Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yummy.... Mango!

This is our resident kitchen Day Gecko. Pat found out some time ago that it really digs dried mango, so we leave a litte piece out for it and spritz it down with a little water every now and then so it can lick away at it to it's heart's content.

It's still windy as all get out on the water today. The cruise ship that came into town today turned right around. I suspect that's also why I saw one heading south yesterday morning... probably on it's way to Fanning Island (due to the Jone's Act, foreign flagged vessels are required to visit a foreign port at some point during thier tour here) a day early. We usually only have a handful of days in the winter the water's so rough the cruise ships can't tender.



Monday, January 29, 2007

Using photos off the web without permission for commercial purposes is theft!

Aloha all,

Man was today a wicked day on the water. I was up for a bit today without looking outside and a while after 7 a friend of mine from down Milolii direction called and asked if it was blowing here yet. I told him no and he said it would be soon. I looked outside and noticed some whitecaps (rare down here) and within a half hour or so it was whitecaps everywhere on the ocean. We have a growing northwest swell, but what made it messy was a very strong southwest wind.

Watching the news tonight, they had high wind gusts for the day. I think it hit 43 or so off Kona, 60 something at a spot on Maui and 73 (one mile below "hurricane" force) at a spot on Oahu. This morning a cruise ship was heading south past my place, and nearly an hour later, it'd only made it a few miles... that's a strong steady wind.

The cowry shell above is a Tiger Cowry (Cypraea tigris). These are technically not the largest cowry here, but in general are the largest we see. I want one. I am not in the habit of picking up shells all that often, and I will not disturb live ones (as I mentioned in an earlier post, cowries mate for life and follow each other's scent trails... you move one and the couple is busted up), but if I find an empty one it's probably gonna get pocketed.

So... as for the title of this post... I was just surfing and noticed that another dive operator in the area had a picture of a red leaf scorpion, that I TOOK, on their front page... then I checked out their other pages... OVER HALF of the photos on their site were taken by me. I'm pretty sure they probably just took them from the blog, not my www.wanna-dive-kona.com site, but in either case it's copywrite infringement. I'm not the only one they took pics from as there are fish from other oceans on their site.

I've had a person or two ask for permission to use my photos, and that's cool, they can use them all they want since they asked... all I'm looking for is credit, either by name, a link to the blog, or both. Just ask. I'm gonna have to speak with the company in question at some point soon, and I've got some fair ideas (they don't do boat dives or the night dive, I'd be happy to take referrals, I've actually sent them people before, so it's about time to turn that around), but permission should always be asked as some people really get ticked off when they see their pictures when not expected. Rant over.

I've got to go reset all our clocks, the wind caused some power outages, we were out for about 20 minutes at one point.



Sunday, January 28, 2007

Perfect weather day in Kona today.

Today is one of those days where you look outside and remember why you've moved to Hawaii. No vog (volcanic haze), not a cloud in the sky, recent rain so everything's green, a light Kona wind (wind from the west) and whales jumping on the ocean.

The video above is of a turtle cleaning station. This guy was a ways off so I zoomed in on him to follow him with my little digital camera. You can see the tangs approach him to eat algae off his shell.



Friday, January 26, 2007

Kona Water temperature's sitting at 75 or so.

Hi there, we've had a bit of a swell the last few days. It's down again right now. I went out this morning for a litte dive before running errands. Next week they are expecting a big swell off Oahu. If it's big enough, they may even hold the Eddie Aikau Invitational surf tournament, which is held only in HUGE surf. Here's a write up from the tournament a couple years back. By the time it reaches here it may or may not be large enough to affect our diving much.

We're tearing into the boat right now and replacing the fuel tanks. We've got to tear up the deck, yank out the old tank, order a new tank or tanks in and then rebuild the deck... how fun. It's slow right now so it's not a bad time to be doing this. When I picked up the boat a few years back it came with an aluminum tank that had it's share of corrosion, meant for lots of filter changes. We'd finally gotten to where everything was pretty clear and then the state went to 10% ethanol in gas. Ethanol is wreaking havoc with marine gas engines here as it's highly corrosive and has an affinity for water. That apparently is what has been causing a lot of the little irritating issues with the engine the last while.... so now we're going to try to go to plastic or stainless steel which are non-reactive to ethanol. I hopefully will have everything back together soon, in the meanwhile I've got a friend or two with charter boats who can handle my charters.

