Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sunset from the manta ray night dive in Kona Hawaii with Wanna Dive

Here's a bit of a sunset photo from the manta dive the other day. We've been doing the Kona manta ray night dive a bit more frequently lately it seems. We're getting into that season where we get treated to some very nice sunsets.

The phone's starting ringing quite frequently lately so we're pretty darned busy through the end of the year. I'd recommend if you are looking at diving on vacation over the holidays you might want to pick up the phone and make inquiries/reservations soon, if other operators (no matter where you are headed) are seeing what I'm seeing it might get tight for people trying to make dive reservations last minute.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So it's December... a big northwest swell comes in... and the water temperature in Kona goes up 4 degrees???!!!


Last night I led the Kona manta ray night dive and I was toasty warm. Weird. A couple of weeks back the water temp took a tumble and I figured it was time to start thinking about getting into a 7 mil wetsuit for the first time since moving to Hawaii... then we had biggish surf for a week and I expected it to be cooler, but it's now sitting at 79 on a computer that maxed out at 80 degrees this summer. Very comfortable scuba diving right now.

Last night we did the manta dive. We pulled up to the dive site at Garden Eel Cove and could immediately could tell the viz was fabulous. Despite the late afternoon sunlight you could easily see everything on the reef from topside. My guess without being in the water for the first dive was that it had to be in the 200 foot or higher range. Even the customers, who had been on a dive a couple days back with about 200 foot of viz, commented on how clear it was and that they'd never dove in anything this clear in their diving the Caribbean. I went down for the night dive while Captain Cathy watched the boat for the night dive. There was virtually no plankton at the site. Two manta rays showed up and cruised the divers for a few minutes then took off... they know when the food's not to be found. At that point we turned it into a very nice night dive.

Slipper lobsters, Bulls-eye lobster, cusk eel, several moray eels and LOTS shrimp and other critters were seen on the night dive.

We do the night dive again on Wednesday (tomorrow) and Friday, and I'm hoping there's more plankton so the mantas stick around, but the night dive itself can be fabulous out off the Kona airport site. Later it was reported that there were no mantas present at the Sheraton site last night. We typically go to the airport site, which usually has larger numbers of mantas than the other site, unless it's just not happening there. We'll probably stick there for now since nothing's been seen down south lately... it's a much nicer night dive up at the airport site if the mantas don't show.

Here's a male Marbled Shrimp (Saron marmoratus), one of the shrimp we commonly see on the night dive when we're doing our cruise around on the way back to the boat.

Later,

Steve

Wanna-dive-kona.com is now www.wannadivekona.com

Just thought I'd mention once again that we're dehyphenated these days. We're still diving 7 days a week.

You can view the Wanna Dive Kona scuba diving website here.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Scuba diving on Kona night dives is really cool...


Kona is pretty well known for it's manta ray night dive, but scuba diving on night dives in general is very cool here. Lots of things come out of the reef at night, shrimp, lobsters, urchins, hunting eels... even squid, like this one I took a picture of last year. When I'm leading the manta dive, I try to make it a point of taking the "long way" back to the boat and look for cool critters - you never know what you might come across.

So I thought I'd put up a quick post about the surf we're expecting here. Big surf, in the 20 foot plus range, pounded the north shore of Oahu yesterday. They said to expect it to bump up to the 30-50... yes, 50 ... foot range in the next day or two. Fifty is huge, I don't think we've had that on Oahu in the years I've lived in Hawaii. In Kona we're often shaded by the other islands from north and northwest swells, and those 20-30 foot swells they get on the other islands can turn in to 6-12 here much of the time - that's still quite diveable - but it'll be interesting to see if this pans out. If it does then we'll probably be shut down for a couple of days here too. Usually we don't get significant cancellations due to swells in months outside of January and February, sometimes none in any given year.

If the surf comes up, I'll see if I can get some pictures.

Aloha,

Steve

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The latest in Kona scuba diving....


Man was it windy yesterday. We ended up rescheduling last night's night dive for tonight. We had a front come by and park over the island or something because we had huge winds all day long 'til evening. When that happens it's usually a one day event... it's quite nice today.

One of the nice things about Kona scuba diving is that we're generally protected from winds that much of the island chain sees on a regular basis. This makes for all day diving on most days.

We're starting to see the winter swells coming in. So far the swells haven't been too bad here, we're fairly shaded by the other islands, so we don't see as much big water. I'll be keeping an eye on the west swell today. We're supposedly getting some huge stuff coming in starting Sunday/Monday. They're talking upwards of 40 foot faces on Oahu. There's been a couple of swells that were supposed to be in the 20 foot plus range off Oahu that basically didn't affect us at all in Kona the last couple of weeks, but a 40 foot swell usually means for big stuff here too... we'll be watching.

Here's a nice elkhorn coral head. We're always looking inside of these for critters, some of our nifty oddball fish tend to hang out in them.... Reticulated Frogfish, Leaf Scorpions, Gumdrop Gobies, Harlequin Shrimp and other stuff can be found on occasion.

Later,

Steve

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kona scuba diving has been great lately....

We've had some really great scuba diving in Kona lately. We did a night dive on Friday night, there was very little plankton but we had 6 manta rays putting on a good show for the crowd. I thought I'd have several days off the last few days, but I got a phone call or two and have been going out every day. Tonight we do the manta ray night dive again.

We've had a fun couple on board the last few days that have been diving here for years and are new to us. They were quite complementary yesterday, said they'd seen more new species on this trip than any dives here they can recall... part of that was site selection, part the fact that Cathy, Bob and I are into the fish and look hard, and part sheer luck - any given day you know. Anyways, it's been fun diving for both the passengers and the crew.

Their only complaint yesterday was after the first dive they mentioned... the dive would have been great, but every time they saw some cool fish to look at the dolphins would get in the way! They had a really good dolphin dive yesterday, along with a bunch of critters that were kind of uncommon. We've lucked into about 3 or 4 really good dolphin dives the last few weeks. I wish we could guarantee that, but it's kind of the luck of the draw.

I do have to report that the water temperature has dropped 3-4 degrees suddenly the last couple of weeks... brrrrrr... it's not really all that cold, but when you are used to 79/80 and it suddenly becomes 76/77 you feel the difference. I may be moving up in wetsuit thickness this winter if it drops below 74 again (last year it got down to 71 - very rare for here, it usually bottoms out around 74 degrees in the winter).

Here's an old (and not the best) shot of a Chevron Tang. We're seeing a lot of the 50 cent to silver dollar sized juveniles out right now, they're exceptionally brightly colored at that size, this photo doesn't do them justice. They become a large black tang as they mature.

Later,

Steve

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manta ray scuba diving in Kona Hawaii with Wanna Dive...

Manta rays visit scuba divers in Kona Hawaii from Steve on Vimeo.


Here's a short video of mantas from last year that I took with my Canon G9 on a manta ray night dive. There were 4-5 that particular night. Last night we had only a few boats on the site, fewer divers than when this video clip was taken, but there were LOTS of manta rays. Bob said there were at least 15 when he came up, later on during cleaning up the boat a videographer came by and said they'd watched the tape and could name (the mantas have individual markings) 21 in the tape.... so imagine this times 4 or 5 and you've got an idea of what it might be like last night for the better part of an hour.

Very cool night.

Speaking of cool nights... it's cooling down here in Kona district. When I got up this morning it was 64.....Brrrrrrr... for here (I live at 900 feet down in the Captain Cook area, we're typically a bit cooler than down in Kailua. December hasn't even hit. Part of the reason we're having cool nights is there's very little moisture in the air for here, it's dry and sunny during the days and then cooling off well at night without the cloud cover we usually build. Water temps have cooled down as well. Bob had 76 on the computer throughout the dive today.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Long day ahead tomorrow....

