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The Snerk Report, Vol. 8

dive 218

Well, it has been awhile since I have written a dive report, thanks to all of you who have wanted me to resume. Let's see, what has happened since last summer? Yes, I still go diving. I was unable to find time to write with visiting family sleeping everywhere, then that horrible work thing came back into my life. Boy, whose idea was that?? My life consists of; work, sleep, and an occasional dive. On the whole, nothing new. Here is the scoop as I know it. No shark bites, no bends, no deaths, no one lost at sea... Oh, I think Joey tried, but managed only to loose his big sausage. I have shot some nice fish.... (no 80lb Gordon size ulua). I did get my lemon juicer from Marnie's rock, I almost brought home a bag of old cement while Roger has been picking up beautiful Hawaiian octopus lures. Mike flies to the mainland as often as he dives. Brian P. gets out when he can (Jan is in second trimester). Lyle has a new girlfriend and has consented to diving with me on occasion (not on his boat mind you!!). I have seen David out diving, so I know he still gets out there. Gordon has been going to Molokai every chance he gets. Joe, Amy, BrianOCC and Rich are still testing and breaking new equipment. Marvin has disappeared from the face of the earth with out me ever getting a dive trip to Palau out of him (he has a new girl as well). What the rest of you are up to is anyones guess..... I hope to see all of you soon.

Now for the actual dive....
Friday, Gordon and Lyle are going out and I beat the traffic and prep the boat. The other two arrive just short of dark and we head out the channel hoping to get to the nearest spot. We aim for the pyramids, and I volunteer to set the anchor as every minute of light will count. The water is clear and cool, I see the anchor will fall on top of the ledge and swim for the line to get the free ride to the bottom. My attention is distracted by the unmistakable shape of ulua below. It is a beautiful kagami slowly undulating away from the kagami spot. Did you ever try and load a gun, swim for the bottom, tuck a gear bag away in record time? Without taking your eyes off of the quarry? I can't swim and pee at the same time! I managed to catch the gear bag in one rubber and my pig tail in the other. I am mid water and I realize the fish will have to return for me to get a shot..... it's possible.... There is a sting ray cruising by the anchor and I wonder if it is friends with the kagami. I hide behind a concrete piling and watch the uku, they turn and are interested, then something moves them all out at once. I look for the ulua, only to see Lyle descending on my left and Gordon on my right. A little mu and MK come in range, but I am holding out for that kagami. I leave the crowd and move down current across the river bed. I know the uku often hang out at the other corner, were the ledge resumes. Today there is one small papio to be seen and very few fish. I think the fish are all back up by the kagami spot nearer the anchor. I want to be close to the anchor as I recently got lost thinking I could find the anchor in the dark. (Hey, did you notice how lazy the sun has been lately?) I come across Lyle and he shadows along close enough to prevent any kagami from passing by. I let the pile of rocks come between us and turn around and ditch him. Back towards the anchor again I find Gordon, how can it be so dark and still seem so crowded? I tell him of the fish I have seen, he has only seen small uku. We go our separate ways.... hmmm these opelu kala are acting mighty unfriendly..... I turn around to see Gordon tailing me! He is like a puppy that has been told to go home... trailing along just far enough behind to make it difficult to catch him. I wait and scold him... he gives me some song and dance about since I saw a kagami and large uku, and he has seen nothing, it makes the most sense just to follow me! I agree to dive as buddies, let him get ahead and take a sharp right back to my uku corner. I can hear Gordon calling for fish, but the uku are with me now. Unfortunately, it is so dark, that I can only see them when they are close. They are tending to not be in front of where I have randomly pointed my gun. I remember Dave, Athleen and I in this same area at the same light level. Athleen of course had a flash light to find the anchor with. I don't hear Gordon anymore so I wander back towards the anchor. I keep seeing divers that turn out to be pieces of man made reef. The file fish are passing for papio and I am glad to find the anchor line. Gordon is decompressing, Lyle is still out wandering (he found the boat from the bright anchor light that Gordon left on, too bad it turned out to be the moon. He surfaced and swam back to the boat) He is empty handed as well, he missed a shot at a MK with his new all wood gun. I saw the most fish and there is no sympathy for my whining about the kagami that never looked back. We are all glad to get wet as we pull anchor and wend our way back into the busy Friday night harbor. Earlier start times. I am still savoring the beauty of that kagami, and thinking of heading back out soon.


dive 219

Sunday evening, Gordon has borrowed Nils's gun and loaded it with an old slightly bent shaft with the barb removed and the tip freshly sharpened. He is on a shark training mission. Mike, Lyle and I are up for a trip to Marnie's rock to learn about animal training. Gordon's puppy has gone to school and this is the next animal he is going to work on. He figures to present himself to the shark as a potentially painful thing. Like one of those cactus that can shoot needles if you get too close. If it works, I figure on being one of those mimic cactus that looks like it might be able to shoot needles, but really can't. We are all interested in the outcome, but no one else is excited enough to want to volunteer to do this brilliant deed. The sky is overcast but it looks as if we will be able to see the marks. We circle a few times and I toss the anchor. Mike and Lyle are over before the chain. I am in next, leaving Gordon and with his arsenal to be last. There is a slight current going ewa. I have purchased a new secret weapon spoon at the Goodwill store and I drop it ahead of me just to see the action it makes. It is not as good as a butter knife, but the humus come charging and create a commotion. I drop to the bottom and see nothing but Gordon and some small weke ula. The area is particularly void of fish, and with the others up current, I head to the inside spot to look for uku. The opelu kala are thick and friendly and above them I see four large papio/ulua shapes. I am hoping they are kagami, as Mike is wondering how I manage to see them all the time. I would love to come back with one, but they are omilu, and they drift off with out coming in on me. I have been looking upwards and as I return to my own surroundings I see a large weke ula to my left and a large mu to my right. Well, I just had the last bit of kumu for lunch, so the mu is the logical choice. I make a great shot, but he wiggles free leaving snowflakes of scales in his wake. My shaft did not go all the way through the fish. Those guys are the hardest headed things down here, and with me here, that says a lot. I will study the skull of the next one I take home, just so I can aim for a better spot. I drift out to the uku area and see nothing but more big mu, there seems to be two on every island. I duck and hide until I get my chance to bonk another one on the head. I think I do better to pull and shoot, getting the buggers as they are running away, that way I at least land the fish. Head shots and mu don't mix. I figure it is time to go check on the tiger by the tail session and head out along the ledge. I am looking out on the flat for uku, not having seen even a one. My attention is not on the ulua cave as I see a large black shape head out the back door. It is about 10 pounds and I quickly move up for a possible return. There I am gun between turrets when five nice size yellow spots sneak over my right shoulder to see what I am aiming at. Sassy fish. The opelu kala are most friendly and I amazed at how close they are around me. They are going in and out of the cave, showing me how much fun it is to use the back door. Not my day, but at least a really mad shark has not shown up. I head back to where I last saw the guy with guns on both hips, he has not moved, but has landed a nice size yellow spot papio. He has not seen much of anything, but is ever ready. Lyle is close to the rock. There are no fish around, I go back to where I was. The opelu kala are still there but nothing else. It is getting dark. Perhaps out side of the rock there are hordes of weke ula.... I make my way out, Lyle is heading up empty handed. I do see some weke off in the distance, I work my way over, take a long shot and miss. My air is low and loading again seems futile, but, you never know. I load the gun and drift down current to the anchor. Gordon is still ready for bear with his papio acting as bait.... not a sign of game and I head on up. The timing is good, just getting too dark, I am low on air, and the current has picked up. Gordon has a fish bag and two guns to unload while he hangs on to the anchor line. I am right behind and above him. I debate turning off his air, or ripping off his mask... some Gordon like maneuver. Since he still has two loaded guns, I think better of it. I must be getting old. I am the last one in, Gordon's papio is the only fish amongst us. Mike had a chance at a leaf fish, but with no aquarium he contented himself with watching it sway.... he did not see anything. Lyle saw a small uku and not much else. Gordon only saw the fish he had in his bag. The shark was no where to be seen. I pull anchor (yes you read that right.... ) and we head home. Gordon regales us with shark escapades from years past. Even before the beer, the stories are hair raising. The ocean is smooth and quiet, the moon a soft fuzzy glow through the clouds, even with the epic tales, danger seems very far away.


dive 220

Cloudy Tuesday afternoon, Gordon is diving, Roger, Lyle and I serve as last minute crew on the way to Kahala. Lyle has given up on his beautiful virgin gun and brought along the big sister to my gun, he doesn't really like it, but he figures on giving it another chance. The afternoon had been calm, but the south wind was kicking up the ocean and it was surprisingly choppy when round Diamond Head. Scattered squalls adding credence to eyore's words of impending currents and certain doom. Luckily, the captain is experienced at ignoring grumblings in the ranks, and I soon toss the anchor at Joe's barge. There is a current running, but the divers are making it down the anchor line before I tie off the anchor. Gordon and I are the last ones in. We are out over the sand, there is a Diamond Head current, but it is not very strong. Gordon heads off toward the deep barge. I drop down, but stay above the sand so as not to build up too much bottom time below 100'. So much for being efficient, the sand is full of big weke ula, but they scatter at my- land on their head- approach. A small kahala comes charging over to see who I am. I don't shoot, but think that he is a really nice size. He continues to pal around with me, as I tell myself how delicious they are. He is too friendly, it seems unfair, I ignore him. I swim over to the ledge out side of the Z's on the way to the barge. The top of the ledge is a river pouring into me and I cruise along half way down the ledge totally out of the current. I can see the other divers on the shallow up current side of the Z's, both of them are at full point. The old guy takes a shot, and as he reloads, Lyle uses his fins to kick up a tornado of sand. They must see uku, I pass behind them as Lyle fires off into the distance. I ease through the concrete, sliding over the smooth algae slyly making my way to the barge. I know the uku will travel in the channel between the Z's and the barge when they have had enough. Sure enough, there are some good size uku milling about. I almost get them close enough, but they head over to Lyle and I hear his gun go off again. A large school of uku head out into the depths. They don't look very happy, and I doubt they are coming back. I follow down into the sand just in case and the approaching shadows turn into mu. There are 8 or so coming in on me, they are slow, and keep me laying still behind my Z. I hope there is no eel under here, I glance down and am startled by the dreaded gymnothorax hairbraidus. Ok, you would think someone as petrified of eels as I am would come up with a less alarming hairstyle. The mu are now close enough for me to choose one, pick a spot a little further back and shoot. Wow! That is a good place to shoot mu, he falls down dead and I slide him into my bag. I think about heading back toward shallow water, but my bottom time is up anyway. I had noticed the anchor had one of those Lyle never break loose and never pull up sets, and I figure to head back there and reset it. I still have half a tank so I lay by the anchor and look for any game. Roger and Gordon both show up empty handed and have some "over my head" discussion. Normally I would have said they were asking me where the anchor was, but since my fin is hitting the line, and my hand is next to the fluke, they must be asking me something else. Maybe they are asking me to reset it. Roger comes over and does just that on his way up. I don't see any fish and rather than get any more deco in the dark time, I head up as well. Lyle soon appears empty handed and frustrated, he is ready to break his gun in half. He had taken 5 shots at the uku and missed them all. You gotta love guys, I would be blaming my aim and be letting everyone convince me what a poor shot I am. Listening to everyone tell me how to make underwater targets. I will lay money that Lyle just gives his gun a make over. Gordon's bubbles come into distant view, he is making his way back toward the anchor and the tiny bubbles are fish scales floating up. The old guy points out the bubbles and makes signs to tell me it is snow rising from the depths. Gordon appears empty handed and with 4 minutes decompression. He takes out his gear bag and begins to put his gear away. Now I have seen him clean fish underwater in order to save time, but this seems a little excessive. I stand back to see just how far he plans to take this. He signals that his bag stinks and he is just rinsing it out, oh well, shows over, I head up into the rain. Gordon and Lyle pull anchor in the middle of the down pour while I warm up in my purple snuggy jacket. Being spoiled sure is great. It is dark and feels later than it is. The days are continuing in this short direction against all reason. With it comes the north swells, banishing the divers from the north shore of Molokai. Gordon has some hot prospective dive spots on the south shore and his focus has shifted towards the new season. Lyle is going to remake his gun, cutting it down into a twin of my gun so he will have something new to try next time. There is always more diving to be done and good reasons to do it.


dive 221

Dave Pence has a new gun, guess who wants to go diving in the worst way?? We agree to meet at the power cat as close to 5 as possible on a Friday afternoon. Gordon will join us for a planned trip to Marnie's rock. Dave helps me set up the boat, he has that Christmas eve anticipation most often seen in seven year olds. He does indeed have a beautiful new gun. Gordon arrives and we are off. Dave drives the boat as we catch up on each others lives and discuss underwater politics. The clouds are just beginning to have that sunset glow as we drop anchor. Gordon goes in to set the anchor, Dave and I follow. The water has the perfect murk and the opelu kala are swarming around us before we even get to the anchor line. Things look good and we load our guns. I drift over to the opelu kala looking for papio. The school is full of salt and pepper fish, they drift over to me with equal interest and we all glide to the bottom together. The anchor is set on one of the rocks between Marnie's rock and the ledge, a good safe place to leave Dave to try out his new gun. I head over to the outside rocks to look for weke ula. The trap is so full of palani it looks as if could swim. I see only one little friendly pan size papio. I can hear Gordon calling at the ewa corner, perhaps he will chase the uku to my inside spot. I head inside, I see one large weke ula off in the distance and nothing else until I get into the mu territory. They are three mu off to my right, but since I am still eating the last one, I ignore them and swim ahead. Well, no one likes to be ignored. The mu head off and intercept my path. I figure I might as well take a shot. I miss for no good reason, and move onwards. I see no uku, but once again the place is crawling with mu. I choose a large one and miss again. The mu are not phased and I load my gun and miss again. Three misses!! Fortunately, by the time I am ready for another shot, the uku have shown up, and they are kind enough to swim up to me, turn sideways and let me hit one. I get the fish through both gills, and it drops instantly. After I pull the shaft out and put it in my bag, it comes back to life. How far is a fish going to swim in a bag? I concentrate on loading my gun and let the fish act as bait. I am ready again, it sure is murky, can't see very far... it is going to be embarrassing to have to admit that an uku swam away with my bag never to be seen again. A clover leaf search luckily saves me and I tuck the fish in my belt. The uku are still around, and I get another one with the same type shot. I am happy. I guess I might even be nice to mu...a small mu comes by and I shoot him too, guess again. I hurry to get the fish put away, and am a little panicked because I have not looked at my gauge and time flies when you are having fun. 1200 pounds and seven more minutes of bottom time, whew, no sweat. I have to remind myself that darkness alone is not really dangerous. Time to head back out and see how the shark trainer is doing. I don't want to loose my cashe. I swim along the outside of the ledge and pass the ulua cave. I am pretty far away, but I can see that those are not opelu kala in there. Four fish, two small ulua, two large papio. They are exiting the sky light one by one as I approach. They are like fighter jets doing the missing man formation. Circle the cave and one takes off through the back door, circle the cave and the next one is gone I will get there in time to get the last and smallest. I am ready... I am ready.... hey come out of there! The papio stays in the hole and I try and cover the exit while I scare him using my fins. I am forced to chance loosing it while I try and scare it out. I yell, shake my gun and try and move him with my gun. I just know as soon as I shoot him, he will take my shaft out the skylight, rip my line and swim away with my shaft. He continues to circle and I try for a kill shot. He drops like a rock and is fairly cooperative as I put him in my bag. I am worried about the shark, and I leave the bottom but keep the ledge in sight in order to find my way back to the anchor. I am pleased at my ability to navigate with such limited visibility. Well, here is where I thought the anchor should be. No sign of the line, either the boat has broken loose, or I am right next to the line and just do not see it. I head up hoping to run into the boat. I am happy to hear Gordon yell and see him come over to retrieve me. He still has two guns but no fish. I know there were a lot of fish down there, so he must have had a really bad dive. I have so many fish, he will be even grumpier. I know offering him one of mine will just rub salt in his wounds and I am at a loss for the best approach. I figure I will be proud and happy and he will be forced to be happy for me. Sort of like it was a lucky fluke on my part, and not that I am a master all time spearfisher champion. We get back to the boat, or it could be motel six, since Dave has left a light on for us... very inviting. I surface while Gordon unloads his guns. Dave is talking, muttering something of importance, but I can't really hear anymore because my eyes are using all my sensory power as I stare at the large tail sticking up and over the gunwale. It is shimmering golden in the waning light. It is obviously a very large kagami. I can't believe I was feeling sorry for that guy, now I know why he signaled me to go up!! Dave voice finally registers, he is worried if I have seen Gordon as he went to look for me. I hand him my suddenly smaller and lighter bag and scramble aboard to find that Dave has put his gun to the test with three large opelu kala, Gordon has a papio and the golden wonder. We are a happy wealthy lot. Gordon and Dave pull the anchor and Captain Dave takes us homeward. Gordon was the only one to see the shark, but with his catch, and the anchor breaking loose, his hands were too full for any real training. Mostly he wondered why I was not there to help him. He saw two kagami, and lots of big uku that came in with the shark. It was the first time Dave was at Marnie's rock when things were happening and he was amazed at the number of fish all around him. He is extremely happy with his gun, it was certainly a charmed inaugural dive. Let's hope it will always be lucky. I have the most fish I have ever shot in one dive, well, if you don't count mempachi with a pole spear... I can safely say three very contented divers were enjoying early Halloween treats.


