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The Snerk Report (Vol. 11)

7-19-01

Saturday a few days before our vacation, Chuck and I managed to take out the Mo'o iki. Mr. Mac doesn't want to be late for a party engagement and warns us of the frayed anchor line. Wow! The anchor is held on by threads! I leave the splicing for Mac, and tie off the anchor 10 feet further up, that bypasses the worst of the shreds. The current and wind are working against us and we anchor twice before I jump in with the anchor and lock it into the bottom. The current is strong and the fish are close to the hole. Nothing really to shoot, even the ball opelu kala are small. The really noticeable thing is the sea cucumbers. They are all spawning and standing on their heads to do it. Smoking stacks from a factory laden town. When I read Dave's dive report I wondered if it was the exact same day? I did shoot a fair size parrot fish because Nils had begged for some fresh fish and one did accidentally get close enough to me. Mostly we just enjoyed our last dive before heading off to the great oceanless desert. Other than the anchor line, the Mo'o iki ran like a champ and we were out and back in a flash without using hardly any gas... there is something to be said for a small boat.

Returning from vacation, there is a birthday dive planned on the Mo'o. Mike is in town and fixing up his out of service spear gun for his once every six months dive, his back pack is out of repair and only has the top strap. We look to Brian as someone with two babies who gets to dive less than the rest of us. Alas, other than the boat owner, it seems he has been getting out every weekend! Jan comes along, she got a great deal on a wet suit but had to wait to get skinny and not pregnant before she could actually wear it. Travis gets off work and jumps aboard. The boat owner looks over the anchor and we wonder if she'll hold. I figure to set the anchor and use the chain to hold her against the wind. The 100' hole seems like the only place to go even though birthday boy Brian makes the call for Kahala. We catch up on each others' lives as Brian, Mike and I prepare to be the first wave of warriors to the hole. The Master calls neutral and we are over the side with the anchor. It is clearer than mud and we can all see each other as we sit on the anchor and agree we are inside of the hole. Mike and I both know where we are and he is all for taking the anchor closer to please the Capt. and make an easier find. There is a sand hole with a nice little ledge nearby. Mike takes off with the anchor, just gets to the sand hole when his tank slips out of its moorings. Brian thinks we are going all the way to the hole and, gentleman that he is, gives me the "stand aside there little lady, let a man do a man's job" and takes the anchor out of its nice home and heads for the hole as instructed by the Capt. This would be fine if he actually knew where the hole was (we are actually close except the clear as mud thing). I drop my gun and get the anchor set right on the hole... probably best for the other divers. Mike gets set up again, comes across my gun and brings it to me. I expect fish and see a small white tip ooze away in the gloom. Things look good, I hear Mike's gun go off and I head over to pick up any scraps or to lend a hand. I find him loading his gun and ask what he shot at. He signals "I don't know." It is murky, but that answer seems a little sketchy and I give him a wide berth as I leave. The others are now on the bottom and the trend seems to be to swim around the hole in a clockwise manner. I find my space and slide into the circle. The fish can't see either and venturing away from the hole means seeing no fish at all. The opelu are even hanging on the top, getting cleaned and flashing silver at the divers. If you get beneath them and look up, it almost seems clear. The bad thing is that swimming around watching the surface can be extremely disorienting. I am almost dizzy when I look down and see the big parrot fish swim by. I head him off at the pass and swim up and over the diamond head corner rocks. I see the fish dash by Chuck and I watch him take a shot. Wow, quick thinking, good shot. It is a big fish and I am proud as he grabs the shaft and lets go of the gun. The gun floats up and hooks on the anchor chain. I will help, after all, as the fish is bleeding right in the middle of grand central eel station. Chuck does a fine job of bagging the fish. I take the fish bag and head out towards the ledge. I don't see any fish of any sort. We are all back near the anchor and head up the line. The murky water has not kept anyone from having a good time. Mike works on Jan for attacking innocent pearl oysters. Everyone gives Chuck a bad time about his fish. "That parrot fish has lived here for years," "no one has shot old Leroy because of his size," "Parrot fish sure stink when you clean them," but all of the divers did say "yes, it is a big fish" and "yes, that is a pretty good shot." There is not much that would have brought Chuck back down to earth anyway. There is nothing like the glow of a spearfisherman's milestone. We can all remember that first big enough to photograph fish, the first silver giant, those moments of glory that are one of the reasons we are out there. Mike took a digital photo to include with the dive report, so this could be the first dive report with an attachment! For me it was great to get back in the water, and I got fish for dinner to boot (nine pounds after cleaning and scaling)! Now I just have to wait for him to stop talking about it.


7-30-01

Divers visiting, so the seven of us head out on the Mo'o. Chuck, Janetta, her three sons Malte, Kai, Nils, me as pseudo Captain, and Andrea comes along for the boat ride. We check the anchor and figure to use the chain and stay close to shore. The islands off of Kewalo seem close, calm, with a chance of game. I am the last one in. Near the anchor is a cloud of bubbles and ink. Chuck and Nils have cornered (sort of) an octopus and the resulting entertainment takes everyone's mind off of the fact that they haven't been diving for a year. It is a well fought battle, but Nils finally prevails and pins the octopus to the open ground with his three prong. Victory (of sorts) at last, I get his bag and delve into the black cloud and help him bag the beast. His bag doesn't really latch so I leave it to him to stick it in his wet suit. Malte and Chuck head off and find another octopus which they think might be even bigger. Having watched the other battle, they choose to live and let live. Janetta is not doing her usual underwater drawing, instead she is collecting broken bits of shell for another art project. It is a fun task and we spend much of our dive laying on the sand and sorting out shells. It is like working on a jigsaw puzzle, except without that pesky gravity keeping you from grabbing the far away pieces. You could just look at the sand dunes and glide over to where there seemed to be large piece pile ups. We are under the boat and it is easy to see when the others surface just by looking up. It is almost time to leave the tranquil meditation when I happen to look over at the two uku that are watching us. They are small but one is big enough for my and Chuck's dinner. I am glad that Mike isn't here with his new underwater digital... the video clip would be embarrassing. I knew I had missed just as I pulled the trigger. I envision the clip made into a loop, Mike making a screen saver. Whew! I guess that leaves Nils the hero. We head up the line and splash about in the water, care free and enjoying the summer as we swim around the boat, boys jumping off of the roof of the cabin. Time to pull anchor and head back into life ashore, projects to finish things to fix. Nils is planning his romantic dinner with the catch of the day. We are all happy for the time in the ocean, and the wonderful view of the island as we head back.


