Thursday, December 20, 2007

Which wetsuit to wear for Hawaii?


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.



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 . 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.



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.



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


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....



Thursday, December 06, 2007

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


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.



Monday, December 03, 2007

Sloppy water in Kona the last few days...


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.