Wednesday, November 23, 2011

OK, the earthquake was a 3.8 down near South Point...

Not as strong or close as the 4 pointer up the mountain from us on Sunday. Pat felt it, I was on the boat at the time.

Small earthquakes are common here. I haven't felt one in ages though. Here's a link: Hawaii earthquakes

Later,

Steve

Ah, felt that earthquake a minute ago...

Thought I was losing my touch, there'd been reports of relatively local quakes the last week I hadn't felt at all. This on felt like someone jumped up and down real hard behind me. Over in a fraction of a second. I'll post later what strenght and where it was located.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fare alert. JFK to HNL $212 each way. Hawaiian announces new New York City to Honolulu flight....

Just saw this. Through the 20th of November Hawaiian is offering this price on their newly announced air service, good for travel June 4th through June 30th of 2012. Leave NYC at 10 am, sipping Maitais in Honolulu at 3pm (Hawaii time)... Kona and it's great scuba diving is just a 45 minute flight away! Here's a link

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back from the mainland....

Whew, the last half of October was crazy busy, charters every day with some days running double charters. On the 30th I took off to Florida for a rondevous with my wife, who'd been visiting friends and family earlier in the month, and a visit to the dive industry show put on by DEMA.

Florida is a couple of loooong flights from here. Not sure if I'm hot to do that one for the dive show for a while. We went this year largely to get away, and I also needed to take some repair technician classes that I can't get locally as well as go to several other seminars that I was interested in.

The show seemed pretty well atteneded. Pat and I thought it was one of the more crowded first days of the show that we've seen in several years. Hopefully things are picking up in the industry. Many of the "big" companies had smaller booths the last couple years in comparison to say 3-5 years back, and dive travel seemed to take up a larger portion of the show than a few years back.

The single busiest company kiosk I can recall was the GoPro camera booth. They had introduced a new HD camera called the Hero2, with a wider angle of view, faster frame rate, brighter color and higher megapixel still camera, and were selling them like hotcakes. They sold out in the first 2 days and then sold out their remaining older HD model in the next day. It looks like an interesting little camera. They're introducing an underwater specific housing early next year. Current models are waterproof, but the optics are more for above water use and apparenlty have some focusing issues. The new housing will have a flat oversized port that will allow for focusing without vignetting.

After the show we took an airboat ride (have wanted to do that since watching Gentle Ben as a kid) and spent a couple of long days at the Disney parks. We tried to hit all of the major rides. Rides there are fairly tame compared to many coasters at other theme parks. Expedition Everest does a pretty good job, largely because there's a backwards portion. I do have a fear of heights issue that popped up out of nowhere when I was 28 years old (still can't figure out where that came from) and the only ride that really got me uncomfortable was "Soaring" at Epcot... where you're essentially riding a glider through California. You are strapped into a seat which they raise up into a concave screen that more or less surrounds you with the film. You're probably 15-20 feet off the floor, but that was enough to get me white-knuckled for the first 2-3 minutes of the video. It was a cool ride/show, and I'm glad I did it, ONCE - I wasn't up for a return flight.

Yesterday was a good day of diving. I'm lightly loaded for the next little bit so I'll try and take the camera down and start catching up with photos and videos for the blog while I can.

Aloha,

Steve

Monday, October 10, 2011

Argus groupers, what a pest...


Back in the mid to late 50's fish and wildlife (or some official branch along those lines) thought it would be a clever idea to introduce 10 or so species of fish to the Hawaiian Islands. Well, three have survived and two are pests. Our grouper is now found all over the reefs, quite thick in many places.

In theory they're good eatin', however they do carry ciguaterra toxin. Ciguaterra toxin isn't something you'd really want to deal with. It's sort of like lyme disease light, and apparently is occasionally mis-diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. Not something you want to deal with.

I haven't done a "getting old" post in a long time...

...and I'd been thinking of posting one about the diet I've been on. Recent events make for a jucier post.

I'd been semi-serious about my diet over the course of September, and managed to lose about 10-12 lbs. My wife has been swimming in the ocean with a friend for a few months and I asked if I could join in. Now both of them are very good swimmers, they're swimming a couple miles at a time now, and I've found I need to use fins to keep up with them. After several trips to Honaunau with them I'm considering ditching the fins... but then again I don't want to invite a heart attack down there right off the bat... so I decided I'd try some swimming in the pool and other cardio work before going for it. Well, the pool swimming has been eye opening, it's tougher than when I was young - but it's coming along.

Friday morning last week I had a blood test scheduled, so I did the fast thing from Thursday evening 'til the morning blood test. Drank a lot of water, both that evening and that morning. I've been pretty good about checking my blood pressure routinely since the swimming started, I'm trying to see if it's changing anything. So far no. The pic above is the history reading from that morning. Later on it would change....

After the blood draw, I'm heading home and feeling fine, and I see the trailhead to the Captain Cook Monument. Heck, I'll skip swimming and walk it! Genious idea Steve.

It's 10 am and I start walking. Well, the trail is pretty overgrown right now with the rains we've been having lately, and it's a little slick and the horse poops are a bit damper than in the part of the year when I've walked it in the past (irrelevant to the story, but thought I'd let people know about the current shape of the trail). 35 minutes later I'm at my usual turn around spot (I'm a little reluctant to do the last third to half mile that's so steep 'til I know I'm ready for it). Now I'm lighter, and arguably better conditioned than in the past when I've walked the trail, so I head up. I'm making good progress and after 14 minutes (I was watching the watch) I'm almost back to the trees/shrub area and decide to take a breather....

Shut down time. After a couple minutes I head off and get about 50 feet and can't continue. I rest a couple more minutes, feel OK and manage to make it about 20 feet and can't continue. At that point I'm worried. I felt no "event", so I rested a couple minutes longer then stood up, got dizzy and then at that point my vision went to black, green and bright white. Very trippy. I made it maybe 10 feet and had to sit again. At that point I'm thinking I had a stroke. I spent a couple minutes checking my motor skills, all digits worked, facial muscles worked, vision was ok when sitting down, I even juggled some rocks to make sure my hand/eye coordination was kinda OK. I felt pretty good, except when standing.

At that point I'm pretty scared. It's 11 am and I'm a bit over a mile down a hill from the road. So, I start stumbling my way up the trail the best I can all things considered (might have been stupid to do so). I couldn't take it any more and laid down for a coule minutes, then sat 'til a couple walked up the hill behind me about 5 minutes later. They asked if I was OK, my answer was "I'm OK, I guess, well, maybe not". I had some new friends for the better part of the next hour and a half. This whole event gave me a new found appreciation for strangers. A couple different groups offered me water along the way. I'd actually taken water and had run out shortly after the couple caught up with me.

Well, to shorten the story, we made it to the top of the hill finally at 12:30 and the couple drove me to the gas station to get water and some trail mix in case it was a blood sugar/dehydration thing, then dropped me off at the car and said they'd check back on me in an hour. I made a call to crew who was working with me that evening to tell them to get to the harbor and meet the customers and tell them that I was in the hospital so there wouldn't be a charter. I hated cancelling the charter on short notice, but there was no real choice at that point. Luckily, he (the crew memeber) happened to be in Captain Cook to drop something off at a friend's place and he got me to the hospital.

