Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Just an early happy new year wish for all as I'm going to be too busy to post for a few days. We've been busy the last couple of days and it'll stay that way through the holiday and then some. I may have some time to post after the 2nd or 3rd of the year.

Kona water conditions, at least for diving, have been superb the last few days, horrible for surfing as it's been glassy flat in the mornings with only some small chop in the afternoons. Hopefully it'll stay at least close to flat the next few days. We've been seeing lots of cool stuff on the dives lately, but we're still waiting for the big prize.... Whalesharks. This time of year seems to be the time that people are seeing them. My wife's boss saw them while he was fishing down south on the weekend and we've heard of other reports in the area. I'll be keeping my eyes open for a collection of boats on the water the next several days - when one boat finds one, then soon there are several as the whalesharks often stay put and check out the boats for some time.

Here's a shot of a frogfish I took back in May that I apparently haven't posted. We're seeing mostly larger ones right now, although the divers found a bright yellow medium sized one earlier today that we've not seen before.

Hopefully everyone has a great holiday.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another great day of diving in Kona today....

It was very nice conditions for today's charter. We did have some wind chop pick up after the first dive started. Today we had a couple of very nice dives.... 6, yes SIX, octopus were seen between the two dives... that's darned amazing, I think the most I've seen on a day were 3 and that was a very good day. Also seen were frogfish, several razor wrasses, several divided flatworms and nudibranchs as well as many other things.
We also had a nice active group of spinner dolphins jumping and twirling all over the place as we returned to the harbor.... always fun to see.

I hope everyone's Christmas holiday was a good one. Both Pat and I had three days off (I hate to even admit that, but it's been slow for even some of the bigger dive businesses here) and Pat and I did some things around the house and relaxed otherwise. I've got charters 10 of the next 11 days so far, so it all evens out in the end. This dive "season" has been a bit weird. I've actually had a good December, but Christmas week didn't book up a month or more in advance like last year, and then I had those three days off while the rest of the week was a pretty full boat. It'll be interesting to see what the upcoming months bring.

So here's a shot of the boat from this morning. I get people inquiring about the boat, some people are concerned by the size. It's not a huge boat by any means, but it's not a dinghy or a crowded panga either, so I thought I'd post a pic. Pat's at the back end of the boat, she went out for the day with us and took some cool pictures, I'll see if I can get some out of her.

I haven't been diving the last 5 weeks or so, so that's why most of my recent pics are topside or by Pat... that probably changes in the next couple of days... Never get old if you can help it! This turning 50 thing got me into the fitness kick, and sometimes, especially when you haven't exercised in 30 years or so, it's best to break back into it a bit slowly I guess. I'm thinking crunches on a big ball did me in. I feel normal the last two days for the first time in weeks so I think I'll take it slower this time. ....Anyway, I can't wait to get back in the water again.

Tonight I get a shot at my annual cry.... "The Sound of Music" is on ABC. That one almost always does me in for some reason.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's two days before Christmas, and you couldn't pick a better day for diving conditions in Kona...

I hope this keeps up for a bit.

Untitled from Steve on Vimeo.

We had dolphins just outside the harbor, whales on the water on the way to the first dive, whales about a third of a mile outside the divesite on the second dive (they weren't singing, so the divers were unaware of them but I got a good look), and the divers saw a lot of good stuff on their dives.



Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fuchsia Flatworm (Pseudoceros ferrugineus) - Wooohooo, my business is certified terrorist free!!!!

OK, so that's a weird title. The first part is obvious... it's a picture of a fuchsia flatworm that Pat took a while back. These usually top out at about two inches in length and we're always thrilled to see them... the second part is not so obvious unless you are a Captain...

A while back the TSA put in new regulations that basically stated any Coast Guard Captain or worker that had to enter a secure port has to go through a Homeland Security background check. The Coast Guard decided that read "any Coast Guard Captain, or any worker that had to enter a secure port" and now requires all Captains to go through the background check whether they ever need to go into a secure port or not. Funny thing is, we all have to go through a Homeland Security background check just to get the original or renewed Captain's license anyway, so it's a redundant background check.

So now Bob, Cathy and I have these fancy new digital ID chip embedded security cards we have to carry around for basically no reason. Technically, if the local Guard wants to enforce it, if we're not carrying them and they board us we can lose our licenses. The sad thing is, it's strictly a TSA ID card, and isn't acceptable as ID proof of being a Captain if we get boarded by the Coast Guard so we've still got to haul around our jumbo licenses every time we're on a boat. It'll be curious if we'll ever need to show them... they don't even have date of birth on them so they're useless as proof of age ID (you never know, we're all over 50 and maybe qualify for some sort of senior discount somewhere).



Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's a banana buffet....

It's a bright sunny day today in Kona an the day geckos are out in force looking for fruit. We've had a bunch of bananas ripening and there were geckos crawling all over them.



Friday, December 19, 2008

...the sharks at this site, their mouths are this big....

Here's a shot of Cathy giving a pre-dive briefing. OK, she's not really talking about sharks, probably something more innocuous like the length of coronet fish. At each site we like to talk about the things you are likely to see at the site. Many fish are territorial and so at most of our sites we've got a good idea of what you'll see and we try to point out a few highlights before the dive.

So our yucky weather and water conditions last week was relatively short lived. It's been gorgeous out on the water the last few days. They were predicting a big swell by now last weekend... couldn't tell it by today as it was nice and flat. We've seen lots of neat stuff the last few days. The highlight of yesterday and today both was dolphins underwater. We were up at "Hoover's" up by the airport yesterday on the second dive and there was a huge group of dolphins that came by spread out from around the corner up north during the dive, the divers saw about 30 of them, they came down to the boat and turned around and passed our divers again... but this time they all passed right over and around our divers, Cathy figured there were at least a 100 that they saw on that pass. Today Bob did Naia/Crescent Beach/Manta Ray bay (or whatever it's called, depending on the operator) on the second dive and had 12-15 or so come by him and his diver (very light load the last couple of days, several companies didn't even go out today).

The water temp is still in the upper 70's, but it's feeling a bit cooler. Tomorrow we're doing a night dive trip. We did one earlier in the week and had 2 mantas early on, but only one stayed for the bulk of the dive. One's enough to give a pretty good show, but we love it when there's more.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter snow season has arrived in Hawaii...

I took the liberty of stealing this picture off the Keck observatory webcam on this webcam page that has live webcam shots of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. I'm not sure if this is one of the first snows of the year or not up there, but it was a pretty good snowfall by the looks of it.

