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The Snerk Report (Vol. 10)

8-27-00

One week of school and the longing for the ocean pulls twice as strong. Fortunately, Joe, Amy and Gordon are doing a Sat. morning dive at the ships. They agree to wait for me as I rush from the dentist and get to the boat with everyone loaded and waiting. The summer heat had taken my old slings and turned them to powder. I had refurbished guns and felt ready for bear. There were no boats at tied on the float even though three subs were running and things seemed busy. Joe had to show off as usual in the getting of the float line. We tied up, rigged up headed over. I handed Amy her gun and watched all the divers head down the line. The current was slightly toward Diamond Head. I took a look at the sun shining on Oahu and felt glad to be back, the first breath on my regulator would have been tonic except there seems to have been some sort of ant colony living in there in my absence. The purge button does have its uses. The feeling as I hit the water however, was a complete rejuvination. If you had asked me, I would have denied addiction. I would have gone on with out it and never known, but as I drifted downward I closed my eyes and felt a homecoming. The taste of the first sip of diet coke on a Monday morning, the vision of your lost dog, bedraggled but still alive limping up the steps, the sound of the reel whizzing into action, the smell of low tide at noon, and the feel of sinking into the depths, some things just make you happy no matter what. I tried to pay attention as I loaded my gun and went over to Amy to help her load hers (new rubber), but I felt so good that my perceptions were cloudy. The fish were all around us, butterflies, opelu, humus and a school of big lai. I pointed out the lai to Amy as something I would eat for dinner and gave her a goal. I just continued to sink delightfully glancing at the wonderous pattern the feeding opelu were making overhead. I heard a gun and glanced over to see the unmistakable flashes of a fish on the line. Amy got her first fish! A nice shot just below the gills. Joe had his camera and I went over and helped her take the good size lai off the line and showed her how to hold it while Joe took her picture. The gill rakers must have poked her because just as I was ready to put my dinner in the bag, I heard Amy say ow, and the fish swam away. The fish moved slowly, but straight up faster than I wanted to go to catch Amy's fish. Joe caught up with it but it slithered out of his grasp with twice the speed. Amy was still inspecting her finger with that "I can't believe it poked me" look. She was still looking suprised as we swam off in search of more game. We swam to the inside ship and they took the ocean side while I took the shore side. I came across a leaf fish, some little shells, everything so beautiful that I wanted to cry at how much I had missed them and not known it. I felt guilty for forgetting. I thought perhaps Joe would like to take a picture of the leaf fish and went around the ship to find the vogue fashion photographer working with his wife. You could almost hear him "give me spearfisher womman. Yes! Yes! More! Again! Now with more feeling!" I dragged them from Paris back to the leaf fish. Joe was still "in the mode" and wanted the fish to pose right and left. "Yes! More fin! More fin!" It would have all been great, except that where ever Joe and his yellow camera went, also went the yellow lemon butterfly fish. He might have 36 pictures of the same individual fish. I think I must have felt the burning eyes of uku stares as I turned slowly around and followed their scent off to the sand. We played familiar games of how close can I come. It was a never ending game as I noted Joe and Amy heading back to the other ship. First dive in a while, probably breathing fast and lost my sense of time. As I looked at my decopression meter I flashed on an imaginary class room. I am listening to Dave Pence say "After having been away from diving, you should always refresh your familiarity with your gear and go over your instruction manuals." I would roll my eyes and think "yeah right, give me a break." Well, that number 90 must be the depth, because I can't have been here 90 minutes. That other 90, hmmm oh yeah, that is the max depth. Sure glad I am not at 240, Dave would be really mad. These other numbers must be minutes down and minutes left, oops that one just got smaller, that is the minutes left. I am a f***ing genius! I can hear the sub and know I can use it to corner uku. Alas, the uku are gone. The sub comes into view with a full kahala escort. Oh no! Amy has a loaded gun and those kahala are headed right toward her! King of the world fish meets Queen of missle launchers. "Just push this little red button here, poof, no more enemy!" The Navy has warped their brains! I rush back and as the sub passes by, I see Joe reloading his gun. Phew, no one is being dragged into the stormy depths. The kahala are gone as is our bottom time and we head up to decompress. Gordon returns empty handed and he and I swim up current and meld ourselves into the swarm of opelu. Being surrounded by flashing silver on all sides is always amazing and even if the ono don't appear, just the excitement of being part of a school is bliss. I am the last one to reluctantly surface, the warm water could have kept me another hour or two. Turns out Joe and Amy had unloaded the gun before the kahala came by so they never actually missed one. Neither one of them has any concept of what is going to happen when they shoot one, so I must keep a close eye on them. Gordon was complaining about his new decomp meter, you have to turn it on when you start, not when you look at it half way through the dive. I feel better about my experience, but keep my mouth shut. Amy is no doubt the hero today. Gordon unties the line and we head back to the dock, happy to have gotten wet, enjoying the amazing beauty that is Oahu and boy am I glad to be home. Thanks for the dive Gordon.


Gordon is going out for a "real" spearfishing dive on Sunday evening and he graciously lets me tag along. It is Marnie's rock at sun set. We toss the anchor five minutes after the perfect time and hurry into the water. Gordon had said on the way out that the rock was not happening and David's spot was the place to be. There is a slight current toward Diamond Head, and I know that I am staying on the ewa end. The water is amazingly warm. Having missed two months of slow warming, I wonder why I have such a darn thick wetsuit. I unzip and let the water rush over me. The plankton are so thick that I know the fish will be here, too bad I won't be able to see the shark until he is really really close. There are lots of opelu kala (could be the same ones swimming in a circle around me, kind of hard to see) I note the eels are out and swimming and I drop off the ledge and work my way ewa across the open sand. It seems futile to stir up any sand and I just swim until I see spearable things coming toward me. I don't know how I can tell, maybe the way they swim, but sure enough they turn into a group of large yellow spots. The leader is the biggest and I take a high shot. Out of practice, luckly I know Gordon went the other way and did not witness such an off shot. No sooner have I thought this when who should pass over my shoulder to go spear what I now concider MY fish. Oh well, first shot in a while, new rubbers too, yeah, that's it. Gordon has disappeared into the murk, he will no doubt get fish. I leave him to fend and cut inside to check the cave since there is a slight current. There are so many fish here, and you can swim right up to them. I feel surrounded by friends of all species. The inside islands are beautiful. They seem so far apart. I am unable to see the next one and have to go by memory. Each one is like finding the lost city of Atlantis. I see an uku and hide, he refuses to turn (poor vision?) and is nosing up to my gun. I can even see he has a spot on his lip. I can't believe I missed. He can't believe I missed, he waits till I have the gun all but loaded. No doubt just to make sure I am alright, then takes off into the gloom. I am mad enough to ignore the mu and they keep coming closer, not close enough. I think I will check on the cave, perhaps some papio are waiting for me. The cave is empty. I look at the meter, "What are all these numbers again?" Amazingly I manage to figure it out yet again. Sheer brilliance! I never cease to amaze myself. I think if it wasn't so murky, it would be dark. I guess if it is dark, I should try and find Marnie's rock again. I get to the ewa corner amazed at how many rocks I recognize. There is a large mu coming toward me, on his way somewhere. I am surrounded by opelu kala, making the mu shot difficult. The stratagy I come up with is this. If I charge, the opelu kala will disappear and the mu, will hesitate. All who hesitate will be lost and the mu will be mine. It is the true and deep understanding of fish behavior that makes me so great. I charge. Before there were perhaps three opelu kala between my gun and the mu, now there are 15. The charge brought on the ball reflex, I seem to be in the center. I can just glimpse pieces of the hesitating mu before he darts away. Yep, I am sure that if I could see it would be dark, I still have bottom time and air so I will check out the rock. I see clouds of light and realize they are bubbles. Sure enough Gordon got that yellow spot, good job. He has not seen any uku. I leave and move out to Roger's weke ula spot. There are no fish anywhere. I realize how safe I felt when there were fish all around me. I feel very alone. I like fish. I head back towards the ledge where there is action. Gordon signals that he is going up and I agree, seems silly to stay just because I am still warm. He signals that he will free the anchor (inside the ledge) and I can just head back to the boat. HA! I am following him, recognizing rocks and guessing where you are only goes so far. Half way to where I think the anchor should be, he signals "where is the anchor?" Sure glad I am following him! I take the lead and we manage to get to the line. Gordon goes to clear the line and I take his fish up. The plankton are fun and I pass the time watching them drift by, back lit by the waning light overhead. The light of the boat feels warm and safe as we surface. Gordon pulls the anchor and we head back towards the bright lights of Waikiki. We share each of our dives, he never saw anything after those yellow spots I pointed out with my spear. We agree that the uku will come with the cold water. He is happy with his papio, it is a good size. He has Carrie for a while so will be out of diving, his cell phone rings, it is Roger and Mike, both hero's with fish to brag about. Where is the dive report Mike??? Where is your secret spot? I will be eating store bought food tonight, but my ears are salty and my hair is wet and I feel glad to be alive. More reports to follow soon!!


8-28-00 Guest Report

Snerk,
Glad you asked. Roger spent the day fixing the Prince William power cables with Debbie and Glen. They managed to get it all fixe dnad it works better than ever (full power to both engines). He calls to see if I want to do a midday dive. I havent been in the water in months so I figure why not. I meet them at Keehi and we head out to the secret spot. I have only been there twice before this so you know it is a closely held secret (if your own father only takes you there twice in 18 years of diving. . .). We anchor and I head down to set it. I am surrounded by a huge school of opelu kala and other fish. It looks good. The spot has great features, large wave cut notches and caves, sandy areas for uku, lobster holes and the like. It is beautiful and huge and I am happy cruising along looking for fun. A bunch of small kahala come charging in and I shoot the smallest one (turns out it was about 4 pounds, just a little big, but still edible). I put the fish away and continue on to the outside. It is deep here, but I figure why not it is too nice to stay shallow. Just as I get to the end of the spot I see the telltale sign of big ulua sleeping in one of the big caves (they seem to forget that you can see their big tales sticking out of the cave). I drop over the ledge and corner four fat ulua against the cave wall and shoot the smallest one (about 15 pounds). He puts up a mighty fight but i manage to get him under control and head back to two digit depths to put him away. My shot was angled down and through the gills and I cant seem to get the shaft out. Roger and Debbie come by and Roger helps me get the shaft out, but the line is tangled through his guts and gills and there is no way to get it out. I give up and head to the surface to decompress for a while anyway. Roger shoots another small kahala (about 2 pounds-perfect size) and comes on up with Deb. We pull anchor, agree to never reveal the location of such a great spot, and head back to the dock. Some local fishermen are impressed w ith our catch (we could see them glancing over at the fish as I cleaned them and then talking to themselves, "eh, dos haole buggas got fish") and we give them vague directions like, "yeah, its a spot on the south shore, right off the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki."

