Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It was gorgeous in Kona this morning

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

Whitetip Reef Shark, Kona Hawaii

From today. Another good day of diving. We did a one way drift dive from Pawai Bay around the corner of Kaiwi Point. Saw this guy right off the bat. This was the only pic I was able to snap. Saw lots of cool critters on this 70 minute dive.



Monday, November 28, 2005

Senior Billy's in South Kona

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

OK, so the last photo was manipulated.

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.

Saw a white tip shark today.

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

Aloha from Kona

Hi there,

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

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Hi there,

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

Today's dives.


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

Did two dives today.

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

Biggest burger in Kona?

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.



Ikelite Olympus 8080 underwater housing.

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

Fishing and scuba diving.

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

Back to work. Yea! I'm diving again some.

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

I'm getting antsy.

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

A Hawaiian barbecue favorite.

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 hate it when that happens!

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

Now I can die happy.

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 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.