9-2-01

Forty days and forty nights and I have not been diving. The winds are still strong but desperate times breed desperate measures. Mainly Joey is finally back in town and gets us out there. We meet down at the power cat at 7:30 a.m. Malte is still in his sleep mode, just waiting for a good dose of salt water. Joey fills us in on his latest Ehime Maru adventures. We head for hole in the wall because it close. We toss the anchor. Malte has his new fins, wetsuit, and mask to try out. Chuck and Joey are over the side. Malte and I are next. Chuck's BCD is a bit large on Malte, but we figure out how to keep it on him. We jump into the clear blue warm water. The boat is hanging over the ledge and I can see the opelu kala dancing a welcome dance for my return. Malte and I cruise over to the rocky ledges. There are no fish to shoot at, just pretty ones splashing around the coral heads. I let Malte shoot the gun just to get a feel for it. We head over to the hole in the wall. Joey is hunting for treasure under the overhang. Chuck is low on air and is heading back up the ledge to the anchor. I see some big silver just out of range in the sand. Joey must have scared them up. They might circle back into the ledge up where the sub tracks go down that swail. There is a big rock out in the sand there. The rock is deeper than I want to take Malte on his first deeper dive and we stay on the ledge. Luckily the opelu are giving us an attractive curtain to hide behind. They are passing around us and we both look up to see the back lit spectacle pass over our heads. Both of us see the four kahala at the same time. I can sense Malte's excitement as he points and drops down to the ground. Well, one of those kahala is a very delicious size and I would like to bring home some dinner. They stay too far and Malte points in the direction they were last seen. It is time for him to head up, and I forgo the chance at a shot by heading up the anchor line. I see the kahala coming back beneath us. I signal Malte to continue up towards Chuck while I try one of those Lyle straight down shots. I am planning on hitting the eye and out the chin... I nick the pectoral fin and it darts away. Hunger for fish has not improved my aim any. Well, it might have had worms in it. Malte was not pleased with the worms in those boiled peanuts. Maybe it is a good thing in terms of getting him to eat fish that I might bring home. I am unable to convince myself that it is a good thing I missed. There are opelu kala that would make a nice meal. I notice that Malte is staying to watch the excitement, no idea how quickly his air goes at depth. We move up the line empty handed, enjoying the plankton and visiting with Chuck who is hanging as long as possible before wallowing on the rough surface. Joey comes back to the boat below us. He is just as happy to be wet as the rest of us. We surface laughing and joking. Malte is much more awake, he loves his new mask, fins and wetsuit. He declares each one the best possible. Joey and I pull up the anchor and Chuck takes the boat home. We each want to aim for weekly diving.


9-10-01

Friday afternoon, the classroom is sweltering, the ocean is sparkling blue and fairly calm looking. My dive plans are almost thwarted as the boat owner actually wants to use his own boat. Quick thinking and agreeing to help with the boat shuttle with Friday afternoon traffic allows for an evening dive. Chuck and I get on the Power Cat at the Ala Wai and the three of us head for the pyramids. There is talk of a current since Lyle guys dove the wreck the day before and said it was going pretty good in the ewa direction. Well today the moon will rise 40 minutes later, the pyramids have less current anyway, we are full of ourselves. Chuck is wondering how many fish he will get, etc. I go down with the anchor. There is a current, but I can swim against it. The anchor settles down on top of the ledge. I am supposed to move the anchor on to the yellow brick road that leads to the pyramids. I circle around and find that the anchor has already missed its destination. The water is murky and I wait for the others. Chuck and the master arrive and we move the anchor two inches up current to get it into a better spot. We move upcurrent to the bricks. Chuck is lagging, no doubt trying not to cut his knees again as he fights the current forward. He has used almost a third of his tank and as we reach the waterfall of current on the ledge; we all agree that it is marginal. We then proceed out to the pyramids, where at least we will see a fish. At the pyramids, Chuck and I agree on a cut off to make sure he has enough air to get back to the anchor. I then turn my attention to the opelu kala, giant kahala and darting papio. The papio are jazzed up, moving fast and staying out of range. There is a tiny white tip, probably Michael's shark. I turn to point it out to Chuck, but he is not right behind me. He must have used up his air quota and headed back to the anchor. It never occurs to me that he might be off trying to spear a fish instead following me. I don't look around and head back to catch up to him. The murk is worse without any sunshine and I am afraid he won't find the anchor as it is off the path. I know I can catch him and move at top speed. It is nice to move along covering ground, but there is no sign of Chuck. Unbeknownst to me, he is fighting off sharks and helping with papio capture. I get to the anchor and begin to worry, the current is going at a pretty good clip. I swim down current looking up at the line and scanning the surface, no sign. I truck back to the anchor. I only have 1000 pounds and don't really want to head back to the pyramids. I see a diver zooming along the brick road. It looks like Chuck, but he is moving at 2X Chuck speed! Wow! Look at my baby go! Right on by the anchor! I bang on my tank at about the same time he starts looking for the anchor and steer him home. He has enough air to hang and heads up while I wait for the last diver as the anchor is now even harder to see. He shows up, sees me standing next to the anchor and asks, "Do you know where the anchor is?" I point to the ground (and the anchor) and he asks the question again since I didn't understand. I take both hands and threaten to unhook it. We head up the line, he has a nice size papio. We all pretend to be flags on a flagpole and discuss the dive. It sounds like that shark was quite the pest and the papio was hard won. We all feel like heroes, we made it back to the boat safe and sound. We still have enough daylight to see our way easily back to the harbor, the heat of the day has broken and the wet hair makes all the difference in my outlook. Shark fighter Chuck gets to keep the papio and we have a fresh fish dinner. I can't wait 'til our next outing.

Saturday morning, the sun is shining. Joey is really trying to dive every week, Malte wants to go diving, I need to catch little fish for my classroom, Chuck wants to dive. Joseph and Bridget come along as boat babes with snorkel gear. No one seems to mind where we go, everyone is just excited about going. I pick the islands off of Kewalo as it is shallow enough for me to easily bring fish up. The water is clear and we toss the anchor. Chuck and Joey head down. Malte learns what it is like to forget to put on your weight belt... the surface has him snared. It is nice to bring along deck fluff just so they can hand you gear. We head down with our nets and look for likely classroom candidates. Puffers are always fun, a saddle wrasse, a yellow tang, little baby orange shoulder. That seems like a good start for my aquarium. I take them back to the boat and Malte and I head out looking for game. We come across Chuck, he proudly shows us his parrot fish. Another swims by and he shoots it too, it is a poor shot and I watch him loose the fish as I quickly load my gun. I try a one rubber shot just to hit the escaped wounded fish, but I miss. We both are loading guns and swimming after the wounded fish. It makes a get away. Malte and I go back to checking on the friendly turtle. Malte's air is low and I want to search for small uku. Malte and Chuck head up the line, no sign of Joey and the rebreather. I will take a good swim out into the sand. I head off towards the pipe knowing that Brian got an uku here. There is no sign of one, but the swim is fine and I am soon at the pipe. Instead of going straight back the way I came (too easy), I head back along the makai side of the islands certain that when I get to the one the anchor is on, I will recognize it. I see lots of octopus homes, but only two very small octopus. Nothing in the way of fish. The parasail boat crosses over head and is so loud that I flatten myself on the sand at 40'. I fail to think about it heading straight toward shore and what that means. I continue on my way. The islands are not looking familiar, but there are lots of juvenile yellow tangs and the fish are darting here and there keeping me interested as I cover ground. It seems like I have come pretty far, certainly I would have noticed the buoy, or at least the channel. About the time I see an old buoy laying on the bottom, I remember that boat that zoomed over way back when... it must have been going in the channel! I might have come a bit too far! I surface to find myself outside of Kewalos. I can see the boat, not too far, but I hate crossing channels. I pick my direction and dash back along the bottom. I stop to pick up a large lettered cone, it looks like it recently died... a good shake of the cone produces pieces of dead mollusk; well, this will smell, but it's a nice shell. I must be back on the ewa side, I surface for more recon. Chuck and Malte wave and wonder what I am doing so far from the boat. Joey is giving mini dive lessons to Bridget and Joseph. The sun is shining as I get back to the boat. We have more fish thanks to Chuck, my students will be happy to have yet more distractions in class, and I have a nice shell to clean. Malte pulls the anchor for us and we head back to the dock. Diving two days in a row! I can't believe how great my life is!


