Taps

TaaaaTaDaaa TaaaaTaDaaaTaTaDa TaTaDa TaTaDaaaaa. The sun is setting on our Kona dive vacation. Today is the last day of diving and it is long range day. Three dives far away from home. It is an all day event leaving at 7am and home at 5pm.

I know today will be an auspicious day. I am flossing my teeth and I realize I had broken with habit and was flossing right side to left side, the opposite direction of my normal routine.

And it is. An hour plus long boat ride and we are at Jailhouse Rock. A site that has no mooring ball, which means it is not an official dive site. Enjoyable dive with a goodly number of the ususal suspect fish. Nothing stands out but we are not disappointed.

Kona, hawaii

We move north to a site called The Dome. Don’t remember the connection but the dive briefings are starting to run together. This is when the day turns special. We search the higher elevations along a wall looking for nudibranhes, and crustachions. As we head towards the deep David spots a turtle. First one in two weeks of diving. I follow the fellow trying to capture him on video. D and C are behind us photoing an octopus. Suddenly there is all sorts of commotion and when I turn around a manta ray is swimming by with at least 10 spectators. That is cool. After calming down we head deeper. A few minutes later David is banging his tank and lo and behold another manta glides ever so graciously within 10 feet of us. Wow are those animals big, 3 to 4M across. Pace that off and realize how big they are. Under the boat, at our safty stop, there is a third encounter. Right in front of us again. Don’t get to see mantas in the day very often.

Manta ray, Kona, hawaii

Divemaster David trying to cut fishing line off Manta Ray.

Dive three we are almost back to the harbour, Devil’s Doorway. Even though we are close to the boat dock we have not been to this site before. Briefing sounds interesting and we have instructions to keep our eyes to the deep. Dive is going as planned and more commotion. This time a pair of spotted eagle rays slides by, They’re not at all bothered by divers. I have the video camera on and don’t even have to kick hard to stay beside them. As we turn away a third fellow comes from the shallows headed for the deep.

Kona, hawaii

Hint of the Spotted Eagle Rays that we saw.

Our last day and we have two awesome dives. I have yet to make the connection between right to left flossing and rays but you can bet I will be consciously changing my habit on the next dive trip. Hell, if it causes that much disruption in the universe I may change my flossing style permanently.

Kona hawaii

Good bye Kona…..until next time.

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bingo!

There are dolphins that hang around these parts, they do their sleep thing in the daytime. They keep half their brain turned on and cruise around while the other half sleeps, at some point they switch sides and side two gets a rest. That’s what we’re told. It is of little relevance to us when we jump in the water, swim for 15 minutes and all of a sudden there are dolphins everywhere. They are 40 ft above us but the visablity is good and the image is clear as a bell. One of the wishes (no expectations) for this trip is to see the dolphins and today is the day.

img_0754

The second dive is all about eels. We are looking for the ever elusive Dragon Eel but today he is just that, elusive. David, divemaster extraordinaire, has a hay day and finds maybe 7 different types of eels this time. There is a Snowflake, Tiger, Yellowhead, the standard Whitemouth, and a few others I can not ID.

img_0753

As our first dive progresses the dolphins return not once but twice and then in the distance we hear someone banging a tank. David points to the blue and OMG there is a big, very big, shark on a swim by. This is not the time of year to see tiger sharks but there it is 100 or so feet off my port side, taking up the entire field of vision of my mask. We are not more then 100M out of the harbour on our first dive of the day and if we had to we could head back right now totally in awe. Bingo!

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Breaking In a New Camera

I have a new underwater camera. My old one was a Canon S95, new one is a Canon G7 X Mark II. Similar, but different.

On day one of diving, I choose settings for the new camera like I chose for the old one. A review of the photos later in the day revealed most of the photos to be out of focus.

Since day I, along with Murray’s expertise, have been playing with the settings trying to take photos that are in focus and that have enough, but not too much, light. It is sometimes very frustrating to get back to the hotel after seeing great creatures, to find out the photos are not salvageable. GRRRR!

Kona, hawaii

Aperature Priority is not good. Speed Priority is better but not perfect. Manual aperature and speed seem to be the best setting but I have to check my speed to make sure there is enough light. Sometimes this is hard for me to figure out underwater, and to remember! Fortunately, Murray uses Photoshop to process all our pictures so he can do amazing things with a photo that is too dark, or too light.

Frogfish Kona hawaii

Frogfish

Hopefully by the time our dive trip is over I will have figured this new camera out and will have, once again, some fabulaous photos.

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

All Creatures

“Whale!” shouts D from the bow of the dive boat. “Which brownies are you eating?” calls Shaggy from the aft. Everyone laughs. We all rush forward and watch a humpback whale spout and then show us his tail. Magnificent creature!

As we motor into the harbour, a turtle surfaces for a breath or two of air. A large mottled brown beast that everyone loves.