We've got a morning charter and then the night charter coming up tomorrow. I was told by a friend from another company the final count for manta rays on the night dive on Friday was 16 - Hopefully that'll keep up for a while.

Today was another internet battle. I've been working a bit on the website since we migrated over to our new web address and I tried to upload the new information and couldn't manage to get it done. When I talked to the tech support, they tried a few things and managed to crash the site. Took all day to get it all working again. I gotta hand it to Fatcow (my new webhost) though, the tech support is quick to respond (their "heiffercratic oath" swears they'll respond in 2 minutes, although I think it might have been 3 minutes on one call I made) and it's here in the USA so there aren't any language barriers.

Google's indexed my new website address and it's starting to make the slow climb back to the first page. As people stumble across my "de-hyphenated" address in the web search results and spend time on the website it'll climb up in position. I'm hoping the old results go away on their own fast.

Here's a couple of divers checking out a school of Raccoon Butterfly Fish (Chaetodon lunula). We have a couple of spots where we have good sized groups of these that haven't moved from their home base coral head or rock in the ten years I've been diving here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's cloudy and cool in South Kona today....

It's cloudy and cool at my home today, I'm not sure how it is up in town. One of the unique things about the Big Island of Hawaii is that the weather conditions can be totally different just 10-15 miles away at any given time.

Last night we did the manta dive again... lots of mantas. Bob led the dive and came up with a count of about a dozen. It's pretty slow right now, we went with just two divers and I noticed the few other dive companies that went were also well short of their capacities. It was a great dive and great conditions for those who did make the dive last night. I've got the weekend off at this point, on Monday I've got a double with a two tanker in the morning and then turn around and do the two tank afternoon/evening dive right after that.

Here's one of my best photos of a Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus). This one's pretty big as far as these shrimp goes. I took this one several years ago with my first digital camera I owned (Olympus D40). I haven't taken any photos in a while since the demise of my G9, I think I may head down the hill tomorrow morning and try a short dive with one of my wife's older cameras to shoot some pics. It's an older camera and I can't really even see the control menu on the LCD screen when I'm diving - You get spoiled with the newer cameras and their 3 inch LCD screens. Hopefully I'll be able to get some decent shots.

Later,

Steve

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back to scuba diving with turtles in Kona Hawaii....


Being what is typically one of our slowest months of the year I had a few days off. Today we went out again and will have about 4-5 days straight booked and then see where it goes from there.

Today the conditions were awesome.... flat water and great viz. We dove Eel Cove and Turtle Heaven. Our "turtle dives" have been a bit sparse as of late, but there were two at Turtle Heaven this afternoon.

I haven't talked about the manta rays lately. It's been hopping, at least up 'til towards the end of last week. When the website went down so did my e-mail, so I've got to re-up on the manta report with the new e-mail. We did the dive last week and saw 4-6 on the afternoon dive and 14 on the night dive (one DM I know counted 19, but I'll defer to the videographer that made the report that night's count). Lots of mantas at any rate. We're doing it again this Friday night and I'm hoping it's similarly packed with mantas.

Here's a shot from a few years back. It was a surgey night... you can see someone's hair blowing - the mantas get close, but that's not what's moving the hair in this photo.

Later,

Steve

Monday, November 16, 2009

What wetsuit to wear in Kona Hawaii.......

Ah, the age old question.... I get this quite frequently and see it on message boards all the time. Which wetsuit to wear can depend on many things - water temperature, body size and type, cold tolerance, how much you are scuba diving, etc. Every person is going to be a bit different, I'll try to give you a basic idea.

When I first moved here it was February and about 74 degrees in the water. I wore a 3/2 mil wetsuit (3 mil on the core and 2 mil on the arms and legs) and that lasted all of 3 dives - then I went to just wearing a swimsuit for quite a while. 74 was quite comfortable. Now that I've been here and diving all this time I'd be wearing at least a 4/3 full suit with a 3 mil shorty over the top to make it through a couple of dives at that temperature. I'm looking at moving to a 5 or 7 this winter if it gets as cold as last winter.... but it's taken years to get to where I need that.

Kona's water temperature on a typical year can run as low as 73/74 during the January through March time frame, then start rising in March through the summer with a high of 81/83 coming in the early fall. This last year we were colder in the winter than usual, seeing 71/72 'til about late April, currently we're running 77/79 or so. At any rate, the need for a particular thickness of wetsuit can vary depending on the time of year.

Most visiting divers here can do OK with a 3 mil full much of the year except during the colder times of the year. Slender divers or divers with a bit of cold intolerance might want something more year round, especially in the winter months. Heavier divers or divers with good cold tolerance may find themselves quite comfortable with less. I've recently started to make the switch to 4/3 full suits in my rental gear for our boat charters. It's just a bit thicker so it takes some of the chill off that might exist with a 3 mil suit. We try to keep shorty suits available for over the top for slender or smaller divers (women tend to require a bit more neoprene than men in general, many might want a 5 mil much of the year) just in case the suits we have or the customers bring just aren't quite enough. Those tend to come out quite a bit in the winter months.

This is pretty vague. If in doubt, you can always go a tad bit thick on the neoprene, a mil or two extra isn't going to be overwhelmingly hot. For the most part, we don't see a lot of visitors in 7 mils. You might see a good number of local DMs and Instructors in 7 mil suits, maybe even a hood or hooded vest in addition, but if you're diving 200-300 days a year 76 degree water can feel like 68.

One note - if you are looking at snorkeling, throw this all out the window. When you are snorkeling you'll probably need nowhere near as much neoprene. You're on top of the water, back exposed to the sun and 85 degree air, and you're typically working a bit harder. Good diving is more controlled floating than anything and you'll be fully surrounded by water (which conducts heat away much faster than air) without the benefit of sun on you. Most visitors often can comfortably snorkel without a wetsuit, or with a shorty or hooded vest only.

I hope this helps some.

The photo above is of a Lei Triggerfish.

Later,

Steve

Wanna Dive Kona has a new web address... www.wannadivekona.com


Well, I've been spending the last couple of days frantically trying to get things updated to my new website URL. My webhost of nine years finally had a technician contact me and he informed my that my site was hacked by a pornographer from Turkey and they had to suspend the site. I said well that's all fine, give me some server space for the remaining time of my contract and we can talk about an extension in May.... Oh no, we can't do that, you have to sign up for a 3-5 year contract before we can give you any server space. I know in the past when they've dumped a server it's only taken a day or less to get a new one up and running and all the sites transferred. The last time my renewal was about a half year out they had a different excuse for needing to upgrade my account to a long term deal.... apparently it's the way they do business.

I'm done with them. Avoid Gisol.com at all costs if you're ever looking for a web host.

So here's the new address again- http://www.wannadivekona.com I hate even making this post, but the way the internet works, my site probably won't show up 'til it gets enough links, and the blog is actually a semi-quality linking source. If anyone out there is akamai and sympatico about the ways of search engine optimization and feels like linking to my new address, I appreciate it and give thanks in advance. This will be my last blatant post about the URL move, gotta do it though... Sorry.

Here's a pic stolen (by me) from a cool blog I came across... www.upsidedowndogs.com That's a neat idea for a blog. My guess is whoever started that had to only take a very few pictures, the rest are all sent in.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Had a real fun scuba certification class this last week....

I've started teaching the full Open Water certification course again after stepping back from doing it for quite some time. We've been doing referral certifications, where we only do the diving end of the course, for the last couple of years. Anyways, this last week I was with students for a few days doing a course and finishing up another one. We had a couple of excellent things happen in the water.