I wandered into the ER and saw the triage nurse... "What's going on?" "Well, I may have had a stroke, or a blood sugar event, I' don't know, I just failed the Captain Cook trail" So she sat me down, started asking the typical questions - what is your name, what is your birthday, what day is it, where are you, etc - repeatedly, had me squeeze her hands, hooked up the the BP cuff and asked what my normal BP was. At this point she's on the phone with someone inside. I was asked to stand for a BP reading, that lasted all of about 4 seconds when I started to black out. At that point I'm moved to a wheelchair and I can hear her on the phone saying 78/37 and syncope or something like that. I'm in the ER and they're hooking me up to IVs, EKGs, the little ET light finger O2 analyzer thingy and such in two minutes. They had a BP cuff on me and after the saline started flowing for a few minutes it read 82/43, then went slowly up over the next few hours.

Apparently I was quite dehydrated. By 5pm or so I was to a more normal BP level. They released me, told me to take it easy for a day or two, and drink lots of water, especially when I exercise. Well, I suspect I'll never exercise on an empty stomach again. As it stands, I'll be exercising near someone who's current on their CPR/first aid for quite some time. I don't want to take the chance there's something going on that predisposes me to this. I'm pretty sure it was the combination of 16 hours without food, the blood drawing (although it was a relatively trivial amount, 4-5 vials) and exercise in the sun.

In a wierd way, it was an interesting experience. One I hope I don't go through again. The scariest thing was the vision thing - I couldn't even tell what stuff was on the shelves at the mini-mart, it was just a bunch of glaring white packages to me, had to have help finding the trail mix. It never dawned on me that some basic functions, like vision, could shut down rapidly like that over a simple thing like not enough water.

I'm off to the pool....

Steve

Friday, September 23, 2011

Decisions, decisions....

Aloha,

We opened up the retail shop this spring and ran it 9 am to 5 pm all summer and have taken a look at the numbers coming into fall. Reluctantly, after realizing keeping the shop open adds about 3000 bucks to the payroll each month, which means the combined boat/shop needs to do about 5000 bucks more each month than it's already been doing without the shop, we've decided to stop manning the "store" all day, everyday.

Happily, the boat business is as strong or stronger than ever coming into the fall, and we'll be keeping the "office" location for morning meets, classes, and sales after the charters. I'll be manning the shop for an hour or two after day charters, and by appointment. Coming into our "slow" season, this move will give us the ability to continue servicing our charter customers and give me the ability to take an occasional day off (woohoo!) when I don't have dive charters going out.

It was a very busy summer for us, just not quite the numbers needed to justify keeping the shop open full time coming in to the leaner months. Hopefully we can revisit the whole retail thing at a later date.

Diving!!!!!!!! I've got a manta dive tonight, intros tomorrow, three manta dives next week and day dives the rest of the time, so my month is pretty much filled out. It'll be exciting to see what October brings.

Here's a picture of a diver taking photos of a group of Bluestripe Snappers that hangs out at a spot we dive. These fish are one of 10-12 species imported back in the 50s with the idea that they'd be a great addition to our reefs... now, along with the Bluespot Grouper, they're a pest. I think only 3 of the introduced species survived through to today.

Later,

Steve

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turtle!!!


I can't get enough of this guy.

Wanna Dive's dive shop is now open 10am-5pm daily...


OK, the picture's not flattering, but it shows fairly well where our dive shop is. We're just up above the Tesoro station on the highway across from Honokohau Harbor (that's the shop top center of the photo).

Just thought I'd post our hours. We've been bouncing around a bit since opening up late this spring, but with everyone's schedules we can man it 10-5 daily. Come on in and visit! 1-877-DIVE KONA

Aloha,

Steve

Lots of great diving in Kona the last couple of weeks...

Aloha,

I've been quite busy since about the 18th doing charters, have a day in the shop today so I thought I'd catch up on diving conditions. The water temp has bumped up, we're seeing 79/80 on the dives right now. We've had a couple pretty big south swells swing through the last 3-4 weeks, they tend to stir up the south facing sites a bit so we tend to do north facing sites on those days.

Mantas mantas mantas. We've been going out two evenings a week this summer for the most part, were skunked 3 times in the last month or so.... bummer, but Friday night was really quite the show. There were 14 mantas at the light circle when I got my divers down, and then it started to get crowded. A total of 21 mantas showed up for the evening. It's almost overwhelming when we get that many mantas, but it was nice to see that many as it was kind of sporadic the previous 3 weeks. An additional highlight of that dive was on the roundabout tour back to the boat at the end when we came across a pretty good sized Bigfin Reef Squid (sorry no photo, but if you search the blog using the search function in the upper left I've got several squid photos that will show up).

Here's a local cerianthus anemone. In the aquarium trade we called them pacific long tentacle anomone. These guys are found down deep in the sand. I took a picture of this one at about 110' several years ago, I generally don't get down that deep often so we don't see them on tours all that often.

Later,

Steve

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sam Choy's is returning to Kona Hawaii... Yay!!

...OK, I'd only eaten there once back in the day when it was out in the Kaloko warehouse district, but it was interesting. A friend of mine said I needed to go there for breakfast (same guy that recommended the double meat hot pastrami at Bianelli's the other month). I went there and it was really pretty good, a bit unusual by mainland standards (this was back in '99 when I was still relatively new to the island) as it was a plate lunch place. I had some kind of stew filled omlette if I recall correctly, quite tasty. The only reason I never went back was because I live way south, and I don't do breakfast or plate lunch all that often. At any rate, they closed their Kaloko restaurant several years ago.

Sam's an accomplished chef and has gained a bit of celebrity over the years, came out with some cook books, I think he's had a cooking show or two, was picked to design the food for an airline's in-flight meals, etc. Along the way he'd openend a restaurant in Honolulu that I hear good comments about. I believe all of the plate lunch places are closed and his new Sam Choy's Kona restaurant looks as though it will be more upscale.


It's moving into the old Wendy's Keauhou location. It was a Wendy's for years, but closed down several years ago. It arguably had one of the best views of any restaurant on the west side of the Big Island (others being the Coffee Shack Deli down in Captain Cook, and a couple of oceanside places). It's a prime location and there was lots of speculation/hopes over the years that some place nice would come in. Apparently this new venture has been in the works for quite some time, a couple of years maybe, but it's just started to really get up to speed in the last few months. They've expanded the old building and enclosed the patio. I thought I saw some type of sattelite dish on the roof, so they probably are putting in a bar section if I guess right (edit a half day later: Duh, if I'd actually looked through the website I'd linked earlier I'd have noticed the mention of the bar).

Kona's ripe for another nice restaurant to come in. Sam Choy the person is kind of a local institution, everyone knows who is. Hopefully it'll be another nice place to try after a great day of scuba diving in Kona Hawaii. I'm looking forward to it's opening.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Panorama photo of Wanna Dive, one of Kona's newest dive shops...


I'm in the shop today. I thought I'd play with Photoshop CS5 a little bit and try a panorama. It worked. This is 6 photos stitched together in photoshop. I haven't scrutinized it yet, just looked at it in small, but it seems to do a better job than the last time I tried a panorama in a much earlier version of photoshop. On the blog, you may have to click on the image to get it to full size and get a decent view. I'm not sure what'll happen on my Wanna Dive Kona facebook feed, hopefully it'll act like the typical photos and be clickable, video doesn't seem to play well.

Now I gotta try it in RAW and see if photoshop will merge RAW files and keep them in RAW, or If I have to edit them to jpeg and hope I got the white balance the same on each photo file edit... Underwater panoramas might be interesting to try. One of these days that I take a day off it might be fun to take a tank down to the reef and give it a try.

