Thursday, December 20, 2007

Which wetsuit to wear for Hawaii?

Aloha,

I get asked this question several times a month, and see it on message boards quite often, so I might as well address this at least once. There is no single correct answer other than "wear the one you will be comfortable in" as people come in all shapes, sizes and cold tolerance. In general though, you can typically say the bigger you are the less you will need.

Here in Kona the water temperature typically runs from the 74/75 degree range during the late winter to the 81/82 degree range in the very late summer early fall, with a swing a degree or two above or below those numbers every couple of years.

During the warmer seasons, a 3 mil full wetsuit will do most scuba divers just fine, with larger people doing fine in a shorty or nothing if cold tolerant. Snorkelers will often need nothing, although we always throw in a shorty for the night manta snorkel just ot help for warmth and buoyancy.

During the cooler seasons some divers may need more thermal protection. If you are my size, you probably can get away with a 3 mil or less even during the cooler season unless you dive a lot - the more you dive the cooler everything seems, many full time divemasters here wear 5-7 mil suits year round. If you are slender, a hood or a shorty in addition to the full suit may be a welcome addition. You may find that the suit you are using does you just fine for a couple days, then you start feeling cooler... ask to borrow a shorty or go to one of the local shops and pick up a hood/beanie, you'll be happy you did. Slender/petite women and kids really do well in a 5 mil in the cooler months. Snorkelers may appreciate a shorty in the cooler season, and many shops do rent them for 5-7 bucks a day (typically most shops charge for 3-4 days if you are keeping it for a week) over the counter for people who are wanting to rent one to use. Few shops have thicker than 3 mill full suits available for rent or use on their boats, but most will be happy to layer you if you need it.

It's tough to overdo it. If in doubt, and if you own wetsuits of varying thicknesses, go a mil or two too thick and prepare not to zip up if you feel warm. On shore diving, this may be a different case though, as you don't want to overheat just getting to the water, I'm sort of talking boat diving on this post.

Above is a Praying Mantis we had at the boat wash one day.

Later,

Steve

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Moray eel cleaning station.


Eel cleaning station from Steve on Vimeo.

Well, the Brightcove video hosting experiment is over, they've stopped the uploading of personal videos to concentrate on their business applications. So this is a trial with Vimeo.com . It's pretty easy to use so far, I've only loaded this compressed video on to it. I'll try something uncompressed larger later on.

Anyway, this is a cleaning station down deep. Cleaner shrimp of various types will set up and eels and other fish will come by for a cleaning. Shrimp seen here are a scarlet cleaner shrimp and a ghost shrimp. I took this with my Canon G9, and a hand held flashlight.

Aloha,

Steve

PS: Just looked at the blog... you can go into full screen mode if so inclined with this quite readily, cool, I'll have to upload some uncompressed stuff to see how it looks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The humpback whales have returned to Kona Hawaii...


Wish I had some pictures of Humpbacks, Banded Coral Shrimp will have to do. Pat took a shot of these a couple weeks back. I really liked this picture because of the second shrimp being in the background.

We've been hearing reports of whale sightings lately. We joined in on a garage sale on the weekend to get some old junk out of our garage and could see them off in the ocean off Kailua town in the afternoon.

Maybe this will be the year I get to see the whales underwater? Bob has, Cathy has, even some of my customers have on dives I've captained... I'm about due I hope.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, December 16, 2007

2 mantas at the Kona manta ray night dive this Saturday...


Actually one extra showed up at the very end of the dive. Bob and I were out with some customers from Oahu for the dive. They really enjoyed it and asked me to give them a heads up the next time we start seeing big numbers for a stretch so they could give that a try.

Bob said the water temp had dropped on his computer by 2 degrees from the day before. That tends to happen in December when the temperature starts dropping, each new northwest swell can potentially drop it a degree or two. He saw 77 on his computer yesterday afternoon... still fairly warm but this year never really topped out too warm so it could be cool by next month.

Above is a Wire Coral Goby (Bryaninops yongei?) that Pat took a picture of a few weeks back. These guys spend pretty much their entire lives living on a wire coral, adult lives anyway as I'm not sure what the larvae and juveniles do.

I stayed up top for both dives so I didn't get to have any of the fun. My big excitment for the night was just hearing a commment one of them made to another... I think this is the cleanest dive boat I've ever been on.... Well the boat is basically just a month old since the total rebuild, so I haven't had a chance to really mess it up yet.... hopefully we can keep it shiny for a few years, it's already got it's share of tank dings tht we'll need to rub out every now and then.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's a beautiful day in Kona Hawaii

Aloha,

This is a Scrambled Egg Nudibranch I took a picture of the other day. They're about our most commonly seen nudibranchs off Kona.

I forgot to mention the water temp on the last dive... surprisingly enough the big swell we had didn't seem to drop the temp any. Bob and I were both still seeing 79 degrees on our computers.

