Friday, May 28, 2010

Scuba diving Kona Hawaii with Wanna Dive... a typical day...

Looks like I've got the weekend off the boat, I've been going out every day since the 14th (one day off in there somewhere). I'm expecting a busy summer, been getting lots of bookings already. I thought I'd try to describe a "typical" day on the boat...

I'm in town about 8am on most days running errands, filling tanks and such. I ask my customers to meet us at 9 on their first day, or if they've got their gear with them. If we've already got the paperwork out of the way and have our customer's gear sized up and ready for Bob, Cathy and I to set up before the charter, I'll ask that they show up around 9:15 - 9:20 or so so they don't have a long wait before launching. When everyone arrives on schedule we can usually launch at 9:30, surprisingly, early arrivals can slow the process down as I can't get up on the boat and help set up gear. We may be fiddling with the starting time in the next couple of weeks, we're trying to get the new customers to meet us at the shop for paperwork and gear sizing and see if we can bump the launch time up by 15-30 minutes.

At launch we give the boat safety briefing for new customers then head out the harbor. We're generally trying to get an idea of what the divers have already seen, and what they'd like to see, and once we're outside the harbor and can get a good look at water conditions, we can figure out a couple of good likely dive spots. I'll never commit to a dive site 'til we see conditions, one of the typical questions we get at the boat in the morning is "where are we diving?" Best I can say is "out there somewhere" because you just don't know if sites are even available 'til you get to them. We try to pick sites based on best available conditions and what people on the boat want to see.

Once we reach our first dive site one of the crew will jump the mooring, then whichever of us is guiding the first dive will give a briefing. We break out the book and try to show people what to expect to see on the dive, most sites have their resident critters that we've come to know. After the briefing it's time to suit up and get ready to dive. We'll have you in your wetsuits, fins and with mask ready at the rear of the boat, then the Captain or crew will bring your BC setup to you so you won't be walking around with heavy gear on. Preferred entry is a back roll off the side (safest entry from smaller boats), we can have you do a giant stride off the swimstep or hand your gear down to you in the water to don there if desired.

Once everyone's in (usually goes fast because we max out at 6 divers and typical group size is closer to 3-4) it's time to descend. We take our dives SLOW, so people can get a good look at things and have time to take photos and such. We're always looking for critters to show you and carry eraseable magnetic slates to write down names of what we're showing. If you see something interesting and wonder what it is, just let us know and we can tell you right there. Our routine is to ask to be notified when you reach 1500psi and 700psi in the tank so we can drop off divers at the boat as they reach 500psi for their safety stops. Divers who have plenty of air remaining can stay down and tour other areas of the site we've not shown yet. It's pretty easy to give good tours to people of all breathing capacities, and we go by air and computer NDL time remaining so we're getting long dives from those that are good on air. 75-90 minute dives are not unusual for the good breathers on the day outings. Note: the night dives are a timed dive, usually in the 50-60 minute range depending on the mooring situation.

End of the dive it's back to the boat, hand up fins to the captain and up the ladder (if you've got back, hip or leg issues and need us to pull your gear out of the water, just let us know), our ladder goes down in the water fairly deep and it's easy to navigate with gear on for most divers. We'll get your gear off your back when get to the top of the ladder and switch out the tanks for the next dive. Between dives it's talk story about the things we saw, pass out dry towels (we keep a stack on board) water, sport drink, sandwich or salad, and we generally try to keep some snack stuff (trail mix, etc) on board to munch on too.

During lunch (usually about an hour) we move to a second site.... we try to vary the type of divng you see each dive. Kona has lots of different types of sites to offer, you can keep diving without repeating sites for quite a while as long as the conditions don't pin us down to a few sites. Once we're to the second site and moored off, it's time to give the briefing for the second site and then the routine repeats itself. One note: On the twilight/night trip, we generally don't move, they're essentially two completely different type of dives without changing sites.

After the second dive, it's towels again, along with more water or sport drink if wanted, then it's back to the harbor. We typically meet up at the boat wash after the dives, we've got wash buckets and we'll be rinsing off customer's gear and handing it down. We do keep big gear stored overnight for customers that don't want to haul their stuff back to their hotels or condos between dives if requested. We can store wetsuits, BCs and regs and have it back the next charter, we do ask that customers take their masks, fins, booties and other small items with them.

Typical days are from 9am to about 2:30 to 3:00 or so (depending on how many on the boat and how much ground we cover).

The photo above is one I took on a night dive about a month back. We've been doing the dive 1-2 nights a week lately, probably 2-3 nights a week once it picks up for summer. The mantas have been around fairly consistantly.

Thought I'd mention water conditions.... it's warming up nicely, we're seeing 78 and even 79 degrees now. The last week or so the viz has been FABULOUS... over 200' much of the time. I did a dive at "Hoovers" two days ago and it was "down" to about 150' viz for that dive. We had some wierd currents the other day and have been seeing some pelagic stuff float in... lots of Crown Jellyfish and such. I had my camera the other day, then realized I left the memory card out - bummer - I might have some good jelly photos if I'd pay a litlle more attention with the memory cards after I download them.




Andrew Cooper said...

Got some video of that manta that gave us a private show last week. Check it out...

Mantas Up Close"

Thanks for the dives, great service!

Steve said...

Nice video! Thanks for the write up, it was fun having your crew on board.