Thursday, December 29, 2005
OK, so we saw Tinker's today again at about 120'. It was sunnier, but still too deep to get a picture that really does them justice on available light. This will probably be about as good as I can do 'til I get a strobe. The gold color on these guys really pops when lit up.
The swell started to drop today and is should be very nice tomorrow along the whole west side... right before the next one hits. We'll be getting at some of the spots we haven't been able to do the last few days.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
We had a couple of nice dives today. On the first dive Bandit Angels and 2 or 3 (depends on who you listen to) Flame Angels were seen, as well as several other interesting critters. On the second dive we did a one way dive from the mooring off Kaloko ponds to the north. This is a dive I've actually never completely done so some of it was new for me, lots of reef on a slight slope. Lots of the typical reef critters, we did see a group of female or younger Psychedelic Wrasses, but no adult male.
Between dives we went out to see to see if any whales were around. One of the whale/dolphin charters had found a large pod of Pilot whales and soon there were several boats watching. There were certainly several dozens of them (the whales) and very well could have been a hundred or more. Here's a pic of Pilot whales.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Big surf again today. We were still able to see lots of critters. Flame angels, tinker's butterfly (I want better pics, but I still may post one I took just to give you an idea of how cool this fish is) and a bunch of other goodies. I dove the second dive and we dropped down to look for the Tinkers. 2 of them right where they were supposed to be. These guys are so curious it's tough to keep 'em away from you when you find them. Viz on the second dive was quite good (60-70' on the flats and 120+ over the edge), despite heavy surf pounding most areas. We were around a point at Sharkfin Rock. Water's still running 78/79 degrees so far. We ending up cancelling the night dive. The manta location was getting pounded bigtime and there was NO viz at the site when I checked it between dives. I gave the group a choice of cancelling of just doing a "normal" night dive at the spot that's been clear for diving so far during the swell, they passed as they'd been diving that spot during the day and didn't feel like repeating.
Here's a fairly old looking eel from today's dive.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
I had a dive charter today, it's a nice way to spend your Christmas day when your spouse has to work. I've got some customers from last year who are in for a week of diving. I've got several others, new and old, coming in in the next few days too, at least 9 charters going out in the next 7 days. I will be pretty darned busy for a bit.
We still have a pretty decent swell, but there was no windchop so the water was smooth and most all the dive sites were open with decent viz. Still running 78-79 on the water temperatures.
The first dive was off a site called "High Rock", which is as you may guess, a rock which goes from about 40' to near the surface. Our second dive was at a site known locally as "Freeze Face" which has a cave with a lot of fresh water pouring out. I led the second dive.
Here's a couple of Bluefin Trevally from today's dive. We see them quite often in Kona as they like to patrol the top of the dropoffs (which Kona has at most divesites) for prey.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Just thought I'd talk about one of our more trendy/touristy/unique restaurants here in Kona. Kona Brewing Company, aka the Brew Pub locally, was started shortly before I arrived here in '99. It apparently was started by the guy who owns Kettle Chips. Serving very good pizza, sandwiches and salads and such it is also a very good microbrewry, serving several types of beer brewed on the premises. Several of their beers have been award winners. Their Porter (along with other beers they've made)- which both Pat and I are fond of, has placed highly in the Porter category at the Great American Beer Festival.
It seems to be somewhat of a diver's hangout around afternoon happy hour time. I don't get in there all that often, maybe once or twice a month, but dropped in with my DM today and immediately ran into several divers I've worked with or known over the years. I stopped in today as I had to cancel the night dive... surf was getting downright big during our second dive today, we felt the surge down to about 40' at a site I haven't really noticed surge at even on higer surf days.
The first dive we did was off Keahole Point, at a divesite called "Pipedream", the westernmost point of the Big Island. It's a great dive, with lots of pipes, chains and stuff from deep water pumping operations (long story, come visit me on the boat and I'll tell it to you). The DM saw several ulua (Jacks) and a couple whitetip reef sharks down at the big pipe the site is named after. I did the second dive off of Kaloko, an area of canyons and arches which are remnants of collapsed lava tubes.
Both my wife and I have tomorrow off, but we get to work on Christmas day - Yahoo. Actually, I get the better end of this deal as she has a real job.
Here's my tee shirt... It's the absolute rage in Kona fashion wear... Not quite, but it's pretty OK for the basic dive operator tee shirt.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Nope, this isn't Kong, just a Kona moray eel. Yellow margin morays are among the most common morays we see here.
Kong was quite a movie. I liked the fact that they kept it in the time frame of the original as opposed to trying to update it to current times. Great effects and tons of action. I'd read the early portions were slow moving, but Pat and I didn't find the movie to move slow or be boring at any point.
I went out for a two tank charter today. We've had a big swell the last couple of days and we had to time it coming out of the harbor once again. I played captain on the first dive, at Sharkfin rock. My DM said viz was approaching 150'. We did the second dive a Pawai bay and I'd put the viz in the 80-90 foot range at least. It was very flat in the bay as it is blocked from the northwest swells by Kaiwi point. It's still running 79 degrees in the water... if this keeps up we could be in for a fairly warm winter season.
I've got a 5 passenger charter tomorrow, 2 full charters on Friday (day and night, no real time off between) , Saturday off (so far), dive on Christmas and then run charters straight on through the 1st at least. It looks to be busy for a bit here.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
This is a fried egg nudibranch from today's dive. Nudibranchs are basically a sea slug without a shell. Nudibranch means "naked gill", many will have a feathery gill structure. Some of the other types I've posted or will post will show those.
It's a gorgeous sunny day in Kona today. We've got Kona (from the west) winds today which has blown off all all the clouds we usually have on Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The swell was up so we had to time going out of the harbor, but we were able to find a couple of different dive sites with 80'+ viz.
