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Kona Aggressor II Captain’s Log
December 10 – December 17, 2016
Air Temp. 78-88 F
Water Temp. 78 F
Captain: Matt Herwig
2nd Captain: Cliff Muse
Engineer: Cliff Muse
Video Pro: Brian Forman
Instructor: Brent Goudreau
Divemaster: Cameron Smay
Chef: Kevin Bennett
GUESTS: Tucker, Tina, Paul, Walter, Swati, Arthur, Leah, David, Greg, Justin, and Debra
Sunday – Shark Fin Rock, Garden Eel Cove
Monday – The Aquarium, The Predator Wreck, The Dome
Tuesday – Robs Reef, Paradise Pinnacle, the Hive
Wednesday – Never Never Land, Land Of Oz, Manuka Bay
Thursday – Pele’s Play Ground, Au Au Crater, Paradise Pinnacle, Driftwood, Pelagic Magic
Friday – Turtle Pinnacle
Saturday, December 10th, 2016 Welcome Aboard Divers! Under raining skies we welcomed our guests on board for the charter week of December 10 – December 17. Welcome Tucker, Tina, Paul, Walter, Swati, Arthur, Leah, David, Greg, Justin, and Debra. Our happy and excited mood was not deterred from by the weather and we stowed the dive gear away and loaded the luggage away, briefed the guests on the safety of the boat and the upcoming dive sites, and we were off to begin our charter week adventure. As we dined on a wonderful BBQ meal prepared by Chef Kevin we discussed our previous travels and what we would like to see on this trip. We all had a wonderful time, and turned in early as it had been a full day of travel and there was much diving to be had tomorrow. Until then, Aloha!
Sunday, December 11, Good Morning and Aloha! We celebrate Paul’s 61st Birthday with a great day of diving! Happy Birthday Paul! We awoke to a clear and star filled pre-dawn sky here in paradise at our mooring sight here in Kona Harbor, and prepared to make way to our first dive destination of the day Shark Fin Rock. Shark Fin Rock is a beautiful dive site with many coral heads, sandy patches, and a sloping wall. We are usually able to see large pelagic animals swimming by in the early morning, here at this site. As the sun rose over the volcanoes, we arrived at Shark Fin Rock to have fantastic conditions….flat calm water and 79 degrees! After the boat and safety briefing for the trip, we discussed the dive site in depth and prepared to dive in. All 11 divers were eager to dive in, and we had a great 60 minute dive. Along the way we were able to spot White Mouth Eel, Green Moray Eels, Decorated Sea Urchins, several Crown of Thorns, and many Parrot Fish. We soon prepared for our second dive here and were even greeted by Spinner Dolphins. What a wonderful experience to see these magnificent animals under water. We came back on board and talked excitedly about all that we have seen so far, and also about what was to come at our next dive site at the Garden Eel Cove, just north of the airport. Chef Kevin prepared a terrific meal of assorted chicken and pork sandwiches, garden Salad, homemade Clam Chowder, fresh baked bread, and fresh fruit. Along the way to Garden Eel Cove, we were again escorted part of the way by Spinner Dolphins alongside the boat. We arrived right on time for our mid afternoon dive, and jumped right in to find many Spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, already gliding by us on the reef wall. How cool! We were also able to find Dragon Wrasse, a few Nudibranches, a White Tip Reef Shark, and a couple of Viper Eels. As we did our dive the Mantas circled us many times, and we spotted many different types of Eels and Trevally Fish down around coral gardens hunting for something good to eat. The sunlight really lit up the reef and corral heads, and we were able to get some great pictures of the underwater landscape. Our night dive began a bit earlier than normal, as the sun has been setting a bit earlier during the winter here, but it did not seem to phase the Mantas at all, since we were surrounded on all sides by them, once we jumped in. We were able to take some great video and camera photos and really enjoyed the dive. After about an hour spent with the mantas, we said our found farewells, and returned to the boat. Up on the sundeck, after we had stowed our gear, we dried off, and enjoyed some warm beverages while looking up at the stars. We told each other of our dive experiences of the day with much joy and laughter , and talked about what we wanted to see tomorrow. Until then, pleasant dreams!
