Monday, August 20, 2007

Kona Shore Diving....

Pat and I both had days off yesterday, so we decided to go for a little shore dive and relax for the morning. I'm still seeing water temps of 79, I'm hoping for it to bump up a little more over then next few weeks, primarily so we're not freezing while diving in January and February after the winter cool down.

This is a Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri). They're pretty good about posing and not running off on you when you want to get a shot off. Hawkfish, as I've undoubtedly mentioned before, basically perch around all day waiting for small prey to get close enough to swoop down on. I came oh so close to getting a shot of a hawkfish with a tail sticking out of it's mouth some time back, but it took off at the last moment.

Have a great day!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Suddenly our house seems very quiet.

This was a very sad day for Pat and I. Our German Shorthaired Pointer passed away this afternoon, about 2 weeks short of her 15th birthday. She's had a rough go of it the last few months, giving us several scares, but kept plugging along. We'll miss her greatly.

We've got friends and family who read the blog, I thought they might want to know.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

So here's the hull extension on the dive boat.

This is the engine mount/hull extension on the boat. The gunwale area above the blue tape has yet to be worked on. Hopefully things will start to move along more quickly now. The boat is supposed to go back on the trailer tomorrow and the engines will go on. Then starting next week all the electrical work will be done and supposedly the fiberglass guy is coming back to finish off the interior, then it'll be time for the interior paint job. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be ready to break in by the first of next month.



We now return to our normal programming....

Please take a brief look a few posts down and you'll see pictures of a "Dragon Wrasse". Those pictures were of the juveniles. This is the adult phase. They go through a transformation of both appearance and habits as they grow. The adult version is referred to as a "Rockmover Wrasse", for it's habit of digging around and literally picking up and throwing rocks around. They spend most of their adult lives foraging under rocks looking for goodies to eat. They can easily lift a rock that is their own size... kinda fun to watch.

Now that all the natural disaster activity has passed, I'll be back to posting primarily about diving, with some local info tibits every now and then. Kona saw nothing weather-wise out of Hurricane Flossie, had no tidal wave from the earthquake in Peru, and no damage from the Hilo side earthquake of the other day... other than school closures and the economic impact of closures and cancellations all over, it's been life as usual the last few days.

Take care all,


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wow, that was fast. They just broke in and announced the Pacific tsunami warning center has issued an all clear.

Good news, and it only took about 15 minutes.

Hot off the press... Tsunami advisory for Hawaii 8/15/07...

Apparently they just had a 7.5 earthquake in Peru. There's a possibility the state may see a tsunami around 2or 3 in the morning tonight. Apparently the tsunami sensor off Peru did note water movement and a possible tsunami, there's another sensor halfway between here and Peru that they'll be watching. The 1960 Hilo tsunami was caused by an earthquake off South America, so these things are taken quite seriously.

Well, Hurricane Flossie is gone...

Not much really happened anywhere on the island. I think they had 40 mile an hour winds hit southpoint, but then they see winds nearly that several times a week. It did bring in some pretty good surf on the southwest corner of the island though.

Today we spent the morning chasing around picking up our freshly re-upholstered sofa and loveseat for our vacation rental (linked on the sidebar of this page), then cleaning up the rental for the next guests coming in shortly.The rental's pretty nice as far as rentals go in our area, and we keep changing things out over time to keep it updated. It took several years to really get it busy, but it stays booked as much as we want it these days - we're booked solid through the middle of March currently.

Here's the first glimpse of the boat. Yesterday, which was supposedly the day the hurricane was to be hitting, was so calm they finished the exterior paint job. Today they're laying non-skid on the swimstep and then they'll start mounting the engines and working all the electrical - we're basically replacing everything. When that's done it'll be prepped for the interior paint job and then we can get going.

The company who's doing the paint job is a third party who has a boat alteration business, he said the extended new rear end of the boat looks structurally sound - nice to get a second opinion from someone else who does this quite frequently. He says more and more boaters are going the way I did, removing their inboards and extending their hulls for outboards. There's still probably a couple of weeks worth of work left to be done before it's finished, so I'm guessing this year's summer season will be pretty much done by the time it's in the water again. Fall season has been picking up for me each year, so hopefully I'll be able to hit the ground running when it's done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quick unusual weather in Kona yet.

