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.



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.



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.



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.



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.