Today I'm finishing up cleaning up our vacation rental as we have renters coming in tonight. The rental and the immediate yard in front of it were spared any of the flood damage. We've finsihed cleaning the mud out of the garage and have sandbagged around the back end of the house to hopefully keep it getting wet again if we have another huge rain. We talked with someone from the county and they told us to hang tight before re-doing the yard as a coffee farm above us is where the waterflow problem is and they'll havve to fix their property to keep ours from getting nailed on huge rains. Hopefully "huge" means huge, we've seen 3 rains in the last two weeks that flooded us out, but all three were more rain in less time than we've had in years.... anywhere from 3.5 inches to 7.5 inches in a couple of hours each storm. That's not normal for our area. For now the weather is looking great and hopefully the ground will dry out a bit so it can hold water again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Great weather, great water conditions, great diving....


This was our first day back out with a charter since the weather and water took a turn for the worse almost a couple weeks back. It's actually been diveble the last couple of days but we didn't have anything scheduled. Kona's nice for diving in that with our rocky shores, the water doesn't really get messy/muddy, if the wind and surf comes up and make it poor for diving all's you have to do is wait it out and you'll have good conditions again in a day or so. We had 70-80 feet of viz on the dives today in the shallows, better out on the edge of the reef.

We got to the first site and the viz looked fabulous, so I took the perrogative and chose to lead the first dive while Bob played Captain. It was good to get back in the water again, got to see some fun stuff, including Flame Wrasses (my pictures turned out horrible) and Flame Angelfish. On the second dive I stayed up top and Bob led a drift dive. They saw a Dragon Moray! Bob has all the luck!

Now normally nothing happens up top to make the day memorable for the Captain, but today was a bit different. One of my friendly competitors (actually most of the Kona dive operators are a friendly bunch and get along fairly well) stopped by and the whole boat (crew and passengers) creamed me with snowballs... one even did a real good ear shot that I had to let melt out. It's been blizzarding up on the mountain and the owners of that particular company went up the mountain and packed up a bunch of snow last night. I'm going to have to look into a good high powered water canon... and just when they least expect it....

Later,

Steve

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Whoohoo!! The power's on this evening.... also.... Time lapse photography with the Canon G9


Aloha,

We've had a heck of a week here. Following the floods of last week, we had a single decent diving day and then things started to go downhill. By earlier this week, pretty much every boat in Kona was off the water due to a cold front that brought in strong southwest winds to do battle with the northwest surf. The winds started getting fairly strong over land a couple of days ago and we've had a bunch of power outages. We've spent most of the last 2 days without power at home.

Yesterday brought in another freak rain. I'd heard last week we had something in the neighborhood of 7.5 inches of rain in a few hours. Last night it was close. It didn't seem like it rained that hard for that long, but our neighbor's 4 inch rain gauge was overflowing after he emptied it yesterday morning. Pat talked to someone locally at her work that had a 6 inch gauge overflow yesterday. At any rate we had rivers in the yard again just 20 minutes into the rain, at least they didn't take more of the yard with them. We've been sort of lucky compared to some, the South Kona Fruit stand was basically oblitterated by a rockslide... they cleaned it up and Tuesday afternoon looked as though they could open later this week... today it was full of rock again, water was still running in the non-stream next to the stand earlier today.

I wanted to try the time lapse function on the camera. I got home a bit late to get the front end of the sunset but got the tail end. We're entering the season of spectacular sunsets. This is the tail end of the cold front, about 58 seconds into the video you can see some rain falling. Apparently the cold front is beginning to wrap around and threaten Kauai again so we may be seeing more rain soon - it's rare that we get more than 2-3 days of poor weather in a streak.

later,

Steve

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sloppy water in Kona the last few days...

Aloha,

We've hit a rare little stretch where the water is quite rough. Surfers are probably loving it, but it's not great for diving in. On the manta dive the other night it was pretty nice, but the surge was coming up. On the way home the winds were sort of battling the swell and it was a rough ride, and it seems to have more or less stayed that way for a couple of days. This afternoon I could hear the surf from my home, which is about 2.5 miles by road and over a mile as the crow flies from the ocean. I'm hoping it settles down, the news said to expect big swells on Oahu - sometimes they hit us, sometimes they are blocked by Oahu and Maui.

The picture above was taken by Pat on a dive a couple of weeks back, it's a semi-closeup shot of a cushion star. The neat thing about this photo is the critter that was on it - here's a closeup....
This is some type of Imperial Shrimp which hangs out on the cushion stars. Different colored stars will have shrimp that more or less match the color of the star fish, so they're tough to find lots of the time. You'll also often find tiny little crabs and bristle worms and such on these stars.

Later,

Steve

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sunset from the manta dive.


Here's a sunset from the manta dive last week.

Today I had charters in the morning and evening. When I packed up my camera today, I forgot to pull out the memory card from the computer... which seems to practically guarantee we'll see something interesting I can't take a picture of... as it so happened, I noticed a fin sticking up on the way to our first dive site and slowed down to find a good sized pelagic manta ray. These guys are different than the manta rays we typically see on the night dive, they're solid black and typically larger than the ones we see regularly. We were able to put our divers in with it for a few minutes.

