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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Wanna Dive Kona has a new web address...

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 at all costs if you're ever looking for a web host.

So here's the new address again- 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... 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.



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.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Wanna Dive has changed it's website URL to

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 " 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.



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.



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.