On last Sunday we were doing the confined water work. I had only one student, and he was pretty comfortable in the water and had actually been certified in the 60s but hadn't dove in a few decades, we decided to try the confined water skills off the beach. All went quickly and well and we had air to burn, so we decided to do an intro dive with the rest of the tank.... It was a very cool 25 foot dive!!! A decent sized school of akule (I think that's what they're called) had moved into Kailua bay and we got to sit in the middle of it for about 10 minutes. This is so very fun to do - sitting there with a few thousand 10inch silver fish moving in unison around you just beyond arm's reach. It was a real treat for both of us.

On Monday I was with that student and finishing up with another from earlier. We were out off in the sand and had visitors during the skills session... 50-60 dolphins swam an arc around us, the majority of them passed maybe 15-25 feet from us. We had 3-4 good visits during the course of the dive. It was some of the best dolphin action I've ever had underwater on scuba... I'm thinking the final day of diving for the one student who saw the akule school and the dolphins would be quite the anti-climax, he had a great time that day too though (although nothing super special showed up that day).

Here's a Scrambled Egg Nudibranch from a dive a while back.

Aloha,

Steve

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wanna Dive has changed it's website URL to www.wannadivekona.com


I'm changing webhosts. A few years ago my webhosts gave me a call without notice demanding a few hundred bucks for a mandatory upgrade, I complied at the time but have found out a few things about that company since... google "gisol.com reviews" and you'll see what I mean. Last night they suspended my account, supposedly because it's using too much of the server's memory... a bunch of hooey. Last I looked it had only used a small portion of it's allotment before I upgraded to the unlimited account. I'm supposed to get a call from them shortly "explaining" it, I expect another strongarm attempt. I'll just offer to change my site, it'll get lots smaller, basically a forwarding page and that's about it.

Luckily I've got the next 3 days off, after 5-6 charters and a class in the last 5 days, to deal with changing all sorts of internet links. Unfortunately for the next year or so there are likely to be lots of "account closed" hits from the original web address 'til google and other search engines find Wanna Dive's real web address and eliminate references to the other one. This is going to sting, but I gotta make the change.

Back to diving posts on the next post.

Aloha,

Steve

Friday, November 06, 2009

And now for something totally unrelated...pomplamoose

So I'm checking my twitter account and I run across a tweet about "the best Beat It cover ever" and figured I'd check it out.



Something about this couple's music mesmerizes me. I just had to look through several of their youtube postings. They play a variety of music. Shows what you can do with a bit of talent, creativity and a room full of instruments I guess.

Here's another:


Takes me back to the 80's.

Aloha,

Steve

Monday, November 02, 2009

Got the new official Wanna Dive uniforms designed....

Halloween has come and gone. Between eating like a pig for a football game, then going to a Halloween party by one of Pat's co-workers, I somehow managed to put on about 5 pounds of bloat. Too many carbs in one day. It probably would've been worse if if the suits weren't so hot and sweaty.

Diving's been real good lately. We had some big northwest stuff the last couple of days, a little limiting on Friday, but otherwise we could dive most of the dive sites. Kona water temp is still in that 78-80 range.... nice and comfortable.... they say it's a mild el-nino year so it'll be curious to see how cool the water gets this January/February vs. last. It may stay quite comfortable, who knows.

Later,

Steve

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lots of good scuba diving lately in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii....


I've been really busy this month. We had a slow September so October has been a pleasant surprise. Today we had the day off, so it was football day... we had some Corvallis, Oregon area friends visiting so we all sat down and watched the USC Trojans vs. the Oregon State Beavers football game. Good game, our team was on the wrong end of the 6 point game though.

Water conditions for scuba diving in Kona have been pretty darned good lately. We've had a run of very good divers on the boat the last several weeks, so nearly all of our dives have been in the 75-90 minute range. Bob's off in Sulawesi Indonesia for some diving fun, so Cathy and I have been splitting all of the diving the past couple of weeks.

I haven't been carrying a camera around since my G9 stopped working. Tomorrow we've got a light load with a couple of gals carrying cameras, so I might take my wife's older camera down to see if I can get some shots off. I'm so spoiled these days, after diving with a camera with a 3" LCD for a couple of years, we'll see if I can tolerate going back to something with a large postage stamp sized LCD screen. I've got my eye on 2 models right now, the Canon G11 and the Canon S90. I'm waiting to see what comes out for housings from third parties for them in the next couple of weeks. I'll discuss more of what I'm looking at in a later post.

Since I'm not taking pics right now, I'm playing around with photoshop on some of the older ones. This pic has been on the blog before, maybe a year or so ago. My wife, Pat, took this frogfish shot on a dive. My older version of it had a hotspot on the forehead, this one we managed to tone it down a bit. I'm looking at downloading the new beta version of Lightroom my next day off and playing around with it to see how well the slider adjustments work on my older jpegs.

Aloha,

Steve

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Island Scuba Diving Blog.....

I just realized my blog is 4 years old now. Initially I figured on about a post a week, well 4 years and nearly 600 posts I'm a little above the number of posts I expected to be making... that's a lot of fish pictures.

The weather on the Big Island, at least Kona side, is gorgeous right now. The state had a flash flood watch out the last week or so, and a couple islands got hit with a lot of rain, we had about 1 evening of reasonably heavy rain and that was it.

The diving's been consistently good, maybe a bit of an algae bloom the last couple days, and the water's still warm. No need for the thicker suits just yet, that'll probably occur some time in December.

Here's a shot of that rare yellow phase spotted puffer we've been seeing. I took the shot last year, but we still see this fish from time to time - it's always a thrill for us. Cathy's been leading dives here since the late 70's and it's the only one she's ever seen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The office is starting to come together....

I'm semi-in at the office, have the shirts hanging and a few masks available if needed. We're pretty much only using it to do paperwork and intro dive courses at this point, but it's coming along. I'm trying to spend an hour or two there Monday through Friday, usually 4-5pm after day charters when I don't have a night dive going out. Eventually we'll man it full time, but that's off in the future at this point.

I've been playing around with getting prints from Costco and have started hanging them along the top of the shop.... fun for me, helps give the office a more lived-in look.

Diving's been pretty good as of late. Today the viz was down from some kind of algae/plankton bloom. We're still hanging around in the 79-80 degree range as far as water temperature. Today's dives were up at High Rock and Turtle Pinnacle. I dove the second dive... nice long dive. The last diver was up at 79 minutes.

Later,

Steve

Saturday, October 10, 2009

No diving tomorrow for many, maybe most, dive companies in Kona... Ironman is happening...



One of these days I'm going to have to get downtown for all of the Ironman festivities. Before my wife Pat and I moved here we came out for a vacation and it happened to be Ironman week. It's fun... lots of good energy. I still am impressed with seeing Alii Drive lined with spectators, many with contestant listings and looking up numbers as people approach and then yelling encouragement... "way to go Mark" ... and such, using the racers names. It's a neat event. Since I've moved here though I tend to stay away or spend the day watching college football to avoid the crowds.

Yesterday, well I guess it was the day before yesterday now due to the late hour, I was heading off to a charter and realized if I had started into town just 10 minutes earlier I could have caught one event I haven't witnessed as of yet - the Kona underpants race. It's more of a parade than anything, there's no winner and they're not going very fast. It started several years ago when a couple of the racers were offended seeing other racers and others walking around town (grocery stores, restaurants, etc) in banana hammocks (Speedos, for those who are not familiar with the term) and decided to get a group of racers together to walk a portion of downtown Kailua in their tighty whiteys in protest. It's turned into a sizable event now, I think they had over 400 co-ed participants yesterday morning. It's become an event that raises money for local charities. I think they hold it the Thursday before the main event at 8am, at least that's when it was this year.