Tonight's manta dive was very good. Bob said there was probably at least a dozen. We had a pretty sloppy ride home (northwest swell and southwest winds sort of stacks things up) and pretty good surge on the dive, but the divers had a great time.

Later,

Steve

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Had some flash floods in Kona yesterday. One came through our yard....



I wanted to post this yesterday, but our cable/internet was down for over a day.

After yesterday's charter the weather started looking bad. I called my evening clients to give them a heads up that they could cancel if they wanted but they said they'd prefer to meet me at the regular time and we'd look at conditions before making a decision. 20 minutes later the thunderstorms began and I got a call saying they'd take a raincheck... good idea.

Pat was in town so I met up with her and we went to lunch at the Harbor House (which is a great place for lunch and a beer at Honokohau Harbor) and we're stopping off at Macy's on the way home when we got a call from my parents (who arrived for a visit the night before). They said a veritible river, full of boulders, was coming out of our driveway and blocking Napo'opo'o road. I'm telling them "oh, that happens all the time" thinking it's the typical 4-6 inches deep of water streams with rocks tumbling through that we often see in very heavy rains. Turns out the Captain Cook area had several inches of water in about a half hour to an hour and a culvert on the highway almost a mile above us failed and rerouted water from the usual flood zone. It really was a river for a short time. The upper highway was shut down in two locations, and our main road was shut down at our driveway so there was no going south of Captain Cook for a couple of hours. Traffic was at a standstill so by the time I got home it was getting dark so I didn't really get to see everything.

Anyway... I guess this is a continuation of my "living in paradise is cool" thread, but a bit more extreme than mice, rats and bugs. So far this week the biggest oddity we'd had was ants nesting in an unused showerhead...I can live with that more readily than what happened yesterday. We'll be cleaning up the yard for a long long time.....

Here's a little video of the damage, keep in mind most of the rocky stuff you see in this used to be lawn. The kayak is normally stored next to the house, and we just found our garbage can in the pineapples, it's also normally kept up at the house. The segment at the end is actually of what was jungle above our property just above the neighbor's driveway, now it looks like a road as the water took out everything it it's path. This video is long and boring, but my relatives who've been here might find it interesting

Later,

Steve

PS: By the way, we had a little earthquake tonight too. I'm still waiting on a wrecker to lift the car off it's boulder, luckily it didin't move or fall into the trench.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Here's a macro shot with the Canon g-9



I took advantage of the sun today to take a shot of one of the plants outside of our house. The camera can get much closer, but I wanted to show a bit more of the bloom. This is a closeup photo of a Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) which is found in many Hawaiian gardens.

Later,

Steve

Test, test, test...



I stumbled across a different video hoster while checking out another local blog so I thought I'd try uploading a manta video I've posted a couple of times over the years. The hosting service is called Brightcove and uses the latest Adobe Flash codecs, supposedly it might be a little better than what I've been using, I looked at the old video (June 24th, 2007) and couldn't see a lot of difference.

later,

Steve

Hardly a cloud in the sky in Kona today....


It's a gorgeous day in Kona today. There weren't any clouds over Hualalai (the volcano over Kailua) earlier today. One of these days I need to get a shot of the mountain to show.

Here's a Gold Lace Nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentis) that Pat took a photo of the other day. We find them under archways and cave mouths quite frequently. Pat took this with her Canon A620... she's drooling over my G9 now, primarily because of the large LCD it has, even though the A620 is a very capable camera.

Been fairly busy on the boat the last little bit. Bob and Cathy (she gave me permission to use her name so she'll get mentioned every now and then) have handled the diving the last couple of days. Lot's of long time Kona divers might recognize Cathy as she's been working the Kona area dive boats off and on since the late 70s or early 80s. She brings a wealth of Captain and Divemaster experience along with her.

Water temp... Bob and I are seeing 79 on our Suunto computers, Cathy saw 75 or so on her computer... I tend to go with the Suunto readings myself, but it could be a degree or two cooler.

Latest on the mantas... we did a manta night dive two nights ago... it was spectacular, with 13 of them showing up... so much for the theory that they don't show on the full moon, as this was the most in a few weeks. We had low amounts of plankton early in the month and tht tends to slow the show a bit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coming to Kona for Christmas? Better reserve early....


Aloha,

Just thought I'd post a couple of little items now that the holiday season is upon us. It seems almost every year lately I get people inquiring around mid-December asking for recommendations for places to stay for the holidays. I'll say it now.... now's the time to make as many arrangements as possible. Air and hotel first... immediately arrange for a rental car as Kona is not a place to be without one for most people... then start working on your activities. You may find if you wait 'til early or mid-December that you'll be out of luck in at least one of those areas.

This is sort of a followup from my post earlier about reserving early. I thought I'd bring it up again as I already have 6 days between the 20th of December and 5th of January fully booked already, but I still have loads of space avaiable on the other days as of yet. In an ideal world I'd always be scheduled out at least a week or two in advance year round, but that won't be the case for a long while I suspect as I haven't been around for a decade or more just yet as a business, but it may happen for a period this holiday season... I suspect other dive operators are in the same position.