We had a heck of a squall come through yesterday. My boat was already out and the surf was coming in crazy tight sets from the south so Cathy and Bob stayed right outside the harbor where it's protected from the south. I had a medical appointment yesterday so I was off the boat. The rain hit hard about noon time yesterday. The Big Island was soaking, but the most rain fell on the other islands... parts of Oahu got over 14 inches of rain yesterday!

Today the flood warnings are up 'til 4pm, but it's not raining right now. I looked at the Magic Seaweed Hawaii surf page last night and they were predicting 7 foot surf from due west for today, and called the divers and we decided to take a breather from today. We rarely see surf from straight west, usually it's north or south and easy to get out of. I haven't been out yet to see if the surf materialized, but if it does it won't be a pleasant day for diving anywhere on the Kona side.

Brrrrrr, it's cold.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fourspot Butterflyfish (Chaetodon quadrimaculatus)

Here's a shot of a couple 4 Spot butterfly fish that Pat took. These guys are quite attractive and fairly common, but I'm thinking they're somewhat under appreciated as I can't recall ever hearing any divemaster brief for them. We see them picking in and around corals on the reef quite often.

So our surf went down Saturday night and Sunday morning it was like glass out on the water 'til the wind picked up later on the day. This particular surf episode messed things up for about 2 days. I didn't take my camera as I wasn't diving (got some kind of infection/bug that'll keep me out of the water for a few days) and I regretted it as Sunday morning was one of those days you could see the reflections of the clouds on the water. When we got to our mooring, the water was exceptionally clear. It's amazing how it can go from nasty surf to great conditions overnight here - One of the nice thing about a young island is that the shore is mostly rock so there's little sand or soil to get stirred up and keep the viz down. Anyways, the last couple of days the diving's been terrific... 2 frogfish, a shark, dolphins underwater, a hawksbill turtle and a whole lot more for the divers. Water temp is inching down to 77/78 degrees but hasn't taken a big drop just yet.

Starting Thursday, I'll probably be running charters at least once a day for the rest of the month. I still have a couple days wide open Christmas week and several spots to fill on most of the days, but the month's filling in fast.



Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bluefin Trevally, one of the jacks we see most frequently in Kona....

Here's a cool shot Pat took of a Bluefin Trevally (Caranx melampygus) on a dive. This one's a pretty good sized one. We run into them patrolling the edge of the dropoffs fairly frequently.

The surf's up this weekend. Yesterday was really pretty bad, borderline diveable. It was down some today and we have a charter set for tomorrow. We'll take a look at it in the morning tomorrow. According to This great surf site we'll probably have 5 foot surf in the morning. It all depends on the angle it's coming in at that point as far as whether we can find good spots to dive, 5-6' stuff is usually quite doable this time of year, when it comes in straight from the west it can be a mess, but if it's from the north we can usually tuck into a flat spot.

We've been messing with computers yesterday and today. My "main" computer I've used since I started the business died about a year ago and I've been unable to access my website program since. I finally was able to retrieve the site information and get it loaded on an XP machine so I can edit the site again. My new "main" computer I picked up last year has done fine for everything but the website, my old copy of Frontpage isn't compatible with Vista, and lately it's been getting buggy and locking up on me..... rats. It looks like it's time to reformat. We're trying everything short of that today, reformatting is next. A lot of this stuff is beyond me, but luckily Pat's quite computer savvy. I'm trying to sneak a post in before the computer crashes again.



Thursday, December 04, 2008

OK, I don't normally post pictures/videos other than one's I'm sort of directly involved with... but. this one I really like....

This showed up on my google homepage and it's something I've talked about with customers from time to time over the last few years as it's something I read on the net back at least 3-5 years ago.

Watch the video first or I guess I'm giving it away... a few years back they started finding dogfish shark carcasses in the big display at the Seattle aquarium. Employees spent the night to see if they could figure out what was going on and a video showed up on the net, I'm thinking this is a re-edited version unless another public aquarium has had the same experience.

Back in the day when I dove off Newport, Oregon with my Instructor and his buddies, they'd come up talking about the octopus they'd found.... meanwhile, I saw nothing.... it was early in my diving days and I still had "tunnel vision" and more or less focused on what was directly in front of me. I remember one of them saying they found one they didn't even want to think about touching, that it might get too much of a hold on them. It appears these critters can be pretty darned strong.



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Time to fly rules.... what about driving to altitude on the Big Island of Hawaii after scuba diving in Kona?

Here's a shot Pat took of one of the white tip reef sharks that occasionally hangs out in the mouth of "suck 'em up", a lava tube we have here in Kona.

I thought I'd write a post about something that comes up for divers on the Big Island from time to time.... Driving to altitude after diving. Many visiting divers, and some that live here, don't give it a second thought, they seem to forget that not only is the Island of Hawaii BIG... it's TALL too.

For the non-divers reading this, when you go through scuba certification classes one of the things taught is the use of dive tables to track your nitrogen loading, or computer use that will do the tables for you on the dive, and the time to fly rules. I'll give a brief over-simplified version of what it's all about... Nitrogen comprises the bulk of the air we breathe, and normally it's inert and our bodies do not absorb it, but when we breathe compressed air at depth our bodies absorb nitrogen. Sudden loss of pressure, such as flying in an airplane or driving to altitude, can cause that nitrogen to fizz out of solution and cause all sorts of problems with your body. In essence what happens is similar to opening a pop bottle, the dissolved gas fizzes out of solution, but when the dissolved gas is in your blood and it fizzes out of solution into your joints and such, you're in trouble. Anyway, the easy to use guidelines you are taught in your Open Water course are to avoid this.

Most visiting divers do think about the time to fly rules... no flights within 18-24 hours of diving is common... but some think inter-island flights don't qualify as "flying" for some reason and I get the question asked of me several times a year. It's all airplanes, they fly well above the altitudes they're pressured to (generally airplanes are pressurized to an equivalent of 7000-8000 feet altitudes), so yes, inter-island flying has the same recommendations. Lots of people though tend to forget that you can drive to altitude here on the island, often times to altitudes well higher than what you'd find an airplane pressurized to. It's important to be aware of elevation changes while driving too.

Currently, I'm thinking DAN and PADI are typically suggesting you should be safely able to drive to somewhere between 1000 and 2000 foot elevations after diving without worry... don't quote me on that as I'd have to look it up to be certain. Above that elevation they're very vague. I've heard recommendations for driving to altitudes over that which are all over the board.