dive 222

Tuesday afternoon, the winds are dropping and Gordon wants to take advantage of the window of opportunity. Mike is busy, but his dad is free. The three of us head out towards Kahala. The calm ocean only lasts until Diamond Head and as we pass Black Point, we have to hang on tight. The clouds have moved in making for an ominous feeling as we head for Joe's Barge. We wonder what Joe has been up to, and fill in the blanks with what ever dive fantasy occurs to us. I manage to toss the anchor without doing too much damage and the divers head down. There is a current going upwind toward Kokohead making for an easy descent. The other two are near the anchor, there are some concrete Z's and pipes below the boat and it is not instantly clear to me where we are. I can see some really large uku (2 or 3) outside. I drop straight down, making the uku have to pass me to head over to check out the divers who are calling them. They do not come close, no time to dally, they head by and out of sight. I avoid checking on the anchor and head up current. I think I am kokohead of the barge and I plan on hitting the next pile of Z's shortly. The current has a lot of south in it and I hit the ledge outside of the concrete. At least I know where I am now, I swim over to the concrete pile searching and scanning for uku. After all these years, you would think that I would know that the best uku viewing is usually behind you. There is a large school of uku zooming by. They are the uku from Alice in Wonderland, rushing off to a very important date, no time to be curious. They even can change size as they rush around in circles going nowhere. Nothing I do seems to get any notice, and they do not come close. I finally get my chance, but I am forced to hold my gun against a surge and I can not hold it straight and miss. I quickly reload. The opelu kala come right along side, a herd of small weke ula graze by on the flats. It just gets darker and darker. The uku stay away. I should head back to the anchor while there is still some hope of finding it, especially since I did not go by it on my way down. I head out across the flats and swim along seeing nothing. It is very unusual to be able to swim along this far and not see even one man made item. Being a ground shrew, the only thing that makes sense is to head back up current and go back to my starting point to try again. I swim upcurrent with determination and speed, the uku follow along at a distance and we end up at the ledge quite a bit outside of where I intended. Now I know what I need to vector into my next attempt at the anchor. The current is going out as well as kokohead. The uku remain aloof, but there are mu outside and I think about working them. I had poke for breakfast, and there is still fish in my ice box, it is getting dark and I only sort of know where the anchor is. I have been a goat before. It won't hurt anything to head back empty handed. I might even find the anchor. This time I am right on and get right over to the pile of Z's I was aiming for. There is a huge weke ula and I take a long shot at the trophy. I must have tangled the line when I loaded because the shaft only goes half the distance it is supposed to. Not to be. My bottom time is up but I can see bubbles and happily head over to the anchor line. Gordon is empty handed and is still calling fish. I head up and see the other guy above me, the uku in his bag back lit and recognizable only by its shape. The master does it again. The water is getting cold and we soon are all in the boat having had similar experiences with evasive fish. Gordon pulls the anchor and we head home. The ocean seems calmer and in Waikiki, the city lights are reflecting off of the low clouds making for a bright calm night. I am outside, breathing fresh air, heading down current, the warm safe anchorage in sight. It is a good feeling.


dive 223

Having survived another week of teenagers with Bunsen burners, I was ready for an evening dive. Mr Mac is back from N.Y. and he and his best buddy invite me for a trip on the Mo'o iki. Traffic is snarled and it is with a joyful heart that I make it down there before they leave and before it gets dark. We head out into gray seas, Mac is telling great fishing tales of Rockaway Beach, the Stripeys were throwing themselves at the fishermen. There is a one fish limit, so if you think you can catch a bigger one, then you throw yours back. (What a great quandary... Of course someone down the beach has caught a 40#er, so you know they are out there.) I brag about all the great fish I have caught in his absence, he accuses me of depleting our resources. The usual banter, it gives me a happy sense of camaraderie and we vow to stick together as we toss the anchor at the pyramids. The first liar does not stand a chance. Stanley's boat indicates a strong Diamond Head current so we stay away from the hole. I am the first one in. The water is cold and clear. I load my gun before looking anywhere just in case there is a big kagami below me. The butt of my gun moves against my weight belt, dislodging my goodie bag. The bag is sinking down and as I follow it, I see the incoming uku. I hit the bottom and they are coming straight in. You know those small leaks that happen when the regulator does not seat against the tank? Well, the O-ring must have shifted suddenly because I went from no leak, to a good size leak. The fish are scared away and I wonder if there are any o-rings on board. It is dark enough already and the leak small enough that I decide to see if I can fix it on the spot. I have a pet peeve about getting water in my regulator, the one that exploded on me was one that I used to soak in water, Ricky said it was badly corroded. (never mind how long I had it) I figure I can keep some air pressure on it and still move it around, wrong. I see the other guys go down the anchor line and swim off the ledge toward the pyramids. I hope there are still some fish around by the time I get organized. I manage to fix the problem and still have more air than daylight. I am disoriented and turned around, the ledge is in plain sight, yet it seems to have moved. I feel like I am heading out when all evidence says I am following the path to the kagami spot. There are two small baby uku and one MK, but nothing to get excited about. I wander in a zig zag out to the pyramids just as Mac is heading in to the anchor. I have my bearings back and head out into the sand even though it is quite dark. There is a small white tip zooming around the pyramids, but nothing more. I see a distant group of fish but they turn out to be broom tailed file fish packing together. Perhaps they sleep in groups. I lay on what used to be sand and get stung by all the hydroids growing on the bottom. I guess without surf this summer, the sand has gone? There are no fish and I move toward the uku hangout. There is one good size uku and I call him over, unbeknownst to me, I am also calling the little shark from behind me. I am holding still and quiet when the uku darts off and the shark comes into view over my head. One good exhale and he disappears in a panic. No fish, so dark that little friendly sand perches startle me as they suddenly come into view. I head back toward the anchor, I end up way up current and it takes some convincing to allow myself to drift down to the anchor. Sometimes things work perfect, I drift right on to the anchor line and head up. Darkness and fish in the bag has allowed the more sensible divers to the surface and it is a quiet decompression for me. The water is a rich metallic blue, looking surreal as the black cut out shapes of opelu kala feed near the surface. This is really why I am here, the fishing is just to show the others. (this I tell myself when I have not taken a shot) The best part of diving is just watching the world, oh yeah, the breathing thing is pretty good too. The problems of the week have been put into their proper proportions, and I surface with that baptismal feeling. There is a good size uku in the boat, the master has done it again, he went up current to the spirals. Mr. Mac's empty bag has not diminished his dive, he is back in Hawaii and out on the ocean. He takes us homeward, I hold the red green flash light as we cruise down the swells back to reality. T. G. I. F.


dive 224

Sunday, the weekend ends all too soon. Fortunately, the uku master and Gordon are planning to take the power cat out at 4:30 for a trip to Marnie's rock. The boat starts and we head off under cloudy skies. The ocean is fairly calm, the banter from the guys is about the joys and responsibilities of parenting, I am forced to limit myself to the occasional wise ass comment. We are soon at our destination, Gordon tosses the anchor and I am the first one down. The opelu kala are thick, showing good promise. I check and reset the anchor while all the fish come visit me. I don't see anything like weke or uku, so I head back over the ledge. Gordon has come around the back side of Marnie's rock on my left, the Master is cruising over on my right. I figure my chances of having a fish swim by either of them and come visit me is slim and I head inside. I see no uku and even the mu are not in their usual place. The islands have no game on them and I start back out to see how the shark training is coming. I figure I can head down the ledge to David's spot. I spot two mu inside and hide down below the ledge and look for a rock to call with. I make a noise only to have the small mu jump over the ledge on to my head like Kato when Inspector Cluesou comes home. I guess he had been heading over when I was looking around, I felt the way you feel when you pick up the phone to call someone only to find someone on the line calling you. I was not ready to shoot, but he was the small guy anyway. I try to get some interest out of the larger guy, but I soon give up in favor of checking on the others. As I approach the rock, five papio join me in my swim. I think they are too small, then they get bigger as they leave. They come back again but don't give me a good shot. The fish are all inside the ledge, as are the other two divers. I take a shot at an uku and miss. The master calls me over, he has a nice mu in his bag but he wants to show me something. I head over and see the opelu kala in a tight tight ball. They are swarming around Gordon's shark. The shark is upside down and flailing on the bottom. I guess Gordon's training has turned into something he did not intend. I can't help but feel immense sorrow to watch what now seems a beautiful creature helplessly struggle against his wounds. His belly seems so very white and I want to go over and stroke it. (I refrain) The fish are all fascinated by the whole thing, the opelu kala certainly don't plan on eating the shark, it must just be rubber necking of a sorts. A few nice papio come along and the master takes one down. There are a bunch of uku in with the opelu kala, and I get to choose the one I want as they watch the shark. I take my fish battle out past the ledge where I can think about putting the fish in the bag without putting my foot accidentally in the sharks mouth. I have speared the fish just in front of the eyes and he moves his eye to watch me insert the shaft back through his mouth. I feel really sorry for the fish. It takes me awhile to mentally get back from becoming a vegetarian again. I manage to get the fish in the bag and think about going back to the show to pick off more of the fish in the audience. I feel like a sniper. The master has two fish in his bag, and he heads up. The fish have all left the scene and I wonder what ended the show. The uku might come back out here and I turn around in time to see that I am being charged by a shark. Is it a miracle? Is it his evil twin? I feel like it couldn't possibly be the same shark, but where ever it came from, it is in a really bad mood and it seems to be my fault. I tuck my fish away and he veers off, only to turn, and charge closer, more aggressively. He whips away just as Gordon comes over. I am ready to go up, but Gordon says he has not got a fish yet. Under water whining. (he did not see the full posture maneuver) . I don't want to leave him alone, so we watch the shark pass by, further away and swim out of sight. The danger is past, but there are no uku in sight. We start back up the anchor line. Gordon unloads his gun just when the uku come up to see where we are going. He hands me one gun as he tries to load the other, there is nothing like hurrying to slow you down. He is too low on air for any real hunting and returns to the line, offering to let me go shoot some uku while he heads up to safety. Ha! I spend a short decompression getting stung by invisible enemies. When I get out of the water, I get the full report on the action. Gordon had been using the bagged mu as a come on. The shark of course, came over to see his old pal Gordon just while Gordon was trying to shoot some uku and not paying attention. The shark thanked Gordon for the offering and made off with the mu. Gordon then chased and shot the shark. Surprise surprise, not only did the shark not like being shot, he did not feel obligated to give back the bag of fish. The master, was not really eager to get involved with the Gordon, shark battle until he noticed HIS bag in the sharks mouth. There seemed to be a discrepancy as to who owned it. The shark rolled over and the two divers poked and prodded, getting the fish and bag out of the sharks mouth seemed to have occupied the better part of their dive. I was sorry to have missed that piece of action. The question of the night was it the same shark back from the dead? Had he recovered from shock and found himself in fine shape? Did he think my fish was his mu? How did everything suddenly become all my fault? (Why am I surprised at this logic?) Or, was it another shark especially excited by the smell of shark blood? Gordon feels if it was the same shark, he will be much more leery. I am not so sure. I remember the TV polar bear special where the scientists who have tranquilized, weighed, poked, tagged and measured the bear are going to release it to the wild. The cameras are rolling as they open the door and expect the terrified bear to run for his life. He gets out of the cage, turns around and demolishes the cage. Then, when the cage is good and dead, he looks around until he looks straight into the camera and you realize he has just seen the guys who have been filming him. There is just the start of him running before the camera starts filming the sky and the guys run for safety. I just hope the shark doesn't think Gordon gave him a nice fish, then suddenly the next thing he can remember, he has mysterious painful wounds and that pig tailed Siren ended up with a yellow fish bag. I usually like it when some one thinks I am more capable than I really am, but in this case... Well, it was an exciting dive, three good fish, and a torn up bag as a reminder.


