A Saturday Morning Underwater

An almost empty dive boat with one diver wanting to make the best of his vacation. How to fill the boat? Just ask a couple local divers to round out the group and offer a deal. Why not? So we go diving with a few hours notice.

A splendid Kohala morning! Deep blue water, over 100′ visibility, just a day that you are happy to be out on the water. We depart Kawaihae harbor for Black Point. The new boat Blue Wilderness uses is quite nice. Larger, with much more room, and a very smooth ride as we head north. There are only three divers in a boat that can comfortably handle ten or more.

A Hui Ho
The Blue Wilderness Boat, A Hui Ho, moored off Black Point
I love the Black Point site. Great terrain with ridges and pinnacles of rock, it drops to around 90ft at the sand. On arriving we could easily see the bottom 90ft below, and fortunately there was no current. This exposed site can be nearly un-divable when the current is bad. Not sure if the the site is named for either the black lava point above water, or the black coral to be found at depth. We spend about 10mins at the base of the reef where we find a couple nice black corals.

At the bottom a large green sea turtle fins past, I shoot him against the deep blue water. Swarms of Pyramid Putterflyfish hover above the pinnacles. I get my first good, close up photo of a pyramid. It is generally a very fishy site, with a lot of great photo ops, of which I make good use. Potters angelfish are common, as frustrating as usual as these colorful fish dive into the coral at the merest hint of a diver. There are some nice photos of squirrelfish in the crevices, including the largest species, the Longjaw Squirrelfish.

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) at 80ft, Black Point
We dive Horseshoe for the second site. Here a number of long caves beckon. Low ceilings, but extensive, the caves lead through the reef and offer opportunities to see many interesting critters. A few species of lobster, shrimp and a couple nudis appear in the lights. I had never before seen the Red Reef Lobster, a handsome red and gold fellow is cornered by my light allowing a few great photos.

Unfortunately the arm holding my flash breaks and I spend the second dive holding the flash separately from the camera. My hand still aches while I type this from clutching the two together. But I am determined to keep shooting. While clumsy, it did allow me unlimited flexibility in flash placement when composing a photo. Time to shop for a new tray and arm for the strobe.

Four dives for me in two weekends, not bad, as I really have not gotten enough bottom time this year. The best season for diving in Hawai’i is now, I should make good use of it!

Night Dive at Mahukona

The plan… Arrive at Mahukona in the mid-afternoon, do an afternoon dive. Then we fire up a barbeque and have dinner, talk story and watch sunset from a beautiful Hawaiian shore. When it gets dark we load up a second tank and head back out for a night dive. Not a bad plan! I have not been night diving in quite a while, so when the plan was suggested I readily agreed.

Our group contained several folks who had never dove Mahukona. Thus the afternoon dive plan was obvious, head for what remains of the SS Kauai, visiting the engine and propeller, exploring scraps of the cargo. From there we headed out onto the coral beyond, exploring the reef due west of the engine to a depth of about fifty feet. It was a nice afternoon dive, nothing particularly exciting found. I noted the behavior change in many fish, seen as the light begins to fade. While not yet dark, it was apparent that the fish were readying for night, hovering close to chosen coral heads, awaiting the coming darkness.

Pumping Iron
Patti fooling around with a rail wheel set that was cargo of the SS Kauai at Mahukona
We did find a large Blue Dragon Nudibranch and a couple moray eels among the coral. I photographed one of the tiny golden nudibranchs on the sand, I found a few in close checks of a couple sand patches. As typical for Mahukona, a lot of fish on the reef once you get out of the cove proper, with decent schools of goatfish hanging over the reef. The terrain at Mahukona is fairly mundane, with large coral flats. There is one set of small cliffs and crevices you can follow out from the steam engine for several hundred meters.

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