Anyways, you can kind of get an idea of what I'm putting together at the dive shop.

Aloha,

Steve

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's gorgeous in Kona, both topside and in the water, right now...


I'm in the dive shop for the day right now. We went out for the manta dive last night and got skunked for one of the few times this year. There was a manta around when snorkelers were first put in, but it took off, so none, or very few, of the divers got to see it as far as I know. It turned into a night dive for everone.

Business has been pretty steady throughout the summer, although right now I've got a 7 day mystery stretch of no charters for some reason. Starting the 19th, which is about when I suspected it to slow down, I've got charters lined up through the next 3 weeks or so, with plenty of other charters through the rest of September at this point.

So diving has been really nice the last little bit. We did see about a degree temperature bump in the last week, so the water's seemingly warming up. We've had some minimal swell, not enough to really affect anything. We're into the start of my favorite time of year to dive Kona. Late summer and fall are really great times to dive here... warmest and calmest water conditions usually, and once school's start up it typically isn't quite as busy for the resorts.

We were diving the other day out at Kaloko, and one of our customers was taking the Advanced Open Water course and used my camera for the photography dive, he managed to get several decent shots. Here's a shot of a pretty good sized ulua (aka trevally) he shot a picture of that was following our divers through the canyons for a while. The picture really doesn't do justice for the size of this fish, everyone diving said it was in the 36 inch long range.

Later,

Steve

Monday, August 08, 2011

Ho'okena Beach Kona Hawaii snorkeling video...


I had the morning off, kind of a lucky thing as there was an accident last night in Kealakekua that knocked over a telephone pole and the drive into town is taking forever. I took the liberty to drive a bit down the road to Ho'okena Beach Park for a bit of snorkeling, figured I'd try the camera.

I shot about 8 minutes of video while I in just for the heck of it. It's not spectacular, but it'll give you an idea of what the place is like. The color is much nicer through eyeballs, the video doesn't do it justice. I shot this video starting about 30 feet off the beach in 30 inches of water then swam to the right around the old pier. There's lots to look at right in close there.

Ho'okena is a small beach park in south Kona. It's got fairly nice facilities, camping by permit, some concessions run by a non-profit, and even handicap access to the facilities. The parking lot is sand, so be careful where you park it, AWD or 4WD might be handy if you're not watching where the tires are.

The beach is exposed to high surf in the stormy months, so the reef isn't as nice as some other places, but there's still lots of fish so there's plenty of decent snorkeling. There's some pretty nice shorediving there as well, but you'll probably need to do several dives there 'til you figure it out. My first shore dive there with my wife, Pat, was kind of lame. I decided to continue to explore it and found some pretty interesting diving over time.

I'm headed into the dive shop shortly. We have a manta dive going out with a couple of divers and snorkelers tonight.

Aloha,

Steve

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ghost shrimp and current Kona Hawaii scuba diving conditions...

Yay!

Finally, I've got Adobe CS5 on my computer at the shop, and after an update download my camera I bought last year has RAW support... this means, maybe I'll start taking my camera back in the water. I realized the other day that after a year without the camera in the water, I forgot how it works. I didn't even have the zoom/focus ring in the housing so I was pretty much stuck with wide angle, couldn't remember how to change the camera into macro, all sorts of photo mishaps ensued. I did manage to get this ghost shrimp photo though. It was down at 92 feet and this was taken without any type of flash and no zoom control. If you'd see the original photo, it'd be very blue and lacking in detail or color, the nice thing with RAW and underwater photography is that you can set the white balance after the fact and there's a real decent chance in getting the orginal colors back.

Ghost shrimp are also known as Fountain Shrimp in many parts of the world, named after the foutainous spray of their antennae I guess. They're a pretty decent sized reef shrimp, not eatin' size, but big compared to what we usually see.

We've had a pretty good south swell lately, with a fair amount of west in it on occasion. South we can deal with, west can be a problem if it's big enough. From the dive shop I can see things are kind of washed out near Honokohau Harbor (yesterday they were just fine). Tomorrow we have 3 intro divers and a couple of certified divers on the boat, hopefully it'll settle down by then. One of the very nice things about Kona diving is that because of the lack of soil at water's edge, it can be stirred up one day and cleared up the next if the surf settles down. Sand, the limited amount that there is on the reefs here, settles out very fast and we can have 100+ foot viz the day after having poor viz.

Yesterday's diving gave me the first 79 degree reading for an entire dive that I've had this year. Things are finally starting to warm up. It never got "cold" here (by our standards) this winter, but it has yet to really start getting warmer either. Last year it maxed out at about 79 degrees, I'm hoping we see 80/82 later this summer and into the fall. The warmer water temperatures often will hold out through November and early December.

Hanging out at Garden Eel Cove in Kona...


I hadn't had the camera underwater in ages and thought I'd do a short Captain's dive between dives up at Garden Eel Cove. We've had a pretty good south swell the last little bit, and this day it was huge and the bay off the airport and right outside the harbor were the best bets that day, we were training students so we opted for good conditions and did both dives up north off the airport.

Garden Eel Cove is a very good example of Hawaiian hard coral reef. It was protected by Keahole point back when Hurricane Iniki came through a decade or so ago and it still has lots of old growth coral. You can see all the hard corals on the dropoff in the video. Unfortunately the video doesn't do it justice... largely blue, when you're actually diving it you get to see all of the browns and golds of the corals and the color of the fish.


Later,

Steve

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Drove to Hilo on Friday for the first time in ages... forgot how interesting the Big Island is...


I drove to Hilo to have the tailgate of my truck linexed, insurance paid for it since I was rear-ended a month ago, and Pat and I decided to make a day of it. For the most part we had a sunny trip over to the east side of the island, man is the Big Island gorgeous when it's sunny. I haven't been to Hilo in the sun all that often.

Downtown Hilo seems to be a little busier than I last remembered it. It's got a bunch of shops on the main drag to check out. We stopped in at Sun and Sea Hawaii, a nice little dive shop that's been in Hilo for about 3 years or so. From what I can see, Nautilus and them are about the only game in town for dive shops there. Pat and I stopped at Cronies bar and grill for a couple of beers and to try out their "broke the mouth" size "works" burger. Twice the meat (1# total) and twice the toppings... lot's of cheese, bacon, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts... that's a lot of stuff. I had to resort to a knife and fork. Pat and I split it since we'd just eaten a couple hours earlier but I wanted to try it, it was good.

The big yellow blob at the top of the post is a Siphopteron Quadrispinosum. It's one of our local nudibranchs. Back 10 years or so, when I was first made aware of them, I used to spot these guys from 8-10 feet away. The last few years I haven't been so lucky... they max out at about 3 millimeters in length, and my middle aged eyes are having a tough time focusing on something that small anymore. My guess is that a portion of the people I've pointed them out to over the years thought I was just pointing at sand and was a little bit crazy to be fixated on nothing. I've tended to notice them in the late spring and early summer, so if you're diving along over a sandy area and see a hot yellow grain of sand, you might want to look a little closer to see if it's one of these.

Later,

Steve

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Want a light weight compact full featured BCD to travel with? Cressi Travelight BCD may fit the bill...


I thought I'd give a try at a video review of a product we're carrying at the dive shop. When I went to DEMA last year I saw the Cressi Travelight BCDs and was favorably impressed, figured when I started to carry BCDs in the shop it'd be something I want to stock.