9-15-01

Saturday rolls around again and mother nature does the sweet favor of calming down the sea. Chuck and I meet Joey at the boat at 6:30 and head for Marnie's rock. Discussing the week's events, Chuck and Joe pass right by the boat with the smoke billowing out of the engine compartment. I signal "are you O.K.?" and the lone boatman signals back with a shrug of his shoulders. Sometimes people don't know when they are in trouble or when they need help. Bossy cow that I am, we turn the boat around and give the boat a tow back to shore. By the time we leave him at the dock, he is very grateful. We are off to a later start, but we remember all the times we have been towed in. Marnie's rock is the hot spot, the yellow boat gets there a minute before us and begins to put out their nets. Well, not much to be done, we toss the anchor at the turtle cave and dive there. There is a slight diamond head current and the water is slightly murky. I see mu disappearing. It looks perfect as I head down the line. I see an octopus but I want to untangle the anchor line that is wrapped around the coral heads. I leave him for the end of the dive. Chuck heads up the ledge (after that parrot fish no doubt). I point out the turtle at the front of the cave to Joey. (When we couldn't dive Marnie's, I had said, "Well, lets go up here where the turtle in the cave is." I couldn't let Joe miss how right on I was.) Joe gives me my due and heads out for deeper water. I angle back down current and outside towards Kline's kagami spot. I am crossing the great plains of nothingness when I notice a papio on my right, and a shark on my left. The shark is big for a white tip, but a white tip none the less. I take a shot at the papio and miss. Now I am alone in the desert. The shiny shaft of my gun laying on the bare bottom. I head back towards the ledge a ways diamond head of my starting point. The shark is cruising up and down the ledge, no doubt Chuck is chasing him to me and vise versa. It is very benign and his swaying tail only adds to the beauty of the dive. I move along inside and start looking for that octopus. Where is that guy? Every hole has a big eel in it. I look up and see an eel swimming for another hole. Perhaps it is the same couple of eels darting from place to place. I imagine that four very hardworking eels could keep Marnie's rock looking like it does. I can't for the life of me find that octopus. Chuck comes by, tells me he has seen big parrot fish, but he has not speared any. He has 1400 lbs., a little more than I. His air consumption is better than usual, or maybe it is the fact that you can swim against the current. I make a big circle and come back to find Chuck heading up. He is surrounded by lemon butterflies in the foreground and opelu kala in the back ground . He looks very picturesque. I enjoy watching the scene. He is signaling to me, but his hands are right in front of his backlit body so I have no idea what he is saying. He obliges me by doing it several times. It looks like he is going up, I will just assume that is what he is telling me. I wave and head inside to see if there are any papio on the inside ledge, or if that is where the mu went. Sure enough there is a cute papio who comes when he is called. I miss again. Darn, perhaps it is the gun. I wonder whether to load it, since I am going back to the anchor. I take the time (you never can tell) and swim back. The opelu kala are near the anchor. I take careful aim and pick a good sized one. A good shot, below eye, above and through gills. Blood everywhere and shark approaching. I move up the anchor line as I pull in the line. The fish is on a short leash when he swims behind my head an whacks me repeatedly with his tail. I am sure Chuck is enjoying the show. I think back to last week when I admonished him for losing a fish that he should have gotten in the bag. The shark is on the bottom, excited, but not leaving the ledge. My fish has the good sense to die and I don't have to worry about evil naso spines. I bag the fish, fix the gun and watch Joey play with the anchor. He had started up the line, saw both Chuck and I and went back to clear the anchor. I am beginning to think he is planning to bring it up with him to save the trouble of lifting it later. Opelu dash between us and I am lost to the beauty of silver sardines. Gosh it is nice here, dinner in the bag and calm seas above. We surface, Chuck pulls the anchor and we head into Hickam for fuel. We use Joey's ID to fill the boat and head home. A perfect day and not even 10 a.m. yet. We are all ecstatic for the dive.


9-30-01

7 a.m. on Sunday morning. Chuck and I meet Joey for a dive off of reef runway. We congratulate Joey on his new daughter and discuss the events of the week. The hole in the wall seems like the place to go since Joey tells us the Navy will be anchoring a barge there for several months and we won't be able to dive there at all. Just the idea that it will be forbidden fruit makes it taste sweeter. The water looks cold, dark and murky. We all get in fairly quickly and as I clear the thickest phytoplankton layer I see a giant barracuda swimming out along the ledge right below Chuck. I give him the giant barracuda sign, which looks a lot like the giant eel sign, except the place of conversation. What you mean by "bear" for instance might depend on what State you are in. I leave Chuck looking for giant eels and go down to check the anchor. There is still a lot of murk around and there are clouds of opelu kala circling around below the opelu that are circling around Chuck. At least the water is warm and cozy. Joey helps me pull the anchor to a better spot. I have put us on the ledge, but even further outside than usual. Chuck and Joey head on in toward the spot confident that I have missed in the same direction as usual. There is so much coral as well as dumped munitions around that I am not sure we are outside. There are so many opelu kala circling outside that I follow them along the ledge. The fish are excited by all the food and are very active, the excitement is contagious. I search eagerly for food; alas, I soon find myself alone and certain that I am going the wrong way. Wrong way Snerk, I head back to the anchor and continue along, and sure enough, I soon come to the place where I usually miss and set the anchor, next to the sub tracks. I soon see the increase in fish life and run into Chuck and Joe. Chuck is following the rule of thirds and is heading back towards the anchor, the murkiness is nothing to fool with. He hasn't seen any game. They have been on the diamond head side, so I turn towards the hole in the wall and go check it out. There are tons of big palani, the usual reef fish, but nothing that I want to spear. I lay on the bottom and watch the fish come closer. Still no uku in sight, shucks. Back over for a quick survey of the other rocks before heading back to the anchor. The swail by the sub tracks is were the opelu kala are now hanging out and one small lone papio jazzes by, moving fast and never coming close. I call and I can imagine that he might have started a large circle to come back (circle about the size of a football field with visibility about 15 yards). I watch a spiny puffer getting cleaned, two cleaner wrasse taking turns swimming around and in his mouth. Too bad it is too murky for pictures. There is no sign of return game, I head back to the anchor. Joey is willing to head up, he is just happy to get in the water. We join up with Chuck on the line. I trip out on the plankton, just watching it drift by, very hypnotizing. Joey is in the boat and Chuck signals that we should head up... oh yeah, I left a life up there on the surface didn't I? We climb back in, Joey pulls anchor and Chuck drives us home. I feel like a luxury bee as I dry off. 8:30 a.m., what a way to start the day.


11-24-01

No, I am not dead. Thanks to all the concerned readers who made my day by missing my dive reports. The highlights of the last few months are as follows: Malte is now into a Hawaiian pack, no spear gun yet. I got to spend half a dive with rainbow runner, took one shot (missed), but just the fact that I actually got to shoot at them made my week. Chuck got a chance to try a steel 100 and is hot to buy one, anyone have any they want to get rid of? We got Shawn in the water (and his visiting dad), Amy is back after having another baby. I have brought home a few fish as has Chuck. No one has been lost or bent as far as I know.