I rushed off to a surprise birthday party and then got the call that Sarah (my sister) was in labor. I had to drop some folks off on the way to the hospital and missed the birth, but little Deke was born at 10:36 pm (8lbs 1oz). Healthy and all that. I guess this was his first ulua!

Hoping to see everyone one of these days. Perhaps we can have a september bbq to catch up on the summer and compare war stories?

Aloha,
Michael


9-2-00

Saturday morning and the Professionals are going out. As usual, they let me tag along. Since I have spent the week locked in a classroom, it is a welcome relief. There are the rebreather guys, Joe, Brian, and Jeff (I guess I should stop calling Brian by the last name "Open Circuit") I have not seen Jeff in about five years, the last time we dove he managed to get an eel bite. I was glad to see his hand fully functional. He is on his way back from Bikini atoll and his wife joined him here for some more diving. Amy is along, she is on Nitrox and Rachel and I are the 'lowly' air breathers. Amy has never been on the Sea Tiger and that is where we are headed. The power cat runs like a champ. We tie up, the water looks inviting and we head over. I give Amy some last minute "if it is big, silver and NOT a kahala, then shoot" instructions. Joey's gear is giving him problems, his excess refribulator is giving him a 17% chance of survival. Like the faithful friends that we are we agree to give him plenty of space and untinteruppted time to solve the problem. Brian is already on the wreck outswimming a turtle as we descend. Jeff and Rachel head down the line as instructed. Amy and I load guns and drift downward along side the wreck. There is a spotted eagle ray snuffling along the bottom and we watch from above. He is being followed by seveal broom tailed file fish and I disuade Amy from shooting them even though they are big enough to eat. The ray is providing entertainment as he drives his nose into the sand at what seems like random intervals. I ask the always agreeable Amy if she has seen enough of the ship and if she is ready for a swim. She of couse answers yes even though we have only dropped along the starboard side, midship! She has such faith that I will take her somewhere good! We head for the inside ledge, passing the sub as it heads out. We dutifully wave and continue. There are several Kahala and behind them I see distant uku! I get Amy's attention and we sink and call. Amy playing her gun like a guitar. The playful kahala charge right over to meet the band, the uku are never seen again. The ledge is covered with reef fish and a good cloud of heniochus. I would have thought at least those guys would have moved onto the empty ship. There is one big MK, but he shows us nothing but tail. I show Amy the big anchor and we drift back out toward the sea tiger. I take the time to introduce two heavily disguised shell collecting urchins to eachother. They might have otherwise never seen eachother! (no eyes, I know) Amy is picking up empty shells along the bottom and we both stop to pester a small octopus. The delightful squeals that come out of Amy when diving always make it worthwhile. Octopus suckers entertain us. The noise of the approaching sub remind us to move along. We leave the bottom to wave at the same tourists on their return. I stop to get my picture taken. (A star in the making) Our next distraction is a beautiful snowflake eel out for the catching. I wish I had my aquarium set up, he is beautiful and a flick of my fingers sends the little guy undulating across the sand. The shape of the sea tiger looms above us as the yellow turtle comes into view. Joey made it! Wow! He must of gotten the cabiterrigger to work. YAY. I say hi and the mated pair has to go through the usual reacquaintance ritual. I leave them be and move toward the ship and think I should go up even though I still have plenty of air. I see little weke ula and a trailing papio and watching them allows me to see the two big weke ula behind them feeding in the sand. I havn't heard the beep yet, might as well go play. I snake along the sand, enjoying the sensation more than actually hiding myself. The fish are unpreturbed and when I have them between me and the port side of the ship I get ready to make a move. Without so much as a blink (so they don't have eyelids) the two big guys casually move up the side of the ship and out of sight! I can't believe they just ditched me! I have to follow much slower and by the time I pass behind the bridge, I can see them feeding on the sand below me. Joe and Amy are on their way up and I know I give them some entertainment as I determindly swoop down and try to shoot the fish from above. A big miss! The shaft is left stuck standing in the sand just to further ridicule me. The only slightly more preturbed weke move off to the stern. The last time I looked I already had 5 minutes decompression, but I know I still have air. That is the bad side of deep diving, I wonder how those rebreather guys ever go up when the water is this warm. I leave my prey and slowly join the others on the line. The ray is now on the port side, and has a following of eleven filefish. At least the water is clear and warm and the current is slack. We decompress and the couples converse while I trip out on plankton. I surface to find that Jeff has done it again. Now I know it is just for attention. However, I will have to follow him next time just so I can see how he sticks his hand right in the mouth of an eel. You gotta admit, it takes guts. He must be getting older and wiser, because this one is just a small scratch. He tries by some convoluted method to blame me, but we are all distracted by the approach of the "officials" of the yellow submarine. We get a lecture about clowning around and riding on the deck of the sub. I of course deny that anyone would ever be so foolish while Joey keeps very quiet. Nothing like taking the Navy's best sub. rescue guy diving! I am sure it was entertaining and I am sorry I missed it. Rachel is longing for some actual reef and glorious wonders of nature. We agree to reconvene on Monday and further search.


9-2-00 #2

First of all, my last report I called Rebecca by the wrong name and I feel badly, don't forward the message to them unless you find and change! It came to me while in the middle of a dive.

The spearmasters (Gordon and Lyle) were going out for an evening shoot. I was offered a place on the boat and given the oppertunity to choose the spot. The winds had been dropping all day, by all means let's go to Kahala. The Ala Wai at 5:30 was full of returning fishing boats, there is a large tournament and with the drop in the winds, every boat with a reel seems to have been out there. There are fish sticking out of every transom. Lyle is looking for boats that are using his lures to see how they did. We all agree that there are no pelagic fish left around Oahu today. We wend through the thicket and head for the Diamond Head. The ocean is a lot calmer and it is a beautiful glide to Joe's barge. I throw the anchor and Lyle is over the side. The water is clear and I can see the Zees from the pulpit. The anchor line tears out of the box and I know that there is a good Diamond Head current flowing. Welcome back to Kahala! I watch Gordon go over to see how much trouble he has going forward, he makes good progress and I follow. The water is warm and clear. The current is divable. Gordon is heading straight for the deep barge, no doubt to shoot ulua and rainbow runner. I don't like swimming any way but upcurrent and I let him go off to his glory, besides there are uku in the sand right below me. I can see them! I pull myself down the anchor line and drop into the sand at 101 feet. There is one uku that is not behaving properly and I wonder if he is a wounded fish that Lyle shot. He is swimming plenty fast, just doing lots of high speed sand rolls and flashing silver. There is no getting him interested in me, but the others come check me out, pass by and head up to Lyle's call. No use me staying deep as this meter remembers that I was at 115' this morning. I move around the bow of the barge and cruise the inside ledge. There are not many fish and the current is more of a torrent. I will give Lyle leeway, and plan on going up current to the zees that are on the way to the pipes. The current is perfect for that spot and it is only 75'. Sure enough, the fish are all there. The place is covered with opelu kala and palani hanging close to the cement. I suddenly find myself in some sort of eddy and I remember how the current zigs and zags around here. A mu approaches, is coming right in and he doesn't know about the river flowing between us, he fully intends to come up to me, but is swept sideways away, the tip of my gun gets caught and is soon out of control anyway. This is fun! I continue up to the Koko Head end where I expect to find all the fish. I get there to find baby weke ula, baby uku, baby mu, baby everything! I think I will get a little uku because they taste so good, but I am distracted by the approach of a not so baby white ulua. Gordon must be chasing them out of the barge. I get excited because he is going to come between me and a large pipe. Very close range. I make a nick in the top of his head and hit the cement pipe behind him. He is on for half a second before ripping free and heading into the pipe. I think that I still have a chance and I load quickly. I am slurking around peering in pipes because I am certain that he has not gone far. I can imagine the Pink Panther music playing as I realize that there are a lot of large uku helping me slurk. Whether it's the smell of blood or just seeing someone slurk I dont know but they love it. I will get an uku. My last shot was high, so this time I will aim low. I will aim under his chinny chin chin. It was a fair sized uku that wondered what had just past under his chinny chin chin. So much for that plan. At this point I can sum up the rest of the dive by saying the only reason to tell you how many shots I missed would be to impress upon you how fast I can load my gun. The fish just kept getting bigger and bigger as it got darker and darker. The limiting factor is going to be air. I have to leave enough to decompress. It is so clear that I figure I can drift back to the anchor line and find it mid water (Rich is now laughing at me). I take several shots that are "I will just shoot the fish and fight it on the way up" shots. Then a "this is my absolute last shot" shot. The really big uku show up and I have five hundred pounds. Enough shenanagins, tail between my legs, no conquering fish I must go back. I am sure the boat will be full of fish and I will have to be "miss" Herkes again! I soon get the reality check as I madly scour the surroundings for the anchor line. Miss takes on new meaning as I go over in my head the location of the boat. It is fairly dark too, I thought there would be bubbles on the line, but I guess I am the last one out. It looks like I will have enough air to decompress at least. I will just stay in the vicinity and hope for the best. The anchor line magically appears right next to me. I was staring at blue water and suddenly there it was, not far away, just there, shinny and white, happily bouncing up and down with the sea swells. I felt quite proud of myself as I surfaced along side and tossed in my gun. The moon is a bright crescent surrounded by high clouds, glorious. The others were happy to see me back safe. I knew it must be a happy captain by the ulua I had to step over to come aboard. Like me, Lyle had a great dive and no fish. Inquiries were met with muffled grumblings and vague answers. His gun was definitely going to be punished, either rebuilt, remade, or retired. Gordon tried to complain about his spear. The ulua had taken the shaft and made the letter C out of it, perhaps trying to comunicate some message to the world. Gordon had seen rainbow runner, just as the ulua came over to him. He took the sure shot and was still hoping to get a RR. The fish was on the line and he was fighting closer when he was distracted by his dangling shaft. He just kept thinking "look what it did" over and over. None of us felt too sorry for him. It was a beautiful fish laying on the transom.


