 2018
  38. Farm Tour with Mr. Raymond Cal Jan 29, 2018
  39. Cacao Drum Roasting Jan 27, 2018
  40. Making Sikwate: from cacao fruit to a hot dark chocolate drink Jan 25, 2018
  41. 5 Weeks at the Fox and Firefly Cottages Dec 13, 2017 - Jan 23, 2018
  42. In-House Yoga Teacher at the Fox and Firefly Cottages Jan 22, 2018
  43. Mountain Bike Rides from Tagbilaran to Loboc Jan 18, 2018
  44. Firefly Tour on a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) Dec 19, 2017
  45. Playing Mountain Bike Tour Optimizer Dec 18, 2017
  46. Back to Loboc Dec 13, 2017
  47. 37 Days in Loboc - Thank You and Goodbye Oct 8-Nov 14, 2017
  48. Exploring Busay Falls, Loktob Spring and Jimili-an Spring...on Foot Nov 11, 2017
  49. Stand-Up Paddle Yoga with Joan Christine Nov 3, 2017
  50. Loboc River Cruise on a Stand-Up Paddle Oct 29, 2017
  51. Exploring Guimba and Sog-ong Caves of Loboc Oct 22, 2017
  52. Ziplining and Cable Car Ride at Eco-Tourism Adventure Park Oct 22, 2017
  53. Savouring Villagio Pizza Oct 19, 2017
  54. Wet and Wild Bonbon-Alegria Downhill Ride Oct 18, 2017
  55. River Cruise on Loboc River Oct 17, 2017
  56. Back Road Ride from Loboc to Loay Oct 17, 2017
  57. Leisurely Ride to Loktob Spring Oct 14, 2017
  58. Sweet Ride to Busay Falls Oct 13, 2017
  59. Bike Climb to the Virgen de Guadalupe Oct 12, 2017
  60. The Ride to Cruz Daku (Big Cross) Oct 11, 2017
  61. Exploring Loboc, Bohol Oct 8, 2017

  62. Panglao
  63. Coastal Cleanup with Plastic Free Bohol Sept 16, 2017
  64. Exploring Panglao June 12-18, 2017
  65. Yoga with Ging and Rai at Oasis Resort June 18, 2017
  66. Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center June 16, 2017
  67. Scuba Diving Balicasag Island with SeaQuest Dive Center June 15, 2017
  68. Bohol Revisited June 12, 2017
  69. Exploring Bohol Nov 28-30, 2015

  70. San Miguel
  71. Visiting Bayongan Lake Nov 22, 2017

  72. Sevilla
  73. Killer MTB Ride from Sevilla Oct 30, 2017

  74. Sikatuna
  75. Solo Ride to the Sikatuna Tree Park Nov 2, 2017

  76. Tagbilaran
  77. 30 days in Tagbilaran, Thank You! Oct 8, 2017
  78. Breakfast Talk with Tagbilaran's Finest Oct 8, 2017
  79. Exploring the Cafe Scene of Tagbilaran Oct 7, 2017
  80. Yoga for 60+ Students at the University of Bohol Oct 4, 2017
  81. Chocolate Overload at Dalareich Chocolate House October 2, 2017
  82. Talk on Philosophy and Spirituality to 12-Graders at the University of Bohol Sep 27, 2017
  83. Celebrating the International Day of Peace Sep 23, 2017
  84. Judging a Student Debate at the University of Bohol Sept 15, 2017
  85. Fitness Workout with Chie at Bohol Tropics Resort Sept 13, 2017
  86. Modified Ashtanga Primary Series by Jing Yoga, Tagbilaran Sept 12, 2017
  87. Tagbilaran Revisited Sep 7-12, 2017
  88. Hello Tagbilaran! June 19-25, 2017

  89. Ubay
  90. Goodbye and Thank You, Ubay Nov 14-Dec 13, 2017
  91. Visiting the Ubay Stock Farm Dec 8, 2017
  92. Exploring Cambugsay Healing Hills with Lars Jensen Nov 22, 2017
  93. Visiting Ubay Green Park Nov 18, 2017
  94. The Ride to Sinandigan Boardwalk and the Yamashita Treasure Hunt Nov 18, 2017
  95. Ubay in a Nutshell Nov 17, 2017
  96. In Search of the Next Destination Nov 14, 2017
  97. 2 Days in Ubay July 1-3, 2017
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