by wjw on March 18, 2015

humpbacksHere’s a mother humpback whale breaching,  while her calf waves a fin good-bye.  We had to head for port before this pair became really active, and they started jumping once we were too far away to really get a good view.

This was a formal whale watching cruise, sort of a disappointment because the whales were given to “logging,” which is pretty much what it sounds like.  I’d seen much more active whales from the dive boat on the preceding couple of days, and I’d been expecting a bit more spectacle.

Still, a day with whales is better than one without.

Practically everything I’ve done here had to do with salt water one way or another.

The previous day I did four dives out of Lahaina.  The first was to “Cathedral #1“— there’s a #2 nearby— which is two coral pinnacles that have grown together overhead, leaving this huge cavernous vaguely-Gothic-arched space filled with beams of light spearing down from  jagged openings overhead.  Very impressive, especially when filled with whale song.

You leave the cathedral by bracing yourself against the exit hole, hanging on while the surge tries to hurl you back, then wait for the current to change, after which you launch yourself from the exit and let the current carry you free.

Once free, I saw a spotted eagle ray soaring over the reef, a hopeful sign if ever there was one.

Another dive featured the Carthaginian wreck, an old steel schooner deliberately sunk to form an artificial reef.  While we were waiting at the buoy preparing for the dive, a white submarine broke water a short distance away.  A very impressive sight, even though it was a glass-walled submarine used to bring visitors to the undersea world.  “Why didn’t they paint it yellow?” I wondered.  “Then it would come with a theme song and everything.”

I went down onto the wreck, which is at 95 feet.  I ventured into the hold, and then saw a very large shark just ahead, in the bow of the ship.  I decided not to corner the predator in a dark part of the hold, and decided to visit another part of the boat.  (It was a white-tipped reef shark, and highly unlikely to have attacked, but you can’t always trust our animal brethren to do the intelligent thing, and as I always say, “Better safe than savaged.”)

Eventually I ran out of bottom time, and came up along the mooring line to do my three-minute safety stop at 15 feet.  While I was hanging there, I heard electric motors whining away, and started looking for the sub.   Then it appeared like a white ghost, hanging in the water below me.   My three-minute stop ran overtime as I watched the sub floating over and above the wreck, and I wished my visit was a little better timed to give me a chance to wave at the tourists and their cameras.

Speaking of which, I was walking to the dock that morning, and I was accosted by a local.  “You must be a tourist,” he said.

“No,” I said, “I’m an adventurer.”

I don’t think he was impressed.

You’ll note that I’m linking to other people’s photos instead of posting my own, and that’s because my underwater camera is buggered.  No more pics for me, at least underwater.

Mathew E March 19, 2015 at 12:02 am

Whale song underwater is pretty awesom. I hated the local distain for tourists that I experienced when I lived in Hawai’i. It’s a magical, beautiful place, but the closed minded attitude of the “locals” (Themselves overwhelmingly being 4th or 5th generation immigrants) really turned me off to living there.

Emy March 19, 2015 at 12:08 am

I like how you make Earth sound as bizarre and interesting as a foreign planet. Hope you enjoy all the water and salt, there’s nothing better.

kat March 20, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I got to dive again this year because my parents were kind enough to invite me down (and, largely, pay for) during their annual Belize vacation. It’s always kind of bittersweet, because I love diving and I miss it so much, but at the same time I always leave right about the time I’m finally remembering what the hell I’m doing. And then I remember I am poor and have a three-year-old. And then I sit around listening to the rest of my family chatter about their dives and bottom time I can still only dream of and sonotas I know I haven’t got the skill for yet and experience the most terrible envy.

On the other hand, I won’t be poor and/or shackled by child care forever, and I *finally* felt like I had my buoyancy and breathing under control on the last two dives I did! If I can just hold on to what I did right for, oh, a year or two…. March 20, 2015 at 11:43 pm

(sonotas = cenotes. I should have paid more attention to that vague “I know that’s how it’s pronounced but I don’t *think* that’s how it’s spelt…” feeling…..)

wjw March 22, 2015 at 3:28 am

Matthew: I suppose the correct response could have been, “Yes, I’m a tourist, and if it weren’t for me and the millions like me who support your economy every year, you’d be working in a cane field right now.” But it was too early in the morning for that.

Kat>> there have been times when I was too poor and/or otherwise occupied to dive, but fortunately those times have passed, at least for the present.

Mathew E March 25, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Walter – That was my exact feeling, because that attitude really carried over to “mainland” residents too 🙂
If you have time in Honolulu, check out Side Street Inn. There is the original location by Ala Moana, there is a satellite location on Kapahulu Ave, within walking distance of the Diamond Head side of Waikiki.
Very good food. The Kimchee fried rice & Kalua pork Bao are my favs.

wjw March 25, 2015 at 9:49 pm

I’m already back in New Mexico, alas. If I’m ever in the islands again, I’ll check out the Side Street for sure.

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