9-3-00

Sunday evening, Gordon, Brian and Lyle are going out spearing again. I have spent the day grading and am up for a chance to go kill something. We meet a little earlier as we are aiming for Marnie's Rock. Rumor has it that Pfeffer's and the powercat are off collecting bugs for the opening of the season. The sky is overcast and gray, but the ocean is a lot calmer and it is a smooth trip down. I have not seen Brian in a while and we exchange details of our lives. We watch for the sister ship, but two ships passing in the dusk, we never see them. There are lots of fishing boats trying to make the six O'clock deadline for the last day of the big contest. Lyle's lures have had a good showing, he's happy. I toss the anchor while the others head over the side. I am the last one in, the water is full of phytoplankton, making it even darker than the cloudy sunset. It looks perfect for fish. I come down the anchor line and watch Lyle making a move off into the murk. He is aiming high in the water column but what ever it is, it is out of my field of vision. I am about to leave him when I hear the gun and see him let it go. I figure to go help half expecting to see a giant fish tear off with his gun. It turns out to be a large weke ula. It drops to the bottom, tangles the line and pulls itself free. The wounded fish is about to pass me and I get a long shot. I miss the fish and he heads off to shark infested waters. I havn't seen Gordon's shark for awhile, he seems mellow, but good to know he is here. Gordon shows up to tell me his buddy is around. I plan to swim upcurrent to David's spot and because of the shark wonder if Gordon wants to join me. The three of us swim side by side down to the new area. We are all about equidistant, me near the ledge, Gordon outside and his pal the shark on the other side of him. I point out to Gordon that he has his buddy along. He tries to blame me, saying that my underarm smell must be the reason. I ignore the insult as the shark pulls off as if to start the missing man formation. We pass a school of opelukala and get down to the area without seeing much action. We split up and I work some fast weke ula and some distant mu. I have no luck and wonder if the weke moved out to where Gordon is. Gordon comes into view and I see that he is working on his top secret fish feeding technique. Whoops! Time to head out, hope I didn't disturb him. I will go back along the inside ledge and look for lobsters in that one spot I found some once! I scare myself by looking in face to face on a giant sleeping parrot fish. No lobster, the opelu kala are a dead give away as to where I am and I feel obligated to move back towards the ledge and look for papio. I see nothing but stealth man Lyle in the middle of the school. He moves away quickly and I can't see what he has caught. Maybe it is an underarm thing. I turn straight toward shore and the inside ledge. I have enough air to make my usual tour. The swim seems a lot longer when the water is murky. I am sure I will see something familiar soon. I see the tell-tale black humu pile and marvel at my clever land marks. Three large yellow spots aproach. They respond but are keeping one of those huge pocillapora heads between us as they all three zig zag closer. I move my gun right left and right again. I am tired of missing and am using my left hand on the but to move the gun faster at the darting fish. I pick one and miss it. Devastation and defeat as I slowly untangle the line and pick up the shaft. I am too sad to pay much attention and realize one of the rubbers in on the wrong side as I go to load the gun. It is my nature to spend inordinate amounts of time "figuring out" little puzzles. I will spend hours untangling $5 worth of Chrismas tree lights that only partially work. Each time I threaded the shaft through a knot, I seem to have made two more knots behind me. The shaft must have been passing through loops of rubber and monofilament while I was watching the actual knot. This took so much time that the monofilament would get bored and not knowing what to do with itself; it rushed out and made friends with as many coral heads as it could find. Fully willing to go the extra distance and not leave anyone out. Twenty minutes of bottom time turned into 30 minutes without me looking up from my task. I had managed to get back to the tangle of origin. Just when frustration is about to cause serious damage, my brain gives in and will tell me the answer. "Well, O.K, if you are not going to play anymore....what about detaching the line by using the pig tail clip Lyle installed for you?" 35 minutes of bottom time and I am finally back in business, a mere shadow of my former self. I look up to find that I can't really be a shadow, because that would imply there was still a source of light left. It is dark, I am low on air, just have a jist of my location and have nothing to show for it. Other people do this and they at least have a great fish, great footage, a good story, something. I swim to where I think I will come to the ledge. There is nothing familiar. I stay close to the bottom so I can see where I am. I swim a ways wondering if I am on the right ledge when I come to the inside mu islands!! HOLY ****!! I am a lot further away, those were strange humus that I had no idea existed! I swim to deco level and follow the ledge as best as I can. I am now not sure if I have passed the rock or not. Time to surface. The boat is pretty close and even when I go back down to ten feet and totally disorient I still manage to spy bubbles and make it to the anchor line. Brian is on the line with a nice weke ula, he lost another one but did not see much else. Lyle is in the boat empty handed, he lost the one weke, and did not see much else. Neither of them saw the shark. Gordon's bubbles bring relief and awe as he tosses a very large mu on the transom. The secret method worked super, but he was irked that I had left with out telling him. He shot the mu and kept waiting for the shark. He never saw it again either. We pull anchor and head home. There is a discussion about if it really is the same dead shark that attacked me. I guess the training worked because he was most polite. We discuss dives and there seems to be so many things I could have done better. I am feeling very contrite. I keep quiet and wonder big thoughts all the way home. I borrow a tank for the mornings dive, I won't give up diving just yet, might as well give it one more chance.


9-4-00

Monday morning and I meet a group of friends down at the boat. Oh yeah, this is a good reason to dive, there are some really great people I get to hang around with. There is Rich who I havn't seen in a while (smartly dressed in new swim trunks I might add), Jeff, Rebecca, Joey, Dan, and Jeff's friend Excell. It is always strange when I have the odd ball equipment. Rebreathers are the norm. We head for the 100' hole just for the ease of it. The rough water swim is going on, and Waikiki has festive flags along the shore. It is super clear and Rich calls out where I am. "Just went over the Diamond Head cable" etc. We toss the anchor exactly on the hole. I am worried about the anchor set and just leave Rich in charge as I take my gun and head over the side. I move and set the anchor and take a look around. Super clear, not too many fish, no current, broad daylight. I know it will be awhile before I get company, no sense hanging about. Joey has accused me of "skip breathing", and since I don't think that I ever deny myself anything without the rewards in plain site I have my doubts. I listen to my breathing as I move out along the peninsula. What is skip breathing? If I switch the fan from blow to exhaust does it stop? My breathing seems very calm, relaxed and regular. Thinking about it makes me feel like I am in yoga class. It seems only natural to drift deeper as long as I am in this medatative state. The kelp ball fish attractor lays calmly on the bottom along side me as I look for game. The smallest of uku off in the distance is the only hint that any game fish has ever been here. I feel very at home. A leopard on a knoll surveying the Savannah, lifting its tail and trotting homeward, no game today, perhaps tomorrow. The hole itself has come alive with turtles. People are all over it. Poor Rebecca is being "watched over" by all. That's what she gets for declaring herself a "baby diver". I think about showing Jeff some eels, but how bad would I feel if one charged out and bit him? I leave well enough alone. There are plenty of peole about and I have lots of decompression to do. I move up the line and watch the antics from above. They must have found the nudibranch by the anchor, or there could be a tic-tac-toe game going on in the sand. Rich is hanging outside, I can recognize that "happy to be underwater" feeling all the way from up here. Either that or his rig is way too heavy and he is stuck like an upsidedown turtle on the beach. We wave and I wonder how I look back lit by the sun and surrounded by feeding opelu. From twenty feet it is easy to see the wall of murk moving in. The murk front is bustling with ocean life. Opelu and opelu kala are everywhere. There is a spotted ray cruising along the edge. The water feels cooler, but not enough to chase me out of the water. I look at how calm it is and to avoid being the first one back, keep busy with the bottom scrubber. Jeff escorts Rebecca and XL to the surface and returns with Rich, Joey and Dan to explore further. I surface to chit chat and pass the day. The sky is overcast and it slowly gets cooler as we wait for those with endless air supplies. They finally return and I have to listen to Joey ask: "hey Rich, what were those fish you called in?" "Oh those were two really big kagami; so big I thoght they were ignobilis at first." Just lines that slipped out in the middle of their usual technical stuff as they moved giant objects about the deck. Where was I? Rich reassures me that they were outside where it gets deep and I wouldn't have seen them anyway. Those turtles do have their advantages. Joey pulls anchor as we head home. I am glad I am not driving as it allows me to keep my back to the wind and rain as the boat takes us in. Everyone seems to have had a good time, Jeff did NOT get bitten by an eel, but XL made a good stab at it, just not to be left out. We stop for lunch and tell great diving stories, heroes all until next time.


9-7-00

The ocean looks super calm from the door of my hot, muggy classroom. Roger went to Kahala and got two uku yesterday.... The call is strong. Gordon, Lyle and I are divers. I am right on time until I get on the freeway. I find that I am going to be late at the same moment that I realize I have left my gun at home. Oh well, teach it a lesson. I just hope they wait. I manage to beat Lyle and we are pushing daylight as we head for Kahala. The morning glass off has turned to afternoon knarled mess and it is quite rough as we round Diamond Head. We are going to Lyles spot next to Brock's squares. It is rough enough that I have trouble hanging on to the pulpit as I throw the anchor. Lyle is over and we soon follow. The water is clear and free of current, a lot nicer underwater. The first guy down (Lyle) has an uku in the bag already. I am sure that will make him happy. It is a good size one too. I have no gun, no buckets, no bag, no drag at all! I have a full tank and the water is perfect for exploration. The zees have some medium mu and not much else. A group of papio swarms in on me, there are two fair size ones. They are still in sight when Gordon swims up. I tell them there are a bunch of fish, but I have no papio sign. I think he gets the idea that a bunch of smaller non ukus are swimming around. That should be enough, I head over to the squares. I play with lemon butterflies, trying to chase them out of a given area. They are much like my students. Soon I have a swarm of them in the 'forbidden' circle. They are determined to feed on the sand as if I had been protecting eggs. They can't be that teenagerish, I convince myself that my vigorous turns stirred up the sand enough to expose a huge amount of food. The papio come by again I take off around a square in hopes of getting them to follow, the papio make it half way around before moving off to the ledge. My former territory has been taken over by every butterfly and surgeon fish around. I have no reason to stay here, the conditions are perfect for exploration. I always wanted to check out those posts outside. My regulator would not seat on the tank so I have used Gordon's spare regulator. I check my air; plenty. Hmmm no computer, I will have to switch to manual. Hmmm, no depth guage, looks about like 70 something I will watch carefully for ledges and slopes as I travel. Hmmm no watch, sure miss my consol. I'll use air consumption as a measure of time. Yeah, that's the ticket, I will dive until I run low on air, then I will decompress. Perfect! I am so marvelously adaptable. Sure glad I know my stuff. I cross some sand and follow the pillars choosing the ones that look the most interesting. I am heading koko head and I just keep going. No fish to speak of. I know getting back will be tough as I meander from pillar to pillar trying to build the perfect single vector in my mind. I finally do find a spot, lots of relief, lots of fish. There are large chunks of what appears to be old freeway piled in one area. I think it is the old Fort Derussy stuff, there are lots of opelu kala and butterflies. I am fairly sure that there are other fish too, but it is too dark to tell what they are. Well, at least I have gotten somewhere, now it is time to head back. I head in what I think is the direction of the boat, leaving the bottom and heading back over some bleak looking flats. After a few minutes I surface to verify and make sure that I am not making matters worse. The ocean is quite rough and I am glad that I can see the happy glowing nite light that is bobbing in the distance. I am still a ways Koko Head, but right on track. I continue on and begin to pick up pillars again, as well as banging of rocks marking close to home. Gordon is approaching the line at the same time. We watch Lyle below us. Gordon tells me how the only uku he saw was tiny, but he did see a jazzy group of papio and picked out one that was larger. In fact a pretty good size. He went nuts as he tried to aim his gun at the one fish. At the same time the fish were turning to and fro, moving closer than his gun and generaly making it impossible to take a shot. He is empty handed for the evening. Lyle unloads and joins us, the hero tonight. We surface in the dark and remark that we must start leaving the dock earlier. The clouds over Kunia are flashing with sheet lightning. It is a comanding show and we are happy to beat the storm home. There is nothing like getting underwater to make everything cool. Hope to get out again this weekend.