The Cressi Travelight BCD folds up nicely into a smallish bag, small enough that you can probably fit it in most carryon bags. Nowadays with how the airlines are charging for that extra suitcase, it's nice to see dive manufacturers putting out some lighter more compact gear without sacrificing features. The Travelight comes in the standard sizes, has large zippered pockets, integrated locking weight pouches, trim pockets, rear and right shoulder dumps, a large padded spine pad for comfort, plenty of D rings to hook things on, etc... all the features most people look for in a BCD. Weight-wise you're looking at about 5-6 lbs all told. It also has a decent lift capacity for warm water diving, not huge but not bad.

I was surprised once I looked up some reviews of the product. It fares quite well as a BCD. Scuba Diving magazine's scuba lab gave it "Editor's Choice" and "Best Buy" designations. I've seen other good recommendations as well. It's well worth looking into if you're looking at a new BCD to travel with.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another reason why I like Hawaii Scuba Diving...

Went scuba diving... dolphins swam by from Steve on Vimeo.



Whoohoo!!! Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins!!! When you are scuba diving in Hawaii it's a real treat to see these guys underwater. It doesn't happen all that often, but we get lucky often enough to say it's not that unusual. We do see them on the surface on a quite regular basis, often several times a week, when we're out diving in Kona.

This was a particularly good day for us, I happened to have the camera along at the time. You can clearly hear the dolphins in the video and if you listen, you'll hear the whales singing in the background. It was February when I took this, that's just coming into the height of the whale season off Kona. We hear humpback whales quite often on our dives that time of year.

Later,

Steve

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reserve your activities early for best scheduling options....


It's about time to make this post again. It's that time of the year where it's busy in Kona and elsewhere. I've been getting lots of phone calls the last few days from people that I just can't help out because they've either been beaten to the punch and I'm full, or they're calling so late I don't have the ability to set up charters or add on enough passengers to make a charter worthwhile.

I got a couple of interesting phone calls this week:

One was from a person who flew over to this island, for one night, specifically to do the manta dive. Unfortunately for tehm, they waited 'til they arrived to try to arrange for the manta dive. From the list of operators that had turned them away, it appears everyone was either full or not going out. I gave them the list of every one I knew of that might possibly be going out that night, hopefully the found a ride and weren't disappointed. I had a similar call the next day, but at least they had one extra day available to go and I was able to take them.

I received another phone call from someone who had seen that I'm one of the few, if only, charters here that goes out with only two divers, problem is they wanted it in a time frame that made it very unlikely for me to even break even (not to mention they said they were open to either of two days, until they found out I already had someone on board the other day). I'm happy to guarantee charters for two divers if they can give me at least a week to try to book on top of it... when that happens, more often than not I'll get an extra body or more on board to make it worthwhile, so it's worth guaranteeing the dive. When people are looking at booking within a week, hopefully they have a flexible schedule and can join in when there are existing charters. I even guarantee charters for singles from time to time (most are long time customers I consider to be friends, or it's during a busy time for me and I'm quite sure I've got a good shot at booking on top) Historically, 90% of my business is booked a week to months in advance...It's July and I had two inquiries yesterday for February and April (didn't book yet, but I bet by November I'll have a couple of firm bookings for late winter or spring)... I've historically been getting very few short notice bookings, as the new shop starts to generate more traffic, that'll change and the issue may never come up again.

From what I've seen over the years, many companies on occasion do a last minute scramble to cancel or reschedule charters with people who've already booked because there weren't enough to make the charter a go at a profit. I try not to go there by either guaranteeing my bookings, or not taking them if it's what I'd consider to be realistically too short of a time period to book enough to make it worthwhile. Luckily most of my weeks have enough charters already going out that last minute couples or singles with flexible schedules can get out with me.

Anyway, from what I've seen, there are lots of people scrambling to find spots with local activities (not just scuba) on short notice right now. I've been there myself when I've travelled, but my recommendation is to try to arrange the activities you really want to do at least a week in advance, it'll likely save you some phone calls and frustrations.

The photo above is of an Imperial Shrimp that lives on a Spanish Dancer Nudibranch. I was lucky to spot this one, we don't see either of them often enough.

Aloha,

Steve

Best night dive in the world? Best manta ray diving in the world? The Kona Manta Ray night dive is really hopping right now....

Thought I'd mention the manta dive is going off again right now. We went out again last night and had umpty-ump mantas on the dive and are going out again with a full boat of divers tonight and Monday night. I've had a couple different companies call me to see if I have room the next few nights, they're running full too. Maybe the busy season has finally hit Kona.



I've probably posted this before, but the manta ray night dive never gets old. This video only has about 25-30% of the number of mantas that have been showing up the last couple of nights, but it gives you an idea of what it can be like.

Later,

Steve

Cheap, inexpensive underwater film cameras for snorkeling or scuba diving in Kona Hawaii.

A lot of people tend to think of underwater photography as a thing they're going to have to spend hundreds of dollars just to get started and don't realize there are reltively cost effective cameras available for those who just want to take a few snapshots while they are snorkeling or diving.

We carry the Snap Sights Sports Utility Cam at our shop. It's a basic housed film point and shoot camera. You'll find "underwater" single use cameras that are good to 12/15/30 feet around at a lot of places. These cameras are a bit beefier... they're good to 100 foot depths, so they're great for snorkelers, kayakers, and scuba divers. These specific cameras are quite nice in that they come loaded with 27 shots and are refillable/reusable... you can put another roll of film in when you are done and take them back underwater again. They are also quite nice in that they come with a built in flash, you'll have a chance at taking a picture with good color. Water tends to absorb color, and without a flash the pictures can look dull and bluish. With a flash, you add light back so you get your color back. The flash is really only good to about arm's length or so but it really helps bring back the true color of what you're looking at if you're about 2-3 feet away or so.

These cameras are a fun and reltively inexpensive (we're selling them for $19.99 at our shop) way to try underwater photography and bring home some memories without breaking the bank.

Aloha,

Steve

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Escaping the summer heat? Maybe Kona Hawaii is the place to be...


We've been real busy lately with dive charters, and oddly enough there's been someone from Texas on the boat almost every charter the last 3-4 weeks. I figure they must be coming here to get out of the heat. Let's face it, Kona's a wonderful place to be when the mercury's hitting the century mark at home. We've been seeing 83 degrees, plus or minus 2 degrees, and quite pleasant pretty much every day the last couple of months.

Summer's been fairly busy for us. We're starting to get into a routine with the shop now, we're open from 8am to 5pm. We're trying to get our inventory set up electronically from here on out, Pat's been sitting at the computer inputting bar codes and descriptions. She looked at me the other day and said "you owe me bigtime, do you realize you've got almost a thousand different items in the shop already?" I"m not sure if we're up to a thousand items, but it's well into the hundreds when you start figuring in sizes and colors of shirts/fins and all the assorted accessory items we're starting to carry.

Update on current water conditions. Summer's here! We've had some wonderfully flat days lately. The water's still 78 on my computer, but it's feeling warmer than it was a few weeks back to me. Lately I've dove the manta dives a few times (always a fun dive) and several dives with students, otherwise I've been mostly playing boat captain. I need to hire one more part time boat captain, that can also lead dives, to round out our scheduling.

Here's a Moorish Idol photo I took some while back. They're one of our more "popular" fish, but they're kind of hard to get photos of... I can't tell you how many "fish butt" photos of these guys I have. They have a knack for turning at the last moment and the camera delay of most point and shoot cameras is enough to allow them to turn and give you a different photo than you expected.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Very busy week/month coming up for us... lots of scuba diving Kona ahead...