By the way, since the inquiries are coming in, I won't be scheduling any training dives from the middle of December through the middle of January except for short notice stuff, and that's IF I have availability at the time. It's basically myself, Bob and one other part timer (I haven't asked her if I can use her name on the blog yet) running the show and while I expect to work every day during the holidays, I need to give them some time off.... with intros and Open Water students it wouldn't happen, so I'll leave that stuff to the larger operators 'til I see how the schedule continues to shake out.

Here's a shot of the boat that Pat took from the water the other day.

Later,

Steve

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Canon G9 video taken underwater...



Bob had some customers/friends that have dove with him over the years and has been handling the dives the last couple of days. Yesterday I took a quick 35 minute dive between dives while they were having their surface interval. Here's most of the dive compressed into about 8 minutes. Highlights were, cleaner wrasses working a variety of fish, parrotfish feeding on corals, a spotted eagle ray, the biggest unicorn tang I've seen in a long time, garden eels, anthias, various trigger fish, a juvenile razor wrasse, a rather large toby, a helmet snail chasing down a meal, a whitemouth moray hunting with groupers, a large school of heller's barracuda and more....

The camera takes pretty good video. This was just taken with the standard underwater setting at all depths. I didn't try to customize the white balance as I basically was just cruising around shootinng and not trying to do anything special. The soundtrack's a bit wierd, it was the only thing I could find on Youtube that was the appropriate length.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Living in Paradise is cool!


We had a mouse run across the floor just now. Pat thought is was cute. After years of spiders, roaches and other not-so-cool critters that have almost become part of our everyday life (OK, maybe not everyday, we are terminix customers) over time, we're becoming fairly desensitized. A few years ago we had polynesian tree rats go crazy in the area... now they were cute, hopping around like pint sized kangaroos. I suspect we'll be setting out traps soon.

Aloha,

Steve

So, when should you place your dive outing reservations?

I started to write a long look at reserving activities, then I realized it was just a bunch of paragraphs that really didn't say much...



...so here it is in a nutshell. There really is no hard and fast rule for reserving activities when traveling, but if it were me, I'd pick the thing or two I really want to do, and reserve it in advance so I know it's locked in, leave some open time in case I get there and discover something interesting I want to do, then go from there.

What brought this on is one little thing... Christmas is coming. Quite often I get lots of calls around 8pm looking for a dive tomorrow morning, it seems to happen almost every day during Christmas week - Sometimes I can make it happen, oftentimes I can't, it's much more difficult at that time of year.... I suspect this is true with most dive operators, especially during the busiest times.

In Kona, our absolute busiest time for dive and other water oriented operators is probably Christmas week. Depending on what day Christmas falls on the calendar, it can go from slow/steady to crazy/busy overnight around the 18th-22nd of December and continue on 'til a few days after the first of the year. My guess is that at least one or more of the most established dive companies will probably have their entire holiday schedule nearly completely set by the 2nd or 3rd week of December. I may not be there yet, being comparatively new to some, but I expect I'll be filling up a good portion of my seats in advance this year.

... So remember, the early bird catches the boat (or something like that). If you are heading to a tourist destinaton this holiday season, it might not hurt to schedule some of your priorities in advance, especially if you have a particular provider in mind.

Above is a picture of an Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus). In the aquarium trade we'd normally see these show up as a "Christmas" wrasse, but there is another wrasse that occasionally show up when a Christmas wrasse was ordered that Hoover's book has with that name (Get 5 books, you'll probably see 2 names on several fish, scientific names even seem to change every now and then as species classification evolves). Oooohh.... Christmas wrasse, how apropos, considering this is sort of a Christmas topic.

Later,

Steve

Long day for me today....


We had a fun charter with a couple that have been diving with us off and on for several years. I played captain for both dives as I agreed to fill in for a few days at the job I had at the airport last spring as they were shorthanded and I had a light schedule this week. I got off work at the airport just before midnite, so I'm up way past my normal bedtime right now. The biggest highlights of todays dives were dolphins underwater and a good sized Dragon Moray Eel (wish I'd been on the dive with camera in hand for that one). They saw plenty of other great stuff, but those two sightings aren't typical of just any dive day here in Kona.

I've been playing around with the camera trying a few things that wouldn't work with the cameras I've had before this just to see if it could be done with this one. This shot is uncropped, on board flash only, taken from about 20-24 inches away. The fish is maybe an inch long, if that, might be more like 3 quarters of an inch. This camera has a bunch more zoom power than my last one. Purists might cringe, because I went into digital zoom, on top of the regular optical zoom, to get this shot. I tried shooting lots of pics this way, not many of them turned out, so I'll likely keep shooting critters that are more forgiving when it comes to actually getting close. I'm not sure what species this goby is, it's not in Hoover's book.

Good night,

Steve

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today's dives were a blast....


We went diving today and had a great time. The gentleman who was stuffed up yesterday was much better today and joined us. We dove at Hoover's, which is just off the north end of the Kona airport and at Kaloko Arches/ Kaloko Canyons or whatever you choose to call it.