9-9-00

Saturday Morning, it is windy as all get out, Christie is vacationing here and wants to go diving. The last time we went diving, she had to wear her mask due to the excessive spray. She will easily handle today, I doubt the boat will even swamp this time. Amy, the love birds,(Christie and Brian) and I meet down at the power cat. Christie is hot to go to the Sea Tiger. It does not matter the dive, as long as the wreck has a really cool name, people will want to go there! It is windy enough, that it is a good choice. There is a dive boat finishing up there, and we continue on to the fuel dock. Amy takes us back to the wreck. We notify the sleeping crew on the sub tender, this consists of Brian yelling to no one in paticular "We are going diving" Amy then puts us right on the ball and we tie up and head down. Amy has Joey's camera, and plans on taking some pictures of the happy couple. I see a helmet shell in the sand and figure I can have Christie hold it. As long as they are doing formal posed "prom pictures", she might as well have a boquet of roses. I assume with that kind of photography going on I will have time to deliver the flowers. I make my delivery just in time. (I hope Amy didn't take a picture of my but) Christie is checking out the shell and turns the camouflage side toward the camera. I can hear it now; "why are you holding a rock in the picture?" Well there must be some prom pictures somewhere with only the long stems showing. Enough of my help, I take the shell back. Amy turns the camera over to Brian who goes to work on turtles and eagle rays. I look for the weke ula in the sand, but there is nothing. Amy and I cruise along the bottom playing with rocks and picking up shells. The ledge reveals a beautiful triton shell. It is in perfect condition with lots of color. We head off into the sand and Amy poses on top of an upsidedown sail boat like a vamp on a piano. Where is the camera when you need it. We are just playing along picking up bits in the rubble, Amy is tripping out on sea urchin tests. I wonder how many she has in her pockets, and I wonder how many are broken already. A small octopus cruises by and is suprised at finding anything out on the flat besides himself. He has to invent a hiding spot by skin color and texture alone. Amy is oblivious to my new friend. I return, but am above her when she starts looking for me. I signal that our time is short and she signals back that she has plenty of air. A girl after my own heart! My beeper goes off and that is the first time she has heard it. She thinks it sounds like a song and begins to make conductor noises. She has either been around Joey too long, or she is a little narced. Probably both. We meander back to the ship and watch the photographer try to get an eagle ray to turn around and smile. The ray is having none of it and persists on tail shots only. We decompress on the line while Brian takes artsy shots of us from below. (probably more shots of my but back lit against the surface!) I still have plenty of air and I out wait Brian so that he can get my tank for me before I climb into the boat. The boat runs like a champ, but it is a wet ride home with all the wind, especially when we are down wind of the Pali Gap. It is sunny and warm when we get in the harbor, all of us glad to have gotten wet and planing our next venture.


9-12-00

I get the wonderful oppertunity to tag along with Joey and his class of rebreather students. The plan is to go to the ledge outside the hole two days in a row to compare gas mixes and brain power. We make a fairly educated stab and I head down with the anchor outside and Diamond head of the hole. It is 130, no sign of anything I know. I can see the inside ledge and it does not look familiar. There is a current running toward ewa beach. Not too bad. (as long as you arn't hauling a rebreather) I drag the anchor over to a place that will hold it. Things look bleak. I will swim out and see if I come to the ledge. I will loose the anchor, but perhaps the guys will mark it for me on my return. I think to hook my yellow bag on the chain as a marker, alas, I changed bags a year ago and never moved my clip over. Been meaning to do that. I pick an auger shell out of the sand and put it near the anchor to mark the spot. There, that ought to do it. Don't know why those guys don't just dive on air! I head off and it slowly gets deeper, at 140, I still can't see the top of the ledge although I know I am close. I have been vectoring up current the whole time and I figure I will go back to the inside ledge moving up current as well, then when I get to the ledge, I can drift down and hopefully see the gang near the anchor. I get back to the inside ledge. I drift over a Japanese anchor and a tire, totally unfamiliar.... sure wish I looked at the marks before Joey put the boat in neutral, live and learn. I come to a little cave full of anthias, Rich would probably know where this is. I have not spent enough time around here to tell. I get worried about not seeing the anchor and maybe passing it as I drift along. There are absolutely no fish, I might as well surface rather than risk missing the boat. The current is slowly increasing and I kick up current as I slowly ascend. The boat is way way down stream. The other divers are in the water. I get to motor down current like superman and am at the boat in no time. I can't believe how fast I can swim! I can see the turtles below me descending down the line. I had better go back down and tell Joe I am going up, so he doesn't have to worry about me and can move the anchor all he wants, he probably has a lift bag on his bat belt. I catch up to the gang and tell Joey the scoop. He is not worried at all, and makes sure I am O.K. since I am going up so soon. I leave everyone in good hands and get in the boat. The boat remains in the same spot and I notice the current picking up. Well either they are sitting by the anchor doing classroom exercises. Lay stones in a straight line, put your fingers on your nose with your eyes closed etc., or they have left the anchor and are in danger of drifting off into the sunset. I glance at the ocean and think about how hard it is going to be to pick out people backlit in a rough sea. I feel stupid for not knowing how long they were planning on being down. Well they all are experienced, and look like strong swimmers. Plus they all have the new super fins! I make the heroes line longer and add another one to the starboard side. I enjoy the evening watching the school of Lai jumping like mad just outside the boat. The bubbles of the guys going to open circuit on the line make me feel totally at ease. They all surface without problems. Joey is disappointed as they did not get deep enough (I guess everyone could touch their noses) He wants to go again tomorrow but do it as a drift dive. He will need a boat Captain, I will charge double for such short notice!! Even Joey has to cheer up as we watch the glowing sun set and the Harvest Moon rise. The moon looks like a 'big ole yeller ball' as it sits above Diamond head, shimmering a path across the water as the lights of Waikiki begin to sparkle on the shore. Not bad for working!


9-17-00

Spent the day driving the boat for the drift divers. They wanted 250' and I put them right on the plane off of reef runway. (Joe had the lat long numbers and a GPS) There was no current to speak of and it was easy keeping track of them. They finally finished decompressing too late for me to catch the Friday afternoon gang. I can't bear no Friday dive, and I head for a dive at nearby Hole in the wall. Bob dropped the anchor for me and I left all the professional guys to "go over" their dive, while I went over myself. There was a lot of phytoplankton in the warm water . I called for uku, none showed. I felt like I did not have to be too stealth as I was the only one in the water and it was already so murky. I cruised over to the trap area, looking for uku. The trap had a lone ulua inside of it, no others about. I thought how good it would look if I could have something like that trophy to show the five guys in the boat, alas no fish anywhere. The area is really pretty, I wonder why I don't come here more often. I think about the guys up in the boat, it has only been ten minutes, I will stay another five. I swim back to the anchor, which is right near the drop off. Two baby papio come over to jazz about my head. Well, they are pan size, I can eat one for two nights. I plug it dead center and watch it make my line into a twisted telephone cord. While I carefully untwist the twisty tie, two small kahala come to sniff the blood. One is a perfect size. He will taste even better and feed me even longer than the papio. I get the papio in the bag and point and shoot. Perfect twitch and die shot. 20 minutes, time to go up. I don't really impress anyone, they have seen it all before. "Are those the ciguatoxic reef fish I heard about?" I help Mark pull up the anchor and Joey takes us back before the sun set had left the sky. We plan to do it again tomorrow, except they want to go 100 feet deeper! (crazy human subs!)

Saturday afternoon and I am planning "girls go diving" with Amy, Michelle, Stephanie and I going down to Marnie's rock. Mark wants to accompany Steph, and one non diver turns into another and soon we have eight divers, four on rebreathers on our way to Marnie's rock. The boat is full and heavy. I anchor too far inside, oh well, we can swim to the rock. There is a lot of water in the back of the boat, can't wait to get those rebreathers in the water. The port hull has water in it and my short efforts at getting the bilge to empty it are not successfull. It seems to be O.K., especially now that the boat is empty. I watch for a while and get my gun and drop in on the gang. Amy and I lead the way to the ledge, it is murky like yesterday, and the small ulua is not scared of Amy and comes by to check her out. She doesn't see it and is high enough in the water that it turns and leaves. The other divers are all exploring every nook and cranny. True photographers they sit and watch nudibranches, hoping for the "right moment". I check on them all. I ask Howard how he is doing and he feigns instant death, he must be fun to work with! No use baby sitting these guys. Amy and I go uku calling. Wait, where is Amy? I have to pick out the tank divers and finally realize that the one with the gun, off in the distance is the one I am looking for. We don't see anything and along with Stephanie and Mark, we head for the anchor. I am drifting upwards when I see the uku below me. A small little rat uku comes 20' off the bottom to see me. The least I can do is meet him half way. I still have plenty of air, so I drop down. It is a midwater shot and I miss. The fish do the covered wagon circle around me while I load the gun. Too bad, the uku remain elusive, and dig out. Back up to wait for Stephanie and Amy to get in the boat. I suface and Stephanie informs me that there seems to be a LOT of water in the boat. Well, the port stern hold is full of water and things are floating around. The seas wash in the stern with every passing wave. Very exciting. The engines are too far under to start. I am not letting any more rebreathers in as it is only a short time before the lid on the forward hatch gets under the waterline. Mark is master of calm and everyone is "keeping it together" (thank God they had done their 300+ dive and kept their perspective on the worst case scenerio) I feel like if I had to sink with someone, I have the best darn sinking crew a Capt. could want. I have the coast guard on the radio, they deploy a boat, but neglect to tell me. (how many people on board? What are your call numbers? etc.) Some unlucky fishermen happen to be near by and we get them over and I send the other four divers on to their boat. The life jackets have now begun to float and the whole port hull is sunk. Mark and I feel that under tow, we might get the water out. I have Amy call Gordon He is on his boat having had just finished a way too deep dive. He is on his way, her phone gives out and I see the first battery box go under. Well, I guess that is it for the radio too. Mark has got the anchor line over to the good ship Nai'a, while they hand over a hand pump.(don't buy cheap ones, it is not funny when they come apart) She bumps into us in the exchange process and I see two good scraches on her port side. Oh-Oh We are slowly under tow as Mark madly tries to pull the anchor up off the bottom. No luck and he cuts the line. At least we know where the anchor is. The Nai'a is under powered with out the four new divers and we putt along making slow steady progress. Stephanie and Amy bailing out the front hold. In hindsight, Mark did make the one error of telling Stephanie to make an extra bailing bucket out of the plastic water jug he saw, turns out it was the full gallon of oil I had just purchased. If we were not the keystone cops beforehand, we bacame them then. We were all doing full on Buster Keeton maneuvers. It wasn't just sliding two feet on everystep, but not being able to hold on to anything. It did not take long for the bailing buckets to "slide" out of our grasps! The forward hold is half empty, I presume the aft one is full. The deck is now very slippery, but above water. I decide to let the water out of the engines and see if I can get some power out of it. I expect the rubber seals to have leaked in the front where they stick out. There is little or no water in the the engine, I return the cover and try it again. She starts like a champ, soon followed by the port. Hip hip horay! The Nai'a casts us free and we are under way. The coast guard boat has arrived in time to not be needed. They will escort us. I try to get either port bilge to work. Both the starboard ones work and there is the aquarium fish one in the stern. The wires are shot, and I feel like I can get home and fix it there. Gordon's boat arrives. We thank him, and ask him wouldn't he like to dive Marnies rock? Would he pick up the anchor? He heads off with his lift bag. Amy's phone comes back into service and she gets Joe to gather all the detergent and scrub brushes he can find and meet us at the pier. We are a floatilla. Having the Coast Guard follow you all the way to the slip draws quite a bit of attention from the Keehi boat people. Too bad we are still slipping and sliding all over thus ruining any potential resemblence to Washington crossing the Delaware. Having a mad man and jumping child waving scrub brushes at us didn't help either. I guess I should be lucky there were no people with straight jackets! The gang all energetically scrubbed those oily oxygen tanks and looked for missing bits. I bypassed the switch on the bilge pump and pumped the hold dry. I hope it stays that way. There are some minor repairs, and a missing registration to take care of, but all in all, the boat looks very clean, slick almost. Everyone once again was truly happy to get back. You don't often get that kind of thrill twice in one day. (Jennifer's two for one special) In retrospect, I could have stayed on the boat and got that pump to work, I knew it needed it, but thought I could slide through. Also, Lyle, I am going to need some of that tarp material. I will give you a call while I am on my "repairs" mission.