Thanksgiving morning, another malia calm day and Malte, Chuck, Joey and I head back to Marnie's rock since it has been hot. The water is Kona clear and Malte throws the anchor just outside the rock. You can see the opelu kala from the surface and we are all feeling thankful to be able to enjoy such splendor. Chuck and Joey have each forgotten their cameras. Chuck is in the water first, he gets to see the coil of anchor line sitting on the bottom. He is followed by Joey. Malte and I get in and see Joey inflating his lift bag, to move the anchor right over to the rock... boat moving, that should keep Joey happy. Malte is pointing out the huge opelu kala, I give them a miss (mostly out of fear of being poked) and I think that we should head over to the ulua cave. I point out the eels and notice that the ground is thick with wana. I hope Joey doesn't get poked, he is hitting about 50-50 on keeping away from sea urchins. I glance outside and see a yellow spot ulua on the approach. I signal Malte and turn and drop right down into sea urchin heaven. There is ten pounds of black color swimming right at me, he turns too soon, damn the clear water, and damn that urchin that has donated all his spines to my knee. My knee now looks like a wana. I swim off the ledge out to the sand, watching for any chance of the returning fish. Gone. I now can spend time breaking off spines while Malte wonders how venomous they are and if I am O.K. I get my knee so it at least looks like a short spined urchin and we continue on our way. The ulua cave is empty, fish must be out having breakfast. Malte is at the turn around spot on his air supply, that and the passing shark nudge us back towards the anchor. Malte handles his first shark with such grace I wonder if he was looking at something else. Nope, he saw the shark, our communications skills are improving! We almost have the rock in sight, when I see her, shimmering kagami, beauty itself. I signal to Malte to continue upwards, and point him in the direction of the anchor... good sense kicks in and I swim him back to the line with full intentions of coming back and finding her again. We get to the line, 40 feet and it looks like 10. Chuck is approaching with a fish, giant opelu kala, at least we have dinner. Joey sees us all on the line and begins to fiddle with the anchor. I manage to get back down and tell him I am not done yet before he floats it to the surface. I figure I will go to where Brian shot his kagami. I have seen two in that spot myself, surely it is the kagami hot spot. Just in case I was doubting that fish return, the shark does a direct approach. "Weren't you the one that stole my yellow bag a year or so ago?" He does a rude and abrupt turn away and I am glad I don't have any fish. No sign of any game and I head back towards the rock. Joey is there, he is doing some sort of oneness with the shark, I guess without blowing bubbles, he is sitting still and seeing if it will come over to him. I head off the ledge, Joey and the shark are on the other side of the rock (did I mention it was clear?). A nice little papio passes in front of my mask like a lemon butterfly. Wow, that flash was a papio! I am sliding off the ledge and go down to roll in the sand, he stops to show me how he can do it too. I give him the ole "oh yeah? can you do this?" and pick up some rocks. He approaches and picks up some stones with his mouth. I just hope Joey is still making one with the shark and will notice if it comes up behind me. I take a perfect shot and quickly pick up the quivering fish and head back toward the anchor line. Joey has heard the gun and watches out for me as he leaves his tranquil spot and heads up the line. Chuck is still decompressing and we compare fish... I think his five pounder might be bigger than mine! He managed not to get poked this time, a good shot makes all the difference. We are back on board and head home, thinking about all the things to be thankful for. My life is so great, I can't imagine it being any better... well, it would have been better if the gas dock at Hickam had turned out to be open. Well, if the turkey comes out of the oven a little late, who's going to notice? The water continues to be clear and I zip over the surface like being in a crop duster watching the ground below switch from sand to coral and back to sand again and again. We stop for turtles, all of us are enjoying a long weekend of play ahead.


12-2-01

Sunday morning, Amy, Chuck, Malte and I escape for a morning dive. We discuss the weeks events and our choice of destinations. (We are still high on the bounty of Marnie’s rock, but Amy has some time constraints.) Blasting out of the channel, Amy is enjoying the wind and freedom. Her joy is infectious and I notice that the Ehime Maru seems to have left. Wow! We can dive at hole in the wall again!! Chuck does a perfect job of setting the anchor right on the spot. The water is clear and the diving conditions are perfect. I show Malte a crown of thorns and we get it to stick its tube feet onto our fingers. There is a cushion star right next door and I frisbee toss it to Malte and he passes it back as a football. Our goofing around raises the curiosity of an octopus and we both see it at the same instant. Amy has joined the corner the octopus game. I ask Malte if we should get it for dinner and he gives me the “well if you are going to throw it away before we eat it...” I vow not to forget about it and slip it in my bag without much ado. Amy is squealing as she watches; boy, I forget how much fun it is to dive with her. Malte still has plenty of air and we head across the channel to the hole-in-the-wall. Chuck is there already, Amy has never really been here before and she heads under the over hang. I can look down on her from above and the yellow weke circle around her making it look like she is swimming in the magic bubble of fish. I take Malte over to the actual hole and look through the porthole out at the world of fish on the other side. We begin to turn back and both see the school of Kahala swimming by behind Chuck. They are in the 15 plus pound range and I tell Malte that they are too big. He gives me a puzzled look, he obviously doesn't know about cigua-toxin or big white worms! We continue back, leaving Amy with Chuck. Malte saw the octopus as well as the Kahala at about the same time I did, I guess he is getting to be fairly observant of good things to eat. Just as I have this thought, I also wish that I could get my gun over his tank to hit the papio that is right on the other side of him. The papio darts around us at high speed and my gun can't keep up with his antics. I take a wild shot and miss, the papio circles around once more, then darts back to the ten or so others. They must have sent the fast one over to jazz around and see if we were friend or foe, because that was the last we saw of them. Malte persisted in pointing after them as we watched them swish away. Back to the anchor line, Amy and Chuck soon join us. Amy has a little shell for Josie, a successful dive all around. Happy to have gotten out twice in one weekend, we should have more four day weekends.

Friday dive, Joey and Amy have a sitter and call to see if we want to join them. I don't get home 'til four and Friday afternoon traffic is at full Christmas rush, add the 5:48 sunset and Malte, Chuck and I rush around like chickens getting our gear loaded. (Thankfully Chuck had filled tanks.) We add gas and race the sun as we leave Keehi. Hole in the wall seems like the easy option. The timing is good and I imagine all the uku awaiting us. Chuck puts us on the spot and we all get suited up as fast as possible. The tide is low and most of the Pearl Harbor water seems to have come our way. Dark and Murky. I stay close to Malte on our way down the line, I see the big square rock that is just outside of the perfect anchor spot. We are plenty close if the water was clear, but as it is I feel we will lose the anchor. Joey has set the anchor solidly and it will need to be freed. I think the best bet is to get Joey to use his lift bag and move the anchor to a more findable locale. I try and round everyone up, but Chuck has disappeared in the gloom. Joe and Amy give me the “why have you called this meeting?” look and I let them go on their way. I tell Malte to stay close to me and I plan on having enough air to go down and free the anchor. We swim to the ledge. Looking for fish is silly because you don't have much warning, you only see them when they are close. The reverse is true as well, so this does give you a slim chance. I don't see anything but kala along the ledge. When we get to the damsel fish coral head that is right across from the hole in the wall, I realize that we can't even see the ledges on the Diamond Head side. I can only see a very small area and I spend most of my time looking for little shells for Josie. Amy had already found the perfect Barbie crown while we were still on the dock. It looked like a watch buckle part to me, but what do I know? Malte and I are on our way back to where I hope blind luck will put us on the anchor. We run into Chuck, he has no fish, but saw and missed something. (It turns out to have been a papio). Now the three of us are wandering around, we slowly rise and I agree to have a look on the surface. Well, we are not that far off, but the anchor is inside of us and I lead us back toward the boat. Without any sunlight for direction, it takes several trips to the surface for us to get there. When we make the line, I know that Joe and Amy are still down. Those guys probably have lights, but they might not find the anchor either, so I go down to free the anchor. I don't see any sign of them, so they must be more than ten feet away. I head back up the line. Chuck and I have a discussion about the other two. He wonders if they are already up, I tell that they were not up when I last looked, the only way they could be in the boat is if they got in while he was hanging on the line. He wonders if we should go up while there is still some light to look for them on the surface. There is virtually no current, so I figure they can swim back to the boat if they have to. We finish our deco and surface. Amy had the steel 100, and Joey the rebreather. Just after we are all dried off and changed, we see their bubbles on the line. They were over at hole-in-the-wall, had a great time, saw lots of fish, got little shells for Josie. I think Joey has done enough deep diving that if he can see ten feet, that's pretty good! They seem to have had a great dive, and Chuck is excited that he called a papio into range. He is calling them in now... moving on up!! Malte and I feel more “at least we had a nice swim” about the whole affair. Joey comments on how fast it gets dark, as he pulls the anchor and Chuck takes us home. I checked the calendar, the sun stays up later starting this Tuesday!!