Monday, December 12, Good Morning Divers! Although it is a bit rainy this morning, we are still in high spirits, and looking forward to diving at our next location, the Aquarium, just south of the airport and Garden Eel Cove. The Aquarium is always a good spot to see a White Tip Reef Shark or two, and many different and colorful types of reef fish, including the Wrasse family and Tangs. We had hopes of seeing the Spotted Eagle Rays along the wall and even a Hammer Head Shark since it is the holidays! We did not see the Spotted Eagle Ray immediately, but we did see many Scrambled Egg Nudibranches, Cowerys, and Yellow Haired Hermit Crabs. On our second dive of the Aquarium we did spot a couple of Manta Rays off in the distance, and also got a brief glimpse of a White Tip Reef Shark. Our next dive spot was to be the Predator Wreck in Kona Harbor, so our divers could get a view of this very cool wreck, complete with plastic skeletons attached to the wreck, and view also the Atlantis Submarine that makes a tourist circuit underwater with guests. We dove down to the wreck at 85 feet and found it to be very interesting. We were also visited by a very curious Spotted Eagle Ray which circled us for quite some time before leaving the wreck. We return topside and had a wonderful lunch prepared by Chef Kevin of mixed sandwiches, fresh fruit and salads, and chips. Our next dive site was scheduled for the Dome, for the early/mid afternoon dives, and the night dive. We dove right in and swam to the Dome, and found a White Tip Reef Shark waiting for us. How cool. We were able to get some good pictures and video. We got ready for the night dive, and dove right in and were immediately visited by a pod of Bottle Nose Dolphins. We could hear them squeak and splash over head, as they zipped in and out of our dive lights. What a wonderful way to end the day. We climbed back on board excitedly and couldn’t wait to talk over all the many awesome things we had seen and done today and look at our pictures and video. A great day was had by all. Good Night!
Tuesday, December 13 Good Morning and Aloha! We woke up to see the beautiful full moon setting over the western horizon and clear skies! It looks like it is going to be a beautiful morning. We were underway shortly, headed for Robs Reef, a bit further south. Robs Reef is really a beautiful dive site with many stunning coral gardens, caves, and sloping walls to go dive and investigate. We arrived under calm, clear skies, with plenty of sunshine, and not much of a swell. We dove right into crystal clear water with visibility up to 70 feet, and could believe all the colors present in the coral gardens with the morning sun. Just really beautiful. We saw many Tangs, and Parrot Fish, along with a few Green Sea Turtles! We dove to the caves, but the surge was a bit rough, so we did not swim into them, but instead spent more time investigating the sloping walls, and we were not disappointed. We found many large Hawaiian Grouper along the wall along with some flat rock crabs. We climbed back on board after one dive at this spot and headed further south towards Paradise Pinnacle. We jumped right in, again to clear waters and searched around the Pinnacle for Cowerys, Hawk Fish, and Eels. We next came up to the shallows and searched for White Tip Reef Sharks. Our mid afternoon and night dives were scheduled for the Hive, which is a great place for a night dive, as we have seen many Dragon Eels there at night along with Frog Fish, Titan Scorpion Fish, Red Day Octopus, Conger Eels, and Decorator Crabs. We have even seen larger animals there such as Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, and even a Humpback Whale and Calf last February. We so look forward to seeing this again! We were surely not disappointed. On our mid afternoon dive of the Hive, we immediately spotted a large (8-9 foot) Hammerhead Shark swimming over the top of the shallow reef, just north of the boat. We swam towards it to try to get a better look without scaring it, but she was onto us and dove for the deep, but not before our divers were able to get some good photos and video of her. We also found a large Green Turtle feeding along the reef wall, and we were able to get some fantastic photos and video of it also. As an extra bonus, we were even able to find a large Brown Frog Fish among the boulders in the shallow depths around 35 feet. They generally like to hang out in that area of the Hive, and it is always such a great pleasure and guest favorite to seem them there. Our night Dive was spectacular also as we were able to see many sea creatures out and about that we don’t normally see, and we even found a Partridge Tun (part of the Triton Trumpet and Snail Family) that the crew has not seen before. It was a great find, as the Partridge Tun had its mantle fully extended out of its checkered shell, and its mantle was beautiful with chocolate and white marbled texture, along with a neon blue rim around the entire mantle. Apparently it was hunting along the base of the cave for Sea Cucumbers. Next we found the endemic Hawaiian Turkey Fish, otherwise known as the Hawaiian Lion Fish, a non-evasive type of the Lion Fish. We were able to get some great pictures as it had its “wings” fully display with white and red stripes. As we searched further around the dive site we were able to find a few juvenile Triton Scorpion Fish, and several Reticulated Eels hunting the sea floor beneath the boat. An AWESOME dive! We gathered back on board, and were greeted with warm towels and hot chocolate as we excitedly told each other what we had seen and found. Another fantastic day of diving in Paradise! Good Night to All. (As a special note also the Full Moon has been coming up over the Volcano and setting in the West in the morning over a calm Pacific Ocean presenting us with a awesome view! We have also started to be able to see the Southern Cross in the early morning hours in the southern skies. Any time of year is a great time to dive the Big Island, but Winter is simply amazing and beautiful. We hope to see you here soon!)
