Monday, June 29, 2009

Whale shark today!!!!!

We had a light load on board today, did dives at Black Hole and Sand Chute. "Black Hole" sounds more exciting than it actually is, but it's an all right dive. Sand Chute can be pretty good, especially when big things are swimming by. Today the bay off the Kona airport, where Sand Chute happens to be, was loaded with dolphins. Our divers did manage to get a brief glimpse of them underwater in the distance, but it was very brief.

On the way back we were rounding Keahole point and I noticed something on the surface. I thought it was a manta ray for a moment... then saw the spots....WHALESHARK!!! I hit the brakes and we ended up right next to it. It swam about 18 inches off our port side. Little guy, maybe about 12 feet long or so. Smallest one I've seen here. We're scrambling to get snorkels on masks and such and it made one more pass right next to the boat and was gone. We spent 20 minutes or so looking for it... bummer, it didn't stick around. This was still the highlight of the day, it's always a treat to see them, even if it's from the surface.

Here's a nice Yellow Margin Moray shot.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time for a Hawaii underwater nudie photo...

Here's a shot of a Gold Lace Nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentis). Looking up the scientific name, I just learned something new... this nudibranch is apparently only known from the Hawaiian Islands... cool, another piece of trivia. I was down doing a "Captain's dive" a week or two ago and saw this one under an arch.

The surf is really up right now. We've had a big south swell for several days now, and it seems to have peaked (hopefully) the last 2 days. We've got turquoise looking water all along the coast right now... people think it's pretty, but for divers it kind of sucks... it basically is light reflecting off all of the sand in the water, not clear water showing off it's beauty. I didn't go out today, but I had a buddy today that went out and said he had to do both dives at Kealakekua Bay and the viz was horrible - considering the sand is nearly 90 feet down at that spot, for it to be kicked up enough to make for horrible viz says something. Tomorrow's a big marathon/triathlon event in Kona, between that and the surf we're taking the day off. I'm hoping for better conditions come Monday... the weather report says the surf's coming down.

So, sort of big news for me - I signed a lease yesterday. I've been operating out of my garage and pickup truck for years, now I'll have an "office" in town where I can hang my T-shirts and store my gear. It's near enough to the harbor that it'll be quite handy. I've been wanting to have a spot to meet customers ahead of time to try gear on and sign papers to maybe speed up our morning pre-dive rituals. It's not a big spot, but big enough for my needs at this point. I'll have more information as time goes on... today Pat and I were looking at paint chips, it's currently gloss white, I'm looking to spice it up a hair if I can clear it with the landlord.

That's it for now.



Monday, June 22, 2009

Good fun scuba diving today.....

We had fun today. Went up to "Hoover's" for the first dive, ended up at Kaloko for the second dive. At about 60-65 minutes into the second dive, customer Mel found this fish... nice find. It's a Devil Scorpion (Scorpaenopsis diabolus). This one wasn't all that large, maybe 7 inches or so. They are essentially one of the stone fish, and have a knack for blending in to their surroundings. Mel said she saw it move as she went by... what is noticeable about them when they move is the back side of their pectoral fins, they're extremely bright, looking like a brightly colored butterfly when they skip along the bottom.Here's a quick shot of the back view. You can only see the color open up right when they move, and I just barely caught part of it, but you get the idea.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Great scuba diving in Kona Hawaii today....

Here's a Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera picta) feeding on a Blood Star. These little shrimp feed on the tube feet and legs of starfish. They are occasionally found deep in antler corals. When we find them we consider ourselves lucky, they often stay in the same coral head for long periods of time so we've got a shot at finding them repeatedly.

We're at the start of a long stretch of days of dive charters. Today we were at High Rock for the first dive. I captained and the divers came up quite happy... great viz - 150' plus, along with lots of critters. Cathy said if the pinnacle wasn't in the way they could've probably seen the boat from the north arch (we're probably talking 200-250 feet or so)... man, that's clear. Between dives we moved down to Golden Arches and I hopped in for a Captain's dive, the surge had come up by then and the water was a bit milky, but probably still in the 125' plus visibility range. I didn't bother putting on my wetsuit... it's running 80 degrees for water temperature right now. It was a good day.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here's Lookin' at ya....

I don't think I've posted this squid shot from last year before.

We were seeing squid again on the manta dive a couple of times the last few months... they're always fun. We did the manta night last night, no squid but it was a great time for all. The manta dive has been hopping still, maybe a bit more up and down the last few weeks, I'm only aware of one or two no-show nights since late February.

I've got tomorrow off, then comes another two week minimum stretch without days off. I'm trying to set my manta outings to strictly Monday or Wednesday or Friday from here on out, and then likely go out on whichever two of those days gets booked first. I get people asking why I don't run it every night... well, I work 7 day charters a week when it's busy, and with two night dives thrown in on top of it that means for an awful lot of shifts for the three of us to cover. Most of the dive operators doing it more than 2-3 times a week are the bigger companies with multiple boats and/or employees.... I'm not there just yet.