Well tomorrow is another day, hopefully I will be diving again soon.


1-9-01

Thank you all for asking about my dive reports. It helps me with my writers fantasy, that anyone shows any interest at all! I have been diving occasionally but it feels like forever since I got to blow bubbles at fish. Nothing too unusual has happened, a few misplaced boats, serious jelly fish attacks, occasional fish for dinner, discovery channel guys, etc. I did get to use the black box of death, that was a blast! I can't wait to try it in the ocean! After many house guests and lots of busy schedules, I finally got back in the water last Friday morning.

The ocean was glass smooth and Joe and Amy were up for the first dive of the year. Karen came along as a boat babe with camera and we all tried to look like real macho divers as Joe glided the boat out to the hole. We blast along until he slows the boat, we look over to see the opelu kala just upcurrent of the hole. Amy tosses the anchor and we don our gear. It is like the day that Mac and Roger first found the place, schools of fish flashing in the water below. Joe is over first and I follow. A perfect welcome home. I glide down through the myriad of opelu kala, followed by thee spot damsels and then a layer of zosters. Are they feeding on different plankton? Are they always in layers? Joe is on one side of the hole and I await any possible meals that might swim out the other side. Nothing but mempachi and they are not about to leave. The slack line of the boat is rubbing against the rocks and I feel obliged to move the anchor a little out of the way. Amy and Joey are now having a discussion about who knows what, I head out before it becomes x-rated. Clear water, slack current, my air will last forever. I decide to explore and move diamond head along the 90' ledge. I feel so happy to be back in the water. I greet every stranger as if an old friend and show off my new ring to all. Even the eels show no interest. There is nothing to spear on this midmorning dive I find a couple of new overhangs and look for lobsters then drift back in the increasing current. I come across the others at my regular uku spot, they are organizing what goes in what pocket. Shells here, lead there, wana tests in yet another spot. This reminds me that I owe Amy a sea urchin test. I tossed one overboard the last time I was diving with her. How was I supposed to know that she was planning to glue those pieces together? I head down to the rock area where I know there will be a lot of them and pick up four to take back...one should make it to the surface. I loose one unloading my gun and another one gets crushed putting my gun on the boat, but two make it home. Added to the Dituri collection, Josie will get lots of treasure today. Joey pulls up the anchor as we warm up in the sun. The ocean now has some slight riffles making a perfect scene as Amy drives us home. The booby birds give Karen a show of diving for fish, I look for lures until I see that half beaks are the predators that are chasing the little halulu out of the water.

Next day..... Bert wants to go whale watching....seems like a dive at the ships will fill both of our wishes. Chuck, Terry and I are divers with Bert and Karen keeping a vigil for marine mammals. We drag out the departure by getting to the boat before remembering to fill tanks and rent gear! The ocean is still treating divers like royalty and we scan the vast glass for signs of marine mammals. There are boats already at the ships, but as we have people who are going to stay on board, we tie off the stern of a dive boat and head down. Chuck is trying his new pack and has his weight to figure out, he is also using his new camera, plenty to think about. Terry has not been diving for three years and we have to get her rigged and weighted also. Two turtles give up on waiting for us to get in the water and swim over next to the boat. It is a great show for the boat babes. They lollygag while we don gear. Terry rented the full wetsuit and now has to put on the 20 pound belt! For future reference, put the heavy belts on before you have your tank and fins on! (That's what you get for letting me help you) We all get in the blue pacific. Chuck and Terry are having some sort of squeeze your eyes shut and blow on your nose really hard contest. Chuck finally wins and gets to continue the dive. Terry is determined and one foot at a time pushes herself to about 35 feet. There is a current to add to the excitement. Since we tied off another boat, there is no ship in sight to pass the time watching. Terry finally wises up....boy that is one determined lady. We get back to the boat with only a little blood shed, and I leave her to swan diving off the side in an effort to clear the stuffed up ear. I join Chuck as we make it to the ship. The current is picking up and we stay close taking pictures and waving at passing subs. I see a distant papio, but can't see him closer than a distant silhouette. No fish, so I pose for photos and we enjoy our time in the ocean. I see the divers of the other boat heading up. We soon head up as well. Decompressing is fun because the Prince William has water babies diving over the side and frolicking above us. I think the boat babes are sorry to see us return as we mark the end of their Hawaiian ocean outing. We untie, wave goodbye to the other divers and glide back to the city. There is something about being out on a boat on a beautiful Hawaiian day that makes us all feel lucky.


1-16-01

Nils has one more day before back to L.A., the ocean is glassy calm, time to go diving. Chuck, Nils and I head for the Prince William. Nils has a pole spear, Chuck has his new camera and I am just ready to get in the water! The ocean is ours for the perusal. It is high tide and the water looks murky, we decide to go until it is clear and dive there. The calm ocean allows us to see all flotsam and we zig zag from treasure to treasure. The block of wood is irresistible and we pull the 14 X 10 chunk into the boat each thinking of great uses for it. We are discussing the building of reef runway and the conversation leads to I have not been diving on it for 10 years and today is a perfect day for it. We anchor in the old good achilles spot and all jump in. Chuck is on his second "Hawaiian pack" dive and the first dive with out a current. The water is not clear because the sand is kicked up in 15 feet of water. We drop down between the coral fingers that run out to sea and swim along at 30'. The walls on both sides close in as the trapped sand builds a billowing dust storm. It is spooky as all get out, even though going up 15' will take us out of the gloomy caves and darting fish. I enjoy scaring myself as long as I know it is nothing more than a Disney ride. My dive partners either trust me implicitly, don't know any better, or are just as wacky as I am and we all tunnel ahead into certain confusion. We move into deeper water. There is still too much silt for any photography, but I chase a giant spotted puffer around so Chuck will have something to take pictures of anyway. My hands are on the little devil when I notice a very large Tahitian grouper hiding behind it. I forget my quarry and try to get the pole spear guy over so I can see how good those guys really are. By the time Nils sees me, I have no idea where the grouper is. We find the puffer again, but we have lost interest. Chuck is keeping up really well as I traverse cross country, all that running must be paying off.... whoops, I forgot he just lost the B.C., I wonder if he will notice. We head back towards the boat, wondering if I will find it. I surface and find that we are right on track! Chuck is low on air and Nils and I leave him at the transom and head into the runway. There are myriads of glimmering papio. Too bad they are about the size of manini! We swim along the giant cement structure, those concrete jacks sure are a lot bigger when you are on them! We look for food fish and lobsters, but we are low on air and head back toward the boat with out running into the mother load. The wind has spent the hour that we were gone working itself into a frenzy and there is lots of chop as we blast home. Spray is flying, the sun is shining and my hair is wet again... all is right in the world.


1-23-01

Saturday afternoon, I really should catch some fish for my aquariums at school. Shawn, Chuck and I are up for some diving and we head for Keehi Lagoon. Shawn is on his first boat dive, but he has been off of Holona cove, and I have pretty good confidence in his abilities. He has no wetsuit this time around and we guess on the weights he should take. We are all rigged up an the good 'ole port engine is acting very sassy. I we can't get it to run. I know that Shawn will be happy and excited no matter where he goes, I just need a few fish, and Chuck is task loaded with a gun, gloves, a camera and if I am catching aquarium fish, he will have to carry his own goodie bag as well. He won't even notice the terrain! We putt putt the boat out the channel, turn left, look for clear water and throw the anchor. It is about 35'-40' deep and looks like coral fingers running out from shore. Chuck is in first and Shawn and I follow. I pass the conversation that is going on on the anchor line and head for the bottom. The first thing I see is a weight belt. Three 5 pound weights on a scupapro belt. Score! Shawn won't have to borrow from us anymore! I take the belt to the anchor and start fishing. It is box fish and saddle wrasse heaven. I catch a puffer before even setting the net. I set the net for some pink face, and look up to see what I first mistake for a manta. It is the largest eagle ray I have ever seen. It is between me and the anchor. I can see Chuck and Shawn at the anchor, they are totally oblivious to the monster next to them while they are discussing something very important, perhaps Plato. I know Shawn would be stoked to see the big ray and I try vainly to get their attention. I have the aluminum hand net handle so I resort to the Roger /Devlin standard opening of 10 bangs. The ray picks up speed and I am forced to swim over to the young philosophers. The ray takes offense at what he perceives as a direct charge and digs out. The discussion seems to be about nothing more interesting than whether or not Shawn is weighted properly. (no doubt now that there are extra weights to be had) I interrupt only to point off to nothing and get nothing but looks of bewilderment from the other divers. Back to the task at hand. I spend time chasing eight lines and four lines just to pick the hardest fish to catch. I soon get my six fish and figure to hang them off, return my gear and join up with the mighty hunters. The boat lies above a barren tundra and I see evidence of octopus. I hang the fish, dump my nets and head back down. There is an octopus right below me. It is about time I brought home some food. I fuss around and think I have done rather well about capturing the sucker covered hickie maker. Now for a swift maneuver into the bag.... oh yeah, need to find Chuck to get my bag. I head up to the anchor and in the direction I saw them last. Luck is shinning my way and I see them returning to the anchor. There is some discussion about air quantity going on and once again I feel like an awkward interruption. I can see the exact moment in both of their eyes when their brains go from "What do you want?" to "Way cool, she is covered in suckers!" Chuck catches on right away and is quickly messing and fumbling with clips on his belt while I am slowly losing ground. I can hear Shawn laughing while I work on keeping control. Imagine my thoughts when I look to my rescuer only to find he has finally unclipped his camera, leaving my mesh bag snuggly tucked away. Pose, look happy and swear. I do get the bag after only one picture and things settle down. Shawn is down to 500 pounds and heads up the line. I give the bag to Chuck so he can have some fun with the tentacles that are squeezing out of the small hole. I grab the 15 pounds of lead and head up as well. Sure enough, Shawn had a great dive eagle ray or no. We scored some new dive equipment, got stuff for school and got a meal. I pull up anchor while we fiddle with the port engine. It starts up great once we are in the harbor. Innate perversity of inanimate objects strikes again. We turn the boat around and put it through the test just to teach it a lesson. The boat flies along and behaves like a champ. We leave feeling like it is running great. (who is teaching who the lesson)