Wednesday, December 14, Good Morning! Clear Skies and a light breeze greet us as we awake with coffee in hand, and hoist the mooring and prepare to head further south to our next dive destination, Never Never Land. Never Never Land is a spot known to have viewings of passing Hammerhead Sharks, so we look forward to seeing them this morning. Never Never Land also has one of the most amazing underwater landscapes along the coast of the Big Island, with dramatic drop offs, a huge pillar that sits in the middle of the dive site, and shallow reef areas were all kind of fantastic and beautiful sea creatures gather to feed during the night and day. We jumped in with great excitement and swam over the top of the blown out underwater volcano crater directly below the boat. There were schools of Pyramid Butterfly fish there to greet us, and it was such a beautiful sight. We swam towards the Pillar over the coral gardens that were lit up by this wonderfully sunny day, and saw many Hawaiian Grouper, Eels, Red Day Octopus, and even a few Oceanic Barracuda. As we neared the Pillar we could see the waves above crashing into the Pillar and a large band of Coweries around the base of the Pillar. We found a Triton Scorpion Fish there, and quite a few more Eels. We swam back to the boat, but not before sighting a large Hammerhead Shark (7-8 Feet Long) off in the distance in the shallows. What a magnificent sight. With many great pictures and video in hand, we prepared to move southward towards Manuka Bay. When we arrived at Manuka Bay, we found the waters to be very calm with great visibility (70+ Feet) and little surge. We did our late afternoon and night dive on this site and were not disappointed at all. We found a couple of Triton Trumpets, a Peacock Flounder, several Green Moray Eels, Octopus, and a pod of hunting Trevally. We could here dolphins in the background, but we did not see them until later, once we were on board, and they began to swim around the boat, after we ended our night dive. We still had a great time, and took lots of pictures of them swimming around the boat. A good night to all!
Thursday, December 15th, Good Morning from Manuka Bay! As the sun came up over the volcanoes, the bay became a picturesque postcard, complete with sandy beaches, calm water, palm trees, and Bottle Nose Dolphins playing in the water. Wish you were here! Our first destination this morning was to be Pele’s Playground. Just north of our present location. Pele’s Playground is probably the most interesting underwater geologic site that we have on our itinerary. With remains of a volcanic flow underwater, large boulders, slot canyons, and a steep drop off into the abyss, it’s no wonder that this site is a favorite with the guests and crew alike. We gathered around the camera table for the morning’s briefing, and prepared to dive in. There was much excited talk on deck about what we could see at this dive site, as we had seen Hammerhead Sharks and Green Sea Turtles here on many occasions in the past. We surely were not disappointed with the dive, as we were able to spot another large Hammer Head Shark circling the shallows, and even a glimpse of a Spotted Eagle Ray. A fantastic dive. We really enjoyed this site, for all that it had to offer. Our next dive site was to be Au Au Crater, with its steep underwater volcano walls, full of sea life and geologic structures. Again, we had a great dive, as we were able to find a Dragon Wrasse, several Reticulated Eels, a Red Day Octopus, and swim over the top of Au Au Crater, and get the feeling of flying underwater. We had so much fun! Lunch was served by Chef Kevin, to a bunch of hungry divers, and we eagerly consumed our lunch as we excitedly talked about what we had seen so far today. We started up the engines and headed for Driftwood, just slightly north of our present location. Driftwood is a great site and has many different environments to offer the diver, with sloping walls, canyon slots, sandy shallows, and plenty of boulders to look around. We found many different kinds of Eels on this site and we were even visited by Bottle Nose Dolphins. On our night dive we found a Tuberculosis Nudibranch, an Ornate Octopus, and huge Lobster (30 pounds), a Conger Eel, and even a Yellow Hairy Hermit Crab stuck inside an old Triton Trumpet Shell. We next prepared to head out 2 miles west offshore for our Black Water Pelagic dive, which is always a favorite. As we jumped in we could hear splashes around us by Bottle Nose and Spinner Dolphins, which we could see underwater. They were hunting for the night, and we saw great bait balls of smaller fish, surrounded by the dolphins. We were able also to view all the other alien creatures that come up from the depths at night to feed, with all their odd shapes, vibrating bodies, and multicolored lights. We were even able to find a Pelagic Larval Lobster floating in the water column. What a fantastic way to end the evening. We couldn’t be happier with the day’s adventurous dives. Good Night to All.
Friday, December 16th, Good Morning Divers! We awoke on our mooring site in the Kona Harbor, and after a good night’s rest we pulled up the mooring and headed towards our last diving destination for the charter, Turtle Pinnacle. Turtle Pinnacle sits just north of the Kona Harbor, and is known to have a resident Tiger Shark, Laverne, that swims through there on a regular basis, so we have high hopes of seeing her today. We arrived bright an early for our last two dives of the charter, and began our search for Laverne. Although we did not find the Tiger Shark, we did view Bottle Nose Dolphins, a Green Sea Turtle, several Octopuses and even a Viper Eel. What a fantastic way to end the charter. We had a fantastic lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs and rested the afternoon in the harbor from all of our hard work of having fun diving!
Saturday, December 17th, Good Morning All! We are sad to see our guests leave, but they all had so much fun and excitement, many of them mentioned that they would see us again soon. So until then Happy Bubbles and Safe Travels!
The Captain and entire crew of the Kona Aggressor II