You can NOT drive between the Kona side of the island and the Hilo side of the island without going well above 2000 feet in elevation. The southern route will put you well over 4000 feet in the volcano area. The northern route runs through Waimea, which is at 2500 feet, and you're heading uphill when leaving Waimea, so you need to consider it to be at least 3000 feet - I don't know what the altitude peaks at on that highway. Over the top via Saddle Road, you might as well consider it to be a flight, as it approaches 7000 feet at the summit of the road. The observatories should be considered extreme altitudes, and I personally wouldn't visit them for at least a couple days after diving.

So, what do you do? The only guide I've seen on this is by NOAA. Here are the NOAA dive tables. Dive tables are only a guide, and even their no-decompression tables carry this warning: "WARNING: EVEN STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH THESE CHARTS

Anyways, to give you an idea of the time you need before heading to the other side of the island you can use their no-decompression tables and then follow up with their driving to altitude table. I'll run a relatively common, and non-aggressive dive profile run on their tables just to give you an idea.... 1st dive - 50 feet for 50 minutes, an hour and a quarter surface interval, 2nd dive - 40 feet for 50 minutes. Running that you you'll end up with a K group letter. Going to their altitude after diving chart, as a K diver you are recommended to spend at least 6 hours and 25 minutes out of the water before driving to 3000 feet, say Waimea. If the dives were any deeper or any longer, and those dives I just ran were very conservative, we often do dive days that would put you in a much higher group letter, the time you'd need to spend at sea level would be even greater.

Now in real life, there are people diving here and driving back to the other side on occasion without problems. I did hear a rumor that someone took a DCS hit driving to Waimea in the last year or two, but I can't substantiate it though. So what happens if you take a DCS hit? You're looking at a private helicopter flight over to Oahu and then a few days in the chamber is my best guess. Last numbers I heard bantied around for the cost of this (not sure if they were accurate numbers though) were fairly similar to the numbers I heard for a week's stay at the Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons... Not cheap! For me it's not worth trying to go to the other side of the island after diving. I personally won't go to Hilo after I dive 'til the next day, and if I was diving Hilo side, I'd probably rent a hotel room for the night before coming back.

Just some food for thought... before you dive and drive, you might want to pay attention to the elevation here. For most of Kona you're in pretty good shape to drive after diving if you stay below the upper highway. Above that you maybe should think about elevations and maybe spending some extra time at sea level.



Monday, December 01, 2008

Wheeeee!!!! I can fly!!!!!!

Here's a shot that Pat took on a dive some time ago. When I look at this turtle, all I can think of is that it's flying.

So I may owe someone an apology... I'm responding to e-mail this morning and the phone rings... it's a "private caller" according to my caller ID. I pick it up and get a MUCH larger than life "HI STEVE" pause "HOW ARE YOU THIS VERY FINE MONDAY MORNING" pause pause pause... I didn't respond immediately because lately I've been getting lots of sales calls with more or less the same opening, and any time I've responded they'll continue on without stating what they're calling about for more exchanges and I'm getting real tired of it. I used to play along with those calls for a while, but today I just wasn't into it. If the person who called was an actual potential customer, I really do owe them an apology.

Anyways, when I get a phone call from a blocked sender, it automatically ups the odds that it's from a salesperson about nine times, when I get the much bigger than life super-friendly person on the other end of the line the odds that it's a salesman skyrockets- in fact, I can recall only one non-sales phone call ever where it was a much larger than life caller, but that one had a name behind it on the caller ID. Hopefully I didn't ruin someone's day, I need to decide how I'll handle those calls in the future.

So other than that... It's a gorgeous day in Kona today. We've got a nice breeze and the vog's gone for now. The surf's up a bit, should be coming down for tomorrow's charter.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pololu Valley, north end of the Big Island...

Yesterday Pat and I both had the day off. My charter customers arrived on the weekend and one of them had a nasty cold so we rescheduled for later in the week. Pat and I decided to head on up to Hawi and Pololu Valley. I'd been itching to try a hike, and this one is in the moderate to moderately difficult range (for us 50 year old flabby guys anyway) and is probably a smarter one to start on than doing the Captain Cook Monument trail right off the bat.

The Pololu Valley overlook is on the north end of the west side of the Big Island. From the overlook you can hike down a trail that's roughly 3/4ths of a mile long, by my guess, and about a 500 foot elevation change. The trail is reasonably steep, with several cutbacks and consists mostly of rock and packed dirt. It took maybe 15-20 minutes in each direction for us... although Pat beat me to the top by a good minute or two... I'm still working on this fit by 50 thing... gotta turn it to fit while 50 now that the birthday's passed.
I consider this to be a high reward short hike, worth a little huffing and puffing on the way back up. There's a beach at the bottom as well as the view of the valley and some tremendous views on the way down the trail. It was blowing a pretty good gale yesterday, maybe a constant 25-30 or so, and was overcast, so it was actually pretty comfortable for hiking.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Green Market in Captain Cook Kona Hawaii....

I had the day off today and thought I'd go out for a hike, but it turned to rain so that plan was ditched. I've been wanting to hike the trail to the Captain Cook monument, to see if I can still do it after all these years (maybe a stupid thing if I make it down but have troubles on the way up). It's been very gray yesterday and today and I figured it might be a good day without sun to do the hike. Not a good idea in the rain though as it's got a 1300-1400 foot elevation change and parts of the trail would not be good when wet.

....So I checked out the Green Market that is held on Sundays in Captain Cook across from the Manago Hotel. It's a bit bigger than the picture above shows, and has a mix of locally grown produce and locally produced craft and art items. They started this Sunday market a few months back, I'm hoping it's a success and keeps up. There was a reasonable sized crowd when I went through.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Flame angels and other stuff.....

We're busy for the next little bit with a student and several certified divers. Today we had a rather strong north wind from a front that was passing by, didn't do anything to the diving but it made it look kind of rough 'til it settled down mid-day. Conditions have been pretty reasonable, we had a bit of a swell last week, but Thursday was really the only day that it made for crummy conditions. I've not personally been in the water since Wednesday, tomorrow that'll change as I plan on working with the student. Cathy said it feels as though it's cooled off the last couple of days, so it'll be curious to see if I'm noticing it or if it shows cooler on my computer. We're getting into that time of year where if a big north swell comes in the temperature drops a degree or so.