Epilogue: The fish are doing fine, the octopus is on the secret freeze thaw freeze tenderization plan, and the coral that was growing on the weight belt is stinking up a storm outside of the door! Diving sure is fun, will try to get out more often.


1-29-01

Sunday morning, quick dive just for practice. The boat owner wanted to test his fish catching skills, so Chuck and I joined him for a dive. Out of practice means that starting up again you will forget important equipment, so we are making do with the wrong net and without certain tools, but we do have some new sticks to play with. The ocean is rough full of spray. We stick close to home and look for a place off of reef runway. No fish are on the fish finder so the captain just turns up the gain until it shows fish and we toss over the anchor. The amount of time spent looking for a spot is directly proportional to the flatness of the sea. We just slowed down and tossed the anchor! We gather our equipment and flounder around with lines while Chuck grabs his gun and jumps in the water. We follow him down. Under water it is clear and calm. It is about 60 feet and the "island" or patch of substrate in a sea of sand has a radius of about 50m. There are fish on it, but they have all seen aquarium fish divers before. I am using a different regulator and keep forgetting to breathe, just one more hassle along with these difficult fishies. The nazos are always just in sight but out of range for the tiny net. Now I remember what eking out a living was! I see Chuck loading his gun, he signals that he shot something, it is wounded and got off the spear. I don't see any fish swimming the least bit slowly, but I will keep a hopeful eye out. We manage to catch some fish anyway. The last net set we make is perfect and I want to get my revenge and catch all the nazos (one at a time). We are out of time and out of air. We all head up the line. The water is finally feeling like winter, or is it just that I am catching fish again and I know that it means a half hour on the line shivering. I had a great time, but must admit, that I am glad we don't have three more bottles to do. We pull up the fish and the Captain hauls in the anchor, the boat runs like a dream heading right into the choppy froth. We are back in the harbor in no time, and I don't even have to deliver the fish, I just let the gear dry in the Hawaiian sun while watching the kids fishing on the pier. Life is good.

Party note. Mark Mader is going to be in town next week and we are planning the annual eat, no can eat, fish slide show/ BBQ at Mike's house on Sunday Feb. 4 All are invited, I figure around 6:30 would be a good get started time. Lets make it a pot luck deal. Let me know if you need instructions. In fact RSVP, so I can have an idea of who actually reads these dive reports!
Hey Rich, would you invite Bruce and co. for us? I think he might enjoy it, and he doesn't HAVE to bring his famous cheese cake.
Brian, that grad student applicant is stopping by on his way back from Antartica, and I hope to introduce you two.

E-mail Mike if you need further instructions on how to get there. Looking forward to seeing everyone next Sunday.


3-18-01

broken ribs be dammed....I am really tired of not diving and Chuck is a willing sherpa. The ocean is calm and the boat has gas. We plan for an evening dive off of the power cat. Stop at West Marine and get the final washer for Chuck's back pack repair and head for the boat. Now here is the rather embarrassing part, the last time everyone else went diving, and I waved good bye from the dock, I ended up being locked in. I had to do the extremely painful climb around the gate. Even though it was nobody's fault, upon return I indignantly took the gate key off of Chuck's key chain (I might have been feeling a bit sorry for myself, I can't really remember) and put it on mine. Lo and Behold, here we are at the dock at 5:30, and guess who left her purse at home? Now most of you know that there is a spare key locked on board, but what you don't know is that the state saw fit in the last week to "fix" the 500 row gate. (and only that gate) They have taken sheets of expanded galvanized steel and welded them in place. Climbing over is possible, but not that attractive. Well, I know I shouldn't be diving anyway... I flat out reject all of the Chuck offered alternatives; shore dive, snorkeling etc. My ribs hurt anyway. We are back on the freeway, talking about our evening exercise options. This is what we come up with...we will drive by the Ala Wai on the off chance that some one has just come in on the Mo'o iki and will say "hey, it is really nice out there, why don't you just use this boat?" If that doesn't work out, we will go to the movies. It is raining hard on most of the Alawai and only the 700 row is sunny. There is a double rainbow between us and the Prince Hotel. Our timing is perfect, we help unload the aquarium fish and the Captain says "Hey, it is really nice out there, why don't you just use this boat?" No sweeter words have touched these ears. Chuck loads up the heavy stuff while I carry the towel and wet suits. The smell of ocean, the glide of the boat, the cold salt water hitting my face. I feel a whole lot better as we blast our way to the hole. I can easily ignore those few little pounds of the boat. It is getting a little late and we just pull up and toss the anchor. I turn on the depth recorder just to see that we are in the ball park, 83'. We are ready to get in the water. Chuck gets the "how do you get back in this boat" lesson and we are in the water. AAAAAHHHHH, the water is clear, blue, dark and sooo sweet. This is probably how trees feel on the first day of spring. Spiraling downward feeling like one of those rainbow raindrops, I reach for the anchor line, whoops...I guess I am not really that healthy. The lighting is perfect and I can see the swarms of fish below me, I go to load my gun...whoops. I head back up the line to find my gun loader slowly descending and clearing his ears. We trade guns and I wait to get mine loaded. A little kid waiting for Dad to fix the toy. "There you go, now be careful and share with your brothers" But I don't hear the message as I am gone with the loaded gun in hand. I check the anchor, and head over to the melee that is the 100' hole. There are parrot fish every where, Chuck will get his cerviche...hmm. I can see it all now, the bleeding parrot fish taking off into the cave where Chuck follows only to get the gun tangled around the tail of the white tip that is in there. I will go back and meet Chuck, that way we can be together when all this excitement happens. I signal there is a little baby shark and we go to check it out. Now there are two, one is larger but they look fairly uninterested in us. We are swimming along on the makai side of the rock when I see them coming over the top to check us out. Gleaming yellow fins, bars standing out, it is dark enough that I think why are there big mu swimming toward me? No they are barred ulua, three are going to be in shooting distance, pick one and hope those silly sharks get out of the way. Don't shoot when there is a shark in the picture rule is almost broken, but the last bit of tail is just out of sight when ulua number two makes the turn and I shoot it. Whoops, it didn't fall down dead and I cant really do anything. I look to Chuck, thank goodness he did not shoot one and can help me. This is pretty pathetic, The movie star on safari. They hand me a loaded gun while the natives shoo some eboks in my direction. I shoot, everyone claps and the natives finish it off and fix it up for dinner. I will stuff the head and mount it in my den. Chuck has the fish and now I swim over and show him how to grab it and put it in my bag. Well that was exciting! My sherpa loads my gun again and we tour around. I lag behind and let Chuck try and shoot the next fish. He is stalking quite nicely, but we are staying close to the hole and the sharks. Hmmm, let's see, there is the one big one on my left, and there are still two in the hole... now there are three and it is getting quite dark. The parrot fish have all disappeared and when Chuck signals "where should we go?" I signal up. We mosey back to the anchor line, I can tell Chuck is torn at the thought of going up when he still has air, but he has to admit that it is hard to see. The boat however is easy to see above us, bouncing over our heads and I wonder how in the world I will get in. We decompress and I am glad it is calm and free of current. I let my gun unloader do his job and we head up. My first attempt at entry is a dismal failure and I wait for Chuck to sit on the gunwale so the boat is low enough to jump in. I for go the stylish pull up walrus slide on to the bench, recover for a minute and flop onto the bottom next to my catch. Yes indeed, as I lay face to face with my quarry, suddenly I feel quite the hero. Chuck is really excited about the big fish... "This is way bigger than any bass or catfish! I have seen pictures and all, but wow! Can we eat it tonight?" Well, I am swaggering with the weight of my head as Chuck pulls the anchor. I know that I should not be diving, and will lay off a little longer, but I feel like there is blood running through my veins again. The world is a better place. I am the queen of the sea. The lights of Honolulu are the footlights of my stage. Happy St. Pat's day everybody. I will be home eating fish.