Have a great day!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I went' to Quizno's yesterday for their first day open in the midst of lots of errands. Kona's grown since I moved here in very early '99.... Home Depot, Lowes, Jamba Juice, Bubba Gump's, Hard Rock, Outback are the notable chains that have appeared in that time that I can think of. Already had a Walmart, Safeway and a Costco, but otherwise not a whole lot of major chains other than McDonalds, Taco Bell, Starbuck's, Subway and the like. Kona's growing, but we still have a single 2 lane road which acts as THE highway for the entire west side of the island - we're still small by mainland standards, but at least we have a traffic problem.
We had a manta ray for the night dive the other night. It was a full moon and there was plenty of plankton, but just the one manta. Some say the full moon affects whether the mantas show, but just when you think there's a pattern, there will be a dozen on a full moon.
We had a two tanker go out this morning. Oahu had a huge west swell yesterday and I was worried it might affect us. It did wipe out the diving at several of our dive sites, but there was still good diving to be had off the Pine Trees area at Lone Tree Arch, Skull Cave/Suck 'em Up and that area. We probably had 70'+ viz for the day. I was with a student and saw a whitetip shark, octopus, a few different nudibranchs and such. The other group did see a Hawaiian Stingray. I've yet to see one in 6 years of diving/working here, they're rarely seen. We've got a private charter going out tomorrow, hopefully we've seen the heaviest of our surf. It's a group that went out with me last 2 years and it was a rough water day the last time.
Here's another angle on the frogfish. It's tough shooting in available light, much of him was in the shadow. He moved a couple minutes later and faced into the light for the pic I posted earlier.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I have an afternoon/night manta ray trip today. With the morning free, I did the sensible thing.... went diving. It's handy living within 15 minutes of some of the best shore diving in Hawaii. The water's been flat for a couple of days so I wanted to try working with the camera while on my own for once. It's been rough water most any time I've had an opportunity to go out on my own.
Here's the highlight of my morning. Frogfish are a member of the angler family. They're tough to spot and not found very often.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Unfortunately not underwater, that's something I've yet to see... maybe this year. Today was very flat conditions early on. Good viz, 79 degree water still. I did the first dive of the day and played Captain the second.
We saw the whale between dives while cruising around. Last December we saw plenty of whales and then the Januuary swells came along and we really didn't see much of them 'til almost March. I'm hoping we get a good show all winter long.
Here's a rather busy shot I took the other day. It has several of the types of hard corals we have here. In the middle of the picture (kind of behind and above the yellow tangs) you can make out a bunch of the blue goatfish foraging for something. Above them in the background near the top of the photo is a trevally. There is a phenomenon called "nuclear hunting" where different species of fish hunt together. On Kona reefs we often see eels, grouper, trevally and occasionally the goatfish hunting together. I need to get a more obvious picture or video of it some day to post or link.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
We had 2 manta rays on the night dive the other night. It's always fun being on the boat when the customers come in after that dive. They're always quite stoked. Having a 14 foot wide fish glide inches over your head repeatedly is not the typical dive experience for most people. We get a lot of people saying that it's the best dive, or best night dive they've ever done.
The surf came up yesterday and today. Should settle down again tomorrow for a day or two before the next swell hits.
Brrrrr... It's cold. It's sitting about 65 degrees at home right now, it was 63 when we got up this morning. We live at the 900 foot elevation so it's a bit colder than it is in Kailua or down by the shore. It's really funny how you get used to warm weather after living here a few years. One or two degrees cooler and I'll be wearing sweats.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
It was a cloudless morning in Kona today. The east side of the island had been getting a good amount of rainfall, but we've got a couple of nearly 14,000 foot tall behemoths in the way (Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea - tonight's news said both received snow today) that absorb all the rain before reaching Kona on the west side of the island.
We did the first dive at turtle heaven, lots of turtles and other fish. A male phychedelic wrasse, awa awa, helmet snail (looks like a foot long Qonquistador hat), papillo/ulua/blue trevally and other goodies were sighted. The second dive was a one way dive from Kamanu/Carousel to out and around Kaiwi point. This is an outstanding dive... Flame angels, a bandit angel, nudibranchs, tons of pyramid butterflys and such were all sighted. My wife was able to join us today. I'm not sure if she'd done either site before, she was real happy with the second dive... it's a great dive.
Unfortunately for me... played Captain on both dives. It was still a great day on the water. Apparently wth viz was very, very good today. I think my DM was talking 150' at our first dive, which is incredible for that dive site. I talked with another DM/Instructor/Captain friend who estimated 200' or more at the dive site they did on their first dive.
79 degree water, 100+ foot viz.... not too bad compared to what I dove in off the Pacific Northwest.
Here's a juvenile Chevron tang. they lose the red/orange s they mature and turn into a black (actually black striated with white) tang as they mature.
Monday, December 05, 2005
....this afternoon. My wife called me from her work and asked if it was pouring yet, nope, probably started 2-3 minutes later... One of those 2-3 inches of rain an hour rains we occasionally get. We don't see tons of them, but they can happen. Right now the rain has stopped and it's a cool 75 degrees outside. We live down around Kealakekua bay, other areas may have had less (or more) rain, topography of the island has a lot to do of where it rains. In general, the closer the mountains are to the water, the more rain. Elevation can have a dramatic effect, the higher on the hill the more rain.
I'm enjoying my time off right now. I have charters on Wednesday and Thursday, but starting on Sunday the 11th I'm not sure if I will have any days off the rest of the month. I do have 5 days open the last 20 of the month so far, but I have enquiries on all of them. I'm hoping they all book up, this is one of those jobs you don't mind working 15-20 days straight.
Here's a pic of a short piece of cave. One thing we have in Kona is short lava tubes and archways at many of our dive sites. Makes for a neat little swim through if the surf isn't crazy.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
I was just looking through some of my older photos and saw this. It was a nicer photo than I recall seeing at the time I took it.
We rescheduled tomorrow's dive to later on. My customer just wanted to do one day of diving while here so it might as well be a day that the swell's down. It works out just fine for me either way.
