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Kona Aggressor II Captain’s Log
Air Temperature 70-80̊ F
Water Temperature 77̊F
Crew: Captain Matt Herwig
2nd Captain: Chad Dolbeare
Engineer: Cliff Muse
Instructor/Video Producer: Brian Forman
Divemaster: Cam Shmay
Chef: Kevin Bennett
Guests: Harold Ginn & Karen McBeath, Carol Clayton, John & Joyce Wood, Gwenaelle Saillant, Laura Hansen and Patsy Lam.
Dive Sites: Meadows, Hammerhead, Mantaville, Driftwood, Paradise Pinnacle, Au Au Crater, Pele’s Playground, Land of Oz, Manuka Bay, Wall’s Wall, Rainbow Reef, Pohue Bay, Stony Mesa, Never-Neverland, Lion’s Den, Pelagic Magic.
Saturday (Feb 11): With high winds and unusually larger-than-normal ocean swells coming from the southwest, another adventure begins aboard the Kona Aggressor II (KAII.) After receiving nine guests from three separate countries, we motored out to our mooring buoy for the night where Chef Kevin prepared a BBQ feast of baby back ribs, chicken, beans, slaw and cheddar biscuits. Before dinner could begin, we had two giant visitors in the form of a female Humpback whale and her calf which surfaced only feet from our vessel. It was a great way to start the week and we took it as a good sign.
Sunday (Feb 12): At 0500, the engines came to life, the mooring lines were cast off and we began crusing towards the dive site ‘Meadows.’ Due to semi-challenging conditions, it was determined that the usual Sunday night Manta dive would likely not be possible, so we adjusted our schedule accordingly and moved on. Guests came to life with the smell of coffee and bacon. At around 0730, a considerable breakfast of Hawaiian breaded French toast, eggs, fruit, cereals and assorted breads, was put to rest. It was now dive time and during the first dive at 0800, a Hawaiian Turkey fish (aka Lion Fish) was spotted. Though these fish have a reputation as an invasive species elsewhere, they are highly revered here and they are indigenous to Hawaii.
While still battling moderate seas and temperamental wind, we re-located to a new location called ‘Hammerhead.’ Multiple eels were viewed throughout our dives there and we were excited to find out that the forecasts, for both wind and ocean, had changed in our favor so we made way for Mantaville. After a fine dinner of grilled mahi mahi, rice, mixed vegetables, and pound cake smothered in berries and cream, it was for some nighttime underwater maneuvers. With only a few boats in the area, the divers enjoyed a full dive of manta action as two particular manta rays decided to hang around and provide our group with a lifetime of memories. While getting relentlessly dive-bombed by these giant-winged behemoths, cameras rolled and snapped. There is not a better way to end the day.
Monday (Feb 13): The one constant aboard the KAII is the quality menu we provide and share with our guests. Today, it started off great with Macadamia Nut pancakes, hot sausage links and as always, eggs-to-order. With an unanticipated break in the weather, we departed Mantaville and headed south to Driftwood, then Paradise Pinnacle. During the morning dives, the group observed multiple octopuses, a slipper lobster, numerous ghost shrimps and a gold lace nudibranch. After a lunch of grilled lamb; chicken tenderloins, potato salad and vegetable soup, we headed to Au Au Crater. During the afternoon dive, a longnose hawkfish was spotted, as were several garden eels. However, the big event of the afternoon was spotting a large hammerhead shark on the surface. For dinner, Cornish game hens, Caesar salad, potatoes, fresh broccoli and cookie pie provided everyone with the energy needed for the night dive. This evening, the Crater provided a very special encounter with an oceanic manta ray.
Tuesday (Feb 14): While still enjoying calmer seas and slower winds, we departed Au Au Crater and continued south to Pele’s Playground. Waffles, smoked beef sausage and eggs fueled the group for the morning dives, which included Land of Oz, where a turtle and a school of mahi mahi were enjoyed. An elusive dragon wrasse was also spied. After a lunch of ham & pea soup, turkey wraps, spaghetti squash and three-bean salad, it was go-time at Manuka Bay, where we will camp for night. Before our afternoon dive could begin, two humpback whales gave us a short show around 200 yards off of our port side. It was no coincidence that whale songs could be throughout the dive while our group spotted multiple whitemouth morays. After a hearty meal of grilled pork loins, roasted sweet potatoes, mixed veggies and antipasto salad, our divers took the evening off. With a few bottles of our house wine becoming lighter, guests enjoyed the clear night sky on the sun deck where the hot tub was also put to good use. Rarely does a night of stargazing ever reach its potential like it did tonight and it was a perfect way to conclude the day. Weather reports for tomorrow are still looking adequate.
Wednesday (Feb 15): Before ham & cheese omelets and two choices of bacon could be enjoyed, the KAII departed Manuka Bay at 0530 and headed further south. The wind and water were still somewhat cooperating as we landed at Wall’s Wall, where a turtle was spotted and several cleaning stations. The ocean was not perfect for sure, but it was nice enough to head to one of our premiere locations, Rainbow Reef, which we suspect earned its long-ago given name due to the variety of living corals. Rainbow most certainly offers a variety of colors. Our dive group encountered two peacock razor wrasse, a lobster and a lesser-seen snowflake eel.
Getting just about as far south as we normally travel , it was time to steer north and start working our way back home. The highlight of the evening turned out to be a competitive few rounds of Bingo and some of Chef Kevin’s famous popcorn. The night produced several prize winners, including a tie for the grand prizes of two brand new KAII logo rash guards.
Thursday (Feb 16): After a calm night’s sleep at Pohue Bay, the ocean swells began to build out of the west, which meant there would be no shelter or quarter from nature’s wrath on this day. However, a breakfast of pineapple pancakes, eggs and corn beef hash helped get the morning started right while we set course for Stony Mesa, then Never-Neverland to see if we could make the best of our predicament. We did manage to get in two dives and we continued up the coast hoping for redemption at The Dome, one of our favorite and best dive sites. As we arrived, we were dismayed to see that The Dome was nothing but a giant washing machine. Large swells not only pounded the nearby shore but those swells were rebounding which created a churning seascape. The Dome dive could not, and did not, happen on this day. Nevertheless, guests and crew huddled in the salon and it was decided that we would head offshore a bit and look for humpback whales as we slowly worked out way to the deep, blue water that would host our weekly pelagic dive. But first, Chef Kevin produced one of the best meals of the week that included filet mignon, twice-baked potatoes, bacon Brussels sprouts, shrimp and flavorful beets. During the meal, Captain Matt checked in with everyone and made a few announcements. We also viewed the KAII weekly video production, shot and edited by crewmember and dive instructor, Brian Foreman. At around 1830, we shut down the engines in about 3000 feet of water and divers began to prep for the highly anticipated ‘pelagic magic’ dive. Despite those large westerly swells, the dive was completed and it was time to head for the KAII mooring buoy just offshore of Kona.
Friday (Feb 17): On our last dive day of the trip, we awoke to calm seas, small swells and a clear sunrise. After a great breakfast of eggs frittata and bacon, we departed the mooring buoy and headed to Turtle Pinnacle where the visibility was the best we had experienced all week. While concluding the first dive, a giant manta ray appeared by the boat and some of our divers re-entered the water with snorkels and fins to take in the show. As the manta moved on, our snorkelers also got to enjoy a good look at a resident pod of dolphins. After a turbulent week of water conditions and occasional high winds, it was nice to have our patience rewarded with these reminders of what Hawaii has to offer.
-Until Next week, Aloha from our captain and crew.