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.




Expat said...

Great story about the mooring system and Jerry Garcia! Thanks for sharing that with us.

We all have pet peeves and yours must be that question...hang in there! It might help to figure out why the customers are asking -- maybe they need more explanations?

Thanks for your interesting blog and great photos! Keep up the good work!

Expat in Japan

Steve said...

Thanks. I think a lot of people take charters elsewhere that are to specific spots... say to a particular wreck, or to a particular cave or rock/bomme Here we've got it good having so many real good dives in relatively close proximity.

The other question we get a lot is "how far do you go out?"... which is kind of a chuckler because if you go more than 100-300 yards offshore in much of Kona you are apt to be in water far too deep to dive. Many places in the world have thier reefs miles offshore, we just have to decide how far up or down the coast we need to go, not out from shore, as we have diveable reefs within feet or yards of the shore.

Neither question is a hot button with me, but sometimes that first on gets me annoyed because some people will try and try again to get me to commit ahead of time to a certain dive site they've heard about from someone... ain't gonna happen, because the moment I make the mistake of somehow committing to it, conditions on the day of the dive will make it undiveable. We try to do requested sites when possible, but it just doesn't happen all the time.