4-6-01

Two weeks and no diving...I must be better by now. Joey seems to have built his own rebreather from parts he has had stuffed in his closet, and he wants to test it. Chuck is of course up for diving and we meet at the power cat at 4:30 on Saturday. John Rooney is there as well, he must be the guy the rebreather is for. The ocean and timing is perfect for Marnie's rock, but Joey seems to lack total faith in his project and we opt for the Kewalo pipe, shallow and close. Joey tries to pacify me with tales of the big ulua he saw there last time he went there. The water is clear and we cruise till we see the pipe and toss the anchor. Chuck is the first one in, but in the windless sea, the boat is hanging funny and the waves are lapping in the stern. Once foolish, twice is not acceptable. I will see if I can get the bilge pumps working. Joey and John are in and I give up on the electronics and unscrew the hatches, time it right and make sure there is no water in the hulls. Everything looks great and I happily put on my gear and jump in. The rebreather must have checked out because the guys are on their way up to switch rigs. I cruise along the pipe looking for my gun loader. I am cruising towards the deep end when I finally see Chuck, he has obviously just seen something impressive. He is charging off towards Ewa. He sees me and gives me the universal "Did YOU see that????" I sign with "Huh?" I get the giant fish over there somewhere. I think he is upset at my lack of excitement, but I figure that an "Oh boy!" response followed by charging off into the distance with an unloaded gun might be poor training. I will save the jokes for later. We cross to the other side of the pipe, if it wants to come back, it will. We continue outward. I always forget how much coral is growing over here, it looks like Kona with a solid matt of coral. The layer is only 20 years thick, but it is promising none the less. Chuck is following the rule of thirds and wants to mosey back towards the anchor. I agree since I still feel pretty helpless, opening the hatch covers and fooling around with wires was damage enough for one day. We get back to the anchor...the rebreather guys are kneeling on the ground facing each other. Joey is gabbing away while John is just glued to gauges. Ulua could be circling them with out them noticing. Chuck and I stop on the line. We are going to practice our story telling skills, as Chuck asks me. "What happened to you?" I mentally imagine out how I can say that the boat was sinking and I was trying to repair pumps. What the hell, no time like the present, not like I am doing anything else anyway. I start a long charade that involves the boat going down and me bailing, fixing wires and using a bike pump. Chuck chickens out and instead of trying to get clarification; just nods his head in perfect understanding. Now what? Can I shake him and tell him that he couldn't possibly have a clue of what I just said? Heck even I thought the bucket bailing looked like an eighties disco dance! We check the clock and head for the surface, plenty of time for story telling while we await the new rebreather diver to surface. John is very excited and happy. He had a GREAT dive. Alas, another good diver lost to underwater television watching! Their dive sounds like our decompression, Joey jabbering and charading while John just nods his head. We pull anchor and let Capt. Chuck drive us home, there is lots of backseat driving as we come in the channel faster, slower, lefter, righter. Joey and I are such great natural teachers!...it is amazing anyone puts up with us! Thanks everyone!

Sunday is one of the last chances for Jim Kline to get out on the water before heading back to the land of snow and cold. He and Al Price invite Chuck and I to join them on Alan's boat. We meet at Naomi's dock (she must be off at church or something) and head out to seven tables. (What the charter boats call Aina Haina rock) We catch up on old times and start teasing each other right away... where did you get that piece of equipment? Does that air vest still hold air? Is every piece of line in a box and labeled? Jim gives me a bad time for using the rib excuse for every little thing, etc.. just like old times the banter continues. The winds are returning and I take my time circling around before we anchor. Chuck and I are first ones in. I get my gun loaded before I leave my partner clearing his ears on the anchor line. There is a diamond head current. I set the anchor. It is a small danforth, so I plant the tips under a ledge. I can clear it later as I plan on spending the second half of the dive taking pictures of Chuck next to the ledge. It is mid day and I don't expect any game, there is a slipper lobster in the trap and I look around to see if any of his friends are nearby. I see lots of mu inside and I move back to Chuck to tell him we should go after the mu. His response is: "Are these "mu" things; something to shoot?" I love diving! We stealth along the bottom, Chuck having no clue what exactly he is looking for! Three large weke ula cross our path and pull into a cleaning station just in front of Chuck. Chuck recognizes them as dinner all right, (probably thinks they are the mu!) He takes a moment too long and misses his long shot. We continue toward the mu who have stopped to reconoider our presence. There is a perfect hide-behind slab and we stop I throw sand like a crazy lady, and my enthusiastic hubby gladly joins in. I am glad he has read all those old dive reports, he might think this makes sense. There is no doubt as to what mu are now, they all stop and check us out. I am hungry and count on the pull pull shoot technique. How soon I forget about that @#$% rib. The pull pull idea is a good joke and I miss anyway! Well, no use spending time getting them interested again. I am going to turn to go back, but I see the weke ula again and head off in their direction. Sure enough, going down current we catch up; I know they are on the other side of this island and I signal Chuck that they are right on the other side. I fail to signal a plan, but I figure at least this way, we can arrive at the same time. He goes around one side and I head over the top, just to make sure we don't have to shoot each other while the fish swim away. I don't see them at all, I guess I spent too much time planning. Just as I am about to signal to Chuck, they come by right under me. There was an undercut and I dropped right over their doorway! They are too close and I have to wait while they pick up speed and I move up. It is an easy Lyle shot from above, and I miss! Chuck takes a parting "and don't come back" sympathy shot so I don't feel so stupid. Well, we are down current, lost and not going to have a chance to take pictures. We start back until I am tired of swimming. We are moving up current and I feel like we might be straight inside of the boat. I ask Chuck if he has any idea, he used to know, until he started following me back, now he is confused and low on air. Big deal, I used to know too! The current on the bottom is non existent now, so I choose a different vector as we head for 20'. There is still a current on the surface, but I never check for it as I make my way seaward. I surface for a boat check. Holy cow! The boat is a long long long way off! I signal Chuck that it is really far. I think that it can't be that far. Now I notice the surface current and figure for the boat to be that far down wind and current, one of those other idiots must have cleared the anchor why didn't they just wait until they were going to surface? We will have to drop our gear, I wonder which way I should swim? I surface again to give my panic time to think. I am looking at the boat on the horizon...the waves are bigger now and suddenly I see our boat crest a wave just up current of us, Jim is climbing in, the dot on the horizon belongs to some other divers and all is right in the world. Poor Chuck readily changes direction as he follows me in a whole new direction. That is true love and blind faith rolled into one. I splash along the surface and Alan gets in, our timing is perfect and I have lots of help getting back into the boat. Chuck must be happy to have his swimming workout over as he too gets in. We comment on how the wind has kicked up and compare notes on fish seen as Alan pulls the anchor. Jim is sorry to hear that I am such a bad shot, he thought by now, I should be better. (his bag is empty as well mind you)The anchor is giving Alan a bad time..."You idiots didn't clear the anchor?" No way is that coming up. I still have six hundred pounds and I mentally locate all my gear while Jim gives Alan a bad time about not being able to out strength the island of Oahu. Chuck is getting a little green and I see him heading for the side at the same time as I head down. My poor baby! I make my best top speed and am soon back under the boat. I wait till Chuck's breakfast drifts away and jump back in. We are under way and the crisis is over. It was a great dive, Chuck's first off of that side of the island. He liked the area and I think about moving to Hawaii Kai. We are dropped at Naomi's like a couple of charter boat customers and I wave good bye to some real good dive buddies. Naomi is still not home, but where ever she is she left her hot tub and swimming pool at home and we help ourselves to a warm up session before going off to fill Chuck's empty stomach with a hearty lunch!


4-9-01

The winds are howling, but a weekend is a weekend. Sunday is no less windy than any other day, but the sun is shinning and fools and heroes are ready for an outing. Chuck, Joe and I meet the master for some adventure. Stay close to home is the plan, and the Kewalo dredge mountain seems the best alternative. Close, upwind, hopefully sheltered and deep enough to avoid the increasing swell. Joe remembers getting a lobster there once and we talk about it being the last month of the season. We circle around in a vein attempt to remember line ups long built over. The depth recorder doesn't seem to help and we finally toss the anchor before Chuck tosses his breakfast. Joe is the anchor man and is over in a flash. We are prepared to drift, but take some buckets and nets just in case. Chuck takes a gun and we are all on the bottom soon. Right on target! There are some flame wrasse hanging about the anchor and they entertain me for the duration of my bottom time. Joey and Chuck are off hunting for fish and lobster. I feel like my fish catching skills have not been totally lost, and a few more minutes will make all the difference. Everyone else is gone and I find myself with tons of junk, a net full of fish, an anchor to free and less than a thousand pounds. It feels good to have everything normal again. I wonder how much flame wrasse go for anyway...probably the same price after 20 years. I manage to clear the anchor with minimal rib damage and head up the line. Everyone is there, and Joey is happy that I have cleared the anchor. I do not however see MY gun. Ole 'never miss' is not in sight. I don't want to seem like I don't care about my dear husband who is out of air and using the deco tank, but if perhaps he just neglected to pick it up, then I can use my 600 pounds to go get it. I casually ask what he saw and if he shot anything. Along comes a story about an angel that came and took the gun. Further explanation is about the flounder they chased. O.K., time to be blunt...."Where the gun?" I get the "don't worry, it is safely in the boat with the angel." I am relieved and spend the rest of deco letting my mind wander through decos gone by. The 10' and shallower nematocysts sting me out of my trance. I surface to find Chuck ready to head home. Joey points to a good size slipper lobster (the angel and flounder?) and seems to want me to reaffirm that it is a mantis shrimp and not the lobster that Chuck seems to think it is. It seems they spent their dive chasing and pinning down this creature while having discussions about whether or not it actually is a lobster. Chuck thought it looked a lot like the good tasting thing I caught a few months ago, but Joey was pulling for mantis shrimp knowing that the lobsters he has caught have the long cockroach antenna. Chuck is not only bringing home the bacon, he is also putting lobster on the table, I am sure once he hits solid ground, he will be doing the peacock strut, in the mean time, he is looking a bit green around the gills. Joey yanks the anchor into the boat, and we surf back to the harbor riding the large swells. We all agree to wait until calmer seas prevail before taking the boat out again. But we are happy to have at least gotten out there.


4-22-01

The strike is dragging on, but it is pretty windy for diving. The tropical fish master gives me an opportunity to make some $$ and so on Wed. morning we meet at the power cat and plan on two bottles to make it an easy day. The ocean is rough, but Joey has just bought gas, so we go as far down wind as possible before dropping anchor. I am a bit rusty on diving for $$ so I listen carefully to all the instruction. I follow the rule of thirds which is be sure to remember the last three instructions you get. These are:

1. No long drives, only the fish in front of the net.
2. Ignore the nasos (I used to have a bit of a naso chasing problem), we will get them on our shallow bottle
3. Go down the anchor line, we will meet there.

I get my gear and drop over the side only to see my instructor drop straight down under the boat, and set the net. He seems to be pointing at those three nasos that are at least 15-20 yards away. Yep, just like the good ole days! I pick yellow tangs in front of the net and will use the blinking doe-eyes if he points to the nasos again. We have a blast discussing net sets and chasing fish around in circles. For the shallow bottle, we move back towards the rifle range, boy it is rough out here. We pick a place with scattered coral heads and pretend to be greyhounds chasing mechanical rabbits. The rabbits make a relay out of it and we cover lots of ground. This is really fun when it isn't your regular job. We call it a day and return to find that the buckets under the boat apparently are also serving as base for every naso we played tag with! That is it; "give me that net". I am on my own for the last set but two fish allow me to come back feeling like a hero.