Not sure if I mentioned this, but my camera gave up the ghost a week or two ago. I'm now going through my old stuff and either finding pics I've missed, or altering (hopefully for the better) pics I've posted before for a little while 'til I figure out what I'm going to do about a camera.

Our local Costco just started printing posters up to 30X20 inches on a new large format inkjet printer they picked up, so I've been having some fun going through my photos and finding some I can blow up and hang on my walls in the new office/shop. I'm thinking I posted the original of this pic earlier. If I did, it had most of the original background in it... rocks, backscatter, some guy's fins, etc. I spent a little while (call it a couple hours at least) after the charter tonight in Photoshop cloning out all the extraneous stuff so I'd have a pic I wanted to hang on the wall (now I only wish every squid was in focus). I'm happy with the way it turned out for now, at least 'til I see it blown up.

I'm up late tonight... dove the manta night dive and I usually can't sleep afterward. I got involved with the squid pic and couldn't stop. It's 2:30 am and I probably should crash, although since they're basically shutting down the highway to the harbor tomorrow I have nowhere I have to be early on.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's "slow" season again in Kona Hawaii...

After about 5 months of working nearly every day, we're back to having days off again. It seems like I'm hardly working at all, but we're still having around 20 dive charters a month right now. I've been spending a lot more time in the office/shop these days.

Today I have a confined water session with a student. I'd pretty much gotten away from teaching the full certification course the last couple of years because the confined water stuff was hard to schedule. We've been sticking primarily to referral certifications, where you do your classwork at home and then come here for the diving portion of it (I still think this is probably one of the best ways to learn if you only intend to dive while traveling). I'm looking at getting back into it to where we're teaching the full course here at this point. One of the pools I've used in the past is generally available in the evenings, so I'm planning on scheduling the academic and pool work over 3 evenings... it won't be for everyone, some people want a faster course... to where we can do a good job of it and not rush. This will be more like it was back on the mainland, with a few evenings worth of classes and two days of diving rather than trying to cram everything real fast into 3 days.

We've had some very good diving the last little bit. We had a fun father/son group on the boat the other day. After the first dive the son came up and said he saw more on that dive than in a whole week of diving off Florida... I liked that comment. I think they dove somewhere in the Keys, not sure where. I haven't dove Florida, don't know how we compare, every place is different.

Here's a Gold Lace Nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentis) from some time ago. We generally find these on slight overhangs.

Aloha,

Steve

S

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First big swell of the "winter" in Kona....


just finished. We had a pretty good sized swell come through the last few days. We happened to not have charters scheduled during the worst two days of it, it's been settling down now that were going out again and diving has been fine. According to the news this was the biggest September swell we've had since '97. I know I haven't recalled seeing anything like that this time of year since I've been here. In the next day or so we should be back to our normal September/October great diving conditions.

We're in our "slow" season again. You can really tell it on the water, not a heck of a lot of boats out, even the fishermen are out in smaller numbers it seems. You can tell one thing though... Ironman's coming... We're seeing more tri-athletes riding their bikes and running alongside the highway. They usually start trickling in about three weeks prior to the big race and then the last week and a half they're all over the place. I get a fair number of inquiries as to whether it generates crowds for diving - it's my perception that it doesn't really bring in the divers in any real noticeable numbers.

The pic above is of Garden Eels. I likely have this posted elsewhere on the blog, but this was my header photo 'til I replaced it with the shark, so I may not. This blog's approaching 600 posts over 4 years, and just as many photos, and I'm not sure my brain just can keep track of it all anymore... gotta go to the library and check out a memory book. These critters are mesmerizing to watch, swaying in the current picking plankton out of the water.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The phone company came through...

This morning I went down to the shop to wait for the phone technician again... 20 minutes later THREE phone company trucks were there. Blog reader Aaron had forwarded a copy of my last blog post to a few higher-ups at the phone company, so that probably helped... either that, or I pitched such a fit on the phone Friday evening that they thought I might be violently unstable and needed to send enough crew to keep themselves safe. Thanks Aaron.

Interestingly enough, I'd ordered phone service a couple months back and was so busy I'd never plugged in a phone 'til the other day and found I had no dial tone. Turns out the number they assigned me had been used some time ago (not uncommon) and the number had been ported elsewhere (sort of like automatic call forwarding I guess) and the phone company either wasn't aware of that or had lost track of that. Essentially all my phone service was going to somewhere else. Apparently the previous technician had called the number and got a live person and had filed a report that the service order was erroneous. So now I have a shiny new phone number that I won't use for much 'til I'm manning the shop full time (my cell number will be my main line 'til then). I lucked into a real easy phone number - ends with "DIVE", so once I start using it for regular business at least it'll be easy to remember.

I'm now trying to spend as much time at the shop as possible, but basically that means I'm open by appointment as I need to be on the boat when it goes out. I'm trying to keep a "regular hour" (literally, not "hours") 4pm to 5pm after charters Monday through Friday as long as I don't have a night charter that keeps me from being available.

I had a class yesterday morning and a night dive last night.... 14 manta rays, whoohooo!!!.... so there was little time spent there yesterday. I'm in the shop all day today and whatever days I have off coming up - never know, I might get some walkins. There's plenty of little things to do to keep me occupied for now. I'm painting one of the closet doors today and tomorrow.

Later,

Steve

Here's a satellite photo of the shop and the harbor. As you can see, we're surrounded by about a mile of lava field in both directions so we're pretty easy to find.

Friday, September 18, 2009

So I was kidding about that Kramer vs. the Cable Guy comment in the last post... really I was....


It was an interesting/frustrating day.

So I'm down at the office at 8am and left for only a few minutes to put the boat in for the charter. I'd made arrangements with the phone company to have the technician call a few minutes prior to arrival. I received no call so I'm thinking things are OK. By 4pm and no technician and I'm thinking maybe they didn't call and I missed them, so I call the phone company and the gal on the end says they have no record of an order for my phone number. She apologizes and sets it up for next week with a new case number... I'm a bit aggravated because I had to pay an extra employee for the day so I could hang out all day rather than work the charter....

15 minutes later I decide it might be smart to double check on the status of the new case, just to make sure they got it right and I didn't recall her repeating my address. I get a hold of a nice gentleman and he looks up the filing for my phone number and says, we have you down for Tuesday morning Mr. Kenoi... What? My name's Frisbie, are you sure things are right here? He at that point gets someone from the business department on line and she checks my phone number and says something to the effect of "oh, he's a business customer" then repeats my correct name and address... I don't exactly get this, as the phone number was the same, why would that have changed things if I was a residential customer? I'm handed back to the guy and I say, "bottom line... do I have a visit set up?" He says, "Yes, but it's today not Tuesday, the earlier person set you up with an appointment for another address. Our Tech is busy now but you're next up on the queue." He advised me to wait.

By then it's 4:50 and I'm figuring maybe the tech will swing by in the next half hour. I wait 'til 5:45 and call back to the repair department and get the same guy. At that point he's apologetic and says he doesn't know for sure if the guy's still working, but that since we've got "call before arrival" on the ticket he should call me and let me know if he's coming or not... most likely, the dispatch has shut down for the day and there's no way to reach the tech. So I figure I'm hanging out for a while yet....