dive 225

Wednesday afternoon, tomorrow is a holiday, chuck the work and go diving. Gordon is planning to dive and he is bringing Rob along. Rob is passing through; they let him off of Saipan to go to the mainland a couple of times a year. We head out shortly after five, the ocean is calm and we head towards Kahala. It looks like there might be a current and there is enough light to head down to Gordon's rock. (I think Gordon just wants to be as far away from Marnie's rock as possible. Give mom a chance to calm down after she finds the broken lamp in the living room, play outside till at least three other kids have gone home. Standard procedure.) We toss the anchor and there does seem to be a slight current. I am the first one in, I am going to meet Rob at the anchor. The water is clear and we are centrally located just inside the trap. I fool around with the anchor and Rob and Gordon show up and we all head out side, using the opelu kala as smoke signals to action. I let Gordon head toward the trap and I head in along the sand channel. There are three uku, two smaller and one pretty good size. Of course the smallest is sent in to visit me first and I patiently wait to take the shot at his big brother. Big brother comes over and wonders what whizzed over his head. He stops to take a look at the shaft laying on the ground.... nope, can't eat it, and heads off, he would have winked at me if he had eyelids, he settles for a whoosh of tail and disappears. I load my gun and we head down current. The ledge is covered with tropical fish and activity. I play around with an overhang full of mempachi. There is a small papio shape far away on the next ledge but I don't see it again. We head across into a field of taape and work our way back toward the anchor. Gordon has not seen anything to shoot and wonders where I saw any uku. Rob and I pass the trap and head out to the end of the ledge. The ocean looks large and empty and I don't venture further, it is fairly dark and we all meet at the anchor not wanting to give up empty handed. We spread out and move up current like an organized search party. Gordon goes around an island to the left, I once got a mu in that area. Perhaps he will see one. Rob and I move forward and I see a mu in the clearing in front of us. It is not that big, but it is a mu and it would make more than one meal for me. I call it, shoot it, and put it in the bag. Rob picks up the bag while I try to load my gun again. Having a sherpa carry the bag is cool, I could get used to this. Gordon comes by to see what happened. My meter beeps that I am out of bottom time and Rob and I head up. His beeper sounds as well, and I am reassured that I am not being cheated by some faulty computer. Gordon lingers on the bottom, taking one last hopeful pass out side. Decompression is chilly and dark. Gordon returns with an empty bag and my little mu grows larger. I surface to a silver ice moon overhead. A dull hole punch used on the dark sky, the unfinished cut out still in place allowing just the smallest arc of light. The others surface. Gordon pulls the anchor and we head home in the night. The lights of Waikiki shimmer on the water. It is always good to be out on the water with wet hair.


dive 226

Friday afternoon and no one is diving, fix myself a large snack and get a call from Gordon, he is done with his meeting, can I meet him at the boat in a half of an hour? It is a scramble. Things beyond my control, but never the less still my fault give us a late start and we are forced to stay in Waikiki. Roger and Mac are heading out in the Mo'o iki, no doubt heading for the same area. We aim for the pyramids I toss the anchor on top of the ledge and head over trying to ignore the unhappy captain. The water is cold. We are directly over the spirals, they have more fish above them than the pyramids. There is an eagle ray snuffling towards the pyramids and I have hopes of seeing that kagami again. I am loading my gun and heading down the anchor line when I see the anchor skipping along the bottom. It is a mad dash to catch it before it passes the last rock. I catch it on the last scrub of a nub. I should have put out more scope. If it breaks loose, there is nothing.... I could hook it on a spiral, but that looks so tanglely. I wait for Gordon and signal him to help me out. Of course there are uku all around just at the edge of visibility. Captain Grumpy is disgusted, one more thing HE has to take care of, he drops his gun and free swims the anchor up to the top of the spiral, very impressive. I pick up his gun and carry it to him like a good girl. He takes it and heads into the ledge. I see no more uku. I follow the path of the ray and head upcurrent to the pyramids. A lot of small opelu kala follow. the pyramids have two baby mu (still cute) and lots and lots of broom tailed file fish. Gordon is on the ledge calling and I circle past him and head toward the inside pile of rubble. The top of the ledge is murky and full of stinging water. My legs get stung, my arms get stung, something wraps around my mouthpiece stinging my lips, I am getting quite grumpy myself. There is a small MK, lots of taape, a papio puts on a file fish disguise and swims right by me while my hand is no where near the trigger. I head back to the ledge and out to the sand to be in clear water again. It will be a straight down current drift back to the spirals, hope I don't miss them as I usually find them by going along the ledge. I am scratching my legs, out of bottom time and feeling like it is a wasted dive. I catch myself mid thought, hey, I am here to have fun... no other reason. The queen of 'have fun' is grousing about no fish? I catch my self, do a shoulder roll in the sand and see the uku coming in. They must have heard the thought "fun". I am in the middle of nowhere, there is no cover, but they come up close and I take a high shot. There are six of them and to keep them interested, I load my gun while trying to swim away from them. It works, they are right there when I get to the ledge, turn and fire. Lucky I have such bad aim, the just have fun gang hangs about, and I bid them farewell as I head back toward the anchor. Gordon is hanging on the line empty handed. The surface has more stings per square meter than is decent and I decompress deep to stay out of it. I am watching the distant opelu kala swirl in the distance. They are acting like a school of giant aholehole, darting dipping and pretending to be a flock of silver sided pigeons. Hey! opelu kala don't do that they come into view again and I see them as 100 papio! Gordon's gun is still loaded and I point behind him and he turns just as they swoop into view again. They are close enough now to see that they are perfect size kahala. They swim up to Gordon and he fires into the mob. I expect him to have two fish strung up, but alas he has none. He calls, but just as quickly as they came, they are gone, ignoring all aspects of our presence. I load my gun on speculation, and finish my decompression fighting off things too small to see, but not too small to feel. We are empty handed, and so is the Mo'o iki. I try to be appropriately solemn, especially when the starboard engine starts buzzing a warning sound. Inside I am glad I got to play with the uku, I like rolling in the sand and would gladly go back tomorrow.


dive 227

Saving Gordon a haul out certainly merits him taking me diving, he is planing a trip to Marnie's rock. A return to the seen of the crime, I am anxious to go along for potential shark excitement. I wear my figiian shark pareou just to show my 'oneness' with the shark gods. Lyle and I set up the boat and soon Gordon, Dave and Athleen show up. We take off around 4:30. There are exchanges of dive tales, Gordon is going lava diving,(where are going to find lava?) Athleen just came back from diving in St. Croix, Dave has been diving a lot at Portlock. I feel very ham sandwich. Lyle and Dave check out each others gear. Dave sees several toys he does not already have and they talk about spear guns. (guy talk) Dave has repaired his old gun and is showing Athleen all the tricks of it. The dive safety officer is loading a speargun he just had repaired on board a moving boat full of people! Lyle and I look at each other and agree to give them a lot of room! We get to the spot and I toss the anchor and Lyle is off to set it. I don't want to be any part of shark training and am the next one in the water. The water is warmer than Waikiki has been. There is no current which is nice because I have a short fill of only 2000 lbs. I check the anchor, it is set nicely and Lyle is on the Barbers point (Is it still called Barber's point?) side of the rock, he has not seen anything. There are opelu kala, but they are still spread out and I decide to head Diamond Head to David's hang out. Three quarters of the way there, my rainbow runner hopes are shattered when I realize they are all barracuda. Two, six, eight they come down from on high to see what I am all about. I ignore them. Why does everything hate to be ignored? Do we all believe were are the center of the universe? Where do these lowly fish get off thinking that I should pay attention to them? They join me on my trip down the ledge, stopping when I stop moving along at Snerk speed the rest of the time. I feel like I have body guards, it is actually a very nice feeling to have eight big barracuda acting as escort. A giant school of opelu passes slowly overhead and I think "oh that's why these guys are here", but my new mates don't move after the potential meal at all. I am getting close to likely area and I see a large weke ula way outside. I don't think I did anything, but the barracuda all move in close for the kill. I feel like I am a leopard on the Savannah who has just dropped his tail from straight up and moved into a low crouch. Am I that obvious? Do all the zebras know when I am in hunt mode? I thought I was soo clever and sly. I just found out I am a black cat on a snow covered field. I guess stealth Snerk was a stretch. Well, the uku don't care, they come right in to see us. (yes I have barracuda on both sides and above me) The uku are head on, and it is hard to judge size. The front runner decides he doesn't want to be first and does a U turn to circle into the back of the group. Usually they turn side ways and I could get a shot, I quickly change the course of my gun on to a larger oncoming uku and miss the shot as he turns. My body guards scatter. Never to return. I pick up the shaft, and head on down the ledge. I want to keep the uku interested by leaving the scene. I think they will be more inclined to hang around for a repeat approach. They follow along with me as I reorganize my gun. Wow, this works even better than I thought! They are so excited to be going somewhere that they race off ahead of me to get there first. They all pass right by and keep going. So much for that great plan. Alone again, naturally. I continue a little further to turn at the turtle spot. There is a great big guy sleeping with his head under the ledge, from his shoulders back is sticking out on the sand. It is the ostrich trick, he keeps sleeping and I think I could set up a beach mat and lean against his shell with out him moving. There are no more fish and I am curious about shark training lesson #2. When ever I try and teach some one a lesson.... guess who gets taught a lesson? I mosey back the way I came. I usually like to go along inside and look for papio but having neglected to even check for a dead shark carcass, I head back to Marnie's rock. Visions of picking up shark teeth off the bottom. I come across Dave and Athleen they have fish and I wonder if Athleen got one. Her gun is no longer loaded. I debate asking what they have seen, but I think that they probably speak a foreign sign language, use international signals for Jacks that don't involve the word imua. I won't understand a word, I settle for a friendly nod and go check on Lyle. He has at least one fish and has not seen any shark. Untrainable shark, not showing up for lessons. The opelu kala are swarming, but I see no game. Head over to Gordon who is hanging out at what used to be the ewa corner, but can now be called Gordon's hang out. He has seen no shark and few fish. I will see if there are some mu inside. The opelu kala move in with me and turn off as I pass inside of the ulua cave. The fish are spooky and I am convinced that this approach is not as good as my usual method of arrival. A thought crosses my mind and I check behind me... sure enough! I am being tailed! The sheepish Gordon puppy dog is cowering just out side of range. " O.K., you can come too" and I signal for him to follow. I move out to the ledge so we can hide along it. I see no mu anywhere, I glance up to see the two mirrors passing overhead. The kagami head over and we both take positions behind the ledge. There is one for each of us and I am excited about the double shot. I wait for Gordon to call, because I know he has stones in his hand, while I would have to look around for some. He is so nonchalant and finally calls after I ask him to. I wonder if he has a secret kagami method that I don't know about. The fish are gone and we shrug our shoulders and head on. I can see the area is dead, no mu on the outside islands and Gordon looks doubtful when I tell him "here is the spot". I see one lone uku and he sniffs and skirts by me and ventures over to the real hunter who immediately snags him. I hope fish will come in on the excitement, but nothing appears. I am low on air and head back toward the anchor, not so low that I don't pass the cave and hope for fish. Back in opelu kala land I play in the sand, they think I am nuts and don't participate. Lyle and I head up leaving Gordon chasing more elusive uku. Lyle and I have a great conversation where we both think we have total comprehension and it isn't till we surface that I find the weke he got is a mu, and he has no rainbow runner. I did get the octopus part right though. He finds that the rainbow runner I was talking about were really kagami. Lyle is most pleased with his gun, he put on a new shaft and got three uku the other day and now this mu saved the gun from certain death. Athleen practiced with her gun, but Dave has the rubbers set up so only bears, or people with bear biceps can load it. Dave got three opelu kala and with Gordon's uku we have a good haul. Dave pulls the anchor and we head home. Gordon and Athleen discussing resource management and government monies. I get the feeling that my hard earned tax dollars might not be being spent in the best possible way. If I ever get to be king, things will be different. We clean up and I guess Gordon feels since I got his boat fixed, and showed him my spot and the uku for that matter, that he should graciously offer me the main part of his fish, which he does, and greedy girl that I am, I take it. Dave now feels obliged to offer me one of his also, I take a rain check until I have propane for my grill. I love opelu kala, checkerboard cut (like mango), covered with lemon pepper and tossed on the grill. I know, I should not be so fussy about food preparation. Sliced banana is not the same as peeling back the skin and taking a bite, peeled grapefruit is not the same as cut in half and eaten with a spoon, you can't eat a nashi as if it were an apple and opelu kala are best grilled. I at least got dinner, it was delicious, although I should have checked for hundreds of scales BEFORE covering the fish with spices and cooking it. I don't want to look a gift horse in the teeth, but certain parts of the fish should definitely NOT have scales.


dive 228

Friday rolls around and I am committed to babysitting. (My Thursday dive had fallen into dishwasher shopping) I am feeling particularly sorry for myself, (Yes, even more than usual) Gordon phones, he is going out on the Mo'o iki with the Captain and they will be in Waikiki.... I will easily be back for a 7:30 date with three year old. Load my gear and join the Friday afternoon traffic races. I definitely pushed that light on Hobron Lane, my spear gun and Roosevelt sticker is probably what really saved me from officer Kawamoto. We load the Mo'o iki and head out to the pyramids. The ocean is tranquil and inviting. A large rainbow encompasses Honolulu. Gordon tosses the anchor and I am the first one down. There is a slight diamond head current and the visibility is perfect for spearing. I set the anchor and head out to the spirals; that is where I saw fish last time. My legs and hands still have little scabs from my last visit with hydroids so I stay out in the middle of the sand. I lay on the bottom and wait. One lone uku approaches, he never gives me a good shot, but I finally shoot and miss anyway. I load my gun just as several yellow spot papio appear, I weigh the chances of getting anything else and finally shoot one. It is the perfect shot, except no one mentioned it to the fish. He is off of the spear in no time, and I would have thought I missed him except the shaft had stopped, and there was that glaring hole in front of his eye. He continued to cavort around with his pals, circling curiously around me as I loaded my gun. He did not seem to bleed, nor was his swimming off in any way. They moved off before I could try again. I had to admire his denial, a necessary survival technique, and he sure was good at it. I waited a little longer and did the empty handed easy swim back to the anchor. The Captain was also empty handed, but full of entertaining tales as we decompressed. He saw a pair of Queen trigger fish, way too big for Jack to be able to say that they were released from someone's aquarium. And a small ass bite white tip shark. I actually caught on to the communication, and when Gordon came up with a small uku in the bag, I got to watch as the Big Queen trigger tale was retold. There are times when we are so good at sign language, (usually when it does not matter.) I finish my five minutes of required decompression, and surface to find that the sky was falling. I had thought that the rainbow had meant good luck, but it was just a prelude. I put my gun and bag in the boat to rinse go decompress until I can be the last one up. The rain is soon gone and Gordon pulls anchor and we head for home. Gordon decides that his uku is too small for his family.. Not only do I get a complete restoration of patience and an ethereal view of my life, but I also get sashimi and dinner for tomorrow! People will walk in my shadow just to catch some of my good luck.


