08 October 2010

Maui - 2010 Day 4 - Diving Moloka'i

Back with Lahaina Divers at 7am again.  Today I was signed up for 2 tanks off Moloka'i.  In particular the location of Mokuho'oniki Rock.  The site we did both of our dives on was called Fish Rain.  It might have been a rain of fish if we had stayed closer to the reef but we swam out further into open water in search of Scalloped Hammerheads.  Swimming we did a lot of.  I guess this is sometimes done as a drift but today there didn't seem to me much, if any, current.  Maybe five minutes into the dive we had our closest encounter with two Hammerheads.  One of which was a big mama.  I'd have to say 6 to 8 feet.  Sadly I didn't get a picture.  I guess I was thinking we would encounter a lot more and just wanted to savor the moment.  We did see maybe 6 more but they were well out of range of my camera.

However I managed to capture this short video of what I believe was a Galapagos Shark.  I was a little behind most of the other divers and he sort of snuck up on them, literally, then turned and swam way out behind us to my left.

My greatest depth this day was about 90 feet but I spent most of my time hovering at about 60, conserving my air for all the swimming and waiting for something to show up.

We spent a good hour between dives.  I stood, much of the time, in the middle of the boat; motion sickness lingering on the edge of my mind.  I didn't want a repeat of the foggy feeling so I only took one Dramamine this morning.  All in all I did pretty good.  Heading out to Moloka'i can be pretty rough but today was a "good" day.
  • Dive site - Fish Rain "Hammertime"
  • My max depth - 92
  • Time - 34 minutes
  • Vis - 90+ feet
  • Temperature - 74F
  • Dive site - Fish Rain "Hammertime" #2
  • Max depth - 86 feet again
  • Time - 37 minutes
  • Vis 90+ feet
  • Temperature - 77F  I was cold (shivering) at the start of this dive but warmed up with all the swimming.

At the end of out second dive we were visited by about 60 Spinner Dolphins.  Gah!  Five minutes too late.

Maui 2010 - Day 3 - Diving Maui & Lana'i

Monday morning got me up bright and early for a full day of diving.  I called up Lahaina Divers the day before and they said be at the shop at 7am.  Lahaina Divers is located in Lahaina on Dickerson, just a block from all the shops on Front Street.  It's a nice, clean, modern shop.  All the staff were professional and friendly.  Upstairs you filled out waivers with coffee and danish.  The boats are a few blocks away at Lahaina Harbor.  The staff will take your dive gear to and from the boat and it's a pleasant walk through the historic Banyon Tree Park.

Our boat was the 46 foot Dominion.  This was a sweet boat.  Not crowded for how many people were on board.  Extra room to spread out up top and on the bow.  Life rafts, O2, all the good stuff.  Dry places to store equipment.  Two ladders on the stern for entry and exit.

They take a maximum of 24 divers which were broke up into 3 dive groups with 1 instructor/guide each.  I think we were just about full for the mornings dives.  The weather was beautiful although the trades were still blowing and the 50 minute boat ride between Maui and Lana'i can be rough.  Today wasn't so bad but I had been popping motion sickness pills in preparation.  We set up our gear on the way to Lana'i but the crew switched out tanks for us between dives.  They also provided sandwiches, cookies and fruit.

Our "sub" group of 6 or so was led by Rebecca.  She's da bomb.  She is extremely knowledgeable on the fish, coral, etc.  She also appears to be the shop photographer and, for a price, would provide you with a photo cd of the dive.

Our first dive site was Cathedral 2.  This is a little cavern/lava formation with many entrances and holes for light to shine through.  Watch your buoyancy.  On the inside ceiling is a large black coral formation.  It's apparently doing very well and we'd hate to see anything happen to it.  Although considered endangered, much of the black coral around Hawaii has been mined for jewelry.  There is also a black trumpet fish of considerable size here that Rebecca called out to her like a puppy dog.  He and I posed head down (trumpet fish style) for a few photos.  I'd forgot my camera, on the boat, bummer.  On this day there was no current and a slow surge.  Nothing like the surge I felt in the Keys or Akumal.
  • Cathedral II
  • My maximum depth - 59 feet
  • 55 minutes
  • Minimum temperature 79 degrees F
  • Vis 60+ feet
We then motored a short distance and chilled off the scenic South cliffs of Lana'i for about 50 minutes.  The next dive site was called No Name.  This was a nice reef with some swim throughs.  A bait ball of blue striped snapper impressed me on this dive.  The reef is healthy here in Hawaii.  Much nicer looking reef then what I saw in the Keys.
  • Dive site - No Name (really, that's what they call it) 
  • My max depth for site 2 was 57 feet
  • 50 minutes
  • Min temp again 79 degrees (((((warm)))))
  • Vis was about the same

