June 16th – July 23rd 2016
Air Temp. 80-85 F
Water Temp. 80-82 F
Captain: Colby Hawkins
2nd Captain / Engineer: Ernie Stanley
Instructor: Brent Goudreau
Divemaster: Ashley Sheree
Instructor/Video Pro: Brian Foreman
Chef: Kevin Bennett
Brian, Manny, Anthony, Patricia, Paul, Tina, Andras, Simon, Deborah, Thomas, Leslie & Raney
Sunday – Lions Den, Thompson’s Reef, Manuka Bay
Monday – Pohue Bay, Walls Wall, Black Coral Forest
Tuesday – Stoney Mesa, Catacomb, The Hive
Wednesday – Paradise Pinnacle, Au Au Crater, Rob’s Reef, Pelagic Magic
Thursday – Kolokos Arches, Aquarium, Black Hole, Garden Eel Cove, Manta Mayhem
Friday – Sharkfin Reef
Saturday July 16th
This evening we were greeted with an eager group of 8 advanced divers and instructors from the Philadelphia area who needed a salt water fix. We quickly heard stories of their stomping groups at a dive park called Dutch Springs. The non-philadelphians from Austraila and Midwest US were warmly welcomed to this group who have been diving together for years. Everyone settled into their cabins and set up equipment early, then gathered for the introductory briefing. Chef Kevin prepared a savory barbeque spread to feed our hungry travelers, who then had plenty of relaxation time on the sundeck to enjoy the beautiful sunset and a cold beer. Looks like this will be another fantastic week.
Sunday July 17th
With conveniently calm waters we make our way south to take advantage of visiting sites that can be too rough during other times of the year. An unusual rain storm passes by as we moor up at Lions Den, but passes quickly by the time we are getting into the water. Divers have an opportunity to test their buoyancy and photo equipment before dropping to the sea floor to begin the adventure. The checkout dive goes very smoothly as divers explore coral walls and overhangs looking for the elusive Hawaiian lionfish aka turkeyfish, which they eventually find hovering beneath a rocky ledge. Thompson’s Reef is our next destination and we are all in for a huge surprise. We drop down and slowly make our way along the lively, healthy coral admiring pairs of butterfly fish and the occasional trumpetfish when along comes a 7ft hammerhead shark! The shark comes within 30ft of the divers giving divers a chance to see the majestic animal up close before the shakr becoming spooked and swimming off into the blue. Guests return to the boat with huge smiles and high fives as most had just seen this creature for the first time ever. What a way to start the week!
Monday July 18th
Continuing our journey south we make our way to Pohue Bay while guests enjoy an energizing breakfast of macadamia nut pancakes and assorted fruits, yogurt, and granola. The morning dives at Pohue are very exciting as we were lucky enough to have seen Whitleys boxfish as well as several moray eels including the white mouthed moray, the yellow margin moray, and the super tiny pencil moray. Next we went to a nearby site called Walls Wall where we finned along a massive wall and saw several bright green crown of thorn starfish, a huge lobster, and a green sea turtle. Once back on the boat a guest noticed something in the water and came to find it was a bottle nose dolphin. We gathered on the bow to get a better look and saw that there were several dolphins hanging around the boat playing. How fun! The dolphins stayed for about 20 minutes and once they were gone we headed to our final site of the day. Black Coral Forest is a very nice site covered in black corals as well as many other types of coral and is home to a variety of fish including orange spine surgeonfish, damselfish, unicorn fish, yellow tangs, and Moorish idols. During the night dive one diver thought he had found a new species, which turned out to be a Spanish dancer. A great find nonetheless! Divers returned to the boat for hot coco and Bailys, then off to bed for another big day of diving tomorrow.