dive 229

Luck is holding out, diving two days in a row! Gordon has forgotten about the uku he gave me yesterday, and is ready for a trip to Marnie's and the big game. I wear the shark pareou again, I wonder if I am getting more superstitious as I get older just because reality and common sense have failed me so often. I think that it just becomes more consuming the more fishing you do. The number of variables seem stacked against Newton and leaning towards words like fractals, chaos, and quantum. I briefly let my mind wander to constructing fish orbitals, (the Snerk uncertainty principle.) Fortunately before my brain waves wander too deep, I remember the life saving copper bracelet I wore when I was 12. Nothing new. Gordon has invited Mac and his buddy and the four of us head west. The boat repair of Gordon's tilt beeper fails and we have a nice chorus of intermittent beeping as I try to find the in line fuse and kill the speaker. Somewhere off of Honolulu harbor I come out of the cabin, slightly deaf and rejoice in the calm quiet peaceful evening. Mac is filled in on the shark training schedule and decides that any fish he gets, he is bringing back to the boat. We arrive at perfect time and toss the anchor. Mac's buddy is the first guy in the water. I am slow putting on my wetsuit as I am attacked by a braid that wrapped around my arm under the wetsuit, making it impossible to move. Gordon laughs at my predicament and heads over the side. Finally, Mac and I make our usual vow to stick together as we head over at the count of three. Loading the gun is hampered by braids jumping between the rubber and the shaft. There is no current and I drift down on the opelu kala at the ewa corner. The fish make an Escher sketch against a blue backdrop. Black and silver in a mathematical array, my eyes jumping back and forth between the two. The fish are docile and move along with me to the little inside ledges. The big pocillapora head is holding two large mu over it. There are lots of wana, and the spines keep me from getting right on the bottom as I approach. I miss my chance at a shot and am about to move on when a group of sassy papio show up. They spit up, circle around me in a sporadic jive. Instead of swimming as a unified group, they are performing what I will call the dodge ball method of distraction. Closing in where ever the gun is not pointing. Fortunately the sound of my bubbles drowned out their taunting "Snerk! Snerk, over here! over here!" I finally shot one straight over my head, ready to dodge the dropping spear shaft . It is a good solid shot, but the fish puts up a great fight, there is soon a mob of opelu kala all around me as I battle. I am expecting to see uku appear at any second. The papio still are around, but I save my next shot for the soon to come uku. When I am finally alone again, I wonder why I did not shoot. I head over to the inside area in search of mu. There is one and we play cat and mouse for a while before I give up and head back. I figure Gordon will come this way and I avoid the ledge and make a straight line towards the anchor. The inside ledges have a school of weke ula swimming along it. They are good size, but from my perspective, they are now out of sight. I swim along trying to head them off and find that they had been swimming faster than I thought and I miss their passing. I watch them disappear. I return to where I was heading and I see the weke coming along again doing the exact same swim. I wonder how they keep count of their laps. This time I move quicker and catch them just perfect, I make a good shot and put the fish and one braid in the bag. More than one dead fish might get someone thinking I need to share, so I head in search of people. Gordon is empty handed. He has not seen much, some papio and no shark. I am glad there is no shark around and I head over to Roger's rocks in search of weke. The weke are there all right, but I do not see them until they magically wake up beneath my gun. I have found the magic animal that can disappear just by closing its' eyes! I lay still and wait. I feel Gordon trying to get attention by tickling my but. Great! He obviously does not see the weke, I point them out to him. I can not see him above me, I figure he is hiding in my blind spot. I know Gordon is part uku, so I simply ignore him... sure enough another tickle, but this time I am ready. Aha! Hmmm, no one anywhere. The tickler is found and I wonder how hair can grow two inches overnight. O.K., Ruby's piggy back pony rides last night could account for about a one inch stretch. The other inch could just be due to compressed vertebrae from sleeping on that lame couch. Anyone who owns a couch too short for the babysitter to sleep on, better get home before two a.m. What is the point of a couch you can only sort of lie on anyway? Puzzle solved just when the bell goes off, time to head up. The trip to the anchor is dark but I do think the uku have appeared, I only saw them go by once. I am the last one up. The sun has set and left an orange glow to the south. Poor confused sun, there are still three more weeks of less light. I am ready for longer days already. Mac got nothing, he saw lots of nice papio when he first went down, but not wanting to miss something bigger, plus that bringing the fish up idea... he takes no shot. He shot a parrot fish towards the end of his dive, but it tore off and used it's last few wiggles to drop into a moray filled crack. Christmas comes early for the eels. Mac's friend had trouble with those sassy papio as did Gordon. The old guy got an opelu kala. Gordon pulls the anchor and we start for home. We discuss high finance and good future investments as well as U.S. history and the great depressions of our time. Gordon is most pleased at his obviously successful shark training. The rest of us withhold judgment for a little longer. The moon is getting fat, she has left a silver oil slick for us to follow home, very pretty. I breathe in as much beauty as possible, and vow not to work too hard this week.


dive 230

The week is squeaking along at slug speed. I am hoping to dive but have not been home and am just leaving mom's place at 4:15. Dr. Tribble has left the office, which is a good sign, he must be diving. His cell phone saves me and he and Lyle agree to wait till I get there. The engines are running as I jog down the pier and jump on board. Rigging my tank gives me a good feeling. I need this dive. We ignore the pounding waves and head for Joe's barge. I throw the anchor and discern a Diamond Head current right away. I remember that beautiful big moon set this morning, I am determined to dive, even if it is nothing more than an energetic crawl for my life along the bottom. Lyle had gone down with the anchor and is back... bad sign. He says the current on the bottom is not bad, his mask strap broke and he figured his spare mask was worth getting. I hand him his mask and follow him down. He drops below the boat into the 100' sand and uses his new compass to make his way to the ledge. (He just got a great deal. From where I am above him, I can see the ledge plain as day.) My decent will put me in the sand at the base of the ledge just after Lyle gets there. I watch him below me, he has those super fins, yet we move at about the same speed. He is not hunting and I feel like a sea bird using other birds as a way to find fish. He gets to the ledge and shoots a M.K., amazing, just swim up and shoot. I need to hone my skills. I reach the bottom and see no game. Lyle will probably stay near the anchor, and Gordon will figure the current will bring in the big ulua, and head out to the deep barge. I will play it safe and spend my dive up current. I leave the barge, heading for the next pile of Z's and pipes. I figure the uku might be hanging on the far side. There is one large M.K. with two little guys in among the Z's. They move in and out of sight and we play in the maze, occasionally catching sight of each other until I give up. The big guy gets lost in his own tricky maneuvers and ends up right in front of me. I don't let the gift go and I bag nice fish. I will use this guy as bait to get all the big uku. I drop my bag out past the pile and return to hide behind a pipe. I turn to see that I have been followed by two uku. One big guy. Typical, when will I remember to look back? They probably have come all the way from Joe's barge!! They are tired of me and move on. Eight mu have appeared. They are equally spaced and staying still, sitting ducks. I am plotting my big kill when all the fish move. It must be Gordon approaching, chances are slim Lyle would get this far, I wonder if he has seen lots of uku. The intruder comes into view and the race to my bag is on. The hook hanging out of the corner of his mouth is as good as having "bait stealer" tattooed to his dorsal fin. He still has a ways to come and I have the advantage of knowing just where the food is. I beat the brat, but not by much. I would have thought our head on charge would have intimidated him a little more. He is about four feet, but not afraid. He hangs around making it difficult to resume my hunt. I am afraid he will sneak up behind me and bite my okole. The mu all come back to watch me spin around and chase sharks. My meter goes off and the shark finally moves on. The mu are all about like idiots and I plan on taking one with me back to the boat. I pick one, get close, and shoot. It looked like a good shot, but the shaft falls back. The mu however does a couple of backward somersaults and goes into mid water nervous twitches as he drifts off down current. I hope to catch him with my bag and am almost caught up with him when the barb of the shaft that I am dragging catches on the Z's below me. The quick decision; leave gun, catch fish and come back for gun or swim down unhook gun and hope fish does not get too far. I stick with my current task, but I do pause to take note of where exactly I am leaving my gun. (some times I am brilliant....experience pays off; years of " I don't know... I dropped it some place around here") I am able to convince the mu to swim into my bag. I am now into deco and darkness. I swim hard and fast back to my gun, I have a good strong momentum going when my right foot gets jealous of my left and I kick my own fin off of my foot. So close and yet so far. I look at my gun, just out of reach and back at my fin, drifting like a dead mu off into the night. My left foot is fluttering around not helping anything. It is hard to compare my leg to a headless chicken, but the thought was there. I get my fin and finally manage to retrieve my weapon and drift back to the anchor line. Gordon is back lit above, he has a very beautiful ulua. He admires my mu, (mostly to be gracious) and wonders if it attacked me. I debate telling him my story, but the current and the stinging ocean keeps me deeper and hanging on. We surface at dusk, all happy to have fish. Lyle and Gordon pull anchor. They both get stung by the anchor line, it must have wrapped a man-o-war and they seem to have some sort of anchor line ritual that involves rubbing the line on your legs and stomach. They hop about complaining about invisible enemies, men possesed. We head for home. Cleaning up gives me the chance to inspect the mu for the secret hard spot that I should NOT be aiming for. Where did I hit this fish? I once thought mu might be supernatural; able to swim without moving, smugly able to calculate one foot past the reach of your gun. Pied pipers, leading young hopeful divers off into the abyss. Now I realize they are actually aliens, they obviously have a force field that spears can't penetrate. I searched hard for any sign of a wound, perhaps just behind the eye? Not a scale out of place! Why did I catch this one? I will sharpen my spear and continue to do my part. Hey Rich, why are they monotaxis anyway? Who are their relatives? What's with the teeth? The distrust grows... I think I liked the shark better. (Gordon offered me the training gun)


dive 231

Wed., hump day, have my gear at school,... only makes sense to go diving. The lightning has abated. From my classroom the ocean no longer looks like the top of a meringue pie... now it looks like the white polka dot outfit... there is definitely a blue background. The winds have dropped. (It is all relative) I show up at the Mo'o iki at the same time as Mac and his buddy. The three of us install the new anchor and head out with a feeling of accomplishment. The feeling only lasts until we get near the pyramids, and I am required to hold the transducer off the stern while the other two watch the depth recorder! Mac tosses the anchor, it seems to hold, I head down. The water is clear despite the mud level in the Ala Wai. There is a diamond head current, but it isn't too bad. The anchor is stretched over a cement piling, I reset it in a better spot and watch the others descend. Mac heads to the pyramids and the other guy goes up current toward the spirals. I figure to check my uku corner and go down current to the ships. The sand has no sign of uku, there are a bunch of distant mu and I try an assortment of tricks, but fail to get them close. There is a congregation of shell collecting urchins (lavender with short spines). I wonder how they find each other in rotating currents, each member of the group taking turns on the approach. I leave them with out too much rearrangement and continue my drift to the ships. I see the opelu kala before the shadow of the bow looms over my head. The fish are all hanging in front of the bow, and I lay on the bottom and watch for any uku. Three little papio check me out and I have mercy on their size and ignore their curious approaches. The evening is peaceful, I enjoy watching the distant opelu feeding near the surface. I awaken from my reverie and start back towards the anchor. Either the current is stronger or the winds have died. I see the boat directly up wind and I pass beneath her. I venture out to check on the evil mu and find them still drifting away from me... but they are moving towards the pyramids and Mr. Mac.! I can see the distant third set of bubbles approaching an gloat over the soon to be cornered mu. Mu are on to the obvious tricks, and when Mac shoots a big parrot fish, all fish panic and scatter at high speed. Mac. manages to loose his quarry and break the bungee on his gun. I lay on the sand in the middle of the pyramids and am surrounded by trusting baby mu and scribed file fish. One large kahala charges through and the three divers give up and head toward the anchor line. The uku master has a nice uku in his bag... how does he even see them? I move in to check the kagami spot. There is nothing to be shot, but I play with the taape and weke. I have not checked my gauge in a long while... O.K., I admit it, I have not checked my gauge since I rigged my tank... seems like that beeper should have gone off by now. Luckily I have 5 minutes of bottom time and plenty of air. I should go back out to the ledge and wait for the uku. I cruise the flats and am debating spending the rest of my dive either at the top or the bottom of the ledge. I will check my bottom time, remaining air and make the decision. HOLY SMOKES! I now have fifteen minutes of decompression. This makes absolutely no sense, I went down with 2200 psi, and now have 1100 psi. I have not gone to 150', where does this stupid computer get off telling me to decompress for this long? It must be broken! Well... let's see.... it could have read 5 minutes deco when I thought 5 minutes left... It says I have been 40 minutes... half of that at about 100' in the sand, the other half about 65'. O.K., it is not broken, I rely on the beep too much and those guys on the surface are going to be grumpy and sea sick. It is already dark and cold and I am feeling that some how I was tricked. I make my way slowly up just in time to see the uku swimming peacefully along the ledge. I already have 15, why not make it a even 20? I slap sense into myself and try to call the uku up to me. No luck. I am all alone wondering what is really enough decompression time. 10 minutes seems forever, I cut off the remaining minutes and surface. The silent computer comes to life alerting the others to my near death situation. They are ready to toss me over at the slightest symptom, I am instructed to drink lots of fluids and take aspirin. (does this cure sound familiar?) Also; NO hot showers! The drubbing is not worth it, next time I will definitely do the time, my probation officer is too harsh. I am not worried, Richard can cut deco short three days in a row... oh yeah, he turns into jello; but only on the third day! With all this fuss, you would think I wouldn't have to unload and rinse gear, think again. Worry has its limits. The lesson is the same... pay attention!


dive 232

Friday is long. I take my gear and just show up and hope. Mac, The Captain, and Dave are taking out the Mo'o and I invite myself along. The ocean is frothing again, Waikiki is whipped into a frenzy. I have no doubts about what the Mo'o would do if she had a chance. She loves this stuff, she is dreaming of taking on the deep blue. I go down with the anchor when we reach the Kagami spot. I remember Roger Sames: " a good man beats the anchor down", well today I am a good man, I set it nicely and am on my way. There is no current and the water is clear. A whole different world, no more tumultuous traffic, no more fearsome seas. These fish don't even know about Christmas shopping. I envy the noble savage only momentarily before two orange shoulder tangs come streaking by having some sort of war. Note taken. I am inside with no signs of fish, one good size MK darts on to the scene, he is spooked and takes off. No current makes the world of difference and I happily swim out to the ledge. There are uku at the edge of the ledge where Gordon usually hangs out. They stay out of reach. I take a long shot, the fish take off, they do not even stop to laugh or check my shaft out, experienced uku. My meter has a long memory, and a penchant for having the last word. After five minutes at 65 feet, it thinks I should call it quits. Who is the boss here? I ignore it and head up to my uku spot, no sign of them, no mu either. The ships will be beautiful when it is this clear and I continue on. The opelu are on the surface, along with the outline of a turtle. I stop beneath the bow and enjoy the show. The opelu kala come over to share the moment, but we see no uku. The white tip that hangs out under the ship wakes and joins us. Perhaps the pyramids will be more forthcoming, with my deco time building, I head back on top of the ledge and only venture over when I get close. There are two mu in the center of the pyramids, I fail to interest them and move to the top of a pyramid with the idea of charging the guys. A larger white tip slides in beneath me and settles into the sand next to the structure. When I am diving, I am much like a four year old boy, picking up odd stray items and always having some sort of treasure in my hands. I find myself right above a resting shark with a rock in my hands... it is too much to resist. The shark noticed the descending stone, but not soon enough. I laugh at my childish success and watch the shark dart off. A baby white tip is drawn over by the excitement. Three white tips and no uku! I will head over to the spirals. The baby shark apparently is not allowed to cross the street without an adult and he happily lets me take him over to the spirals. The action is nonexistent and now my decompression time is getting out of hand. I now have a stop at 20 feet, perhaps I can move it down to 65 feet if I give it some more effort. I meander back up to the anchor where I find Dave about to head up with two opelu kala, that gun has been serving him well. I can see the uku off in the distance I give them a chance, but they move on. I start to head up to pay my penance and watch Mac make his way along the bottom. He is looking for the anchor line and reminds me of a shark smelling fish. I bang on my tank and he looks up and waves. He is not into decompressing at 40' and passes me on the line and I watch the Captain coming home empty handed as well. We discuss freeing the anchor, decide it is fine and talk about our dives. He saw the two sharks at the pyramids as well as the mu. Two very large kahala charged in and fed on the weke while he was there. He did not see nary an uku and did not take a shot. Birthday boy Dave is the hero tonight. My decompression time seems manageable and I think I will withstand the cold just to get on the good side of the machine. I let the others surface while I stay and play with night glowing plankton and watch my computer. It finally relinquishes me and I surface in the safe quiet beepless zone. Dave and Mac pull the anchor and we turn the boat towards home. Leaving the serenity only to get involved in Friday night traffic trying to get into the harbor. The wind is gusting irregularly making for sail boat stop and go to end up their race. Someone obviously is letting my mother be the skipper on one boat, why else would a boat do a 360 spin during the final stretch? The Mo'o hits reverse on three or four occasions during the course of our return. Back into the 'real' world! We make it back into the slip feeling like we cheated death once again. The scary part is NOT when you are underwater!