30% of the fish in Hawaii are endemic.  The following is a list of what I saw while diving & snorkeling that I could document with Hawaiian names, when possible, included. * indicates only found in Hawaii.  Flying Fish (Malolo), Threadfin Butterflyfish (Kikakapu),Teardrop Butterflyfish (Lau-Hau) *Milletseed (Lemon) Butterflyfish (Lau-Wiliwili), Reef Triggerfish (Humuhumunukunukuapua'a) Hawaii State Fish, Moorish Idol (Kihikihi), Ornate Butterflyfish (Kikakapu), Longnose Butterflyfish (Lau-Wiliwili Nukunuku'oi'oi), *Bluestriped Butterflyfish (Lau-Hau)Yellow Tang (Lau'i Pala), Black Durgon Triggerfish (Humuhumu'Ele'ele), Orangeband Surgeonfish (Na'ena'e), Unicornfish (Kala), Convict Tang (Manini), Bluestriped Snapper (Ta'ape), Whitespotted Pufferfish ('O'opu-Hue), Red Bullethead Parrotfish (Uhu) (female), Blue Bullethead Parrotfish (Uhu) (male), Trumpetfish (Nunu), Needlefish (A'ha), Green Sea Turtle (Honu), Peacock (Bluespotted) Grouper (Roi), *Stripped Squirrelfish ('Ala'ihi), Spotted Moray, Seastar (Linekia), Pincushion Star, Octopus (He'e Mauli), Yellowstripe Goatfish (Weke), Manta Ray (Hahalua), Black Sea Cucumber, Slate Pencil Urchin (Punohu), Galopagos Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead, Orange Spined Tang (Unicornfish) (Umaumalei), *Brown (Goldring) Surgeonfish (Kole), Saddlewrasse, Indo-Pacific Sergeant, Agile Chromis.

See more pics of this dive here - Lana'i Scuba Diving Set

Back to the Lahaina Harbor to let off the morning divers and take on the afternoon.  The crew also had to switch out tanks etc.  I had about thirty minutes to and hour to poke around Lahaina.  I felt a little light headed walking off the boat.  I think that was from the motion sickness drugs.  Some guy tried to sell me some weed under the Banyon Tree.  I had lunch, felt better.  Back to the boat.

We were a little less crowded in the afternoon then the morning.  Did I mention that I kept running into people from Arizona or Washington?  Yeah they were everywhere.  On the boat, in the shop, on the beach.  It's a small, small world.  This always seems to happen to me.  In the Florida Keys, where Clifford and I were kayaking, way back into a mangrove, we come across two other people.  The only other kayakers we saw and they were from Seattle.

This time we had just a short trip South of Lahaina to the wreck of the Carthaginian.  The Carthaginian is a replica of a 19th century whaling brig similar to the ships that first brought commerce to the Hawaiian Islands.  It was docked at Lahaina as part of the whaling museum.  She became to rusty to tow to drydock for repair and they were afraid it would sink right where it sat.  Atlantis Submarine tours purchased the brig and prepped it to become a reef and part of their tours.  As a bonus, we can dive it.  She rests in about 95 feet of water for about 5 years now and is showing some growth.  On our particular dive there were two frogfish resting on the bow which I wouldn't have noticed except one of the dive instructors kept pointing at them.  One of Atlantis subs cruised by.  Pretty cool.
  • Dive site - Carthaginian
  • Max depth - 95 feet
  • 37 minutes
  • Min temp 79F
  • Vis 80+
We spent about 45 minutes between dives motoring to our last site of the day.  A very short trip between sites.  Manta Point was uneventful and it involved a lot of swimming.  We went searching for Manta Rays.  They're known to frequent this area.  Something to do with a rise in the sea floor that sharks, the Manta's main predator, don't like.  Today, however, they seemed to find refuge elsewhere.  We saw one, about a hundred feet off, swimming away.

We did see a huge Moray (spotted, zebra) eel hanging out on the bottom.  I wanted to drop down and take a photo but my ears wouldn't equalize.  This has never happened to me before.  I kept the whole dive above 38 feet because of it.  There was a nice thermocline at about this depth keeping me warm anyway.  Christine came down with a cold just before our trip and I think I caught a mild version of it which I blame for this.  I had no problems the following day decending below 80 feet but more on that next post.
  • Manta Point
  • My max depth - 38 feet
  • 40 minutes
  • Temperature was 80!!! at my depth
  • Vis 80+ feet

04 October 2010

Maui 2010 - Day 1 - 2

Well, I made it to Maui.  Our plane landed in the early afternoon.  As you walk out of your gate the airport is open air with beautiful views of West Maui Mountains and palms blowing in the trade winds.  We were all walking to baggage and I remember looking at my friends who were all focused forward and saying, "Does anyone else see this?"

From the airport we picked up our rental van, hit the Costco & Kmart and headed South through the sugarcane fields.  Slowly our highway curved round the South end of those mountains and up Northwards to Lahaina and Ka'anapali.  To the left the coast with views of Molokini crater, then Lana'i and finally Moloka'i.

Saturday we spent chillin on the beach.  I snorkeled for about 40 minutes in the morning and another 40 in the afternoon.  This got my back a nice red sunburn.  It turned into a decent tan after a few days but my back peeled after a week.  We stayed at the Westin Villas and the snorkeling was great right off the hotel beach.  Lots of fish, nice reef, even a turtle.

Sunday we got up early.  Real early.  About 3am.  We all piled into the van and drove up Mt Haleakela for the sunrise.  Mt Haleakela is about 10,000 feet tall and takes around 2 - 1/2 hours to drive up from Ka'anapali but it was worth it.  It's like no other place I know on this planet.

From the summit you watch the sun rise over the volcanic crater.  In the distance you could see the Big Island rising out of the clouds.  The same clouds that were blowing up into the crater and right over us.  The color and light kept changing from minute to minute.  Clouds below in the crater were soon lit up like fire and illuminating the crater as if it were still active.  The landscape varies in colors of reds, oranges, browns & gray.  Aside from the clouds it's not unlike images sent back from Mars.  I did a short hike down the Sliding Sands trail and all I could hear was the wind and my footsteps in the soil.  No planes, no cars, nothing.  Fantastic.

Oh and it's cold.  At least for sunrise.  Bring a jacket.  Forty five degrees for the overnight low with those trade winds blowing.  I told my friends this but they still weren't prepared.

More topside pictures here - Maui 2010 Set