I had something interesting happen with the camera housing - started clouding up and got a spot or two of moisture in it so it went back to the boat - turned out to be a hair on the o-ring. Hair on the o-rings of housings has killed many a camera over the years, I lucked out. I'm going to relube and reseat the o-ring and take it diving to a reasonable depth before taking the camera out on the boat again

Bob led the first dive, we swapped captain's duties after the first dive so I'd have a chance to dive. Both of these sites are great and are among my faovorites over here. Highlights of the dives were nudibranchs, psychedelic wrasses, several flame angels, flame wrasses (can't wait to get a shot of those), a male whitley's boxfish that I'm pretty sure is not the one I've been seeing lately, as well as lots of other goodies.

The shots above are of one of the local triggerfish. In the aquarium trade we called this the Picasso trigger, Hoover's book has it listed as a Lagoon Trigger (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) and one of it's cousins (which I knew as the Rectangulate trigger back in the fish store days) as the Picasso. Anyway, they are cool looking for sure. We don't see them on the dives all that often as they stay shallow, often in say 5-10 feet of water. This guy was at the Place of Refuge right out front of the entry spot when I was coming off my dive the other morning.

Aloha,

Steve

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First underwater pics with Canon G9 digital camera with Canon WP-DC21 housing


I went for a long shallow dive (106 minutes, still had roughly 1200 psi left) the other day and took some shots with the new camera. I realized only today that I had a bunch of focusing problems because the camera was using it's default focus method which takes most of what's in the picture into account, and I really wanted to do a spot focus so I could pick exactly what I wanted in focus. This Yellow Margin Moray Eel did turn out quite nice using the default focus though.

We had a fun charter today. One of my passengers showed up obviously stuffed up so I suggested he take the day off. He's also scheduled for tomorrow, if he's cleared up by then he'll be joining us ... otherwise Pat, myself and a friend will go fishing and diving and call it a holo holo day.

later,

Steve

Friday, November 09, 2007

OK, now this is wierd.... Sombody "borrowed" my long forgotten video...

So I was showing Pat the video from the G9 I put on Youtube on the last post and noticed they've added a new feature at the end of the clips where they show related images.... so I click on one and some music comes up and then the images start and gosh they look familiar... turns out it's some stuff I shot back in 2000/2001 on my Sony trv-120 and put on this webpage http://www.wanna-dive-kona.com/kona_diving_videos.htm back in '01 that I haven't updated since since I stopped carrying a video camera when I got real busy with instructing. I actually posted the octopus portion of this video back in November of '06 (check the archives). Turns out apparently some instructor in the UK must of liked it, put some of it to music and loaded it onto Youtube.... Here's his version of my stuff....


It's kind of neat to music, I probably should pull the video camera out of mothballs and try shooting some stuff and try editing myself, or I may see what I can do with the new point and shoot at least as my old video housing's seen better days.

Steve

Canon G9 video underwater, in Kona Hawaii



Just playing around with the new camera. The video looks pretty darned good straight out of the camera. Youtube compresses it a great deal so it's not quite as nice. I did a dive this afternoon just for fun with the camera. I've got to learn the Canon menu, but a few things turned out fairly Ok and look as though when I go into photoshop I'll be able to get them looking the way I want.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

No rain today, just wind....

When all else fails, take a blurry picture, photoshop the heck out of it and call it an attempt at "art". Anyway, this file fish was really cool, very teethy, but out of focus.

Today's charter went well. We had 3 divers and a snorkeler and Bob took them down. I'm still waking up with a headache from whatever's going around...Pat has it too. We had a pretty brisk northwest breeze today, as well as a strong south swell that is supposed to be dropping tonight. The "new" boat's doing just fine. Bob commented afterwards that with four passengers on the boat, it felt like it used to with just two - the extra space from removing the inboard engine, as well as the additional storage space I had put in seems to really help. anyway, the group had a couple of nice dives... lots of eels, a male Whitley's boxfish, cleaner shrimp, anthias, Dragon wrasses and lots of other stuff.

Tomorrow we're doing the manta dive. I hadn't done it in quite a while, but it's been hopping. Apparently there were 24 mantas at the site on Halloween evening and roughly a dozen or so most every night since. It'll be fun getting back out on the water at night. It's always cool coming back with the stars out and the lights on the hillside... hopefully this low pressure system will be gone so we'll see the stars.

Later,

Steve

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Hawaii weather report is.... WET

Friday evening on the news, they announced a flash flood warning for the entire state through late Tuesday night. We haven't had that much "weather" in Kona, but it poured on Sunday. Apparently they had real rain troubles on Oahu. It's gorgeous today so far, but I won't be surprised if we see a few more downpours later today or tomorrow.

I've been working on the boat getting it ready for charter. I just have to finish the main cabin door and hang it, along with a few other little things. Tomorrow we start chartering again. So far I have charters lined up for Tuesday, Wednesday evening, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. November in the past has typically been my slowest month, so it's not looking too bad from here on.