In fact, the water was nearly mirrorpond flat this morning. We went to the harbor and virtually nobody was out. The town is very quiet, all schools on the island are closed, as are beach parks and beach accesses. They did close some roads down on the southeast side. That's all for now.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Update on Hurricane Flossie and 8/13 earthquake...

So the earthquake did end up being the first mention on the 10 o'clock news, short story though as there wasn't much information whether there was any damage. It was felt on the Kona side, but not strongly.

Flossie's in the news bigtime. Assuming this works,here's a cool site from the University, it shows the animated hurricane track, it takes a while to load so be patient. Just in the last few hours the eye has broken up and the storm is spreading out (essentially weakening on the fringes). Tonight's news said they expect a downgrade to a category two in the morning.

Coming into a potential hurricane is interesting. Traffic was nuts today around 4-5pm, everyone seemed to be on the road. Costco was jammed with people buying water and canned goods, the corner with Walmart and Safeway was very busy, by the time I made it home around 6pm I went to Choicemart in Captain Cook and you'd think it was the day before Thanksgiving or Easter (surprisingly that is pretty much the busiest grocery day of the year the years I worked in grocery way back when) by all the crowds. Nearly every cart had water.

Assuming we are relatively protected in Kona, water probably won't be our biggest single issue. Odds are if there are winds elsewhere on the island, there'll be power outages as a downed line on the other side can cause problems here. The news said to expect winds in the 40mph range and up to 10 inches of rain in the affected areas on the southeast side... glad I don't live in Wood Valley or Pahala.

The pictures on this and the last post are of a Dragon Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus). This was a good sized juvenile. The juveniles have the elongated front dorsal spines, a lot of divers who don't know the hawaiian fish will come up and say they saw a lionfish 'til we get a description and show them the picture in the book we carry on board.

Goodnight... I'll try to update tomorrow morning unless I'm running around like mad trying to batten down the hatches.



Hey, earthquakes, hurricanes... Hawaii's got it all...

So I'm frying up some italian sausage and the window starts rattling, for about 10 seconds. There's nothing else unusual going on anywhere else in the house, so I figure I'll check the time in case there was a small earthquake. 7:28. During "Fat Walk" on ABC a bit over a half hour later there's a hurricane update.... oh, and by the way, there was a 5.3 quake about 20 miles south of Hilo on the Big Island at 7:28pm.... any other day and that'd been one of the first mentions on the 10 o'clock news, as a 5.3 is a once every year or two or three event if I recall correctly. Here's the LINK to the USGS Hawaii earthquake map

Anyway, the current thinking is the hurricane won't hit the island directly, but might generate surf and 40-50 mph winds on the southeast side as well as surf on most of the east side. No talk about the Kona side yet. More updates later, if I'm still up (I'm getting to where I actually go to bed around night news time -10pm here), I'll update any new news I hear.



Up next, Hurricane Flossie....

This hurricane's actually getting interesting. In general, hurricanes do not hit the Big Island, but we still watch them anyway. This one was expected to go well south of us a few days back, but now the southern tip of the island is within the projected possibility. We'll know a lot more tonight or tomorrow morning. I suspect south point will get surf and maybe some rain from it even if it stays fairly south, more if it touches. If the water temp was a couple degrees higher I think everyone would be more worried, especially Oahu and Kauai. Cooler waters (we're around 80/81 right now) usually cause them to drop strength.

These are Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon Lunula). I took this shot the other day using just the manual white balance. The only photoshop work I did with it was an auto levels and size reduction, pretty bright shot for no flash.

We had a very unusual cancellation yesterday. One of the family we were to have on fainted at the boat when we met. We decided it'd be best to send them to urgent care or the hospital to be checked. I'm hoping all is well, but that has to be scary for them. It likely was dehydration and excitement, but you never know. I'm glad it happened where it did... really makes you think about what you'd do if that occurred on, or under, the water.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kua Bay and Kekaha Kai State Park, Kona Hawaii

I took a drive up north the other day. I'd forgotten how dry the South Kohala area can be compared to where I live. The Big Island has so many different climates, you only need to go an hour or less in a different direction if you want a change of scenery. You can usually count on sun up north, even if it's raining in coffee country or Kailua, as they only see maybe 10-12 inches of rain annually in much of that area.