Today is a football day. My wife graduated from Texas years ago, and she's working on her Doctorate through Colorado - she basically couldn't care less who won though. We're both big Oregon State Beaver fans, having gone to school there and living in Corvallis for years - uh, we'll get 'em next year. Now the USC game's on. I think Texas is pretty for real this year. USC has dominated for 2 years, I'm not so sure what'll happen in the Rose Bowl this year (assuuming USC beats UCLA today). My one other football comment (since this paragraph is about football, I might as well get all my football related comments out of the way) is that Reggie Bush deserved the Heisman last year, he deserves it again this year - he truly is a great player.
Friday, December 02, 2005
I did a dive for fun down at the Place of Refuge today. I was hoping to shoot a lot of pics but it was pretty stirred up. I had an opportunity for teaching tomorrow (Saturday), but it'll be nasty due to a west swell coming up and not what I'd consider good conditions for Open Water certifications or intros. I do have a day on the boat planned for Sunday with certified divers.
Here's another tiger cowry from the other day. I keep hoping to find an empty one some day. I don't mess with any cowries that are alive. Many cowry species mate for life. They leave a slime trail that the mates follow - if you pick one up, odds are that you'll put it down in the wrong spot and break up a happy couple.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
After being in the water 14 of the last 17 days I didn't have anything booked (my slow season's turning into a busy time) and took a day off. I thought about DIVING for fun today, but I'll give my ears a rest. Maybe tomorrow.
The big news around today is the roughly 40 acres of land that fell off into the sea over on the lava flow a couple of days back. Sorry I don't have a link, if I find one in the next day or so I'll link it. --- Here's a link with some pics of the new island edge, it may be updated to something different for those looking at the site after 12/2/05 --- http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/update/#images --- We have an active volcano that is continuously building new property on the Big Island. The photo above is of my family (wife, parents, sisters and in-laws and families) out on the lava flow back in late '99. The glowing orange stuff in the background is real red-hot flowing lava. You can still walk to the flow but they do warn of bench falls. As the lava flows to the sea it forms a bench which could potentially fall, this is what happened to the parcel which fell into the sea the other day. It's a very popular thing, walking out to the flow, hopefully nobody was on the parcel that sank. It apparently happened in smaller portions over several hours, haven't heard of any problems with hikers as of yet.
Here's a photo of some Pyramid and Thompson's butterfly fish soliciting a parasite cleaning from a cleaner wrasse.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It was a cloudless morning today. The vog (a volcanic fog which hangs out in Kona when the tradewinds are blowing) had cleared out yesterday and it was still very nice today.
We had another dive trip scheduled for today. Just one passenger on board today. When I schedule a day trip and nobody else joins up, I still go. It makes for a fun trip for all of us. I did the first dive today. It was off the Kona airport, a drift dive from a site called "Garden Eel Cove" (where the manta dive occures) to the north to the northernmost moored site called "Hoovers". We popped down to 102 feet and then hit the shallows for a 71 minute dive. Highlites from the dive were garden eels galore, flounder, a beautiful hard coral reef and tons of fish. The second dive I played Captain while they did a 68 minute dive.
Here's a male Psychedelic Wrasse from an earlier dive. The females and juveniles don't have the colorful faces, but have red tails. The females and juveniles tend to hang out in small groups. When you see a group of good sized females there is often a male nearby keeping an eye on what basically is his harem of females.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
My wife and I went to our favorite mexican food spot in Kona again for dinner yesterday. Senior Billy's is a small sit down style restaurant located in what was South Kona's mexican fast food spot. It changed hands a couple years back and the new owners fixed it up some and changed the menu and made it into a decent little restaurant. The menu isn't huge by any means, but the food is good and the price point reasonable by Kona sit down mexican food standards.
I've been diving the last several days. Played with the camera again a bit today. I have just one customer on the boat so it was a light day. He didn't mind if I carried a camera (as long as I'm willing to e-mail him some pics if they turn out). I tried playing with the manual white balance today. It basically changes how the camera sees color and in theory you can color correct on the fly underwater with just a little effort. It seems to work, at least as long as you don't change depths. I didn't bother resetting the camera at each depth because I just didn't want to mess with it that much, but it seemed to work well when at the depth I set it at. Good thing to know. I don't have a whole lot cooking next week as of yet, if I have a few days off I may have to play around with the camera a bunch. Here's a 4 spot butterfly and a pair of finescale trigger fish guarding a nest of eggs.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I hadn't played with photoshop in ages. I took a shot of a bunch of raccoon butterfly fish without any kind of flash and wanted to bring out their natural color. I succeeded reasonably and then went a hair overboard. I should have attempted to just color the entire pic, but got into erasing and cloning. Here's the original.
Today was a slightly rougher day out on the water. We had to time the exit from the harbor as the surf was coming up. The TV had said the swell was supposed to be 1-3 form the west and 4-6 from the north in Oahu, that usually means flat in Kona.... not so today. More like 4-10 coming in west/northwest.
We were still able to find a couple of nice calm dive sites. We first went to a dive site called "lead city" by most ops, a lot of local fishermen have fished from shore there over the years so there's a fair amount of lead there. It's also call "freeze face" because there is a lava tube with a lot of cool fresh water coming out of it and you can really feel it if you go into the tube. The site was fairly protected. Later we moved around to the Pawai bay area. I was with the student and we had a divemaster with the other group. Between the two groups we managed to see all the usual stuff, plus the shark, the large barracuda mentioned the other day, and a male psychedelic wrasse and his harem of 6-8 females. These wrasses are worth looking up - Anampses Chrysocephalus - as they are quite interesting looking and they are one of a handful of species here which are sexually dimorphic (males and females look different). They are another bunh of fish I need to try to get pics of.
Coming back from the second dive the swells had come up and they were backed by a northwest wind that brought in additional chop. The trip back to the harbor was about the roughest water I've had a charter out in, nothing dangerous, but a bit wet for sitting ont the bow. We cancelled the night trip. The manta site is not really protected from the kind of stuff we had today and we had snorkelers... they'd have been miserable if we'd gone. Hopefully it'll settle down and I can get them in in the next couple of evenings.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Well, dinner was fine. I got my fill of crab-stuffed mussels, steamed crab legs in butter, deep fried turkey, prime rib with horseradish, sauteed mushrooms and onions, pork loin in a mango chutney and some other stuff. I actually ate little sushi. All in a nice setting at the Keauhou Outrigger on the dining balcony overlooking the pool.