Shop update:

I'm hanging out at the shop today, I'll be on the boat for the near forseeable future. Here's the most recent photo of part of our shop. I'm due for another accessory order to fill in some gaps in my offerings. We've got lots of masks, fins, snorkels, a few models of regulators, BCDs, wetsuits and such to go along with the t-shirts, lights, cameras and other goodies. It's coming along nicely.

Things are getting busy enough that I've hired on two additional employees and I'm looking at maybe hiring on another in the next couple of weeks. The boat's getting busy enough In may have to let the shop go unstaffed a day or two this next week. If I can get a new hire in in the next little bit our goal is to keep it open 8-5 seven days a week. We're pretty close to that now, but on days we're short handed the boat takes precedence.

Kona water conditions:

Summer's here. This was an odd winter in that it never really got cold. Typically we'll drop to 73-74 degrees, this year most of our customers dive computers (ours as well) were showing 76/77 degrees. That's warm for us in the winter. With that, I was expecting a bump up in April or May. Hasn't happened yet. We're still seeing 76/77 on pretty much everyone's computers. Viz has been good to excellent lately on most days.

Later,

Steve

Best sandwich in Kona? Bianelli's is back, and their grilled pastrami with double meat is pretty darned good...


June's been real steady for diving this year. Between the shop and the boat I hadn't had a day off this month, so yesterday I closed up shop (can't afford to do that soon, busy season will be starting) and played hookey.

A couple weeks back, a boat captain friend from another company, Jim, told me I've gotta try Bianelli's pastrami sandwich and to be sure to ask for double meat. Bianelli's has been a spot for pizza in Kona, off and on, since before I moved here in early '99. Originally they were in the Pines in a small spot, then closed and reappeared in the old Kona Ranchhouse Restaurant spot, which got hit hard by construction on Kuakini Highway about 4-5 years ago or so and ended up closing down. In the last year or so they reopened at the natural foods store up by Safeway and now they're in the old Rocky's Pizza location at the Keauhou Shopping Center. I'm hoping this spot does well for them, as they've consistantly put out a good pizza. It was busy yesterday at 4pm when I visited, so hopefully it'll keep up.

Now to the sandwich... yum yum... I'd say the sandwich is on roughly a 9 inch bun, plus or minus. It's got grilled pastrami, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, melted swiss cheese, a dab of mustard (not overwhelming) with a couple of peppercini's on the side for good measure. It's sufficiently moist and gooey (I'm not crazy about crusty dry pastrami) for my tastes... quite delicious. The sandwich runs in the $9.50-$10 range, with another $2-$2.50 for the double meat. Now Jim says ya gotta get double meat, but I suspect for lots of people the regular sandwich would be quite a decent meal. I appreciated the extra meat though, it's a good investement for anyone that fancies themselves as a big eater. I don't eat a lot of sandwiches around town (once I hit 250 lbs about 6 years ago I started watching my carb intake to some extent, it's helped to the tune of about 35 lbs) but it's definitely a pretty good sandwich.

If you decide to give it a try, tell 'em Steve from Wanna Dive told you you had to try it- they won't know who in the heck that is, but a little free advertising never hurt.

Aloha,

Steve

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I'm such a meanie... I made Bob jump the same mooring twice...

Two days ago the water settled down and was very nice. We went up to a dive site called "sand chute" up by the Kona airport. Bob jumped the mooring and as he was climbing up the ladder I noticed a lot of ruckus going on about a half mile out on the surface. I told Bob I was sorry to do this, but I think we needed to unhook and check it out.

As we approached the spot we could see it was what I expected... a baitball! There was a circle of white foamy water and small fish about 10 inches high off the surface of the ocean with a bunch of shark fins swirling through it.


We parked right next to it and you could see fish jumping and probably 6-8 five to six foot long sharks swimming through it. The sharks were probably Galapagos or Sandbar sharks, I'm not sure as I really don't know the difference right off hand.

Once our eyes adjusted to looking through the water, we could tell the mass of fish life was much larger than just the immediate foamy spot where the fish were jumping. It was all around us. After 8-10 minutes or so a dolphin watch operator pulled up about a hundred feet away and we could tell the whole area between us was quite busy. Looking down you could see tons of little 2-3 inch fish, with tons of 6-8 inch fish below them, which were being hit by tons of 12-15 inch fish below them and the occasional shark passing through.

I wish I had my camera, but then again I'm kinda glad I didn't as I would have had choices to make. I pretty much chickened out about going in to check it out... probably a good idea, but if I'd have had a camera and housing with me I might have been tempted to ease down the ladder with the camera. I know from experience with swimming with Ocenic Whitetip sharks years ago that it's not the most comfortable feeling (especially when you read up on how many deaths Oceanics are responsible for - apparently it's more than all other sharks combined) being in open water with predators and not being able to see in all directions at once. These weren't Oceanic Whitetips, but still I'm kinda conservative these days.

It was an exciting thing to watch for a few minutes before going back to sand chute for the dive.

Above is a shot of one of my favorite fish... a Yellowtail Coris Wrasse. These colorful guys change colors as they grow.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Here it's June 4th, and it's still snowing in Hawaii...

Yep, it's still snowing up the mountain from some of the best scuba diving in the US right now. Here's a link to the webcams atop the Big Island: Manuna Kea webcams The best ones to check out are the time lapse videos from the webcams. The Keck ones are pretty good. If you're looking at this after TONIGHT you might not see snow unless you find a link that can get to a specific date and key in 6/4/11.

Aloha,

Steve

Time to give the boat a little touch up...


Well, after 3 years of dings and scrapes it's time to give the boat a light touch up on the interior paint. One fo my newer hires, Brian, is pretty handy so we've been redoing the electrical to make sure everything's working right and now he's been playing with fiberglass touching up the cosmetic end a bit filling in the tank dings. Should be ready for painting shortly. We're going to try to do it on our own rather than pay thousounds for the local boat guys to do it. For the exterior, I spent an hour or two of hand buffing and it looks a lot better. We'll see if that can last us another year or two before having it professionally done.

We've had pretty nice weather in Kona lately, can't say the same with Oahu and Kauai. I've been running into people who've seen a lot of rain on the other islands the last several days. Kona is blessed in that it sits in the weather shadow of the other islands to the northwest, and behind a volcano which shields it from weather approaching from the east. We still get our occasional foul weather days, but it's nowhere near as bad as what some other areas see.

In honor of cleaning up the boat, here's a cleaner shrimp. I really think these critters are neat. They live in coral heads and set up shop, fish will visit them and the shrimp will crawl all over the fish picking parasites and other unwanted critters off and make a meal of them.

Later,

Steve

Friday, June 03, 2011

Hold the Mayo....


I didn't post to my blog in May at all. The first half of the month I was so busy I didn't have time, the second half of the month was so slow I didn't have anything to say. That's how it goes sometimes in this business, especially in the "slower" months when things aren't necessarily steady.

We're coming into our "busy" season quite soon. Over the years I've pretty much figured things start picking up for the summer after the 2nd weekend of June. Somewhere I heard that diving's target market is the 35-55 year old crowd. A good share of people in that age group are dealing with kids when they plan their trips, so it makes sense that the summer months and our holiday periods see an uptick in traffic.

I haven't presonally been in the water in 2 weeks so I won't comment on water temps, that'll change quite soon though as my charters start up again in two days. The manta riy night dive has been hopping for about 6 weeks or so, seems to have slowed down the last couple of nights as plankton has been kind of low for some reason, and that dive is dependant on plankton for the most part. You never know from one day to the next if the plankton'll show up at times.

