07 January 2013

Shark Adventure Dives - New Providence, Bahamas December 2012

We stayed at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort which is actually on Cable beach. Whatever. The resort is nice. Free wifi in the lobby and free cable internet in the room. The wifi in the lobby is nice if you need to make a phone call and don't want to be charges roaming charges. Also all local calls are free in the room. The beach sand is fantastic. It's like powered sugar. I've never seen beach sand so fine. I even asked the lifeguards if it was really the natural sand there or if it was trucked in from somewhere. Natural. They said I should travel to Eleuthera someday. The sand there is pink. Downtown Nassau is about a 20 minute bus ride which you can pick up right in front of the hotel. $1.25. Bahamian money is a 1 to 1 with the US dollar. You might get one or the other as change; they are equal but the only time we actually saw any Bahamian currency was when I asked for some at the front desk.

Two afternoon dives were set for the afternoon of our second day there. The dive operator was Stuart Cove's. They are famous. If you've read any scuba dive magazine you've probably heard of them or seen their adds. They have a free shuttle bus that picks you up and returns you to the Sheraton, among other hotels, also! I dove with them back in 2004. It was actually where I did my 3rd and 4th open water certification dives. I've had great experiences on both trips. Since then about 8 years have passed and they're location changed slightly. Still on the same area/side of the island. Leeward side I believe. In 2004 we had to motor out a little canal passed the Bahamian coast guard (?) to the sea. Their new location is along a tiny little canal, just about long enough to hold all their boats and lined with their shop. It opens right to the sea and all our dives were within 15 minutes of the shop. Gear up when you get on the boat. It won't take long.

Today's afternoon dives were part of the "Shark Adventure". You will see sharks! Caribbean reef sharks. They are not man eating. Follow the rules by your guide and you have virtually nothing to fear if you can choke down your natural instincts that is. Back in 2004 the sharks were a little daunting for me but having done those dives then I was fine. It was about 10 minutes out to the site. Both dives are actually located in the same spot, right next to each other. Shark Wall and Shark Arena. Shark Arena is a round sandy area located almost directly below the boat. Shark Wall is about a 60 foot swim away to the South.


Our first dive was Shark Wall. This is sort of a get you in the water and used to the sharks sort of dive to get you prepared for dive 2. We dropped down about 35 feet to Shark Arena and then went on a tour out over the wall. This wall slowly rolls over and drops down something like 6000 feet but my maximum depth was 73. Many sharks were cruising around. We also saw a spotted moray and several lionfish. Yeah, the lionfish are moving in quite well. They do take a pretty picture though. Then we moved back up to Shark Arena to look for shark teeth in the sand for the remainder of the dive. Total time was about 40 minutes and the water temperature was 77F.

For the second dive we returned to Shark Arena, slightly over weighted to stay firmly on the bottom where we sat for nearly an hour watching our guide feed the sharks while two other members of the staff take photos and video of the entire thing. The sharks seem to know before they ever hit the water with the bait. They are everywhere. I would say there were at least 30 sharks there. Most were about 5-6 feet but some looked as large as 8. Only Caribbean reef sharks. I didn't see any others. Oh, and one 2-3 foot grouper waiting around for any scraps. The sharks get close. I got bumped by a few pectoral fins and slapped by a tail. At the end of the dive the "wrangler" swims off with the bait box, most of the sharks follow him and we return to the boat. About 30 minutes later you can be drinking a Bahamian beer at the shop and watching the video.

Here's the video I got from my GoPro - http://youtu.be/X0oTpxvfM1w

10 December 2012

Post Bahamas

More to come but I did 4 dives with Stuart Cove's and the Gopro camera ROCKED!

21 November 2012

Florida/Nassau

In one week I'll be heading to Florida and the Bahamas. No dives actually scheduled in Florida but that doesn't mean I won't be doing any. Four dives booked, so far, for Nassau including Stuart Cove's Shark Adventure dive.

I also picked up a underwater dive housing with the flat face for the GoPro camera and a red compensating filter from Backscatter.

Maui 2011 - Afternoon dives.