7-23-02

Chuck and I head over to the big island for a long weekend of diving. There is no surf and the Kona shoreline is ours for the taking. Our first dive is late since Kona four O’clock traffic is worse than Honolulu. We pull into OTEC sometime past six, and look around for our entrance spot. I want to go close to where my eel bite was, as I remember sand and big uku there. Chuck finds us a nice slot and we are in the water. The water is warm and Kona clear. There are big parrot fish everywhere and solitary mu hanging out on the promitories. I am excited about the mu and spend a lot of time playing hide and go seek. The mu comes closer with each pass, only a little closer. Obviously he does not have a limited bottom time, air supply or want to climb out on the rocks while he can still see. He is happy to see me and wanting to make the most out of the anticipation of what I have to offer. He is the type who opens his Christmas presents after he returns from vacation. I check out the sand and find no sign of uku. I head over to find Chuck playing games with uhu. We agree that light is the limiting factor and head back to the unfamiliar shore. Piece of cake, let's dive here again!!

Next day, we are on a mission to find fish as we are supposed to bring fish to our 4th of July barbecue this afternoon. We head back for a morning dive at the same spot. Could the ocean be clearer? The fish can see us from anywhere and it is hard to get close to anything bigger than a yellow tang. We play around on the ledge. There is a huge awa approaching mid water. Chuck is sure that that is a “eat” fish and is as excited as a puppy when you return home. The fish comes up to me and I think I could feel Chuck's confused heart sink. Maybe I could have been more excited if I hadn’t caught 110 of them that day and had to eat and give away and make fish cake until I really don’t need to eat another one. I head back to what I am sure is the same mu for another round of cat and mouse. AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Perhaps I could shoot this opelu kala, just to bring some food to the table... are they cigua-toxic over here? They eat plankton... should be O.K. I can’t believe I missed an opelu kala! The shame of it. I head off to find Chuck and we retreat to the surf zone where the water is cloudy with bubbles and we might stand more of a chance. Chuck gets a nice big uhu while I get banged around between boulders as giant mu laugh. I finally wedge myself between two boulders and work on two mu. One giant and one big enough for four. The big guy keeps just behind the little guy and I have to play it perfect. Boy am I good, I am sooo good. I can taste the soft meat dripping with my heroics. I can still hold my breath for pretty long too. Not bad for an old lady. The perfect shot is mine. I could almost here the loud “twock” as the shaft bounced off the gill plate!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!! Low on air, time to head back along the coast to our exit point. Chuck is the hero on shore with his big uhu. I am so happy I hit a fish, you take what you can get!

Next dive we figure to head to some other place, to increase the variety in our vacation. We head for what used to be Mahaiula State Park but now has a new name which no one uses. It takes 20 minutes to drive on what used to be a paved road. The ocean is extra inviting. The beach is beautiful and well worth the trip. We decide to head out to the left in search of deeper water and fifteen minutes of snorkeling brings us to a ledge. The coral is rich just beneath the surf zone and there is an endless path growing parallel to shore with a sandy bottom stretching off to forever. Beautiful place, but we don’t come to anything that looks like a hunting ground. We cruise along enjoying the warm water. We should probably head back... I wonder where we are? We swim in what we agree is homeward and as it gets shallow again I surface to find out we are a long ways away. I am such a good swimmer! I tell Chuck that we have a ways to go and aim us in the right direction. It is about 25 feet deep and there are no directional indicators for us to go by. Let’s just say that each time I surfaced we were closer. Luckily the surf was small, and swimming through it was more of an adventure than a hardship. No food, but a great workout. Guess we will just have to eat out tonight!

Our last dive is another evening dive, but with a half an hour more light than the last time. We head back to those smart alecky mus. I cruise out to check for uku in the sand, (none) then return right to the shallow cliffs. The water is cloudy near the shore, and full of lots of little white bubbles from the crashing waves above. Perfect, I wash back and forth trying to pick a fish to go for. Mu of course attract me like duct tape. I am calling and in the bubbles I see can just see bits of the two gleaming kagami. Good size. Another wash and they have vanished. I see them two or three times again, just a hint, just a glimmer a flash and I am alone again. A stealth jaguar sliding through the jungle, her scapulas jutting out of her back as she creeps along the rocks. Maybe the fish will feel sorry for the bubbling blunder and will come close. Sympathy runs low in the jungle and mu have none. I head back to find Chuck and we excitedly tell each other about the fish we saw and did not catch. Time to head back to Honolulu.

The power cat gets a new stater, Joey filled it with gas. Chuck and I take it for a test run. The winds are still howling and we plan on staying close to shore. We head for the ships to find a sail boat about to tie up (he missed the buoy twice already... I thought he was bottom fishing). He offers that we can wait 'til he ties up and tie off of him. I note that despite the strong wind, there is a good DH current going. We think better and head for the little hole. We anchor and the boat pulls upwind, aft into the surf. I remember Athleen and I crawling along and that was during the lesser ewa current. With the swells washing into and rocking the boat, I call the dive and then explain to slightly green colored Chuck that pulling the anchor against a current would be much better done by a big strong guy and that left to little ole me, we could be here for twenty minutes. God bless him, we are soon heading back to a friendlier ocean. O.K., well let us just dive the pipe. The water is clear and we anchor right on it. I check the anchor while Chuck hunts a MK, no luck. We swim over to the first ewa island and check the cave, no papio. Then just on cue, two papio come charging over to see who is in their cave. Chuck lines up and one fish just keeps coming. He turns to keep from hitting the spear and Chuck lands him. There is a good deal of spinning around and tangling of line, so I stay in case Chuck lets go of the fish before putting it in a bag. I get out my new bag and put in its first fish. We head back toward the pipe, there is a herd of puffers hanging mid water over the sand and I head over to round them up and to see what the eagle ray is eating. I look up to see the stalking Chuck taking aim at something. One of those puffers has a papio sticking like glue to it. The fish doesn’t swim away and stays at puffer speed. Chuck hits it and almost immediately an uku and papio appear from nowhere and circle around. Uku. MMMMMM I haven’t had uku in a long time. I call him in and miss while Chuck watches from above and keeps pointing out the silly papio who is now my best buddy. I load again while the uku cruises in a circle so we can play the same scene all over again. The outcome is I take a long shot and miss. Well, two dinners is better than none, Chuck is once again the hero and even makes a joke about his superior skill. Just wait, I have patience, greatness is always there, and sooner or later it is bound to land on me. The boat runs great, can’t wait for the wind to stop blowing!


7-23-02

Sunday and Joey invites us for a dive at Shark’s cove. I think I last dove there in high school. We meet in the morning, Joey has a student along. Helicopter pilot Mary wants to dive rebreathers in caves in South Africa. Start at the top and work your way down, why didn’t I think of that. No time for chit chat, we head off to sea. Chuck is disappointed as he only has 1800 pounds of air. I offer to switch tanks (I am already rigged and standing in waist deep surge) when he gets to 1000. It will make our dive more like Joey’s and Mary’s, always good to exercise some skill. I put my mask on and fall over to see an ulua darting out of the way of the swimming children. Chuck and I tool around looking in caves while Joey and Mary have some sort of in depth conversation. Joey is doing most of the talking and it seems to involve four things or four places, or four objects... the whole conversation is strongly about four. They finally finish the four conversations and we head along the coast. A nice size yellow spot comes over and Chuck shoots it with his index finger. We let Joey and Mary head along as we stop to change tanks. His stupid aluminum tank floats, I float without my pack on and the only thing that is on the bottom is my pack. Chuck’s pack has the easy adjust aluminum to steel. I have the webbing buckle to loosen. In my excitement of loosening I of course loosen it enough that the belt slips the rest of the way out of the buckle. Let's see, the rabbit comes out of the hole and around the tree... my mind keeps thinking it has to cam somehow. Chuck gives me a hand as I float upside down trying to read the instructions I cleverly sewed on the strap. All is successfully accomplished and the only thing left is to find a nice size rock to weigh me down. We head back towards shore amid the myriad of divers that are descending on the little place. I am sure I am getting some funny looks with my weird pack, giant rock in my belt and no wetsuit. The good thing about being underwater is you can pretend they are saying “Wow! Look! A mermaid!”