dive 233

Sunday afternoon, the Mo'o is planing an adventure. I divert my plans and sneak aboard. It is Mac, Lyle, Gordon and the Captain. The subs are still finishing up their day, leaving the 100' hole the only sane option. The winds are howling and Gordon and Lyle go down with the anchor. It is not the sort of day you would want to search for a diver on the surface, and the captain gives us all 25 minute limit. I head down to the outside 90' sand hole and spend my dive watching weke ula nudge and snuggle each other. There are uku outside, but they keep their distance. I hear guns going off elsewhere. There is a slight diamond head current, but in general the conditions are nice. I make a large circle around the hole, following the ledge just out of sight. There are a lot of little white weke, but I do not run into the opelu kala until I am almost back where I started. They are fun to watch, but even they remain aloof and I chase the whole group back over toward the other divers. My time is too soon up, and I find myself the only one back at the line. Gordon has two fish in his bag that he is using as bait as he hides in the cave waiting for prey. (papio and uku) Lyle soon joins me on the way up, he shot and lost the same weke ula twice and is empty handed. Mac returns and he and Gordon come up the line. We all watch the captain still on the bottom chasing after papio below us. He finally comes up, he has a weke ula. We all decompress and watch the surface billowing overhead. Mostly it looks like someone shaking out the sheets, but every once and awhile there are tiny ripples superimposed on the surface, a gust making little wrinkles on everything. We surface and listen to Gordon complain of the fish that swam out of his bag and escaped while he was not watching! The rubber that broke, the pin on his shaft will no longer hold a rubber (bent the wrong way)... blah blah... he still has two nice fish. Lyle tops the feel sorry story having shot a weke ula in the head twice, only to have it tear off twice. Every one but me is involved with the anchor pulling, we are soon on our way home. I really enjoyed the pleasure of being under water and hope to repeat it soon... when are the winds going to stop?


dive 234

Should I feel guilty about chucking schoolwork and diving again? Twist my arm, I am at Gordon's boat at 4:15. Lyle and Gordon show up; they are talking up Kahala. (yes, the winds are still howling... yes, they are crazy, they both mention how the winds have really died down.) I am game and we head out. Somewhere close to the Diamond Head buoy, Lyle and I manage to dissuade the captain. After calling us names, he waits for a break in the swells to find his chance to turn the boat around and head for the 100' hole. I toss the anchor as Lyle sinks into the depths. I am worried about a current, but conditions are nice as I drop down. I remember Gordon's encounter with dumb uku in the sand by the ewa ledge, and I drop and roll in the sand. There is one brown humu and perhaps a couple of sand dwelling gobies, mostly a fish free ocean. I move out along the ledge ever hopeful. Cross at the cable and meander back along the outside ledge. It isn't until I get to the diamond head cable that I see a few weke ula snuggling about. They remain far afield and I stop and play with an octopus. He has a good collection of stones and I go through them looking for Hawaiian sinkers. He is not at all thrilled with my visit. He makes spiky skin, flashes colors and gives me his best stink eye. He has one fancy hair scrunchy. I wonder what was going through his mind when he used it for decoration, I would have liked to watch the discovery and exploration of i t. The weke and uku hate being ignored and I look up to see that I am being approached. There is a papio as well, I will have to make a choice, I go for the bigger of the two uku. If the uku were a matador with a cape and my spear was the bull then the crowd would have gone wild. I missed only by the most graceful move on the part of the prey. The octopus is too curious not to peek out and watch me load my gun. I take my time and find myself alone with one sullen boneless creature. I see Lyle heading up between me and the hole. I make a wide path towards shallow water. Gordon is in the cave, using his bag with a weke ula in it as bait. I continue to the anchor and finally head up due to cold and lack of bottom time. The water is chilly, Lyle has gone up and I watch Gordon's bubbles below me for entertainment.. I am contemplating Boyle's law and general physics, when Gordon interrupts my clever observations by simply ceasing to breathe. Hmmm.... the slowly emerging little bubbles helps me to figure out that he is in the cave again. This takes me to wondering about bubble size and noise and making a quiet regulator. It does not seem possible with only one gun and one mesh bag to work with. I think it is the inhale noise that is the problem anyway... will work more on it later. The cold drives me to the surface. Gordon is the last one up with the only fish of the night. Lyle and I pull anchor and we head home in the dusk. I actually can see the buoys as we head in, are the sunsets getting later yet?


dive 235

Got boat?

I am a diver today just because I want to spoil myself... it is MY birthday. Divers are few and far between, I head down to the Mo'o iki at 4:30. No Mac by 5 and I head out of the harbor. The steering is bit on the stiff side, I remember Mike's report on how Dave took the helm and I remember how I thought; that was nice of Mike to share the wheel. Now I understand, it takes both arms and bent knees to make a turn, you have to be careful not to over correct, very tricky getting out between a flotilla of girls in canoes. The subs are heading in, but there is still one out there, I watch the hopeless broad in the zodiac trying to catch the ball off the line to the ships. I will go ask her when she thinks the sub will leave. She says they will be gone in five minutes, but I am welcome to tie up and undo the float and let her pick it up down wind. A tie up to the ships sounds appealing as it was going to be tricky to hold the transducer, steer the boat and watch the depth recorder all at once. The zodiac captain says she cannot understand it, but the float and line are pretty deep in the water. "Super high tide?" I might have to get wet to get the line. This dippy snippet of a girl has a captains license? I have no intention of jumping over the side while I let the boat drift in a whipping current. I figure I can catch the line with the barb of my spear and pull it up smooth as silk. The wind has blown me out of reach before I even get the gun ready. Try again, (remember, boat does not steer, and will stall if accelerated too fast) I pick up gun and reach over and manage to fire the trigger... tangled mess, blown off course, try again. Fortunately the other captain has to go take care of her submarine and fleet of ships, so she does not get to delight in my next two attempts (I am now only using the shaft and as I miss it on the port and switch to starboard, either the line hooks around every protrusion, control box, any and all available cleats, back back strap, or the barb itself manages to grab a hold of the steering cable, the dive flag, regulator hose etc. I do eventually succeed and spend the next bit laughing at my self as I try to untangle my shaft, the slings on my gun wait until I figure out where to put the shaft, then when I am not watching, they spin about and turn themselves every which way so that instead of untangling a single snag, I am now creating a piece of macrame. O.K. I am now ready for the perfect dive. I am rigged and ready, sipping water when the big blue tug comes for the float, I toss it and a very adroit young woman picks it up with a flick of a boat hook. All systems go, current is cranking towards ewa beach, I fall into the murky water. As I make out the underwater buoy, it has a mass of damsels hiding in the eddy, not upcurrent catching their dinner. The line to the ship has a single stack of opelu kala with their noses right behind the line the pelvic fin of one touching the dorsal of the one beneath it. A photo would look fake. A comb of opelu kala. The ship has no fish at all... wait, I take that back, the ship has fish plastered all over it... some one came along and painted fish on the decks. I crawl up the deck and peer over the stern of the wheel house. Opelu kala fill the space of the vertical wall, nose into the current and tail against the ship. You lazy fish!! I am 40! I am swimming!! I slide down the face of the wall forcing about half of them to swim upcurrent, they circle right back. I look for ulua or papio, but nothing hiding anywhere. I make my way along the bottom towards the other ship. There are the big ulua! Now I am scared, I will shoot one as it lays there and some how die, to my great relief they turn into 8 giant kahala. Hurrah! saved from my own stupidity! They are more perturbed to be out done by humanoid and join me as I survey for game. I hang out under the bow, down current and call for papio or mu... Mike got two uku down at the pyramids and still had time to build rock walls. The pyramids are probably swarming with uku.. I check my air and ability to swim upcurrent. I think it can be done... the current is dropping I can see moorish idols venturing three feet off the deck now. I am down to the pyramids without doing much of anything. The water is murky, but I saw one distant mu and a bunch of uku. I stop out in the middle of the sand and do my best to get them close. They all think I must be Mike and stay clear. They pyramids are very devoid of fish, the taape and weke are gone, just the file fish and one stick fish. He must have fun turning around in a current. The current is less and when I head back along the ledge I do not even crawl. The kahala are still there, and as I make my way between ships, I see uku and a mu. I pull up and call. They do not come close. Gordon was talking about how he just pulled hard at the last second in order to get closer. I try this and find it is an utter disaster, the fish scatter before I finish thinking about it! I check my bottom time hmmm did not hear the bell again, going deaf in my old age. I must learn to check bottom time when I check air. Well, at least no one is waiting for me, I don't feel bad about the 9 minutes. The opelu kala are starting to behave normally, and two turtles leave their hide out and come on up. Both turtles drift down current, surface behind the Mo'o iki, and swim back up current on the windy choppy surface. Is there something I am missing? Do currents have ground effect? I watch them until they finally dive back down to their ship. What a wonderful dive, I feel great when I surface. Gordon's boat is near by, he has a crew of wahines he is entertaining with a sunset booze cruise. He thought he would make sure I did not need a ride back to the boat, nice to have people watching out for me. The show off in him takes hold and he volunteers to stay and make sure I can pull the anchor. He begins to warm up and goes on about how he is going to enjoy this, not having ever seen me pull an anchor, wonders if I even know how to pull an anchor etc. etc. I smile, start the boat, thank him and agree that there are those of us who do not bother to pull those heavy things up. I untie the line, toss it overboard, do my darn best to spin a 360 and dash off towards home. Ah, life does have those sweet moments. As I surf down the swells in the last lingering light I marvel at how truly lucky I am and how wonderful my life has been. There is such incredibly great joy in having wind in my wet hair. I think that should be in my Christmas greeting... in case I do not get around to sending each and everyone of you a card... Merry Christmas, may you all have wind in wet hair through the coming year.


dive 236

Raining cats and dogs, might as well be underwater where it is dry. Gordon is excited about the drastic drop in the winds and is up for a dive. Mark is in town for a day and comes along as a boat babe. The Ala Wai looks like chocolate pudding as we head out. Mark has not seen Gordon's boat and admires the non-pfefferness. The winds are down to nothing and we head for Kahala. We anchor at Joe's barge and I quickly get in the water before the big squall gets us. The water is clear with a slight Diamond Head current. I check the anchor and look around... boy it is dark! The cloudy skies really make a difference. I head up current to the pile of Zs and notice the palani are doing strange maneuvers. They suddenly dart here and there and I wait to see the shark that must be chasing them. As I get into the Z's myself I find myself acting like a palani. The water motion with the current is unpredictable, must map out like fractals. It is impossible to tell which way the water will be moving 10' in front of me. So much for a shark, the fish are just trying to swim in a straight line at a constant speed. I lay on the bottom and watch for anything. There are a school of opelu being chased by two large rainbow runner far above my head. They are soon gone. I see some distant mu out on the flats, but their night vision seems very good and they stay clear. I drift back to the anchor and find Gordon has come back from the deep barge with a large rainbow runner, such the hero. We wait around a little longer just because we have bottom time and air. I realize, hey, there are no fish, it is cold, and very dark... I think I will head up and signal to Gordon at the same time he signals to me. The only fish he saw was the school of 10 rainbow runner, he heard a whale, the first of the year. We watch the surface turn prickly as we hear the hiss of the down pour. Maybe it is not so bad here, sure glad I am not stuck on the surface. We wait until it is the rain changes to just cats and surface to find a wet bedraggled tall one huddled on the deck. Mark admires the fish... "biggest fish he has ever seen speared" Gordon pulls the anchor and we head for home. Another week done, I have got a lot of diving this week and it definitely making me feel pretty good.


dive 237

Tuesday afternoon, the winds are calm... Gordon is taking care of Carrie, but volunteers to drive the boat for Lyle and I to do a drift dive. We head for the deep barge with visions of ulua and rainbow runner dancing in our heads. The water is slightly murky but there is absolutely no current. The captain puts us right on the spot. We check around and call in the sand, but there is nary a fish. I think the ulua only show up to get out of the current. We take advantage of no anchor and no current and head off to Joe's barge. The opelu kala are thick over the Zs, one kumu manages to stay out of Lyle's way and passes by me in full panic. I do not pursue, I am in the travel mode, and since I have the float line, we head off to the next group of Zs, then on to the pipes. There are some big mu, and Lyle takes a long shot, but the mu shakes off the spear and is gone in a flash. It is truly a wonderful dive, I collect shells and baubles as a thank you for Carrie waiting for us in the boat. No current is such a nice feeling, we are nearing the tire reef when we run out of bottom time. Empty handed, but feeling good is how we head up. We decompress and compare what we saw. I know Lyle enjoyed putting some perspective on the different dive sites. Feeling more comfortable to "cruise". It is a nice feeling seeing the boat nearby as we surface. We have missed the sunset, but have a very pleasant ride home in the twilight.


dive 238

Quick dive? Lyle and the uku master are going out in the Mo'o iki. The ocean is still calm and we head for the pyramids. Lyle is the first one in and I soon follow. The water is full of phytoplankton and the opelu kala make a curtain from the surface to the bottom. There is no current, which is amazing since the tidal differences are so great. Lyle and his partner head for the pyramids and I drag myself in the sand down to the spirals. No fish anywhere. I just lay there watching the fish overhead. A school of opelu move through the opelu kala and start making an opelu kala tornado... it is great to watch the actual formation, I feel like a meteorologist. I am using up bottom time daydreaming... I head up on the flats and take the inside track to the kagami spot. I know there are a few interesting sights, there is no current, but way to murky and I know I will be lost. I take the more conventional path across the flats. The spot has one MK (small) and one distant uku. Move slow and get back to the anchor. I see the gun floating up above the old guy.... he got the MK and is heading up. Lyle is heading up as well. I have 1300 pounds and 4 minutes.... I will check the pyramids. I see a distant uku and roll in the sand as I go. Every palani and opelu kala thought "oh that sounds fun" and I am swarmed by fish... no uku to be seen. The current has not remained slack and it is picking up towards Diamond Head with considerable force. I will get back to the anchor knowing how quickly it can get bad. The current continues as I decompress, the plankton is going into warp speed and it is fun to have intergalactic dust stinging me. I surface just in the nick of the bell as the big orange is just beginning to set. I enjoy the moment, with my legs dangling in the water and making the others stop and watch. We plan the work it will take to fix the steering and plan some strategy for repairs. Our return to the Ala Wai to find the boat two away from the Mo'o is very low in the water and diesel seems to be spilling out of it. The fire trucks arrive just as we do, lots of excitement. Glad it is not my big fancy sailboat.


