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Dives 14 and 15: Big Island boat dives

In December we went to the Big Island of Hawai’i and were fortunate to be able to spend 8 dives out with Kona Diving Company. I cannot recommend these people enough. They were great, catering to our level of experience and ability. We even had the opportunity to use our own equipment, and learned a ton of things about it and its quirks while we were there.

Our main goal while there was the manta night dive. We’d tried to get out to snorkel with a group when we were there in 2012, but it just didn’t work out. KDC has a policy of requiring that you go out for a day dive with them before they’ll take you on the manta night dive, so we figured we may as well get the most dives in that we could. I can totally understand why they want you to go out with them – they want to have a good handle on how you are as a diver before you’re out with them at night and confronted with these giant beauties coming straight at your head. It’s… awe inspiring. But that’s a later set of dives. Our first day out with them was the day after we landed and were a bit dehydrated still from the plane.

Dive 1 at Whacky
I was a bit under weighted with the amount of neoprene I was using – I had a 5 mil full and a shorty, so needed to add 3 more pounds to descend. But once I got that and used the line I was down a ready to go. I ended up fighting the BC for a while, but started to get the hang of it. I think we were at between 25 and 45 feet the whole time, which really messes with my ears. I do better when deeper and switching elevations less frequently. I did remember the SudaFed, but that only helps so much.
We saw lots of coral and a huge hunting party, which was pretty awesome. Probably 30-40 fish in it. Watching them move was pretty awesome. We also spotted leather coral, which waves in the water, and teardrop butterflies. The lava and coral formations were pretty cool, big lumpy things like heads. We also saw an octopus just hanging out. The manta Shirley came by a couple of times and went straight over my head on its second pass. What a beautiful creature. We also saw a giant turtle hanging out and eating. His tail was easily as long as my forearm.

Took the surface interval to learn some things about my equipment. My BC had air trapped in it (which was why it was fighting me), so our dive master Katie shook it loose to free me. She showed me some tricks for how to sort that myself going forward, which I was able to use during the second dive. Turns out the horseshoe bladder on the Ziegler is notorious for this behavior. Wish I would have known that when we bought them. She also mentioned that it has 40 pounds of lift, which while good for our cold water get ups, is too much for tropical and wetsuits. We can get 20 pound bladders for the tropics which would work out fine.

Moving between sites we had a close encounter with a huge pod of pilot whales. Several of them were logging, moms and calves absorbing the sun. They came right up to the boat and went under which was great to watch.

Dive 2: Suck Em Up
Easier descent as weighted with 4 extra pounds to make it 18 total. Much better trim overall this time too, I think I’m getting the hang of this BC. We poked around the walls and coral again, same depth range. Lots of white mouth eels at this site with one really big one, plus a huge puffer, pompom crab, snowflake eel, devil scorpionfish, trumpetfish and a coronet fish that was hanging around really close. I almost was able to get level with him to check out his eye. Those things are so cool. The Hubby didn’t get to see it, but I went into the lava tube the site is named for. There was a white stripe nudibranch on the wall in the tube, and the buoyancy worked out great. There were holes in the ceiling, allowing light enough to see by. What a cool place.

Dive details

  • Gear
    • 5 mil wetsuit, plus shorty, boots, no gloves or cap/hood
    • 18 pounds
    • water temp 80F
  • 1: max 56ft for 58 minutes
  • SI 1:32
  • 2: max 50ft for 72 min
Crossposted from Journey to the Center, comment here or there with OpenID.