We had a fun group on the other day. I thought I'd mention it because the entire boatload was very good on air. I'm thinking the shortest dive for any in the group was in the 70 minute range, and we had two divers hit the 100 minute mark (that's real good on air and we don't see that all too often) on one dive.

Blogstuff... I added a little mapping widget on the sidebar. If you click on the map you get a larger map and can see where clicks are coming from. It's kind of interesting to see where people are popping in from, and sort of amazing that that type of information can be tracked.

So here's another Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus). I took this one using the long zoom/no flash diffuser and hope for the best method I mentioned several posts back. These guys are generally so shy you can't get within 5' of them without spooking them into the coral within seconds. Recently I found one that seems rather unphased by close company with divers, but I didn't have a camera in hand that day. I'm hoping it's there the next time I visit. Flame Angels have a very small territory and once you find them you can almost count on seeing them at the same spot (I really mean spot, often within a foot or two) an a frequent basis. If we brief Flame angels, that generally means we know exactly where it's going to be.... I've got a flame angel at one frequently visited site that I've been watching since early 2005 that I've seen all but 3 or 4 times I've been there since finding it. We're coming across more of them all the time as there seems to be a bit of a bloom of them lately.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reticulated Frogfish... Kona Hawaii scuba diving...

We keep seeing these little fish from time to time. Cathy found this one practically right under the boat at Golden Arches on our first charter back after the trip, so I had to pop over the side and get a quick photo. It's since moved and we haven't been able to find it. We've found several this year up and down the coast, now that we know what we're looking for I suspect we'll keep finding them.

Last night's manta dive trip was a success. There were four mantas off the Sheraton, they also apparently had mantas up north off the airport again. There's definitely more surge off the Sheraton site than on the airport site, and as the surf was up a bit yesterday it made for an interesting dive for the divers -- it's hold on for dear life at times. Everyone enjoyed it. I hadn't done a trip down south for the manta dive since getting the boat back as we've had good luck up north pretty much the entire year. It's kind of fun heading south for a change though, and the boat makes the trip much faster and more smoothly than it did before the hull extension and engine change.



Monday, November 10, 2008

I've reached a couple of "milestones" this week....


I reached the "big five-oh" today. I guess that's supposed to be a "milestone", but for me it's no biggie.... I actually feel younger than I have in about a couple of years thanks to some exercise and a boat that's working well these days. Yup that's the big "milestone" - I started running the boat after the big rebuild on November 6th of last year, and have made it through an entire year with zip for troubles with the boat.

I clearly recall when I was talking to my Oceanic dive gear rep several years ago and said I was getting a boat and getting away from the shore dive operation that he said... "You know what boat stands for don't you? Bust Out Another Thou". I had no idea what he meant in those days. Well, I learned pretty darned fast.... 3-4 years, three engines, two outdrives, a fuel tank and numerous mechanical, electrical and linkage problems later and it was overdue for a complete overhaul.... best thing I ever did! It's been smooth sailing since. Pat and I were thinking back and realized that except for a single one week vacation a couple years back, this was the first trip that we've taken since we got the boat that it wasn't in the shop and we knew it'd be ready to go when we returned. The joys of boat ownership. All of the shops here "feel for the other guys" from time to time when we see a boat down as we've just about all have been there.

Anyway, the "new" boat had it's 1 year anniversary and it's going strong. All I've had to do is get it into the shop every hundred hours for a couple hours of tinkering and it's been ready to charter

So last night's charter was a blast, primarily because the customers were a fun group. We, and several other boats, were skunked on the manta dive last night so tonight we're going to head off to the south site off the Sheraton. Apparently they've had mantas the last few nights. The airport site is usually the far better site, but it's nice to have a backup that we can go to the next night if it doesn't work out.

Here's a shot of part of the atrium at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. They do a seasonal theme where they plant flowers and have neat displays. This random onlooker has hair to match the flowers in the display.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Night dive tonight...

We've got manta night dives scheduled for both tonight and tomorrow night. They're always fun. I was looking at a list of top 100 dives in the world this morning, and the Manta night dive here in Kona was #7.... not bad, it's truly a world class dive. Apparently the list was voted on by readers of some scuba diving magazine.

We've been pretty busy since returning from our vacation, which is good. November is usually a slow time for the dive industry here, and considering the water conditions are typically quite good in November that's kind of surprising, and this year's probably slower for a lot of folks doing business here because of the economic downturn and lower travel numbers (a report in the Honolulu paper said visitor arrivals for the Big Island was down 31% for September as compared to last year, it's down all over the state).

We just finished off a set of Open Water referral students and I've got one or two more groups of students scheduled up in next couple of weeks, along with our certified divers we take out on tours, so it looks like we'll stay reasonably busy for a November. We managed to see a lot of stuff on the training dives... several frogfish, indigo darts, several sets of flame angels, loads of butterflyfish and tangs, an octopus or two, morays and all.... Kona's a great place to do the open water diving end of a course because you get to see all that stuff in nice warm water - beats the heck out of doing your open water dives in a muddy quarry or lake for the most part.

Here's a decent sized Yellow Margin Moray from last month before our trip.



Ignore this post... I'm trying something...

Now I realize asking for it to be ignored will probably lead to it being read... I'm trying some yahoo blog thing and I don't really know much about it, it involves posting code - just like this: Edit- code removed by Steve.

Apparently yahoo has a pretty good sized blog community and I've added a little gizmo at the bottom of my sidebar that'll show visitors logged into it.... thought I'd put it on for kicks to see if anyone shows.

I've also added a follower widget near the top of the sidebar. If you've got a blog and you "follow" mine, you can add your tag apparently and maybe get some traffic yourself.

Anyway, I'm pretty new to this stuff and I'm just seeing if it'll generate a bit of extra traffic over time.... I'll make a normal post soon.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Working on a few things....

Hi there,
I'll be updating the template on the blog for a bit here so it may look a bit unusual compared to normal. In the end it should be close to what it was. Here's a shot of the squid we saw this last summer on the manta ray night dive.

We're busy running charters again, hopefully it'll keep that way for a while 'til the Christmas season kicks in. Yesterday the water was still at the 79 degrees we've been seeing for a couple of months now.

Interestingly enough, my 14 pound weight gain of vacation has turned into 3 pounds in just 4 days... must've been all the french fries, salt and fatty stuff I pigged out on in the last few days of the trip... the diving's probably helped, but I think it's more likely not eating the carbs that's doing the trick.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Yay... back home... vacation was good... can't wait to get back to work/diving...