I didn't go diving today. It was pretty sloppy. I did manage to take about 5 or 6 pics the other day with the new camera and housing. No flash or external light sources, but the closer photos did manage to pick up some color and were quite useable after an auto-levels in photoshop. Here's an arc-eye hawkfish, it was probably the best pic of the bunch.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I've been doing confined water sessions for students the last couple of days and today we did dives number one and two for their scuba certifications. Lots of fun. The surf is coming up, but we still managed to find some nice spots with great viz. It might be kind of messy tomorrow.
I have tomorrow off and then a family of divers and one student for Friday day, with a full boat of snorkelers for the manta dive on Friday night. It'll be a long day for me.
My parents are visiting right now and my wife went back to the mainland to visit friends for the week. It'll be the first Thanksgiving with family in years. We're headed to the Keauhou Outrigger for their holiday buffet.... yuuummm, sushi (I almost prefer some of the other non-traditional buffet items to turkey, but I'll still eat my share of that too).
If the water settles down tonight, I may have to drive on down to the Place of Refuge for a shore dive and a chance to play with my new camera housing. Check out the pic above, it was taken at the Refuge on a day when a white tip shark was sleeping in the area.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
We had a family on board today for some dives. Tons of dolphins were seen while cruising on the surface before and between dives.
I captained the first dive, a drift dive off the north end of the airport at a site called "Hoover's". There's a couple stories behind the name, some say it was named after the John Hoover, how wrote probably the best hawaiian fish ID book out, and others say it was named after a resident eel that the dive ops used to (before my time) handle that resembled J. Edgar Hoover. I led the second dive off a site outside the harbor. this dive site is known by various names- Crescent beach, manta ray bay, eagle ray bay, naia (hawaiian for dolphin) bay - it varies between operators, and I think it also depends on what they saw most recently. Highlights of the dive were octopus, cleaner shrimp, garden eels, anthias, a couple of nice ulua, an eagle ray, a group of heller's barracuda, fuchsia flatworm and other goodies.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
We had a group on the boat today who wanted to do some intro dives and snorkeling. Luckily the big surf we had the last couple of days settled down overnight, we might not have run the charter if it hadn't. The surf the last couple of days was to the point that much of the shallow water stuff was pretty stirred up and it would have been miserable for beginning divers and snorkelers. Today's conditions were very good.
Highlights of the day were a 4-5 foot barracuda (we don't see lots of them) who'd readily let us approach very close, a sleeping white tip reef shark, lots of firedart fish (rememeber them from an earlier post) flame angels, psychedelic wrasses and the usual assorted fish.
I received my housing for my year old, and now discontinued, Olympus 8 mp digital camera, and took a dive down to 115' to play with all the buttons and levers in the housing (empty) to make sure if anything was going to leak it'd happen before I actually put a camera in it (knock on wood). So far so good. I may put it on the boat tomorrow.
Friday, November 18, 2005
So every now and then I think I'll post a little bit of a restaurant review of spots in Kona or on the west side of the Big Island that not every tourist may be familiar with, or even ever hear of. I will not be posting them in order of preference, just what happens to cross my mind at the time.
I went to "Phillysophical Deli" in Kainaliu the other day with visiting family. I used to eat there with my wife when it was in Kealakekua and known as Canaan Deli. It's pretty much the same food as before, but the new location might be a bit better than before, it's certainly more visible, being smack dab in the middle of Kainaliu.
It's your basic local sandwich joint, definitely not fancy, but the sandwiches are fairly good sized. They are fairly well known for their Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. They have several varieties of hamburgers in the roughly $6-$7.50 range with all of the patties being at the half pound (appeared legitimate, although I didn't weigh them) size. I had the "Dana's Double Delight" - or something along those lines, which was the two patty verison of their bacon blue cheese burger. They do have a "Holy Trinity" burger, which is the pound and a half of meat version for $15 - that'd probably feel real good, but I'm not sure I need to spend the extra $4.
All in all, pretty good and relatively quick for a local style meal.
Wow, that was fast. I ordered a housing out of New York on tuesday evening and received it at the post office friday morning. Now I've got to learn the camera I bought a year ago - I messed with it for a week or two and then put it down, haven't looked at it since.
Starting tomorrow, the camera will be on the boat pretty much every day. I may not use it or take it on dives, but it'll be available. We've had whalesharks sighted the last two Thanksgivings and we're coming into the season that we see them. I want a photo better than the ones I already have. If we see one on a surface interval I'll be set to go.
I haven't ordered a flash yet, so I'll be playing around with available light, manual white balance and shooting in RAW and post processing the images. It'll be interesting what might be produced as I've done little of that so far. It may be December before I really have a chance to practice with it much as I've got a lot cooking the next two weeks.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Today's charter was a combined fishing and diving/snorkeling charter. The fishing was more kicking back and trolling. Virtually all that we talked to in the harbor had the same type of luck fishing that we did - skunked.
I played Captain the first dive and dove the second dive. Water temps have dropped slightly, running about 78 right now. There were some great currents out there today what with the full moon. We dove a spot called Kaiwi point (AKA Pawai Bay or Papawai Bay) off the old airport. The currents made for a neat dive. There were a bunch of ulua (Jacks) swimming along the dropoff that were roughly in the 12- 20 pound range. I had a group of 7 at our turn around point. I also saw a group of 6 firedart fish, the fish I mentioned several posts back that we hadn't seen for 5 years or so. We also got a good look at one of the resident flame angels (centropyge loriculus, for those who want to look it up), they are very shy, so I'm not sure if any decent photos were taken.
I've pretty much filled up my month in the last day. I tentatively have this friday and Thanksgiving day off with at least partial boats or classes the rest of the days.
The nudibranch in the picture is called a fried egg nudibranch. These are among the most common nudies in Kona.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Well, I've been back to work for a couple of days now. I've got a private charter tomorrow set up for a customer I've been diving with for 2 years now. It's always fun to see familiar faces and catch up.