Pulling into the dock, David calls “Eagleray!” and we all look to the port side then to the starboard side to watch a spotted eagle ray glide under the boat looking for tasty treats left by fishermen.

Cruising to our dive sites we often see a pod of spinner dolphins frolicking in the water. Oohs and ash are emitted when a dolphin treats us to a jump and spin out of the water.

We hear there is a tiger shark in the area and one day coming into the harbour we see a black shadow swimming below us, which the crew indicates is the shark, himself. Looks like a moving black rock to me, but hey, a tiger shark it is!

Going scuba diving is not just what we see underwater but also what we see from our perch on the boat above the water.

Kona, hawaii

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

94

Last year, one of the dive masters suggested I try a 63 cu ft tank instead of using the normal 80 cu ft tank. It is shorter and weighs less, but the volume of air is “less”. I tried it and loved using it. My air consumption matched Murray’s almost exactly. Until we got to the shallows, and then I seemed to sip air whereas Murray still gobbled it, which still allowed me to stay underwater slightly longer than him.

Kona, hawaii

Last year I had a 91 minute dive on a 63 cu ft tank. The dive masters were teasing me, and shaking their heads, about this ability. This year, again using the smaller tank, one of them said to me that I was actually allowed to breathe underwater. Today, Kerry, the owner of Kona Diving Company, and I stayed under for 94 minutes! (She used an 80 cu ft tank, MS)

Kona, hawaii

Wonder how long tomorrow’s dives will be?

Kona, hawaii

 

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It Takes Time, Kona.

Kona, hawaiiIt is amazing how long it takes to get back in stride and begin to find the small animals you know you can locate. 5 days in and I think I am getting close to finding the things I should find.

Kona, hawaii

The first day the big things are easy to see. Loads of the small fish are easy to decern, though I can’t remember what their names are. Then gradually over time I find a few nudibranches and then some unusual fish, small ones that are rare and camoflage well. Most of it is luck, being in the right place at the right time but sometimes I can even scoop the divemaster.

Kona, hawaii

Today I find several different nudi’s, a couple I have never seen before. Debbie finds one really nice one at the end of the dive but the pic is suffering from new camera syndrome and is a bit blurry.

Kona, hawaii

We still have a few days underwater and I expect to get even better. But I would trade the vision of a few nudibranches for the sighting of a tiger shark. We’ll see what the future brings.

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kona Island Tour

It took all day but we circumnavigated 1/2 of Kona island. We have been diving a lot and have 6 more dive days left so today is a break. We have heard this island has two distinct personalities. One lush, green and rainy and the other barren, black and arid. The side we are familiar with, the arid side, has the good diving so to satisfy curiosity we have to see how the other half lives.

Reasonably early, 9ish, we are headed north-west on the highway across the middle of the island. Hilo, is our goal. It is still pretty barren until we hit the downslope on the west side headed for the ocean. We don’t have a proper map, only those supplied for tourists and they are a little short on information, we kind of have to feel our way to the centre of town. A small city much like any other. On the surface it does not require much investigation and without spending a week or so there we would not be able to determine if the place is indeed worth more time.

Thought we should stop at a few beaches on our tour so we try to find some on the west side. We finally found signage leading us to a ‘beach park’. Park yes, beach no. Laupahoehoe Beach Park has a wonderful grassy park area with facilities and shade from the surrounding trees but as best we could make, you would need to be mad to attempt to swim there. Since our goal is to get in the water we hang out with the 100 0r so bikers present for a short while and then continue on our way north on the west coast highway. Along this section of the highway many different types of trees are present, making for an interesting visual texture to the dense green landscape.

Laupahoehoe Beach Park Pretty rough beach.

Laupahoehoe Beach Park
Pretty rough beach.

Heading away from the coast, at the north end of the island, we encounter an area of ranch farm land. Reminds me a bit of our home with slightly different trees and grasses but much the same feel as the prairie and rolling foot hills of Alberta.

Trip across north end of island.

Trip across north end of island.

Descending again back to the ocean on the east side of the island the vista is again of large expanses of black lava rock and tufty yellow grass.

From our travels north and south along the coast highway last year we know there are some good beaches along this streatch of road. It is getting on in the afternoon and we need some water time. After all, for us flat landers, water time is the main reason for visiting a tropical island. On a whim we follow a beach access sign into a gated development, Mauna Kea. It is a stroke of luck. The beach is, I think, the best beach we have found so far on island of Kona. It is quite large, fairly sheltered and has wonderful sand 50 M wide right out into the water. We ensconce ourselves there and spend the rest of the afternoon playing in the waves.

Never boogie boarded before. Our hotel has several ‘water toys’ people have left over time and we obscound with the boogie board this morning. Didn’t do great but both Debbie and I got a few good rides and the time flew by.

img_0733

Boogie boarding.

Boogie boarding.