Well, it was a good vacation for us. We finished off our trip staying in Flagstaff and making day outings to Sedona. Here's a couple of shots from the Sedona outings. We did the obligatory barefoot crossing in Oak Creek below Cathedral Rock to get a shot of it reflecting off the water as sundown approaches and then on our last day we did something I've alwasys wanted to do... visit some cliff dwellings. The dwellings we visited in the Sedona area may not be as well preserved as some, but they were very interesting. Not only were we able to see structure, but there were plenty of ancient drawings too, some said to be carbon dated as old as 6-10 thousand years old.
Apparently at least the two ruins areas we visited had been used/occupied by 4 cultures over the years... the oldest drawings were done by an ancient civilization that used the spots for ceremony and such, while the actual structures and more recent drawings were initially done some 600-1000 years ago, with other cultures moving in as recently as 300 years ago. Facinating stuff.

It's nice to be home. My sinuses and lips are suddenly back to normal. It's amazing what 0% humidity does to you when you aren't used to it, you can literally feel things moisten back up as you step off the airplane back into the humidity you're used to.

Diet report... Wow, I only gained 14 pounds the last two weeks... probably a lot of that was yesterday eating french fries at a sports bar/book in Vegas while watching the ASU/OSU football game before our flight out. Fries are like a weight sponge, it'll be courious how fast, or if, the weight drops now that I'll be going back on the regular diet.... I ate about two years worth of fries, pizza, deserts and other garbage in the last couple of weeks... yummy.

Tomorrow will be a catch up day and then Tuesday we start charters again. These will be the last of the trip pictures, unless I decide to post one from time to time. From here on out it'll be "back to our regular programming" for the most part.



Friday, October 31, 2008

Pat and I were abducted by aliens... had to use their restrooms...

We went to Sedona yesterday to do some hiking. At the end of the day we ate at the Red Planet Diner, which is a cross between a 50's diner and an alien museum. Great burgers!!! Here's a shot of part of the interior.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Great Antelope Canyon slot tours in Page Arizona with Carol Bigthumb...

OK, I'm going to plug a tour business we used... Pat did some research of tour guides when she was setting up our slot canyon tour and had read some great things about her tours. We took it and it was great. Many of the slot canyon tours hit Upper Antelope canyon and call it a day, others have access to other specific canyons, but the access to the various canyons are typically controlled. Pat found Carol Bigthumb's Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. Her company has access to Upper Antelope canyon and two additional slot canyons that her family, which grew up on the property, controls.
The slot canyons we toured are fascinating. They're formed by flash floods rushing through sandstone washes. Upper Antelope is probably the most photographed slot canyon in the Page area, it's large and accessible and numerous tours came through it while we were there. It has a sandy bottom and is easy to walk through. The canyon is quite deep, and while light can get in through the entire canyon, it has wonderful effects as the bright spots and shadows play off the reddish sandstone walls. There are numerous spots where patters resemble various animals or people, in a shot below the light pattern resembles a candlestick and flame.

We did Upper Antelope canyon first, walking to the gulch at the back of the canyon, when you get outside, you'd almost not know the slot canyon existed if you're further than 50-80 feet away. We took a bit of a break to wait for the light to get more overhead to show off the color better before taking a slow trip back through to take a lot of pictures. Taking pictures in the canyons is pretty easy, despite the low light. You'll do best with a tripod, but most of the point and shoot digital cameras will do just fine if you rest it against a canyon wall as you take the photo to help keep the camera still. . I found most of my handheld shots did OK, but the ones with the tripods did slightly better. The shots in this post with solid looking walls and blurry people were probably running about a 1-6 second exposure using a tripod. People moving can almost look ghostly at a slow exposure.

After we finished we all moved on to a canyon Carol calls "Mountain Sheep Canyon". Her son Woody lead this trip. Mountain Sheep canyon is a long canyon, quite different than Upper Antelope in spots, and quite similar in others. Overall it is narrower, I've got a photo that shows one of the narrowest spots. It's definitely a bit more challenging than Upper Antelope, requiring a bit of high stepping with 30-40 inch climbs at times and one ladder climb of about 8 feet or so, but for the most part it's not very difficult. Upper Antelope is easy enough for nearly anyone to walk, this on may not be for some but overall wasn't difficult for anyone in average health or condition.

After Montain Sheep Canyon, we moved on to "Rattlesnake Canyon", another canyon that only Carol's company offers at this point. This one was more like a mini-Upper Antelope canyon. It was definitely narrower and required two short ladder climbs and some more sliding and climbing than the previous canyon. Here's a shot of a spot where Pat had to hand up her tripod and pick a climbing spot... it looks more difficult than it really is... the climb was only a few feet. There are some gorgeous spots in this canyon. There was a small room where the canyon ends that has a "hole" up about 7 feet above the floor. Woody had a couple of the people on the tour climb up there for pictures. Pat thought she'd never be able to get there, but you don't climb straight up, it's more like climbing around the inside of a huge round toilet bowl... starting on one side and climbing around the bowl at a slight angle to reach the hole on the other side above the floor.... makes for a nice shot.

This adventure has been the highlight of the trip so far... almost as good as scuba diving! I'm starting to get antsy to get diving again. We get home in a couple days and I've got charters starting up again on Tuesday after a day or two break to get back to "Hawaiian Time" and catch up with some things. I'm hoping my e-mail is getting through, Pat and I hav been trying to keep up with mail but there's some issues when using hotel's wireless systems and trying to send mail through both it and our mailing hosts can involve jumping though some hoops... darned technology.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ok, this was fun... Upper Antelope Canyon...

Pat had heard of Antelope Canyon and wanted to go there after our Vegas visit. I really wasn't aware of what it was, but it sounded interesting. This is, so far, the neatest thing we've done on our trip... beats seeing the Grand Canyon in my opinion. We signed up for a tour with a Navajo woman who grew up on the property and does half day tours through this and two other slot canyons... very fun trip. I'll post a more thorough report in the next day or two. Here's a shot of Pat and I in one of the more famous rooms in the canyon... we're standing under a bear... look hard and you might see it. Here's the same shot with a little help. The walls and lighting in the canyon form the pattern of a bear standing up, use a little imagination and you can clearly see it standing and facing left.



Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon, Arizona room steakhouse...