Sunday morning, Joey and the the rebreather gang is going out on the Mo'o. Chuck and I get to tag along. Seven of us head out for the 100' hole. I get a chance to visit with Dave and Athleen whom I have not seen since way back when I was single. We catch up on trips taken and discuss my current political lack of work. The Captain is going on about possible currents and is trying to steer us towards the little hole where he can catch tropicals. All the while saying it doesn't matter to him. Well who does he think he is dealing with? These are tech divers! Subtle means hitting them up side the head with a single tank! The hole it is. I toss the anchor, and Joey and John Rooney are over the side to set it in something solid. Kevin and Dave are next. Boy there is a lot more room once you are down to air divers! Athleen and Chuck head down while I listen to the Captain grumble about boats breaking loose, (there is no current). Perhaps he will just sit in the boat, the whole thing was a mistake... etc. I tell Eyore that I will charge everyone for gas and I will see him on the bottom. The water is clear and warm. I move down and wonder of wonders... I load my own gun!! Yes!! The rib makes a slight fuss, but I am so happy I swim around showing people that I loaded my gun. John must misunderstand, as he puts his hands up and surrenders. Chuck is on the bottom heading after three big parrot fish towards the ewa ledge. Athleen has found two helmet shells behaving coyly and shows them to us. Chuck comes back and tells me about the parrot fish. I have been meaning to take pictures of Chuck. I get him to pose for a few shots. The area is full of people and we head up towards Diamond Head. More parrot fish for Chuck to chase, he comes back having seen another game fish, something he hasn't seen before, but he is sure it is food. There is a little slipper lobster that Athleen and I play with, but he has two guardian eels. We see the Captain arrive with his net. Chuck is low enough on air that we wander back to the cave. Chuck is on his way up, he stops to have a conversation with Joey. Not quite sure what it is all about, but it ends with bye bye. I take the opportunity to head back over to where the Captain was fishing and help him chase potters wrasses until he runs out of air. Joey has cleared the anchor and we all decompress under the Mo'o as she wags her tail over our heads. Judging by her bounciness she is happy to be out at sea again. Everyone back on board safe and sound Joey and John pull anchor while Chuck makes room for second breakfast. Homeward bound, we talk of future dives and new equipment to use.


5-13-01

It is not that I have not gone diving, nor is it that I have given up writing.... it is simply getting that picture of a bomb (Are there actually bombs that look like bowling balls with fuses?) and "error type 11" message has twice gotten the better of me. The first time was a detailed report, the second one was of two dives... more to the point, now I will attempt three dives. I will hit the save button before doing anything fancy like erasing a sentence. I hate that I am being classically conditioned by an inanimate object using random chance instead of artificial intelligence! Well, Joey, and John Rooney, ordered a new anchor for the Mo'o (anyone who would like to chip in, now is your chance!) Lobster season was days from ending and Joey was up for a night expedition, he and John met Chuck and I down at the power cat around six. There was too much surge for the reef runway shallows and we randomly found an area with big coral heads in the 35-40' range. John put a strobe on the anchor line and we were off. Chuck quickly learned what can happen when you borrow a light from your best buddy. I still maintain that the light was better than a glow stick, but I agreed it probably wouldn't last the dive. We shared mine, stopping to occasionally blind ourselves by taking a flash photo. The summer swell kept us sloshing as we covered ground in vain search for bugs. The most exciting thing was having a group of manini darting about at high speed right at the edge of the light. Peripheral vision heebee jeebies! Chuck came across a broom tailed file fish that he thought looked edible. I convinced him to let sleeping fish lay (I had the light) and we headed back to the anchor. John's strobe worked well and I was glad to be near the boat. Then the strobe light passed over head and landed on the nearby runway. We surfaced to find ourselves a good swim away from the boat. The surface was bumpy and midwater was difficult to remain on course. We passed over the other guys and signaled our return to the boat. We hung on the line and played with night glowing plankton. No lobsters, some questionable photos but feeling adventurous. Joey joined us on the boat, also empty handed while John kept up the vain search until the cold finally got him.

The next dive Chuck and I took a quick trip to the hole-in-the-wall just to get wet. The real purpose of the dive was to finish up the film in the underwater camera. The camera having been on about 10 dives and us not sure if it even works! (It works great John, thanks again) I have trouble with my line ups, give up and anchor in the exact same spot that I always anchor. The anchor was lying in the path of the sub tracks as usual. At least I know where we are. We swam over to the rocks along the ledge, Chuck chasing down an eagle ray to take some photos. The main photo we needed was Chuck with his WNOC bumper sticker showing (it is on his tank) so we could send it to band members back on the east coast for their "unusual location of bumper stickers" photo collection. The idea was that I would get to be the photographer and Chuck, the spear gun, and the WNOC sticker would be the subjects. The only problem is that I also wanted the dramatic over hanging ledge covered with red sponge, the corkscrew coral and the menpachi to be in the picture as well. I would have been possible too, if Chuck would simply do exactly what I was thinking. You would think that such antics would have brought in some good game fish, but the water remained clear, blue and without game fish. We checked out the nearby islands where I dream about anchoring, and headed back to the boat, no fish but the film ready to be taken to Longs. The pictures aren't perfect, so we need to go back... perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday morning and we decide to do an exploratory snorkel out on the east side of the island. What do all those Japanese tourists see when they dive at the Makai Pier anyway? We figure to head outside the reef and see which way the current is going. The ocean is rough enough that we circle the pier to stay where it is calm. There is lots of coral, a turtle, big kala, baby opelu kala, lots of fishing weights. We came back in and check out the pier. I looked over the pilings as someone told me years ago that there were sea horses on the pilings. I know they are hard to see even when the tank says "SEA HORSES" on a big label with a photo. Just me and another one of those f@#$ing 3D pictures...staring away and waiting for them to become visible. Any second now whole families of sea horses singing and dancing where all that algae is. Some official came along and politely told us not to be swimming under the pier on that side and we crossed back under to the other side. In the dark shadow of the pier there were swarms of nehu, and halulu. We had the best time playing in the sand with them. There were at least three separate sizes mixed into one silver swarm of sparkle. The fun part was that even though the schools were mixed, the fish swam only with their respective size sisters, seemingly unaware of the other fish around and in between them. The turning silver cloud put computer graphics to shame and gave new meaning to synergy. We continued back and I found a beautiful little eel in picture perfect spot. I waited for Chuck who had last gone tearing off after a turtle. He was now wallowing 20 yards away. He waves at me to join him. Who does he think he is? Like he could find something more cool than I have? What are the chances? Probably another lead weight. Oh well, his loss, I leave my find and join him. WOW!! Those aren't squid....those are cuddle fish... My mind tries to replay what Bruce Carlson had said about cuddle fish in Hawaii. (complete blank...anyone know?) There are four of them. Two big and two smaller. They are the most amazing things to watch. Their eyes alone entrance and flash. The color changing and visual signals they make in response to us swallow me with joy. Stripes, rickrack lines, completely dark, completely white, sparkly green polka dots, I feel like I have gone to some rare dive spot half way around the world. Our new found friends are tired of us and we eventually leave them and head back, a good morning swim to remind me of how special this world is...time to go do wash and clean house. So Rich, did you see any nautilus? Do they change colors too? Still waiting for that party to hear all about it!


5-30-01

I think the last dive report that I wrote was weeks ago. Let's see, Nils came home, and we took him out diving that afternoon. We went to the hole-in-the-wall and had a great time. Did a much better job of anchoring because Chuck said "quit driving around lets just anchor here", more to teach him the valuable lesson of picking a good dive site, we tossed the anchor. It was in the perfect spot! When will I learn my lesson about teaching people lessons? We saw nothing to shoot, had a great dive! Chuck and I went to the big island for memorial day weekend. Chose not to take guns as we had no cooking place, no cooler etc. All I can say, is Kona has some kick ass blue water! Clear, beautiful, lots of coral, typical Kona. No surf, could get in anywhere. Under one arch off of the old airport I counted five lobster molts, but did not see any living bugs. Had fun trying to explain what looked like dead lobsters to Chuck, I figured he of all people would understand the snake eating a lot and shedding his skin analogy; but I guess underwater the snake-eel issue can be confusing. We had great fun, Chuck now knows what mu look like (every time we got in the water), got to see a barracuda getting his teeth cleaned, and we got to play! Now it is back to the grind until school gets out.... one more week!! Today the ocean is calm and I still have grading to do!!


6-4-01 Guest writer Mike

Sunday evening, I haven't been diving in months (literally), and it feels good to be back on the ocean with Roger, David, and Travis and Brandon (neighboring boat rats). We head for Marnie's Rock in the Mo`o and she roars along happily, plowing through the seas like a marauding Rhino. We get there with plenty of light to spare and Roger admonishes me not to shoot a fish before setting the anchor. As you all know, the Mo`o has a prediliction for breaking free and floating out to sea, so setting the anchor well is a must (you can see where this is headed can't you?). David and I head down and find the anchor on top of the ledge with line to spare for moving it about. I pick it up and David grabs the chain and we swim it to the ledge. I set it in a deep (eel free) crack and wait to make sure that the boat is downwind and that the anchor is firmly set before leaving to hunt. I head `Ewa and then in towards Snerk's Ulua Cave when I encounter a large group of curious Mu. Lying amidst the coral heads and sea urchins I call by throwing sand and scraping a rock on the coral. They head closer and then dart away. Why? A good sized Galapagos shark (6 plus feet) has decided to come check me out and scared everything away. I work the Mu some more anyway, figuring that I can probably fend off the shark with the butt of my gun if I get a shot (okay, that was the fantasy thought). The Mu drift off and I spy a nice yellow spot papio. I work him (high in the water) back to the main rock and take a long shot. I miss low and realize that my rubbers are old and slow. Oh well, might as well check on the anchor and it is of course, gone, long gone. I panic, settle down, and then start following the furrow out to sea (praying that it holds before the big drop off into open ocean). About 80 feet outside of the ledge I find the anchor and a very very mad Roger clinging to a small coral head. He yells a bit and then we fight it all the way back to the main island and set it in one of the outcrops. He is pissed, but goes off with the boys. I am tired, low on air, and chagrined, so I head up to decompress and stop the exertion headache. I am happy, on the boat, warm and dry, when I hear a scream for help from Roger. I rush to the front of the boat to find that Brandon has run out of air and had to buddy breath/free ascend with Roger. I get him in the boat, Travis comes up as well, and then I see that David is swimming towards us from about 200 yards up ledge (from the direction of the Japanese Anchor spot). He has something big too! David makes it to the boat with a 15-20 pound Barracuda and I cant wait to hear the story. In the meantime, Roger has surfaced and is complaining that he has embolized during the ascent with Brandon. I pull the anchor and the Mo`o charges for home, with Roger complaining that he might go unconcious at any moment. Needless to say, we make it back in less than 25 minutes and Roger calls Joe, who informs him that if he is still alive at this point he is probably going to be alright. We clean up, and all get a great laugh out of David's story about trying to put 20 lbs. of snapping barracuda teeth into his bag. He is somewhat humbled by the experience and says that he has much less interest in spearing an Ono now.

Once again, we have made it back alive, and we all agree to do it again soon. Never a dull moment with this crew!

Aloha, Michael


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