The underwater photo above is of a Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus). These worms usually are burrowed into living coral and have a trap door at the surface of the coral where their feathery gill/feeding structure (the spiral fronds in the picture) stick out. If they are spooked they can instantly withdraw their gill/feeding structure adn slam th door shut. They're tough to get a good picture of because you need to get close enough to get light on them without scaring them, and also at that close it's tough to get a real good focus or depth of field. I keep trying different speeds and methods, this is my best (luckiest) shot of one so far.



Sunday, January 21, 2007

Went for a little dive today...

I did manage to get a reasonable shot of a female Whitley's Boxfish (Ostracion whitleyi). These fish tend to hug the cracks between rocks so they are tough to track and get a clear shot of with a camera... you end up with lots of butt shots or partially blocked shots usually.

The males of this species are few and far between, and they are spectacular. They can have anywhere from a deep navy blue, to an electric powder blue, along with white coloration. We rearely see them. We've got one dive site where I've seen a male 4 times in the last 7 years and that's about it. I did see what appeared to be a juvenile or female turning into male coloration last fall. Down at Honaunau the juveniles and females are fairly plentiful, so there's got to be some males around there somewhere, but I've never seen one there. The males are rare enough that early versions (maybe even the more recent ones) of Hoover's book didn't have a picture, and about 4 years ago I tried to find a picture of one on the internet and could only find pictures of aquarium specimens.
Here's a link to a page with most of the boxfish on it.

We'd gone about a month and a half or two without rain, but it's started raining some the last couple of weeks. Things are starting to green up a bit again. New year's day, possibly the next day, I got a call at 6 am by someone worried about seeing rain forcast on the internet... Don't worry about rain (try not to call me at 6 am either if possible, remember that there's a time difference if you don't live here - worst call I ever got was a 3:10 am wanting to know how to spell that state fish). Rain rarely affects the diving here, can't say never because we had a hundred year rain event on top of a golf course that was being constructed which washed a lot of mud and affected a stretch of reef down south of town for several days one year (that was the big beginning of this whole Hokulia mess I've commented on a couple of times), the lawsuits have been flowing since. Other than that, since we have no rivers or streams and very little sand on our rocky shores, rain is a non-event as far as affecting visability. Our viz is generally only affected by swells which usually are generated from storms hundreds to thousands of miles away from here.



Saturday, January 20, 2007

Perhaps I should read the newspaper before I post....

I mentioned earlier today that Hooters opened in the last week.... well the county shut it down yesterday. That was fast. Apparently they did some plumbing and elelctrical work without the proper permits in place or signed off or something of that sorts Here's the link . 80 people are now out of work for a while 'til it all gets sorted out and everything is signed off.

In other local news, the Kealakeua bay trail to the Captain Cook monument has been reopened and they are once again allowing kayakers to park their kayaks on shore. They do still have a portion of the bay in front of the pali (cliffs) closed off, but otherwise things are more or less back to what they were before the big earthquake.

The photo above is of a mushroom coral (fungia scutaria). They are also locally referred to as razor coral. These are an interesting coral in that they are not attached to anything, often laying around on the reef. Since they are non-sessile, they can actually move around to some extent. They pull their tentacles back within during the daytime and people often mistake them for being dead. You should not be picking these guys up as they generally are alive, even though they appear to be dead. Hawaii does have a law against possession of several species local stony corals (hefety, hefty fine), I believe the purpose is to stop the harvest of corals, and I'm thinking this is one of the species on the list.


Current water conditions in Kona... nice....

Hi there,

Just thought I'd catch up on the current water conditons. We had some swell earlier, but it's quite nice right now. Water temperature is around 75 degrees, having cooled off quite a bit during the last month as the northwest swells came through.

It's slow again right now for a lot of us newer operators, it can take years to build an everyday business in the scuba charter world. Even some of the big companies have days they aren't going out. Christmas season was quite busy for us, hence not a lot of posting on this blog by me right then.