Tuesday July 19th
Aloha! It’s another beautiful day in paradise! Guests wake up and enjoy the sunrise with a cup of coffee as we head north. The first site of the morning is at Stoney Mesa where we have yet another siting of the hammerhead shark! This time the shark hung around long enough for divers to get pictures and video as proof. The shark was there for the second dive as well marking the third and final hammerhead siting of the week. Chef Kevin prepares a Mexican fiesta style lunch of pork and chicken soft tacos complete with beans, rice, black olives, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, cheese and taquitos. Muy delicisiosa! We arrive at Catacomb for the afternoon dives. This site is named for its tomb liked swim throughs which resemble the underground passageways seen in ancient French architecture. Here we find several nudibranchs including the flabellina and the fried egg nudibranch, a golden trumpetfish, and a pair of banded coral shrimp. For the night dive we head to The Hive and see a peacock flounder resting inconspicuously on the sandy bottom, a raccoon butterflyfish which is the only nocturnal species of butterfly fish known in Hawaii, and a very creepy toxic worm called a bristle worm. All in all, it was yet another awesome day at sea full of delicious food and fun exciting diving.
Wednesday July 20th
What more appropriate place to dive while in paradise than Paradise Pinnacle. The Guests are ready to go nice and early and we splash at 7:50am. A loop around the pinnacle and an investigation of the black coral bush to see the longnose hawkfish then over to the shallows to see pairs of pyramid butterfly fish in the sunlight. A great first dive!.. Next we head to one of our favorite sites Au Au Crater. We make our way along the colorful wall to the big crater where we see our resident titan scorpion fish. Heading over the crater to a sandy area we found a juvenile dragon wrasse, which is not too shy for our photographers. Guests return to the boat and our warmed up by Chef Kevin’s famous egg drop soup and a Chinese style stirfry lunch. After lunch and a nap we prepare for our dive at Rob’s Reef, a scenic area where wild goats can be seen grazing on the cliffs. During the dive we explore a cave opening and see many brightly colored flat rock crabs scurrying for cover away from the divers. With our lights we scan the cave walls for slipper lobsters and shrimp. The most beautiful part of the dive was coming out of the cave with clear, turquoise backdrop framed by a silhouetted cave entrance and in the middle was a big school of black triggerfish. So pretty! Our final dive of the day was the much anticipated Pelagic Magic. The thrilling dive is where the boat drifts over 3,000 ft of open water at night, drops lines below the boat, and divers hang on to the lines waiting to see what will pass. Divers saw many strange and interesting alienlike creatures passing through the night and came back to the boat excited to have seen what they saw. Guests said it was everything they had hoped for and more!
Thursday, July 21st
After a big, hearty breakfast of French toast and omelets we get ourselves read for Kolokos Arches. The site is framed by sandy channels and has an interesting hilly, rocky topography. We wind through the rock formations and eventually stumble upon a Tritons trumpet moseying slowly through the sand. After taking some time to admire the massive mollusk, we come across a yellowmargin eel, with a banded cleaner shrimp poking around bravely in the eel’s mouth. We then spotted an octopus and a scorpianfish right next to each other, and then a second octopus! What a dive! Our next three dives at Aquarium, Black Hole, and Garden Eel Cove were also very nice and were followed by a delicious steak dinner, which was applauded by the guests. Next came what we had all been waiting for… Manta Mayhem. Divers were very excited as we briefed the dive and gear up and the sun set over Garden Eel Cove. We jumped in and headed for the “campfire” where several groups had already placed their lights. Before we could even get settled in, the first manta ray came swooping down. More and more mantas arrived until there was at least a dozen mantas looping around and feeding on the zooplanktyn, sometimes only inches away from our divers heads! We returned to the boat once again with a group of very happy divers. We enjoyed a cup of hot coco as guests recounted their memories from the dive and shared photos. Another exciting day of diving in paradise.
Friday, July 22nd
It is a bittersweet morning as we arrive at Sharkfin Rock just after sunrise. We have breakfast, then gear up for our final two dives. The dives are very nice as we saw a green sea turtle, many wrasse, and angelfish. Chef Brent prepares a lasagna lunch which guests enjoy before we tie up at the dock. We have time to roam through Kona, then gather back at the boat at 5pm for our farewell cocktail party. A special congratulations to our iron divers of the week and a big Mahalo from the Kona Aggressor II Captain and Crew. Thank you everyone for another awesome week and hope to see you soon!!