Here's a couple of shots of the cockpit of the boat. That's me, dirty shirt and all (much to my wife's horror), sitting on the transom and coming out of the cuddy cabin.It's a bit difficult to get a handle on the size of the boat. It's not a huge boat by any means, but I'm at about 245 lbs (I gotta work on that) and take up a fair amount of space and there's plenty of room for several more like me, so it's not exactly a canoe either. I'll post a photo of the front area some other time.

Aloha,

Steve

Friday, November 02, 2007

New Camera.... Canon G9 with housing for underwater photography....



Well, I done did it. I've been debating about sending my camera back to Olympus to see if they could repair the flash, buying another camera, or just living with manual white balance 'til I could afford a new camera in the spring.... then Pat said the magic words... "Bill me later". I was unaware of this, but many of the big photo/electronics companies contract out with bill-me-later.com to offer 6 months free interest for their goods. That's about perfect timing for me, so it was done after two days of research.

Here's the camera I chose...



I also picked up the housing for it. The Amazon link actually has pretty good pricing for both the camera and housing (which is available as an accessory), I paid a few extra bucks at the time getting it from a company that had the delayed billing options.

One little story on shipping... very fast and efficient through UPS, however we tracked it and for some reason it actually spent a day in Taiwan after it first reached Honolulu. A couple of years back we brought in something that made it to Honolulu within 12 hours of ordering, somehow went back to the mainland, then back to Honolulu before getting to Kona on time. Gotta wonder about that Honolulu office, neither Taiwan nor the mainland are in a direct line between Honolulu and Kona.

Now I have to figure out how to use the Canon menus and the darned software they send with the camera. I accidently took this photo in RAW and had to figure out how to convert it to JPEG, which I somehow did but can't repeat as it was more or less a random accident that I managed it on this photo. Once I recover from my little bug that's gone to my lungs I'll dive and give a full report on the camera.

Aloha,

Steve

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Kona Hawaii Scuba Diving Blog has turned two...


Aloha!

I've just realized the blog's over two years old and has over 300 posts. I'm about flat out of pictures that are decent. This is a shot of a Leaf Scorpionfish I took a couple of years back, there's another angle of it very early in the blog. Feel free to go back through the archives to see lots of underwater photos, as well as an excess of verbiage.

Been busy the last little bit... some charters off my friend's boat.... some chasing around for my boat and trailer.... and a whole lot of worrying.... but the boat is back, and so far it seems better than ever. We've had it out the last few days breaking in the new engines and getting used to the differences in the handling. It's been pretty choppy on the water and I've only had it up to three quarter's throttle so far, but it moves pretty good. I've got enough time on the engines I can run it at full throttle for a couple minutes if I want, it's been a little too choppy on the water to do that so far, the reality is I'll probably never run it over 4200 rpm on charters unless it's really flat and we need to cover ground.

Today I didn't go out, I picked up some sort of a bug and I took it easy. Tomorrow I've got to do a few things and then go bolt the hatches back on the boat and it'll be ready to take pictures of, so expect some pics in thenext few days. I have charters starting up again for a stretch next week, so I'm glad the boat's ready again.

Later,

Steve

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arc-eye Hawkfish


This Arc-Eye Hawkfish is probably one of the last pics I took with my Olympus sp350 before the flash went out. One of these days I may send it back in for repair as it's a pretty darned good camera still even without the flash, but for now I have a different plan... yup, I ordered a new point and shoot camera and housing, thank goodness for 6 month free financing programs some companies offer. More about the new camera later when it shows up.

The boat is really coming along, when I went by today at 3:30 they were wiring in the last of the deck lights and the red over white over red restricted maneuverability lights (they're sort of the night time version of a dive flag). The engines appeared ready to go, but they hadn't installed Raycor filters (oversized fuel filters with water separators) just yet and I told them I had to have them on the boat. It may be done already, I can't wait to get tomorrow's charter off and see if it's ready to start breaking in the engines as I need to get a couple days of running time in before I charter it.

We had some good dives today. I'd actually been out of the water for quite a while, between running around getting nowhere with the boat, renting another boat that had it's own Captain, the mainland trip and a prolonged lung bug, so it was good to get back in the water. Someone turned me onto the possibility of Hawaiian Flame Wrasses at a particular dive site and I was able to find a few. They do not look as spectacular underwater in natural lighting as they do in pictures due to lack of light (at depth, reds seem to be the first color to go - just cut yourself at about 90 feet and you'll see green blood come out) , hopefully I can get a few good shots in with the new camera at some point.

That's it for now,

Steve

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Underwater flash for Olympus camera housings...

I've been thinking about cameras lately since mine have been on the fritz.

Many of the popular cameras actually have underwater housings available and Pat and I have housed several digital cameras over the last few years. The onboard flash on most of them has it's limits and many people look for extra light by adding an external flash. Last year I picked up an Olympus flash and it's appropriate housing for my Olympus SP 350 set up, but it was so bulky I never really used it.

The other day I was checking things out and found this new offering by Olympus...
Olympus UFL 1 - Underwater flash - 14 (m) It's a stand alone underwater flash that is compatible with many of the Olympus underwater camera housings that have a hot shoe, offering TTL exposure without the hassle of wires and strobe trays. I wish they had it back when I was looking. This Amazon price is actually a very good deal, as a housed Olympus flash will cost much more, and trying to get TTL exposure with another brand of flash will run you some serious dollars and effort.