Following the morning dives at Molokini Crater I did two relatively shallow dives at Jodo Reef and Mala Pier. Both just off shore from Lahaina. Jodo Reef is named because it sits off shore of the Jodo Mission. It was a nice little dive. The visibility wasn't outstanding on this day but not terribly bad either. A lot of schooling fish, hawksbill turtle and a rather large greenback turtle. My maximum depth for this dive was a whooping 36 feet. The water temperature was a sweet 80F degrees the entire time.



The dive description for Mala Pier, according to Lahaina Divers is, "Mala Warf is a fishing pier that was destroyed in 1992 by hurricane Iniki. The pylons of the pier and the platform lie scattered on the sea bed providing structure for the many species of fish. The pier has White Tip Reef Sharks, lots of schooling fish, Frogfish, Nudibranchs, and more." While I didn't see any sharks, frogfish, nudibranchs, I did see a lot of schooling fish, at least 3 more turtles (greenbacks?), including one that swam right over me and at least one eagle ray that kept circling us. There are a lot of interesting structures left from the collapse of the pier with quite a bit of growth. The visibility here was only about 30 feet on this day. Maximum depth was 28 feet and the temperature was 79F.

01 December 2011

Maui 2011 - Molokini Back Wall




I was back to Maui for more diving a year later.  I enjoyed Lahaina Divers in 2010 so I booked with them again.  This year I only did one day of diving and I chose two locations I did not dive last time.


The first two dives were at Molokini Crater but not quite the normal routine of diving inside the shallow crater like so many beginning divers and snorkelers do.  We cruised around to the backwall, outside the crater.  Here's the description from Lahaina Divers website.  "An advanced dive, the Molokini Wall is a World Class Wall and Drift dive for certified divers only. The Wall is approximately 360ft in depth, however divers will level off at 80ft or less. You may see white tip, black tip, and/or gray reef sharks; manta rays, dolphins, and schooling fish. This is a very exciting dive for the sheer, vertical wall and blue water. Divers should have recent diving experience, good buoyancy control, and be good on air consumption. This dive site is not suitable for snorkelers. This dive requires each diver to carry a dive computer and a safety marker sausage."  The boat was not crowded.  We had two groups of about 5 to 6 people each with 1 dive instructor/guide for each.  The boat does not anchor for this dive site.  They drop you off, stay close, and pick you up, hence the necessity for the safety surface marker sausage although we didn't need to use it this day.  The seas were calm.

The first dive was called backwall/lighthouse due to the lighthouse (not really a house, just a beacon on a pole) on the rock.  We entered off the back, as a group, and dropped to about 80 feet for most of the dive.  Here there is not as much life as there is at around the 40 foot depth but some interesting lava formations.  Molokini Crater is an old cindercone.  There was little to no current on this first dive.  The current flows from North to South and we were at the Southern most point.  Keep your eyes on the open blue water as well as the wall.  I saw at least one white tip reef shark out there.  We dropped down to about 80 feet, swam along the wall and ascended back through the 40 foot "fish" zone to our safety stop.  During the safety stop we were instructed to kick away from the wall, out into open water for the boat to pick us up.  There are times when the boat cannot pull in to close to the rock due to surge/wind and the fact that the captain has to turn the props off while divers are climbing aboard.  Even with 60 plus feet of visibility you lose sight of the rock quick and feel as though you've kicked dangerously far out to sea, blue in all directions, only to find upon surfacing that you've just made it half way to the boat, barely 100 feet from the wall.

They repositioned the boat and moored at "Reef's End" just inside the crater for our surface interval.  We sat, peacefully gazing at Maui and the crater while the crew treated us to a vegetable crudite, fruit and sandwiches.


For Dive 2 we all hopped off at Reef's End and swam to the outside of the crater where the current picked us up and pulled us back towards the Back Side/Lighthouse.  This was a true drift dive, maybe even a little faster then drifts I did in Cozumel.  Highlighting the dive were least two more whitetip reef sharks, one of which was resting in the reef, and a stone crab.  Exit procedures were the same as for dive one.

