5/26/2006

2006 Kona Classic Day 1: An Auspicious Beginning

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 10:27 am

We kicked off our Kona Classic dives with a trip to Turtle Pinnacles, site of Jeff’s award-winning shot from last year. The turtles were out in modest numbers (that is, two), but it was still a nice way to start the morning. The weather was beautiful without a cloud in sight, the sea was as flat as we could have asked for; all in all, things were looking good. We even saw a little Kommerson’s frogfish at the end of our dive, hiding out under a ledge and pointed out by a divemaster. Unfortunately, the awkward positioning of said frogfish caused Jeff to contort himself into odd positions trying to get a photo – and he managed to get a kneeful of urchin!

Kommerson’s Frogfish (image flipped upside down!)
2006KC_1a.jpg

It looked pretty bad at first – at least a dozen spines sticking out of his knee. Luckily for Jeff, it turned out that only one had completely broken the skin and left its little purple bit in the flesh, to slowly dissolve away over the next day. And he wasn’t the only diver to surface injured; Marcia came up with about a dozen urchin spines actually stuck in her skin. Ouch.

Things got even more exciting while we motored around offshore during lunch. A pod of bottlenose dolphins appeared off the bow, and half of us jumped in to try to get some shots – most of us without our wetsuits, since we were in such a hurry not to miss the dolphins.

BIG MISTAKE.

When I heard David Fleetham yell “watch out for Man O’ War,” i thought he was just covering a remote possibility, or perhaps even being facetious. But he was actually saying “Watch out, there are Man o’ Wars.” People started yelping as various body parts got stung, and we started for the boat – only to wind up in an even thicker patch. I felt a sting on my hand, and then a truly unpleasant batch of stings along the inside of my left thigh. David swam by towing Taylor, who’d apparently taken a nasty hit to his back and appeared to be in serious pain. My thigh burned worse by the second, and I have to admit I began to completely freak out – not so much from the pain I was actually in at the moment (though it did hurt a lot), but for fear of what was to come. I had my HydroOptix mask on, which meant I could see clearly – but only if my face was in the water. Not wanting to get stung in the face meant not being able to see anything clearly, which made it even creepier.

By the time the boat backed up to us, Jim (right in front of me) had a whole jellyfish hanging off his shoulder, with tentacles dripping down his back. David got Taylor up the ladder (depositing a second jellyfish on the ladder rail), and towed me in next (I should mention David, smart man, was in a wetsuit). Then David himself got a jellyfish to the ear.

So there we were, all huddling on the boat with various amounts of Man o’ War stings. Pretty sorry lot. As the welts began to swell and redden, we all compared wounds. Mine hurt a lot worse than they looked like they hurt – Jim and Taylor’s backs were both far worse than the few red streaks across the back of my leg!

Taylor turned out to have a known allergy to bee stings, so we kept an eye on him for signs of an allergic reaction. He started to experience SEVERE pain and muscle spasms, and then hyperventilation. The crew put him on oxygen to help him breathe easier, and we headed into the harbor to meet an ambulence.

Jim, who’s a scuba instructor back home, accompanied Taylor in the ambulance – but the rest of us, with the stings subsiding, opted to go on to a second dive in the hopes that we’d used up all our bad mojo for the week.

Lesson learned, by the way – you will NEVER see this body jump into open ocean without at least a dive skin.

It felt unbelievably good to pull on a cold, clammy wetsuit over the stings. Our second dive site, Suck ‘em Up, sported some fantastic lava tube formations, including one cave that was home to a sleeping white-tipped reef shark. Pretty little fish were out in force, as well as a few hunting eels.

Posing for Jeff:
2006KC_1b.jpg

But then Dave had to go and stab himself in the knee with an urchin. So apparently, we’re still jinxed.

1 Comment

  1. that sounds absolutely awful (the stings)!

    Comment by Jen Yu — 5/27/2006 @ 6:24 pm

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