We get to the beach to find even more divers arriving. Get this, there are even TWO dive boats anchored. We must be at the best spot on the whole north shore! Joey and Mary appear and we call it a success, time for Bob’s pizza and homemade ice cream!


8-5-002

The wind finally died down last week and with John Chang in town. Chuck and I take advantage of the nice weather and head for an early afternoon dive at Marnie's Rock. The ocean is calm and the water is crystal clear, we can find the rock just by looking over the side. I toss the anchor on the ledge and we head over the side. The opelu kala are hanging around the rock and I think “Chuck will get us dinner.” Sure as shootin', I hear a gun and turn to see Chuck has missed his first attempt. John and I wander over towards the ewa ledge and check the cave out. There is a two-cowrie octopus lure fully rigged in the cave. I reach for it wondering how an intelligent animal like the octopus could miss seeing all the barbs and points signifying the trap. I know, I am not supposed to think others are stupid or that I am better in any way, but ouch! There is still a little piece of rusty metal in my finger! I pick up my new treasure, see no game and we head back towards the rock. There are two spiny puffers on the bottom one laying on top of the other... actual contact between fish. I watch them trying to figure out if it is a fight or sex, but they are not doing anything but laying on the bottom. Unsolved mystery. We get back to where we last saw Chuck, he has two good size opelu kala in his bag. He says he saw a mu over by the rock on the ledge, I wonder if I have the air to wander up towards David’s spot and keep an eye out for distant mu I can play with. I see Chuck moving up the anchor line and notice that right under me are three two-inch mu. Could he have been talking about these? I point them out to him and he nods his head, then puts his hands about a foot apart. Whew, for a second I thought he was sending me after the babies. John and I circle around and also head up the line, empty handed, but glad to be wet and basking in the warm tropic waters.

The weekend and Amy’s girlfriend Monica is visiting, an excuse to head out. Joe and Amy have a sitter for Sunday morning and we meet at the boat at eight. Malte is back in town and the six of us head for somewhere close... hole-in-the-wall seems like a good idea, we first take the boat to Hickam to fill up the gas. The day is hot and sunny and we are all ready to get wet when we toss the anchor. I am proud that I didn’t drive around in circles, just right up to the marks and tossed the anchor. Chuck is first in the water and hangs on the line while the rest of us get in the water. I jump over in the clear water and see that the anchor is NOT right on the place. But it is close enough that I know where it is. Amy has a horn with her and is not afraid to use it. We even sound like ducks as we waddle over to the ledge. There is a puffer hanging out and I catch him and puff him up for Monica, she just pets it and lets it go. No volley ball game for her... I guess she is one of those nice people. There are a couple of mean looking eels that I poke at. We continue along the ledge, Joey now knows where we are and we cut across to the hole. There is a big school of weke and they dart by us like bullets. I don’t see any fish. I leave the Dituris and Malte and I move back towards where I wanted to anchor. We are between the ledges, I notice the potters have finally returned to where I made a killing that one time when Rich was studying them. How long ago was that? Well, the population has fully recovered. A school of Papio are approaching and I signal Malte to get down behind the ledge. They come over and the two that single me out are too close and I know it is going to be hard for me to hit. I miss and then I turn to watch Malte who was watching me and suddenly is faced with fish by him. They swim by and he also misses. We load our guns and Chuck arrives all excited about an ulua that he saw. I tell him about the papio and he passes over us just when the papio return and he shoots one through the head. He is waiting for me to come shoot one of the ones by him, but they move away by the time I get over there. Chuck the hero again. We all have around 12 to 15 hundred pounds so we head along the inside islands towards the anchor. Malte is willing for me just to point, but I know better and we go back to the line. I still have air, seems silly to head up. Chuck tells me to go back and get one of those papio. Off I go, back along the islands. No sign of papio, the place where Malte and I hid is now occupied by an ulua. I lay low and crawled over to the ledge, he sees me for what I am and moves away without giving me a shot. No fish anywhere, guess I will go back and make sure the others found the anchor. I see Chuck still on the line, yes he has seen the others, they swam right by under him and headed off towards Diamond Head. Sounds like the big sister when asked what happened to her little brother. “I told him not to play with the car door handle, he fell out some time back.” I wander off in hopes of catching them before they have to surface. There seems to be some Ehime Maru leftover junk on the bottom, I should explore out this way the next time we come here. No sign of the others, back to the boat and I hear the duck call but cannot find the gang. They see me wherever they are. They are on the surface waving that they are fine and we all get in the boat. There are advantages to diving in the morning as we quickly warm up in the sunshine. Malte pulls the anchor, good to have him back. We head home for lunch.


8-13-02

Friday afternoon and we get a chance to go diving. Chuck, Malte, John and I load up the power cat and head out. John can’t remember having ever been to hole-in-the-wall so we head there. Chuck is captain, but I manage to misdirect him into about 500 feet of water. Chuck is still wearing his scopolamine patch from his team building sailboat trip the day before. There is a notable difference in how much talking he does as he glibly pretends to be the auctioneer as the depth recorder numbers slowly go lower. We finally toss anchor. I am the last one in the warm water and am happy to see that we are getting closer to the perfect anchor job. We are still far enough away that I get to lead the pack over to the spot. We approach in a side by side formation and the lone papio manages to stay equally out of range as he passes all of us. We have all dropped behind the wall and our four guns makes me feel like F Troop guarding the barracade at Fort Laramie. The papio finally barely comes into John's range and John takes a long shot and misses. The spell is broken and we all go exploring, Malte and I go and look in the kumu hole. Nothing but eels, at least four, none are in holes and they are trying to act nonchalant. They must be fighting, mating or having a rummy championship. Malte and I stay clear, follow a baby MK with our guns and move back across towards the other outcropping. Chuck and John soon follow. Chuck picks up a piece of brass treasure and shows me his find. There are some cute baby four spots hanging around a coral head. Not much else as we head back to the anchor line. Murky water is moving into the area in puffy clouds, and we pass through a couple of spots and come into the clear again. The anchor is right at the end of the rocks and Malte still has 1000 pounds so we move to the ledge and look for trouble. None to be had. The other three head up and I figure to take one last papio sweep just in case. I am about 10 feet off the bottom looking at the group of sea urchins that have gathered for a bon dance in the middle of nowhere. The huge school of yellow weke are back and coming by. Hey those weke are uku!!!! I am happy I remember the sea urchins as I drop down and left to the bottom. There is not the slightest bit of cover and I glue myself to the bottom. I recognize the pain of pinnaria sp. on my knee. Dang those hydroids, come here uku. Three of the uku break out of formation to come tell me what a fool I look. I try to wave dust and look busy. They don’t fall for it and rejoin the school. I head along to the rocks to see the uku, opelu and papio feeding above me. They are all beautiful and I am so excited. Sometimes a papio or uku will break off and come a little closer, but they are more interested in the water above. Maybe I can try a mid water shot. Nope, they make room for me and move off to the inside. I am happy to see that there are still a lot of uku around. I wish I had another tank, but I am pretty sure that I must be in the red by now and I head back to the line to decompress. John pulls anchor and we happily head home, I am still excited about the swarms of fish and am bouncing inside as the boat cuts through the waves. Wet spray and happiness are all around me. Let's go diving tomorrow.