6:40pm and no sign of the tech, so I call. I get a woman I haven't spoke with before and give her my number and I'm checking to see if the tech is coming... Her answer was a gem... "You'll have to call Wanna Dive and ask them if you want this settled"... "I'm Wanna Dive. I've been waiting since 8 am this morning for the tech." She says "he was there and you told him you didn't have any phone problems at 6:35" --- that was just 8 minutes ago. At that point I'm telling her he obviously went to the wrong place, she says no way, then I ask her if she has my contact number, she gives me my contact number and I ask if the tech was under instructions to call that number, she says he was and I tell her that's the number I'm calling from and he never called. She finally believed me after we verified the address and my address matches the one on the order and I told her I've called 3 times this afternoon and she verified it.

At any rate, no phone 'til at least next Tuesday. Supposedly they're guaranteeing me it'll be a morning visit... I'm not totally counting on it at this point.

So here's yet another frogfish I've not posted before. It's a big one for the amount of yellow it still has.... roughly the size of a junior football. Back earlier this decade I went a few years without seeing a frogfish. Now we find them with pretty good frequency... Yahoo!!!


Later,

Steve

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lots of fun scuba diving in Kona Hawaii.....

Here's a goby I've been wanting to get a good picture of for a long time, this one's about as close as I've managed to get, I may have another more head-on pic I've got to photoshop that may come out OK. I'm thinking this is a Twospot Sandgoby (Coryphopterus duospilus). The picture really doesn't do them justice, in real life they're.... invisible.... well, almost. They've got see through bodies. You can see all their internal structure and their body meat is literally clear.

We've been diving pretty much every day since my little 4 day break early in the month. Tomorrow I'm not on the boat though, Bob and Cathy will lead the charter... gotta sit in my office and wait for the phone guy to come and get me service.... I ordered phone service a while back and the office is loaded with phone jacks as it used to have a multi-desk travel agency in it, but none of them work. I'm to expect the technician some time between 8 am and 5 pm... I can't help but think of the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the cable guy....

We've been all over the area lately. We've got some regulars who've been diving with me since the early days of my boat operation and I'm trying to show them some dive sites they haven't done over the years at least some of the time. We dove Casa Caves yesterday. It's been a while since I dove that... I like it for it's hard coral reef - many of our dive sites are topography or critter oriented, this one's just a good 'ol fashioned excellent example of pristine Hawaiian hard coral reef. I took the photo of the goby above in a small sand patch there. The dive site also has a nice cave feature. I was hoping for a shark but none were sleeping in it at the time.

The water's been super flat since it settled down from the swells we had last week. Very Nice!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dwarf Moray Eel....


Here's a little Dwarf Moray Eel (Gymnothorax melatremus) I spotted today peering out of a crack at Turtle Pinnacle on our second dive of the day. Turtle Pinnacle has become a bit less reliable as a turtle cleaning station as of late, but it's still a very good dive. We had a pretty big swell today and the viz was down for the second dive, but we were still able to find several eels, a divided flatworm, a rather uncooperative octopus that took off right after being spotted, a Flame angel, Great Barracuda and a school of Opelu, several pipefish and other critters. We had dolphins swim past us underwater briefly as we were going to our safety stop. Bob was Captain during that dive and said they'd been around our bubbles a few times during the dive....

... and that wasn't the good dive... the first dive was at a different spot where they (Bob and the gang) came up talking about seeing Tinker's butterflys, Flame angels, a Reticulated butterfly, a male Psychedilic wrasse with his harem of females, a manta or two (2 separate sightings, not sure if it was the same one) and a bunch of other goodies.

We've had signifcant north, south and west swells that have made things quite sloppy the last couple days, but it's settling down. Looking at www.magicseaweed.com it appears as if it's getting nothing but better throughout the week. Lots of diving ahead for us the next 10 days or so, I'm looking forward to better conditions.

Later,

Steve

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

4 days off... longest stretch since spring... got busy working on the office....

Empty shop in early September from Steve on Vimeo.


Here's a quick video of where it's standing now. I've got to put the "back room" together and clean up the closets and get them shelved, and it'll be set to go.

Diving's been real good the last little while, at least up through Sunday. I've got at least a 10 day stretch of charters coming up again starting Friday.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another day... another frogfish....


Here's a shot of the same frogfish from the other day that I took this morning. Today it was gorgeous in Kona... bright and sunny, no clouds over the ocean and few on the mountains. We had some customers on board today that were great on air... 84 minutes the first dive and 72 on the second. They'll be on the next several days, it'll be curious to see if their bottom time improves even more. We had a ripping current on our first dive, so we turned it into a one way dive and I followed their bubbles to pick them up down the coastline so they didn't have to battle the current the whole dive... those dives are always fun as you can cover quite a bit of ground and see some spots we generally don't see when we're moored the whole dive.

Current water temperatures are still a quite comfortable 80-ish. This is a great time to be diving in Kona.

I'm making slow but steady progress on the office between charters. Been busy varnishing bamboo sheeting the last couple days among other things. It's coming together.

Just thought I'd make a quick post.

Later,

Steve

Friday, August 28, 2009

Here's a cell phone panorama photo I took from Splasher's Grill this morning in Kona.

Eatin' carne asada breakfast @ Splashers. Pat's having crabca... on Twitpic
You'll need to click on the picture to see the panoramic version....

Splasher's is quickly becoming Pat and my favorite eating spot. We'd heard they have a good breakfast and tried it. Kona doesn't have a lot of good breakfast spots and this one's right up there. Today I had the carne asada and eggs special, Pat had the eggs benedict on crabcakes that's a regular menu item (she considers that particular item to be one of the best breakfasts she's ever had, I may try it next time).

It was a gorgeous day today, as you may be able to tell by the photo from my cell phone. We had no charter today so Pat and I headed down to the office/shop to continue attempting to get it together... we're getting real close. Soon I should be able to meet customers the morning before their first charters, or in the afternoon a day or more before their first charters, to size up gear and get paperwork done. I'm getting tired of working out of my pickup truck. It'll be a clean and comfortable spot for the initial meet and greets. A couple more good days of work on the shop and I'll be able to move my boat rental gear out of the garage.

Tomorrow I've got another charter, I'm hoping the beautiful weather will stick around for a while.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today was a great dolphin day underwater....

Experiment:Dolphins on my DMs camera from today's dive on Twitpic

We went to Garden Eel Cove for the morning dive today and there were dolphins in the bay. During the dive the dolphins were all over the place and visited our divers numerous times. Cathy had her camera in hand, I had to snap a shot of the back of her camera with my cell phone... tons of dolphins in this shot. They were all around our divers... I'm counting 22 in just the photo. By the sounds of it, it was one of our better dolphin shows on any charter I've worked in the 10 years I've been doing this. I'll try to get the actual image from Cathy at some point and post it...it's a VERY clear image.

On the way to our second dive site we were treated to an extra special happening - pilot whales around the boat. They were only about a half mile offshore, usually they're much further out. Sorry no pics. Great mammal day all around.

Aloha,

Steve

Monday, August 24, 2009

Frogfish, Kona Hawaii

Pat joined us on the boat yesterday and had a blast diving.... frogfish, dolphins underwater, eagle rays and turtles, a huge snowflake eel hunting with a grouper - all kinds of neat stuff. I've been recovering from the darned cold, staying out of the water and Captaining the boat 'til I stop draining, but Pat had her camera along and got this shot of the frogfish.

Water conditions have been exceptional the last couple of days. We had 150'+ viz today on the dives.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random blabber time: Underwater cameras, vacations and other stuff...