Here's a shot of an undulated moray eel that apparently got into a pretty good scrap with another eel.... quite injured, don't know if it survived or not.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Apolemichthys arcuatus - Bandit Angelfish of Hawaii...

Here's a pair of Bandit Angelfish. These are the only "large" angelfish you'll likely see in the main Hawiian Islands, as most of our angelfish are dwarf species. They reach up to about 7 inches and are typically found only at depths of 60 feet and below in Kona. I've heard they're found shallower more frequently over on Kauai. They're endemic to the Hawaiian Islands as far as I know, you won't find them anywhere else.

We're always happy to see these guys.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The changing face of Wanna Dive....

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Wanna Dive started with me doing guided shore diving and instruction on the side while working for one of the larger companies here. By 2003 I was up to about half time doing my own thing and I decided to pick up the boat. Wow, what a learning experience... when I told my Oceanic rep (my rental gear at the time was from them) I was picking up a boat, he looked at me and said "ya know what BOAT stands for, bust out another thou". Boy was he right, in spades.

With very little actual boat business in '03 and '04 it's been a long slow growing experience. By 2005 I was starting to actually get a fair amount of boat business and it kept growing. In 2007 we decided to take the boat out for 6-8 weeks (our boat guy said it wold be 3) to completly rebuild the boat and change it over from and inboard/outboard to just outboards. After going thorugh 3 chevy 350s and a couple of lower leg units in 4 years it was time to get to outboards... it ended up taking 5 months (that's a lot of downtime, I ended up using the boat of a friend that was starting their own dive biz at the time)... the rebuild and extension of the boat gave us lots more room, a better ride and a lot more reliability and has be completely worth it.

The change in the boat was huge for the business. A couple of summers ago I rented out an office in hopes of eventually turning it into a shop. Well, eventually came last month. Along with the new shop came a new hire (I may be hiring one more part timer this month as well). Talking to the new employee, I found that the spouse was a graphic artist. Well, I've never had an actual logo ever, a couple of ideas but no real talent to do it myself. It was time. I just got the disk, so, I'd like to introduce our new logo we'll be using with printed materials.

Later

Steve

Snorkel and scuba diving gear rental in Kona Hawaii with Wanna Dive...


Well, now that we have our shop up and running 9-5 every day it's time to put together a gear rental program.

Looking at masks... it looks like I'm gonna offer 5 different masks for rental: kids, a S-M that'll fit the bigger kids/smaller adult faces, a M-L that'll fit most faces, a large and an XL for the broader cheekbones and temples. I just can't see getting buy with just 2-3 mask choices, there's no such thing as one size fits all, and I want to be able to fit everyone coming in. I've still got to figure out how to do more than one size of prescription mask so I can offer a choice for larger faces.

Snorkels... I've got to bring in a bunch of decent dry snorkels next week to really be able to do this, both kids and adult sizes.

Fins... I've already brought these in. I'm going to try something differnt than many of the rental places by using adjustable fins with soft foot pockets made to take bare feet. Nice thing about 'em is the adjustability for fit and the ability to wear fin socks on all sizes and the ability to wear reef shoes on some of the sizes (gotta figure out to make it all sizes, but I'm gonna have to look for other fins to make that work with big feet). I've also brought in some decent full sized open heel adjustable scuba fins that'll fit over dive boots for rent. I won't be renting fin socks, reef shoes or booties though... lots of extra sanitization involved in that one to make me feel comfortable about it, I think I'll pass.

Wetsuits... we'll have both 3 mil shorties and 4/3 mil (3 mil in some sizes) full suits for rent. Shorties will do awesome for snorkelers wanting more thermal and sun protection, as well as helping keep you nice and floaty. The full suits are great for diving and 4/3 seems to be about the right thickness for most people much of the year here in Hawaii.

BCDs... we brought in a bunch of weight integrated BCs that have been working real well for us this year. In the past I had pouch problems with a couple of brands I used for rental on the boat, this one seems to have solved the lost pouch problem.

Regulators. I brought in several regs that have been holding up for us real well. They're a Cressi reg with a piston first stage and adjustable second stages, very nice. I need to bring in more for rent. All of our boat rental regs have computers, I'm not sure if I'll put computers in the ones for shore rental.

I still gotta deal with the who boogieboard/viewboard thing as well as a few other accessories. I'm gonna have fun coming up with package prices and rental policies the next few days. The goal is to roll it out over the course of May 2011 and be up to full speed by the start of summer. I'll have pricing on my Hawaii scuba diving business' website.

I'm hoping that being on the highway between town and the airport makes us a convenient place for people to do thier snorkel and dive gear rental business. Having a shop now on top of the dive charter business is getting interesting... more to deal with. Fun.

Here's a group of yellow tangs, whitespotted tangs and a few other fish grazing on the reef down at "Two Steps" outside the Place of Refuge. It's one of the state's top snorkel and shoredive spots.

Later,

Steve

EDIT September 23, 2011: We've decided to change strategies on the retail store and won't be manning it full time, please read the link for more information.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The manta ray night dive has been crazy nutzo in Kona Hawaii the last little bit...


Howdy,

Just a heads up... the manta dive off the airport is going off bigtime right now. We had 9 on Wednsday of this last week, not bad, then on Saturday's dive we had 19 mantas (we were one of the last two boats to leave and it was boiling with mantas around our boat at the end of the dive, had to turn off all the lights and shine a beam off to the side just to start the engines and get out of there). Last night the report was 20 mantas at the site.

I won't be roped into picking a "season" for manta rays, however we've had some of our biggest number nights in May over the years. Hopefully it'll keep up for a while.

Here's a pic I took several years ago on the night dive. Imagine having bunches of these coming over you.

Later,

Steve

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Busy April for me.. which brings up a subject... When to book your scuba diving and other activities in Kona Hawaii...


Aloha,

I've been very busy this month between manning the shop and dive charters. Tomorrow's Easter and I'll take my second day off of the month since I've no charters and a decent excuse to be out of the store.

I'll try to touch on my opinion of when to book charters and other activities. This post will kind of ramble... People are so varied as to when they book activities, I used to wait 'til last minute and then do a lot of calling around myself, nowadays (since I'm in the biz) I lean towards booking things earlier for best selection.

The reality is, most of the time if you aren't interested in a specific operator and your schedule's somewhat flexible, you can wait 'ti the last couple of days and find a spot somewhere. At least among the dive businesses in Kona, most are pretty good about referring people elsewhere when they can't make your charter happen. Not sure if the other activities businesses in town are the same though. Once you have a specific operator, or a specific schedule in mind, then it probably behooves you to try to set something up in advance. We do have some really busy times here, Christmas, spring break and such, where it can be tough to find seats on short notice. Christmas week of '09 for instance, I had every charter fully booked by the first week of November... I remember it because that was right before I had my website crash (if you go back in the blog to that time you'll find my griping about it).

Every business is a bit different. I was talking to one operator a couple years back that does diving with more of a snorkel lean, and was told that about 90% of their business booked within 72 hours of the dive. For me, that'd scare me to death... I probably book 90% of my business at least 2-6 weeks in advance. It'll be interesting to see how that mix changes as the shop starts picking up. Currently I have a fair amount of biz booked in May, some in June and July, and 15 charters started in December. Late summer and fall are quiet for now. My goal is to more or less know my schedule well in advance, and then fill in the gaps with walkin customers.

