Princeton Tec Impact XL

The Impact XL is an underwater flashlight that can also be used for above-water outdoor activities or, if you prefer, an above-water flashlight that can also be used for underwater activities. Per manufacturer specifications, it is waterproof up to 100m. It has a single Luxeon LED bulb which can throw 17 lumens of light as far as 50m. 4 AA batteries provide burn-time of up to 50 hours. Its tough plastic body is clad in molded rubber for grip as well as additional protection. A lanyard loop at the tail end allows for the attachment of a lanyard, wrist strap, or clip. The switch is a rotating bezel. It has enough rotations to minimize the chance of opening and flooding the batteries while underwater. However, you turn it in to activate so there’s a chance, albeit pretty small, that a push, say from water pressure, will move the head in and activate. Other than that, I’ve no real complaint about this light. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5

2006 December 29 Anilao, Batangas

Went on a day dive trip to Anilao with Billie (as co-driver :D). We took the SLEX then the Star Tollway where I took advantage of the long straights to test velocity constraints. Everything was fine at 100 kph, 120 kph, and 140 kph. But at 160 kph the oil pressure light lit up and I had to ease up on the throttle back to 100 kph. Looks like my GA16 is consuming oil :( After exiting the tollway, I had to add more oil.

We got to Aqua Reef without further event and proceeded to dive. The DM was an in-house DM named Dennis. A Californian guest named Joe also joined us. The first at Sombrero was good. Vis was great and there were tons of fishes. But the second dive was better. It was a drift dive along the Sepok Wall and the current was just right as we drifted along the well, then was a bit stronger at the latter part. We then ascended into the surface and bobbed around 3 foot-high white caps while waiting for the boat to pick us up.

After lunch, we drove back. It became interesting because I missed a turn but decided not to retrace my path choosing instead to rely on my GPS unit. But although I had recorded a track on my GPS unit, for I couldn’t seem to get back on the track. So I started asking around but everyone I ask seem to be directing me farther away from the track. I had to prompt them a bit to find out that the other direction does lead back to the track. After several U-turns and retraces we finally got along a course parallel to the track that I had driven through on a previous trip. After a bit, we merged back into the track and it was smooth going from thereon.

Gerber River Shorty

When it comes to a cutting tool for diving, simple is the operative word. Face it, you won’t be fighting off a hungry great white. Heck, you’re lucky if you see one. More often than not, you will be using it for cutting lines and ropes. So a simple one will do the job. In fact, experienced divers sometimes use a simple kitchen knife. But kitchen knives can’t usually be used for prying.

This is where the Gerber River Shorty comes in. It can do everything a kitchen knife can. Plus the blade is also thick enough to be usable for prying. There is actually a version with a flat tip designed for prying. The blade is sharp and is 50% serrated/50% straight. The spine has ribbing for control with your thumb. The handle is molded plastic with ribbing and cut-outs for grip. It also has a no nonsense solid plastic sheath with a clip for attaching to your flotation vest or belt.

It’s light and small. Unobtrusive but there when you need it. I’ve dived quite a few times with it and it has held up well for a knife originally designed for river rafting. Saltwater can cause some rusting but nothing a good washing and oiling can prevent.

Rating: 4/5

2006 October 24 Subic, Zambales

Dived for the first time at Subic yesterday. The place is known for wreck dives so naturally we dived wrecks.

First dive was at the San Quentin wreck. It is the wreck of a steam gunboat scuttled by the Spanish to block a channel during the Spanish-American War. Since that was so long ago, there’s nothing much left of the ship except its skeletal structure. But to make up for it, the site offers good biodiversity. I saw three blue spotted rays up close aside from a bunch of other sea creatures.

The second dive was at the El Capitan wreck. It is the wreck of a pretty big freighter. Nothing much is known about when and how it sank. It’s lying on its side and is pretty intact. We penetrated the wreck and checked out a few chambers. It’s not so tight as to cause claustrophobia so it’s good for beginning wreck divers. Visibility however was low and can easily go worse if divers disturb the silt.

2006 June 25 Anilao, Batangas

Just came back from a day dive trip with Rhichie. It was supposed to be a reunion of sorts of my advanced open water (AOW) classmates but at the last moment, everyone begged off. Only Rhichie and I were left but we decided to push through anyway. We drove to Aquaventure and met up with Norman, our AOW instructor, for the dive. With him were Seema, a new diver, and Kiko, our underwater videographer for the day.

First dive, at Mainit, was hohummm. The vis was great but there was nothing much to see. The second dive was more exciting. Waay more. We dived Layag-layag but we encountered a very strong tidal downcurrent. It was so strong that the fishes were no longer minding our presence and were just swimming to keep their position. It’s so interesting observing them up close and motionless. But the current was so strong that we had to essentially abort the dive. As we ascended, air bubbles we were making were no longer rising up but were staying around the depth they were made. It was quite a sight: thousands of bubbles filled the water. After surfacing, the boat came to pick us up and delivered us back to the resort for lunch.

After lunch, Seema left for Manila while the rest of us rested for the third dive. Just as soon as we prepared for the third dive, it started to rain and I was growing a bit lazy about taking it. But I decided to anyway since I’ve already committed to it. And good thing too because we saw not one but two blue spotted rays, two rock fishes, and some weird bottom-dwelling winged fish. That dive definitely made my day.