Canon has announced the release of the new Canon G11. I've been using a G9 for a couple of years now and love it, but the housing's getting a bit beat up and occasionally the buttons stick and lock up the camera at depth... so the obvious cheap solution is to shop for a new/used housing... but man, I'm really wanting to get into an Olympus or Panasonic micro four thirds camera and housing some time in the next year as the line develops and the new models come out (but we're talking some $$ though, and I've got more than enough other things I need to spend it on for a while already). Now Canon announces the new G11... a few less megapixels than the G9, but an improved sensor and processor for less noise and improved low light performance... hmmm, might be more affordable sooner in my case... hmmm....

Summer vacations seem to be ending, we're still going out nearly every day but the numbers on the boat are down. We're actually in the prime season for diving Kona for the next couple of months - I figure August through October/mid-November seems to have the warmest water and best consistent viz in general. I was planning taking a large chunk of October off this year, now I'm hoping to take a weekend off maybe. The shop/office is going to take precedence over any travel at this point. We are looking at a trip to Denver late May where Pat will do the walk and receive her Doctorate degree (she's a long distance Colorado Buffalo) and a chance to have some Rocky mountain oysters at the Buckhorn Exchange.

The weather's been nice, but a little humid/muggy the last few days. Yesterday morning the water was super flat, I could see the reflection of the cruise ship in Kailua Bay off the ocean as I drove into town. We've been having some real nice diving the last little bit. Tonight we head out for an afternoon and evening manta ray trip. I don't usually run them on Thursdays, but we didn't have any scheduled for my regular days this week and I had customers that could do it tonight so we're going.

Now you're probably thinking to yourself "gee, it seems to me that it was only three years ago I saw a picture just like this on the blog". Yup, it's a repeat, but slightly altered. Yesterday I was looking through some old stuff thinking about finding something for a window in the shop and I saw this Saddleback Butterflyfish photo. I wondered what it'd look like if I could brighten it up a hair, so I turned up the brightness a hair, turned up the contrast a hair, and burned in the background. Now I'm trying to imagine if it'd show up from the highway if I blew it up to 3'X4' and trimmed off the background and stuck it on the shop windows. I've got 2 8'X8' windows that need something, fish photos might be in order, it's a thought anyways.

Aloha,

Steve

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hurricane Felicia was ho hum for Kona, Hurricane Guillermo even moreso...

We rarely have hurricane weather in Kona when hurricanes pass the Big Island. We managed to get some weird winds and one evening with 3 inches of rain when it passed to the north, but looking at the weather radar it didn't seem to be directly from the storm. Anyways, other than having to tuck around corners to stay out of the wind it didn't affect the diving as far as viz and such.

We've still been quite busy. On the 13th I was looking at the calendar and thinking the next day would be one of the last charters for the month, then the phone started to ring and I'm looking at maybe 2-3 days off the rest of the month if I get no more phone calls... I'm hoping for calls to fill in empty spots, got an office to fill up.

I haven't been working in the "office" much lately, I had two days off a week ago that I thought I'd be able to get in, but spent it sleeping off a heavy cold. I'm cutting up palmwood trim to cover that white stripe in the middle of the walls from a picture a few posts back - looks real sharp, hopefully it'll be all up this weekend. I'm hoping to get the place ready to occupy by the first week of September.

The photo above is of a sponge we see here from time to time, I think it's the vagabond boring sponge. We don't have the big colorful sponges you see in some parts of the world, mostly small stuff, but it's still interesting to those who like unusual stuff.

Later,

Steve

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hurricane Felicia's coming... sort of...

We've got our first hurricane
"threat" of the season going on right now. Hurricane Felicia made it to a category 4 hurricane a day or two back, was down to a category 2 by last night or this morning and will likely be a good sized rain cloud by the time it reaches Hawaii. I think they're predicting it to be a tropical depression. Sounds like larger surf on the east side of the island is likely on Sunday. We'll see if anything comes of it on our side of the island when it passes. In years past that I've lived here, "hurricane days" have been gorgeous and good days for diving.

I've got a couple days off after tonight's dive, and I don't expect a whole lot of phone calls 'til this thing passes. I may go shorediving Monday morning to take some pictures if the water's flat. I'm running low on unposted photos, haven't carried the camera on dives in some time, so a day on my own might be fun.

Here's something you don't see a whole lot of in Hawaii... the photo above is of a gorgonian in a hole in the coral. This one's bright yellow, we also see red, white or pink from time to time. Hawaii has reefs that are largely hard corals, and we have little in the way of soft corals, large sponges or gorgonians, but we do have small amounts of the soft stuff.

Aloha,

Steve

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Still busy.... Congratulations newlyweds!!!!

Odd title, but we've had newlywed couples on the last couple of days... must be a lot of late summer weddings.

We've had a pretty good south swell for it seems like forever, but we've been able to tuck in around corners and the viz where the swells aren't pounding has been fantastic. About a week and a half ago it was real heavy and we spent several days that we didn't have repeat customers up at Garden Eel Cove off the aiport... had viz in the 200' range - wow!

It's been pretty muggy the last two weeks, we've broke down and turned on the AC in our bedroom at night, we rarely do that for that long as the electrical rate here is outlandish.

Here's a shot of a Tiger Moray (Scuticaria tigrina). We don't see these fish's heads all that often, see their body through the coral heads from time to time.

Heading to bed... got morning and afternoon/evening charters tomorrow, so I'll be working from 8am to about 11pm or so.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Don't tease the animals!!!

Fun with lazers. from Steve on Vimeo.


OK, I shouldn't have done this, but my wife has a lazer pointer and I couldn't help myself.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More garish colors....

Howdy,

If you haven't noticed, I've decided to see how my placement in google for the phrase "garish colors" stands in a few days.... just kidding, but it wouldn't surprise me if the blog places well in a search for that phrase soon.
So here's a quick shot of how it looks after today's painting fun. One more coat of red, and a bit of touch up in the teal and the current slatwall will be finished for now. By the time I'm finished, it'll look like someone's trying to put a small dive shop in. I've got a few T-shirts coming in, but that's about all it's gonna be for a while. It'll be nice to have a home of operations outside of my garage and pickup truck though.

Fast update... I just for the heck of it googled "garish colors" and the blog shows up near the top of the page.... this post could put it over the top.... If only I could place so well for "scuba".

Later,

Steve

5 manta dives in 8 days, plus a few day charters and puttin' together the scuba office....



.... I slept in 'til 7 today. I decided to start trying to offer the manta dive on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep up with the schedule, but I'm sort of getting used to it. After the charters and the cleanup I usually get home from the manta dive about 11:30 to 11:45, which is waaay past my bedtime, and I can't sleep right away. At first getting up at 6 am to do it all over again was really causing me grief - very tired - but I'm starting to get a bit more used to it. We ended up doing an extra night charter to accommodate a group of existing customers and it worked out fine, but I don't know if I'll keep the MWF thing indefinitely or not... sort of depends on what happens this fall when I'm running the office somewhat regularly. For now, as long as I stay away from caffeine in the evening I seem to be able to crash early enough to get enough sleep for now after the night charters.

If the phone doesn't ring, I've got a couple days off. I basically kind of need the days off right now anyway, relax for a day or two at least. I've been 30 straight days on the boat or working on the walls at the office for several hours. I'll still spend a couple hours down there today, but it won't be a 6-15 hour day like a lot of the last month's been. I'm finishing up the slatwall today and then will start working on the trim tomorrow. I've got to take the chopsaw down to the shop tomorrow and start cutting molding that'll cover my stripe in the middle of the walls right now. I'll still have a stripe, it'll just likely not be white.