John's last dive chance and we head out for a dive at the pipe. Chuck is still wearing his half patch and feeling fine. He and John are the first ones in. Malte and I follow. The water is clear and warm, the pipe is right under the boat. We check the anchor and see John loading his gun, hmmm, there must be something good around. Chuck has a giant uhu in his bag. They head off towards the papio cave, Malte and I will go over to the islands. There is another parrot fish that Malte spies with 100% accuracy. The uhu leads him on a wonderful goose chase. Whenever Malte looks like he is going to quit following him he stops and nibbles on the bottom, even comes back to pick Malte up again. The uhu is so happy to have a playmate. Malte finally quits the game and we head over to the islands looking for other game. No signs of uku out in the sand. I stop to play with all the baby dascyllus and see a beautiful lion fish hiding in the coral. I will take it out and show Malte how pretty they are. Ow!! @#!$%^$ That little bugger just dipped his head and poked me! My finger hurts while I try to squeeze anything out. No blood, just a tiny little poke. Malte laughs as I open and close my hand. We cross back over to the pipe, there is a little papio but he must be late for a very important date as he zooms by out of range. We reach the end of the pipe and Malte head towards the anchor line, Chuck comes by with a nice papio also in his bag. He is one happy hero. I move out to the sting ray area in hopes of anything, my whole hand hurts now. Dang it, I must have caught 20 of those fish without ever having a problem. I turn back towards the pipe to see an edible MK dashing away. No chances for food, but I realize as I try to unload my gun that it is probably a good thing that I don’t have to fight a fish. Back in the boat Malte and John pull anchor as Chuck revels in his brilliance. My wrist is now added to the pain as nausea sets in. I am pretty sure the nausea is from the lionfish and not from listening to Chuck. Good to have a Dr. on board, even though there is not much that can be done. We head home for a fish feast. Remarkably, my hand starts to get better after the last tank is carried off the boat. By the time it comes to eating fish, there is no evidence at all of ever having an injury, wish I could say that about those hydroid blisters from the day before!!


8-31-02

Last weekend before starting work again. Dave Pence is up for killing some fish and we head out for a Friday afternoon dive. Malte, Chuck, Dave and I. As we head out, Dave asks “Where are we going?” “Marnie’s Rock” we all say hoping to spear big fish. Dave asks about potential currents, as if I have some sort of clue. I am flattered, him looking up to me, but fortunately we were all saved by me NOT saying “Well, there has never been a current at Marnie’s rock that I couldn’t swim against.” I kept myself in check and managed only “Well, it is a quarter moon, so it shouldn’t be too bad.” I thanked myself later for having such wisdom.

We got to Marnie's and admired the water so clear that Dave could point out the rock and we tossed the anchor on the ledge. The bubbles on the surface seemed to be zooming toward Barbers point. We watched Chuck as he sank and figured if he made the anchor line, then we could handle. I gave Malte all the good current advice I could quickly think of and we all jumped in. Dave went down and cruised along the bottom, while Malte and I pulled ourselves down the anchor line. Clear clear clear and not even an opelu kala to be had. We swim up to Chuck and Dave and Chuck tells us he saw a fairly big shark swimming around at midwater. I don’t see it anywhere and it seems too clear to worry. I figure in this current the fish are hiding up at David’s spot. I also figure that Malte probably wouldn’t have enough air to pull ourselves all the way up there. Perhaps there is an ulua hiding in the cave out of the current. Malte and I fly downstream and are instantly there. Not a fish in sight, even the humus have the good sense to hide in the coral. Crawl back up to the rock, I can see two distant opelu kala. Dave and Chuck are both empty handed. Malte is already low on air so we leave the others and head back to the line. The current is letting up and murky water is sliding in along the bottom. One hour from now there will probably be uku everywhere. Chuck comes up the line and Dave asks if he should clear the anchor, I think it will clear and he agrees. We are all decompressing, not a fish among the four big guns. I tell Malte to wait while I get in the boat, so I can catch him as he passes by. I manage to climb the ladder without my fins breaking. I wait for Malte and wonder since I gave him the wait sign if he will stay forever. He surfaces and soon we are all safely in the boat happy to have been diving. Malte and Dave pull the anchor and we head home.

Two weeks of working, no diving. This readjusting to working every day sure takes its toll. I think I could be very well adjusted without having the daily rigor. Saturday mid day and Chuck, Malte and I head out on the power cat. Someone has been on the boat, we wonder at the gas and decide to head for the ships, with the option of stopping by the Ala Wai if we run out of gas. There is no one there and we tie up to the ball. Lots of plankton and no sign of a current. Chuck looks at his fin and it is almost broken in half. We make duct tape jokes at John’s expense and I realize that I never made fun of him in my last dive report. Well I can work it into this one! John had forgotten one of his booties and made one out of Chuck’s hood and a LOT of duct tape. He taped his fin onto his foot and was lucky to remember to put on his wetsuit shorts BEFORE he made himself into the tinman. We hoped he would attract fish with it. Well, Chuck figures not to kick too hard and heads into the water. Malte and I fall in at the exact same time and load our guns in the thick plankton. Chuck is laying on the deck looking for opelu kala. Malte and I head over towards the inside ship. I look for weke ula along the little ledge. There are distant uhu. We get to the inside ship, four papio perfectly back lit above us. Malte and I sink to the bottom and watch the papio circle wide around us. Six more smaller pan size ones pour off the stern above us. The opelu dotting the surface make great wall paper for the papio that stay out of the way of our guns. There are four big parrot fish moving along the bottom in front of us. I signal to Malte if he wants to try for one. He moves toward them and they take off into deeper water. We swim along the boat, Chuck is looking down from the deck. There is nothing but two big eels in the white tip cave. The bow of the ship is empty of fish as the plankton is moving in from Diamond Head. Back to the fishy side of the ship. The sub comes by as Malte and I are drifting between the boats. We wave at the tourists and I look along the bottom for any goat fish. Maybe those papio are over here now. We don’t see anything and soon the sub is coming back between the ships. The sub seems too close to the inside ship, I guess the captain wants the tourist to be able to see the ship through the murk. There is a kahala swimming under the sub and he comes over to visit Malte. Well, now is your chance Malte, he isn’t going to get any closer to your gun. Malte takes the perfect shot and I help him put the fish in my bag. Not bad for his first fish, ten pounds and it hardly fights at all. As we are putting it in the bag, the school of eight big mu drift by like ghosts to the funeral. A tight ball of kawela ai circle below us. It is all surreal. Malte is getting low on air and I send him back to the line, Chuck is over there and will be amazed when Malte swims up with a full bag. I know the mu procession went off to the pyramids and I am going to get one of them. No sign at all as I head across the sand. There is a cushion star I haven’t seen before, guess I haven’t been diving here for a while. I still manage to come to the pyramids, a big uhu lays in front of my gun, I am holding out for mu. A kumu swims by and I let it go too. I get a chance to look around and don’t see a mu anywhere. WHAT WAS I THINKING? I just let a huge uhu and a kumu get away. I just let a huge uhu and a kumu get away. I just let a huge uhu and a kumu get away. I just let a huge uhu and a kumu get away. I turn around in self disgust, the kumu is skittish, the uhu is gone. There is a one lone mu that had been right behind me. Probably followed me here. He turns to leave and I shoot him. Mid body shot, at least I am not empty handed. Hmmmm, no bag to put the fish in. Hmmmm, no wetsuit to stuff him in (not that I would put a mu which still had any teeth in my wet suit anyway). Well, back to the ships with my fish in hand. Chuck and Malte are still on the line, Chuck has added an opelu kala to the pile of fish. Malte is the hero of the day. We are all happy as we get in the boat, I volunteer to untie the boat. The wind in our hair, salt spray filling the air, fish for the barbecue. Malte has a grin from ear to ear, guess we will have to buy some film.