30 November 2011

Alki Secrest Cove 2 & Alki Pipeline 8/5/2011

Finally did something I've been meaning to for years. Dived off Alki in Seacrest Cove 2. I was getting the bug to do some diving and try out my new camera. For years I've watched divers take the plunge right in my neighborhood here in West Seattle and although I'm not to keen on this cold water diving I've always wondered what was under there. So my friend, Brandon, and I did it.

We did a surface swim out to a marker buoy. From here we would drop down and explore, mostly around the "Honeybear" wreck. I rented a wet suit. Still haven't committed enough to buy a drysuit and it was cold as I remember getting into that water. It's a lot more equipment to wear up here; heavier wet suit, hood, gloves and more weight. When we started to do our decent into that cold murky water my mask kept flooding and I got a little freaked out, almost to the point of calling the dive. We resurfaced; I told Brandon what was going on; he looked and discovered my hood was tucking just under the top of my mask. Problem solved. Okay, calm down and descend again. All was good. We dropped down the line to the bottom, turned South and headed to the Honeybear wreck. I've seen maps of this dive site and in my mind I imagined the wreck being a lot farther away. It was like right there. We looked for octopus around the wreck and pilings in vain but did see some ling cod, brittle sea stars, crab, huge sea star, and some nudibranch's that I would have swam right by if it weren't for Brandon. Maximum depth was 56 feet. Almost 50 minutes under at 53 degrees F and I was freezing. My heels were numb walking out.

We got some coffee, warmed up a little, drove around Alki to the West side and did Alki Pipeline. This, as you may have guessed is a drainage pipe that shoots out straight away from the beach. You follow the top of the pipe which is buried in the sand for a while. It disappears, you continue straight across the sand for a few hundred feet(?) and pick it up to the end but we didn't make it to the end. Somewhere in the sandy patch we got distracted by a big lion's mane jelly and lost the heading, or got shifted in the slight current. We then spent the rest of the dive searching for it, came across a smaller pipe and followed it back into shore. The maximum depth for this dive was 42 feet with a temp of 54 F. Visibility for both dives was around 20 feet.
Nudibranch -
Ling cod -
Brandon next to Plumose Anemone -
Brittle Sea Star -

23 November 2011

Maui - 2010 Day 5 - Zip Lining


Day 5 started with a zipline tour at Flyin Hawaiian Zipline Tours.  Yes, it was a bit expensive but worth it.  Not any more then a two tank boat dive would cost.  The tour is about 4 hours long with 8 zip lines in length from 250 to 3600 feet.  As stated from their website, ". . . fly through the magnificent Hawaiian skies, where you'll cross 9 different valleys and 11 different ridges, all while gaining insight into Maui’s rich history and culture. Along the way, we will take time to plant rare, native Hawaiian plants as we zip through the incredible natural diversity that exists on Maui, ranging from the tropical rainforest to the desert and everything in between!"  What a blast.  The staff was great.  All the equipment looked to be very safe and secure.  The views are fantastic.

In the afternoon we found ourselves snorkeling at Honolua Bay.  Honolua is a short drive North of Ka'anapali.  It's quiet, a little secluded.  The land next to the bay is sort of a preserve owned by one of the locals.  The easiest way to get there is to park on the highway and walk down a dirt road through the preserve.  The owner is doing his best to keep everything natural.  He asks that you do not enter the water wearing sunscreen, gives a little lecture, might even ask for a donation but all in all I think he's cool. To see any good reef you have to swim out pretty far to the right.  Once there, it's fantastic.  I've been told that reef is also good off to the left but I don't know from personal experience.  I hear conditions can be rough but on this day it was great.  There may even be a few dive boats in the bay and this would be a great spot for a shore dive.  I've heard, upon asking, the owner of the land will let divers drive down the dirt road to unload and maybe even park there.  Donate a few bucks and keep this option open.  Just before the beach there is a wash you have to cross.  This may or may not have water in it.  When we entered it was dry but was flowing upon our exit.  I suspect water was coming down from a recent rain in the West Maui Mountains.  The last photo shows the wash behind me and the road leading out.