They do have some nice beaches up north though. This is a shot of Kua Bay, which is still in Kona. It's at the north end of Kekaha Kai State Park (formerly known as Kona Coast State Park) It runs from Kua Bay down to the south entrance of the park which is about 3 miles north of the Kona airport. There are several beaches in the park, with Kua Bay being the smallest but easiest to reach as they've put in a nice new road to it. The road at the south end is kind of rough, but manageable (although I haven't been down it in 5 years so it could be pretty bad by now). There's a big beach on the south end and Mahaiula beach is a 5 minute walk. Makalawena beach (a very nice beach) is in the middle of the park and is a 15-20 minute hike in across the lava on the old King's Trail from Mahaiula beach - it's hot, take water and a hat - I'm hoping they keep it as a walk in or 4WD only beach.

There are even more beaches as you get further north, they tend to have resorts built around them. Some day I'll take some more shots of the area and report on it.



Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Heller's Barracuda (Sphyraena helleri)

Here's a group of Heller's barracuda. They are a schooling fish and are basically harmless to divers. They seem to swim in nice picturesque arcs, although they are tough to really photo accurately because the silver of their bodies doens't show up well against the blue of the ocean in photos.

Monday, August 06, 2007

How to fit a mask for scuba diving or snorkeling....


I thought I'd post something that's almost informative for once. One of the complaints you hear about lots in this business is of ill fitting masks. It's a pretty common thing.

When I first started diving, I was taught that a mask fit if you could put in on your face, inhale through your nose, and if it stuck, it fit. Well you know what, that works - sometimes. As often as not, you could make a non-fitting mask, that'll leak badly when you are in the water, stick to your face just by inhaling hard. I dove with a badly fitting mask for years, I'm pretty much used to having an inch or so of water in my mask.

When I got to Kona, I was hired on at a now defunct (it wasn't me, really, I think it was an ownership squabble) dive and snorkel gear shop downtown. They sold probably 3-8 masks a day, and had people try on umpty-ump more during the course of a day. Every shop I'd ever been to did the old snort and stick method, so that's how I sold masks. Over the course of two weeks or so it was apparent that any returns were masks I sold, the manager/owner of the shop clued me into something I'd never heard, and I cant remember any returns after that. When I left for a full service dive center, they had a lot of return issues with masks so I passed along the info to them and things improved dramatically during the time I was there, I think they still sell it the the way I was showed today.

So here it is....

Most dive shops will have numerous styles of masks. They may have several colors of each style, but the important thing for the mask buyer is to find the style that fits and then pick a color. If you go to a shop that has 20-30 masks on the wall, there's a good shot that there may be 10-12 or more styles represented, and odds are that one or two of them will fit you far better than the rest. ... EDIT: As one of the commenters mentions below, you may have to try numerous masks, even go to more than one store, to find the one that is right for you... it all depends on what's in stock and the build of your face.

As many mask frames as there are, there are probably more skirts. There are only a handful of companies that actually manufacture masks, and then numerous companies that contract with them to manufacture masks for them. Two different brands may be exactly the same, or have the same frame but a slightly different skirt. To get a proper fit, you'll be checking to see how the skirt matches up with your face.

Rather than pressing a mask against your face and inhaling, you are better off to gently touch a mask to your face and stop when it first touches your face. You can eliminate a lot of masks right then. A mask that is too wide will touch your forehead and below the nose, but not be touching your temples at the same time. A mask that is too narrow will touch your temples or cheeks before it touches your forehead and below the nose. Big gaps anywhere = try another mask. A more ideal mask will touch everywhere at the exact same time when it first barely touches you, remember not to press hard.

Once you find a likely prospect, or a couple of them, barely touch it to your face and check for gaps at the temples, dimples, the back of your eye sockets, and smile lines. These are the trouble areas for a lot of people, but if you try enough masks you should find something that works. Sometimes it helps to have a friend look for gaps while you barely touch your face with a likely mask, but once you get the hang of it you'll be able to tell pretty much right away.

Another method, if you don't mind looking a bit strange, is to lay flat on your back or look straight up and see if the weight of the mask alone (do not press when you place it) will create a seal to your face that you cannot draw air through with a very, very, very light inhale. A bad fit, you will be able to still softly inhale through, a really good fit it's stuck to your face by it's own weight and even if you try to inhale a single cc (teeny bit for those who don't know what a cc is) you'll feel the mask move to your face.

A few little hints....