I'll leave you with a sunset photo from quite a while ago. I may have posted it a couple years back, but it may have been a vertical shot rather than horizontal.


Aloha,

Steve

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fred is dead.

My wife had pretty much tamed the male day gecko (it would eat from her hand) that hung out with it's conterpart, Wilma, on the espresso maker in the kitchen. We hadn't seen Fred in a couple of days and cleaned out the fridge and found him in the back of it. There's been another male hanging out trying to horn in on Fred's action, so I guess this is his chance, he'd been run off with major head bobbing, body leaning and tongue sticking out threats 'til now. Here's a link to a pic of Fred before the permafrost incident.

So barring any further missing pieces.... I finally have a pretty good idea of when I get the boat back. Whoohoo!!! The paint job is basically done, I'll be enameling the cabin interior after all the wiring is done. The engines have been mounted in place for weeks, but now the throttle and shifting and steering cables are in place, the new ladder's up, the GPS is in, they were hooking up the running lights and stereo when I was by earlier. After that it's just the fuel and power, a couple more things I need (courtesy lights, red/white/red restricted maneuverability lights, macerator pump for the fish hold and a couple other items) and it's ready to go to sea trial. I suspect I'll get it Thursday and then I can take it out for a couple days to break in the engines and do some other stuff I need to get it ready for charter. Finally... I didn't believe them when they said "three weeks" but I never figured it'd be almost 5 months.

The weather's been pretty nice lately. We had some nice cool mornings this week as though winter is coming, but it's kind of muggy this evening. Just another typical fall day here.

Later,

Steve

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back from the mainland....

I just returned from the mainland. All I can say is Brrrr it's cold compared to here, at least in Oregon, especially the last week or so. I hadn't planned to go anywhere this fall, but I had a break in the charters and thought it'd be a good idea to visit my family and my wife (she's in Oregon for 6 weeks doing a practical portion of her doctorate she's been working on) while I had the opportunity. I hadn't been back in several years so it was about time.

What does one do when they go to Oregon from Hawaii... I can basically answer that by saying "I'm full of burritos". Boy do they have mexican food there these days, and boy do I need to back on my diet - I'm heavier than I've been in about 4 years, still not up to what I' have been, but it's time to turn it around. I'm not sure if I made I through a single day without some type of mexican food. I did get to see a monumental 4th quarter implosion at the OSU - UCLA football game, nothing like going from 2 points up to 30 points down in about 7 minutes. Yuck, we'll get 'em next year! Well, besides the good eats, I did get a chance to drive around and see some of the changes of the last 5-9 years. It was a relatively quick trip and if I was there for an extended time there'd be plenty do do beyond eating and football.

Now that I'm back, I'm playing catch up with e-mail and everything else. I had a charter this morning and also checked on the status of the boat. It's primed and supposedly ready to spray. There was a kid wiping all the dust and rain out of it today. Hopefully they'll spray it today, elsewise it'll just get dusty and rainspotted again by tomorrow. I'd hoped it would be beyond that and to the mechanical stages. If they spray it today, they'd need to put down the non-skid and the final touches and it's ready to go to the mechanic.

This guy is a Longspine Porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) also called a spiny puffer or spiny ballonfish. They're tough to get a good face shot of, I had to sit way back and zoom in on it, so the shot's a bit grainy.

Aloha,

Steve

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bandit Angels from Kona Hawaii....



Here's a couple of Bandit Angels (Desmoholocanthus arcuatus) from a dive the other week. Hawaii only has a limited number of angelfish species on their reefs, most of which are dwarf species ranging to only 2-4 inches in length, Bandits however reach about 7 inches in length. These guys are not real common, but we've got a couple of spots where there's a good shot at seeing them.

So the latest on the boat is... it's still being worked on. Longest 3 weeks of my life... Anyways, it's really starting to shape up. It sat once again for a short while but we've got someone working on it now. We're fabricating new hatch covers, moving fuel lines/vents/etc, finishing the interior grinding/sanding/fiberglassing and such and it should be ready for paint hopefully sometime next week. After that it'll need about 6-10 hours of work - that's probably a week in mechanic's time - and it'll be done. I've got all my charters pretty much set for the rest of the month on my friend's boat and then hopefully I'll be able to hit the ground running after a couple days of runnning it. Pat and I will probably be in the poor house when the final bills hit, but the rebuild beats building one from scratch. When it's all done you'll likely be seeing a big post with lots of pictures... early on I thought I'd post pictures while it was all being done, but frankly it looks pretty horrible when you are in the middle of it.

Other Kona news. The NEW HIGHWAY is open - sort of. They've been working on a new highway coming into Kailua, starting at about the harbor, for about a year and a half. The new section opened up about a week ago, and they promplty redirected all traffic on to it and have torn up the existing highway to rebuild it, so we're still operating on basically a 2 lane road (one in each direction) for a while. At least you can tell what the plan is though.