Pat and I went from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had ever been there before and we figured this was our chance. We stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge, litterally a hundred feet or so away from the south rim of the canyon. The lodge is a rustic spot, primarily built of logs, and has a combination of private cottages and lodge rooms. We stayed in the lodge, the rooms there are a mix of 12X14 foot rooms with a private bath and rooms with just a bed and the bath and shower being down the hall... quite a change from the MGM Signature, but the rooms were clean and kept up.

That evening we ate at the Arizona Room steakhouse at the lodge. We were surprised to find a darned nice casual restaurant at a national park. Service was fantastic, the prime rib I had and the salmon Pat had were both very good, and the black bean soup was fantastic. Surprisingly, the food and beverage prices at the park resorts are reasonable, especially when you consider they more or less have a captive audience.

We were up at 6 am to catch the sunrise at the canyon and take photos. There was a fair amount of haze from a prescribed fire miles to the southwest and it took a while to figure out how to take decent shots... darned cameras, it's never easy.

We left mid morning to head to our next adventure.... which so far has been the neatest thing we've done on the trip... I'll post a bunch of photos from that experience when we get to our next location.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jimmy Buffett and other stuff....

The Jimmy Buffett concert was great, getting free tickets was a bonus. Once we started to head towards the concert from our hotel (more on the hotel in a minute) we realized there's more going on at a Buffett concert than what's happening on the stage. There's a whole lot more paraphernalia, or should I say parrotphenalia, involved than any other concert I've been to. We stayed at the Signature at the MGM Grand, which is out back of the MGM where the concert was, and in the 6-7 minute walk to the concert we literally saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with parrot hats, shark hats, cheeseburger hats, grass skirts, men with water filled plastic bikini tops and such. The crowd was a sellout, which apparently is in the 15K-17K range at the MGM Gardem Arena, and probably half of the crowd had been to the bar before the show.... lots of atmosphere at the show... and I suspect most of them have been to a concert of his before.

On the MGM Signature: This is the nicest place I've ever stayed. We used VRBO.com to get a rate that was around half off rack rate. Be careful when you use this service as you'll be dealing with individual owners of the condos, we've always had great luck, but we had family members who rented from an individual who had his condo foreclosed, made for a sticky mess on arrival, luckily they paid by credit card and they'll get their money back. This place is 5-6 minutes from the MGM monorail station, and only minutes from the MGM concert venue. We went to see Earth, Wind and Fire up at the Waikaloa Queen's shops venue at home a couple months back and it took an hour and a half to get out of the parking lot, this show had at least triple the attendance and we were back to our room within 10 minutes or so.

I'm using Pat's computer tonight to post, so I have access to her photos... Here's a very nice pic of a Raccoon Butterfly she took on a dive earlier in the month.



Saturday, October 25, 2008

The DEMA show just ended, now it's time to play... sort of...

We've kind of been playing all along when we could. Tonight's plans changed suddenly when I won a drawing at the show by one of the scuba training agencies I'm affiliated with (SDI)... Pat and I are going to see the sold out Jimmy Buffet concert!! I'm not a big parrothead, but that was a lucky score.

I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do for the show. Target number one was to make a decision on what gear I'm going to pick up the next time I buy BCDs and regulators. We've got that figured out. The next plan was to get a handle on starting up a dive travel program... that one will be a work in progress, but we've got some ideas on how to get started at least. Pat's major goal was to try on wetsuits for a perfect fit and found one she liked that she was able to take away at the end of the show. The particular brand she found has something like 24 women's sizes rather than the typical 6-7, we'd been interested in this suit for a few years but this is her first time to do a fitting... found one that worked very well.

We're leaving Vegas in the morning for parts unknown (OK we know where we're going to be for 2-3 days, but beyond that we're wingin' it). Between spending time with family and the dive show we almost could use another day or two in Vegas just to loaf around and take in the pool and bars and restaurants, but we'll do that again in another couple of years, for now we're excited to go where we're headed next (to be discussed in a future post).

I originally thought I'd do a huge DEMA show report, but I didn't bother taking pictures and really don't need to get into it much other than saying it was a pretty good show, attendance was not bad, and it was fun as usual.

One interesting thing, I did have someone approach me today to tell me they enjoy reading my blog... sort of the you don't know me but I know you thing... it was nice.

Here's a night shot of the New York New York hotel and casino. I like night shots.

Later.... Jimmy starts in 2 hours and I've got a buffet (now isn't that a coincidence... Jimmy Buffet, dinner buffet) to go to first. I've recovered from my trip to Texas de Brazil (mentioned in the previous post) - I wasn't hungry 'til the next evening, so it's time for another big meal.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Texas de Brazil Las Vegas report/review.... Meat Meat Meat!!!!!

Tonight Pat, I and our families (we're meeting with both our parents and an aunt and uncle on the front end of the trip) went out to Texas de Brazil, a newly opened churrascaria just to the south of the strip, for dinner. Churrascaria might be one of my favorite kind of meals... "Gauchos" stab a bunch of meat and then carve it off onto your plate (in 1-3 ounce serving portions) and you just keep eating 'til you can't eat any more.

Tonight's meal, for me anyway, was black beans, sauteed mushrooms, spicy cold shrimp, a salad (they have a 60 item salad bar at this place), assorted sliced meats and cheeses (the previous were all in the salad bar area)... then the real stuff... In order I had... roasted pork loin, top sirloin, parmesan pork, parmesan chicken, garlic sirloin, bacon wrapped filet mignon, flank steak, another garlic sirloin, another bacon wrapped filet mignon, 2 bone lamb chop, another 2 bone lamb chop, smoked sausage, another parmesan pork, another flank steak, and finished it all off with a couple of slices of roast lamb....Yum Yum.

Ok, now that sounds like a lot of meat, and it was. Yesterday we went to the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood (my favorite buffet so far in Vegas) and I was rather disappointed in the fact that I can't eat anywhere near as much as I could in years past.... but I felt more like my old (or should I say younger) self today... I even had room for a double chocolate mousse slice afterward tonight. Luckily the place we're staying has a a pretty good workout facility, and I'm trying to use it every other day or so.

Anyway, Texas de Brazil just opened their Vegas location this last month. Service was very good, the meats were very good (a couple items were on the well cooked side but they generally strive for medium rare), as was the salad bar selection. Price for the meal is $44.95 but they'll nickel and dime (more like 3-5 buck) you like mad on beverages... they'll push their "bottled water service", if you don't want to pay for water just ask for ice water. Still, it's a better price than you'll pay for a high end meal on the strip in most places. I'd say everyone gave it a big enthusiastic thumbs up for the evening.