I've been working on the boat lately, we've replaced the carburetors and now all the shift and throttle linkages. I did have to outright cancel one charter, but every other charter that my boat wasn't available I've been able to find someone to take people out. It's a bummer when the boat goes down, but I'm not alone, I know of 3 or 4 other operators who had to take at least one boat out of the water during the last 3-4 weeks... maintenance/repair is constant in this business and one little thing can take you down for several days. Oh, the neverending challenge. I'm running out of things to replace though, almost everything on the boat except the hull has been changed out in the last year to year and a half at this point.

Dining tip of the day.... We went down to the Kona Inn for dinner the other day with some friends. I've been there in the past and have always sat in their main restaurant. Turns out you can just help yourself to a table at their beach bar and they have a differnt menu.... The calimari sandwich is great. I had a burger while my wife and her friend had the calimari - next time I'll go that route instead. Their nachos also looked worthwhile.

While on the food topic, there's a couple of new restaurants in town, both opening in the last week to ten days. Hooters has opened, and the Fish Hopper (based out of Cannery Row in Monterey) has opened a restaurant down across from the seawall at the bay at what had been the Ocean View restaurant for decades. I'm hearing the Fish Hopper is a higher end restaurant, maybe averaging around 50 bucks a plate when it's all said and done. I'll have to try both at some point.

Above is a little video of a Spotted Puffer (Arothron meleagris) I took yesterday while diving for fun. The video is nothing special, but these are interesting looking critters. They're roughly the size of a full sized football, getting up to about 13 inches in length or so. I've got the day off today and Pat is out playing up north with a friend who's visiting, so I think I'll go for a dive (isn't it nice when you live just uphill from a couple of premium dive sites?) when my camera battery gets recharged.



Thursday, January 18, 2007

Underwater housings for digital cameras....

One question that we get frequently on our dive charters is about underwater housings for digital cameras. In many cases you do not need to purchase a dedicated underwater camera. Many manufacturers make housings for their cameras, as well as several aftermarket companies who make housings for various camera lines. You can often find a housing for a camera you already have, or you may find one available for one you want to get so you have a camera you can use both above and below the waterline. With a little research on your part, you can often find a camera and housing combination that will cost you less than a dedicated underwater camera AND may be more versatile than the typical prepackaged underwater cameras.

If you already have a camera, you can go to Digideep.com
which has a large listing of cameras and whether there are housings available for those cameras. There are several online companies who stock housings for various camera manufactures and Amazon sells underwater housings as well. Just be sure that when you choose a housing, you are picking a housing made specifically for the camera you are going to use. If you can't find a housing for your particular camera, be sure to check the digideep link I posted earlier.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kona Hawaii scuba diving...

So here's a picture or two of me after eating at the Saturday night buffet at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which is a few miles north of the Kona airport. They have a steak and lobster buffet every Saturday night out at their beach grill/bar.
We had a friend in town, actually one of our very first vacation rental customers who has since become a friend, who recommended it.

I'd also have to highly recommend this meal if you are looking for a high end meal at some point if you are visiting, or living, here. The atmosphere is great. They set out tables on the beach, and being the time of year that it is you can watch the whales splashing offshore. They put out a sizeable buffet, with steak, baby back ribs, fish, steamed clams, completely delicious lobster tails that they barbeque in front of you, the usual cold seafoods and salads plus a sushi bar and deserts.... yum yum!!! They also had a smore station (you know - graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and fire) where you could make your own smores on the beach if you want, I thought that was a novel touch. After it gets dark they apparently bring out the telescopes, we didn't see them this night, either we left before they were put out or they passed as it was overcast that night. Anyway, at 78 bucks a head for just the meal, it's not a regular thing for us, but I'm sure we'll be back when we feel like splurging again as it was excellent.

So just in case you haven't figured it out yet, that isn't actually me in the pictures... it's just sorta how I looked and felt afterwards (I had 10-12 lobster tails and a ton of ribs along with everything else). This little Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby (Canthigaster jactator) was something I found on our shore dive the other day. He was really full and I wanted to get a shot of him because he was bulging so much.



Monday, January 15, 2007

We're seeing lots of whales off parts of Kona right now.

Yesterday evening we went down to the picnic area to the south of the Place of Refuge and there were whales right off the shore, maybe 30-40 yards off shore. I didn't have my camera or I could've had some nice tail and back shots.

