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.



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



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.



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.



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....


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.



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.



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... 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.



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,


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.



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.



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 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.


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.



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.



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 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.



Thursday, November 01, 2007

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


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.