Here's a picture of a "gaucho" with a skewer of top sirloins.

Las Vegas and the DEMA scuba show will be the blog topic for the next few days....

I'm in Vegas to attend the '08 DEMA show. It starts up tomorrow morning. At the show I'll be attending seminars and the show floor which will be loaded with scuba related manufacturers and dive resorts displaying their services and products. It's a pretty big show, typically having 11K plus attendees, it'll be interesting to see if the numbers are down this year as they held the show in Orlando the last two years and you never know if the east coast stores might take a year off visiting. I'll be posting pictures and reports of the show the next few days.

Here's a shot of the Bellagio hotel, one of the many mega-resorts here. It has fabulous fountains out front and they do a show a couple of times an hour. I'm wanting to get some video of it at night one of these evenings.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to recharge....

Whew, I've been working pretty much continuously since mid-March and it's time to take a breather. I'm in Las Vegas to attend DEMA, the scuba industry show. I'll be posting some Vegas and DEMA reports the next little bit. Here's a shot of Paris from the Bellagio fountains earlier today.

Just thought I'd make a post... We're heading downtown to see the Fremont Street Experience in a few minutes.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You talkin' to me?

We saw this turtle at "Turtle Pinnacle", which is historically a very popular and well known dive site in Kona. It (the dive site) was featured in a recent IMAX 3D movie last year. Turtle Pinnacle is a large rock structure with a turtle cleaning station below it... turtles come in and present themselves to juvenile surgeonfish/tangs, which eat the algae off their shells. In the last year or two, the sightings of the turtles seems to be down, at least in our opinion. The other week Cathy and I were looking for a site for dive #2 and decided to hit this site as it's got a lot going on critter wise... we told our customers we were thinking about calling it "Turtle Cynical" because we hadn't really seen turtles there in quite a while... but there was a turtle anyways... Bonus!! It's a pretty nice site without turtles, but we've seen them a couple of times recently. I saw this one on a trip this week, thought it looked a little defiant.. hence the post title.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kailua's really quiet right now...

Ironman is over and the town emptied out quite quickly. Pat and I were running errands today and drove through town and it was about as empty as you'll see in on a late afternoon.

We had a pretty good swell come in during yesterday's dives. Today it was coming in real good from the north, it's supposed to be coming down tomorrow. We'll just dive some south facing dive sites and stay clear of the north facing ones for an extra day.

I've been trying to get a decent shot of a Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus) for quite some time. They're really tough to get a photo of because they are very shy and flighty and will dart into the finger corals if you approach them or swim above them. They used to be pretty rarely seen a few years back, but they're seen quite a bit more often these days.

I saw 5 of them on my dive yesterday. I saw this one towards the end of the dive and decided to try something... in underwater photography, the general rule is get as close as possible, get as little water between you and your subject as possible. As this is really really difficult to do with Flame Angels I decided to take a different tack. The Canon G9 camera has a pretty darned powerful flash, and you usually use the diffuser to help it light up your subject as the flash is very directional and won't get good coverage when shooting close. I decided to not use the diffuser and see if the flash was strong enough to light up the Flame Angel at a longer distance with the camera really zoomed in. The first of these pics was taken at the usual distance before removing the diffuser, I was just lucky to see it for a moment and get a shot off. The second one was taken at a distance of about 5 feet without the diffuser on the flash. This is about a 2 and a half inch fish so the camera was really zoomed in for that shot, but it worked OK. I'm thinking Pat actually has some better pictures of one, but these give you a great idea of how colorful this little fish is.



Short underwater video of dophins on a dive in Kona Hawaii....

Spinner Dolphins on a dive in Kona Hawaii from Steve on Vimeo.
Here's a quick video clip I took on a dive the other week. We were checking out some pinnacles and a few spinner dolphins swam by.... It's short, I had to change the camera into video mode, but you get the idea. We were probably within aobut 20 feet of them when they went by.



Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun manta ray night dive last night in Kona Hawaii...

Last night we did the manta dive up off the Kona airport. Three mantas showed for the dive, spending the first part of the dive with the divers and then moving up to the snorkelers. I was leading the night dive, when the mantas moved off we went on a tour of the reef. One of the other DMs wrote me a message that there was a big nudibranch off the deeper end of the site. We went and checked it out and found a big Clumpy Nudibranch ("Clumpy" is the actual common name of this species), roughly 5 inches by 7 inches in size. Pat took pictures, I'm hoping she'll let me post one. We also saw a couple species of lobster and tons of shrimp on the dive as well as a few other goodies.

We've got another night dive tonight with a group snorkelers that contacts me whenever they have family coming into town. They tried it several years ago, thought it was fantastic, and continue to do it when family is in town and the mantas are showing.

Here's that Reticulated Frogfish (Antennarius tuberosus) I promised in the last post. These small angler fish (you can see it's lure in the center of it's forehead) tend to hide in coral heads, and look like a cone snail with encrusting coraline algae growing on it. We're always excited to find these.



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ironman triathlon in Kona Hawaii is this weekend, October 11th...

It's a fairly busy week here in Kona... Ironman is this Saturday. Ironman is likely the world's most famous triathlon event, held here annually for almost three decades. I can still remember the big worldwide showing of the '82 Ironman on television where the woman who was leading collapsed just short of the finish line and was passed after what seemed like minutes of crawling (she eventually made it) which turned into a huge PR boon for the event.

The only time I've gone downtown to see the finish of the race was back when I was here on vacation over a decade ago.. lots of good energy... I was really impressed that there were people in the miles before the finish line looking at contestant's numbers on their shirts with binoculars, then looking up the names and cheering them on by name as they passed to finish the last miles of the race... pretty cool. Being the slow season in October, we're sometimes out of town that weekend, most of the times I've been here I've just avoided the traffic and stayed home. The town pretty much shuts down, at least the north end of it outside of downtown, that day. I'm debating between heading downtown for some good energy or just watching college football for the day and avoiding the crowds.

We've been having fun on our charters this week. We had our newly certified students on board yesterday and did a one way drift north of Hoover's (the northern most mooring off the Kona airport) that I led... I love that dive... lots of pinnacles, saw a flame angel, a big spiny lobster in a hole, a very cool Reticulated Frogfish (which I'll post a pic of on my next post) in a coral head, and DOLPHINS UNDERWATER ON THE DIVE!!!! Yes, I have a very few seconds of that on video to be posted later...