The video slideshow above is pretty cool in my opinion. One of our customers came over for a bit and carried around a Sealife digital camera and took shots of many of the things she saw. I found this posted on her blog listed as "fish food" on my links on the sidebar and thought it was real neat. Mel's given me permission to post it here. One thing I noticed, she's got a nice picture of an Imperial Shrimp that's not labeled... Theyr'e tough to get a shot of 'cause they generally dart off before you can get the shot. It's on the first cushion star.... it immediately stood out for me when I first watched the video - I've been trying, pretty much unsuccessfully, to get a decent shot of one for years. Anyway, I think her video give a real good idea of what you can potentially see on a dive trip to Kona. Thanks for letting me post this Mel!

Aloha,

Steve

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Time for more garish colors....

Remember I mentioned a couple posts back that we'd had a huge south swell that caused some damage to the reef in at least one spot. Here's a shot of a rather sizable lobe coral that was outright lifted up and turned over. So far I've only noticed damage in one spot, everything else I've dove recently was spared.

Been busy. Last night we had a manta dive. It was a bit slow to develop, seemed like we got one additional manta every 10 minutes... ended up with 4 mantas and a pretty good show by the end of the dive. The divers were stoked... heard the usual "best dive ever" comments. This dive is an incredible show and if you are in Kona and like snorkeling or diving it's just about a "must do".

Today a long time customer that has become a friend and I hung slatwall in the "office". My mexican food inspired colors are now offset by cardboard colored particle board. After tomorrow's charter I'll run out and buy some primer and more tropical/Caribbean brightly colored paint. After that's done, likely this weekend, we'll figure out what to do about the trim and the soon not to be white stripe across the shop.

In local Kona news: Target has opened. They had their VIP opening last night and "soft" opening this morning. They officially "Open" this Sunday, but for now they're keeping regular hours.

Monday, July 13, 2009

So I'm eating a tostada... and then it comes to me...

I haven't been blogging much the last month and a half as I've been real busy with Wanna Dive. I mentioned earlier that I've rented out a spot across from the harbor for an office/storage/classroom/meeting spot/place to hang my T-shirts.Here's a refresher look at the space.
I wanted to set up the spot in a way that I could display my shirts and whatever else I may have at some point. Originally I wasn't really thinking of painting it, just washing the wall and hanging some slatwall or gridwall. I was looking at one of the fishing charter stores in the area and saw bright red slatwall, found it curious and asked Pat of her opinion, and what would she think if I put in a sheet of slatwall and painted it red with a diagonal white stripe to do the dive flag thing... she said go for it. That's about all I planned at the time - white walls, a sheet of slatwall looking like a dive flag.... then I got to thinking, I'm gonna have this gosh-awful red thing on one wall of a not freshly painted white room. YUCK! I'm gonna have to paint the whole thing.

This was a couple of weeks ago and the swell came up huge and we decided to take a day off. I figured I'd head up to the Waikoloa resorts to take a look at what new retail establishments are doing these days (Pat has learned I like looking at stores when we travel - something about retail display intrigues me, it has since the days I owned a pet store long ago). I was hungry, then recalled that a couple of Mexican restaurants in town had somewhat wild color schemes. It was tostada time at that point... yum yum... in the course of eating the tostada I was really enjoying the color scheme... so you know what that means, of course... I had to drive across town to eat something at the other Mexican restaurant I was thinking of... It's taco time now... in the course of eating the taco I was really enjoying the color scheme...

Luckily it only took 2 restaurants to make my decision... tropical/Caribbean colors... or I'd have been eating yet again. So after picking up a bunch of paint chips at Home Depot, I had a basic plan. Of course I still get other ideas popping into my head. This shot is of what has happened so far.

I should be receiving my slatwall and a couple other fixtures tomorrow, then it's off to more painting of garish colors.

Aloha,

Steve

Orange Cup Coral from Kona Hawaii....


I did a dive last week at Pawai Bay out on the Kaiwi Point end. There's a bunch of cup coral on a large formation near the point and the current was screaming when we were down so the polyps were out bigtime.

We had a huge southwest swell during the last half of June. I'd heard people mention it was one of the largest in decades but I hadn't thought much of it 'til this dive. Everything on the west end of the dive was as normal, but in one area of the site there was noticeable damage.... large lobe coral formations were sheared off and tossed out of place, often upside down. Wow. The area between Carousel and the Body Glove mooring had quite a bit of breakage. I'm wanting to check out the reef more inshore and to the south to see if it was damaged also. All of our sites that weren't directly in the path of the swell are fine. Quite interesting, it's amazing how much power a little surf has.

later,

Steve

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!!!!

Here's a Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) I found under a coral head at Turtle Pinnacle a couple months back.

Pat's family flew in last night so we've got a full house for a few days. I've got today off, with charters the next few days. I've got a big project ahead of me... the "office". I've rented a spot out near the harbor where I'll be able to keep my gear (the business has pretty much been living out of the truck and garage for several years), hang my T shirts, and meet customers that want to meet or try gear on ahead of time. I've got no immediate plans for retail, no immediate money anyways, so it'll be "Open by Accident", I mean "Open by Appointment", only. I'm heading off shortly to start filling holes, sanding and washing the walls in preparation for a more funky paint job... gloss white's kinda boring... there used to be a travel company office in this spot, I'm shooting for a different look. I'll post a walk through tour once I'm done - Someone asked the other day when I'm moving in... my answer was "over the course of the next 8-10 months". I'm hoping to have it looking like an official spot in the next 2-3 weeks of working between charters though.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Whale shark today!!!!!

We had a light load on board today, did dives at Black Hole and Sand Chute. "Black Hole" sounds more exciting than it actually is, but it's an all right dive. Sand Chute can be pretty good, especially when big things are swimming by. Today the bay off the Kona airport, where Sand Chute happens to be, was loaded with dolphins. Our divers did manage to get a brief glimpse of them underwater in the distance, but it was very brief.

On the way back we were rounding Keahole point and I noticed something on the surface. I thought it was a manta ray for a moment... then saw the spots....WHALESHARK!!! I hit the brakes and we ended up right next to it. It swam about 18 inches off our port side. Little guy, maybe about 12 feet long or so. Smallest one I've seen here. We're scrambling to get snorkels on masks and such and it made one more pass right next to the boat and was gone. We spent 20 minutes or so looking for it... bummer, it didn't stick around. This was still the highlight of the day, it's always a treat to see them, even if it's from the surface.

Here's a nice Yellow Margin Moray shot.

Steve

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time for a Hawaii underwater nudie photo...


Here's a shot of a Gold Lace Nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentis). Looking up the scientific name, I just learned something new... this nudibranch is apparently only known from the Hawaiian Islands... cool, another piece of trivia. I was down doing a "Captain's dive" a week or two ago and saw this one under an arch.

The surf is really up right now. We've had a big south swell for several days now, and it seems to have peaked (hopefully) the last 2 days. We've got turquoise looking water all along the coast right now... people think it's pretty, but for divers it kind of sucks... it basically is light reflecting off all of the sand in the water, not clear water showing off it's beauty. I didn't go out today, but I had a buddy today that went out and said he had to do both dives at Kealakekua Bay and the viz was horrible - considering the sand is nearly 90 feet down at that spot, for it to be kicked up enough to make for horrible viz says something. Tomorrow's a big marathon/triathlon event in Kona, between that and the surf we're taking the day off. I'm hoping for better conditions come Monday... the weather report says the surf's coming down.