11-21-02

Thanks to everyone who wanted dive reports, I feel so honored to be missed. No excuses. Well, let me see where I left off... about two months ago. Malte came down with a cold and Chuck and I left him home with hot tea and did a TGIF dive. Sun is going down earlier and earlier. I have the gear all loaded and we get there in time to stop and top off the tanks with gas before heading to the ships. The sail boats are jamming up the harbor and everything looks festive. The gas dock is quick and we are soon anchoring at the ships. The water is clear and there is no current to speak of. Chuck is laying in wait on deck and as I swim below I signal for him to join me. I know he has never swum from the ships to the pyramids and it seems like the perfect evening for it. The pyramids loom into sight like a cloud of fish. I lay in the soft sand and look for uku. Chuck is on the inside pyramid enjoying the fish when a large parrot fish gets too close. I wonder at his air consumption as he fights and puts the fish away. He seems to have plenty of air so we can swim back along the bottom. I love the twilight view of the ship looming out of the darkness. You know it is a good thing, yet the vision looks so spooky. Beautiful night as we decompress and watch the small opelu kala swim around us, feeding on the surface, fighting the sparkling twilight for our attention. Fresh fish in the boat, I pull the anchor and we head for home. (I can’t actually remember who pulled anchor, so it might as well be me.)

The following Sunday is the day after Josie and Gabrielle’s birthday party, Chuck and I saw Joey and John Rooney who were both hot to do some rebreather diving. They invited us to join them. We got to the boat and set up, waited as they did some special tricky rigging of their special tricky gear. We were not even mad when they finally cancelled because things had gotten too tricky, at least we were going diving. We head for a beautiful mid morning dive at the 100’ hole. The water is clear and there is not much current. I leave Chuck with the turtle and head out to the ledge. There are probably papio down in the cave, but I am taking it easy as I swim along out towards the pinnacle. Not a spearable fish in sight and I busy myself with little shells and chasing humus into holes. Mosey back to the hole to find Chuck also empty handed, we are getting better at our sign language as he tells me of the shot he took at an uhu. The boat is sunny and warm, and I pull the anchor and we head for home. (I think I pulled it in record time.)

A week goes by and Chuck is up for diving with some work (and former work) buddies. It is seven a.m. in the Hanauma Bay parking lot when I meet Merle and Darren. Darren had just bought new dive gear and a new motorcycle when he lost his job. He wants to at least try some diving before he sells it. Merle had taken him once before so this is his second time in the ocean. I didn’t technically lie when I implied that Chuck and I had seen the movie already. Also found out that you can give them a Xerox of your drivers license and they will keep it on file for you (Merle is some sort of regular). The trams have not started yet and the excited Darren has enough adrenalin to carry his gear down the hill without feeling any pain. Chuck and Merle are not too male to be out done and I follow along behind. Every once and awhile I run along to catch up with the troop which is now reciting the Wizard of Oz bad guy song “Dough--eee-dough” repeated in deep bad guy voices. We make it to the beach, Chuck has a camera to keep him entertained. We go over some basics again and head out the channel. Wow, the flashback to M.O.P. days and practicing to do invertebrate transects. Darren is at the wonderful phase of diving where nothing isn’t new and everything is fantastic. I point out an octopus hiding in the rocks (later to find out he thought it was an eel so didn’t look too close lest he get bit). We stop to check out a colorful flatworm and other delights. Darren wants to have his picture taken and Chuck obliges him. He obviously does not understand the part about not kicking up sand in front of a flash camera. Oh well, the dive will look twice as dangerous when you can barely see each other. There are a couple of flounders on the sand and Chuck and I entertain ourselves trying to get a perfect photo. “This is a white polar bear on an ice field in a snowstorm... see that black dot? That is its nose” Here we are at Hanauma Bay, taking pictures of the sand and things that look like the sand. Chuck has found a quarter and has given it to me. “Drop the coin right into the slot” comes to mind as I see the sleeping rock fish. His mouth is just slightly open. More pictures: “This is the rare scirrocco storm witch happens at midnight in the Sahara”. At least the quarter and my hand will give us reference points. Darren is running low on air so we all head towards shore; a crowded beach, but at least the trams are running now. We rinse off, ride to the car and all head out for a bountiful breakfast. It is a nice feeling getting wet early in the morning. You feel so accomplished. Darren is so excited about diving. He feels like he is having breakfast with true heroes, we all rise to the occasion and spend the morning eating french toast and telling dive stories.

I figure you don’t want to read too many of these ramblings at once, so I will continue this trip down memory lane tomorrow.


11-22-02

Wow, just read last night's dive reports! Sorry about the double negatives, incomplete sentences and gross spelling errors. I will try and stay more awake this time.

Malte is back in the diving game and we head out for a Friday evening dive. Malte is not that excited about our choice of Marnie's rock due to the current the last time we were there. This time the current looks light as we throw the anchor. Malte is even less excited about diving in pea soup. I excitedly explain about the recent rains providing nutrients for the phytoplankton and explain about the increased odds of fish coming close to us when they can’t see us. Chuck is the first guy in and as Malte and I head down the anchor line I can hear his gun go off below us. I move down a little faster in case he needs help, but he has the papio in hand by the time I can see him. He signals that there is a shark swimming around in mid water. Yuk, I hate that. The plankton are incredible, going all the way to the bottom. Fish appear and disappear from our sight. Papio darting in and out of sight. There are big ones and little ones in different groups. Some good size ones come by and Malte gets a good shot. Wow, second fish, not bad. This is a good example of papio tying everything and one in knots. I help him bag it and untangle the gun. I keep an eye out for the man in the gray suit. Malte and I stay close as we head over to the cave. The current is slightly towards Diamond Head, and I hope to find mu at my inside mu spot. There are a couple of mu, but I am distracted by the large silver mass in mid water. Could be we have shark problems... no... there it is again... two big Kagami! big ones, 20+ lbs.! I quickly decide that they are basically skinny fish and that Malte could handle one. I signal to Malte that there are two big fish up ahead for us to shoot. They come into sight again and he signals to me that those fish are too big to shoot. Unfortunately for him, my sign language sentence and his sign language sentence are identical and I nod my head vigorously, happy that he has seen the silver shadows. I play my half of the cat and mouse game, but my prowling is one sided, the fish have moved on. Malte is running low on air and we head back to the line. Papio are still jazzing in and out of sight, they are easy shapes to see when they are above and back lit, but none come into range. We find Chuck again, he now has two papio in his bag. Those two head up the line. They are happy, they can compare fish as they decompress. I am still hungering for those kagami... perhaps they have come back. I linger on the bottom wandering around in the dark murky sea. Even if I was surrounded by kagami, I don’t think I would know it, guess I should drag myself up empty handed. It takes awhile before I can make out the back lit shapes on the line, sure is murky! Safely back in the boat, everyone is happy. I get excited just seeing kagami. Malte tells Chuck about the giant swimming silver tables. We compare sizes and shots, lots of fish to eat. Malte pulls the anchor and we head back towards home. Moonlight, salt spray, twinkling lights of the city. Life is great.


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