Here's a photo of a Zebra Moray (Gymnomuraena zebra) that we came across on that dive.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Short, poorly shot octopus video...

Octopus... eating another octopus! from Steve on Vimeo.
I mentioned in my last post that we saw a large octopus at Kaloko. A week or so earlier we saw one. It was heading to a large rock and I started to switch the camera into video mode. It slid behind the rock and suddenly a small octopus popped out and the bigger octopus came out behind it... I'm thinking "I'm gonna get some octopus sex video", then suddenly it engulfed the smaller octopus and there was a huge ink cloud. By then I've got the camera in video mode, but I didn't have the time to change the camera to underwater white balance from what it was already set at... so the white balance is pretty funky... the focus is off too. Anyway, it appears the bigger octopus ate the smaller one. You can sort of tell there's something within it's mantle. It booked off shortly after I started the video so this is very short.

To bad I didn't have a camera for the octopus 2 days back, as it was cooperatively posing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Why is this frogfish sooooo happy?? Airfares are finally dropping!! Come visit Kona Hawaii....

Ok, this is a pretty commercial topic. I've been checking on airfares on a trip we picked up tickets for back in the spring, we picked up ours just in time. I kept an eye on it and the price increases were downright surprising over the course of the spring and summer... nearly doubled... just recently they took a nosedive and are approaching what we originally purchased them for. Tonight I checked travelocity.com for some flights from the mainland to here just to see if the prices have dropped coming this direction... nice to know you can get here from Seattle for 350, Portland for 480 and Los Angeles for 550 or so again now... I'd had people tell me of much higher rates a couple months back.

While I'm at it... I might as well mention our vacation rental still has a bunch of openings in November and December, kind of slow for this time of year, but it's loading up the first quarter of next year quite nicely. I suspect a lot of the hotels and vacation rentals have availability if you're thinking of coming over.

Weather wise and as far as diving condions lately... it's been wonderful! We've done some great diving the last few days, primarily intros and students getting their open water certifications. Our intros the other day got to see a white tip reef shark on thier very first dive!!! The students got to see a lot of great stuff too, I wasn't able to produce a shark, but today we saw a great big (well, great big for here, nothing like the Pacific Giants back in the northwest) octopus at Kaloko - maybe 20 feet from where we saw a similarly sized one just over a week ago, if it is the same one I'm hoping maybe that's it's favorite hangout for a while - who gave us a great show posing/shape changing/color changing for a couple of minutes. We were able to approach it from slightly below it so it didn't seem to take us a much of a threat.... no pictures though as I don't take cameras on teaching dives.

Anyway, I thought a heads up on the airfares might have been in order just in case people've been looking earlier and seeing them go nowhere but up.



Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What dive sites do we dive???

One of my almost pet peeve questions that I hear fairly frequently when people sign up for a dive is "do you know where you're going?". I'm getting to dislike that question, but I guess I just need to get over it. There are some places that feature one or two better dives and practically everyone goes to the same spot, practically every day... thank goodness Kona isn't one of those places. We've got lots of very good dive sites up and down the coast that we can do. Actual choice of where we are diving on any given day depends on what customers want to see, what they've already dove, and the water conditions of the day, and in some cases if there's a mooring available when a lot of boats are on the water. We rarely pick dive sites 'til we're outside the harbor on the water and can check conditions.

Kona has a fairly extensive day use mooring system, primarily between the Kona airport and just north of Kealakekua Bay. The mooring balls are roughly 15 feet down and chained to the bottom, dive operators will send a crew member down with a rope to tie off to it. The first day I hopped on a boat with the first operator I worked for, I'd never really jumped a mooring before. Being the new guy, that was pretty much my only job - the instructions from the boat captain were "I'm going to head the boat towards the ball, and when you think you can reach it, jump." OK, easy enough... so I go for my mask and fins and am immediately informed that those are "only for sissies". Anyway, it's pretty easy to make it down to the balls unless you have a stiff current, there's a couple that are sitting at around 22' that are tougher to get to if you aren't expecting to have to dive that deep.

The story behind the moorings is kind of interesting. Kona didn't always have a mooring system, the dive operators used to drop anchor everywhere. From what I understand (I wasn't here yet in those days), a rather well known individual (start guessing who now) inquired as to why we didn't have a mooring system like some of the places in the Caribbean. I think the response was money, so he decided to help out. Anyway, he had the means to generate the money to get the mooring system started and the dive ops contributed the labor to put them in. Nowadays there's a local non-profit that raises funds for maintaining and adding moorings to the system. Oh, the individual's name was Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, and he was an avid diver. Apparently they held a concert to raise the initial funding... a very nice thing to do.

Anyway, the mooring system has been great for the reef as anchors are only dropped infrequently by dive operators anymore. We do have some anchor sites, and most boats take care to make sure they're hitting sand when they drop anchor. This spring I decided to start keying in our positions on our boat's GPS, and we're up over 50 spots already (still haven't keyed them all in, I try to add them as we dive them), so we've got a lot of variety to choose from as long as the swell cooperates.

Here's a shot of a diver taking a picture of a yellow frogfish in a rubble area. Cathy found this frogfish back in February or March. It was about the size of a nickle/quarter back then, we've been watching it grow since and it's getting to be pretty good sized... I hadn't realized they grow that fast.



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Enjoyed the view from the Coffee Shack Deli in South Kona today... Gorgeous day!

Today was a gorgeous day. Pat and I went out for a walk and decided to go to the Coffee Shack Deli up the hill in Captain Cook for a breakfast (no charter today and Pat had the day off too). The Coffee Shack provides what is arguably the best view from a restaurant on the west side of the island. It's a mostly open air restaurant on the side of Mauna Loa overlooking the South Kona coastline right on the side of the highway. They serve breakfast, lunch and desserts. Prices tend to run right in the 10-13 buck range for most everything on the menu. I had one of the specials of the day.... 3 egg omlette with bacon, mushroom, avocado, red onion, peppercini, calmata olives, tomato, cheese and topped with pesto... yum yum!
We don't get here very often, even though it's close by for us, but it's a pretty nice place.

As an extra bonus.... this place is one of those places where not only can you have a meal with a view, you can also share a meal with a wild animal!!! I decided to see if one of the resident geckos was interested in some pineapple...

Geckos gotta eat too! from Steve on Vimeo.