Kona Classic, Day 3

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 11:45 pm

Today was our first day of diving with Jack’s! We were picked up at the hotel, and hopped onto the Na Pali Kai 2 at the Kailua Pier. Getting on is a bit of a trick; the boat doesn’t back up quite all the way to the pier, and is several feet below it. We made it aboard with incident, and Jeff and I were thrilled to be reunited with divemasters Greg and Jan (from our trip last year).

Our first dive was at Lone Tree Arch. We started out following the guide, Elayne, down to the dropoff, but lost her there while Jeff was photographing an eel. We stumbled across Jan, and followed her back up the slope to the arch the site is named after. It’s an enormous rock formation with a cave through the middle, full of schools of fish just drifting in the surge. I had fun watching bubbles collecting on the surface, and trying to get shots of upside-down fish, or silhouettes of the schools in the archway.

Next we watched Chris doing his Reef Check survey for a few minutes, before tooling around by another ridge. Jeff went off to photograph who-knows-what; I stayed within easy eyesight, but we weren’t anywhere near to the accepted standards of buddy distances! (At least, not in California diving – out here, dive groups don’t seem to worry so much about it, since the visibility is so great.) I found a rockmover wrasse picking up rocks and knocking them over to get at snacks underneath, and followed him around for a long time. Sometimes, other fish would catch on to what he was doing and swarm around looking for leftovers. There were also quite a few groups of yellowtail coris wrasses zipping around the reef, scrounging for meals.

After lunch, we hit Eel Cove, with Greg as our guide. He led us around the point to check out the sargent major nests. When divers get too close, the sargent majors get scared off – and schools of raccoon butterflyfish descend for a snack of sargent major eggs! It’s best for the sargent major population if you don’t hang out too long, but it’s pretty much unavoidable – and leads to some interesting photographic opportunities.

The raccoons followed us all the way back around the point, occasionally descending on the unsuspecting sargent majors until the divers passed and the little damselfish could attack the invaders in earnest. Back in the main part of the cove, we went eel hunting. We found dwarf morays, whitemouth morays, and then, the Big One: Jan spotted a dragon moray in a coral head.

I thought dive knives were going to come out. Underwater photographer feeding frenzy! Jeff managed to get a couple of turns in and walked away with some halfway decent shots. I have lots of footage of photographers (and their enormous camera rigs) crowding around the coral head, while Jan waggled her fingers in front of the eel’s hole to try to tempt him out. I do not, however, have any footage of the eel (although I did manage to get a decent look at him). Those are some weird looking little critters!

Dragon Moray Eel:

Jeff pretty much emptied his tank hovering around the dragon moray, so we headed back up to the boat. Back in town, we took Dave and Tee out to lunch at LuLu’s (the first of many meals I hope to buy them in thanks for the camera housing loan). We had a lot of fun chatting about diving, Hawaii, triplets (their daughter just had some), Los Angeles, etc.

In the evening, I usurped Jeff’s computer long enough to log my video. There is way too much of it. I need to lay off the record button a bit more underwater, to save myself time in the editing bay! Everyone’s after me to throw something together to submit on Saturday, but I just don’t see having the time to log (Jeff’s computer), import (Jeff’s computer again), burn to DVD (still stealing Jeff’s computer, which he needs to be using), copy to my computer, and edit. Aghk.

We rounded out the day hanging out with the photo pros in the editing room, where Jeff got some critiques of his photos while I updated all my logs. I foresee another early night – especially since tomorrow is a three-dive day (manta night dive)!

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