I've got charters set up for 11 of the next 14 days so far, with other enquiries coming in. I may be posting a bit more about actual scuba related stuff than I have been.
This picture is of a wire coral goby. These are intersting little fish which pretty much spend their entire adult lives living on a piece of wire coral, the picture is roughly life sized, maybe a bit larger than life.
Monday, November 07, 2005
It's been two weeks now and I realllllly want to get back to work. The pain is going away rapidly and I'm feeling more up to par. I'm not sure about lifting anything yet, but I guess I'll find out soon enough. I need to get back to work to take off the 10 pounds I've put on in the last two weeks.
I'm going to the boat tomorrow for a little cleanup. I'm loaning - well, renting it cheaply - it out tomorrow night to one of my employees. His daughter is doing plankton studies a couple nights a month and apparently the university boat is down or unavailable. I may have to tag along one of these nights. Apparently they lay out nets in several locations around sundown, then park it behind other boats at the manta dive site. After everyone leaves, they troll some plankt0n nets and then collect their placed nets. I guess it's a long term study to try to dertermine where exactly the plankton comes from and if certain conditions affect it.
Wednesday I'll be back to work. We've got a couple divers coming on board for the day. Not sure if I'll be diving. If my employee can do both dives I'll probably let him. After that the schedule is fairly sporadic until about the 20th or so.
I've got family (parents) coming in on the 11th, so I'll actually get to spend some time with them this time. They usually come over to dog-sit when Pat and I go on vacation. This time Pat goes, and I stay - payback for my solo Vegas trip I guess - to work and get the cash flow positive again.
Friday, November 04, 2005
I'm gonna waddle on downstairs to the barbecue shortly and cook one of our favorite easy barbecue dishes that is very common here - shoyu chicken. I thought I'd pass along the recipe as it's very easy and not really done on the mainland.
1st ingredient - Boneless chicken thighs. Gotta be chicken thighs, not some other part. Hawaiian's eat more chicken thighs per capita than anyplace else. We've tried this with other chicken parts, and it just isn't the same, although I'd bet wings would be pretty darned good.
Other ingredients - Soy (shoyu) sauce, sugar, and ginger. Were talking enough soy to more than cover your thighs, nearly an equal amount of sugar (Hawaiian's also have a lot of diabetes) and a good chunk of fresh ginger ground up.
1) Mix ingredients and soak it. The longer the better. 3 hours works, a day or two in the fridge is even better.
2) Cook it.
That's it. Pretty darned simple I realize we're getting into the time of year that a lot of people won't be barbecueing outside - it works just great on a Foreman grille too.
It's great straight, or even cut up on salads. We usually make 3-4 pounds of the stuff at a time, and if I can control myself we'll have enough salad toppings for a couple meals.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I just received a call from someone who said they "think" they booked a dive with me a month ago for the Monday coming up. I have no record of it in either of my booking books (one stays at home and the other goes with me) and I have no record of it in my e-mails (he said he called) or in my old booking sheets I keep just in case - so I told him I don't recall and I have no record of it. I wished him luck on finding the company he booked with.
Odds are that he had called someone else, but I just always worry that I somehow goofed up. I'm not infallible and I know I've done it (everyone does at some point) a couple of times over the last few years. It's one of those cases where the more I dwell on it the more it seems familiar - I hope it wasn't me. At least he checked in far enough ahead that if he can't determine who he booked with, there are plenty of options. Then again, I've had people say they talked to another person at my shop earlier in the day and wanted to confirm... I have no shop, it's just me that takes bookings, and I can generally remember at least a day.
Oh well, my sincere appologies to him if it was me, I could use the charter.
Body-wise, things are finally coming around. My anesthesiologist put me on another round of antibiotics today, she's worried about the fluid that may have gotten into my lungs during the procedure. I'm beginning to wonder if things were a bit more serious than they let on - they had me knocked out 2 hours for what normally is a 20 minute procedure - The cold I had caused a lot of drainage and apparently they had a tough time maintaining the airway (sorry if this is a rehash, remember "I can generally remember at least a day", I may have touched on some of this before). I know little beyond that other than my tongue was sore when I woke up. At any rate, I'm planning on working charters come Wednesday of this next week unless it still hurts, then I've got a backup person or two I can call - the show must go on.
That's about it for now.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I just finished watching "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra", a cheap satire of the 50's and 60's horror flicks.
It's got everything - space aliens, mutants, scientists, wives, dancing humans made from 4 small forest animals, caves, park rangers and more! It's even filmed in Skeletorvision! It was actually filmed just a few years back, yet it in my mind it can hold it's own against classics such as "Plan 9 from Outer Space". Here's the link http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thelostskeletonofcadavra/ in case my link attempt (first try) above doesn't work. The trailer will give you an accurate depiction of the quality of this movie.
I went to the doctor today. I still haven't healed up yet, although the last 2 days were much better than Monday. He said things were looking as though they were progressing pretty OK and the basic rule is, if it hurts, don't do it. Means another couple days of relative inactivity in my case. Oh well.
I wish I had more going on to talk about. Not a whole lot goes on when your day revolves around bed, the couch and your desk. I did drop off some tanks at one of my employees today so he can take a group out, Pat (my wife in case I hadn't introduced her yet) had to load up the car - I felt kind of guilty there, but she heard the doc say no lifting.
Well, that's it for now.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I'm finally starting to heal up from my little doctor's visit on Monday. I keep running into guys who said they were fine in three days. Guess I'm a slow healer, I still hurt today but at least I can walk without looking like I'm riding on a saddle. I'm hoping to be pain free by Monday and get the clearance to go back to usual activities by week's end.
I haven't been diving since last Saturday now and have actually turned down a lot of work. Being as I have one of the best jobs a person can have, I'm hoping to be able to get back in the water soon. The heavy lifting is what will be holding me up.