Price - you are likely to find prices from around $35 bucks and up for masks. Some of it is name branding, some of it is quality of the silicon skirt. If you feel enough skirts you'll start to notice a flexibility/softness difference as there are several different grades of silicon (this was passed on to me by an aqualung rep, it seems to be accurate as I could feel the difference between the cheap and expensive models of the exact same mask). The basic thing is, don't automatically think a spendy mask is better than a cheap one... a 90 buck mask that constantly leaks isn't worth much... all things being equal you may want to spring for the spendier mask, but go for fit first.

Single pane vs. 2 lens mask - In general, the single pane masks often have wider skirts than the 2 lens masks. If you have a narrow face, cheekbones or forehead, you may not fit many single pane masks - try one of the fitting methods mentioned earlier, there are some more narrow single pane masks.

Field of vision - Some people think more glass equals more vision. That's not always the case. Some low volume two lens masks fit closer to the face, giving a wider angle of view. While there are a lot of masks that are promoting a wide angle view, and they do a good job of it, it's worth putting the mask on and comparing.

So, you've got a wide face... try several different single lens masks, and really take a look at some of the frameless masks that have come out in the last 7-8 years. There are a few old standards that work great, and many of the larger frameless masks fit those with wide cheekbones great.

That's some basics for now. Keep in mind it's a bunch of generalizations, but I hope it helps for some. If you're in the Kona area, feel free to stop by Wanna Dive and check out our masks. We'll be happy to help you with fitting masks.

The pic above is of a Devil Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus). It was out in the rubble, and I saw a couple of our divers looking at it... good find, it blended in quite well. I wish the flash were working for this.

If you like this post... feel free to search my blog archives on the right sidebar.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ringed Sap-Sucking Slug (Plakobranchus ocellatus)....

Great name for an unusual little critter. I've only seen these a few times over the years. I posted one back in May or so of last year I saw in Maui, but these are slightly better pictures.

I found this one on a shore dive Pat and I did with friends off Kukio up north earlier this year. Interestingly enough, we went over a sandy area that sort of reminded me of areas I've seen them before and I thought "this might be a likely spot to find one". After a few minutes of looking I gave up and went over the reef (where I've never seen one) and four or five minutes later ran across this guy.



Friday, August 03, 2007

Roadhouse Cafe - Kainaliu, Hawaii... a review of a new restaurant in south Kona

Just thought I'd post a quick review of a new restaurant in our area. It's called the Roadhouse Cafe and is in what was foremly the Guy's Grinds/Phillysophical Deli/Ma's Tavern (I think that's what it was years ago) location in Kainaliu.

Pretty good place so far. They're sort of just putting together a menu. When we went they had sandwiches, a chicken chipotle burrito type thing in more of a flaky pastry, louisiana hotlinks baked in the flaky pastry (sort of a gourmet pigs in a blanket) and several other items. I'm hearing good things about it. It's more upscale lunchfare, not the typical plate lunch you find at many places, yet so far there's nothing over $4.95 on the menu with reasonable moderate sized portions making it a great deal for the price. Pat had the chicken dealy-bop, and I went for both the chicken and hotlinks things... I could have done OK just getting either one of them as portions were reasonable. Delicious! I'm pretty sure the owners were involved somehow in the Aloha Cafe, as the desert pastries were pretty much the same and of the same quality. Service was very good and very fast, but we did get in right at 11am so we were basically the only ones there at the time.

Definitely worth revisiting.

....almost forgot to mention, Pat snapped this with her phone as we left.



Thursday, August 02, 2007

So here's the male Whitley's Boxfish (Ostracion whitleyi) I've been talking about

I'd mentioned earlier that we found a male Whitley's Boxfish last week. My flash has died on the camera, while this guy was very cooperative, it was kind of dark so the blue really doesn't stand out. It's a dark navy color. Back in my aquarium shop days I'd seen a few of them over time, ranging anywhere from a power baby blue to a metalic blue. This guy is dark, not sure if that's a Hawaii thing or if it's just him.

If you look back a couple of posts you will see our more common male Blue Boxfish. The females of the common blue are basically dark brown with white spots. The female Whitleys are more ornate with white on the side, but still basically brown, check out the archives as I have posted a pic of a female Whitley's at least once or twice.

I was so excited that my customer found this little guy, as it's among our rarest finds. Check out the belly, cool!!