Today Pat and I did a shore dive up north of Kua Bay with some friends and there were whales everywhere on the horizon.

Here's a simple little reef scene I took with my Olympus sp350 in movie mode. I took it in low resolution and Youtube compresses it even more so it's not much to look at... but turn your volume up a bit and use your imagination and you can hear the whales in the background off in the distance (no kidding). You'll hear lots of static popping, which is actually snapping shrimp in the coral heads, me breathing a lot, and something in the background that sounds like a cross between cows and cellos - that'd be the whales. Hopefully later in the winter I'll be diving where they are louder, we heard them all the dive today but it was fairly much in the background. When it's loud, it's quite impressive.



Friday, January 12, 2007

Tsunami watch update. The watch has been officially cancelled.

Tonight's news said the tsunami center has announced there was no tidal wave generated by the earthquake off Japan. We are warned to be aware of unusual currents overnight though, which is apparently common in this type of event.

Big tsunami watch in Hawaii tonight.

Hi there,

I've been getting phone calls from friends with boats giving me a heads up over the tsunami watch we have this evening. There was an earthquake off Japan tonight and everyone is watching to see if there is a tsunami heading our way. If, and that's a pretty big "If", there's a tsunami it'd likely hit around 12:30 this morning. I've got about another hour or so to decide whether to make the trip into town to try to find a spot to move my boat uphill from the harbor. So far the type of surge they are talking wouldn't have an effect where the boat is parked, but if there's anything likely to make it this far it's probably a good idea to move it anyway.

It's likely to be busy down at the harbor around 10-11 tonight. I've got friends who live down at the coast by Kealakekua Bay who are packing as we speak with plans to move everything up the hill a ways later tonight if they do say something's coming our way.

The picture above is of a Freckled Snake Eel (Callechelys luteus). These guys are out in the sand flats and they keep just their heads out of the sand. They are tough to spot even if you are looking specifically for them. They are very shy and usually appear to be hyperventilating as you approach. If you get close enough to get a good look, they pull back under the sand. They're tough to get a shot of, this is about as good as I'll be able to do with my setup.



Sunday, January 07, 2007

Looks like I'm not the only one with website troubles

Here's the latest response from technical support.... The server that your account is housed on (server####) has had one of its drives fail on the raid. The raid is currently rebuilding and should be back up and running just as soon as it builds fully. We have turned services on the server off in the mean time so that another drive would not be lost during the rebuild. We have dispatched a team of system administrators to the server farm where the server is located and they are working around the clock to restore services as soon as possible. We have not been provided an ETA as the server has massive hard drives with lots of data. We will be updating our customers as soon as we get more information. We sincerely apologies for the inconvenience and are working on a better technique so that this does not happen again.

Well, at least that's some sort of answer.

Here's an old picture I took at the manta dive a few years back. This may be a repost, but I can't recall posting it off the top of my head. I'm running low on pics, we're planning on doing a holo-holo dive this afternoon to make sure the shift linkages are all working correctly again, so I'll try to take some pictures.

Latest water conditions.... Brrrr... it's dropped down to 75 or so - that's about 6 degrees in the last month. It might drop to about 73 or so later this month, I saw 72 back in late January of '00. We've had some big swells off and on. I did have to cancel one night trip last week because it was so nasty.



Still alive, haven't posted in a while.....


Christmas season had us real busy with charters every day and chasing down boat parts. I had the boat in the shop the last few days to have all the shifting linkages repaired/replaced. That's on top of gettting a new carburetor. Boats are fun.

Right now I'm rying to deal with my main website... if you see a white border around the blog and no background photos on the header, the website (not the blog, it has a different service provider) is down. My normal background comes directly from my website, so if it's not up, I know the website is down without checking directly. The last couple of weeks something attacked my e-mail server and I've been unable to receive or send messages regularly.. not good for biz. I've been back and forth with tecnical support from my provider and they seem to get everything working for a few minutes and then it dies again. If you've attempted to contact me in the last couple of weeks and not heard back, my apologies, I've got to figure out something different 'til my server is back up.

No photo this time, just a brief update. I'll have more time for posting shortly.