I guess I'll talk briefly about one of the dives which Kona is known for, not only in Hawaii, but pretty much worldwide - The manta ray dive. Short of whalesharks and schooling hammerheads (which also can be found in Kona, although less commonly) one of the major goals of many divers is to see manta rays. Kona is the only spot in the world which I am aware of where you can literally sit on your rear end and be divebombed by mantas for upwards of an hour without moving an inch.
Our single most popular dive here is our manta dive. Several years ago some divers noticed that manta rays were feeding under lights shining off one of the hotels. They tried diving it and found that the mantas would come up and feed off the plankton attracted to thier dive lights. Over the years this has become a nice little industry in Kona. I think they came up with a figure in the last year or two that roughly 11,000 divers and snorkelers a year are doing the dive.
Over time, the main site for this dive has actually moved to off the airport, it seems to be more consistant, have larger numbers of mantas showing up, and is a better site as far as managing groups of divers and snorkelers as it's more protected from swells. It's been going like gangbusters the last couple weeks. I'm getting reports that they are seeing seven t0 ten, sometimes as many as 13 or so, showing up almost every night at the site off the airport.
It is a special event. Each boat operator will put their divers, with lights provided by the operators, down in a central area where the show will take place. Once the plankton starts to build up overs the divers' lights, the mantas will start to feed. They swoop directly over the lights, frequently coming within inches (sometimes they bump you) of divers' heads. We get people who've dove all over the world who say this is probably their single favorte dive. While never a guarantee, when they are in it's quite amazing. I've done it at least a couple hundred times and I still enjoy it every dive.
Curious? Click on the link to my "Wanna Dive?" web page and click on any of the manta links and I have more pictures and some video (from a slow night) on the page you can check out.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
So now I'll tell one of my favorite intro dive stories. I'll try to keep it from being too long, but this won't be a short post.
Several years back, when I was working for another company, I was set up to do an intro off the boat for a woman who was there with a dive certified gentleman. I can't say with absolute certainty that they were a couple, but it appeared they were headed that way. He was on the island for a conference and they referred to themselves as travelling companions. Anyway...
After meeting her and sitting down to review the flip charts (there are pre-made flip charts with basic scuba info for these dives, which we go through a page at a time to ensure all the necessary information is presented) I asked the usual questions I ask to try to determine watermanship skills/comfort ahead of time just so I have an idea to expect. She said she was a frequent swimmer and enjoyed snorkeling, OK so far... We go through everything and it's off to the boat.
After the certified divers got in the water and I'd reviewed what we were to do, I got into the water and waited for the student to roll into the water. The captain helped her on with the gear and explained the process again and it was time for her to roll into the water... everything cool so far. She hit the water and immediately went into a full blown panic attack. I was right there and immediately lifted on her BCD so her head would be about 9 inches out of the water - it's amazing how fast a person can calm down once they realize their chin is out of the water - and took her back to the swim step. After about 30 seconds on the ladder she said she was ready to give it another try, so it was slip into the water... then back on the ladder to calm down again.
I'm real low pressure on these intro dives as it's not for everyone, sometimes it turns into a day of snorkeling rather than diving, but she kept saying "I can do this, I have to do this" so I wasn't about to argue with her. After another minute she was able to get in the water and get off the ladder without panicking. At that point I had her put her regulator in her mouth and try to put her face in the water... back to the ladder for another minute of "I can do this".
After a couple more attempts we were able to get her off the ladder with the regulator in he mouth, so she was basically snorkeling on scuba, and it was time to go to the front of the boat to the mooring line. I guess I will preface the remainder of the post by saying that typically, the vast majority of first time divers have no troubles with rolling into the water and making it up to the mooring line right off the bat. At that point we need to go through some surface skills (regualtor clearing and retrieval) and then we drop a foot or two beneath the surface and practice a few more skills (reg clearing, retrieval, mask clearing and use of alternate air source). This portion typically takes anywhere from 2 minutes to as much as 10-15 minutes if students are real nervous. The nervous group typically has not been snorkeling recently... I can't stress enough how much some snorkeling helps if done within days prior to the intro dive.
OK, back to the story. We're at the mooring line and practicing the surface skills, once again she is panicking, doing skills she essentially has done already back at the ladder. She calmed down quickly and was able to complete the surface portion of the skills. It was time to go underwater a few inches. I think she may have made it about three inches down... back to the ladder for a minute or two of hyperventilating and "I can do this, I have to do this". When she was ready to give it another try, I had her do the surface breathing off her regualtor with her face in the water to the front of the boat and the mooring line. Everything cool so far. I had her repeat the surface skills, everthing cool so far. It's time to go down again... one foot down... back to the surface, but this time she's not hyperventilating. She says we should give it a try so we go down and she signals OK. I demonstrate underwater reg clearing, she signals OK and it's ready for her to try... regulator out of the mouth... back to the ladder for more hyperventilation...
She still wants to conntinue, so it's back to the mooring line and another failed attempt, but this time she's not completly breathless. We are at a dive site called "golden arches" which is a very nice fishy site, infact there are fish around us as we are doing skills, so I have her surface snorkel on the regualtor for a minute and she's ready to give itr a try in another minute or two. The captain is throwing popcorn on the water so she'd get a good show from the fish coming up to eat it. I have her repeat the surface skills and then it's down a foot and we try regualtor clearing... success! Fabulous! Now it's time to try regulator retrieval.... back to the surface for another 5 minutes. Anyway, 10 minutes or so and two or three more attempts and success!!!! Now it's time to try a partial mask clearing...
Now partial mask clearing is generally THE skill which gives intro divers troubles if they are going to have troubles. This case was no exception, but by this point she had progressed beyond complete panic and hyperventilation. Several attenpts, and a bunch of surface snorkeling, later she was able to complete the skill. At this point, all the other divers had already returned from a 65 minute dive, were starting lunch and the water was getting choppy. At this point we only have one skill, which is basically making the out of air sign and then doing a regulator clearing which she has already done successfully several times.... No luck this time. After a couple of tries I suggested we break for lunch and told her we would pull inot a real protected spot for the next dive and we'd try it again. She had to be tired, after all she'd been through, and agreed.
Once back on the boat, her "traveling companion" said, "You don't have to do this, I'll wear the suit".