dive 239

Nils is back in town.... We meet up with Mac and his buddy. Gordon is down at the Ala Wai getting ready for a dawn trip to Molokai. Reunion is over and we take out the Mo'o iki for a refresher dive. We anchor at the pyramids and find that although Nils remembered how to rig his tank and check his air, he got confused about what to bring and left his bag with fins and mask back on the dock. Not to worry, there is an extra mask and no current. We tease him about too much gear being in the way, encumbering and confusing. He can hand his way up and down the anchor line. We give him a clip to hang off his tank. He does a 500 pound ear clearing dive to the bottom and soon heads back up due to the leaky mask. He is happy to get wet, be back in beautiful Hawaii and out on the ocean. (I know the feeling). Mac heads for the spirals, his buddy for the airplanes and I check the pyramids. A small tasty kahala appears, but is so close to the tip of my gun, I miss him. I head inside where I see baby weke ula, baby papio feeding on the plankton. I feel like I have not been catching any fish lately, and perhaps I have been spending too much time covering ground instead of setting up camp and waiting. All I can say about the new method is that you get really cold, eels creep up on you, and orange shoulder tangs loose their patience and start harassing you. This probably holds true for all types of hunting. Duck hunters sit in blinds and it is not hard to imagine them getting rained on and shivering as they try to sip hot coffee. Pheasant hunters get to walk miles through fields whacking brush and running their dogs. Eskimos can cut holes in the ice and sit and fish, or they can walk along looking for holes with a club in their hand. I would rather be a naso than a rock fish. I am cold enough, that I head back to the anchor where I meet up with the empty handed crew. We decompress, one large kahala was seen. Mac saw some parrot fish, but has lost the last two and waited for the most perfect shot and got none. We come up in time to see a dark orange sun touch the water. Nils pulls the anchor and we head back towards the xmas boat light parade heading out. The Mo'o iki is tough to steer through the exodus of singing, costumed, glittering boats. We get back to find Nil's gear, dry and waiting. Next time he will try fins.


dive 240

Wet rainy and gray. The only thing more foolish than me going diving is Nils going camping on the north shore. We come to our senses and decide to go to a movie. Better stop by the Mo'o so the fools wont wait for me. Tomas is waiting and we visit... he is not too excited about a solo trip to the ships when he has not been diving since summer. Finally Gordon, the Captain and Brooks show up. They cajole us into going along (Gordon claims "large uku are everywhere, it is going to be such fun"...."It could be the last dive of the year" ) I did have my gear loaded, but Nils has his second jury rigged dive. He at least has fins this time. Small little body surfing fins, but a big improvement. The ocean is calm and the shore looks distant in the gray mist.... very Seattle like. We anchor at the pyramids and Gordon sets the anchor while the rest of us organize. If there was any sun, anywhere, it would be setting soon. Nils and I head for the anchor. The remaining three plan on heading out to the airplanes, I figure to keep Nils in shallow water, he tends to get narced at 90' and spend inordinate amounts of time looking at sand or trying to comprehend the simplest message. We head for the kagami spot, there is no current, but there is surge due to surf. We wash back and forth watching the white weke and taape. All the mempachi are out and a pole spear would have been the thing. The only big fish I see are six large parrot fish. I debate fixing cerviche for Christmas visitors, after all, I now have the lemon juicer. I check with Nils to see if he wants to fix the dish and all the parrot fish disappear. It is dark and cold and we head back to the anchor. Gordon is arriving on the line, he saw one large kahala and is very grumpy about his dive. He claims the place is f _ _ _ _ed, the fish are f.....ed, etc. Nils and I surface with a grumpy Gordon to follow. The others return to the boat, happy to have found the boat, happy to have gone diving, and of course the master has a nice size papio. "The spirals were covered" they laugh at Gordon's vow to never return to the ugliest spot where he has never ever caught a fish. (could this be true?) Tomas pulls the anchor, and the Mo'o glides toward home. The Christmas lights shine across the glassy ocean.


dive 241

Christmas comes early and Gordon invites Nils and I on one of his Molokai adventures. Five a.m. on Christmas eve finds the world still dark, but the ocean calm. Nils makes a nest on the floor and promptly goes back to sleep for the crossing. (he was out till two) The weather calls for diminishing swell on the north shore, I am worried but the captain is confident. It is a spectacular sunrise and moon set, the ocean looking dark purple as the sky mixes orange and blue with out even worrying about the clash. As we pass ilio point, the gentle southerly swell gets blocked, and the ocean turns to glass. Gordon has some mystery uku spot off of Momomi beach, and we head that way. Nils wakes as we cruise along the cliffs admiring the geology. The cliffs turn to sand dunes and we soon drop anchor. There is no current and the water laps under the hulls making bathtub noises. Perfect conditions, I feel lucky as we enter the water. There is a ledge, a cave with two skylights and a few fish near by. The bottom is scraped bare of any coral and I am reminded of what the bottom must be like when there is a north swell. Nils and I head up the ledge only to find Gordon with a large ulua strung on his spear. I offer to help but he signals for me to watch for the big uku that are around and bound to come in on the blood. I feel like a fool, standing out in the middle of an open field in the dark with my loaded rifle at the ready. Not knowing where to look or what to expect. I am only good for short self imposed adrenalin rushes, and as soon as Gordon has the fish in his bag, Nils and I head further along the ledge. The few fish turn into none, and the 10' drop turns into a gentle sandy slope. We head back to the anchor, where Gordon still mumbles something about four uku, he is heading up, but I see the four uku. I drop down into the sand and the uku spock me out from a distance. I have no good tricks, they are too aloof and I collect Nils who has been watching me from the top of the ledge, and we head up and decompress. The surface is still beautiful and we troll our one line while we pick up some bottom time. The mist is filling all the valleys and the sun is shinning on all the ridges, the island looks intriguing and mysterious. Our next dive is at the spot Gordon got his big ulua. We anchor, bottom fish until our bait is gone (about the time it takes to drop a hook and reel it up again for each sardine) Gordon has cleaned his fish and is planning to use the guts for uku bait. He describes the location and we make plans to enter the "ulua cave". Ulua cave is an understatement of both words. The "cave" is larger than mine, and has three grand entrances and one sly back door. The "ulua" are of such number and size as to no longer be fish, but a silver moving wall that swallows you without touching you. Too big... too big.... too big... WAY too big... too big... there, those over there. I shoot a small 15-20 pounder. It immediately wraps the line around the central piece of furniture, a large boulder that functions as something to swim around in the middle of the room. I am trying to get to the shaft before the line breaks. I am amazed that the fish the line has held and my shaft is still straight. I hear the snap of the barb breaking off, the fish about to be free, takes the time and extra effort to bend my shaft before departing. Like a grown up, breaking your slingshot clean in two before returning the pieces to you. Fish have not left the scene, I am not sure where my guy has gone, but I know he is still around. Since Nils has not taken a shot yet, I leave my gun and steal his with the hopes of finding my small fish again. Too big.... too big... way too big.... too big. Gordon returns in another entrance and the fish start to leave the scene. I circle around the living room couch, Gordon shakes his head at the sight of my gun, as if to say "You foolish chick, I would never attempt to shoot a fish in here... (you can tell underwater that the man has a big ulua on ice) I come across a frustrated un armed Nils who has been courted by the swirling dervish, including one with a hole through his back. We are the last to leave the house, and we move down the ledge exploring new territory. My gun is not functioning, so I can enjoy my dive while Nils hides in a ditch and tries to convince a nice size uku that he is nothing more than a small harmless pebble. No luck. The ledge along here is spectacular, (120'-80') just sitting on the top watching the fish makes a great dive. We are soon low on air and head back to the line. Nils and I decompress and talk about our dive while we hear Gordon calling in the distance. We are in the boat before he returns dragging a giant uku with him. Two fish that are too big for his cooler. The sun is shinning, the surf is down and there is plenty of fish on board. We head back along the cliffs, Gordon has not had enough. Nils and I let him do a shallow drift dive while we run the boat. We can see the backs of the nenue break the surface and at last we have found a place that does have lots of fish, lots of boulders and an interesting looking bottom. Gordon comes up with yet another uku, small enough that he can give it to me, but big enough for me to have sashimi for all my friends. We are a happy lot as we head towards Oahu. Gordon sacks out and I get to drive. Nils sits quietly and my mind wanders as we glide homeward. Oahu is nothing but clouds, it is going to be and instrument approach. I listen to the Grateful dead, reflect on Christmas eve and watch for birds. There are the first whales of the season. We pass two piles of birds, but Gordon is not up for perseverance (some kind of dinner engagement at six etc. etc.) We make one pass, I have visions of big ahi. The visions remain as I loose the wheel. We use the GPS to take a heading and continue towards the DH buoy. Portlock and Diamond Head have a good current mixing going on, the ocean turns markedly worse as we pass the points. Waikiki has a south swell and I am glad we hit the north shore. We run into Lyle and Roger heading out for a dive. I beg for gun repair from Lyle who has lots of not very helpful suggestions.... "I can now use the bend to shoot fish around corners, bugs bunny style...." Everyone is in awe of Gordons trophies, and the hero is still on time for dinner! With sashimi to boot! Nils and I are happy to have had the great experience. Truly some beautiful diving, spectacular ocean and great music. All the makings of a great Christmas. I hope you all have as nice a time as I have had, enjoy your holidays.


dive 242

Sunday morning, take the last house guest off to the airport and head for the ocean. It is windy and rough, but Joey, Amy and Brian are planning a dive. I join them and Captain Joey takes us to the Sea Tiger for a look. I have not been in a while and I am curious to see the recruitment. It seems to be recruiting divers quite well, there are four guys just coming up and they graciously set themselves adrift so that we can tie up. Now that is hospitality! I would have waited until everyone was in the boat. The water is cool and fairly clear, no current at all. Amy is worried about her sinuses, but makes it to 15'. I advise hanging on the line as long as possible, to maximize the cold vs.sea sick balance. Brian, Joey and I head for the ship. I see an eagle ray off of the bow and dive down on it hoping for something.... once you see a kagami and an eagle ray together.... (Brains are great aren't they? Never mind all the lonely eagle rays I have seen... don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.) I am alone in the sand in 122' of water, nothing in sight. The guys are exploring the wreck, there are lots of file fish, opelu kala, a school of little white weke and not much else. The lemon butterflies are missing. It has a lot more than the two fish that were here last time. I move along the bottom looking at the ghost ship looming over my head. Joey is checking out the algal growth and the fish are excited by the bubblefree guy.... like their first seedless grape they follow him around. I decide that since I am on the bottom anyway, I might as well swim into the ledge where I got that uku. There is now a rope that is shackled down to the bottom that leads straight to uku point. It must be the traffic arrows for the sub. I am playing with the extra galvanize shackles, trying to think of a use, when I am accosted by a kahala gang. These must be the big ulua Joey was raving about. The recruitment of predators before any prey, suggests the help of Purina fish chow. Good, more fish sooner. The fish soon disappear and I find the ledge has a lot more fish as well. There are lots of lemon butterflies here. I see the uku school hanging out in the sand and use stones to call them in. Perfect, I am going to get an uku in broad daylight. I fire my gun only to see the fish dodge the bullet. Since ole "never miss" is in the shop for shaft straightening, I have gone back to "old faithful". The rubbers are long and easy to load, they seem to have gotten even weaker than they were. How did I ever spear anything? I load my gun but the uku are now keeping their distance. I have lots of air, but the water is cold and I have a vision of poor Amy slowly turning green on the surface. There are no more fish to be had and I mosey back at mid water. The kahala greet me before the ship comes into sight. They escort me back to watch the other divers below me. Who could foresee the day when taking the picture not having the picture was the fun and meaningful part. I hang out at 40' and debate diving down when the eagle ray appears again, nah, the others are heading up and the cold is getting to me. I look up to see two heavily armed over finned visitors coming down the line. We pass, wave and I show them my empty bag. I surface to find Amy relaxing and doing fine, it is windy, but the swells are pretty small right off of Ala Moana beach. Joey and Brian soon surface with their usual banter entertaining me all the way home. It is soo good to get in the water again and we all vow to "do this more often" as we head in.

Later that same day: The Mo'o gang is planning a test run to the hole (new water pump), since I have been out doing sea trials on the Grasshopper anyway,... I am already wet, I already have my dive gear, I might as well invite myself along. Mike, Lyle, Gordon, and the boat repair guy agree and we head off for the hole. Gordon is optimistic about the current . He had lunched at the outrigger and noticed the subs were suffering with a tremendous Diamond Head current. He reasoned that therefore, there could be no current now. I am glad we were on the Sea Tiger and not at the hole (good call Joey). Mike and Lyle suit up and I wait until the last possible second to put on my wet wetsuit and climb out to the bow. As I toss the anchor my hands are shaking, my teeth are chattering, and my skin is turning blue. I have a vague distant memory of having been ranting on to Joey about the miseries of cold non-tropical activities. I am really really glad he did not ask "What is the coldest you have ever been?" He would have shut me down big time, I am also really really glad I am doing this for fun and do not need to make two more dives after this one. The boat pulls around and there is a swimmable D.H. current. I jump into the clear water and see that the boat is hanging right over the rock garden pit. I head down and am joined on my descent by couple of nenue. They are wearing rainbow runner outfits. As if putting a tutu on a hippopotamus makes it into a ballet dancer. They circle around and I wonder how they taste. The old mechanic comes along and I point them out. Bam! He shoots one. I wonder if I should be shooting the other. Gordon comes along, he shows me his pressure gauge rising and falling with every breath. I tell him he needs to turn his air on some more and he agrees. Ok, Ok, I won't shoot nenue. I fix the problem and we discuss the fish. He has seen nenue in rainbow runner disguise before, but our sign language does not at this current time include Latin. What he knows about this fish will have to wait till we surface. All four divers are near the hole, I continue along the outside ledge heading up current toward the peninsula. I see large schools of weke ula, and uku. My gun is just as slow and weak as it was this morning. Another uku has earned the nick name "dodger" Gordon is heading out as I head in, I point behind me towards uku and weke, he points behind him towards sharks. I ask if it is a big one. Latin is not the only lacking part of our sign language. I am left to decipher. Well, it is obviously not a white tip. It is obviously not little. Nor is has it bitten anybody yet. I will keep my eyes open. Mike is decompressing, he has a fish. I watch Lyle stalking an unseen target. I can not make out anything and I lay on the bottom and shiver until my bottom time runs out. The master mechanic is next to the anchor and he shoots at nothing. As soon as the shaft penetrates the invisibility shield, the uku comes into plain sight and he puts a second fish in the bag as he heads up. Lyle clears the anchor and we head up as well. Gordon soon reappears, he shot a weke ula, but it will no doubt end up as someone else's dinner as it pulled off of his spear. First he feeds the sharks until they really like him, then, he begins the training program. We surface shivering. We are still in time to see the sun set. The high cirrus clouds make it spectacular. There is much discussion about pelagic nenue amongst the science types. Lyle figures they are the two in two million that were sent in for genetic diversity and now, with one fatal shot, speciation no doubt occur. No one has eaten one and this leads to all sorts of stories about rare and interesting toxins. (I will stoop to any means to get a fish) I will let you know how it tastes...