Some people are surprised so many divers actually book in advance. The question I get from time to time is "what happens if it's just us on the boat 30 days from now, are you gonna cancel at the last moment?". Well, that can vary from operator to operator. In the past I have worked for operators that made the late afternoon or evening call the night before the dive to cancel on occasion because the boat wasn't full enough to run at a profit. I did it myself a couple times when I first started the boat charters, but frankly I felt bad about it and decided that's not the way I'd like to be treated as an early booking so I decided to honor all early bookings (no matter how painfull financially). What I've found is that for the most part, if I book a diver or two a few weeks in advance, 80% of the time it works out that I end up booking on top of them and it's all worth it in the long run. I get my share of "private dive" days, but they're fewer and further between than early on. I was looking at Tripadvisor earlier today and noticed a new review from one of my advance booking customers that went out solo with us. Nice to see he had a good time.

So what happens on short notice bookings? Well, that can be another story altogether. I get my share of larger groups (4-6 divers) that call on short notice wanting to go out, but I've already got 2-3 passengers on board and can't fit them on... I end up referring them elsewhere. I wish I could help them out, but it's first come first served. Sometimes I'll get a single or couple that come in and want to go diving three days from now and I've got the day open... unfortunately, in my mind I'm under no obligation to book a money losing charter on short notice. Luckily most of the short notice divers have a flexible schedule and we can usually pick a day that works for both of us or I'll refer them elsewhere. We'll be coming into our busy season here in a few weeks, and with any luck the store will start picking up and the walkin traffic will improve to the point to where I'll be able to go out every day even on short notice.

Bottom line, every industry and operator is different, some are primarily last minute bookers, some book well in advance. It's well worth checking in advance to at least get a feel for any activity or operator you're interested in.

Here's a black phase Longnose Butterfly from Kona. Hawaii has an endemic species of longnose butterfly with a longer nose than those found elsewhere in the world. In Kona we sometimes see a black phase. Nobody's sure exactly why it occurs, but they can go from yellow to black and back.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So I brought in some Intova digital camera product...

I want to carry some underwater cameras in the shop so I brought in some Intova digital cameras and assorted items (red filters, wide angle lens, strobes/trays/fiber optic connectors) to try, as well as the $20 reusable film cameras that are good to a hundred feet. The digital cameras I brought in are 12 megapixel cameras housed in a housing that's good to 180 feet. If they're any good, they're a heck of a deal for under $250.

Some time in the next week or so I'll try to get out diving with one to see what it can do. I'm looking at keeping at least one for rent on the boat. I figure $35 a charter is a decent rental price for a camera that you can take a lot of stills and video (it shoots 720P HD video too), and I'll apply the first day's rental towards purchase of the camera if anyone decides they want to pick one up within a week after trying it. I'm hoping they're relatively easy to work with, like with any camera there's always a learning curve. I'll report back after I give 'em a shot.

I do plan on carrying some other photographic equipment down the line. Gotta get a start somewhere...

Later,

Steve

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm testing the video from my phone on blogger
video

I picked up a new htc thunderbolt cellphone that I'm having fun with . it has voice recognition so I'm trying to do this without typing as much as possible .

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scuba diving the day after a tsunami in Kona....

It was a great day of diving today. The customers were happy and Bob said the viz was in the 100-125 foot range. I'll do one of the dives tomorrow, I was up top for both today. Just thought I'd mention the conditions today... flat and clear... as some people might be curious as to how the tsunami affected the diving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Youtube video from Big Island tsunami in Kona March 11th, 2011



Frankly, this guy was taking chances. I'd have been out of there.

The main surge has supposedly passed, evacuation has been lifted on most of the Big Island except for north and south Kona...

This tsunami did cause some damage to a couple of areas. We were thinking about going to Splashers for dinner tonight, not sure if that'll happen. You'll see what I mean if you can get on facebook and look around for tsunami pictures. I've taken the liberty of forwarding some shots others have taken on my Wanna Dive Kona facebook page. The road damage is right by the pier in town between the pier and Splashers. There are other pics out there showing the area to be a bit flooded. It also looks as though the King Kam beach took a hit. Facebook has turned out to be one of the best sources of information on this event when it comes to finding damage, lots of the pure informational stuff (closures and openings) isn't necessarily accurate though according to the radio I was listening to earlier.

They've got crews in assessing damage and cleaning up road debris on Alii Drive. Hopefully it'll all be clear at some point today. Apparently 2 homes in the Keauhou area were showing damage according to the radio, and 3 homes surrounding Manini beach, down the road from my house, were obliterated by a surge that happened around 5 or 6am. I heard through the grapevine that the surge was pushing 15 feet high down around Manini beach. Napo'opo'o road is closed down by the coffee company about two thirds the way down at this point.

The main highway into town was packed this morning at 8 (I was coming back from spending the night at the shop) with people waiting for the evacuation order to be lifted.

More later...

Steve

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Moved the boat, hanging out at the shop for the duration...

I made it down to the harbor at a few minutes after 11. All of the gas stations on the way in and out of town are quite busy. The harbor wasn't busy when I arrived, but by 11:15 it was getting real busy, with lots of trucks pulling in as I left.

They're predicting a 2 meter rise in sea level here in the Kailua-Kona area, which makes keeping your boat in the boat park kind of dicey. The shop is about a half mile inland and a bit uphill, maybe 40-50 foot elevation, and is out of the predicted tsunami inundation zone.

I'll probably move things further uphill about 2 o'clock. They just announced the latest predicted time to be around 3:45 to 3:50am.

Heading off to the harbor to take the boat to higher ground...

I'll probably take me about 35-40 minutes to move the boat. I may check in from the shop to tell you about activity in town.

Steve

It's 9:45pm and the Hawaii tsunami watch has become an alert...

The television is reporting that the Pacific Tsunami Center is saying the tsunami alarms will be going off at 9:59pm. Apparently they want to make sure people turn on the news at 10 (Hawaii tv hours are typically the same as central time).

The news reports they expect the hotels to be moving thier patrons upstairs in Waikiki if it looks as though a tsunami is coming rather than trying to evacuate the area.

Tsunami Watch Kona Hawaii March 9, 2011

Apparently there's a tsunami watch after a very strong earthquake in Japan earlier this evening. I'd been watching a pay per view movie and heard via family on the mainland. I'll be watching the news this evening, I may need to drive down to the harbor and move the boat.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Praying mantis in Kona Hawaii.


I'm down at the dive shop today. It's just about ready to open, I need to pick an official "open" date to start manning it full time. We've got a couple things to do that are easier done before we're open, and Bob gets back from Thailand this week, so it'll probably be between the 10th and the 15th. We'll finish everything up working around charters this week.

So one of the things about Hawaii, it's kind of buggy. Lately we've been getting these little green grasshoppers showing up at the house. They're kind of annoying, they like TVs, computer screens, and occasionally faces, which can be irritating when you're trying to sleep. Last night Pat had a praying mantis show up in her office, today while she was doing something on the computer one of the grasshoppers showed up and the mantis sprang into action.... that's one happy mantis.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wow, an entire month without a post...

February was kind of wierd. The first 8 days or so were terrifically busy, double charters, am charters and pm teaching... ect... Then it was about 5-6 days of miserably sick, with pretty much the same thing I had back in late November/early December, followed by two weeks of caughing and lack of motivation. I'm just now getting to where I can clear my ears most of the time. We've been running some charters, I hate it when it's slow, but it happened at the right time. Starting this weekend we're off to the races with spring break hitting.