On the way back to town we stop at Kona’s flagship beach, Hapuna. Nice beach but fairly crowded and they expect you to pay for parking, poor form in my opinion. We want to show D & C another place. The appeal to this beach of course would be the shade that is available close to the water. We may yet swim there.

Although the day is not really that strenuous we are all beat so we pick up tacos ‘to go’ from Killer Taco and head back to the hotel to eat dinner on the pool deck overlooking the ocean. Ah, life is rough.

 

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Our Friends the Octopi

It is a day of octopi. The waters along Kona seem to team with the creatures as we see these eight legged friends on every dive.

Octopus kona

They are curious and will venture out of their hiding place to take a look at us divers taking a look at them. But if we get too close to some of them, they zip off in their aerodynamic form, changing colour on the run. One actually inked us as, unfortunately we must have scared him.

Octopus kona

Murray and I watch the one in the photo above for about five minutes. He’s content to sit outside on his rock, hang out with us and watch the fish swim by.

Kona octopus

The one above is very well camouflaged and blends into the rock nicely. He also ventured out, even with four, camera wielding, divers laying in a semi circle around him. My picture does not do his colouring justice, whereas Murray’s video shows his wonderful colouring. He is most likely studying us just as we were studying him, or maybe he is just thinking about breakfast.

The depth and the cold finally get to us, so we say goodbye to our friend the Octopus and head back towards the boat.

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kona Diving

We have the time from the hotel to the dock time to the second. Out to the lot a couple of minutes late and the lineup on the road is horrendous. I don’t get it!!! Kona is a small island and it is major, and I mean major, rush hour. As tourists we would not normally have to deal with rush hour, but we have a date with some fish and the boat leaves at 7:45. The road out front of our place is the main road into town so at the first stop sign we jump up a level thinking we might beat the system. Nope. There is just as long of a line on this road too. So we try the highway, I mean highway and there is a traffic jam on that as well. Who the hell would live here if they want to live in paradise? Paradise does not have traffic jams! We’re  15 mins late. The dive guys are all good. I think they must allow for this as we did not get off the dock until 8:00 yesterday either. Our down to the second just went out the window and tomorrow we leave at 7.15 as we did yesterday and hopefully avoid the cars and rush hour.

When we finally did arrive on board, the guys had an electric vest/rash guard sitting on the camera table and it had Debbie’s name on it. Flossie spent about 30 minutes describing the benefits of staying warm while diving. Debbie resists and dives the first dive without it. 30 minutes in she is cold and on the second dive the vest is firmly in place under her wet suit. What the hell, it’s only money. AND a warm Debbie is a happy Debbie. Good with me.

Kona, hawaii

Octopi are not something we see all the time. They don’t come out in the day and their method of camofloage is really good. Last year we saw a number of them. Flossie seems to have a knack for finding these 8 legged creatures and we find 3 on the first dive. The guys here don’t mind stirring things up a little and one of them squirts ink at us as he leaves. One of them is quite big and a small one jets away, attaches itself to a rock and goes into camo mode, changing color and texture and it sits there trying to hide from me. Had I not followed him to his hide out I would never have seen him.

Kona, hawaii

To and from the dive site, at the entrance to the harbour we motor slowly and watch as a large number of dophins play. Jumping and spinning and generally having a good time. Ah, it’s a dophins life.

Debbie is warm on the second dive until the battery runs out and then the cold water seeps into the suit and starts to cool the core temp. This is 50 mins into the dive we are near the end and she only has to shiver a short while. The guys will check out the batteries to see why they conked out early.

Kona, hawaii

In the 4 hours we are out on the water the traffic has dissipated and we drive back to the hotel in much les time than it took this morning.

 

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We Meet Again

It’s our first day of diving with the Kona Diving Company. We dove with the same crew last year and are looking forward to diving with them again. Laid back, super friendly and fun.

Kona, Hawaii

As we walk onto the boat dock, Alex comes to greet us. He remembers us and we commiserate about the swimming frog fish we found together last year. We dive with Alex as our Dive Master today. Next we reacquaint ourselves with “Shaggy” and “Flossy”. These guys joke and kid with all the divers, but do show that serious side when talking boat safety. Tyler, a dive master in training, is very quiet and takes the good natured ribbing from the experienced dive masters with grace and ease. These fellows have come from all over the US to make Kona their home, either temporarily or permanently.

Kona, Hawaii

We also reacquaintourselves with the underwater wildlife of the Pacific Ocean.

We meet Flame Angelfish who is skittish and doesn’t stay in one spot long enough for me to take a picture. We also meet Whitemouth Moray who Murray trails while filming it’s graceful passage through the water. The large family of Butterflyfish welcome us back to these waters.

The crew on the boat, including the boat captain, plus the underwater life make our first day of diving a fabulous one!

Posted in Hawaiian Islands | Tagged , | Leave a comment