dive 243

Cold gray rain continues. The Ala Wai is the exact color and clarity of cardboard. No one in his right mind would go diving on a miserable day like today. That outs Mike and Lyle and leaves Gordon who has not run his boat in weeks. Gordon has ridiculous visions of Kahala. I never get credit for being the voice of reason just chastised so I keep my mouth shut as the swells become more and more daunting. After taking some green water over the roof several times we both agree to turn back and dive the hole. I toss the anchor and Gordon goes down to set it. There is a diamond head current and the water is clear. Gordon has set the anchor is on the DH cable and I catch up to him as he heads off toward the hole. He has seen 15 or so uku, they are long gone. He heads off after the weke outside and I head up current to the ewa ledge. I was cold all day, I don't know why I am surprised to be shivering as I lay in the sand. There are lots and lots of opelu kala on the bottom, a big group is getting cleaned by some shrimp and they let me get right next to them. I don't see any game and drift back along the ledge, circle down by the anchor and come back on the shallow side. I turn over rocks looking for elusive nudibranchs and making the fish curious. I see Gordon charge off into the cave, he is being followed by several small weke ula; that must be what he is after. He doesn't take a shot and I slowly circle around again. I lay on the upcurrent side watching the fish hunkered down near the bottom. I am cold, my bottom time is up, seems like a good time to call it a day a farewell splash of sand attracts nothing. I leave Gordon to clear the anchor and take his large weke ula up to decompress with me. Why didn't I see any fish this beautiful? He saw an ulua in the hole, (that explains his charge) but never saw the uku again. The surface is still dreary, it is easy to imagine being off the Grand Banks. The full moon is just a blob of light behind the gray. Gordon pulls the anchor and we head for home, as fun as diving is, I admit to looking forward to my hot shower.


dive 244

Friday finally rolls around. It could be getting warmer, or I could just be getting used to it. Either way, diving seems like a reasonable idea. Gordon and the old man are celebrating Friday and I join them on Gordon's boat. We head out to the hole and toss the anchor. What a difference a day makes, Oahu is still shrouded in rain, but now the current is going ewa instead of diamond head! The ocean is clear and we all pull our way down the anchor line. I am last to the hole, the other two are up current stalking something. I figure to check the cave for the sleeping ulua. A large dragon wrasse buries itself in the sand on the floor of the hole. I chase it around like a cat with a toy moving under the floor mat. I hear a gun and back out to see what is happening. Another shot and I turn in time to see the shaft settle to the bottom before it hits me. I can't believe Gordon is shooting at me! That is when I see the wounded weke next to me. He must have escaped two divers already. I quickly try for a head shot, and he escapes me as well. The fish will not live long and I prepare to go after it with my bag. I see Mr. Moray getting excited out of the corner of my eye and I grab the shaft of my gun as I charge after the poor fish like She-ra Queen of the Amazon. Gordon has loaded his gun and follows me and gets the fish. Enough goofing around, I head of in search of uku. I think they must be up at my uku corner and I head over towards the DH cable. The area is thick with weke ula hanging high in the water column. If I don't see any uku, I will come back and get these guys. Of course there are no uku about, and 100 weke vanish in the blink of an eye. I drift down toward the inside of the hole, there is a distant Mu, but he avoids me. The old guy goes after a papio on top of the hole, he misses the shot and disappears toward the anchor. Gordon reappears with a second fish, a fair sized papio, the hero of the day. It is about time to decompress and we both head for the surface. The long lost sun has decided to show itself and bits of escaped light dance on the surface. It is wondrously beautiful, it is amazing how warm little bits of sun can be. We are up while it is still light and my full polar fleece outfit makes the ocean sweet. Gordon pulls the anchor while I show off his catch to the passing sunset sail tour. We are back in the Ala Wai while it is still light!! The days are getting longer, any day now it will be time to bust out the summer wet suit.


dive 245

Sunday, the sun is out and the ocean is blue. The owner of the power cat is up for taking his boat out, he invites Gordon and I to join him for a trip to Marnie's rock. Power cat is all gassed up (thanks Joey) and ready to go. (it needs oil now) We head down to the dive site chatting about nothing and each trying to be the most outrageous. The water is clear enough that I can make out the ledge as I toss the anchor. One guy is complaining how cold it is while the other complains that it is too light. I manage to be the first one in to check the anchor. There are about 10-15 small yellow spot papio circling around me as I get to the bottom. Small guys are up close, the bigger guys in the back. I know the small ones taste better and go ahead and take one. It is nice to have "never miss" back in action (thanks Johnny). The papio hang around and wait for me while I put the fish away and load my gun. I can't believe they are still here. Well, I will leave them for the other guys, one is enough for me. I head along the ledge towards David's old hang out looking for rainbow runner (I have been having sashimi fantasies again) There is very little action and I spend some time calling a distant mu over. It is going to be a pull pull shoot deal as he remains aloof, I am looking up at him when the tuna come into view, six big guys, could be Ahi and they are traveling slow and checking me out!! I move up in the water column trying to be as fascinating as possible. They slow but refuse to turn around. Unfortunately, I did not turn around either and did not see the next 20 fish as they approached me, I only saw them as they passed next to me. My gun facing the wrong direction, I miss my chance for a great sashimi dinner once again. I watch the last one head out of sight. I am still calling after them when I make out fish coming towards me. My heart is racing as I call the opelu kala right to me, those rats! It was a set up! I return to the bottom and head over toward my inside spot. I hear a gun go off as I pass near the anchor, some one is scoring. I am in the middle of a open field looking at sea shells when I see the many mu. They must have been chased here by divers because this is not their usual spot. I have no hiding spot, but my chances look real good anyway. The mu are joined by weke ula, uku and small papio. I am surrounded by game with not even a coral head to hide behind. I just charge and pick the mu over the uku at the last second. It is a good shot. Mr. Mu waits till I have him off the spear, but before I put him in the bag when he makes his move. I can't believe he got away! I chase after him while I load my gun. He circles around and I loose him while I cock the gun. I see the pile of black humus going crazy. Aha! Masterful observations pay off. Lucky I am so good at reading fish behavior. The humus lead me right to my own bag where they are picking at my papio! The mu is lost. Bummer, I will give up on my inside spot and head back to the rock to see if the uku or the shark are there. The boat captain has a bag full of weke ula and he is heading up, too cold to stay down any longer. He had seen uku and shot a good size one, but it tore off in the fight. Gordon has a weke as well, but he is waiting for the uku to reappear. My air is low enough that I head up and watch Gordon from above. The shark appears, I can not see it, but I can see Gordon acting weird and wonder at his antics. By the time he starts up, I am too cold to wait and I surface and put on my warm fuzzy clothes. There are four fish in the boat, the captain is wrapped up in the silver tarp, looking like a space age tent. Gordon surfaces with more fish talking about how well trained the shark is. (He only saw it once) We pull the anchor and head for home shivering as we fly over the waves. The silver tent runs the boat at a dry 30 mph as we huddle against the wind all the way home. Fresh fish always seem to temper the cold and we are all in good moods as we put away the boat.


dive 246

The weather is still strictly long sleeved, I have tons of work to do, but the winds have died down and the ocean is calm. Gordon must have tons of work as well because he is up for a dive. We meet around 5 and head out through the finish line of a high school canoe race. The ocean is indeed calm and we head for Kahala. There are two whales jumping and showing off and I watch them from the anchor well as Gordon puts us on Joe's barge. I toss the anchor and stall around feeling cold. There is a slight DH current and Gordon asks me to check the anchor as he is heading for the deep barge. I get in, not bad, current slight, and not as cold as I thought. The lemon butterflies are spawning like mad, perfect timing. I drift downward looking for uku out in the sand, nothing. The anchor is in one of those one in a million spots and it takes me some time to free it and set it properly. I turn around see that my gun is aimed at me and is surrounded by fish. There is a big kumu trying to work the trigger while his little brother dances around in front of me. Gary Larson was right! I chase the swarm of opelu kala away and retrieve my gun. The kumu is too friendly and I leave him be. I am still dreaming of rainbow runner sashimi and I wonder if they are out with Gordon. I look around and turn over rocks. I drift down to the pile of Z's on the other end of the barge hoping for some mu with size. (I have only seen smallish ones). There are lots of opelu kala and they are fun to interact with. I have been swimming down current and getting colder so I decide to head off to the pipes in hope of warming up. I cruise along the bottom. There are no fish until I am right on the pile of Z's. There is an MK whose spear hole has completely healed, he seems no worse for wear. He is hanging out with another big kumu and a smallish MK. I wonder if it is one I speared, he does not seem to recognize me and foolishly comes close. I have not the heart to spear him again.... that is one of those hit by lightning twice kind of things. The kumu he is with looks the most tempting as he drifts in and out of the concrete. I am too cold to stay very still and I continue to swim along enjoying the beauty and watching for a chance at the goat fish. They weave around, practicing where they will drag my spear should I actually shoot one. I move up kokohead looking for mu in their usual spot . They are there all right, but they have all taken Alice's little shrinking pill and are even too small for me to go for... not to mention it would require laying still and letting the shivers find out where I am. I head back toward the anchor only to find Gordon in the middle of cleaning a big ulua. His gun is loaded and aimed at himself, glad I am not the only fool around. I am too cold to wait and see what his bait brings in and I head up the line. He soon follows, he had seen a couple of small uku, and was hoping to call them in. He got the ulua out at the barge, (the smallest one he could find.... pardon me while I puke!) saw some rainbow runner and had a great dive. The beauty of the dive is wearing off as I am some how envisioning the surface akin to climbing into a hot tub. Why it looks soooo warm from 10 I do not know, but it sure does. I surface, try to dry off and change even though I am doing a pretty good Parkinson's imitation. Gordon pulls the anchor while I don all my warm fuzzy clothes. Suddenly the world looks stunning, the post sunset clouds are purple and orange, the ocean has become glassy smooth, preventing the sunset from sinking below sea level. There are spilled light puddles drifting and running around on the surface. I feel very lucky to have such a great life.


dive 247

Friday afternoon, Gordon is taking his boat out and Joe, Amy,Brian and Dave join up for party at the hole. It is good a fun visit as a boat full of gear heads out. Brian only has 2000 pounds in his tank so he is planning to come up early... Gordon offers him a full tank and he says "great, thanks" and plans to take both down with him. The sail boat start is underway and we wend our way out to sea. Free at last we leave the confines of Friday afternoon traffic. I toss the anchor and Dave heads down to set it. I leave the gang and head down myself. I miss seeing the whale breach just off the stern, but I hear it as I head down the anchor line. There is a DH current, I can see weke ula below me on the outside ledge. I drop down and the school is huge, all sizes, all staying out of range. I move along with them. A little white tip passes by. I finally just charge and shoot one that is swimming away from me. The shaft goes through the gill and out the mouth, not bad. I bag the fish and meet a second shark, not a white tip, but small. Joe and Brian must be at the 130' ledge chasing them in. I continue my dive, not seeing much of anything upcurrent. I decide to drift back down to the cave to see what everyone is up to. Gordon is hiding at the guard stone calling. There are a lot of uku approaching from outside of him. I am drifting down current and will show up at the sand pit and cut off the schools approach. I know Gordon is going to be plenty mad, but hey, he just got that huge ulua anyway! He leaves for a trip soon, what does he want more fish for? I drop in and divert the fish to me, they approach and I miss. No fish for anyone, I better leave before I get yelled at. I head back ewa, still no fish and so I cruise over to Amy, she looks lonely and cold. We wonder where everyone is and I leave her watching the butterflies. I head in to the far rocks and see only one mu off in the distance. The cold is beginning to take its toll and I head back to the anchor. Dave takes his fish as heads up. Amy is still wondering about Joe and I tell her I am heading up even though I have air and bottom time. She joins me followed by Gordon. Gordon only saw that one group of uku, he does not seem perturbed as he got to analyze my shot. He said my wrist shot back, I did not seem to handle the recoil, or he could have said that I am not holding my arm straight .... I think back to the miss and remember that my gun was kitty corner to the current, that is why I think I missed. We surface, still no sign of Joe and Brian. Amy is a little worried. But sympathetic friends that we are, "oh they are fine, they probably swam after that whale 200 yards down current" She is relieved when Joe climbs up the stern. It soon turns to worry again when we question him and find he is hiding something, we think it might be pain. I am happy when Brian surfaces and I realize it is anger not pain. Have you ever been at a dinner party with one couple at war? Thick silence that makes it hard for others to breathe? Now, with good Italian and Irish stock, you would expect that Dituri vs.Occonell would be lively and entertaining. I suppose as newly weds it would have been better...."you stupid f___! What did you do that for? I clearly gave you the "I am swimming around the block" sign!! But after nearly 25 years, they are now reduced to "nothings wrong" , "I am fine" Amy is obviously used to it, but the rest of us stay clear... they are two pretty big guys, although I would like to douse them with cold water, I refrain. Dave has two nice opelu kala, and I have the weke. Joe and Brian seem to patch things up, they tell us about the giant sting ray they came across. Not bad for a party at the hole, Gordon is not even mad at me for dropping in. (turns out he did not see the uku until I took a shot) We head for home. We are all planning our next dive as we rinse the boat and head home just as the fireworks start.