Now what's that all about?
So now the story comes out. He'd been wearing shorts and a tee shirt all week and she wanted him to go out to a nice dinner wearing a suit. He was a certified diver and wanted to do some diving anyway so he made her a deal. He would wear the suit at a nice restaurant if she tried diving. I don't believe he knew what he was getting her into.
As it turns out, when she said she enjoyed snorkeling she had left out a little fact. She had only snorkeled in a pool - because - she has an overwhelming fear of FISH. Apparently she had never so much as put her toes in a creek, river, lake or ocean because of this fear.
Now that is taking on a challenge. At this point both he and I are telling her she needs not continue. She still wants to do it.
So we go to the next site, which is one of the fishiest sites we have, but it's very calm annd is protected from the chop which has built up on that day. Before going in I run through the program and tell her we will repeat all the skills we did earlier and then the alternate airsource skill is just a matter of signalling, taking the regulator out, blowing bubbles and then taking the regulator I hand her and clearing it - which in itself is a skill she'd done numerous times earlier. If all went well we could be diving is less than a minute - ALL WENT WELL. She completed all of the skills on the first try and we were diving in less than 45 seconds.
She had a great time. We were swimming right through schools of raccoon butterflies and yellow stripe goatfish and you could see her smiling and giving two handed OK signs the entire time. The dive was right around 40 minutes long and she came out of the water hyped to find a dive op in Maui to sign up with when they arrived there in a couple of days.
A very frustrating experience had turned into a very good experience, for both of us.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Living and working in a resort style dive destination area, we get to meet people with all levels of experience as far as scuba diving goes. A fair portion of our (pretty much all Hawaii dive operators, not just me) business involves introducing non-divers to scuba. This can entail a full blown course which takes a few days, or a simple intro to diving which can be accomplished in a few hours.
Most operators offer people an opportunity to dive one-on-one, or in a small group, with an instructor. This is a great opportunity to give people a chance to try diving without much time invested. The typical program involves about 20-30 minute review of scuba hows and whys, and then it's to the water to practice skills and then go diving. Depending where and who a person does an intro dive with, it could be done in a pool, off a beach, or off a boat. Length of the actual dive can vary from operator to operator.
If you are doing your intro dive in open water there will typicaly be a 30-40 foot depth limit and the group size is kept small, 4 intro divers per instructor max. There are companies that seem to specialize in intros and they will likely have a full group with each instructor, I usually will have just one or two individuals diving with me off my boat when I'm doing intros. If I have certified divers on board, they'll be going off in a different directrion with their own guide.
Intro dives are a great way to check out scuba. Most people really enjoy the experience, but it's not for everyone. Here's a couple personal opinions/observations if you or someone you know is ever interested in trying an intro dive... Virtually everyone who is a comfortable snorkeler has a great experience on intro dives. RECENT snorkeling experience is highly recommended, I'm talking like in the last week or two, not last year, several years ago, or when you were a kid... comfort level can change. We do get our share (not huge, but still it does exist) of people who just are plain uncomfortable when they are trying the dive - virtually all of these in my experience do not have RECENT snorkeling experience. I've done hundreds of intro dives in the last 6-7 years and I can only think of one or two times that someone with recent snorkeling experience did not enjoy thier dive or couldn't make the dive. So here''s my big hint if you are thinking about trying an intro... get out and snorkel for a couple hours first and make sure you are comfortable... you'll have a blast on the dive.
Anyway, this post is sort of a lead in to a story of an intro dive I did several years ago that I'll post next.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Well yesterday was the surgery I mentioned earlier. I was knocked out for 2 hours for what was supposed to be a few minute procedure. Remember that cold I came back from Vegas with? I tend to have a lot of drainage down my throat after a cold and apparently excess drainage and airway tubes don't mix well on occasion. Apparently I was caughing a lot while I was under.
At any rate, I remember absolutely nothing. One moment I chatting about diving in Palau and Micronesia with the anesthesioligist, who's a diver, and the next moment I'm being told to wake up as it was over. Now I'm just kicking back with appropriately placed ice packs and a little Vicodin and watching a little TV and surfing the net, thank goodness for laptops.
I've pretty much cleared out my calendar through the 5th, but hopefully I'll be cleared to his the water again prior to that. I've been getting calls the last few days to do classes and intro dives,I hate to send business elsewhere, but then I'd hate to get back too soon and have something get infected. I worked with a guy a few years back who came back a couple days early and we paid for it the next week or so.
Well, that's what's going on for me right now. I may have to tell a story or two while I'm sitting out.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I just finished a three day certification course today and tomorrow finish another course which had been started earlier. Some new divers are out there.
My personal highlight, critter-wise, was seeing a trio of firedart fish (Nemateleotris magnifica) in about 60 feet of water. Back in the day when I used to own an aquarium shop, we sold these as "firefish". I moved to Kona in early '99 and I knew of a few spots where we could find single individuals. They pretty much disappeared over the following winter and I hadn't heard of any sightings again 'til June or July of this year. Well, they've come out relatively bigtime. We're finding them very commonly right now. I'd only seen individuals, but I've had friends see two and three at a time. Today I ran across my first trio and I wish I had a camera in hand as they were all in a close grouping. Unlike most smaller fish that hang out in coral rubble areas, you can get quite close to them. They are quite attractive, it might be worth your while to do a search on the latin name if you are a fish nut to see what they look like. I don't have any pics of these guys yet, hopefully I'll be down with a camera sometime before they disappear again and I can post a pic.
We may have a heck of a swell, especially for this time of year, coming in Sunday and Monday. The Oahu news is talking 20-25 feet by tomorrow evening and hitting 30' by Sunday. We generally see our swells come in 12-24 hours later, but luckily north and northwest swells are often shaded/blocked by the islands of Oahu and Maui and sometimes we get no swell at all while the other islands are hammered. If the swell has a large enough western quotient, then we could see the full brunt of it too. The water's been nice the last couple of days, relatively calm and still running 81 degrees.