Gotta hit the hay, I've got a charter in the morning. Later,

Steve

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is a test... google map image of Honokohau Harbor public ramp area....


View Larger Map

People are always wondering how to meet the boat and I have to give out directions all the time. I've realized you can do a lot with google maps and figured I'll see if I can link an image here before I mess with it on my business website.


Cool... it works! You can zoom in and out, you can grab it and slide it one way or another to see what's off in other directions, all the usual google map stuff. Neat toys on the internet these days... One could keep busy for a while just looking at the coastline satellite image. For those of you unfamiliar with google maps, assuming you have an image above, click on the minus at the top left a couple of times and the picture will zoom out a bit, then you can run your cursor over the image and you'll see a hand icon, click on it and drag your mouse, or you can click on the directional arrows at the top left, and the image will move with it and show more... you can zoom in or out at any time, kind of a neat way to get a feel for the area.

I'll update more tomorrow... haven't been posting much lately.

Aloha,

Steve

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Frogfish seen while scuba diving Kona Hawaii.


Here's a young frogfish, maybe 3.5 inches long or so. These guys start yellow and then tend to change colors to blend in with their envirnment. I wish I had a camera with a working flash when I took this. I may break out one of our older cameras to use 'til I can get the current one fixed.

So I haven't posted in a bit. Lots of stuff going on, but little action on the boat renovation until this week. The interior cosmetic work is now coming along quickly and I'm thinking it may be ready for all the electrical in a couple of days. I'm trying to find someone who can re-sew the seams on my canopy in fairly quick order. The old ones were falling apart so now's the time to take care of it. Pat's got a pretty good machine, but it can't quite go through several layers of sunbrella material, as well as the piping on the edge.

We've had some very nice dives. As far as water temperature goes, we're still seeing mostly 79-81 degrees on the dives. My personal highlights the last couple of weeks include this frogfish. Probably the best find, although I have no photographic evidence as I didn't have the camera that day, was a "family" of 4 Green Lionfish (Dendrochirus barberi) all on one coral head. They ranged in size from around 2 to about 4.5 inches in length. We don't see them too often, and usually just one or two at a time.

I'll try to get back in the habit of posting a bit more.

Aloha,

Steve

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!

Steve

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.

Steve

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.

Later,

Steve

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,

Steve

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 update....11:20am...no 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.

Steve

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.

Aloha,

Steve

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.

Later,

Steve

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.

Later,

Steve

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....

Howdy,

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.



Later,

Steve

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.

later,

Steve

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!!

Aloha,

Steve

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

...Becoming one with the fish...


I'm hoping Bob doesn't mind me posting this. It's a pic I snapped the other day. It's interesting in that I've tried numerous times to get a decent shot of the goatfish we have that hang out in large groups at several of our dive sites. I've always tried with the flash, and now that the flash doesn't work, I tried it using manual white balance... much better. It turned out quite nice in my opinion.

These goatfish are cool in that sometimes there's nearly maybe a couple thousand in this group, and if you approach them quietly you can pretty much blend in and feel like part of the group.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ostracion Meleagris - Blue Boxfish....


This is a picture of a male Blue Boxfish I took last month before my flash died on the camera. The blue really pops out on this one.

It was a gorgeous day today. We've had a fair amount of rain the last couple weeks, but it's been dry today.

The manta dive has been hopping... we had 10 last night and Bob and my friend, who's boat I'm using, are out on another charter tonight with another group. Our little stretch of charters is done for a few days after tonight and then it get's busy again.

OK... Whohoo!! On the charter two days ago we went to a site where we had a fish that is among our more rare fish here in Kona - the cousin of the Blue Boxfish, the Whitley's Boxfish. We actually see the females of this particular species with good frequency, but the males are very infrequent. I've seen one maybe 5 times, Bob's seen one in Kona maybe once or twice (we've both seen dragon morays more than male Whitley's). So I briefed it and described it and one of my customers actually found it on the site!!!! I didn't have enough time to wait for it to get into a good lighting situation (remember, my flash died) but I did manage to snap a couple shots that at least showed up. I'll post pictures of it a post or two from now.

Speaking of rare fish!! Tonight's charter was sort of a divided charter, we did the first dive with a couple of divers, and then met another group who was going to dive on the night dive. On the first dive, Bob found a Hawaiian Morwong. It's the first one he's ever seen here, I've yet to see one. I'm hopeful I can see it and get a shot at some time.

later,

Steve

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another day in paradise....



We had some good dives today. I've got a fun family group of 6 on board for a few days. Today we had a couple of nice dives. Highlights of the dives included moray eels, Bandit angels, a couple of flame angels, puffers, a rather large spotted eagle ray, and other cool stuff. Oh yeah, did I mention dolphins? I took this pic this morning, it's in grayscale and the contrast is turned up so it shows... dolphins sort of blend into the blue of the ocean so it's really tough to get a great photo unless you are only a few feet away. We don't get dolphins while on dives all that often, we usually see them on the surface but not underwater, but sometimes we get lucky, this time I actually had a camera on hand. This group probably came within 20-30 feet of us a couple of times.

...more later.....

Steve