The next day: Mike and Abby are coming at last, pick them up at the airport and give them an hour before we head out with Gordon to Fantasy reef. The ocean is calmer, but still choppy as we round Diamond Head. I toss anchor, the water is clear and the current still. A good intro to Oahu for a couple that was blowing the snow out of their driveway this morning. Gordon heads off and the three of us cruise along the ledge enjoying the scenery. Turtles, shells and fish abound. I am looking for a nice big kagami. Mike and Abby are just happy to be wet. I ignore them and look for uku out in the sand. There is one little guy, too small although it would be nice to shoot with such an easy to impress audience. I let him go unmolested and he circles back with his six bigger brothers! Perfect, I shoot one and we get it in the bag. Mike is happy to carry it for me as we wander back toward the anchor. I see a couple of more tiny uku, but nothing else. Gordon is on the surface scrubbing the hulls. Giving his boat a nice rub down before leaving town. He saw a couple of papio, the tiny uku and nothing else. We surface and Gordon pulls anchor. The ride home is down wind on a calming sea, the sun setting off of Waikiki. The Alaska couple are so appreciative of the beauty. It allows Gordon and I to see it though fresh eyes and we are all happy to be in Hawaii as we head in the channel. We gas up, rinse up the boat. Gordon does one last swim in the Ala Wai, futilely trying to grab his sinking credit card. Who needs the confinements of a capitalist society? The best things in life are free anyway. Sure glad it wasn't me leaving for a trip the next day.


dive 248

A perfect Sunday, God says "go diving".....there is barely a breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I load everyone up (Mike and Abby) and hustle them out to the power cat. There is nothing like making everyone hurry and then having to say "oh, I forgot to pick up tanks!" We make it by eleven. We stop for gas and head for the wrecks. Tie up and hop in. There is not much current and clouds of fish around each ship. There are two of those weird file fish Jack Randall wanted to photograph maybe they are coming back again. (you might mention it to him Rich) I see nothing to shoot, and we take time to enjoy the wildlife. Abby finds those "worms" Joey was talking about (nudibranchs). There are turtles in every crevasse and eels in the holes. I do see a school of weke ula, but the sub appears and gets between us. They make a getaway. All too soon we are out of bottom time, I have not used half of my air yet. We come up the line and play with the humus and lemon butterflies. It sure is different when the sun is shinning, we surface, warm up in the Hawaiian sunshine and talk about all the things we saw. Everyone had a nice time, we head in for lunch. I hope the good weather continues. It is so much nicer when it is calm.


dive 249

Department meetings, focus groups, next years teaching lines, steering committee, .... it is Friday and I NEED to go diving. Gordon and Amy want to go.... the meetings inch along, but if I leave early I will end up being department chair next year... must hold on.... I am finally free, I will not be on time, but since I am bringing Gordon's tank, I feel like I have some leverage. The boat is there, Amy has opted for staying home with food poisoning. Gordon and I head for Kahala, it is too glassy calm to stay in Waikiki. I toss anchor at Joe's barge. There is no current, and I agree to check the anchor while Gordon heads off in search of Rainbow runner. We jump in together and I see the uku swimming below us. Gordon is quick to load and drops a spoon to keep them interested. One circles in and I see him shoot and nick the fish as I follow him down. The uku checks out the gun and heads out to deep water. I head down toward the anchor. Whenever I check the anchor near the concrete Z's, I seem to find some "rare" chance happening that takes me forever to undo. Today is no different, as I yank on the wedged anchor chain, (one foot on either side braced against the concrete, and periodically fan the eel with my fin to keep him in check) I vow not to be stuck with this job again. After the chain is free, I am forced to swim the anchor over the pile so as to keep the rope free from chaffing. What a work out! Six hundred pounds of what should have been some one else's air! I look outside towards the barge and see the great big grandpa uku watching my anchor antics. That is the size uku I want to take home! I am forced to sleep at Mike's house tonight and I REALLY want to show up with that uku. The mighty fish pulls back and heads over to the barge where he disappears underneath it. I am frantically trying to remember if there is another way out or if the big guy is obliged to return. I move closer as he returns to see what I have been up to. I try my best to look harmless, he keeps his distance, checks me out and heads on his way. I circle around the barge in hopes of heading him off, but to no avail he goes to investigate that banging sound and I am sure that Gordon will end up with MY uku. Par for the day, time to enjoy the dive, there is no current and I decide to go barge hopping. I head ewa along the ledge stopping to check out the area that looks real good but I have never actually seen fish there. One small kumu, and an even smaller mu. I come to the fork, which barge should I head for? I head for the turtle barge just because I have not been there for awhile. It is very pretty, there are some mu adding artistic focus to the vast distant sand plain. I work them half heartedly, nothing tastes the same after seeing the big uku. I check my air and decide to head back via the little barge. The trip is nice on such a clear day. I look for big uku and see none, time to head up. I will dead reckon my way back to the boat. I glance toward the surface on the off chance that I happen to be right under the boat a big silver fish dashes out of sight leaving me to puzzle over its possible identity. Gordon's bubbles come into view and I am proud of my sense of direction. I see his bag and I focus on its possible contents as I approach. The big uku turns into some small papio, which soon turn into two rocks and an extra sling. We are both empty handed. I feel like I have dropped a huge load off of my shoulders. " The girl can actually outswim state bureaucracy!" I can enjoy a weekend at long last!

Gordon is bound out of town again and wants to go to Molokai on Sunday if the weather holds calm. Waking up at four weeds out the more likely candidates, and he is forced to invite me. I know enough to bring a blanket and pillow for the first three hours so I agree to the trip. Sunday proves calm and I wake for the sunrise somewhere in the middle of nowhere. There is no land visible as I am given the wheel and told to head east. The surf seems manageable so we head for the north shore. We make it in record time and gas consumption...clean hulls and a smooth lake. Gordon anchors on some "hot" uku spot of his. I let him head down while I wake up. I finally enter the clear water and see some uku under me. A large kahala rolls in the sand, it almost looks hurt by the way he rolls on his back. I wonder if it is really a wounded ulua as I head down. I swim down fast and my head swims in unexpected dizziness. The kahala heads off, still rolling on his back like a loony. I move toward a ledge inside of me. Nothing but some mempachi in the overhang. I head over to join Gordon on the main ledge. He has a papio in his bag already. The bottom is a 95 foot algae covered expanse with small "ledges" for lack of a better term. We swim two abreast with about 10 yards between us looking for something of interest. Well the large uku that appears is of interest. I turn a dent in the ground into a fox hole and drop. A stealth sharpshooter hidden in the terrain. I glance over towards Gordon who I know is twice the sniper that I will ever be. He has done the same and boy, fox hole or not, he sure stands out like a lone person on an empty beach. Our only hope is that the uku drops his guard from laughter. No luck, we move on to a bright spot. Kala, taape, mu, and uku abound at what must be the only place like this place anywhere near this place. The relief is not greater, but the ledge is rocky and undercut. I aim for some uku and get one to come over and see what I am all about. I shoot the guy and Gordon not only helps me, he even offers to carry the fish. The uku have left and I venture off after the remaining mu leaving Gordon following the ledge in the other direction. The mu are elusive I give up and circle back to follow in what I guess will be Gordon's path. As long as I pick the most interesting looking ledge, I should catch up. The feeling is eerie, which ever way I head, there seems to be some sort of a ripple to follow. I can head up of down little ledges and it always seems to be 95'. I feel like Alice and the looking glass as I wander about in search of definition. I come across another bunch of fish but fail to entice the uku very close. I start to head back in what I think must be the the direction I came from. I am happy to find the taape again, only to find that they are impostors. Maybe this is the second bunch of fish, perhaps I am swimming in circles. I feel certain that I know which way "deeper" is and decide to head for the "big" (2 foot) ledge as an aid to navigation. I feel that I must be deeper only to find it is 95 feet no matter how far out I go. I prevent total panic by stopping and calling in uku when they occasionally appear. This dive is going on forever. Gordon went down earlier so he no doubt is back at the boat. I have already given up on the bottom helping me with direction, I might as well swim around in mid water and at least decompress. I leave the uku, who follow me off the bottom. They don't want to stay in la la land either. I am aiming for 40' and that when I really notice that my computer is stuck at 95'. That explains a lot. I have no timer and I will guess the depth and use air consumption as a measure of time. I keep checking and keep finding it is 95' and I have a 1000 pounds of air. I count kicks and find after 100 kicks that it is 95' and I have 1000 pounds of air, after 500 kicks it is 95' and I have 1000 pounds of air. The thing to do is to surface so at least I can move in the right direction. I have the distinct feeling that the boat is not going to be close. Some days mother nature smiles, and things just work out. The ocean is sooo glass calm that I can still see the boat even though it is just a distant speck. Luckily, I have 1000 pounds of air. I dip below the surface to approximately 95' and proceed to swim, if I follow my gun which is straight, then I will be sure to swim in a straight line. Three hundred long pounds of air go by and I figure to check again. The boat is now directly inside of me, I can see that Gordon is on board, but not worriedly standing on the roof yet. Good sign. He is still out of hearing distance, but I can now swim right into the sun and bee line back to the boat. He was slightly worried, and wondered at my foolishness. I will stick by him like glue on our next dive. We move the boat to a rockier area with a more pronounced 90-60 foot ledge. I check his depth gauge at the anchor and figure not to get into too much trouble. The ledge has a couple of huge arches and as I swim through one, I see a side cave that is bound to be full of lobsters. I enter and as my eyes adjust I can make out the back of the cave swimming around in a rather agitated manner. My mind tells me cornered white tip before my eyes fully adjust and confirm. Well, that is a good heart stopper, I back out even though the swell is pushing me in as if to say "kiss the shark" I mover to another part or the arch, the ceiling is covered with tubastria and I search for the camouflage nudibranch. No luck. I come across four baby lobsters. The kind you can keep in your aquarium. I do see one small guy that would be legal, but not big enough to impress anyone I would give it to. I leave him be, and move to the top of the ledge in search of game. I find a spot with some little holes, lots of friendly fish and I settle down to see who will come visit me. (I am staying in sight of the anchor line the whole time, just in case you believe I can't learn) I am playing with the lemon butterflies when all the omilu that have been hiding in the hidden cave I am on top of come charging out. There are four of them, but they are gone before I can aim my gun. A large Molokai size MK comes into view and I let him come close before taking a shot. It is a great shot, Mr. big uku comes right over to admire it. He enjoys watching me thread the shaft through the same hole in the same direction wondering why I want to tie a clove hitch over the head of the fish. I figure out the problem and manage to finally load my gun so I can play a proper game with Mr. Uku. That is more like it, I should pay more attention to HIM, now he can act elusive and shy and make me beg. My only hope is to make a lunge and take a shot, I wait my chance as he plays coy. It is never perfect and I tell him what I think as I head back to the anchor line and do my usual 95' decompression. I am coming up with half a tank just to be safe. I am soon cold and I surface to warm up. Gordon comes up empty handed, having spent his dive swimming along the ledge calling elusive uku. We troll for uku and look for potential future dive sights up and down Momomi beach. I play it safe and offer to run the boat for Gordon to do a drift dive and he chooses to go back close to our original spot. I clean the fish to find the fat uku is full of little octopus, just the ones Michael was telling me about that live in the sand. I need to get a rubber one to try and fool those rascally uku!! Gordon comes up empty handed, frustrated at the lack of fish but grateful for the glorious day. He sleeps while I drive us back to Oahu, I count 16 pods of whales between Ilio point and Portlock. That does not count all the ones we saw along the north shore while looking for dive sites. I wonder at moving the thrill craft zone at Hawaii Kai out of shallow water and out of the lee of land for the whale season. There sure seem to be a lot of whales in deep water. Do whales "like" shallow water because we count most of them from shore? Athleen probably knows the answer to this? The calm water brings us back to the hustle and bustle of Waikiki by four P.M. I still have time to go home and to my home work!! Thank goodness for the ocean, I would truly be insane without it. Does anyone know about getting Aladdin computers repaired?? Does anyone want to do some 95 foot dives??


dive 250

Friday, three possible dives and I missed them all... try harder on Saturday. I plan to double dip and make up for it and it begins to look like I will miss out again. Things come together and a gang meets at the Power Cat. Gordon, and Mike are both in town and ready for Marnie's Rock. The professional divers are up for a dive and Joey and Brian bring along visiting buddy Chuck. I do NOT want to miss the boat and get there early to set up. I guess Mike has not been out on the power cat in a while, I spy him standing at the old slip looking confused. The weather has been glassy and beautiful and Joey glides the boat down to the spot. There is lots of jovial bantering going on as I get the crash course on Nitrox. Everyone else is certified and know all the answers as I struggle along. I know I will blow them all away when we actually get to a math problem, but alas we get to the spot first. Joey tosses the anchor and Mike heads down to set it. There is plenty of light and I hang around and wait for the others to get safely in the water. I jump in and am glad that there is no current. There is a tremendous amount of phytoplankton in the water and visibility is poor. Good for spearing, and bad for photography (Brian) and Chuck has to go down the anchor line into a bottomless sea of gloom. I feel for him and am on my way over to put him at ease (make some sort of joke), I did have the best of intentions as I saw the tell-tale glimmer swaying below me. It must be 25 pounds+, ulua. The glee of Mike and Gordon half heartily saying "good job Snerk" is too much and I dive for the bottom. Alas, the slow undulations move that guy at a pretty good pace and he disappears into the murk. I stop to play with a little candy cane shrimp in hopes he will return. There is a mad grunting blue throat humu in the neighboring hole. I debate taking it over to Chuck and Joe as a pleasant diversion, but she is well wedged and I wont get her out without loosing some skin off of my knuckles. Only one of them would think it was funny anyway, the other guy would be really angry to have a mad biting humu stuck on his butt. I give up on the ulua and head over to the rock where Mike is. He is very excited, not only does he have a passle of papio in the bag, he is giving me the signals one after another. Lots of uku, lots of papio, lots and lots of papio, three ulua. My one seems meager and I start looking and see nothing. I move toward the ledge and see a bunch of weke ula. I take a shot that hits above the eye and the fish rips off and swims by Gordon who also nicks him... talk about running the gauntlet! The fish escapes and we split up. I hear Gordon's gun fire and head over to check. He has a papio, but is excited about something and sends me out to go kill them... I see nothing. I wonder what I am supposed to be killing. I head over to Roger's hang out. I check Nils' gauge. (mine back home still says 95'....it has been one week, how long do those batteries last?) Now I remember that having a watch does no good unless you look at it when you first get in. How soon I got used to that computer. Oh well, I can count decompression minutes on it. (and I was upgrading my certification?) I see the uku. They are shy and my one chance nicks the front of the fish's dorsal fin. Gordon comes over and I give him the spot and move in to the ledge. The flash of the camera gives away the whereabouts of Brian, Chuck and Joey. They all seem to be doing fine and having fun, no use confusing things, I head in further. Uku are everywhere, big ones too. They almost can't be bothered to stop and look at me as they surround me. I take a shot, nick the fish above the eye and he soon tears off. *#@$!! Irritability, was that not one of the symptoms? I must be suffering some toxicity; let's see 3 atm. (close enough) X .21= .63, hmmm guess not. But what about all that diet coke??? Pay attention, there are mu now mixed in with the uku.... it is a clean miss this time. I like those better. All fish leave and I head back out to the ledge. I see the distant flash, even if the pictures are nothing but back scatter, the guys are easy to keep track of. Chuck has made good time with his air but they seem to be heading up. I stay inside and move Diamond Head. Out in the great flat plain; there she is; the most beautiful siren, glimmering in the waning light. Tossing her head as if she still had the long tresses of her youth. Oooooo KAGAMI!! It will be hard to miss!! I do what I can and she circles just at the edge of my vision. Totally unaware of anything save her, I keep my gun pointed as I spin. I am circling around like the altitude needle, I have finally resorted to wishing really really hard as she moves out of view for the last time. Where am I? Too bad there is no sun to follow. At long last I have found a good thing about those broom tailed file fish. I see one and know that is the direction of the ledge! I didn't even know that I knew that. It is like not knowing you have missed something until you see it again. Brains are amazing... maybe I will do this nitrox thing after all. The ledge has uku and mu and weke ula, but they don't taste as sweet and I head up leaving Gordon surrounded by uku... he will be happy. I surface between the bait that is being dropped by Mike and Joe who are happily fishing for uku. Mike has three papio and I feel rather inadequate as I tell my "feel sorry for me" tale. Mike kindly tells me not to aim right above the eye, the secret is to aim for behind the eye. Now that I know that.... fish watch out!! Gordon surfaces with a bag full of uku and papio. Six fish; six divers... seems right. Brian and Gordon pull the anchor as Joey heads us home in the dark. He has as many back seat drivers as there are blinking green lights. The sky is clear and the half moon is lined up with a great planet grouping. Does any one know anything about aligning Mars, Jupiter and Saturn? Is it coming or going? Let me know the date, so I can see it at its finest. We make it back to Keehi, I happily find an uku in my trunk after putting the boat away. Thank you Gordon. Boy it is good to go diving, great fun, beautiful fish, fresh sashimi and the greatest friends that anyone could ever hope to have. Thank you all for a great time.


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