Well, time to hit the hay.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Yee Haw!! Someone actually has read my blog, and left a comment. I know that doesn't mean more will, but it's nice to know that this thing actually gets seen - guess I'll have to be somewhat careful what I talk about.
The comment author asked if the pics were mine, yes they are. I'm likely to talk a bit about underwater photography over time as it is an interest of mine when I'm diving. I don't consider myself to be all that good at it, but I'm gradually getting better over time. I generally do not take my camera with me when I lead dives, so most of my stuff was taken when out on "personal" diving, which is happening less often these days as my charter business is picking up.
In the comment it was mentioned that the shooter wasn't happy with the results of the disposable camera. I wouldn't pooh-pooh disposables totally just yet. They seem to be getting better all the time, and from what I've seen in my limited underwater photography experience, the first couple of times you use any new camera (I've had two, and am about to house a nicer one soon) the results are no where near as good as once you've had a chance to practice. My first several rolls with my MX-10 film camera basically didn't even turn out, after a while I was getting 2-4 "keepers", and a whole lot of junk, every roll. I switched to a small 4 megapixel digital in a housing and even then the first couple of outings gave me nothing but junk. I started figuring things out and soon was getting a few "keepers", a bunch of at least recognizeable pics and the usual assorted junk shots on each outing. I haven't even carried the camera this year, so I've pretty much forgot any settings I figured out so the process likely starts again. I think the trick is to keep at it. I'd love to see what an experienced good underwater photographer could do with a disposable after some practice.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Well, we've had our first bigger surf of the season this last week. I didn't have anything scheduled after returning from vacation 'til the weekend. The surf was down and I did some intro dives for non-divers and a couple dives for a class I'll be finishing next weekend. Luckily the surf doesn't really affect the diving in Kona, except when there's exceptionally high surf, all that often as we generally are able to pull around a point and find good diving which is protected. It usually only really causes troubles, dive cancellations and such, in part of January and February. Some years it's not a problem at all, here's hoping for one of those years.
The schedule for this week is a class Wed, Thurs and Friday with finishing up the other class on Saturday with posslibly some intros on Sunday. I've had to turn down a bunch of work for next week as my wife is taking me to the spay and neutering clinic next Monday morning and I'm not supposed to lift anything or do any diving for a week-10 days afterward. I'll be taking that time off I guess, don't want any troubles down there.
The cold I picked up in Vegas has pretty much run it's course and so far I'm not having the allergy issues I had the last time I came back from there. It knocked me out for a couple of months last time as my sinuses were shot from all the dry air. Kona has a thing called "Vog" which is a volcanic smog/fog, which builds up on the leeward side of the island. Tradewinds come in from the east and pick up the sulfur dioxide from the volcano. As the wind streams around the island it sort of creates an eddy behind Mauna Loa, which pushes 14000 feet high, and we get a haze which builds up generally around the Kealakekua area on the Kona side. It often gets thick enough to obscure the view of the horizon if you are at altitude. If the winds switch and come in from the west, which seems to happen a few times a year, it clears out wonderfully here and Hilo gets socked in.
Well, that's about it for now, I really should get some work done today.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Well, since I'm just starting this blog, I thought I'd tell a little about me without getting long winded. You are likely to get glimpses of my life over a period of time.
I live with my wife and dog above Kealakekua Bay (the spot where Captain Cook was killed and eaten) on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. I own a scuba charter which keeps me quite busy seasonally, while at other times I have the time to do stuff such as this. My wife works full time... and when she's not working, she's working on something anyway, she's a very driven person. She's cool though, she bought a football the other week we can go out in the yard and toss. Not too many mid-40ish couples throwing footballs on a regular basis I suspect. She throws a better spiral than I 'til we get about 15 yards apart.
My job for the day is to clean the vacation rental and get it ready for our next guests which arrive tomorrow. That'll keep me busy this afternoon. Tomorrow I get to deal with the yard (things grow rediculously fast here) and then I'll be back to diving for a few days each week 'til we hit our next busy spell.
Well, that's about it for now. I figure if I keep it short it'll bore you a little less.
Monday, October 10, 2005
So I just returned from 6 days in Las Vegas to go to the big Dive show (DEMA) which is held annually and features booths by equipment and accessory manufacturers, dealers and travel related services. Not sure how many were in attendance, but I suspect it was in the 10-14K range through the course of the week. There was lots of stuff to keep a diver's interest on the floor, and lots of industry sponsored seminars, but I was really ready to be done with it by the time it was over.
Now for Vegas. It's an amazing place, at least the Strip area. The first time I was there as an adult was the day after the New York, New York opened. I returned three years ago for another DEMA show and then this time. Boy is it much busier these days. Everywhere I hit was busy, busy, busy... it seemed much busier than last time, which was much busier than the previous time. It would be curious to see their tourism numbers.
I was able to take the monorail to the convention center each day. I stayed at the Tropicana and it more or less took longer to walk to the station at the MGM than to get to the convention center once on the train. It's a fantastic way to get around. One interesting monorail story, for me anyway. The train can move something like 4000 people an hour in each direction. On Friday moring I was heading to the show and there was a couple across the train who were there for their 35th anniversary and the gentleman was quite talkative so we chit chatted for a while. 6 hours later I stepped onto the train again and sat down and I hear "How was your show?" - it was the same couple sitting exactly across from me again. They'd spent the day walking the North end of the Strip.
I enjoyed the trip, but I'm glad to be home. One thing that makes Vegas tough for me is that I live in a very humid climate and Vegas is so dry. The last show, most everyone I knew from my area that went was waking up with nose bleeds or other problems. This time I came prepared with saline spray for the nose and chapstick for my lips and still had some problems, but not as bad as before. I only had one day of real sinus pain, but I did manage to catch and bring home a cold.
Someone once told me, a couple years back, "Steve, you ought to set up a blog". I really didn't understand what a blog was then and I don't really know what the purpose is today...
But it's my slow season, I spend too much time on the internet anyway, and it's free, so what the heck... Why not?
I don't really intend to have any kind of a theme, so hopefully every now and then I'll have something of interest to somebody at some point in time.