So, sort of big news for me - I signed a lease yesterday. I've been operating out of my garage and pickup truck for years, now I'll have an "office" in town where I can hang my T-shirts and store my gear. It's near enough to the harbor that it'll be quite handy. I've been wanting to have a spot to meet customers ahead of time to try gear on and sign papers to maybe speed up our morning pre-dive rituals. It's not a big spot, but big enough for my needs at this point. I'll have more information as time goes on... today Pat and I were looking at paint chips, it's currently gloss white, I'm looking to spice it up a hair if I can clear it with the landlord.

That's it for now.

Aloha!

Steve

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good fun scuba diving today.....

We had fun today. Went up to "Hoover's" for the first dive, ended up at Kaloko for the second dive. At about 60-65 minutes into the second dive, customer Mel found this fish... nice find. It's a Devil Scorpion (Scorpaenopsis diabolus). This one wasn't all that large, maybe 7 inches or so. They are essentially one of the stone fish, and have a knack for blending in to their surroundings. Mel said she saw it move as she went by... what is noticeable about them when they move is the back side of their pectoral fins, they're extremely bright, looking like a brightly colored butterfly when they skip along the bottom.Here's a quick shot of the back view. You can only see the color open up right when they move, and I just barely caught part of it, but you get the idea.

Later,

Steve

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Great scuba diving in Kona Hawaii today....

Here's a Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera picta) feeding on a Blood Star. These little shrimp feed on the tube feet and legs of starfish. They are occasionally found deep in antler corals. When we find them we consider ourselves lucky, they often stay in the same coral head for long periods of time so we've got a shot at finding them repeatedly.

We're at the start of a long stretch of days of dive charters. Today we were at High Rock for the first dive. I captained and the divers came up quite happy... great viz - 150' plus, along with lots of critters. Cathy said if the pinnacle wasn't in the way they could've probably seen the boat from the north arch (we're probably talking 200-250 feet or so)... man, that's clear. Between dives we moved down to Golden Arches and I hopped in for a Captain's dive, the surge had come up by then and the water was a bit milky, but probably still in the 125' plus visibility range. I didn't bother putting on my wetsuit... it's running 80 degrees for water temperature right now. It was a good day.


Later,

Steve

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here's Lookin' at ya....

I don't think I've posted this squid shot from last year before.

We were seeing squid again on the manta dive a couple of times the last few months... they're always fun. We did the manta night last night, no squid but it was a great time for all. The manta dive has been hopping still, maybe a bit more up and down the last few weeks, I'm only aware of one or two no-show nights since late February.

I've got tomorrow off, then comes another two week minimum stretch without days off. I'm trying to set my manta outings to strictly Monday or Wednesday or Friday from here on out, and then likely go out on whichever two of those days gets booked first. I get people asking why I don't run it every night... well, I work 7 day charters a week when it's busy, and with two night dives thrown in on top of it that means for an awful lot of shifts for the three of us to cover. Most of the dive operators doing it more than 2-3 times a week are the bigger companies with multiple boats and/or employees.... I'm not there just yet.

We've had quite the south swell for a while, but it appears it's going down for at least a while. With the swells came warmer waters... YAY!!! Bob had water temperature readings of 81 degrees on both of his dives last night... I can't belive the water's actually warmed up about 7-8 degrees since April, that's a big jump.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A few days off...

We've been quite busy for a while and I've got a few days off right now, with the schedule getting hectic again in a couple of days. We've had back to back south swells the last couple of weeks, so the dive charters have been spending lots of time at spots outside the harbor and up near the airport, with a few dives in the north pine trees area, but the southwest facing sites have been pretty much off limits for a while. We've been able to find flat water by avoiding the sites facing southwest. Yesterday I was kind of glad to have the day off as the surf was probably as big as it's been.

On Monday evening I ordered an enlargement just to see how it'd turn out... it had arrived by Friday afternoon. It's BIG. I'm not sure if I want a BIG picture of an eel hanging prominently around the house... likely to be office material. It turned out great though, I wasn't sure if the detail would show up in the white, but it's fine. Here's a shot of the pic with me next to it just to give you an idea of how JumboGiant.com does with their enlargements.

Aloha,

Steve

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sloppy, choppy water today between a big south swell and the wind... but the diving was great!

Today we had a couple of intro divers on board. Neither of our intros had ever scuba dived before so we went in search of calm water with good viz. We had to go up to the airport, north of Keahole point to find very good water for intros. Several spots between town and there were pretty OK, it's just that with intros we have to do skills on the mooring line and it's tricky to do them with new divers while they're holding on a line tied to a bouncy boat. The intro divers had a great time. Highlights of the day were mating octopus and a nice juvenile frogfish and lots more.

I haven't been taking a lot of photos lately, busy with students or larger numbers of customers, also was out for a while with a back/rib problem that has resolved itself. This photo above was one of an eel on a late afternoon dive spring of last year. Tonight I decided "what the heck" and ordered a copy of this photo from www.jumbogiant.com. This is a company I heard about several years ago, they do enlargements at a very reasonable price. The copy on this post is about 56K in size, the one I uploaded to them (took several minutes) was about 5.5 megabites in size. I ordered a 24"X36" photo luster print using "best crop". I figured I'd challenge them a bit with this photo, see where they crop it, as well as the fact that there's a bunch of white to deal with, to see how they do. The guys in town that do prints would charge pretty good money to do a giclee print of that size... Jumbo Giant charges $19.95 plus about $9 in shipping, about a quarter of what the photo enlargement shop I visited last week charges locally... so I thought it would be worth a shot. I'll let you know how it turns out, and how fast it gets here (just ordered it 20 minutes or so ago).

Been real busy lately.. I had 6-7 days off in early May but the month filled up after that, I have another 6-7 day stretch next week with nothing, but the phone's been ringing again and I've got 1-2 charters a day 'til July 3rd except for that little stretch. It'll probably fill in too though,if it does that'd mean only 1 day off this month.

Kona Water Temperature News: I've been whining about how cold the water was this year... well, about the first week of May things started warming up and haven't stopped... we're up about 7 degrees the last 5 weeks. The water is now sitting at a pleasant 79 degrees, touching 80/81 on our computers at times. YAHOO!!!!

Do you twitter? I've been playing around with it the last month or so. I picked up a new phone that takes OK pictures and has internet, so I can send them to twitter from the boat. In theory I could answer mail from the boat, but that involves figuring out how to set up my e-mail accounts on the phone... too much thinking for me right now. Anyway, I manage to update conditions several days a week via the phone on twitter, if you are interested, you can find me at http://twitter.com/wannadivesteve

Aloha for now,

Steve

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

When should you reserve your scuba diving charters... How soon is too soon???

I get people asking me if it's OK to book ahead from time to time... the answer to that is that I'd prefer it, I suspect that's the same for most if not all dive operators. I've had people book ahead as far as 14-15 months or so, but those are rare. Right now I've got numerous charters partially booked through September, September itself is starting to look fairly busy, but most people seem to be booking a little closer to actual dates than in years past. It's usually fairly easy to slide into an open spot on relatively short notice if there are only one or two of you in most cases, but with larger groups it can get dicey if you wait too long.

All in all it's somewhat of a guessing game. I usually recommend to people that they try to book when they feel comfortable that they know they definitely are planning on diving... during busier seasons it sometimes takes several phone calls to find space with someone if you wait too late.

I thought I'd mention this because I had a surprisingly busy May and had to turn down last minute bookings (by last minute, I mean last few days or longer) several times due to a full or mostly full boat. I'm not discouraging last minute calls, definitely give me a call (808-937-1175) if you're looking at diving last minute, but I'm definitely encouraging a little lead time if you plan on diving for sure.

Here's another shot of a turtle getting cleaned by surgeonfish/tangs at a cleaning station.

Later,

Steve