Today is pricing day at the shop. Stickers are going on everything I've brought in the last couple of months. I may be hiring one more person in the next week or so, still gotta interview some people that responded to my ad that I put off because I couldn't even hold a conversation without going into a hacking fit. Sometime very soon the shop will be open 9-6 daily. I'll be making up for my lack of posting bigtime once we're open.

Later,

Steve

Sunday, January 30, 2011

There's a new dive shop/scuba center coming to Kona Hawaii.....

Aloha,

Well it looks as though I'm finally going to be able to get the retail side of Wanna Dive open soon. For a bit over a year I've had a space and set it up as an office and gear storage, along with a few shirts masks and a few scuba do-dads to sell on the side. It's looked like a dive shop is coming for quite some time... well, the time is getting to be oh so much nearer now.

During that time I've had lots of people ask why I'm not manning the shop, well unfortunately you need to have lots of product to sell to really justify spending a few thousand a month manning the shop, and I can't be in the shop and on the boat at the same time. It hasn't been in the cards just yet. This last November I went to DEMA, the big industry show, with the intent to find some lines for the shop and order it in.

Over the course of December and January the gear's been coming in. I was crazy busy with charters in December and the first 8-9 days of January, since then (unfortunately with the help of the arrival of scuba unfriendly surf) I've had some spare time to where I could spend time in the "shop" and get it put together. Along with the product, I've been bringing in extra fixtures, shelving, racks and such and have been setting it all up and getting the gear on the walls.

It's not yet where it will be down the line, but it's to where I can show it off and say the store's coming soon. This next week I place my help wanted ad. I'm hoping to be able to open the shop up full time come about 3 weeks from now so we'll be in the swing of things before the spring break rush hits. The February dive charter schedule is starting to shape up nicely, so I'm not sure how often we'll be around 'til the day I officially open (whenever that is) - once that happens it'll be 7 days a week, except major holidays, Ironman day (the highway out front is closed that day)... and maybe Superbowl Sunday.

We're located at 74-5035 Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway ste 1-b. It's super easy to find... it's across the Highway from Honokohau harbor, right next to the Tesoro gas station.

Later,

Steve

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

LOTS of whales in Kona right now... wish I hadn't forgot my camera the other evening...

Hi,
The other evening we were out for a night dive and during the first dive (late afternoon) there were three whales milling around about a couple hundred yards off the dive site (Garden Eel Cove). About 5:30 ish the whales started coming in closer and suddenly a baby whale breached about 60 yards (it was closer to us than some of the other moored boats were), it breached again, then an adult breached, a few seconds later the other adult breached, then all three breached at the exact same time.... the whales kept breaching one or two at a time and went up to the north end of Garden Eel Cove, then turned around and made a pass back by all the moorings. They were pretty much 60-100 yards off the moorings at all times... very close. With the continuous breachings that close, it sounded as if fireworks were going off.

Quite spectacular! This went on for about 8-10 minutes. The baby whale seemed to have a little more energy. The first breaches were full body breaches by both the baby and the adults. The adults got to where they were breaching more like the photo above (taken a couple years back) much of the time, adding in a few pec slaps for a while.

Unfortunately our divers were under and unaware of what was going on above. Three other boats full of divers that had already come up witnessed it, the snorkel boats were rounding the corner to come into the bay just as it ended.

I'd left my camera at home, bummer. We were close enough that they'd have made great photos. I've never had whales breach that close that many times. No mantas, but the night was worth it just for the whale show.

later,

Steve

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Been LOTS of big surf in Kona the mid part of this January....

And hopefully its gonna wane. I was looking at the Magic Seaweed Hawaii swell chart (hopefully this link works) and it looks like it's coming down and we're going to be relatively clear here in Kona the next week. Usually when it's down to 6-7 feet, and a different direction than straight west, you can find a place to tuck in and dive. On the 7-8 and 8-9 foot days it can gets tricky at times, sometimes undiveable (is that a word?). When you see solid green hit the coastline, it's pretty much shot.

I've been down at the office on the days we haven't gone out trying to make it look like a store... it's really getting there. I'll be ready to post a photo or two soon.... still got a bit of a mess to take care of before it's really ready to start showing off.

We've been debating on when to go full time with the "shop". It's kind of dead as far as diving right now (a lot of that might be because of the surf and people are getting to town and seeing it and just not calling), historically for my business the last half of January and the first half of February are very slow. I'm looking to hire 1-2 crew members the first week or two of February and then we'll probably open it up for regular hours around mid-month so we've got the routine down by the time spring break business hits. It'll be interesting.

I'm off to the office....

Steve

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big surf, new computer, etc.....


So the surf has been HUGE the last few days. Here's a shot of the mouth of Honokohau Harbor yesterday. The whole area was washed out. It's on it's way down right now and we're hoping it clears up enough to do some intros tomorrow.... we'll see.

My computer has been giving me problems for quite some time, and started making bleeping USB connecting sounds (literally bleeps, not that I'm trying to sneak in a blog friendly cuss word) at me last week, then yesterday it completely died. Luckily I had purchased a computer for the shop, so today was spent in part getting it set up.

I wanted to get this photo on it to post for the blog. There's no photo editing program on the computer so I downloaded Picasa... I'll tell you right now it comes off as soon as I have time to get Photoshop on the computer, can't stand it already.

Been working in the shop the last few days trying to put it together. It's an embarrassingly messy disaster area right now... that should end in two days, I almost have all the fixtures nailed in and then I can get it organized.

The surf's coming down, but a storm's supposed to hit tomorrow and dump a lot of rain on us. Rain does not actually affect the diving in Kona because there's little soil near most of our dive sites to cause runoff issues, tomorrow's diving will be more dependant on whether wind and thunderstorms come along with the storm. Hopefully it'll just be a bit of rain and relatively calm seas.

Later,

Steve

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A belated.... Happy New Year!!!!!


Aloha,

I've been real busy this holiday season and put the blog on the back burner for a while. We're now back to the typical slow January so I've got some time to catch up on a few things.

So... diving's been really good up 'til the last week and a half or so. We had one or two gnarly days last week, then another couple bad days (real bad on Wednesday) that made for cancellations this week. Luckily, in Kona once the surf drops the viz can be back to pretty mcuh normal in a day at many of our dive sites. We're diving again tomorrow morning and in the evening we're going out for the manta dive, then it's a couple days off because I've got nothing booked, and then we'll see what early next week brings. According to Magicseaweed.com it looks like the biggest swell we've seen yet this winter hits on Monday. Hopefully it'll be a bit smaller than it currently looks to be once it gets here.

Now that we're coming into a slower time, I'm gonna get serious about getting the shop together so it's more than an office and storage spot for gear. We've been bringing in some product and extra fixtures and I'll be spending my "days off" from charters putting it all together. The goal is to get it all together, hire additional crew and get it open in the next 3 weeks or so.... lots of work to do! I'll have plenty of updates once we get open, odds are I'll be in the shop twiddling my thumbs a couple days a week so I'll have some computer time available.

Here's another shot by customer Jim from last month. I've been too busy to carry a camera on most of our dives so I've got nothing of my own for now, next week I'll make it a point to get a dive or two in with the camera. This is a nice small white phase Stout Moray. This eel comes in both a white/light phase and a darker (brown with speckles) phase. I consider the darker phase to be the more common one, but that's just my speculation as I seem to run into more of them.

Later,

Steve