Sitting Out the Corona Crisis on Yap – Bill’s Update #2
You will notice that we are in the 2nd week of updates on how we’re dealing with the corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. In reality we’re in week #8 as the lock-down basically started on the 1st of February. We were hoping that it will be over soon, however instead of getting back to normal, the world around us has started to become more and more affected, resulting in this unreal situation.
Things have been tough and will be getting tougher, but as I mentioned last week, we are determined to come out of this crisis stronger and better. We also understand that you are hesitant to book your next trip to our beautiful island, but soon we are going to give you the opportunity to “lock down” a future credit and we’ll give you the list of 10 reasons “Not to come to Yap”. We will also release our plans to reward those healthcare employees who are now fighting for others on the front line. When this is over, we want to do our part to show them our appreciation for helping us survive this crisis.
During last year’s MantaFest (www.mantafest.com) program, we experimented with our first Blackwater dives and had excellent results. As a result of these dives, I decided to try and make Blackwater diving a regular staple of Yap Divers’ dive offerings. The people I spoke with all told me that the person to seek out was Mike Bartick of Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines. As luck would have it, Patricia and I have a condo not far from Anilao. So, in October of 2019, while my brother Pat was visiting, I reached out to Mike and he graciously invited us to visit him at his resort.
Mike was, and is, a real gem. He not only took his time to explain everything about his Blackwater diving and what equipment he uses and where he gets his equipment, he also introduced me to Bonfire diving. Bonfire diving is Blackwater diving but inside the reef and stationery as opposed to outside the reef and drifting. Mike showed me the lights he uses in the Philippines and introduced me to Doug at Kraken Sports who was very helpful in getting the right lights, batteries and general information to us. I must say, these lights are the BEST.
Equipped with 4 very powerful Kraken lights, we made custom aluminum holders which can be pushed into the sandy bottom and began searching for the best place to conduct Bonfire dives. For us, as those of you have been here know, we have two seasons – Trade winds when the winds blow from the Northeast almost continually for 6 months and Non-Trade winds when there is little to no wind. Being on the East side of the island means that the waters closest to the Manta Ray Bay Resort are rough for half the year. The rough water precludes us from conducting Blackwater dives in the deep ocean outside the reef for half the year. Thus, my fascination with Bonfire diving, which can be done inside the reef, and which should attract all kinds of interesting and weird creatures.
My son OP, our Dive Operations Manager, along with dive guides John, Mike, Charles and Ferr all joined me as we began conducting Bonfire Dives and taking guests along as volunteers. To date, we have made seven dives in different places trying to find the perfect dive site. We have seen lots of interesting creatures on each dive. These first seven dives have been in various locations close to Slow and Easy. Our next two dives are scheduled for the Circus Wreck – Laura Marie. COVID-19 has put that on hold as we are closed, boats on land in storage and employees fending for themselves. As soon as the world gets back to normal, we will be full speed ahead in trying to find the perfect Bonfire dive site.
One of the few divers we still had in February was a very nice Dutchman Mr. Wijnand Vlierhuis who shot some awesome images during one of the test dives. Here is a sample.
We are looking forward to finding the best Bonfire site as well as to the start of the Blackwater season. We are ordering more lights, camera arms and rope from Doug in anticipation of the Trade winds ending in early June. At that time, we will be heading towards the Yap Trench and conducting Blackwater dives in thousands of feet of water. We invite anyone reading this to join us in helping to discover the best Bonfire dive sites and/or join us for the Blackwater 2020 season.
In closing, I want to let everyone know that we have just released a new dive site video produced by our good friend Andy Schumacher of Schumacher films. This can be viewed on our YouTube Channel .
If you enjoy this video, please be sure to subscribe to our channel which will provide you with an alert every time we release a new video.
Looking forward to your reactions to this post and I promise to personally reply to all comments on FB. Please share the FB post with all your dive buddies, friends, colleagues and family. Please understand that I have given you my promise to personally reply, but bear in mind I still have my Stone Money Brewery routine of Drink, Pee, Repeat so there could be slight delays.