We've had quite the south swell for a while, but it appears it's going down for at least a while. With the swells came warmer waters... YAY!!! Bob had water temperature readings of 81 degrees on both of his dives last night... I can't belive the water's actually warmed up about 7-8 degrees since April, that's a big jump.



Sunday, June 14, 2009

A few days off...

We've been quite busy for a while and I've got a few days off right now, with the schedule getting hectic again in a couple of days. We've had back to back south swells the last couple of weeks, so the dive charters have been spending lots of time at spots outside the harbor and up near the airport, with a few dives in the north pine trees area, but the southwest facing sites have been pretty much off limits for a while. We've been able to find flat water by avoiding the sites facing southwest. Yesterday I was kind of glad to have the day off as the surf was probably as big as it's been.

On Monday evening I ordered an enlargement just to see how it'd turn out... it had arrived by Friday afternoon. It's BIG. I'm not sure if I want a BIG picture of an eel hanging prominently around the house... likely to be office material. It turned out great though, I wasn't sure if the detail would show up in the white, but it's fine. Here's a shot of the pic with me next to it just to give you an idea of how does with their enlargements.



Monday, June 08, 2009

Sloppy, choppy water today between a big south swell and the wind... but the diving was great!

Today we had a couple of intro divers on board. Neither of our intros had ever scuba dived before so we went in search of calm water with good viz. We had to go up to the airport, north of Keahole point to find very good water for intros. Several spots between town and there were pretty OK, it's just that with intros we have to do skills on the mooring line and it's tricky to do them with new divers while they're holding on a line tied to a bouncy boat. The intro divers had a great time. Highlights of the day were mating octopus and a nice juvenile frogfish and lots more.

I haven't been taking a lot of photos lately, busy with students or larger numbers of customers, also was out for a while with a back/rib problem that has resolved itself. This photo above was one of an eel on a late afternoon dive spring of last year. Tonight I decided "what the heck" and ordered a copy of this photo from This is a company I heard about several years ago, they do enlargements at a very reasonable price. The copy on this post is about 56K in size, the one I uploaded to them (took several minutes) was about 5.5 megabites in size. I ordered a 24"X36" photo luster print using "best crop". I figured I'd challenge them a bit with this photo, see where they crop it, as well as the fact that there's a bunch of white to deal with, to see how they do. The guys in town that do prints would charge pretty good money to do a giclee print of that size... Jumbo Giant charges $19.95 plus about $9 in shipping, about a quarter of what the photo enlargement shop I visited last week charges locally... so I thought it would be worth a shot. I'll let you know how it turns out, and how fast it gets here (just ordered it 20 minutes or so ago).

Been real busy lately.. I had 6-7 days off in early May but the month filled up after that, I have another 6-7 day stretch next week with nothing, but the phone's been ringing again and I've got 1-2 charters a day 'til July 3rd except for that little stretch. It'll probably fill in too though,if it does that'd mean only 1 day off this month.

Kona Water Temperature News: I've been whining about how cold the water was this year... well, about the first week of May things started warming up and haven't stopped... we're up about 7 degrees the last 5 weeks. The water is now sitting at a pleasant 79 degrees, touching 80/81 on our computers at times. YAHOO!!!!

Do you twitter? I've been playing around with it the last month or so. I picked up a new phone that takes OK pictures and has internet, so I can send them to twitter from the boat. In theory I could answer mail from the boat, but that involves figuring out how to set up my e-mail accounts on the phone... too much thinking for me right now. Anyway, I manage to update conditions several days a week via the phone on twitter, if you are interested, you can find me at

Aloha for now,


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

When should you reserve your scuba diving charters... How soon is too soon???

I get people asking me if it's OK to book ahead from time to time... the answer to that is that I'd prefer it, I suspect that's the same for most if not all dive operators. I've had people book ahead as far as 14-15 months or so, but those are rare. Right now I've got numerous charters partially booked through September, September itself is starting to look fairly busy, but most people seem to be booking a little closer to actual dates than in years past. It's usually fairly easy to slide into an open spot on relatively short notice if there are only one or two of you in most cases, but with larger groups it can get dicey if you wait too long.

All in all it's somewhat of a guessing game. I usually recommend to people that they try to book when they feel comfortable that they know they definitely are planning on diving... during busier seasons it sometimes takes several phone calls to find space with someone if you wait too late.

I thought I'd mention this because I had a surprisingly busy May and had to turn down last minute bookings (by last minute, I mean last few days or longer) several times due to a full or mostly full boat. I'm not discouraging last minute calls, definitely give me a call (808-937-1175) if you're looking at diving last minute, but I'm definitely encouraging a little lead time if you plan on diving for sure.

Here's another shot of a turtle getting cleaned by surgeonfish/tangs at a cleaning station.